Bluebonnet Half and Towne Lake 10K

At a glance, it may look like I have weird ideas, but I usually have a plan and purpose to what I do. Before the Irving (half) marathon was in the works, I wanted to run a half marathon in the spring. When the Capital 10k (in Austin) went virtual, my weekend opened up and I found a race close to home. Actually two races.

There were incentives to running both races. They were less than 30 minutes away, fairly inexpensive, and an added opportunity to earn an extra medal for running both. The Bluebonnet half on Saturday had a 5k and half marathon. The Towne Lake race on Sunday had a 5k, 10k, and half marathon option. Since I am training for my second ultra, running both races would add to my training, and I wanted to support the smaller, local race companies that are coming back.

I first thought about running back to back half marathons. I’ve never done that before! Then I remembered it’s springtime in Texas, and there is a 50/50 shot at having a warm, humid race. So I settled on the half on Saturday for Bluebonnet and the 10k at Towne Lake. That way if my legs or the weather didn’t cooperate, I could turn it into a recovery run.

I barely had to talk my friend into it, and she was on board too. She’s usually up for my crazy ideas – not all of them – but she has jumped into her share of adventures with me.

The weather for Saturday morning was nice and cool, but a little windy. Temperatures were in the mid 50s and I hoped it would hold steady for the morning. The race winds through the McKinney park system with some of the course going through school parking lots. I was familiar with this course from some other races, and from running this same race in 2018. This was also kind of a redemption for that one because I hobbled through the final miles in 2018 thanks to my plantar fasciitis flareup.

The first mile was a little slower than I planned, just due to some congestion from the start and the width of the path. I didn’t want to go around in the grass because it was a little high. We were also behind two runners who were running with American flags, and the wind was whipping the flags back to us. So we waited until it opened up and then picked up the pace.

My goal for this race was to better my time from Irving (2:03:54) and get myself closer to the two hour mark. I ran steady through this race, most of my paces were 9:15s-9:20s. The wind was a factor in the last couple of miles, and my stomach started rumbling a little, but I tried stay steady. Then there was a little hill to climb to finish and whew! Done.

2:02:07 according to my Garmin. Faster than my finish time in Irving and closer to two hours. Goal accomplished.

The rest of the day, I focused on recovery. Refueling with carbs and a little protein, and resting my legs as much as a mom can do on a Saturday.

Sunday morning, a group of us headed back to McKinney for the Towne Lake race. Two of us were running the 10k, and two were running the half marathon. I was so glad I didn’t register for the half, only because I didn’t want to run that far. πŸ™‚

The weather was still nice. Cool and not nearly as windy. We saw our friends start the half, and then waited for our start window with a warmup mile. The first mile, I could feel the miles from the day before, but I settled into a comfortably hard pace. My goal was to run under 55 minutes as long as my legs held up. I decided to carry my bottle with me and was so glad I did.

The 10k course was an out and back with the turnaround at the halfway point. My breathing was pretty hard before the turnaround, but I kept pushing as long as I could. Some of the course was the same as the day before, but the start was from a different location so it felt different. I saw one of my friends from our running group out cheering around mile 2.5 and again after the turnaround. That’s always fun!

At mile 5, my legs started to complain and it was my slowest mile. But I reminded myself to hang on for one more mile. I couldn’t quite get my pace down to where I wanted, but I was trying. I ended up running just over my goal time, but on the day after a half marathon, I was satisfied with it.

And I ran almost even splits for each half.

The best part was since we ran the 10k, we were able to cheer in our runners in the half marathon. That was so much fun!

And we all placed in our age groups.

You can see our bonus medal here too. It’s a spinner. πŸ™‚

It was a fun weekend, and I achieved my training purpose by racing on tired legs and putting in some longer miles with the added bonus of medals, shirts, and snacks. πŸ™‚

Irving Marathon (half)

I ran my first half marathon of the year in March, which was almost six months after my previous half marathon. Somehow I missed celebrating in October when I completed my 50th half marathon. Well, I’ll just blame that on 2020, because I was so darn excited to run an in person race that I didn’t update my race list until last week. πŸ™‚

My friends and I had planned a girls’ race trip to run the Little Rock Marathon in March. It was going to be our fun race trip, that backed up to the start of spring break. Then the date for Little Rock was moved to November (I deferred to 2022) and not long after, the Dallas Marathon moved their date to December. The two changes knocked the wind out of my sails along with my motivation to run long.

One of my friends still kept marathon training, and looked to the Irving Marathon as her back up plan. When it looked like the race was actually going to happen, I told her I would go with her for support. Our backup race trip was planned. We booked a hotel right by the start, registered for the race, and all had a race to look forward to.

When I registered, I spent several minutes debating if I wanted to run the half or marathon. I didn’t really want to run 26 miles, even though it had been a full year since my last official marathon. Since the ultra in January, I really didn’t run long enough to brew confidence for a marathon. Even though it was “only $15 more to run twice as far” (runner logic) I registered for the half.

Race week was also my first week back in the office after a year of working from home. I knew it was a temporary situation, but it was a little hard going back. Honestly, I think it was harder on this crew than anyone else in the family:

Being back in the office was tiring. The little things I would do during the day now had to wait until evening. It took me a while to get back into the routine, and halfway through the week I was so grateful that I didn’t register for the marathon. I was exhausted just from going through the routine of getting dressed for work, packing my lunch, fitting in laundry and dinner plans, dealing with rowdy dogs when we got home, etc. etc… On the positive side, I had a much clearer separation of work and home that I’ve missed.

When we left town on Friday afternoon, I was ready for an escape.

Saturday morning, it was so nice to walk 5 minutes to the start. Being out of practice with both racing and traveling, I was surprised I only forgot my visor. Still so grateful to be running the half, especially with temperatures in the 60s, I was ready to run my race and then make the switch to support crew.

We all ran together for the first mile, then I looked at my heart rate and knew I couldn’t sustain that for 13 miles. We let our jackrabbit marathon runner pull ahead and told her we’d be there for her second half. The two of us then settled into a comfortable effort for the next few miles.

Early Focus

I kept an eye on my heart rate, and stuck to my race plan. My goal for the day was to run under 2:05, but I also knew the weather could be a factor. I typically don’t do well in warmer temps and humidity, but there was a little bit of a breeze on the first half of the loop. I wouldn’t try to pick up the pace much until around mile 11 simply with the weather.

I didn’t start my music until I had less than an hour to go. It mostly was to drown out the sound of my breathing. πŸ™‚

I remember thinking to myself around mile 8-9, “Wow, my legs feel pretty good today! I’m running strong.” I took this thought and held onto it for the next few miles. Even up the hill, I was focusing on running strong, keeping my effort even. This was a nice change.

Flying Ponytail

It wasn’t until the last couple of miles that the weather started to get to me. This was when I was going to pick up the pace and finish strong, but instead I just held steady. My face was red and I was starting to feel icky, but I didn’t fall apart. I just told myself to hang on for a little while longer, and then it was over.

Oof!
This is my typical heart rate for warm weather and humidity

I smiled when I saw my time because I landed under my goal. More importantly, I didn’t let the weather beat me this time. That’s a huge win for me because I’ve had some crappy warm races. But again, I was so glad I ran the half. As an added bonus, I placed third in my age group!

To top off the good morning, we watched our friend come in to a huge 15 minute PR for her marathon. I cried, I was so happy for her!

Perk of staying in a hotel by the race – shower before going home!

We finished off our trip with a good lunch and headed back to reality. The best thing about Saturday races is having time on Sunday to recover before it’s back to work.

Thank you Irving Marathon for the nice race shirts, finisher shirts, medals, and free race pictures! It was a nice race weekend spent with friends.

Hello

Hello. Is this thing still on? Oh my goodness. One year. I can’t believe it’s been an entire year.

My last blog entry was posted just over a year ago. Not just because of lack of races – I have run a few – but this was one activity I shelved when the world shut down last March.

After a couple of password resets and false starts in the past month, I decided to get back to writing about running because it’s two things I love to do.

I had my ups and downs with running throughout the past year, but I kept going. And I would love to report that I was one of those super motivated runners getting after it, setting PRs on my own, and getting stronger.

I wasn’t.

Every time a race cancelled, the wind was knocked out of my sails. When family stuff we had been looking forward to for months was cancelled, I honestly didn’t feel like pushing myself in training. I stopped updating my training log, gained some weight (thanks to working from home), and just put in lots of easy, low heart rate miles.

Finally, in the last week, I started to feel like my old self – the one who would push herself in training to reach goals instead of settling, the one who had a fire to get it done. So I guess my point that I’m reinforcing to anyone else who may have felt this way, is that it’s okay to have ups and downs, pandemic or not, and to do what you can to get through situations. Training is just one aspect of our lives.

But not to be a Debbie Downer, I took a fresh look back at some of what I did (ran) in the last year, and it gave me a better perspective that my time wasn’t wasted. Here’s a brief look at what I didn’t write about – in pictures:

I completed Goggins’ 4x4x48 challenge the week after Cowtown – a mental win I needed after a disappointing race.
Pandemic Life – running with my kids
Wildflower Trail virtual race
My first 50k distance (on the road)
Brazos Bend 50k Virtual
Summer virtual series where I ran all 50k distances
Fort Worth Marathon 20 miler – age group winner
Dallas Marathon virtual – and my best marathon in a while.
More running with my kids πŸ™‚ This makes me happy.
My first ultra – Running the Rose 54K – in person!

Okay, so this last one really needs its own post, and maybe I’ll write about that one soon. If only because I need the reminder myself.

Looking back, even without many in person races, I was still able to challenge myself and enjoy running in a way I normally wouldn’t. So I learn and grow from the experiences. But boy, I am really glad I have that fire back again. Just in time for the summer meltdown. πŸ™‚