More Summer Racing

It’s been an interesting mix of workouts the past few weeks. I’ve done a couple of bike rides, some trail running, track work, hills, and a little bit of racing to keep my motivation strong. 🙂

 

A few weeks ago, I ran my third half marathon of the year at the Jalapeno Half in Fort Worth.

It’s been a few years since I’ve done this race, and the course is different. I was expecting a hilly tough course on the roads. Instead, we got an overcast day along the Trinity Trails in Trinity Park. It was halfway out on the paved path, a turnaround, and back. I had a goal of wanting to run just under 2 hours. Spoiler alert: I didn’t quite make it, but it was my fastest so far this year. I held pretty steady around the 9:00 pace up until mile 8 and then there was a porta-potty stop in mile 11. But I didn’t quit on myself (no walking) and finished with 2:04:34. Since most of my long runs have been around the 10 mile mark lately, I’m happy with that.

I made sure to bring my own chocolate milk!

It was a big surprise when I checked my results and found I placed 3rd in my age group. I figured it was a small group, but online results showed more than 20, and about 400 runners in the half. Even though it certainly wasn’t my fastest half, it helped boost my motivation to keep working hard. So I’ll take that trophy! 🙂

My next race was a 5k in McKinney this past Saturday – the Red, White, Blue Run. This is why I’ve been working at the track every week – trying to remind my legs they can run fast.

We had some heavy rain the night before and early in the morning, so I wasn’t even sure if I was going to get to race. But the storms cleared out, and I got to the race site early enough to do a couple of warmup miles. My goal was to run under 25:00 based on my Strava mile (7:45) the week before, and my Memorial Day 10k. Prior to this, my last 5k was in September, so I was long overdue for a fast run.

As the start time neared, the early morning cool air had disappeared. At least it was still overcast. There were about 150 runners, so it wasn’t a huge race but enough people to engage my competitive side. The main trouble I had from the start was with my shoes through some wet places. There’s not a lot of tread, and I’ve only used them on the track. But they are lighter than all the other shoes I run in so they feel great! My Garmin buzzed the first mile right around 8:00 pace, and some quick math let me know I needed to hang on or drop it down some. My second mile was almost the same time, and I started to reel in some of the runners that were ahead of me. Right before the end of the third mile, there was a short climb. I knew it was coming, but boy did it hurt. In fact, the whole race hurt! When I saw my pace at the end of the third mile, I knew that to make my sub 25, I needed to bust it out to the finish. It was going to be close, and I thought there was a chance I wouldn’t make it. But then I crossed the finish and saw my time. 24:34!

 

This is probably the best (evenly) paced 5k I’ve ever run. My first mile is always the fastest – by more than a few seconds – but not this time. I didn’t step off the coals!

Strong finish!

I went back to get my yoga mat out of the car and do my strength and mobility (SAM) work. Then I headed back over to the site to check my results. I won Female Masters! More motivation for me to keep working hard – and a pretty nice award too!

 

Later, I compared my time to that September 5k. It was on a flat course and my time was only 11 seconds faster than this one. Even though I have felt slower this year, I’m really running about the same as I was last fall. I think it’s just that I’ve had several races (marathons, half marathons) where I let myself off the hook, and quit chasing my goals with passion. I settled for comfortable, and I’m not okay with that anymore. My running is kind of like my math classes were in high school. I could make good grades, but I had to really work hard to get those good grades. It wasn’t natural for me (like reading and writing). So when I don’t put forth that effort to work on speed, or race, or just push myself period, then I’m just not going to get any better. I want to improve, not stay the same. I don’t know if that makes sense, because I really need to get some sleep right now, but basically I need to be as intentional with my running as I was with my math classes.

This coming Sunday, I have one more race before marathon training starts – Too Hot to Handle 15k. It’s going to be a warm one! But I’m going to do my best and stay on the coals.

 

 

 

Peak Week and a 5k

Last week I finished up my peak week of training for the Dallas Marathon. While the workouts weren’t outstanding, I feel like my training has been consistent and productive so far. The main thing I’ve noticed in the past few weeks, is that I’m not totally exhausted like I usually am. I think I’m doing a better job at rest and recovery. Mostly because I don’t have a high school student this year I’ve been able to get to bed earlier, but I’m also making it a point to nap some on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

The main struggle for me with last week’s training was being able to complete my long run without too much disruption. There was a 5k that I planned to do with my kids on Saturday. We’ve been run/walking together at least once a week for a mile and a half. I’ve considered those “runs” as the gravy on my training, but it is also what pushed me over 50 miles/week for the second time this training cycle. After discussing with my husband about how to get that 22 mile long run in, he suggested to do 19 miles before and then finish with the 5k. So I had a plan.

Thankfully, I have a great running friend willing to meet at 5 am on a Saturday to knock out as many miles as possible. And it was a cold one! For the first time, temperatures dropped in the high 30s, but I was ready. I do love a good cold run.

Love watching the sun rise during a run!

Love watching the sun rise during a run!

We ran until we met up with the group at 7:00 (and some of them gave me grief for wearing shorts), and I ran until it was time for me to get home to pick up the kids for the race. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get all my miles in, and the chance of getting any after the 5k were slim. When I headed home I had 17 done so far.

img_8413

No time goal, just getting in the miles.

After getting the kids to the race site (less than a mile away), I left them in the car to stay warm and I had time to get 2 more miles in. This actually worked well because never really cooled off before the start of the 5k. My husband showed up on his bike to ride along the course and encourage them. When the 5k started, my daughter shot off and I had a hard time keeping up, but my son stayed with me. I knew we would catch her when she needed a walk break. When we caught up to her, I told my son he could go on and run his own race. I would stay with Abby. The race followed the same course that several of the local 5ks use, and I like that it’s an out and back course so I could cheer on others I knew. I was able to see my son on his way back, and my husband was near him on his bike.

I’m really proud of how my kids did on Saturday. Abby knocked off 2 minutes from her fastest 5k, and my son took off 4 minutes. Even though we haven’t run more than a mile and a half at a time since the last 5k, I think the consistency (and cooler weather) paid off for them. After we finished, they told me and my husband we needed to go celebrate their PRs because “that’s what runners do.”

img_8416

 

Another bonus: I got my 22 miles done without feeling beat up. Peak week was all about time on my feet – and I got it done. This week’s plan is to get a solid 12 at marathon pace for my long run.

 

 

Family Traditions (SEF 5k)

Last week was a cutback week for me for marathon training, and I had some fun with it.

Even though the heat hasn’t let up much here, I still got out with the kids and ran to get ready for the 5k we were all doing on Saturday.

They wanted to go to the park to run and then play. Sure, why not?

img_8194img_8193

Then on Thursday we ran a mile and a half. My 13 year old daughter would run ahead and walk until the 10 year old almost caught up to her. Then she’d take off again. Nice, friendly competition between siblings. Two weeks ago, she decided she was ready to start training for the 5k, and she made good progress in a short amount of time.

img_8200

Saturday morning, we were ready to race the Sherman Education Foundation 5k. This was my 7th time to run this race, and it wasn’t the first time for them either. I told them to make sure to run their own race the way they wanted to. Slow and steady, or run/walk – whatever is best for them.

img_8211

After I finished a very painful 3 miles (I have not been training at sub 8:00 pace!), I grabbed some water and a banana, and headed back out on the course to run my kids in. With a little over a half a mile to go, I saw my 10 year old and ran with him for a minute. He went on to finish, and I found his sister a few minutes back. My husband was out on the course with his bike, to encourage them. When my daughter askedhow far she had left to run, I told her about 3/4 of a mile. Her response, “Really? I’m almost done!” Probably not many kids who think 3/4 of a mile is a short distance. My kids have a different perspective on what “far” is. 🙂

I’m proud of the way they ran the race. My youngest ran faster than he did at the 5k in August, and it wasn’t much cooler. The humidity was high – still. I ran almost the exact same time I ran the race in last year (when it was rainy and a little cooler). This year my time was 24:23. I was hoping to get back in the 23 minute range, but I guess if I don’t train for 5ks, I really can’t expect to bust out a time close to my PR. I did manage to win my age group though. I guess I can’t complain about my 5k time if I’m always training for marathons.img_8239

This is my favorite local race of the year because of the traditions around it as a family. The traditions are changing a little with our family – two of my kids had to grow up and move off. 😦 But after the race, we visited the Arts Fest and spent some time at the different booths. And of course we had funnel cake. That tradition hasn’t changed.

With the 5k on Saturday, I got up planning to meet my running buddy for a 12-13 mile long run Sunday morning. This is what I woke up to:

img_8225

With the time constraints (and lightning factor), I reluctantly got on the treadmill. The storms weren’t moving through anytime soon. By the time it started to clear up, I was up to 10 miles. I just finished off at 13, and that ended my cutback week. That was a rough run, but at least I had podcasts to listen to. Before Sunday, my longest treadmill run was 9 miles. I didn’t want to go that far on the treadmill, but I have goals that won’t be reached by skipping a long run. I learned for next time to put towels around the treadmill, because it was a gross sweaty mess. My body is just too efficient at cooling.

img_8230

Partly bad lighting, but yes my face probably was that red.

That ended my first cutback week of Dallas Marathon training, and now I’ll start ramping up the miles while I wait for fall temperatures to show up.

Anybody else?

 

 

 

 

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

Wrapping up Tri Season

Finishing up where it all began…

Sunday, I did my sixth triathlon since I embarked on this crazy journey last summer. I decided this would be my last triathlon of the year so I can focus on marathon training. I talked my running friend into doing the same race we did last year as our first tri: Tri-Rock in Rockwall.

I haven’t spent a lot of time on the bike since Buffalo Springs, but at least once a week I rode either on the road or my trainer. I kept up with the swimming twice a week. Even though I’m not fast, I feel much better about my core after I swim. I’ve focused on more strength training following my swim workouts than I have in the past, and I’ve noticed a difference in my everyday life from it.

I was tired the day before the race: a five mile run with the group, one mile with my daughter, then a bunch of back to school shopping. Combining tax-free weekend with some birthday rewards from Kohl’s, JCP, and other stores paid off for us. By the end of the day, my legs were aching like I ran 15 miles. I wasn’t sure what to expect for the race, but the number one goal was to have fun, and I had my sights set on a PR.

My feelings on race morning were so different from last year. It was just the usual butterflies right before the start that quickly disappeared when it was my turn to jump in the pool.

IMG_3471

My biggest change from last year – being able to swim all the way to the wall without stopping. I only had one person swim by me in the pool. What a great feeling! Last year it took me 10:27 to “swim” 300 meters. This year it was 8:02. There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but…progress.

On to the bike, I was ready to give it all I had. Apparently I forgot about the hills from last year. I was pushing hard though, and my legs were burning. In the last mile, I hear “Hi friend” and look over to see my friend ride past me. She had not ridden her bike once since our last tri in October, and had just pulled it out the day before. That was humbling. But in all fairness, she has more cycling experience than I do. Anyway, I still had my fastest bike split yet. Last year was 14.8 mph. This year was 15.9. So…progress.

We ran out of transition together, and my legs were feeling pretty good considering how hard I pushed on the bike. I didn’t worry about my pace too much, but tried to run steady. It was a two loop course (a little different from last year), and I worked on running each mile faster. I ended up with a 26:08 5k, and I was really excited about that. I can’t really compare the run to last year, because I’m pretty sure the course was short last year. This time I had my Garmin on, so I know the distance was right. But overall, I still set a PR in this race, and wasn’t at the bottom of the age group this time. Again…progress.

IMG_8066

We both had a lot of fun. My friend placed in her age group, and got a pretty neat rock for her award. I wish I could find a way to work on my triathlon and running goals at the same time, but I’m going to call this race the end of my triathlon season.

IMG_8071

My focus now shifts to marathon training which starts on the 22nd. I know that in order to have a strong marathon, I need the mileage. I will continue to cross-train at least once a week either biking or swimming, so I won’t completely lose my progress.  Then after the first of the year, I’ll decide what I want to work on next. I haven’t quite figured out a way to mesh up my big running goals and triathlon goals. Running holds my heart.

Not too shabby for a year's work

Not too shabby for a year’s work.

 

Downtime, Goals, and Kids

I promised myself (and my family) that once I finished Buffalo Springs, I would take a break from training and be present. I would take time with them and time for myself. In the past three weeks, I enjoyed several games of Peanut (think Solitaire with teams) at 9:30 at night with my kids, I went to the library and checked out books that I am actually reading, and have been focusing more on my kids. Also, I went back to my Saturday morning running group. That was one of the things I really missed while half Ironman training. I enjoy the camaraderie of the group, and even though I don’t get the chance to run with them all (some of them are really fast), it has been nice to catch up and meet some new members.

“Are you the one who did the triathlon?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

One of the main things I’m working on now is helping my kids. My oldest daughter is going to UT on a Navy ROTC scholarship in August. I’m running with her in the mornings to help her get the endurance she needs to have when she checks in. My 10 year old wants to run another 5k. So I have been going out with him in the evenings to get him running consistently. He’s done a few 5ks in the past two years, but this is the first time he has shown sustained interest and reminds me what days and how far we need to run.

Last week, I took the three kids to the track so we could all stay together. Even the 13 year old who likes the idea of running until she actually does it, came along. It wasn’t the storybook ending I would have liked to have that night, but at least I have some memories in pictures for when they’re all grown up.

IMG_8014IMG_8016

 

I made a deal with myself that I would keep my activity level to under an hour after the half Ironman. I wanted to give my body the rest it deserved before marathon training starts in August. I also wanted to finish taking off the weight I had put on the last two years. Up until last weekend, I stayed true to my promise of staying under an hour.

On Saturday, I ran just over an hour with the group, and then headed out with my daughter for 30 minutes to run/walk. The next morning, I went on a bike ride with my friend and her husband. She keeps asking me to go with her with the cycling group on Saturdays, and I keep telling her I don’t want to be on my bike that long. Plus, it conflicts with the run group. But this time when she asked me to go ride, I relented because it was on Sunday morning and under two hours.

IMG_8019

I didn’t hate it.

But I’m going to try to keep the endurance bug in check for a few more weeks.

Last night when my son and I ran together, he told me he was moving slower so he could work on his stamina. We are up to a mile and a half. For a child who would rather play video games all summer, I think we’re making great progress.

IMG_8022

Now that I’ve talked a little about how I’m enjoying my downtime, tell me what’s something you do?

Band on the Run 5k

After the Cowtown Marathon, I chose to have an unstructured, no stress week of activity. Everyday I set my alarm for my “sleeping in” time – early enough to get everyone up and ready for the day. Two of those days I woke up before the alarm. On Wednesday morning, I did an easy spin on the bike trainer for 30 minutes, and on Thursday I ran a whopping two miles without looking at my pace.

I also started the process of losing the marathon weight gain. Again. At work, I was faced with the temptation of homemade cookies on Tuesday, pizza on Thursday, and donuts on Friday. But I passed by it all without a second glance. I also baked brownies for the pasta dinner on Friday without a taste test. So yay for all those victories!

Our high school’s band program held its second annual pasta dinner and 5k over the weekend, beginning with the pasta dinner on Friday night. I caved a little on my week of stellar eating with a small plate of spaghetti and 2 oatmeal raisin cookies. I did give my son three of the four meatballs on my plate though, but sitting through the performances of 5 different concert bands weakened my resolve against the cookies. That’s what happens when you have one child in the first band, and one playing last. You’re sitting there for a bit.

Normally, I wouldn’t choose to race a 5k one week after a marathon, but this was about raising money and supporting the band – and it was a great way for me to participate. With my feet.

My parents had come up to visit, go to the dinner/concert, run the race, and celebrate my daughter’s birthday (18!). I’m glad the race was close to the house, because it was kind of bonkers getting everyone ready and out the door. I’m so accustomed to just getting myself ready. But we finally made it and with enough time for me to do a little warm up with my friend. My legs felt strange – like I was bouncing almost. I didn’t know what to expect for the race.

IMG_7388

The plan was for me to run my race, then go back and run my kids in. My husband was out on his bike, so he could keep me posted on their progress.

My friend and I ran together for almost all of the race. It was a small race and we started near the front, behind some high school runners. My favorite thing about this course is the familiarity. I knew the route, and the little uphill near the beginning would be a nice payoff at the end. The rest of the course is flat. At the turnaround, there were band members playing familiar “football game” tunes. I saw my two kids at different points and my parents and waved. The kids were smiling which was a good sign. I managed all right up until the third mile, when I ended up with a side stitch. So I’m trying to hold my pace steady while pinching my side to ease the stitch. That’s what I get for trying to go all out. Finally when I hit the downhill, I found my kick and ran through the finish to the sounds of the band playing the fight song for every finisher. The 5k hurt, but I didn’t have time to whine.

 

I grabbed a bottle of water, reset my Garmin, and headed back to run my kids in. It took less than a mile for me to get to my 10 year old son. He was running for 60 seconds, and walking for 10. I ran with him for a minute, before my husband sent me back to find my daughter. This little boy was in good spirits, and he was going to make it just fine.

Then I found my daughter who was red-faced and smiling. She had been walking with my mom for a bit, but then started talking to someone else and fell behind. She was doing great with her plan of running cone to cone, then walking to the next one. When we got to the downhill, I told her to run the rest of the way in and I pulled off to the side. After she finished, one of the moms came up to me and said, “she encouraged me out there.” That makes me so happy.

IMG_7407 IMG_7409The other great thing about small races: age groups are smaller. I actually was the third female to finish, with a time 3 minutes slower than my PR – but the effort was all out. My daughter was 2nd in her age group. My son is in a more competitive group. We had to remind him that he’s the youngest, and there’s a big difference between ages 10 and 14. He did take almost 3 minutes off of his last 5k though! I reminded them that the important thing was they had fun, and this was for the band. We all had a good time, and my husband didn’t have to run so he was happy. I want to continue to foster the no pressure approach to running with my kids, and activities like this help.

 

IMG_7405

It was a fun race, and I hope to see it grow for next year. It also reminded me how much I’ve missed running shorter distances.

 

Do you enjoy racing 5ks? What about small races?