It’s Almost Half Time

I took a little break after Danman.

I needed a little time away from the long distances, and the back to back weekend long runs. I had plenty of time for a break, and to still build up for my next half marathon (RNR San Diego). I also needed time to uncover the speed in my legs again. I couldn’t keep it sharp with all the fatigue from the buildup for Danman. Planned breaks are good. Forced breaks are not.

I did different things. I tried a new class at the gym, and it involved burpees and lots of other stuff out of my comfort zone. I also got back to the pool some. I worked with my kettle bell more.

Then I signed up for a local 5k on a whim with our local running group, so there wasn’t much time left to sharpen my speed. You know, there’s only one way to find out your current 5k fitness – and that’s by racing a 5k.

With literally no recent speed work to judge goal pace from, I thought I maybe could run under 25. I ran a few miles before the race, to get my slower miles out of the way. (It takes me a while to warm up.) My goal was to keep my eyes on the back of one of my fast friends, not look at my watch, and just hang on.

My lack of speed work was evident. Fast friend was gone when the gun went off, and I didn’t see her again until I finished! I mostly only looked at my Garmin when the mile splits beeped.

Splits and thoughts:

Mile 1: not too bad, just hang on to this pace (8:13)

Mile 2: Oh goodness, I can’t breathe (8:25)

Mile 3: Just keep it faster than mile 2 (8:22)

My official time was 25:59 which was slower than I wanted, but it gave me a baseline to work from for this summer. It was also enough for an age group win, and that’s not something I take for granted.

Beat the Heat 5k

The next race I had scheduled (to gauge my goal half marathon pace), was the Disco Run 15k. 2 weeks before the half, it would be a good chance to see how my planned pace would hold up over 9 miles. So I talked my friend into it, and we headed down to Dallas last Sunday morning. After I drank my Ucan, we went to the start area to wait. The humidity wasn’t too bad, but it looked like it might get warm. There was a breeze so that helped. Then they announced that the 15k course was flooded, so everyone in the 15k would get to run the 10k. My friend and I looked at each other with disappointment. My first thought was, “Dang, now I have to run faster!” Most people would probably be excited to run less than they signed up for. Not us, we’re weird. We ran about a mile to warm up, and then I was ready to go.

Before the sweat-fest

I made a mental note to try to come in under 55 minutes. I’m really not even sure where I came up with that number. It sounded like a good plan to be under 9:00 pace.

Then we were off!

The first thing I noted was that the course was gravel, and not smooth. There were some larger rocks on the path, and they were worse in the middle. It took a little while for the crowd to thin enough for me to realize this, and I moved over to the side. This slowed me down some, although probably not as much as I’d like to think it did. I was careful though, because I could feel my foot roll across some of the larger rocks and I didn’t want to risk rolling an ankle. My first mile was 8:40. Ok, hang on to that, I thought.

The sun was out and it was warming up. The course was an out and back, so when we made the turnaround just after mile 3, I knew what was coming. By mile 4, I was completely okay with running 10k and not 15. The rocks were doing my legs in, and they were aching. I walked up the steep hill in mile 5, took a deep breath, and then sucked it up to pick up speed again. That mile was my slowest. I made my way around the 5k walkers just past their turnaround, so I did more weaving from the middle of the path to the side again. But it wasn’t too crowded. When I could see the finish area, I picked it up as much as I could to finish strong. When I finished, I remembered how hard it is to run in the heat. This was my first hot race of the year.

We hung around for awards, because the results for age groups weren’t posted. I didn’t think I placed, because there were lots of ladies ahead of me. It’s a good thing we waited, because I ended up 2nd in my age group, and my friend won hers!

I’ve never actually stood on a podium, so that was fun. My official time was 54:52, meaning I met my last minute sub 55 plan.

Watermelon and pancakes at the finish were amazing, because it was a hot morning! They also had a costume contest and a great band. It was a fun themed race!

I’m pleased with both race efforts. I believe I got the best out of myself on both days – no matter what the time was on the clock. This is my current fitness, and that’s where I’m working from. I’m going to try to fit in another 5k in July or August before I move age groups, and see how my speed has improved.

 

This coming weekend, I’ll be racing my first half marathon since Dallas. I’m excited for this trip! I’ve never been to San Diego, and I’ve never gone to run a race without driving there. I’ll be there with Team Chocolate Milk, and you can follow my race updates on Instagram all weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

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Run Coach and Races

Goodness, the month of November was busy! I’m still in the middle of training for the Houston marathon in January, so not too exciting, but I did run a couple of races since my last half.

But first, let me share some exciting news of what has kept me busy this fall. I completed my running coach certification, so I am now a certified running coach with RunRelated! That’s who has coached me for almost a year now, and now I get to be a part of it from that aspect. Before having a coach, I had always planned my own training, and I’m really looking forward to this new journey and helping other runners reach their goals. Take a look and see if RunRelated might be a good fit for you. It’s affordable, individualized training, with access to your coach via email, text, whenever you have questions or concerns.

Through my training, I’ve run a couple of races. The first was a 5k Turkey Trot that I ran with my son. I ran my long run first, and then we went to the race. He wanted to set a new PR, but had been sick the whole week before. Once we started running, he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to run a PR. He would tell me to go on and run my normal speed, but I said I was going to run with him the whole way, just like we planned. During that race he learned a valuable lesson: sometimes the biggest challenge is just finishing a race when you don’t feel your best. I learned that he can out kick me at the finish. 🙂

I also realized, after looking at the pictures, that my little boy isn’t so little anymore.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, I ran the McKinney Believe 10k with a couple of friends. I’ve done this race several times, so I knew what to expect. This was also a last ditch effort to hit the qualifying time for front corral for Houston. It was a long shot.

I would need under 51:08, and the deadline was the end of November. That was an 8:15 pace. My 5k in September was just under 8:00. It would be a stretch.

Race morning weather was perfect. Mid 40s and sunny, so I ran in my shorts and short sleeves. The first mile is mostly downhill, so that’s misleading. But I hit my first mile in 8:14 so I focused on staying consistent. Miles 2 and 3 were both 8:07. If I can just hold this until mile 4, I thought. My coach’s goal was for me to run sub 52:00. When I hit mile 4 in 8:13, I thought at least I should have that. I had my screen set to show overall time and average pace, so I knew I was still on track and it would be close. But I didn’t take my foot off the gas. I ran those last 2 miles like it mattered, and even though the splits were 8:20 and 8:18, I managed a water stop (kind of) and weaving around 5k runners in the last mile. At least they were running and not walking though. The last stretch of the course goes up and down, and finishes straight uphill. I was not going to sacrifice my time because of a silly hill. I charged up the hill, complete focus on the finish line. I didn’t look at my watch until I finished. My last .3 mile was at an 8:06 pace.

My finish time didn’t meet the cutoff, but my average pace was right on. Had I run closer to 6.2 instead of 6.3, I would have made it. But more importantly, I saw the runner that I’ve been searching for the past 4 years. I ran a race time I haven’t come close to since 2014, and I’m finally starting to see the results of my efforts. I’m starting to believe in myself again, and that matters more to me than a specific corral. When I posted this on my Instagram, I said “it’s not always about race times, but sometimes it is.” My official time was 51:38, and a quick search on Athlinks confirmed it.

Plus, I had a nice little age group win too.

 

In my next post, I’ll recap my Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio weekend. It’s a busy month of racing! 

Catching Up on Races and Training

It’s the summer that won’t end here in Texas. It feels like almost every run has been 80 degrees and high humidity. But that hasn’t stopped me!I’ve stayed busy with a few races, training, and general back to school mom stuff here lately. It’s been a busy couple of months settling into a new routine, so I’m going to attempt a catch up here so I can get back to some consistent posting. Hopefully my writing won’t seem all over the place, but if it does, that’s just the way things are moving here.

MOM LIFE:

School has started, and all the activities that make me question my sanity of training for endurance events. Taxi service is in full effect. Not pictured: swim practice and concession stand duty.

Marching Band Season has begun!

7th grade football

As the youngest kids get older, my bedtimes get later. I’m hoping since my big goal race is later in the year, that most of this busyness will pass before peak training for the marathon hits. I hope.

RECENT RACES:

The Hustle for Health was in the dead heat of August. I ran the 10k, and my son ran the 5k. They moved locations this year to a brand new park that opened in Denison. I was kind of sad because the old 10k course went right in front of my house. It was a hard course for the first half, but the second part was flat. This new course was different. Hills were still in the course, but I wasn’t a fan mostly because the last couple of miles wound through the park sidewalks. It is hard to manuever around 5k walkers, three or four across. So even though I didn’t care for the new location, I will keep doing this race every year because it was my very first 5k ever ( in 2010). I’m proud of my son for getting through the 5k. It was so hot that morning, and he has been focusing on strength with a little bit of running. My time was okay, but not what I wanted. Still, I pushed myself through a summer race and that counts for something.

 

Earlier this month, I ran my favorite 5k of the year: Sherman Education Foundation Arts Fest. I love this race because so many of our group is out running it, and it is such a good time with my family. It was a little cooler, but mostly because it was overcast. It was still humid. I ended up running the same exact chip time as the year before. I think that’s a testament that I’m not slowing down. 🙂

Age Group Win!

 

My son also ran the 5k, and set a PR running on his own. The only running he has been doing is for football. I sure wish I could do that without any training.

COMING UP:

I have the opportunity again this year to serve as an ambassador for The Cowtown Marathon. If you’re looking for a winter race in Texas, this is it. They do an excellent job. You can register through my team, Anyone Can Run, to save money. Use promo code AMBASSADOR5 to save an additional $5. I’d love to see you there. Mark the last weekend of February on your calendar!

 

MY RACE SCHEDULE:

The Colony Half – October 27

RNR San Antonio – December 2

Dallas Marathon (half) – December 9

Houston Marathon – January 20

Cowtown Marathon – February 24

I may add in some shorter races here and there, but these are the ones I’m registered for so far.

Will I see you at any of these races?

Too Hot to Handle 10k

Saturday, I ran a 10k in Dallas. In July. In the middle of summer.

Thank goodness I didn’t do the 15k.

I’ve run the Too Hot to Handle race several times, and yes, I pulled my friend Leda along for the ride again. Since I had the injury and training for the tri, I hadn’t done much running. I talked it over with my coach and we decided the 10k was a good option. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how it would go since I’ve only had two runs over 6 miles since April. I’ve been doing plenty of fast running for shorter distances, so I was a little concerned about my internal pacing guide.

But the goal was to have fun.

Still dry at the start! Not really. I was sweating.

Starting temperature was 82 degrees (real feel of 88). I decided to not pay much attention to my Garmin, and use effort (breathing) as my guide since it’s been a while since I last ran a 10k. Apparently, I forgot how to line up in the start corral too. I spent a good half a mile trying to weave my way around runners to settle into my pace. I felt like I was holding back, and that was probably a good thing. The course was an out and back at White Rock Lake.

I did see my mile splits when my Garmin buzzed, but I didn’t really focus on them. I just enjoyed the race. I made it to the U-turn, and was so grateful that I wasn’t running the 15k. I was starting to heat up. At the turn around, I sipped some water and dumped the rest over my head. I was feeling pretty good. Then, the heat started to set in, and I was searching for the next water stop. It was after an incline that felt like a mountain around mile 4 and a half. That’s when I knew I should have carried my bottle with Nuun. I was starting to heat up, so I took one of the cold towels they were handing out and wrung it out over my neck and shoulders. I picked up the pace a bit to make up for my slowdown. The course was mostly shady, but there were some stretches in the sun, and I was hot. I would take walk breaks, long enough to slow my breathing, and then pick up the run pace again. As I came around the last turn, I heard the blip of a siren, and I knew the 15k leader was coming in. I ended up crossing the finish line the same exact time as the 15k winner. I hope I didn’t mess up his finish picture. 😉

After I finished, I was grateful for a cold towel, and then I headed to the Nuun table to rehydrate while I waited for my friend.

Red-faced and drenched in sweat!

I honestly was surprised when I saw my splits for the last two miles. I kept my running fast enough that my walk breaks didn’t destroy my pace. Actually, I was surprised about the splits for miles 2 -3. I felt strong through mile 4 (strength training is paying off) and if I had been smart enough to carry my bottle I probably would have been able to go faster. But a runner is always learning…

 

Did I mention that I was glad I ran the 10k?

Leda was glad we ran the 10k too. 🙂

 

We cooled off and refueled with our post race goodies.

The real reason I run races.

Then, I found out I placed 3rd in my age group, and got a trophy. What?!?

 

 

I like running races year round. They keep me motivated to continue training, and it adds some fun to summer running. This is a well done summer race with plenty of sprinklers, cold towels, and hydration. Next up on my schedule is a local 10k in August. I’ll be more prepared to pace that one.

 

Stay hydrated!

 

 

 

 

Turkey, a long run, and a 10k

I should probably be packing for San Antonio right now, but I decided to update my blog instead. 🙂

Last week was busy as I wrapped up week 18 of Dallas Marathon training. It seems like it would never get here, and now all of a sudden I can count the remaining runs on both hands. We switched things up a bit with the holiday, taking a cross-training (actually rest) day on Wednesday instead of our usual Thursday. We had a group run on Thanksgiving with a nice turnout. It was cold, but halfway through, I took off my mittens and headband.

I just can’t do Thanksgiving without a run. It was six miles on a different route with no plan for time or pace. At the time, I thought we were going to just do our usual Friday easy run before Saturday’s race. My friend Leda had other plans.

She texted me Thursday afternoon, and asked what I thought about doing our 14 mile long run on Friday. I think we both felt like the long run took priority over the 10k. So we headed on Friday morning full of turkey, dressing, and pie. It was a rough run that I dubbed the “Tour de Toilets.” Sorry, TMI? I finally called it done at mile 12.5. I felt sluggish, my legs were tired and heavy. I was over it. Leda felt the same way.

Saturday morning, we headed to McKinney for the Believe 10k. We ran this race together two years ago when it was cold and rainy. The weather Saturday, cool and sunny, was perfect for a 10k. We warmed up for a little over a mile, and then I shed my pullover before the race. I like that this race starts the 10k before the 5k so it’s not as crowded. The first mile was mostly downhill, and I kind of put the brakes on to see how my legs were. Leda went ahead and I could see her, but didn’t try to catch her. I ran based on effort, and would look at my Garmin about every half a mile to see how I was doing. I took a water cup somewhere in mile 4 or 5 and managed one sip at that pace. My legs started to complain about the long run, but I didn’t listen. Then they started complaining about the hills. I still didn’t push 100% because I didn’t want to fizzle out at the end. The last mile climbs back up to the finish (forgot about that part), and I did a quick check to see if I could run under 53:00. I pushed hard up the hill to finish, and managed an official time of 52:57. Not too shabby! My splits from my Garmin were: 8:31, 8:25, 8:17, 8:24, 8:20, 8:36, and 8:24 for the last .2 – uphill. 🙂

All the Hills!

Leda set a PR, and we both won our age groups. I was pretty happy with the effort, plus we had a lot of fun. I needed that confidence boost after the crappy (so sorry) run on Friday. 🙂

The race shirts were great too.

Then my family went to Six Flags, and I enjoyed seeing the kids have fun. It was nice to have my daughter home for several days.

This weekend I’ll be running the half at Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio with Team Chocolate Milk. It’ll be a fun weekend, and the last double digit run until marathon day!

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

Marathon Training, An Announcement, and a 10K

I can’t believe it’s been this long since I’ve updated my blog. A lot has happened in my running world, and there’s so much to tell you! I’ll do my best to catch up without turning this post into a book.

I just finished up week four of training for the Dallas Marathon. I’m using the Simple Marathon Training book by Jay Johnson. My friend and I decided we would do this together, which makes it so much better. It’s a 20 week plan, which I haven’t done one that long since my first marathon, but I like the way the training is laid out. The day training started, I was finishing up my last day of camp in Glorieta, New Mexico with our youth. The cooler temperatures (55-60 degrees) and low humidity in the mornings were amazing for running, the 7500 feet of elevation and hills – not so much.

Then Texas welcomed me back with its wonderful high humidity and temperatures.

The training has been going well so far, with one hard workout during the week and the long run being the hardest parts of the week. The rest of the running is done at an easy pace. I’ve been working on slowing down my easy runs, and I think by meeting my friend each day that is helping me. I run a little bit faster pace than she does, so it allows me to slow down as we chat the miles away. School started this week, so the early mornings have become just a tad earlier. My main focus this year is sleep and nutrition. I figure the running part takes care of itself, because I don’t struggle with consistency or getting my miles done. It’s the discipline in the kitchen and getting to bed early enough. If I don’t gain back the five pounds I lost over the spring and summer, I’ll be happy with that.

Somewhere in the midst of my marathon training, I found out some good news. I’m going to be an ambassador for the Cowtown Marathon for their 40th anniversary. I’ve run this race every year since 2013 and I’m excited about this opportunity! Expect to hear more about this race that’s coming up in February.

This past Saturday, the training had a 5k race on the schedule. It worked out perfectly because there’s a local race I’ve done every year since I started running. The United Way Hustle for Health 5k/10k was my first 5k in 2010. The past several years, I’ve opted to do the challenging 10k instead of the 5k. The purpose of the 5k race on week four was to get an estimate with a race calculator for my race goal. I figured a hilly 10k in August would be even more accurate, since I tend to run the shorter distances faster. 🙂 There was a good sized group from our running group with a mixture of 5 and 10k runners. Also, two of my kids ran the 5k together. To me, racing is much more fun when you know other people there.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on my time. The race didn’t start until 8:30, so it was warm. My goal was to run the first half by effort, second half (which is the flat and fast 5k course) faster, and run under 55 minutes. I hit the first mile split in 8:24 and the second in 8:13. Oops. Usually when I run this race, I don’t really start pushing until the turnaround of the second 5k. When I came to that point though, I was feeling the heat from the sun. At every water stop after the first half, I would sip a little and pour the rest of the water over my head. Normally I just stop once in a 10k. According to my Garmin data, it was 81 degrees and 79% humidity, and the sun was blazing. No wonder I felt hot. I got a little nauseous in the last mile so I didn’t drop my pace like I wanted to. It was slowest mile (8:50), and I focused on not throwing up. My husband was riding alongside me for the last couple of miles which helped. There is a nice little downhill right before the finish line so I was able to finish fast with a time of 54:18 and an age group win. I’m satisfied with my effort.

My kids ran together. My daughter wanted to encourage my son who hasn’t run much lately. She told him if he finished under a certain time, she would take him for ice cream. He missed it by a little over a minute. But he has a goal for the next race in September.

 

Our group had a great turnout, and this isn’t everyone. Almost all of us placed in our age group in either the 5 or 10k. 

The race certainly energized my training, and next month we have another local 5k race. I’m not sure how I’ll work it into my training, but I’ll get it done.

 

 

Remembrance Run 10K

Building a better runner has meant that I am going against my natural instinct to run a lot of miles, and instead focus on the little extras that will make me stronger and faster. To start off, I went back to the Racing Weight book. I wrote down my weight and body fat percentage, and ran a 10k time trial. Four weeks later, I did it again. At my third measurement, I had only lost a total of 2 pounds and 0.6% fat, but had dropped my 10k time from 57:00 to 54:36. The marathon fatigue is out of my legs, and I’m moving in the right direction. It’s coming off slowly (thanks to being over 40), but it’s still progress.

My mileage has ranged from 22-30 miles a week. I typically do a faster run on Mondays and speed work on Wednesdays. Thursdays are for cross training and strength. Tuesdays and Fridays are easy runs with a group long run on Saturdays. The other thing I’ve added is taking my daughter to swim about 3 times a week. She made the swim team for high school, and the coach wanted her to work on building strength and endurance. I can handle the endurance part – it’s the only way I know to train! It’s been a nice bonus to my training, because it is in addition to everything else I’m doing. Going to swim after a 10 mile run is a stimulus that I’m sure will pay off in running. I’m not fast in the water, but swimming  makes me feel good.

A week after my last 10k time trial, I raced a 10k. The Remembrance Run on Memorial Day was my first 10k race since last August, and I was excited. My goal was to run under 54:00 based on my most recent Racing Weight check, and to negative split the second half. My husband took the day off and went with me, his mountain bike in tow. The course was an out and back on a concrete path through a park system in McKinney. It went through some of the same areas as the UCAN half marathon. When I was talking about the race and my goals with my friend, she reminded me “Don’t step off the coals.” This is from a book we’re reading to work on the mental part of the running, because we have big goals.

Medals of Honor was at the race, and they had so many bibs of fallen service members you could run for. My race medal would be donated to the family of this young lady:

 

When I lined up to race, I made sure to position myself ahead of small children and people who looked like they would be walking or running in groups. It was an out and back race. I was going to run mostly off of feel, but also check my Garmin to make sure I was consistent. My first mile was 8:32. Then the second one made me nervous – 8:13. But I reminded myself not to step off the coals. Mile 3 was before the turnaround in 8:28. My turnaround mile with the water stop was an 8:47. Then my husband rode alongside in the grass, playing his music, distracting me from my pain. I focused on the runners ahead of me, and caught a few of them gradually. No one passed me. Miles 5 and 6 were 8:33 and 8:38, and I finished the final .2 feeling strong.

So while I didn’t negative split the second half, my overall time was 52:51 which is an average pace of 8:32. I was so excited to meet my time goal – and it showed on the finish line.

I guess I nailed stopping my Garmin too, because it only differed from my chip time by one second. 🙂

My focus was to stay strong even when it hurt. I’ve had too many races lately where I’ve fallen apart halfway. I wasn’t going to let that happen this time. I wanted to be confident that I ran my hardest for where my fitness is right now, and I feel good about it. I didn’t step off the coals. Second place in my age group felt pretty good too!

I have a 5k coming up on July 1st, and I may try to get in a few more short races before marathon training starts again.  But for now, I’ll just have some fun with it and enjoy the change of pace. 🙂