Settling with my Running Pace

Well, I’m still waiting on that routine to fall in place, but….it’s getting better. I had an emotional week last week. The first part of the week, I was struggling with different things with the kids. I was irritable, edgy, and ready to crash by 8:30 every night. By Thursday, things started to turn around. It started when I was notified of the races I’ll be able to register for sponsored by Team Chocolate Milk, and that night we found out my daughter was picked up for the Navy ROTC scholarship for her top school choice – the University of Texas. As you can imagine, that was a pretty emotional moment – with more to come. 🙂

Also, last week’s training went pretty well. It included a ride on the bike trainer, a weight session at the gym with a friend, and a swim. All that, and I still managed to get over 40 miles of running in.

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I also got my heavy medal from doing two Rock ‘n Roll races this year – as a part of Team Chocolate Milk.

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The only drawback was Saturday’s long run. I felt okay starting off, running with my friend (who also decided to do Cowtown), and we were running 9:30s up until about mile 6. I felt sluggish and blah. As the miles continued, we slowed. I wasn’t warming up much either. My friend was feeling as blah as I was. We (I) decided not to worry about pace and just get the miles done. This was harder for me than for her. I’m usually pretty pace oriented on my long runs. I know that every run can’t be great, but I tend to be a little hard on myself sometimes. Or so I’ve been told. At least the sun finally came out around mile 12 to warm us up a bit.

Mittens are still on so it must be cold!

Mittens are still on so it must be cold!

After bouncing some ideas off my husband later that day, I decided to quit being so worried about my running speed. I need to spend some time getting ready to train for the half ironman. It won’t hurt me to cut back a bit on the run miles to work on my weak areas. I’m not under the pretense that I can knock out a sub four hour marathon 10 weeks after a strong 4:17 – and I’m totally okay with that. In fact, the bike and swim will probably help me more at this point.

I’m trying to look at the big picture. Right now, this is what I see.

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Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio with Team Chocolate Milk

I had the opportunity to run Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio this past weekend as a part of Team Chocolate Milk, and that race now falls in my top 5 for best race experience. A lot of factors went into making it a great weekend, where the only major hiccup was the 45 minute traffic delay 20 minutes away from home Sunday night.

I asked my best running friend along for the trip, and she was able to register with a good discount. We have been training for the Dallas Marathon together, so it seemed appropriate that we should do our last long training run together in San Antonio.

When I picked her up Saturday morning, we laughed about we looked different from our usual Saturday morning attire. Hair fixed, makeup on, regular clothes…mostly. We clean up well.

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This was her first experience with a large race expo, and it was great! We shopped a little, stopped by the Another Mother Runner booth and met Sara, walked right past Meb, and I picked up some of my favorite hydration, Nuun. We stopped by the Chocolate Milk booth and I helped my friend win a towel by answering all the quiz questions correctly. I was happy to see so many people at their booth learning all about the benefits of chocolate milk!

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After checking into the hotel, we made our way down to the Riverwalk in search of an early dinner. We found a nice little restaurant with no wait and split a pasta dish and bruschetta.

When in San Antonio...eat Italian?

When in San Antonio…eat Italian?

I’ve been to San Antonio a few times, but always in the spring or summer. The city and the Riverwalk were absolutely beautiful this time of year. Everything was decorated for Christmas, and I loved walking around just taking in the sights. The pictures don’t do it justice.

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After our brief tour, we headed back to the hotel for some time off our feet and to get ready for race day!

We made our way to the VIP area so I could meet up with the other team members.

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It’s neat to meet people in real life that I first met on social media, but I sometimes wonder if they think I’m weird. After a group photo, and some talk about the race and goals, my friend and I headed to the start corrals.

Our number one goal for the race was to have fun and run it together. I’ve never had company for an entire race. Usually when we go to a race together, we start together but run our own times. I wanted to be able to bring her in for her first sub two-hour half, but we kept our expectations light. We started off slow, and enjoyed the views of running through a new city. Downtown and running right in front of the Alamo were my favorite parts. By mile five we were averaging around 9:05 pace. I started to worry if we were running too fast, but my legs felt great – like I was holding back. Then THE HILL showed up around mile 5. We didn’t talk at all, and by the time we crested the top, my quads were burning. From someone who runs hills on a regular basis, this was surprising. For the next two miles, there was a series of ups and downs. One of the hills, by Trinity University, was loaded with spectators from the school. Their signs were great, and they were lined all the way up the hill. I focused so much on reading signs that I lost sight of the pain of the hill. A favorite said: TU Counseling-Tell me how you feel about this hill. Another was “You’re not over the hill yet, unlike us” from an older couple. I smiled all the way through. Then after mile 7, the course was flat again. Our pace had dropped to 9:09 average, but we gradually began to work it down.

The half split from the full course at mile 11, and I can’t tell you how glad I was to turn for the half. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I was running down the right side of the road, and I looked up to see a vehicle (like a gator) coming right toward me. I moved over and then realized Meb was leaning out of it giving high fives to the runners. I yelled for my friend to get over there and we both got a high five from him. I told her that was our speed boost.

And it was! At mile 12, I knew she would be under two hours, and asked her how she’d like a new PR. She said she hadn’t even looked at her watch, and didn’t want to know. As we crossed the finish, I congratulated her on smashing her old record. We picked up our medals and headed straight for the chocolate milk. If you’re new to the blog, or unfamiliar with the benefits of chocolate milk as a post workout recovery, take a look at this information. It has helped me with my training whether after speedwork at the track or a long run, or swimming, or biking, and it’s delicious! I love being a part of this team. It’s something I believe in, and they always make me feel important. 🙂

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Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio was one of my best race experiences, and the fact that it wasn’t tied to my own PR reminds me that racing can still be fulfilling as I continue down the road. Here’s a little data to go along with it:

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A successful training run.

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What hills?

Nicely executed negative splits!

Nicely executed negative splits!

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A beautiful medal!

Up next: Dallas Marathon on Sunday! Have a great week!

Rock ‘n Roll Dallas with Team Chocolate Milk

Sunday was my first official race with Team Chocolate Milk at the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll half marathon, and what a great experience! This was my third year to run this race, but the course this year was different. I remember seeing the Got Chocolate Milk booth at the expo last year and wanting to be a part of it.

I started my weekend on Saturday at the expo. I met some of the other members of the team.

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I also bought a new pair of compression socks, and we got some wireless headphones to share. These were big splurges for me. I usually don’t run with music since I run early, and I want to hear noises around me in the dark. But I’ve noticed during races, my energy picks up with music along the course. So my husband will use these while he bikes, and I’ll use them for daylight runs and races.

Before the race:

The weather was great for running Sunday morning. Low 50s and I was in shorts. I headed to the VIP lounge, which was indoors. This was a new experience for me. There was food, VIP gear check, and restrooms (yay – no porta-potty). I met up with other team members there and we talked about goals, past races, and upcoming ones.

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I made my way to the start corral, and quickly found several runners from our local group. We lined up behind this sign hoping for a glimpse and the chance to run with her.

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Deena Kastor was pacing a 1:45:00 group, and yes I am fully aware it is out of my range but I thought it would be fun to start there. I even managed to get this high quality photograph before she moved out of the corral.

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Somehow, they ended up starting behind us.

My fast running group friend – I call her my rabbit – kept trying to tell me I could run a 1:48. She would get me there. I had no doubt that she could, but I have been doubting myself so much lately trying to find my speed that went missing since November. She said she would pull me along and I would PR. My PR was at this race last year (1:50:42). I told her I would be happy to just run under 2 hours.

The 13.1 miles:

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the course change, but I started off trailing my friend for the first mile – which I ran in 8:24. She stayed just ahead of me and I was amazed that I could hang on. By mile 3.5, I heard the sound of feet and chatter. I bet that’s Deena’s group, I thought. They caught me and I hung on for almost a quarter of a mile, before they moved ahead. But hey, I ran with an Olympian!

I saw my husband at mile 4, waved, and pointed to my Garmin. “Too fast!” I yelled. He smiled.

By the end of mile 5, my average pace was 8:06 and I hit my lap button. I had lost sight of my fast friend but I kept pushing. Miles 6-10 were tougher. My legs started to feel like jell-o after the climb to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. I don’t know if it was the hills or the speed that was doing it, but the average pace for those miles was 8:35. I did some amazingly quick math in my head to realize I was still on PR pace. Then mile 10, a wave of nausea came over me and I took a quick walk break. I was low on Nuun in my handheld and I was feeling the humidity. I worked through the next mile with a 9:26 pace. Mile 12 was a little better at 8:49. I would get nauseous, walk, then run hard, and repeat. The last mile ended up being 9:26 but I finished strong. The crowds along the last 1/2 mile were great and there were no more hills.

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The best thing about the race, and honestly it kept me motivated through the last three miles, was knowing there would be chocolate milk at the finish. I have seen overall improvements since I began using chocolate milk for recovery after long and/or hard efforts. The carb to protein ratio is perfect for me and it’s easy on my stomach post race. You can find more info on the science behind it here. Also, chocolate. Need I say more?

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Even though I struggled for the last 5k and my time was 3 min. slower than last year, I am still happy with my performance. I ran faster for a longer distance than I have been able to since the Blue Red Run in November. I fought against the demons that told me I was getting older, heavier, and slower. My speed is still there; I just needed someone to help me find it.

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She is one fast lady!

 

After the race, I found my husband then headed to the VIP area to get my bag and some more food. 🙂 There was a buffet with hot food, and even more chocolate milk. I will say this – Rock ‘n Roll races do it right! Two days later, my quads were still feeling the effort and the hills, and it hurts so good to know I ran hard.

I am so grateful to have had this experience, and I can’t wait for the chance to again represent Team Chocolate Milk!

 

 

 

 

Rock on!

Sunday I ran the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll half marathon. This was my second year to run this race and I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t have experience with any other Competitor races, but for a big local half marathon this is a great one to do.

Dallas skyline at 6 am

Dallas skyline at 6 am

UPS does gear check too?

UPS does gear check too?

The weather was a little cool and windy, but thankfully no rain.

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I was overdressed with a 1/4 zip pullover and capri tights. Usually my legs get warmer faster than my upper body, but this time the pullover had me sweating extra by mile 3. I unzipped and pulled the thumbholes back but it didn’t help much. The course was not as windy in the first half as I thought it would be. Combine that with the hills that dominate the first half, and I was struggling.

Going in to this race, I didn’t feel strong enough to run the time I thought I should be capable of (sub 1:50:00) but I managed to hold a pace around 8:23-24 for about the first 10 miles. I bumped it up for the last 5k telling myself to just hang on – “it’s not a marathon, it will be over soon.” The elevation drops in the second half helped out a lot.

The spectators were great and some signs made me laugh out loud. My favorite was a lady sitting on a couch with cold cream on her face, rollers in her hair, wearing a robe, and a sign that said: “You got me up for this? Go Trudy!”

The finish is in Fair Park, and I’ve done enough races there to recognize when I’m close. I stopped checking my Garmin and tried to focus on finishing strong, but several people ran past me in the last 1/4 mile. I think they had too much gas left in the tank, because surely I wasn’t slowing down. I was surprised my time was so close to hitting my “A” goal. I took almost two minutes off of last year’s time.

PR!

PR!

 

After the race, there was this nice bonus:

American Authors!

That would be American Authors on stage. My 16 year-old daughter is so jealous.

Thanks again for a great race, Dallas. Here’s to another 5 years!

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Rock ‘n Roll Dallas Half

Sunday, I ran my first Rock ‘n Roll race. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve seen such mixed reviews over different Rock ‘n Roll races, but I know others that have done them and had a blast. Plus, I was able to register with a great discount.

I thought it would be a nice change of pace (no pun intended) to race a half marathon between the Cowtown and Oklahoma City marathons. The week before, I wasn’t sure this was a great idea.