Turkey, a long run, and a 10k

I should probably be packing for San Antonio right now, but I decided to update my blog instead. 🙂

Last week was busy as I wrapped up week 18 of Dallas Marathon training. It seems like it would never get here, and now all of a sudden I can count the remaining runs on both hands. We switched things up a bit with the holiday, taking a cross-training (actually rest) day on Wednesday instead of our usual Thursday. We had a group run on Thanksgiving with a nice turnout. It was cold, but halfway through, I took off my mittens and headband.

I just can’t do Thanksgiving without a run. It was six miles on a different route with no plan for time or pace. At the time, I thought we were going to just do our usual Friday easy run before Saturday’s race. My friend Leda had other plans.

She texted me Thursday afternoon, and asked what I thought about doing our 14 mile long run on Friday. I think we both felt like the long run took priority over the 10k. So we headed on Friday morning full of turkey, dressing, and pie. It was a rough run that I dubbed the “Tour de Toilets.” Sorry, TMI? I finally called it done at mile 12.5. I felt sluggish, my legs were tired and heavy. I was over it. Leda felt the same way.

Saturday morning, we headed to McKinney for the Believe 10k. We ran this race together two years ago when it was cold and rainy. The weather Saturday, cool and sunny, was perfect for a 10k. We warmed up for a little over a mile, and then I shed my pullover before the race. I like that this race starts the 10k before the 5k so it’s not as crowded. The first mile was mostly downhill, and I kind of put the brakes on to see how my legs were. Leda went ahead and I could see her, but didn’t try to catch her. I ran based on effort, and would look at my Garmin about every half a mile to see how I was doing. I took a water cup somewhere in mile 4 or 5 and managed one sip at that pace. My legs started to complain about the long run, but I didn’t listen. Then they started complaining about the hills. I still didn’t push 100% because I didn’t want to fizzle out at the end. The last mile climbs back up to the finish (forgot about that part), and I did a quick check to see if I could run under 53:00. I pushed hard up the hill to finish, and managed an official time of 52:57. Not too shabby! My splits from my Garmin were: 8:31, 8:25, 8:17, 8:24, 8:20, 8:36, and 8:24 for the last .2 – uphill. 🙂

All the Hills!

Leda set a PR, and we both won our age groups. I was pretty happy with the effort, plus we had a lot of fun. I needed that confidence boost after the crappy (so sorry) run on Friday. 🙂

The race shirts were great too.

Then my family went to Six Flags, and I enjoyed seeing the kids have fun. It was nice to have my daughter home for several days.

This weekend I’ll be running the half at Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio with Team Chocolate Milk. It’ll be a fun weekend, and the last double digit run until marathon day!

Have a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

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Marathon Training, An Announcement, and a 10K

I can’t believe it’s been this long since I’ve updated my blog. A lot has happened in my running world, and there’s so much to tell you! I’ll do my best to catch up without turning this post into a book.

I just finished up week four of training for the Dallas Marathon. I’m using the Simple Marathon Training book by Jay Johnson. My friend and I decided we would do this together, which makes it so much better. It’s a 20 week plan, which I haven’t done one that long since my first marathon, but I like the way the training is laid out. The day training started, I was finishing up my last day of camp in Glorieta, New Mexico with our youth. The cooler temperatures (55-60 degrees) and low humidity in the mornings were amazing for running, the 7500 feet of elevation and hills – not so much.

Then Texas welcomed me back with its wonderful high humidity and temperatures.

The training has been going well so far, with one hard workout during the week and the long run being the hardest parts of the week. The rest of the running is done at an easy pace. I’ve been working on slowing down my easy runs, and I think by meeting my friend each day that is helping me. I run a little bit faster pace than she does, so it allows me to slow down as we chat the miles away. School started this week, so the early mornings have become just a tad earlier. My main focus this year is sleep and nutrition. I figure the running part takes care of itself, because I don’t struggle with consistency or getting my miles done. It’s the discipline in the kitchen and getting to bed early enough. If I don’t gain back the five pounds I lost over the spring and summer, I’ll be happy with that.

Somewhere in the midst of my marathon training, I found out some good news. I’m going to be an ambassador for the Cowtown Marathon for their 40th anniversary. I’ve run this race every year since 2013 and I’m excited about this opportunity! Expect to hear more about this race that’s coming up in February.

This past Saturday, the training had a 5k race on the schedule. It worked out perfectly because there’s a local race I’ve done every year since I started running. The United Way Hustle for Health 5k/10k was my first 5k in 2010. The past several years, I’ve opted to do the challenging 10k instead of the 5k. The purpose of the 5k race on week four was to get an estimate with a race calculator for my race goal. I figured a hilly 10k in August would be even more accurate, since I tend to run the shorter distances faster. 🙂 There was a good sized group from our running group with a mixture of 5 and 10k runners. Also, two of my kids ran the 5k together. To me, racing is much more fun when you know other people there.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on my time. The race didn’t start until 8:30, so it was warm. My goal was to run the first half by effort, second half (which is the flat and fast 5k course) faster, and run under 55 minutes. I hit the first mile split in 8:24 and the second in 8:13. Oops. Usually when I run this race, I don’t really start pushing until the turnaround of the second 5k. When I came to that point though, I was feeling the heat from the sun. At every water stop after the first half, I would sip a little and pour the rest of the water over my head. Normally I just stop once in a 10k. According to my Garmin data, it was 81 degrees and 79% humidity, and the sun was blazing. No wonder I felt hot. I got a little nauseous in the last mile so I didn’t drop my pace like I wanted to. It was slowest mile (8:50), and I focused on not throwing up. My husband was riding alongside me for the last couple of miles which helped. There is a nice little downhill right before the finish line so I was able to finish fast with a time of 54:18 and an age group win. I’m satisfied with my effort.

My kids ran together. My daughter wanted to encourage my son who hasn’t run much lately. She told him if he finished under a certain time, she would take him for ice cream. He missed it by a little over a minute. But he has a goal for the next race in September.

 

Our group had a great turnout, and this isn’t everyone. Almost all of us placed in our age group in either the 5 or 10k. 

The race certainly energized my training, and next month we have another local 5k race. I’m not sure how I’ll work it into my training, but I’ll get it done.

 

 

Remembrance Run 10K

Building a better runner has meant that I am going against my natural instinct to run a lot of miles, and instead focus on the little extras that will make me stronger and faster. To start off, I went back to the Racing Weight book. I wrote down my weight and body fat percentage, and ran a 10k time trial. Four weeks later, I did it again. At my third measurement, I had only lost a total of 2 pounds and 0.6% fat, but had dropped my 10k time from 57:00 to 54:36. The marathon fatigue is out of my legs, and I’m moving in the right direction. It’s coming off slowly (thanks to being over 40), but it’s still progress.

My mileage has ranged from 22-30 miles a week. I typically do a faster run on Mondays and speed work on Wednesdays. Thursdays are for cross training and strength. Tuesdays and Fridays are easy runs with a group long run on Saturdays. The other thing I’ve added is taking my daughter to swim about 3 times a week. She made the swim team for high school, and the coach wanted her to work on building strength and endurance. I can handle the endurance part – it’s the only way I know to train! It’s been a nice bonus to my training, because it is in addition to everything else I’m doing. Going to swim after a 10 mile run is a stimulus that I’m sure will pay off in running. I’m not fast in the water, but swimming  makes me feel good.

A week after my last 10k time trial, I raced a 10k. The Remembrance Run on Memorial Day was my first 10k race since last August, and I was excited. My goal was to run under 54:00 based on my most recent Racing Weight check, and to negative split the second half. My husband took the day off and went with me, his mountain bike in tow. The course was an out and back on a concrete path through a park system in McKinney. It went through some of the same areas as the UCAN half marathon. When I was talking about the race and my goals with my friend, she reminded me “Don’t step off the coals.” This is from a book we’re reading to work on the mental part of the running, because we have big goals.

Medals of Honor was at the race, and they had so many bibs of fallen service members you could run for. My race medal would be donated to the family of this young lady:

 

When I lined up to race, I made sure to position myself ahead of small children and people who looked like they would be walking or running in groups. It was an out and back race. I was going to run mostly off of feel, but also check my Garmin to make sure I was consistent. My first mile was 8:32. Then the second one made me nervous – 8:13. But I reminded myself not to step off the coals. Mile 3 was before the turnaround in 8:28. My turnaround mile with the water stop was an 8:47. Then my husband rode alongside in the grass, playing his music, distracting me from my pain. I focused on the runners ahead of me, and caught a few of them gradually. No one passed me. Miles 5 and 6 were 8:33 and 8:38, and I finished the final .2 feeling strong.

So while I didn’t negative split the second half, my overall time was 52:51 which is an average pace of 8:32. I was so excited to meet my time goal – and it showed on the finish line.

I guess I nailed stopping my Garmin too, because it only differed from my chip time by one second. 🙂

My focus was to stay strong even when it hurt. I’ve had too many races lately where I’ve fallen apart halfway. I wasn’t going to let that happen this time. I wanted to be confident that I ran my hardest for where my fitness is right now, and I feel good about it. I didn’t step off the coals. Second place in my age group felt pretty good too!

I have a 5k coming up on July 1st, and I may try to get in a few more short races before marathon training starts again.  But for now, I’ll just have some fun with it and enjoy the change of pace. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Two Long Runs and a 10k (McKinney Believe)

Going into the last month of training for the Dallas Marathon, I had mixed emotions. On some days, I felt like my training was right on – hitting the paces and feeling the mileage, but recovering well. Other days, I was frustrated that I’ve moved “backward” in my speed. I would wonder if my fastest days were two years ago, and if I would ever get close. I know not to rush things though, so I’ve been moving along following the paces to run a four hour marathon.

During peak week, I had planned to run a 22 mile long run. Yes, I know that’s long. But I also know that my body does best when it knows what to expect on race day. 16 mile long runs don’t mesh well with my body – as I learned a year ago.

The wind that day was terrible, and it was cold. Several miles into my run – right before I met up with the group – I received a text from my husband who was still at work. He was going to be a few hours later than planned. That meant that if the heating company called (we were waiting on a part) to come repair our unit, then I would need to be at the house. That call came in right as I hit mile 14. They said they could be there in 10 minutes, and I asked for 15. I was a mile from the car, so I ran a fast mile back and got home just as they pulled up.

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An hour later we had heat, which was a necessity because it would drop below freezing for the first time of the season. Yes, winter finally arrived to North Texas.

When he finished, I had just enough time to knock out two more miles before I needed to get my daughter to the track for a physical assessment (for something she’s applied for).

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I managed to squeeze in three more at the track. My total for the day was 20 over the span of 5 hours, but it’s okay because I’m giving myself some slack this year. Besides, it’s still time on my feet so it’s not wasted.

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Side note: My daughter is a swimmer. She doesn’t really like to run, partly due to allergies. Allergies in north Texas are the worst – so I’ve heard. I’ve run with her a couple of times to make sure she knew the pace she needed to be able to do. Remember, the wind was still awful. The sun was out but it was cold. She started her first lap wearing my headband and jacket, and by the end of the fourth, they were gone. Later, she tweeted this.

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I’m so proud of her! This was a hard thing for her to do and she did it well.

Thanksgiving day, I was ready for my last hard, long run. This was also my way to ease into taper. The plan was 16-18 with 12 miles at race pace (9:09). My running friend and I agreed to meet, and we had another runner friend show up to run with us. This was the confidence boost I needed after the split long run the week before. She pushed me, and I managed to get 12 at a 9:04 pace, and I was pleased with the overall pace.

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My husband was around some too on his bike, so the miles went by faster than expected.

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My legs were shot the rest of the day though, but it was also due to the amount of time I spent in the kitchen. Overall, it was a good day. Running, family time, food. What more could I ask for?

 

Well, how about a great race to keep up that confidence building?

The rain that started Thursday afternoon and didn’t stop until Monday night. By Friday afternoon, we began keeping watch under the house and running the pump to keep the downstairs from flooding. It wouldn’t stop raining. All that evening, we would set the timer for 30 minutes then go turn on the pump until all the water was out, then set the timer again. It wouldn’t stop coming down. All this rain – crazy! Around 10:00, I crashed and my husband took over. I got up around 2 am and took the next few hours until I left for the race. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to a cold, rainy 10k on little sleep. It was like having a baby in the house again getting up so much. But my friend and I were going together and misery loves company right?

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I had run this race before in 2010 and 2011 – the 5k – and it was the first race I realized I might possibly be competitive in my age group. I decided to go back to it this year and run the 10k. Thankfully, the 10k started before the 5k, but they also had to change the route due to flooding. So we ran the 5k route twice. Double the hills, double the fun!

I didn’t start my watch early enough, so for the first mile and a half, it was searching my location. I was running by effort, and I couldn’t feel my toes. Yet, I warmed up quickly and had my jacket off and tied around my waist. Not the most fashionable look, but it was nasty weather and I didn’t care.

I did like sharing the route with the 5k, because I was able to see two others from our local running group on the course.

When my GPS finally started working, I managed to keep my pace in the 8:10-8:15 range. I felt strong and I was beginning to feel my toes again. The rain had mostly stopped, or slowed to a slight mist. I aimed for a strong even finish which was uphill. Why? But my legs hung in there.

I know there were less participants this year because a lot of people opted to stay out of the weather. Still, I was surprised to find my name on the results sheet as the Female Master’s winner with my time of 52:02. It certainly wasn’t my fastest! But it was a good, solid, consistently paced run.

…and another block added to my mental building.

This race kicked off a trifecta of race weekends. I’ll be at Rock n Roll San Antonio this weekend for Team Chocolate Milk, and then next week is the Dallas Marathon.

Thanks for putting up with my lengthy post. I think I’m mostly caught up now. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Back to School and Training

If the last two weeks are any indication of what this school year will be like, then it will be a doozy. I need to get organized and get my stuff together, so I can enjoy this year and not be stressed by running behind. I also want to be present for my kids. We have a senior in high school this year with marching band and swim team, and one starting junior high with band. Then the baby of the family is in his last year of elementary. There’s a lot going on.

We had to update shot records.

No tears this round, but she still got ice cream.

No tears this round, but she still got ice cream.

We went to a sneak peek band performance, and then they marched on the field with their big sister.

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We hosted a preteen retreat this past Friday for incoming seventh graders at our church, and a few youth helpers. I ate junk food.

The key word here is

The key word here is “a” which would have been fine if that’s what I stayed with.

Then the first day of school came way too fast, and it coincided with the first day of marathon training. So here we go back to routines, schedules, and busy weeknights.

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Now, let me get back to running.

Somewhere in the midst of all the “pregame” activities, I ran a local 10k. It’s one of the races I do every year. In fact, it was my first 5k – August 2010. It is in August, and it is hot, but I like supporting the United Way. This year, my running friend and I had started a 5k beginner group to finish the program with this race. We had a few that stuck with it through the warm Saturday mornings, and I would have considered it a success even if we had just one person come. I created a Facebook group based off of this blog – Anyone Can Run, and used it to communicate workouts and other information.

The way the course is laid out, the 10k turns right and goes over the highway via a pedestrian bridge (read: uphill, then down), up another small hill. Turn down a road that slopes uphill, run a gentle downhill, up another hill, back down the slope, back over the highway, and then run the flat 5k course. The 10k is a challenge. It is not a PR race. I say that because it goes right by my house. Twice. Those are not the kind of roads I do my speedwork on. I head to flatter terrain for that. But my neighborhood is great for building strength. It was nice when we moved into the 5k course. It’s an out and back, so I was able to see the runners from our training group and cheer them on. 🙂

I struggled through the race around mile 4.5. It has been a while since I’ve ran that far – fast. Thanks to small races, I still placed first in my age group.

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There was a surprise as the race director/President of the United Way chapter called me up to the stage to thank me for encouraging others with this race and coming to support it every year. Then he asked me to say a few words. My belief has always been that if you just stick with it, you won’t regret it. That’s what this blog is about – my parents who started running in their 60s, my friends who were late 40s and 50s, my brother who is just a bit younger than me.

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I was a few minutes off from my best course time two years ago, but I haven’t been running fast this year from my injury. The race did help me come up with training goals and paces for my marathon in December. I have to remember to work from where I am, not where I was.

I’m excited about the Dallas Marathon this year. There are several from our running group who will be doing their first marathon in Dallas – including my best running friend. As soon as she registers.

I’ll update more on my training/race plans next post. As soon as I finish planning out the second half of my training schedule…

The Cowtown Half [not] Marathon

It’s only been a little over a week since I planned to write my recap, but so much has happened since race week, I’m going to split it up. So hang on, and I’ll try to have the Cowtown recap done before the dust settles on my medal.

Our “snow days” early in the week had just enough sleet and wintry mix to mess up the roads. That Friday, more snow/ice mixture moved in and covered a broad area in the metroplex. The entire Cowtown race weekend was impacted by this round.

Crazy Texas weather.

View from my treadmill Saturday morning

View from my treadmill Saturday morning 2/28/15

The temperatures for the weekend did not cooperate, and the Saturday races (5 and 10k) were cancelled. Late Saturday afternoon the decision was made to cancel the full marathon and the ultra due to safety concerns. Portions of the courses were still icy. The remaining option available was that everyone (who could get there) could run the half marathon and it would start an hour later.

I was disappointed I wouldn’t get to run the marathon, but being able to run the half was better than nothing. And I didn’t want to miss seeing my dad finish his first half marathon!

Sunday morning didn’t bring any more overnight accumulations, so after pleading with my husband and coming up with an alternate route, I set out for Fort Worth.

There were some slippery sidewalks walking up to the race site, and my first thought was “I didn’t make it this far to bust my tail on a sidewalk.” I opted to walk in the grass or on the street. The city of Fort Worth had brought out sand trucks to take care of the slick bridges on the course. Race morning was cold (33 degrees) and rainy, but I found my dad and he was ready to run.

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I met up with my friend who had driven down on Saturday and picked up our packets. We started the race together and I quickly realized it was not PR conditions. I tried to formulate a goal, but I couldn’t settle on one. I was just happy to be there after all the stress from the day before. So I just ran.

There was some fancy footwork in places due to ice that had been sanded, but after five miles I started to pick up the pace and felt good. I was able to get my pace under 9:00 miles for the next few miles, and I was happy to see that since I’ve struggled with speed since December. There was only one problem that kept me from fully enjoying the race.

I was roasting.

My long sleeve top under the lightweight Houston Marathon jacket proved to be too warm. I took my gloves off and zipped them in the pockets. But I was stuck with my jacket on, because I pinned my bib to it.

Then around mile 8, my saving moment came in the form of a train. That’s right, lots of runners got stuck at a railroad crossing waiting for the train to go by. I heard some laughter, but I saw it as the perfect opportunity to re-pin my bib to my shirt and tie my jacket around my waist. I don’t know how long others were stopped, but I lost about a minute and a half. It sure made the rest of the race more tolerable though, and I learned a valuable lesson. Never pin the bib to the jacket.

I survived the hills, and after the mile 9 bridge I was so happy that my race was almost finished. My official time was 2:01:36, but according to my Garmin I ran 2:00:04.

Notice where the bib is now!

 

After refueling, I pulled up my dad’s time on the results tracker and headed out to catch him before the finish. I positioned myself just ahead of the 13 mile marker at a turn so he could see me better. When I saw him coming – and he was running – I started cheering. He saw me and I waved and got a picture. Then I ran along the fence, looking like a goofball with my heat sheet wrapped around my legs and my food bag in my hand. I continued encouraging him until the final turn, then started crying when I saw him finish. I was so proud! (But I pulled it together before I met up with him.)

My dad finished his first half marathon – at age 65.

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That is why I started this blog. That’s why it’s called “Anyone Can Run.” My dad never thought of running, even though he coached football, basketball, and track for more than twenty years. All it took was someone to tell him he could do a 5k. After that, he said he’d never run more than a 5k. Then he did a few 10ks. Now look at him with his first half marathon medal!

That evening, my calves and glutes reminded me of the toughness of the Cowtown course – made tougher by the weather.

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This the second medal in a 3-year series and I’ll be back next year to finish it. Even though it doesn’t say “marathon finisher” I still worked my tail off. Part of me was happy to be done at mile 13 that day and finished with 16 and 18 mile runs for a while. Or so I thought…until I received the virtual race option.

But that’s a post for another day! 🙂