The Taper…again

For my first week of tapering for Cowtown, I think I ran more miles than I did in the two weeks before. I will say at least my mileage has been pretty consistent for the last several weeks, hovering around 40 miles per week.

I didn’t really feel like I was tapering – but it didn’t seem like that busy of a week either (at least in training).

I tried out some new socks that Feetures! sent me. These are the best! My socks are the only thing I haven’t changed in over five years of running. I mean the brand of course! I do change out and put on clean socks after every run. 🙂

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Tuesday, I had a birthday lunch at school with the newest teenager in the family.

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They finished our foundation work, and the kids left a reminder for us in the wet cement.

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Thursday morning I had a good mile repeat run, and in the evening my first swim in over two weeks.

Then there was a sluggish, achy leg run on Saturday. I don’t know what the deal was. Maybe I was still recovering from mile repeats. But my friend felt the same way and we kind of whined our way through the 16 miles. The achy legs were made worse by my GI tract that was not on board with running. I was so ready to be done! Then we reminded ourselves that we get to run and shouldn’t be so whiny about it. But I am very excited about the 12 mile long run this weekend.

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Then I came home to my newest piece of gear. I went back and forth trying to decide on this purchase. I try to be cautious when it comes to deciding what is a need and what is a want for my upcoming half Ironman. I had some Christmas money I was still hanging on to, so I took the plunge and ordered the older model – Garmin 910XT. So now I’m too far invested in my race to turn back. 😉

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Here’s one of the few pictures from the Hot Chocolate 15k race that I downloaded last week. I forgot about that perk. You can tell I’m completely zoned in on the finish line.

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I love free race pics!

What’s one of your favorite race perks?

Hot Chocolate 15K Recap

Lately, I seem to be on a “week on, week off” with my training for the Cowtown Marathon. Two weeks ago, I had good speed sessions and a knockout long run. Then for the first part of last week, every run felt flat, slow, and I was ready to be done with each one by mile 3. I was in a funk, and it was hard to get out of bed. So much so that two mornings I slept right through my alarm. I realized later in the week that part of my problem was an increase in pressure at work. Not a bad thing, just me not knowing what to expect. Since I started my new job function, a lot of the responsibility rests on the first part of the month. This was my first month to go through it completely, so I felt a little stressed. I also made the mistake of scheduling other things around this time that I had to adjust my schedule to: daughter’s eye exam, foundation repair…But now I know what to expect, so I’ll be better prepared at the beginning of March and I won’t be training for a marathon either.

I was somewhat ready for a race in the hopes that it would bring me out of my slump and put some motivation back in my body. I was super grateful to my friend who went to pick up packets on Thursday. There was no way that I could have gotten that done with everything else.

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I started to get excited Friday evening, but was still so tired.

Then I overslept on race morning – which has never happened! We were meeting at 5:00 and I popped out of bed at 4:34. At least I had laid out my clothes the night before and my friend was driving, so I had some time to chill on the drive down to Dallas. The car was loaded with some of her extended family (mom, aunt, cousin) who were running the 5k. The generations were all covered from the 30s up to the 70s.

The 5k was scheduled to start first, so we made our way to the start area to find where they would need to line up. The we went inside the building to stay warm a bit. The temps were in the low 40s. A little chilly for a 5k, but good enough for 15.

While they headed over to start, I stayed in the building to stay warm. I met a man who asked me about Team Chocolate Milk. He was 72 and running his first 5k! I was able to share about the benefits of chocolate milk for recovery.

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After the 5k started, my friend and I ran a couple of warmup miles. We were both low for the week, so it wouldn’t hurt to have a double digit day overall. I spied the Nuun setup near the start, so I was able to get some electrolytes before the race.

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I went into this race with zero expectations on my time, but with the anticipation to enjoy a fun race regardless. I decided not to carry my handheld because Nuun was the hydration sponsor. I can not tell you how happy I was to run with my hands empty. No bottle, no pepper spray, no gloves on. It was wonderful!

We lined up between the 8:30 and 9:00 pace groups, and I told my friend our goal was to keep the 9:00 pacer behind us. Other than that, let’s have fun.

And that’s what we did.

The 9:00 pacer passed us after the first mile, but we pulled ahead and didn’t see him again. I grabbed some Nuun at the second aid station, which was followed by the m&ms stop. They were handing them out in a little cups. I passed on by, but my friend grabbed two and said we couldn’t pass them up. “Just take it like a shot!” I managed to get a couple in my mouth, and to be honest, it was rough. That was a first for me! It took me three miles to get past the chocolate taste while running.

I hit my lap button at mile 5. By that point we were averaging 8:47 per mile – and there were some hills. Up and right back down. Then again, and again, and again. I wasn’t expecting all of those, but we talked about how it was like the hill we run every Saturday morning together (sometimes more than once). As the course began to flatten out, we managed to pull a faster pace. I was hitting the Nuun stops whenever they came up – my only problem was the amount I kept getting up my nose and all over my face. I obviously need more practice.

Between mile 6 and 7, I told her if we kept running like we were, I had a chance at a PR. She said she was on track too. At mile 8, our last three miles were averaging 8:28. I hit the lap button and we made our move.

I don’t know if it was the motivation to finally set a new PR, the stress of the week, or the fact that we were running together, but in that moment I became focused on getting to the finish under 1:21:00. My body was recalling negative splits, speed work, strides on tired legs, and every other type of workout I’ve been pulling out. I took a quick sip from the last aid station, knowing that I would need that little bit of umph! from the Nuun. In the last half mile, we started passing 5k walkers, and zoomed around calling out encouragements. I was breathing like I was in the final mile of a 5k. But I was still focused. Right before the finish chute, my friend pulled ahead. My legs were like jelly and I could not catch her! My finish was still strong – hers was just a little stronger. I saw 1:20:xx on the clock and I knew I had it. That last mile and change was in 8:07. The dry spell was over and I set my first new PR in almost two years!

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Now for the fun part! A little Nuun, some water, and a whole bunch of chocolate. The medal was a nice touch too!

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Double PRs!

Double PRs!

The whole group

My friend’s mom (next to me) won her age group! They all look cold!

I am so glad I decided to do this race. It was well done, well supported, and even though I didn’t register in the cheapest price, I still feel like it was a good value for what I paid. I’ll be looking forward to it next year. I also hope to see Nuun as a hydration sponsor in more races, because that was great! The only problem I’m having is that the race kicked off a chocolate frenzy for me and I’m still trying to get my eating back to normal. It didn’t help though that we had a chili cook off (with desserts) and a Super Bowl get together in the same weekend.

Ahhhhh! Now it’s time to taper for Cowtown. I’m so ready!

 

 

 

Speed Week

For all the worrying about my running speed in my last post, last week things sure turned around. I had decided not to worry so much about the long run pace and marathon coming up, and instead I focused on some faster runs during the week. This was mostly due to lack of motivation in getting out of bed on those mornings. But the result was confidence building, speedy for me miles.

Tuesday, I ran a warm up mile, and then went for three miles near 5k pace. I really don’t even know what that pace is anymore; it’s been so long since I’ve run one. I hoped to run near the eight minute range, but my splits were actually 8:45, 8:22, and 8:33. It may not have been the pace I wanted, but it was a good little workout nonetheless.

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On Thursday, another late start, I decided to do half mile repeats with quarter mile recovery. While slower than previous times, I managed to run this one consistently. My splits were: 4:01, 3:59, 4:00, 4:00, 4:00, 3:59. That was a huge win for me, and another boost in my confidence.

Monday and Friday were easy run days, so I focused on slowing myself down, not looking at my watch, and paying attention to my breathing. I think slowing down on these days definitely helped me to have better workouts.

I also believe it was part of what set me up for a great long run on Saturday.

Saturday morning, I got up late (again) and immediately had to shorten my long run from 20 down to 18 miles. I needed to be home before 9:00 and my daughter’s district swim meet was that day as well. I don’t know if it was the urgency to finish by a certain time, or the fact that I went to bed before 9 pm on Friday night, but I had no trouble running under 9:30s the whole time. I started out with the first five miles averaging 9:25, and then met the group around mile 8. I ended up with several miles under 9:00 range and then as I ran home to finish, my pace slowed some. Overall, I was completely surprised that I was able to pull off this run with this average pace. Maybe I woke up my muscles with the speed work earlier in the week. It also helped that the weather was beautiful. It was in the high 40s when I started, and I was in long sleeves and shorts. By the end I was pushing up my sleeves and sweating. It was great!

IMG_7167I think that might have been one of my fastest 18 milers ever!

After finishing with my core and strengthening, there was a swim meet on the schedule. I watched my oldest daughter swim her fastest times ever in the freestyle and backstroke. She will be going on to the regional meet this weekend as part of the 400 relay.

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Sunday, the weather was beautiful again, so the bike came off the trainer and I headed outdoors with my ten year old son. The only problem was I obviously forgot how to unclip from my pedal and when we stopped in a parking lot, I fell right over. We had to cut our ride short so I could go home and clean it up. My husband asked him if it scared him when I fell. He said, “Once I knew she was ok, no. I’ve seen her do it before.” Yes, yes he has. One day I won’t have to remind myself to unclip before I lean. So I will probably stay out of the pool this week until my leg is not so yucky. The worst part is right below my kneecap, which is affecting the bend of my knee. I’ll spare you a picture of that.

I did part of my Monday run on the treadmill because I didn’t know if it would alter my gait – it didn’t. But I did put off some post run strengthening such as donkey kicks. That’s okay though. It’s race week!

I’ll be heading to the Hot Chocolate 15k on Saturday. I’ve never done this race, so I’m looking forward to it. Also, the hydration sponsor is Nuun, and you all know how much I love that!

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Have a great week!