Summer Break and Loving the Run

Late in the spring every year, I start to look forward to the break from getting kids up and to school. I come up with ideas of all I will accomplish through the summer as I take a break from heavy mileage and marathon training. I imagine elaborate strength training sessions, new fitness activities, and sleeping more. Then before I know it, it’s time to start back to school shopping and I haven’t done half of what I planned!

Somewhere along the way, my mind and body ignored the memo to take a break from early morning workouts. With the decision to train for a triathlon, I needed to focus on my weakness and have been at the pool three mornings a week for lap swim – when they open – at 5:30 am. That means I am rolling out of bed no later than 5. Even on my run days, it’s the time of year where “you snooze, you lose” has a different meaning.

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Either skip an evening run, slow way down and suffer through the heat, or just suck it up and get up early.

I am enjoying the variety in my training right now though.

A friend and I have started a 5k beginner’s group, and we meet every Saturday morning to help them. Our goal is to complete the training for a local 5k on August 15th.

I have done some trail running. Under a canopy of trees, it’s almost like air conditioning. It also helps to have that natural slowdown due to the nature of the trail.

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I have combined workouts and done some “two a days.” Swim, then bike. Bike then run. Swim in the am, bike in the pm, etc…I can almost eat like I’m marathon training. Yay food!

I have built some upper body strength in a big way since I learned how to operate the weed eater.

But the biggest thing I have noticed about all this: I appreciate the run so much more now.

Also, I need real trail shoes.

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Do not attempt to run through sun baked hardened footprints (which were made in the mud).

This week I’m getting ready for my first triathlon on Sunday, and yes I’m nervous. It’s all the details I’m worried about, like being last out of the pool. Oh, and let’s just take a minute and celebrate the fact that I can finally make it from wall to wall (25 meters) without lifting my head out of the water. At least once. Sometimes I can do it twice in a row. It’s that whole breathing thing that makes it hard for me.

But I do want to just go out and have a good time. 300 meter swim, 13 mile bike, and a 5k run. Thank goodness I have the running part figured out. What a busy morning it will be!

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Volunteer for a Race

When I started this blog almost two years ago, I struggled to find a name for it that would encapsulate my view about running (at that time). Running was reaching me in a way nothing else had, and I wanted others to experience that. Still do.

My husband brought up the point that every person does not have the ability to run. I agreed with him, but “there’s a way to be involved in running whether you are running, walking, being supportive, encouraging, or volunteering.

Most of the time I take on the role of runner, but this past Saturday I became a volunteer for a trail race.

Trail running.

I’ve written a post or two about it, but I have been wanting to help give back to the sport. A member of the local running group is the race director for a trail race and solicited volunteers. There was an open time slot from 12-4, so I could still get my Saturday long run in. My 16 year old son loves to help out (and will do anything for a free t-shirt and food) so he went along with me. I planned on posting pictures of the trail, the aid station, and my son at the race, but there was no signal on my phone and the camera wouldn’t work. Boo.

The race was a 12k and 50k out on a hiking trail at Lake Texoma. It was about a 35 minute drive from our home. When we got there, all the 12k runners had finished. My runner friend was the first female finisher! I was so proud of her for that. My son and I were to be working the last aid station along the course. It was pouring rain when we got there. What a muddy mess! Six runners out of 32 had passed through already. My job was to check off the numbers on the list as they came through and keep the food stocked whick kind of made me nervous. The list is a big responsibility.

The variety of foods on the table was interesting. As a marathon runner, the most solid thing I’ve eaten while running was an orange slice. This table had peanut butter sandwiches, grapes, bananas, oranges, pickles, and Coke. There were also electrolyte tablets and salt. We actually ran out of Coke because most of the runners coming through wanted some.  The runners would stop and chat for a few minutes while eating, and then move along. Most of them were in good spirits, taking the weather for what it was. One needed the mileage, another time on her feet, and others were having a good time together pulling each other up the muddy slopes. They were all grateful for the aid station and appreciative. I was impressed with their spirit.

My son and I were happy to be there helping. He even showed some interest when the race director told him about a five mile race (along with other distances) in February. He used to run some with me at a local park with a trail. He enjoys the focus and challenge on the trail.

I was glad to be able to give back to the running community. I have never had such appreciation for volunteers as I did at my first marathon. In the cold. In the rain. It was nasty, and they were out there for me and others like me.

So even if you can’t physically run, don’t let that discourage you. You can still be a part of running. Runners need volunteers. They make races possible.

Memorial Day Run for Wounded Warrior Project

Last Monday – Memorial Day – I ran a different kind of race. I had originally intended to run a 10K that was about a 30 minute drive from where we live, but then I saw a post on the local running group’s Facebook page that interested me. Run any distance you want – 5K, 10K, 15K, half, marathon. Suggested donation of $20. All proceeds benefit Wounded Warrior Project. As a spouse of a Navy veteran, I appreciate efforts to take care of our vets and their families. So much is sacrificed for the military for our freedom, and I believe we should give back whenever we can.

It was worth passing up a PR in the 10K to be a part of this purposeful race.

The race was held at a local park on approximately a  1.5 mile loop. Over 600 small American flags lined the trail. Our starter, via Skype, was a service member deployed in Afghanistan and husband to one of the runners. There was an aid station at the start/finish with Powerade and water. When you finished your distance, you were to write your time and distance. There were  bags with medals, stickers, and bracelets for the finishers.

600+ flags lined the course

600+ flags lined the course

I chose to run a 10K since it was a trail. I’m not typically fond of trail races, but that’s because I tend to lose focus. I’m also not graceful or very coordinated. I decided not to look at my Garmin except to check the distance. Even though I’ve run on this trail before, I was surprised at how long one loop around felt. The effort in running on a trail is completely different from the road, but I was grateful for the shade that lined most of the course.     

The beauty of the trail

The beauty of the trail

I finished my four loops – 6.21 miles – in about 1:04:00. That’s over 10 minutes slower than my 10K road PR. This race wasn’t about time though.

 

Our group’s goal was $1000. Last I saw, there was more than $1100 raised for Wounded Warrior Project with about 40 runners participating. I’m honored to have been a part of it.

 

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What races have you done that were meaningful without being attached to a time goal?