Family Traditions (SEF 5k)

Last week was a cutback week for me for marathon training, and I had some fun with it.

Even though the heat hasn’t let up much here, I still got out with the kids and ran to get ready for the 5k we were all doing on Saturday.

They wanted to go to the park to run and then play. Sure, why not?

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Then on Thursday we ran a mile and a half. My 13 year old daughter would run ahead and walk until the 10 year old almost caught up to her. Then she’d take off again. Nice, friendly competition between siblings. Two weeks ago, she decided she¬†was ready to start training for the 5k, and she made good progress in a short amount of time.

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Saturday morning, we were ready to race the Sherman Education Foundation 5k. This was my 7th time to run this race, and it wasn’t the first time for them either. I told them to make sure to run their own race the way they wanted to. Slow and steady, or run/walk – whatever is¬†best for them.

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After I finished a very painful 3 miles (I have not been training at sub 8:00 pace!), I grabbed some water and a banana, and headed back out on the course to run my kids in. With a little over a half a mile to go, I saw my 10 year old and ran with him for a minute. He went on to finish, and I found his sister a few minutes back. My husband was out on the course with his bike, to encourage them. When my daughter askedhow far she had left to run, I told her about 3/4 of a mile. Her response, “Really? I’m almost done!” Probably not many kids who think 3/4 of a mile is a short distance. My kids have a different perspective on what “far” is.ūüôā

I’m proud of the way they ran the race. My youngest ran faster than he did at the 5k in August, and it wasn’t much cooler. The humidity was high – still. I ran almost the exact same time I ran the race in last year (when it was rainy and a little cooler). This year my time was 24:23. I was hoping to get back in the 23 minute range, but I guess if I don’t train for 5ks, I really can’t expect to bust out a time close to my PR. I did manage to win my age group though. I guess I can’t complain about my 5k time if I’m always training for marathons.img_8239

This is my favorite local race of the year¬†because of the traditions around it as a family. The traditions are changing a little with our family – two of my kids had to grow up and move off.ūüė¶ But after the race, we visited the¬†Arts Fest and spent some¬†time at the different booths. And of course we had funnel cake. That tradition hasn’t changed.

With the 5k on Saturday, I got up planning to meet my running buddy for a 12-13 mile long run Sunday morning. This is what I woke up to:

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With the time constraints (and lightning factor), I reluctantly got on the treadmill. The storms weren’t¬†moving through anytime soon. By the time it started to clear up, I was up to 10 miles. I just finished off at 13, and that ended my cutback week. That was a rough run, but at least I had podcasts to listen to. Before Sunday, my longest treadmill run was 9 miles. I didn’t want to go that far on the treadmill, but I have goals that won’t be reached by skipping a long run. I learned for next time to put towels around the treadmill, because it was a gross sweaty mess. My body is just too efficient at cooling.

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Partly bad lighting, but yes my face probably was that red.

That ended my first cutback week of Dallas Marathon training, and now I’ll start ramping up the miles while I wait for fall temperatures to show up.

Anybody else?

 

 

 

 

Setting the Right Goals for Me

As we came in from a run one evening last week, my ten year old asked me, “Your big goal is to qualify for Boston right?”

“Yes it is.”

“But you have some other goals too. Smaller goals like triathlon and Ironman. But the big one is Boston.”

Yes, smaller goals like Ironman. Ha ha!

But he’s still right.

In the past month, I’ve been thinking about the goals I have. There are the long-term goals and the ones I want to achieve right now. I’ve had to take a step back to make sure I’m working on what I want for me, and not a product of what’s great for someone else or what sounds like fun. It’s easy to get caught up in social media, or the hype around some races, medals, or challenges. Or even move on to the next big thing. Run a half marathon. Next up: marathon. Ran a marathon? Ultra. Half Ironman? Time to do a full Ironman. You know what I mean.

Not that it’s a bad thing.

But is it what you want?

Even though I finished a half Ironman this summer, the next step in my brain would be for me to do a full Ironman. But you know what? I’m not ready for that. I need a few more of those half distances to feel better about it, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t have my heart there. Yet.

My heart is in running. It has been for the last six years. It has taken me to places I never would have imagined. I am part of a great community that supports each other whether you run a 6 minute mile or 12:00. And I love it!

So I’m keeping my focus on my passion.

My “right now” goals are working toward that sub 4 hour marathon, which will help me to reach the long term goal of qualifying for and running Boston. It will take some steps (years) to get there, but I have the heart to work on it.

Triathlon has been great for me. It keeps the running fire burning, and I am a better athlete. I will keep working at it, and I have fun doing it. It helps me to be a stronger runner, and gives me the break I need from mileage. I can see registering for a full Ironman one day.

But at this season of¬†my life, I’m going to stick with my goals. One September, I’ll be submitting my registration for the Boston Marathon.

Now, I’m headed out to the gym for a swim. It’s great cross training for marathon season!

 

Marathon Training (Weeks 1&2)

The first two weeks of training for the Dallas Marathon have gone pretty well. I’ve been pleased with my paces, mileage, and how my body has responded to the long runs. I like how my marathon training in the fall always starts right along with the school year.

My eyes have adjusted to the early morning runs:

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So I appreciate the Saturday long runs when I get to see the sunrise.

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I’m still running with my son, and my other daughter joined us last week to get ready for a local 5k next weekend.

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I worked on my marathon pace during my first double-digit run (since my half Ironman) in two months.

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I was happy with it.

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Then last week, I was inspired by another runner in our group. She’s one of the ones I’ve been chasing for a few years, but I can’t catch her. She’s a few years older than me, and she ran Boston this year. About a month ago, she started chemo and she’s come out for most of the Saturday runs since. On this run, she was flying and I couldn’t keep up. I think she finally dialed it back for the last mile and ended up running around 8 miles. She wanted to get a picture of our little group to post on her care page. She inspires me as she goes through her treatments with¬†a great outlook and sense of humor, cracking up when someone said she¬†was taking the “run like Meb” thing a little too far.

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It was a great group run, and I ended up with 13 miles total on Saturday.

I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead, and more miles with my kids. That’s the icing on the cake in my training.

 

 

Hustle for Health Reprise

Just over a week ago, I ran the United Way Hustle for Health 10k, and two of my kids did the 5k. This was my first standalone 10k since this race last year, but the outcome was much different this time around. I do this race every year, because it was my first 5k (2010) and that was the first time they held the race.¬†I love that it’s local, and have fun racing¬†with others from my running group and community. I did the 5k for a few years, then moved up to the 10k.

On race morning, we headed downtown and got ready to run. I have been running separately with my oldest daughter and my youngest son to prepare them for the race. They each had their own race goal. My daughter had been preparing for the physical fitness part of the Navy ROTC program, and my son wanted to run a faster 5k. I had to let him know the heat would slow him down some and not to get discouraged.

Photo Credit: Hustle for Health & Campaing Kickoff United Way of Grayson County (Facebook page)

Photo Credit: Hustle for Health & Campaign Kickoff United Way of Grayson County (Facebook page)

We started the race and went our separate ways.

What’s interesting about the 10k, is that it is basically two separate parts. A hilly, challenging first half, and the second half follows the 5k course which is flat. You can’t run it like a typical 10k, because you may blow all your energy in the hills on the first half and have nothing left to finish with. That was my mistake last year since I had not done much speed work with distance. This year I was prepared. I even ran some of the hills a few times in the weeks before to make sure I could handle the pace (which was easy because it’s in my neighborhood).

My friend and I were running together for most of the first half. I looked at the first two splits and tried not to get concerned (8:28, 8:16) but I had been running around 9 minute miles for training, and I felt good. There was cloud cover, it was humid, and low 80s, but no sun baking us. Coming into the 5k course (which is out and back), I started looking for my kids. I spotted my daughter first at a water stop where she doused me with the contents of her cup. I was starting to heat up, and that felt great. Not long after that, I saw my son. My husband was out on his bike, riding along the course encouraging him. He was smiling and I got a high five. Miles 4 and 5 were my slowest, but I picked up the pace to finish. The final mile was my second fastest.

I finished with an official time of 53:07, and though it wasn’t my¬†fastest, I feel like I’m in a good place going into marathon training. I was surprised to see that I was the second female finisher and the master’s winner. Small race perks.¬†My friend won the female grandmaster’s.

I posted this picture to our running group page, with tips about finding a good running partner.

1. Find someone who pushes and challenges you to be a better runner.

2. Make sure they’re in another age group.

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The kids did well too. I had to talk to my son about how his place in the age group does not matter. He was two minutes off of what he ran in March. In his age group, there are 14 yr old cross country runners. I put the focus on him working to improve his race times, and not on what others are doing. My goal is to instill in him a joy of running and pushing himself to improve. One of my favorite things about running is that the responsibility is on the runner.

My daughter came away from the race better prepared for the Navy fitness requirements. She may have not liked running with me much, but I hope she’ll find an appreciation of me pushing her in training. I am proud of both of them.

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The little one wanted a week off from running after the race, which worked out well because we moved his sister into the dorm last week.

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Now our house is emptier, so I’m going to pour myself into my training to keep from emotional eating.

School started Monday¬†as did my marathon training. My son and I went out for a mile run on Tuesday evening. He was energized and ready to run. The new running clothes helped too. It’s a reminder of how little breaks and rewards can recharge us when we need it.

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Wrapping up Tri Season

Finishing up where it all began…

Sunday, I did my sixth triathlon since I embarked on this crazy journey last summer. I decided this would be my last triathlon of the year so I can focus on marathon training. I talked my running friend into doing the same race we did last year as our first tri: Tri-Rock in Rockwall.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on the bike since Buffalo Springs, but at least once a week I rode either on the road or my trainer. I kept up with the swimming twice a week. Even though I’m not fast, I feel much better about my core after I swim. I’ve focused on more strength training following my swim workouts than I have in the past, and I’ve noticed a difference in my everyday life from it.

I was tired the day before the race: a five mile run with the group, one mile with my daughter, then a bunch of back to school shopping. Combining tax-free weekend with some birthday rewards from Kohl’s, JCP, and other stores paid off for us. By the end of the day, my legs were aching like I ran 15 miles. I wasn’t sure what to expect for the race, but the number one goal was to have fun, and I had my sights set on a PR.

My feelings on race morning were so different from last year. It was just the usual butterflies right before the start that quickly disappeared when it was my turn to jump in the pool.

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My biggest change from last year – being able to swim all the way to the wall without stopping. I only had one person swim by me in the pool. What a great feeling! Last year it took me 10:27 to “swim” 300 meters. This year it was 8:02. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but…progress.

On to the bike, I was ready to give it all I had. Apparently I forgot about the hills from last year. I was pushing hard though, and my legs were burning. In the last mile, I hear “Hi friend” and look over to see my friend ride past me. She had not ridden her bike once since our last tri in October, and had just pulled it out the day before. That was humbling. But in all fairness, she has more cycling experience than I do. Anyway, I still had my fastest bike split yet. Last year was 14.8 mph. This year was 15.9. So…progress.

We ran out of transition together, and my legs were feeling pretty good considering how hard I pushed on the bike. I didn’t worry about my pace too much, but tried to run steady. It was a two loop course (a little different from last year), and I worked on running each mile faster. I ended up with a 26:08 5k, and I was really excited about that. I can’t really compare the run to last year, because I’m pretty sure the course was short last year. This time I had my Garmin on, so I know the distance was right. But overall, I still set a PR in this race, and wasn’t at the bottom of the age group this time. Again…progress.

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We both had a lot of fun. My friend placed in her age group, and got a pretty neat rock for her award. I wish I could find a way to work on my triathlon and running goals at the same time, but I’m going to call this race the end of my triathlon season.

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My focus now shifts to marathon training which starts¬†on the 22nd. I know that in order to have a strong marathon, I need the mileage. I will¬†continue to cross-train¬†at least once a week either biking or swimming, so I won’t completely lose my progress.¬†¬†Then after the first of the year, I’ll decide what I want to work on next. I haven’t quite figured out a way to mesh up my big running goals and triathlon goals. Running holds my heart.

Not too shabby for a year's work

Not too shabby for a year’s work.

 

Pretraining

I talked a little about how I’m enjoying a break from endurance and spending time doing other things I enjoy for/with my family in my last post. I have to be honest though. My motives haven’t been entirely¬†selfless. In fact, I believe that what I’m working on now will help me immensely when I start marathon training for Dallas next month. So I’m referring to my plan before the plan to¬†as “pretraining.” I think it will pay good dividends this fall.

My big goal – for the third year in a row – is to break four hours in the marathon. I came closest in Houston in 2014 running a 4:02:03. Since that year, I haven’t closed in on a PR in any distance. I also gained 10 pounds since that race. When I began training for the half Ironman in March, I was able to lose a few pounds. The week after the race in Buffalo Springs, I was down six pounds from March. For the first time since I began running, I lost weight while training for a major race. I’ll blame the swimming.ūüôā

I pulled this book out after I finished the Cowtown in March and reread it. During my half IM training, I focused on the Nutrient Timing chapter. Now with a few more weeks before I start marathon training, I’m working the Quick Start to drop the last few pounds. There is a lot of protein paired with strength training lately.

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Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald

In the past four weeks I saw¬†the scale hit below a number I haven’t been able to break under since the summer of 2014. That’s the beauty of using the same app to track food and weight for the past five years. Graphs can be useful. Now if I was only focused on the number, the scale might¬†be¬†a problem. But since I’m focused on being able to run faster – for longer – I see the scale as just one of the tools to measure progress.

Yesterday, I did my four week body fat check, and it has dropped a percentage point. That’s another measurement of my progress. My clothes fit comfortably again.

My long runs (even though they’re not that long right now) are averaging just over 9:00 pace.¬†In the summertime that feels good.

I feel stronger from the strength training. There is muscle definition in my upper body that has never been there. As I head into another birthday next month, I can say I have never felt fitter than I do right now. I’ve said this before. It still blows my mind how I am able to improve fitness year after year.

July 24, 2010¬†I started training for a 5k on July 24, 2010 with the goal of completing a marathon one day. That¬†step changed my life. As I continue my pretraining to get my body ready to handle the rigors of marathon training, I will keep the progress I’ve made in the past six years in the forefront of my mind.

 

 

 

 

Downtime, Goals, and Kids

I promised myself (and my family) that once I finished Buffalo Springs, I would take a break from training and be present. I would take time with them and time for myself. In the past three weeks, I enjoyed several games of Peanut (think Solitaire with teams) at 9:30 at night with my kids, I went to the library and checked out books that I am actually reading, and have been focusing more on my kids. Also, I went back to my Saturday morning running group. That was one of the things I really missed while half Ironman training. I enjoy the camaraderie of the group, and even though I don’t get the chance to run with them all (some of them are really fast), it has been nice to catch up and meet some new members.

“Are you the one who did the triathlon?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

One of the main things I’m working on now is helping my kids. My oldest daughter is going to UT on a Navy ROTC scholarship in August. I’m running with her in the mornings to help her get the endurance she needs to have when she checks in. My 10 year old wants to run another 5k. So I have been going out with him in the evenings to get him running consistently. He’s done a few 5ks in the past two years, but this is the first time he has shown sustained interest and reminds me what days and how far we need to run.

Last week, I took the three kids¬†to the track so we could all stay together. Even the 13 year old who likes the¬†idea of running until she actually does it, came along. It wasn’t the storybook ending I would have liked to have that night, but at least I have some memories in pictures for when they’re all grown up.

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I made a deal with myself that I would keep my activity level to under an hour after the half Ironman. I wanted to give my body the rest it deserved before marathon training starts in August. I also wanted to finish taking off the weight I had put on the last two years. Up until last weekend, I stayed true to my promise of staying under an hour.

On Saturday, I ran just over an hour with the group, and then headed out with my daughter for 30 minutes to run/walk. The next morning, I went on a bike ride with my friend and her husband. She keeps asking me to go with her with the cycling group on Saturdays, and I keep telling her I don’t want to be on my bike that long. Plus, it conflicts with the run group. But this time when she asked me to go ride, I relented because it was on Sunday morning and under two hours.

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I didn’t hate it.

But I’m going to try to keep the endurance bug in check for a few more weeks.

Last night when my son and I ran together, he told me he was moving slower so he could work on his stamina. We are up to a¬†mile and a half. For a child who would rather play video games all summer, I think we’re making great progress.

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Now that I’ve talked a little about how I’m enjoying my downtime, tell me what’s something you do?