Marathon Training, a 5k, and the Paris Pair

Marathon training for Dallas has been rolling along, and the long runs are getting longer. But that didn’t stop me from finding a way to participate in a few races the past couple of weeks.

First up was my favorite local 5k – the Sherman Arts Fest run. I’ve run this race every year since I started running in 2010 (virtual for 2020) and it was somewhat of a family tradition. All four kids ran the mile fun run the first year, and the picture of them with their ribbons is one of my favorites.

Their first fun run!

Every year, except for the virtual 2020 and this year, I’ve had at least one child participate in some way. Mostly, it was my youngest son who ran the 5k several of the years. I would run my race and go back to run him in to finish. So I was kind of sad that it was just me running, but at least my husband came to watch and I had my running friends to hang out with too. My friend and I are training together for Dallas, and we had a long run of 16 miles planned for the weekend. We decided to knock out most of it, and finish up with the 5k. When I lined up at the start, I had 11.5 miles in my legs already for the morning, and I told myself I could not get mad about my performance. The marathon is the end goal, not a fast 5k. Of course I went out too fast, and almost tripped over several middle school cross country kids in the first mile. I finally had to school them on race etiquette. If you’re going to stop and walk, move over and look behind you first. I’m too old to be tripping over kids. My first mile was around 8:15. Not bad.

In the second mile, I started to feel all of the earlier miles in my legs. My pace was around 8:30. I tried to pick up the pace to finish strong for the last mile, but I was hot and my legs were tired. I remembered how hard 5ks are (especially when you go out too fast)! My 3rd mile was around 8:45. As I crossed the finish in one of my slower times for this race, I reminded myself I could not get mad. My finish time was under 27 minutes (what I thought I could run) and I was okay with that. After a short run for a cooldown, I was at 16 miles for the day. Oh, and an age group win to boot. 🙂

The following weekend, I ran the 25k at the Paris Pair. It was a good long run distance, and a chance to break up the monotony of long runs. New locations are good for that – and a medal with snacks are a nice bonus.

The weather that morning was actually cool compared to what we have been running in. Under 60 degrees at the start, and a shady course. It was an out and back course, so my plan was to run steady and comfortable on the way out, and gradually pick up the pace on the way back. I wanted to finish with the last couple of miles as my fastest. I hoped to average at least under a 10 minute pace per mile. It’s hard to know what my fitness is when all the long runs have been slower and in warm, humid weather.

A few miles into the race, we were under a 10 minute pace, but I told my friend it felt too fast. She reminded me that it usually takes 4-5 miles before we start feeling good on a run. Marathon training does that.

At the turnaround at 7.75 miles, I made a mental note of the overall time on my Garmin. (1:17:xx) I started to pick it up a little bit, but mostly stayed steady until the aid station around mile 10. I filled up my bottle here, and it was the only mile over a 10 minute pace. At mile 11, I took my caffeinated gel to get through the last few miles. I started to pick up the pace, because I was feeling good. It did start to heat up some, but it wasn’t until the last couple of miles that I started to notice the warmer weather. At the 10k turnaround, I had exactly 5k to go, so I started picking it up. My final mile splits were: 9:24, 9:21, 9:01, and 8:57 (.5 mile).

Yes! That’s exactly what I wanted to do, and I ended up coming in way under my expected goal pace of 10 min, and had a finish time around 2:30 with an average pace of 9:39. The best part was that it gave me a mental win I needed going into the heavier part of marathon training. It’s been years since I ran a strong race that was longer than a half marathon. It’s not as fast as I could run in the past, but it was what I needed for where I am now.

The race organization was top notch. We got to start and finish under the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas, and I got to spend some time with friends there too. I would definitely do this race again, especially as the project for the NETT continues to make progress.

As of today, I don’t have any other races planned until Dallas Marathon weekend. But actually, it’s really not that far away.

Testing the Water

This has been a strange, quick summer of running. I have done a little more racing than I originally intended, but also have taken a few baby steps out of my comfort zone (more trail). To use a metaphor, I’ve been testing the deep end of the water with my toe, while safely maintaining my seat on dry land.

My original plan for summer was to drop some weight, gain some strength, and work on speed for a 5k. Here’s what has actually happened:

A couple of weeks after RNR San Diego, I ran a 15k trail race with two of my running friends. This was only my 2nd official trail race. A sharp contrast to the cool, low humidity weather in San Diego, the Frisco Trail Race was hot and sunny. There were a lot of open places on the trail, and the sun was draining my energy. I felt fine up until mile 8, then I was ready to be done. The deep ruts in some places on the trail were not good for my ankles, so I was happy to be finished. Lots of switchbacks too. The map and the drone footage from the race looked cool, but it wasn’t as fun to run the course, in my opinion. At least there were free pictures from it, and I did enjoy time with friends.

At the end of June, I went to run “Trails and Tacos” hosted by the McKinney Running Club with some other running friends. It was a free, 15k distance trail run at Erwin Park. The running club had breakfast tacos afterward. I enjoyed this trail more than the one in Frisco. More coverage, no deep ruts. There were still some places out in the open sun that made it tough, and so many mountain bikes! No time goals here either, so I just enjoyed my time on the trail.

In July, I ran the Too Hot to Handle half marathon in Dallas with a couple of my other friends. This was mostly for my friend who wanted a race to check her training progress. She likes to run in the heat. My goal was to finish without getting sick. I have set the bar high for summer racing. 😉 I am probably going to write a whole other post about responsibility on the road because of what I witnessed with the bikes and runners around White Rock Lake, but here I’m just going to focus on my race. I felt pretty good until about mile 9, then the heat got me so I ran/walked it in. My heart rate got a little too high and it’s not worth the risk. If I can’t keep my sense of humor or smile, then I don’t need to be out there. I want to be able to run for years, so I try to pay attention to my body. When it says slow down, I do.

 

I made sure to cool down after the race under the sprinkler with a popsicle and a cold towel on my skin.

This was pretty close to being one of my slowest half marathons and I am okay with that. I didn’t set out to run a time goal. I set out to complete a half marathon. I like being “half ready” year round. I’m back to the point where a 10 mile run feels normal, as it did several years ago. Everyone is different though. What’s good for me may not be what’s best for you! The nice thing about doing this race, is that I didn’t feel sore later or the next day. My recovery was good, it was just the heat that got me. That’s kind of an expectation of summer running.

A little over a week ago, we took some trail time out at Cross Timbers. The last time I ran there was in March. There were no monster horse flies then, or worries of snakes, or clearing spiderwebs. The flies are awful now! It didn’t matter how fast you ran in some places, you were still swatting and dodging the massive flies.

And Cross Timbers has a way of making you feel out of shape. We covered 4 miles that took well over an hour. There is some climbing! My quads were sore for two days after that run!

I’ve enjoyed my time on the trail these past months, but I can’t seem to make the jump to go farther yet. Officially.

 

As far as the rest of my summer goals:

On dropping weight, I’ve lost about .3 of a pound. I’ve had more trouble with this than anything. I don’t know how I can fit all my runs in but can’t turn down an ice cream cone. It’s about discipline, but my metabolism has slowed down which makes it hard. Oh, and I really really like peanut butter.

On building strength, I’ve started going to the gym with one of my friends on Sundays to lift. It’s not something I’ve ever done consistently or made a priority. So this is our fight against age and slow metabolisms. We’ve gone two weeks in a row, and it’s much easier to agree to meet a friend than go on my own. I also did some RIPPED classes at the gym earlier this summer with my daughter who was home from college. It’s good to change things up once in a while.

I’m winding down a bit this week to get ready for the 5k this weekend. I’ve been doing track workouts just about every week to get my speed back, because I need the speed in the shorter distances to get faster for the longer ones. Track work the past two months consisted of variations of 5k goal pace. 400s, 600s, 800s. Last week was 5 x 1000m. It was tough, and I hit the paces on all but the last one. These workouts have given me a specific focus for the majority of summer.

Saturday’s 5k will be my last race in my current age group. After this, it’s time to move to the longer, marathon focused work.

So there’s my summer running in a nutshell. Band has started for my high school junior, and football for my youngest. This is my gauge that summer is basically over in our house. Routines and schedules are back in place, and my running will be more structured.

It’s going to be a busy fall, but I really don’t know how to do it any other way.

 

 

 

 

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.