It’s Almost Half Time

I took a little break after Danman.

I needed a little time away from the long distances, and the back to back weekend long runs. I had plenty of time for a break, and to still build up for my next half marathon (RNR San Diego). I also needed time to uncover the speed in my legs again. I couldn’t keep it sharp with all the fatigue from the buildup for Danman. Planned breaks are good. Forced breaks are not.

I did different things. I tried a new class at the gym, and it involved burpees and lots of other stuff out of my comfort zone. I also got back to the pool some. I worked with my kettle bell more.

Then I signed up for a local 5k on a whim with our local running group, so there wasn’t much time left to sharpen my speed. You know, there’s only one way to find out your current 5k fitness – and that’s by racing a 5k.

With literally no recent speed work to judge goal pace from, I thought I maybe could run under 25. I ran a few miles before the race, to get my slower miles out of the way. (It takes me a while to warm up.) My goal was to keep my eyes on the back of one of my fast friends, not look at my watch, and just hang on.

My lack of speed work was evident. Fast friend was gone when the gun went off, and I didn’t see her again until I finished! I mostly only looked at my Garmin when the mile splits beeped.

Splits and thoughts:

Mile 1: not too bad, just hang on to this pace (8:13)

Mile 2: Oh goodness, I can’t breathe (8:25)

Mile 3: Just keep it faster than mile 2 (8:22)

My official time was 25:59 which was slower than I wanted, but it gave me a baseline to work from for this summer. It was also enough for an age group win, and that’s not something I take for granted.

Beat the Heat 5k

The next race I had scheduled (to gauge my goal half marathon pace), was the Disco Run 15k. 2 weeks before the half, it would be a good chance to see how my planned pace would hold up over 9 miles. So I talked my friend into it, and we headed down to Dallas last Sunday morning. After I drank my Ucan, we went to the start area to wait. The humidity wasn’t too bad, but it looked like it might get warm. There was a breeze so that helped. Then they announced that the 15k course was flooded, so everyone in the 15k would get to run the 10k. My friend and I looked at each other with disappointment. My first thought was, “Dang, now I have to run faster!” Most people would probably be excited to run less than they signed up for. Not us, we’re weird. We ran about a mile to warm up, and then I was ready to go.

Before the sweat-fest

I made a mental note to try to come in under 55 minutes. I’m really not even sure where I came up with that number. It sounded like a good plan to be under 9:00 pace.

Then we were off!

The first thing I noted was that the course was gravel, and not smooth. There were some larger rocks on the path, and they were worse in the middle. It took a little while for the crowd to thin enough for me to realize this, and I moved over to the side. This slowed me down some, although probably not as much as I’d like to think it did. I was careful though, because I could feel my foot roll across some of the larger rocks and I didn’t want to risk rolling an ankle. My first mile was 8:40. Ok, hang on to that, I thought.

The sun was out and it was warming up. The course was an out and back, so when we made the turnaround just after mile 3, I knew what was coming. By mile 4, I was completely okay with running 10k and not 15. The rocks were doing my legs in, and they were aching. I walked up the steep hill in mile 5, took a deep breath, and then sucked it up to pick up speed again. That mile was my slowest. I made my way around the 5k walkers just past their turnaround, so I did more weaving from the middle of the path to the side again. But it wasn’t too crowded. When I could see the finish area, I picked it up as much as I could to finish strong. When I finished, I remembered how hard it is to run in the heat. This was my first hot race of the year.

We hung around for awards, because the results for age groups weren’t posted. I didn’t think I placed, because there were lots of ladies ahead of me. It’s a good thing we waited, because I ended up 2nd in my age group, and my friend won hers!

I’ve never actually stood on a podium, so that was fun. My official time was 54:52, meaning I met my last minute sub 55 plan.

Watermelon and pancakes at the finish were amazing, because it was a hot morning! They also had a costume contest and a great band. It was a fun themed race!

I’m pleased with both race efforts. I believe I got the best out of myself on both days – no matter what the time was on the clock. This is my current fitness, and that’s where I’m working from. I’m going to try to fit in another 5k in July or August before I move age groups, and see how my speed has improved.

 

This coming weekend, I’ll be racing my first half marathon since Dallas. I’m excited for this trip! I’ve never been to San Diego, and I’ve never gone to run a race without driving there. I’ll be there with Team Chocolate Milk, and you can follow my race updates on Instagram all weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

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Run Coach and Races

Goodness, the month of November was busy! I’m still in the middle of training for the Houston marathon in January, so not too exciting, but I did run a couple of races since my last half.

But first, let me share some exciting news of what has kept me busy this fall. I completed my running coach certification, so I am now a certified running coach with RunRelated! That’s who has coached me for almost a year now, and now I get to be a part of it from that aspect. Before having a coach, I had always planned my own training, and I’m really looking forward to this new journey and helping other runners reach their goals. Take a look and see if RunRelated might be a good fit for you. It’s affordable, individualized training, with access to your coach via email, text, whenever you have questions or concerns.

Through my training, I’ve run a couple of races. The first was a 5k Turkey Trot that I ran with my son. I ran my long run first, and then we went to the race. He wanted to set a new PR, but had been sick the whole week before. Once we started running, he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to run a PR. He would tell me to go on and run my normal speed, but I said I was going to run with him the whole way, just like we planned. During that race he learned a valuable lesson: sometimes the biggest challenge is just finishing a race when you don’t feel your best. I learned that he can out kick me at the finish. 🙂

I also realized, after looking at the pictures, that my little boy isn’t so little anymore.

The weekend after Thanksgiving, I ran the McKinney Believe 10k with a couple of friends. I’ve done this race several times, so I knew what to expect. This was also a last ditch effort to hit the qualifying time for front corral for Houston. It was a long shot.

I would need under 51:08, and the deadline was the end of November. That was an 8:15 pace. My 5k in September was just under 8:00. It would be a stretch.

Race morning weather was perfect. Mid 40s and sunny, so I ran in my shorts and short sleeves. The first mile is mostly downhill, so that’s misleading. But I hit my first mile in 8:14 so I focused on staying consistent. Miles 2 and 3 were both 8:07. If I can just hold this until mile 4, I thought. My coach’s goal was for me to run sub 52:00. When I hit mile 4 in 8:13, I thought at least I should have that. I had my screen set to show overall time and average pace, so I knew I was still on track and it would be close. But I didn’t take my foot off the gas. I ran those last 2 miles like it mattered, and even though the splits were 8:20 and 8:18, I managed a water stop (kind of) and weaving around 5k runners in the last mile. At least they were running and not walking though. The last stretch of the course goes up and down, and finishes straight uphill. I was not going to sacrifice my time because of a silly hill. I charged up the hill, complete focus on the finish line. I didn’t look at my watch until I finished. My last .3 mile was at an 8:06 pace.

My finish time didn’t meet the cutoff, but my average pace was right on. Had I run closer to 6.2 instead of 6.3, I would have made it. But more importantly, I saw the runner that I’ve been searching for the past 4 years. I ran a race time I haven’t come close to since 2014, and I’m finally starting to see the results of my efforts. I’m starting to believe in myself again, and that matters more to me than a specific corral. When I posted this on my Instagram, I said “it’s not always about race times, but sometimes it is.” My official time was 51:38, and a quick search on Athlinks confirmed it.

Plus, I had a nice little age group win too.

 

In my next post, I’ll recap my Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio weekend. It’s a busy month of racing! 

Catching Up on Races and Training

It’s the summer that won’t end here in Texas. It feels like almost every run has been 80 degrees and high humidity. But that hasn’t stopped me!I’ve stayed busy with a few races, training, and general back to school mom stuff here lately. It’s been a busy couple of months settling into a new routine, so I’m going to attempt a catch up here so I can get back to some consistent posting. Hopefully my writing won’t seem all over the place, but if it does, that’s just the way things are moving here.

MOM LIFE:

School has started, and all the activities that make me question my sanity of training for endurance events. Taxi service is in full effect. Not pictured: swim practice and concession stand duty.

Marching Band Season has begun!

7th grade football

As the youngest kids get older, my bedtimes get later. I’m hoping since my big goal race is later in the year, that most of this busyness will pass before peak training for the marathon hits. I hope.

RECENT RACES:

The Hustle for Health was in the dead heat of August. I ran the 10k, and my son ran the 5k. They moved locations this year to a brand new park that opened in Denison. I was kind of sad because the old 10k course went right in front of my house. It was a hard course for the first half, but the second part was flat. This new course was different. Hills were still in the course, but I wasn’t a fan mostly because the last couple of miles wound through the park sidewalks. It is hard to manuever around 5k walkers, three or four across. So even though I didn’t care for the new location, I will keep doing this race every year because it was my very first 5k ever ( in 2010). I’m proud of my son for getting through the 5k. It was so hot that morning, and he has been focusing on strength with a little bit of running. My time was okay, but not what I wanted. Still, I pushed myself through a summer race and that counts for something.

 

Earlier this month, I ran my favorite 5k of the year: Sherman Education Foundation Arts Fest. I love this race because so many of our group is out running it, and it is such a good time with my family. It was a little cooler, but mostly because it was overcast. It was still humid. I ended up running the same exact chip time as the year before. I think that’s a testament that I’m not slowing down. 🙂

Age Group Win!

 

My son also ran the 5k, and set a PR running on his own. The only running he has been doing is for football. I sure wish I could do that without any training.

COMING UP:

I have the opportunity again this year to serve as an ambassador for The Cowtown Marathon. If you’re looking for a winter race in Texas, this is it. They do an excellent job. You can register through my team, Anyone Can Run, to save money. Use promo code AMBASSADOR5 to save an additional $5. I’d love to see you there. Mark the last weekend of February on your calendar!

 

MY RACE SCHEDULE:

The Colony Half – October 27

RNR San Antonio – December 2

Dallas Marathon (half) – December 9

Houston Marathon – January 20

Cowtown Marathon – February 24

I may add in some shorter races here and there, but these are the ones I’m registered for so far.

Will I see you at any of these races?

Summer Running

We finally made it to the end of the school year, so we are finished with band concerts, banquets, awards, etc, etc…I’ve just been plugging along with my training in the meantime. I raced my second 5k for the year in May, and it was about 20 degrees warmer with much higher humidity than the one in April. I hit the first mile at a pace that kind of scared me, but ended up slowing in the second mile when there was no breeze and the humidity took over. But anyway, I was happy to see my running friends out there, and that my overall pace came down a bit. It was a smaller local 5k, to raise funds for the Denison Animal Welfare Group (DAWG).

Texoma RunnersThere were dogs everywhere and it was fun. I was surprised to see several run with their dogs and place in their age group. One woman ran with two! Maybe Cleo will be ready to run it next year. I know she likes to run, and last week I discovered she likes my Feetures running socks, when she ate one before I realized I dropped it!

Don’t let the cute face fool you!

 

My foot seems to be back to normal. Yay!! All my runs since the Bluebonnet Half have been 5 miles or less, and two to three times a week at most. I’ve been doing some strength work, along with swimming and biking too. I’ve been biking enough that I can’t wait to get back to more running! 🙂

I will say this about triathlon: I like the training, and I feel like a better athlete when I’m training this way. More balanced. Triathlon allows enough respite from running, that my passion for it is rekindled and I will be excited to get back to heavy training. I’m still working on those big goals.

Which brings me to my other news. If you didn’t see my posts earlier this month on social media, I am now an ambassador for RunRelated!

I’ve been working with my coach since mid-December, which means I haven’t had to plan any of my training since then. After more than 7 years of doing it on my own, I am happy to turn that over to someone else. I have some big goals I’m reaching for, and my coach didn’t laugh when I told him what they were. Now, I just need to show up for myself.

Since this is the time of year when a lot of runners are planning for fall/winter races, take a look to see if it’s for you. It’s affordable coaching (you know I’m frugal), it’s specific to me and my goals/schedule, and I can text my coach with questions about workouts, planning races, etc. In the case of my injury, he immediately made changes to the next week’s training to cut the running, and upped the intensity of swimming and biking (more than I would have done on my own). If you’re looking for help meeting your goals, check out RunRelated.

I’m running another local 5k this Saturday to support a marching band. I’m trying to take advantage of this time of year to get in and support the local races. It is getting hot, so my expectations may need to be adjusted. Then, the sprint tri is a few weeks after that. Summer is here!

Stay hydrated!

 

 

 

 

A Teeny Tiny Bit of Running, and a 5k

If there ever was a time of year to have a running injury, I guess this is it. No long races in the near future, and a sprint triathlon at the end of June.

I went to Airrosti the week after the Bluebonnet Half, after limping for a couple of days. After my visit, I only ran twice that week. A 3 mile easy run, and a 5k that Saturday. I had instruction from my Airrosti doctor and my coach to stop any time I felt pain, and walk or cancel the 5k if I needed to. The goal was to not set myself back, and was mostly about supporting a local race. I did a warm up to test my foot before the 5k, and it was sore but not painful. So I went out at what felt like 5k pace for as long as I wasn’t hurting. The weather was great, but it didn’t take long for me to remember how hard it is to breathe in a 5k! My easy 3 mile run earlier in the week did not prepare my lungs! The last 5k I ran was in September, so I was a little cautious with my pace, and not really sure where my fitness was for a fast race. I made it through the first mile in 8:05, and the second one was the same. In the last half a mile, I noticed it was all male runners around me. I could see one of my friends ahead, pulling away from me. My pace was slipping, but I did my best to hang on.

 

I was pretty happy with my effort, and the fact that my foot felt the same as before the race. I was about a minute off my time from last year, and with an age group win and third overall female finisher.  My friend I was chasing was the second female, and also won her age group. I love these smaller, local races!

I’ll be testing myself again on the 19th for another 5k, so hopefully my lungs will be on board this time. 🙂

My next week of training had extra biking and swimming to make up for the missing runs. My coach has kept my running distance low to help the healing process, but the intensity in the pool and on the bike has cranked up. Let’s just say I haven’t been bored from not running. I have missed meeting my friends for early morning runs, but I have to do what’s best for me.  Even when it means getting on my bike. On the road. Away from the comfort of my trainer and Netflix…

I have a friend who is also training for a triathlon, and she came over to my house so we could ride together. I’m such a chicken when it comes to riding, and I don’t know why. Maybe because I’ve fallen from being clipped in, maybe because it hurts more now that I’m older. It’s probably because I just don’t spend enough time on the road. She told me it was time to take it outside.

So we took it nice and easy, and I didn’t fall! This time…

I’m so thankful I can be my neurotic, fraidy-cat self around my friends, and they still choose to spend time with me. 🙂

Last week was still just a little bit of running. Nothing more than 3 miles. I had my follow-up Airrosti appointment and he said my foot looked really good. It was feeling much better too, especially after the tissue work. Ouch. So I’m done with the treatment unless it flares up again. According to my husband, new shoes are cheaper than insurance deductibles. He’s so right!

I have been instructed to keep the distance of a run below the point of pain, and to continue my foot strengthening exercises. This works for me because it seems that summer weather is here all of a sudden. It also times well with the end of the school year: banquets, testing, athletic tryouts, concerts, awards, and all that fun stuff. Just about two more weeks until I can join the 6 am club for the summer. It’ll be a nice change working out in the daylight.

 

 

 

 

 

Cowtown Marathon Weekend 2018

After a crazy week of basketball last week (who knew that a playoff tournament for 6th grade basketball was a thing?) I’m finally catching up my blog. It was a busy weekend for the 40th Cowtown Marathon, and I’ve got a lot of info to pack into a post. It may end up looking more like a short story so my apologies, and hang on!

I had big plans going into race week of relaxing, keeping my stress levels down, eating right, and getting extra sleep.

The best laid plans….

It started that Monday, with some stuff going on with one of my kids. I couldn’t do anything about it, except worry. I’m really good at worrying. Then the crazy weather moved in and didn’t leave. A couple of runs were pushed to the treadmill. I can do cold (it was just above freezing) and I can do rain.  But I will not do cold and rain – especially on race week.

The more it rained, the more I worried. We have an area under our home that floods when we get heavy rain, and until we redo the drainage in our yard, I will worry every time it rains. When I worry, I also stress eat. So there’s that. I also had two children sniffling and sneezing all over the place.

Race week was not going well so far.

On Friday, I volunteered at the expo handing out packets. It’s interesting to be on the other side of the racing scene, always giving me a better appreciation of what goes into a race. While I was handing out 5k packets, I had a man ask me a question. The woman next to him jumped in and said, “Well, she’s a volunteer so she wouldn’t know, but I’m a runner. So let me tell you what to do…” Bless her heart!

SATURDAY 5K:

Early Saturday morning, after a night of little sleep, my friend Leda and I headed down to run the 5k as part of the Cowtown Challenge. We took another friend with us, so she could go to the expo and pick up her packet. I’ve never run a Saturday race for Cowtown, and I got pulled in by the fun extras. My dad was running the 10k, and with the weather delay, our races started at the same time.

We got lucky with a break in the weather. The 5k was rain free. I took it nice and easy, just like my coach told me to. We did a few pickups here and there, and ran alongside someone who was doing her first 5k in ten years after having five kids. We encouraged her, and Leda picked up the pace to pull her in to the finish. I watched the 10k winner finish right in front of me, which was humbling – and just like my first 5k. I guess I ran slow enough. I saw my dad after he finished his race, and then we got poured on walking back to the car.

My goal for the rest of the day was rest. I was sleep deprived and emotional from the week, and wasn’t the easiest person to get along with. I tried to take a nap. No dice. I ate an early dinner, and then we left for the Percussion Concert for my son. I enjoyed the concert, but it was 10 p.m. before I got into bed. With a 3 a.m. wakeup the next morning, it wasn’t ideal, but you do what you have to do as a parent. It’s the only time I’ve slept solid all night before a marathon.

SUNDAY RACE DAY:

Race morning was off to a great start! Temps were in the 40s and it was going to be sunny. No rain. Yay! I rode in with running friends and we met up with others from our group.

Texoma Runners take on Cowtown

I made my way over to where RunRelated was meeting for a group picture, and met up with my coach (who was running Cowtown as well).

How did I feel?

Tired, but ready. I didn’t have time to obsess over the race due to the craziness of the week. But I did try to spend some time visualizing my goal. I had “carbed up” more than I did for Dallas (wanted to avoid medical this time) and was well hydrated. I just hoped I didn’t swing the pendulum too far the other direction.

It was time to take on 26.2

The three of us who have been training together started together. We had planned to run the first half together.

Photo credit: Brian Luenser (sent to me by Kevin Whitley on twitter)

After the third mile, I noticed my friends pulling ahead and my pace was right where I was supposed to be. I knew if I ran faster than I was supposed to, I would pay for it later. I had a plan to follow. Nothing faster than 9:45 in the first half. So I held back and ran my own race.

I made my way up the monster hill that so many hate at mile 9. Strong and steady, still feeling like I was holding back. That had to be a good sign! I was still watching my splits, and I only dipped under once with a 9:36.

After the split and a turn, I heard a runner behind me yell, “Is this whole city uphill?” I laughed, because I knew there were more to come.

At mile 20, I still felt strong, and was just over 10:00 pace. I had refilled my bottle a few times at aid stations, dropping Nuun in as I went. My Garmin was set to only show my current mile. I had no idea how what my total time was. My splits were off from the mile markers though, and I was running a half mile over so far.

Then at mile 21, I went up a hill and a turn to go up another one. At the top, I couldn’t recover my breathing. My energy level was zapped, and my pace dropped. But I was still running.

At mile 24, one of my friends who ran the half, came alongside me for over a mile, encouraging me. I told her to go on back and run with the other two, that I would be fine. She said, “No, I’m going to take you to the corner first” and that’s exactly what she did.

When I came around to the finish, I was reminded again of why I love this race. You have people cheering on both sides of the fencing, and the announcer calls out your name. I always see someone I recognize when I’m finishing. I was also impressed with the medical team. One stepped up to walk alongside me. “Are you okay?” I nodded. “I’m good.” Then he stepped off and another one picked up to walk with me. “Really, I’m fine.”

Then I saw my coach and for the first time, I switched screens on my Garmin to see my overall time. 4:35. My initial reaction was disappointment, but then I thought about how I felt through the race: how strong I felt at mile 20, how I probably needed more calories for the last 10k, how I ran up ALL the hills. I also thought about how I felt during Dallas (starting at mile 14) and just feeling defeated for the last 10 miles as I plodded through that race. Then my trip to medical after I finished…

I didn’t feel that way this time, and even though I didn’t hit my time goal, I feel like I ran a strong race. I didn’t fall apart at mile 16 like I have for my last 3 marathons, and I ran a little faster – and a lot smarter – than I did at Cowtown last year. I’m working my way back, baby! One step at a time.

Huge thanks to my coach Tim with RunRelated!


Cowtown Challenge and my 17th marathon finish!

I’m also super proud of my running friends. The one in the middle ran her first full marathon at Cowtown, and Leda had hurt her knee after Hot Chocolate, missing almost two weeks of training. We weren’t even sure she was going to make it to Cowtown. I’m so thankful I have them to run with. 🙂

Marathoners!

If you made it this far in the post, thank you for taking the time to read this. I am grateful I had the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for Cowtown. I look forward to returning next year to complete my medal series. It’ll be the full marathon again. You know, so they all match.

 

 

 

 

SEF Arts Fest 5k (Number 8)

Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve been running for over 7 years. Other days, I can’t remember much about my life routine before running.

This past Saturday was my favorite local race of the year. It’s a 5k/fun run for the Sherman Education Foundation in conjunction with the city’s Arts Festival. It has become a family tradition, and even though the number of how many of our family attends has changed, some things have not. Like funnel cake. :)My friend and I had discussed throughout the week how we were going to get the long run done for our Dallas training. We decided we didn’t want to give up the rest day on Sunday, so we ran before the race. I ran seven miles, and then went home to put on dry clothes and get the kids.

My youngest son was running the 5k. This was his 4th year to run the 5k. Every year before that, he did the fun run. I’m trying to encourage him toward cross-country in high school without pushing too much. I want him to see running as fun. My youngest daughter is now in the high school band, so she missed running to be part of the Arts Fest kickoff with the band.

We had a good-sized group of Texoma Runners show up to run.

It wasn’t the nice fall-like weather we had the week before. In fact it was muggy and warm for our run before the sun came up. At least there was a bit of a breeze for the race. It was still hot though. I like to tell the newer runners in our group that their goal is to pass a few of the high school cross-country runners during the race. I’m kidding.

No, not really. 😉

My plan was to run based on feel. Without changing the training around the week before the race, I wanted to put in a solid effort, and hopefully not bonk in mile 3!

When my watch hit the first split (7:43!) I knew I was either in good shape or big trouble. The second mile was 7:50 with a slowdown for water at the aid station. Whoa! I didn’t run that fast in my 5k in July when I was training for speed. What the heck?!? My running buddy and I had stopped any chitchat long before. I reminded myself “don’t step off the coals.” My 3rd mile was 7:56 so overall I ran faster than I did in July even though the time was almost the same (Garmin differences in distance showed this one to be a faster pace). Total official time was 24:38, and I did pass a couple of cross-country runners. 🙂

After I finished, I headed back out on the course to find my son, and he was less than half a mile from the finish when I found him. His finish time was almost 10 minutes faster than he ran in August. He had started with me and held on as long as he could. He was proud of his first mile.

After the 5k, we all got our capes for the Hometown Heroes fun run where they were honoring first responders. I had my son run it with us, even though he was tired. He said, “I already ran 3 miles!” I told him he would get faster by running more. He had fun. 🙂

 

I checked my results and I couldn’t believe I actually won female masters, although the one who usually wins masters, won overall female! I want to be like her when I grow up. I have never won money from a race, because if I win masters it’s because it’s a smaller race. Not to mention that this was after 7 miles that morning in week 8 of marathon training. I looked back on the past few years and my time for this race has been around 24:30 3 years in a row. At least I’m not getting slower.

We had a lot of age group places from our running group, and I am so thankful for them. They keep me motivated.

It’s a pretty awesome group.

 

We finished out the morning with our usual funnel cake over at the Arts Fest. We didn’t walk around or do anything else, because we were all pretty tired. I totaled 12 miles for my Saturday, and I was ready for a nap.

This finished up week 8 of Dallas training, and now marathon training moves into the longer long runs. Time to buckle up!