UCAN Half Marathon

Things have finally started moving for me in my first phase of building a better runner. The scale is moving down – slowly – but it’s moving. My strength is building, and my run pace is dropping – a little. It’s progress.

Which is part of why I was frustrated with myself at the UCAN half marathon.

But I made a major mistake from the start, and there’s no one to blame but myself. I’m also frustrated that I won’t have another half marathon to measure progress until late June, but the summer heat will slow that one down.

The race was well done, plenty of runners, pacers, and a mostly flat course through parks in McKinney. They had UCAN available before the race, and I had a backup GU if I needed it. I also carried my Nuun.

My first mistake was to line up behind the 2:00 pacers – and then try to stay with them! I did my Racing Weight 10k check earlier in the week, and my 10k pace is sitting right around 9:00 right now. Tack on temperatures in the 70s, and 85% humidity, and that was a rookie mistake I shouldn’t have made. The smart thing would have been to start out slower, and then steadily speed up.

The humidity was awful, and there wasn’t much of a breeze in the first few miles. If the humidity hadn’t been so unbearable, I would’ve enjoyed the scenery more. I started taking walk breaks in mile 6, and my race just went to pot (in my oxygen deprived state).

I’ve always held the opinion that I would rather walk in a race before throwing up, and that’s where I was. I had salt residue on my skin even with the Nuun, so I began dumping water over my head at aid stations. I tried to stay positive. I waved and called out to other runners I knew on the course, and I chatted with other runners around me. There were some out and back places which helped. I waited on the rain that was supposed to come but never did. The sun came out and heated it up more. My sunglasses were in the car. 😦

Then I finished

 

– and this is how I felt.

I found out later that my time (2:17 something) didn’t even show up on the results, but I didn’t care too much. I sent an email to the race director but it’s not that big of a deal.

I was upset, but after reading other posts on Instagram and Facebook, I started to feel a little better. I just need to realize that humidity does me in. Every time. FYI: This is not how your mile splits should look.

On a positive note, the race was well done. The medals were huge! The pacers were great. Free race photos! They just needed some chocolate milk for recovery. Fortunately there was a QT right down the road.

 

My next race will be a 10k on Memorial Day. What a great way to start a week off right!

 

 

 

Rock ‘n Roll Dallas 2017

On Sunday, I ran the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll half marathon. It was my 5th time running this race, and third time as a part of Team Chocolate Milk. I look forward to it every year. Coming off of fall/winter marathon training, the energy and excitement of this race (not to mention that it’s a HALF) can’t be beat. 🙂

I went to the expo on Saturday, picked up my bib, and over to the We Run Social meet up. I saw several others from Team Chocolate Milk so that was fun.

It did seem like the expo has gotten smaller to me though. Some of the things we were needing to get weren’t there, but I did get a few Larabar samples.

I drove in with my daughter on race morning, after making a wrong turn and parking 15 minutes later than planned, then made my way to the VIP lounge to grab a snack and check my bag. I drank my UCAN, and had a few minutes to meet some other teammates as well.

Then I met up with my friends from my running group. I think this was the biggest group we’ve had go, and for some of them it was their first Rock ‘n Roll race.

 

We made our way to our different corrals, and I was so ready to run 13 miles (and not 26)!

Notice the tank. Yeah, it wasn’t cold.  Like at all.

I had no idea what to expect to run, but I had set two loose goals earlier in the week:

1. Under 2 hours. (realistic goal)

2. 1:55 (stretch goal)

I thought these were manageable because a) it wasn’t a marathon, b) I ran 2:01 last year the day after a 2 hour trainer ride, and c) it wasn’t a marathon. 😉

But I forgot to account for the warm weather. Temps were high 60s at the start. And I truly forgot about the hilly second half.

I cruised along the first several miles not really looking at my pace, just glancing down at the mile splits when my Garmin buzzed.

Miles 1-5: 8:57, 8:38, 8:50, 8:31, 8:42

I was definitely on track for sub 2.

Then the hill (on-ramp) to get to the bridge hit.

Mile 6: 9:24

The bridge is long and straight though once you get up there, but there are several hills over the next few miles. I never really recovered my pace from the initial climb.

Miles 7-9: 9:05, 9:41, 10:37

Mile 9 really got me and I walked up that little mountain for a minute to catch my breath. All the hills in Cowtown were still in my legs.

I took a couple more short walk breaks in the last few miles, a few cups of water dumped over my head at aid stations. The sun was bright and I lost the 2 hour goal. I focused on finishing and smiling. I was hot, but I knew there was a nice finish and cold chocolate milk waiting for me.

Miles 10-13: 10:04, 9:56, 10:53, 10:22

Then a downhill tunnel finish cheered on by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

My official finish time was 2:06:37.

The chocolate milk was refreshing as always. Here’s why I always recover with chocolate milk – it’s science.

For the first time ever I opted for a post-race massage, where I discovered I had a knot on the side of each calf muscle. Ow! I need to work on rolling those out.

I found my daughter and we spent some time on the lawn watching the concert before I took her back to school.

It may not have been the time on the clock I wanted, but it was a great race and a lot of fun.

 

 

Training Update: Getting ready for Cowtown

The past few weeks have been hectic with life and training. It seems like my weeknights have been more chaotic than they were in the fall. Typically, the blog lands at the bottom of the to do list. Apparently these other people in my house like to eat dinner and such. Now that my oldest daughter is back at college, and my husband has started his new job, maybe I can get back into my routine.

Training for Cowtown has been going strong the past few weeks. I’ve been working on some strength and mobility work, because I plan to follow the Simple Marathon Training this fall. I’ve been doing the SAM work after every run for at least four weeks, and I can tell the difference – at least when I’m running up my hills.

I had some trouble getting back to my usual paces after Dallas, but all of a sudden it clicked one day and running felt good again. It’s been difficult for me to get my mileage up with everything else going on, and running twice a day won’t work right now. So to up my training game, I started swimming again.

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It had been two months since I’d been to the pool, but once I got back in the water I remembered why I enjoyed it. I am slow, and swimming without the concern of a time cutoff had a different effect on me. When I get out of the pool my legs aren’t mad at me, and my glutes don’t whine. Now my arms are another thing. But for now I’m supplementing my running, and working my way back to the strength I felt during half Ironman training. I don’t have any triathlon races planned so far this year, but I believe the swimming can only help me for the marathon.

My running buddy and I haven’t been able to get together for a long run in a few weeks, so this past Saturday I had to tackle a 20 miler almost solo. I did meet up with the group for a few miles, but everyone was going different directions and paces, so I stuck to my plan. It was nice to see some of them out in different areas though as I checked off the miles. I was pleased with my time.

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The plan was to just do the distance, and not worry about the pace. I missed an 18 miler the weekend before, so I didn’t want to shock my body too much. The first and the last mile were the only two miles over 10:00 pace (and the last one had a steep uphill). I discovered a great new gel flavor!

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Tastes just like Nutella!

 

 

This weekend I’m going to do 22 miles, and then I’ll start tapering. My running buddy and several from our group are running the Hot Chocolate 15k in Dallas on Saturday. I hate to miss it, but I’ve got a lot going on and I wanted to make sure my Cowtown training included one more long run of 20 plus.

In other news, I am happy to report that I’m returning as a Nuun ambassador for another year.

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I bought my first tube of Nuun at the Dallas Marathon expo in 2012. I almost DNFd the race the next day due to dehydration. You know, nothing new on race day. After that painfully slow race, I tried Nuun on a long run. I haven’t had any issues since then. It’s easier on my stomach than other sports drinks and without the sugar. Right now, my favorite flavor is Grape.

Finally, have you been following along the World Marathon Challenge this past week? I heard Ryan Hall talk about it at the Dallas Marathon Expo stage, and it was inspiring to follow this journey. Then Mike Wardian made history as he ran all 7 under 3 hours. I can’t even imagine covering that kind of distance! This is a pretty good article about it. And if you check out Ryan Hall’s social media accounts, he did videos along the way. It was interesting to see how he went through some of the same stages in a marathon. “I told myself I wouldn’t go out too fast. I went out too fast.”

He also talked about how he admires the everyday runners who get out and run marathons in 4, 5, and 6 hours.

Again, that’s one of the things I love about this sport. There’s a connection and a community, no matter what pace you run. 🙂

 

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!

Long Run Matters

The weeks start flying by the closer it gets to race day, as marathon training always goes. My long runs have been building for the past three weeks, with two 18s and a 20 miler. I have been working on my marathon pace for several miles a week – sometimes two runs a week. This was how one of the 18 milers went.

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The next week, I planned another 18 miler with some race pace miles. The plan was to run 10 at marathon pace, but because I was running with the group (we had some new runners that day), I threw in race pace miles when I could. My friend was also battling heel pain and I didn’t want to leave her, so I did some back tracking to stay with her. When she was done, I finished up and really pushed my pace the last mile. I think that’s good enough to count as a fast finish long run.

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When I did my 20 miler Saturday, I was expecting to have a slower time, but I was not prepared for how beat up I would feel afterward. My friend and I ran some early miles before we met up with the group. By the time I got back to the park with the group, I had run a few miles faster than I planned and was at mile 16. My husband met me on his bike and rode the last four miles with me. If he hadn’t been there, I don’t think I would have made it to 20. I actually stopped somewhere during mile 18 to rally myself. I was hurting, tired, and wanted to be done. My lower legs were achy before I even hit mile 18. I didn’t run any more miles or harder workouts than I did the week before. My pace went from low 9:00s up to 10:30s in the last three miles. “Just keep going,” I told myself.

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and that’s how I felt about that run…

For the next three days, both legs were sore from the knees down. I think my biggest problem was not getting enough fuel in for those later miles. I took in one packet of Clif chews for the whole run. Also, the four miles on concrete sidewalks was probably tougher on me at the end. The pounding was too much.

This week is a recovery week, then next week is peak week, and then I get to taper. It’s moving along fast now, and I’m working on my mental strength to keep my mindset in check. The four hour goal is still out there, three years later. I’m ready to reach it. I need a new carrot.

In other news, I cut Diet Cokes and junk food/sweets out of my life last week. I haven’t had either since Thursday. I decided it was time to try something different because I usually get sloppy with my nutrition as race week gets nearer. I thought about what would happen if I tightened it up this time. I’m desperate to nail that goal! So far, I have felt sluggish and tired, but that’s partly due to a puppy and time change, and a puppy that didn’t understand that the time changed. So anyway, if I survive this I’ll report if there are any noticeable changes.

Has anyone else tried this? What other tactics do you try to reach goals?

 

 

Running it Out

The past two weeks of marathon training have been a series of ups and downs, and pretty much mimics my life right now. It also proves that you’ve got to know when to cut yourself some slack on training when life is hectic or stressful.

There was one week of running through grief over losing our dog of 15 years. I didn’t know it was going to be that hard on me. Running is my time to think, to work through problems, to deal with emotions. The high humidity made it even worse. One run didn’t even make it to three miles. But I tend to deal with stress and/or grief in  one of two ways: emotional eating & running. I guess it’s a good thing I have the marathon training in place if I’m going to eat, right?

When it came to my long run that Saturday, I was still dealing with the grief but also a lack of sleep. When I showed up to the humid Saturday morning group run, I had 9 miles done already because I needed to get home by a certain time. I spent the rest of my run trailing the others, and I was just feeling “off.” But when I looked at my pace periodically, it didn’t seem too bad. I decided to bail on the race pace miles and just get the long run done. I was pleased to see my splits were all under 10:00 pace except for the first one (which is usually the slowest anyway).

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Hanging back and being okay with it

 

Later that day, my husband and I started looking for a puppy. The house was just too quiet! With two kids gone out of the house, it was just too much for us not to have a dog. We’ve always had one, and even though this is bad timing – hello sleep deprivation – we needed some joy in our home.

Welcome to the family Chloe!

Welcome to the family Chloe!

Last week’s training felt better. Temperatures cooled a bit, and the humidity dropped. There were a few runs that just felt great. I tried out some of my new team gear on Tuesday – National Chocolate Milk Day!

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I felt good on my long run Saturday, even though my time wasn’t as low as what I hoped. But it was the first time I’d gotten close to 20. I have two other 20 plus mile runs planned this training cycle. I know my body, and I know that it needs those long runs to be ready for Dallas!

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This Saturday, I’ll be racing my first half marathon since Dallas Rock n Roll in March. It’s the Showdown Half in Fairview, and I know they’ll have chocolate milk at the finish! I’m not adjusting my training mileage much, so I’ll be running on tired legs.

It will be interesting to see what I can do on the hilly course.

Have a great week!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting the Right Goals for Me

As we came in from a run one evening last week, my ten year old asked me, “Your big goal is to qualify for Boston right?”

“Yes it is.”

“But you have some other goals too. Smaller goals like triathlon and Ironman. But the big one is Boston.”

Yes, smaller goals like Ironman. Ha ha!

But he’s still right.

In the past month, I’ve been thinking about the goals I have. There are the long-term goals and the ones I want to achieve right now. I’ve had to take a step back to make sure I’m working on what I want for me, and not a product of what’s great for someone else or what sounds like fun. It’s easy to get caught up in social media, or the hype around some races, medals, or challenges. Or even move on to the next big thing. Run a half marathon. Next up: marathon. Ran a marathon? Ultra. Half Ironman? Time to do a full Ironman. You know what I mean.

Not that it’s a bad thing.

But is it what you want?

Even though I finished a half Ironman this summer, the next step in my brain would be for me to do a full Ironman. But you know what? I’m not ready for that. I need a few more of those half distances to feel better about it, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t have my heart there. Yet.

My heart is in running. It has been for the last six years. It has taken me to places I never would have imagined. I am part of a great community that supports each other whether you run a 6 minute mile or 12:00. And I love it!

So I’m keeping my focus on my passion.

My “right now” goals are working toward that sub 4 hour marathon, which will help me to reach the long term goal of qualifying for and running Boston. It will take some steps (years) to get there, but I have the heart to work on it.

Triathlon has been great for me. It keeps the running fire burning, and I am a better athlete. I will keep working at it, and I have fun doing it. It helps me to be a stronger runner, and gives me the break I need from mileage. I can see registering for a full Ironman one day.

But at this season of my life, I’m going to stick with my goals. One September, I’ll be submitting my registration for the Boston Marathon.

Now, I’m headed out to the gym for a swim. It’s great cross training for marathon season!