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.

IMG_8085

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.

IMG_8088

 

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.

IMG_8092

IMG_8097

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.

IMG_8087

Two Long Runs and a 10k (McKinney Believe)

Going into the last month of training for the Dallas Marathon, I had mixed emotions. On some days, I felt like my training was right on – hitting the paces and feeling the mileage, but recovering well. Other days, I was frustrated that I’ve moved “backward” in my speed. I would wonder if my fastest days were two years ago, and if I would ever get close. I know not to rush things though, so I’ve been moving along following the paces to run a four hour marathon.

During peak week, I had planned to run a 22 mile long run. Yes, I know that’s long. But I also know that my body does best when it knows what to expect on race day. 16 mile long runs don’t mesh well with my body – as I learned a year ago.

The wind that day was terrible, and it was cold. Several miles into my run – right before I met up with the group – I received a text from my husband who was still at work. He was going to be a few hours later than planned. That meant that if the heating company called (we were waiting on a part) to come repair our unit, then I would need to be at the house. That call came in right as I hit mile 14. They said they could be there in 10 minutes, and I asked for 15. I was a mile from the car, so I ran a fast mile back and got home just as they pulled up.

IMG_6805

An hour later we had heat, which was a necessity because it would drop below freezing for the first time of the season. Yes, winter finally arrived to North Texas.

When he finished, I had just enough time to knock out two more miles before I needed to get my daughter to the track for a physical assessment (for¬†something¬†she’s applied for).

IMG_6806

I managed¬†to squeeze in three more at the track. My total for the day was 20 over the span of 5 hours, but it’s okay because I’m giving myself some slack this year. Besides, it’s still time on my feet so it’s not wasted.

IMG_6808

 

Side note: My daughter is a swimmer. She doesn’t really like to run, partly due to allergies. Allergies in north Texas are the worst – so I’ve heard. I’ve run with her a couple of times to make sure she knew the pace she needed to be able to do. Remember, the wind was still awful. The sun was out but it was cold. She started her first lap wearing my headband and jacket, and by the end of the fourth, they were gone. Later, she tweeted this.

IMG_6862

I’m so proud of her! This was a hard thing for her to do and she did it well.

Thanksgiving day, I was ready for my last hard, long run. This was also my way to ease into taper. The plan was 16-18 with 12 miles at race pace (9:09). My running friend and I agreed to meet, and we had another runner friend show up to run with us. This was the confidence boost I needed after the split long run the week before. She pushed me, and I managed to get 12 at a 9:04 pace, and I was pleased with the overall pace.

IMG_6838IMG_6841

My husband was around some too on his bike, so the miles went by faster than expected.

IMG_6837

My legs were shot the rest of the day though, but it was also due to the amount of time I spent in the kitchen. Overall, it was a good day. Running, family time, food. What more could I ask for?

 

Well, how about a great race to keep up that confidence building?

The rain that started Thursday afternoon and didn’t stop until Monday night. By Friday afternoon, we began keeping watch under the house and running the pump to keep the downstairs from flooding. It wouldn’t stop raining. All that evening, we would set the timer for 30 minutes then go turn on the pump until all the water was out, then set the timer again. It wouldn’t stop coming down. All this rain – crazy! Around 10:00, I crashed and my husband took over. I got up around 2 am and took the next few hours until I left for the race. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to a cold, rainy 10k on little sleep. It was like having a baby in the house again getting up so much. But my friend and I were going together and misery loves company right?

IMG_6847

I had run this race before in 2010 and 2011 – the 5k – and it was the first race I realized I might possibly be competitive in my age group. I decided to go back to it this year and run the 10k. Thankfully, the 10k started before the 5k, but they also had to change the route due to flooding. So we ran the 5k route twice. Double the hills, double the fun!

I didn’t start my watch early enough, so for the first mile and a half, it was searching my location. I was running by effort, and I couldn’t feel my toes. Yet, I warmed up quickly and had my jacket off and tied around my waist. Not the most fashionable look, but it was nasty weather and I didn’t care.

I did like sharing the route with the 5k, because I was able to see two others from our local running group on the course.

When my GPS finally started working, I managed to keep my pace in the 8:10-8:15 range. I felt strong and I was beginning to feel my toes again. The rain had mostly stopped, or slowed to a slight mist. I aimed for a strong even finish which was uphill. Why? But my legs hung in there.

I know there were less participants this year because a lot of people opted to stay out of the weather. Still, I was surprised to find my name on the results sheet as the Female Master’s winner with my time of 52:02. It certainly wasn’t my fastest! But it was a good, solid, consistently paced run.

…and¬†another¬†block added to my mental building.

This race kicked off a trifecta of race weekends. I’ll be at Rock n Roll San Antonio this weekend for Team Chocolate Milk, and then next week is the Dallas Marathon.

Thanks for putting up with my lengthy post. I think I’m mostly caught up now. ūüôā

 

 

 

 

Back to School and Training

If the last two weeks are any indication of what this school year will be like, then it will be a doozy. I need to get organized and get my stuff together, so I can enjoy this year and not be stressed by running behind. I also want to be¬†present for my kids. We have a senior in high school this year with marching band and swim team, and one starting junior high with band. Then the baby of the family is in his last year of elementary. There’s a lot going on.

We had to update shot records.

No tears this round, but she still got ice cream.

No tears this round, but she still got ice cream.

We went to a sneak peek band performance, and then they marched on the field with their big sister.

IMG_6274

We hosted a preteen retreat this past Friday for incoming seventh graders at our church, and a few youth helpers. I ate junk food.

The key word here is

The key word here is “a” which would have been fine if that’s what I stayed with.

Then the first day of school came way too fast, and it coincided with the first day of marathon training. So here we go back to routines, schedules, and busy weeknights.

IMG_6293

Now, let me get back to running.

Somewhere in the midst of all the “pregame” activities, I ran a local 10k. It’s one of the races I do every year. In fact, it was my first 5k – August 2010. It is in August, and it is hot, but I like supporting the United Way. This year, my running friend and I had started a 5k beginner group to finish the program with this race. We had a few that stuck with it through the warm Saturday mornings, and I would have considered it a success even if we had just one person come. I created a Facebook group based off of this blog – Anyone Can Run, and used it to communicate workouts and other information.

The way the course is laid out, the 10k turns right and goes over the highway via a pedestrian bridge (read: uphill, then down), up another small hill. Turn down a road that slopes uphill, run a gentle downhill, up another hill, back down the slope, back over the highway, and then run the flat 5k course. The 10k is a challenge. It is not a PR race. I say that because it goes right by my house. Twice. Those are not the kind of roads I do my speedwork on. I head to flatter terrain for that. But my neighborhood is great for building strength. It was nice when we moved into the 5k course. It’s an out and back, so I was able to see the runners from our training group and cheer them on. ūüôā

I struggled through the race around mile 4.5. It has been a while since I’ve ran that far – fast. Thanks to small races, I still placed first in my age group.

IMG_6249

There was a surprise as the race director/President of the United Way chapter called me up to the stage to thank me for encouraging others with this race and coming to support it every year. Then he asked me to say a few words. My belief has always been that if you just stick with it, you won’t regret it. That’s what this blog is about – my parents who started running in their 60s, my friends who were late 40s and 50s, my brother who is just a bit younger than me.

IMG_6250

I was a few minutes off from my best course time two years ago, but I haven’t been running fast this year from my injury. The race did help me come up with training goals and paces for my marathon in December. I have to remember to work from where I am, not where I was.

I’m excited about the Dallas Marathon this year. There are several from our running group who will be doing their first marathon in Dallas – including my best running friend. As soon as she registers.

I’ll update more on my training/race plans next post. As soon as I finish planning out the second half of my training schedule…

Yes You Can (SEF Arts Fest)

Saturday was my favorite race day of the year. This was the fifth year¬†our family has participated in the Sherman Education Foundation run. There is a 5k, 10k, and fun run. The schools get involved and it’s one of the biggest local races we have. The goodie bags are awesome – string backpacks, reusable bottles, etc… It’s also held in conjunction with the Sherman¬†Arts Festival. What better way to spend the day as a family than to run together and eat funnel cake?

This year we changed things up a bit. In the past I have run either the 5 or 10k, then ran the fun run with the kids as a cool down. This time, my youngest two decided they wanted to do the 5k. Since their first 5k in April – an untimed color run – they’ve been asking to do another. My parents planned a trip up. My dad was going to run the 10k, and my mom was going to walk her first 5k. My husband (who got his fill of mandatory running in his Navy career) was the finish line support crew.

Earlier in the week I decided not to change my marathon training around. I wanted to see how I could race on tired legs. I’ve run my fastest times when I was marathon training. Go figure. But since it was still warm and humid all week, I gave up hope on a PR. By Saturday morning I had been dealing with lack of sleep, busyness at work, busyness at home – helping translate Spanish homework at 10 pm – and general stress all week. My Garmin had quit, my appetite was blah, and running felt tougher than it should have. I needed relief and sleep. Oh, and this was an “easy” week for training.

Thank goodness there was no football game Friday night.

Saturday morning, I ran to the start as my warm up and met up with the rest of my crew. I also ran into my friend who was running the 5k as a shakeout run before her first half marathon the next day.

photo 1

The 10k course was hilly and tough – especially the hill between mile 4-4.5. It knocked the wind right out of me. That’s also the point where my legs said, “Hey, we ran 9 miles yesterday. What the heck are you doing?” Since I didn’t have a GPS watch, I had my iPhone tucked in my iFitness belt with the Nike Plus app going. I had the audio on, but my breathing was so awfully loud, all I could hear for the first three miles was “average pace 7…” I had no idea how fast I was going, but I had my eye trained on another runner from our group who is faster than me. Before the race, I told her I was using her as my rabbit. After the hill, I lost her. I did what I could to run strong, but I was so grateful to be finished. My official time was 50:54, and my mile splits on the app were 7:33, 8:01, 8:09, 8:10, 8:35, and 8:33. Oops. I went out just a little too fast.

After I crossed the mat, I heard my son call out to me. Then my daughter came running up. Her face was red from running, but she was smiling. “I finished before you.” I was so proud of them for finishing on their own. The look on their faces when I asked them if they wanted to do the color fun run was priceless. They were done¬†running for the day.

photo 2 photo 3

 

I found my mom and congratulated her finish, then went to cheer in my dad while my husband headed over to the gazebo to hear the band (and our oldest daughter) kick off the start of the Arts Festival.

My dad and I both placed first in our age groups in the 10k. My mom was fourth in her age group for the 5k. Pretty nice¬†for a first race¬†and she’s a fast walker. My friend running her shakeout in the 5k: Grand Masters Overall female winner. (She went on to finish a great half marathon on Sunday.) Her mom ran her first 5k race and¬†placed first in her age group ¬†– at age 70.

I write all this because it goes back to the heart of my blog. I started this blog to honor my dad who ran his first 5k at age 61. He didn’t think he could run. He was walking 30 minutes a day on the treadmill, and I told him he could do a 5k. My mom, who can’t run because of knee problems, was walking 30 minutes on the treadmill at a time. My dad told her she could walk a 5k. So she did. At age 62. Yes, anyone can run. They can participate in many ways.

So many people can get started just because you put an idea in their head that they can do it. Don’t be afraid to say so.

 

And the funnel cake? It was worth it.

photo 4

 

 

 

Lead On

Thanks to a member of Texoma Runners, our local running group, I found one more 10k to run before I change age groups. The Christmas in July 5k, 10k, and fun run was a small race, but with chip timing. Saturday was the hottest day of the year yet, so it made perfect sense to test my Summer of Speed progress. Right?

To give you an idea of my mother runner life, Friday night at 11:30 I was picking up my oldest daughter from church. She had been on a mission trip in Nicaragua for eight days. I got a quick rundown on the drive home and she was ready to crash when we got home. With less than five hours of sleep, the next morning I set off for¬†#3 of my “4 before 40.”

I did enough of a warm up to wake up my legs, and boy it was hot. I realized how small the race was when they had the 10k runners line up at the start. The 5k would start 10 minutes after. I’ve done enough races and finally have the confidence to start near the front instead of safely tucked in the middle. I stood back about two feet from the start so the fast runners could line up in front. But no one stepped up ahead of me ¬†– except for one guy to my right.¬†I had no idea how many runners are behind me and I don’t turn around because maybe they think I’m arrogant lining up at the front. I certainly don’t feel like I belong up front.

Two things ran through my mind:
1. I’m seriously bad with directions. I’m going to follow the others.
2. I feel pretty good.

Side note: My¬†Friday morning run was terrible. I ran six miles at what should’ve been an easy pace, and I felt like I was running with a brick on my chest. It’s not a feeling you want the day before a race.

On “Go!” the runner to my right shot off and I fell in line behind him. For the first half a mile I trained my eyes on his back watching the turns. Then he was gone. Fortunately the course was well marked since no other runners passed me. Where the heck were they? It’s an odd feeling being at¬†the front of a group.

With a left turn near the end of mile 1, I saw a guy about a 1/4 mile behind me. Oh, good. If I’m no longer alone, maybe I won’t get off course.

By the end of the 2nd mile, I still felt strong. My pace was well under 8:00 which would keep me under a 50:00 finish. That was my contingent goal since a PR in July was a long shot.

The course was two 5k loops with a turn through the parking lot for the first loop. The same guy was still behind me. Closer now. It was a matter of time (or maybe a mile) before he passed me.

Heading out for the second loop we met 5k runners finishing their last mile.¬†There were calls of encouragement from runners of both distances. I like to call out “good job” because I know how much it means to me in a race.

At a turn around mile 4 1/2, a volunteer told us we had it when I glanced back. There was one aid station on the course which we crossed at miles 1, 2, 4 & 5. I slowed at mile 5 for a drink. I was hot. I scooted over to the left so the same guy who was behind could go around. I said “sorry” as I moved. He said, “You’re my pacer.” He waited for me. As I picked up my speed I said “Well, I’ve been slowing down.” He offered me some water, which I declined. I guess I sounded like I was dying. We ended up running the entire last mile step for step. The finishing kick put me one second in front of him. That’s when I confirmed that I was 2nd place overall and first female for the 10k. My time was 48:22 which is only about 30 seconds from my PR. My pace per mile splits were 7:40, 7:52, 7:49, 8:10, 8:12, 8:10.

Lest I get a big head, I must admit there were a total of 14 finishers in the 10k and about 40 in the 5k. That keeps me grounded. But I liken it to leading a Saturday group run (which I never do because we have some fast runners in our group).

It was a fun race. Shady, mostly flat, snow cones, and it was for charity. I met some runners from a Facebook group. You can always tell who the blogger is – the one with the camera.

IMG_4964

 

And my summertime running was given another boost.

IMG_4967

Saturday will be my final race before I change age groups. As of today, the forecast is looking good for a 5k.

Stonebridge Memorial Day 10k

There’s something about kicking off a Monday with a race. Of course, that’s not what makes today special. Today is about remembering those who have lost their lives while protecting our freedom.

I enjoy the freedom I have in running down my street, or going to knock out speed work at the track, or head off to a race. I don’t want to take it for granted, ,and today¬†I wanted to keep¬†that focus during my race. I reminded myself to run for those who couldn’t.

IMG_4696

It was an overcast morning in North Texas, and it rained a little on and off before the start. There were some slick and muddy places to watch out for and the race director warned us ahead of time that the timing mat may be slick. “Slow down, it’s not worth getting hurt. Everyone gets a medal for finishing.”

With a break in the rain, we were off. I did wear my Garmin, and decided to track my mile splits. After the first mile, I kicked it up a notch. Somewhere between miles 2 and 3, the rain started again. I didn’t let that slow me down. I was struggling and I knew I wasn’t going to set a PR, but I took solace in the fact that I was able to mostly knock out some negative splits. I was able to pass a few runners, and only was passed by one that I remember – and she was the Master’s winner. My splits (according to my Garmin) were 8:25, 8:03, 7:59, 8:07 (water stop), 8:04, 8:01, and 7:35 for the last 0.2.

IMG_4697

My official finish was 50:44 which was enough for an age group win.¬†I’d like to say I’m okay with my overall time, but that would be false.¬†It’s hard to look at my time I ran last¬†August – which was faster – and say well, that’s just fine. It doesn’t help that my weight loss isn’t going as planned either. So today I had my pity party, which mostly consisted of self-doubt and a few tears. That may seem silly, but I’m being real here. I’m thankful for a husband who can lift me up when I’m down on myself.

The hardest thing for me to understand though, and it really baffles me, is how I have only set my record times in the middle of high mileage training for a marathon. I set PRs in both the half and 5k back in March one month between two marathons. How does that happen?!?

Now it’s time for me to move on from my doubts and focus in on some speed. I’m looking for a few¬†5 and 10ks to run¬†before my official marathon training starts.¬†I’m not ready to give up on my dream.

 

 

A Nice Surprise – SEF 10K

Forgive me if this post is longer than usual, but I want to give Saturday the justice it deserves.

Do you set goals for yourself?

I’m not talking about ideas or wishes using words like “someday” or “maybe.” I’m talking about setting specifics. Timelines with steps.

Saturday, I nailed one of the steps I set toward a big goal of mine. The funny thing is – it surprised me.

It was our family’s fourth annual trip to the Sherman Arts Fest and Sherman Education Foundation run. The first and second year we went so I could run the 5k and the kids could do the 1 mile fun run. Last year and this year I ran the 10k and then did the fun run with my two youngest (active recovery).

My goal was to at least break 50:00. I set a PR in August with a time of 50:08 on a hilly course. With the nice cool front that blew in the night before – Hello Fall, nice to meet you – this cold weather runner was ready.

My first mile landed on 7:39. Whoa, girl, I thought, back off a bit. For perspective, my 5k PR from Labor Day was 7:33 pace per mile. I felt strong though, so I just tried to run steady the next few miles. I kept my Garmin screen on my pace, and used the lap button for each mile. I didn’t check my overall time, and about halfway through the race I decided not to check it until after I crossed the finish. I knew my splits were strong, but I’m an English major so calculating my finish time while running at that pace was not going to happen. When I saw the race clock as I finished, I couldn’t believe it.

I saw my husband and kids right as I switched my Garmin screen to check my finish time. I was immediately overcome with emotion.

My official race time was 47:50. 1st in my age group, and 4th female finisher. My pace for each mile split: 7:34, 7:49, 7:39, 7:36, 7:41, 7:37. Not perfectly even, but the first time I’ve had all 7s as the first number at this distance. My time was over¬†two minutes faster from a month ago! (Again, thank you Fall for showing up when you did.) But that’s not what got me emotional. ¬†It was the realization that my dream – the “somehow, someday” idea of qualifying for Boston – is slowly becoming a realistic goal.

Put those steps in place. They are important. Small goals along the way give you motivation to continue.

The fun run with the kids was just as rewarding.

IMG_3899

IMG_3906

My seven year-old was gone in a flash.

I ran/walked with my 10 year old daughter Abby who always wants to run a 5k until we start running. I encouraged her to at least run by the race photographers and smile to make good pictures, then she wanted to walk again. I managed to get a few running pictures myself.

IMG_3911

The best part was on the last straightaway when we passed another young girl walking. I told Abby we should run in to the finish, and she started encouraging the other girl. “Come on, let’s go. You can do it,” she said. “There’s food and water at the end.”

That’s my girl!