2017 Too Hot to Handle 15k

The Too Hot to Handle 15k is a race that I’ve done several times. I don’t mind running this race in July, because they do a good job of keeping runners cool. I also like to test out my fitness a few times in the summer with longer races to see how I’m progressing. My reasoning is that if I can run x:xx in the summer when it’s hot, then when it’s cooler I’ll be flying! I talked my running buddy into doing it with me, of course. Racing is much more fun with friends.

This year was definitely hot. The overcast skies from my last two races were gone, and the sun was shining when we started.

I didn’t really have a time goal, but I hoped I could finish around 1:24:00 or faster. I also knew the chances of placing in my age group were slim. This is a popular race and there are some fast runners in my age group! My first mile was 8:57, second in 8:34, and the third was 8:43. At this point I held to the idea that a 1:24 was possible. I focused on keeping each mile under 9:00 pace. I sipped on Nuun in my handheld bottle to stay hydrated, and ran under overhead sprinklers as I passed them. It was mostly an out and back course, so I made mental notes of the aid stations for the way back. Miles 4,5, and 6 were 8:37, 8:45, and 8:57. It was after mile 6 when the heat started to get to me. I grabbed ice cold towels when I could, squeezing the water out over my head and neck. Mile 8 was my slowest with 9:06 when there was a steep hill. I was super proud I didn’t walk it. I tried to drop my pace down more for the last two miles, but basically I was hanging on with what I had left. Coming around the last turn, I wanted to kick it up a notch but I had no more gas in the tank.

My first thought when I finished was, “It’s all good until the sweat drips into the eyes.” Oh my! I couldn’t see anything due to the salt burning my eyes! It took me a few minutes to cool down using the ice cold towels and sipping on my Nuun. I had the best two orange slices ever, and sat down on the curb to watch for my friend and another runner from our group to finish.

We survived!

My official finish time was 1:24:19. My Garmin showed I ran 9.55 miles at a pace of 8:50, so I feel like I ran well – especially for a race in July. I’m not back to where I was in 2014, but I’ll get there.

This past Saturday, I decided to run 10 miles for my long run. I had no specific pace, I just wanted to get a good double digit run in because I’d be gone the next weekend. Also, marathon training starts on the 24th and the first week has a 12 miler. Our group left from our usual place and the humidity was so thick! Then in mile 2, the sky opened up and we were running in a downpour. I did feel a little less crazy though since others were out there too. Some headed back one direction, and we went a different way to add a few miles. Then I started to feel blah.  My stomach wasn’t feeling great, and I found a timely construction porta-potty. By mile 7, I was ready to be done but we were still two miles from the park. Thankfully the rain had turned to a mist which kept us cooler. We made another pit stop at the gas station for my difficult tummy, and I was talking myself down from 10 miles. When we got the park, I made another restroom stop and we were at 8.7. We decided to loop around and then walk the rest of the way to the cars, but when we got close to mile 9, she says “Let’s just round it off to 10.” It was my fastest mile and the only one that felt good. If my friend had not been there to keep me going, I don’t know if I would have made it to 10. But we got it done, and then we rehydrated with watermelon. It was great.

It’s been a while since I felt that bad on a long run, so I guess I was due one. I am thankful for my running friend because we push each other to do more than we would on our own. We each have our good days and bad days, but we stick it out together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wrapping up 2016

Once the dust from last Sunday’s race settled, I went through a bit of a period of disappointment. Trying to examine what I could’ve changed, yet trying to still be proud that I did something big. Dallas was my 14th marathon, and even though I didn’t reach my time goal, that’s still kind of a big deal. So I decided to do some reflecting on my year as a whole to help myself move on past the post-race funk.

2016 was a big year for tri-ing new things and facing fears. (See what I did there.)

I conquered my first open water swim. In a group. Of strangers. Very fit triathletes. I didn’t die from embarrassment.

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I did my first Olympic triathlon – which coincidentally was the first time I swam a mile.

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I rode in my first bike rally. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I survived. I also learned not to grip the handlebars too tightly.

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I completed my first half Ironman. Now that was a hard day, and I didn’t even know I could do it.

Until I did.

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I set a new PR at the Hot Chocolate 15k back in February. And I took a “shot” of M&Ms in that race too. That was a first, and not recommended. At least not at a fast pace.

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I also drank a whole lot of chocolate milk this year! 🙂

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The triathlon adventures brought renewed passion to my running. I have decided to continue to pursue my running goals while keeping up my fitness in the pool and on the bike. I learned that I can continue to improve in many ways and continue to find new goals to challenge myself.

It’s been a pretty busy year, and I’m looking forward to 2017!

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!

 

 

Too Hot to Handle 15k

All the rain we had between May and June had me spoiled with cooler temperatures. Then all of a sudden everything dried up and July got hot. Thank goodness we have been doing group social runs at 6:30 on Tuesday evenings. I believe that helped with my heat acclimation for the Too Hot to Handle 15k on Sunday.

This was my third year in a row to run this race. The first two years, I set a PR. This year, I knew it was out of the question. Since I have been building back my strength, I set out to enjoy my July race.

According to my Garmin connect, for the 7:30 start time it was 81 degrees with 70% humidity.

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Oh, the things we do because we love to run!

 

For the first five miles my friend and I ran together chatting just like we do on our Saturday long runs. It was nice to talk about observations throughout the race with someone else, instead of mentally tweeting and blogging through the miles. Without really focusing on speed, by mile five our average pace was 9:01. We both carry a handheld as we run, so it was the aid station just after the turn-around – near mile 5 – before we slowed so I could add some water to my bottle. Just before that, I realized I forgot my additional Nuun tablet to refill my bottle. Not a smart move for a heavy sweater.

As we approached mile 6, I started to get the nauseous “I’m running too hard for the heat” feeling, but I kept steady with my friend. I vowed to cross the 10k timing mat before I took a walk break. I sent her on ahead and for the next 3 plus miles I ran/walked with no rhyme or reason to the ratio. I ran until I felt too hot, then I walked until I felt better. I noticed that I could run faster if I took walk breaks, than if I just ran slower. Somehow, even with the stops at aid stations for cold towels, I kept my average pace for those last miles under 10 minutes a mile. That’s progress.

My finish time was 1:29:08 which put me 13th in my age group (out of 72). Not too shabby for a race with almost 800 finishers. Even though I ran slower this year – by several minutes – I decided not to sweat it (ha!) and be content with where I am.

I ran over 9 miles, with a pain free foot, in the summer heat, without throwing up. That, my friends, is a win.

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Plus, I now have this nice medal combo to show for it.

 

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The next race on my calendar is the sprint triathlon on August 9th.

 

 

 

 

How to Set a PR in July

 

Yes, I know, I’m still behind on posting my race recaps. I have valid excuses reasons though. In my last post I wrote about moving and remodeling. It has been more extensive than I thought and the weeks have flown past. Expect to see more regular posting in the future because we now have DSL! After using dial-up and then an air card for the past seven years, I feel like I’ve moved out of the dark ages. I couldn’t be more excited! No more firing up the laptop and waiting to connect.

But this is a running blog, so I should move back to my topic.

How do you set a PR in July? (Especially in Texas)

Run a new-to-you distance. Instant PR no matter what the weather conditions are like. I chose to do the Too Hot to Handle 15k in Dallas. The price was great and it included a finisher’s shirt and a medal. I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss doing a 15k with my three years of running, but the distance was perfect. It is a nice sorta long race.

Fortunately for the runners at this race, the weather conditions were outstanding for July. Overcast, rainy, and cooler temperatures. It was great. The only part about the race I didn’t like was the parking issue. It was at White Rock Lake in Dallas, an area I’ve run several races at but have never had to drive myself to. This time I was on my own, and of course I got turned around and ended up in a traffic jam. I made it to the start with 10 minutes to spare. That wasn’t enough for the porta potty line. If there is one thing runners need to improve on, it is the speed at which a porta potty line moves. Really.

Beautiful conditions for a July race!

Beautiful conditions for a July race!

I held on to my pace pretty well for the first 4-5 miles. I had a slowdown in there for a few miles, then picked back up toward the end. And there was a port-potty stop for me along the course. Darn those long lines at the start. It was probably not the fastest I could have done a 15k in, but with all I’ve had going on this summer, I was pleased with my effort and my time (minus the approximately 2 minute pit stop).

The Swag Photo

Another plus for the month of July was that I celebrated three years from my first training run on July 26, 2010. I love looking back to see how I’ve progressed. That first run was a twelve minute struggle, but I persevered. If you haven’t started running yet, what’s stopping you? I started my training in the middle of a Texas summer. Now running is a part of who I am.

 

Do you keep a running log to track progress?

Has running become a part of you or do you struggle to find a way to do it?