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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Downtime, Goals, and Kids

I promised myself (and my family) that once I finished Buffalo Springs, I would take a break from training and be present. I would take time with them and time for myself. In the past three weeks, I enjoyed several games of Peanut (think Solitaire with teams) at 9:30 at night with my kids, I went to the library and checked out books that I am actually reading, and have been focusing more on my kids. Also, I went back to my Saturday morning running group. That was one of the things I really missed while half Ironman training. I enjoy the camaraderie of the group, and even though I don’t get the chance to run with them all (some of them are really fast), it has been nice to catch up and meet some new members.

“Are you the one who did the triathlon?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

One of the main things I’m working on now is helping my kids. My oldest daughter is going to UT on a Navy ROTC scholarship in August. I’m running with her in the mornings to help her get the endurance she needs to have when she checks in. My 10 year old wants to run another 5k. So I have been going out with him in the evenings to get him running consistently. He’s done a few 5ks in the past two years, but this is the first time he has shown sustained interest and reminds me what days and how far we need to run.

Last week, I took the three kids to the track so we could all stay together. Even the 13 year old who likes the idea of running until she actually does it, came along. It wasn’t the storybook ending I would have liked to have that night, but at least I have some memories in pictures for when they’re all grown up.

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I made a deal with myself that I would keep my activity level to under an hour after the half Ironman. I wanted to give my body the rest it deserved before marathon training starts in August. I also wanted to finish taking off the weight I had put on the last two years. Up until last weekend, I stayed true to my promise of staying under an hour.

On Saturday, I ran just over an hour with the group, and then headed out with my daughter for 30 minutes to run/walk. The next morning, I went on a bike ride with my friend and her husband. She keeps asking me to go with her with the cycling group on Saturdays, and I keep telling her I don’t want to be on my bike that long. Plus, it conflicts with the run group. But this time when she asked me to go ride, I relented because it was on Sunday morning and under two hours.

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I didn’t hate it.

But I’m going to try to keep the endurance bug in check for a few more weeks.

Last night when my son and I ran together, he told me he was moving slower so he could work on his stamina. We are up to a mile and a half. For a child who would rather play video games all summer, I think we’re making great progress.

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Now that I’ve talked a little about how I’m enjoying my downtime, tell me what’s something you do?

Buffalo Springs 70.3 (Part One)

I didn’t think it was possible to sum up my weekend and half Ironman race in one blog post, and once I started typing it out I decided to split it up into two posts. I’ll post the rest of it later this week, since I now have some free time on my hands. There was a lot to it, and I want to do my race justice with my recap! I’ll start by saying the race itself surprised me with the parts I expected to struggle with were actually the smoothest part of the day.

We headed out on Friday the 24th. Two adults, three kids, two bikes, all in a loaded down VW.

My husband just loves the camera!

All smiles! Well, mostly.

It was a family trip to go see family, with a nice bonus of me putting in 70.3 miles on Sunday. With a little over a six hour drive to get to my brother’s house, the scenery headed west just couldn’t be matched. (Ha!)

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Hey, kids, look! Another windmill.

When we got to my brother’s house we talked about the race, and what our plans were for the next day. My sister-in-law had done a little bit of research and my brother had actually been out to the lake several times to fish the past year, and even ran a couple of road races in the area.

Side note: I’m a football coach’s daughter, and my brother is a football coach. Sports were, and still are, a big part of our family. As kids, my brother and I were always brought to each other’s events because my parents wanted us to support each other in everything we did. To show up at my brother’s house for a triathlon, and to see their excitement about the race meant so much to me.

Saturday morning we loaded up two vehicles and drove in to Lubbock. My brother, his wife, their three kids, and the five in my family all descended on the expo for packet pickup. I was excited to find my name on a shirt.

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…but not my size…

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After we ate lunch,  my sister-in-law took all the kids to a movie, while my husband, brother, and I headed back to the expo for a Q&A I wanted to go to. My nerves were pretty much building throughout the day. After listening to some of the questions and discussion about the hills (where the word “treacherous” was mentioned about one of the descents), I was basically a knot of nerves. We headed out to drive the bike course so I could see what was up. Or down.

I knew going into this race that there would be “five challenging hills.” But all throughout my training, I imagined climbing – not descending. I also spent so much time worrying about getting my swim pace down, that I didn’t consider much with the bike. Until we drove the bike course, and all swim worry got tossed out the window.

No, I’m not kidding.

I am still a beginner when it comes to cycling. I’m a chicken on the downhills. I slow considerably to make a turn. I’m not very fast. But I feel like I have one strength on the bike, and that’s climbing. I like to think my running background helped with that, because of all the hills I run. But these hills were nothing like I’ve tackled in my training. Not even close. And it wasn’t the climbing that worried me while driving the course; it was two of the descents that scared me. I was thankful that we drove the course though, because I knew what I’d be facing and tried to mentally prepare. My husband reminded me to go slow, use more pressure with my rear brake, and I would be fine.

The rest of the evening, my nerves were on full blast. I had trouble sleeping, imagining coming down the hills. As silly and irrational as it seems now, I couldn’t shake it. It kept me awake until after 11 pm. Then I woke up at 1:30 – a full hour before my alarm was set – and couldn’t sleep any more.

Race morning was a different story. I had a lot of people praying for and thinking about me. I felt calm and purposeful. I had all my gear together, and my husband and I loaded up early to get to the park before transition opened at 5:00. My brother was going to come when the race started at 6:30 and my sister-in-law was bringing all the kids later.

Even though we left so early, we were not the first ones there by any means. I thought we had the early arrival down, but this was no running race. Triathletes take it up a notch on early mornings. We parked and loaded up all the gear to trek down the steep hill (climb number one on the bike).  I got my area set up in transition. I noticed someone tied a green shoelace on the end of the rack, and I made a mental note to look for it coming in to get my bike.

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The swim was “barely wetsuit legal” (75 degrees) and I knew I’d probably get hot, but I needed all the help I could get with buoyancy. So my husband helped me into it, and I headed down the steps to the lake for a little warm up.

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It seems like the time before the race flew by. I couldn’t believe it was already time to start! I was in the third swim wave, and the first two went quickly. The time cutoff for the swim was 70 minutes from the last wave (which gave me an additional 15-20 minutes). Surely I could make that! The weirdest part was not being able to see the layout of the swim because of the way the lake was, but the instructions were to turn left at the yellow buoys.

THE SWIM:

Once in the water, I settled into a rhythm. The water was calm, and I focused on really stretching out my arms. When I get in open water, I tend to forget about my stroke because there are so many other things to think about. My goggles started to leak a little, so I flipped over on my back to fix them. I had trouble with them fogging up during the whole swim, even when I tried to fix them again. Whenever I got frustrated, I would somehow spot a buoy and knew I was still on track. The only other hiccup for me was the guy who slowly passed me who made such a big splash every time his arm entered the water. I couldn’t get around him so I slowed until he finally pulled ahead enough not to give me a face full of water. I glanced at my Garmin once and couldn’t see the time, so I knew I messed it up somehow. I shrugged it off and just kept swimming until I saw the last turn and people getting out on the dock. One of the main positives was that this was the first race for me that the buoys were on the left. I’m a left side breather and it made sighting much easier. Since my Garmin was messed up, I didn’t know how long it took me to swim, but I knew there were people still coming in behind me and no official stopped me with “I’m sorry, but you didn’t make it in time.” 🙂

I was grateful for the volunteer who helped me get out of my wetsuit. There is no gracious way to do it, but she was awesome! Then I ran to find my bike. It’s a good thing the racks were numbered, because I forgot about the green shoelace. Unlike Texasman, there were still quite a few bikes in transition. I ate half a Clif bar, reset my Garmin to start biking, and then headed out to face the hills.

Out of transition, beginning the first climb on the bike, I heard my name and saw my husband and brother cheering for me. I smiled and called out, “I made it!”

My first hurdle – the swim – was done.

 

Building Distance (Week 3)

I had almost forgotten what it’s like to push my body to “new to me” distances. Week 3 of half Ironman training started that again for me, and there will be several more to come. The challenge of new distances has kept me on my toes, and I’m enjoying the variety with the three different sports.

(I first intended to combine the last two weeks of training into one post, but I want to give last week’s activities justice, so I’ll hopefully get that post up later this week.)

I finally pulled my bike off the trainer for my long ride on Easter weekend. Up until this point, my longest ride had been 24 miles with a couple of friends back in the summer. It was me trailing them without really knowing what I was doing.

I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but I do know I need to be on the road as much as possible to get my confidence and experience level up. So on Good Friday, I set out for 30 miles.

It was a little cooler than I preferred, but I wore my long sleeves and compression socks to help me stay warm. The wind was up a little, as it has been every time I’ve gone for a run lately. It’s definitely springtime here!

My husband and I mapped out a route. A boring out and back route, but there were a couple of hills and a wide shoulder to ride on. By the time I got back home, I was tired from the wind and the distance, and very hungry. Once I had my chocolate milk for recovery, I noticed my appetite vanished for a few hours. It reminded me of when I first started running long and I would lose my appetite after a run.

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The next morning, I went for a long run with the Saturday morning crew, and then went to the pool after picking up my younger daughter at home.  She’s been begging to go swim with me, so I got her up and we hurried to the pool. We had to be done before the 10 am Aqua Zumba class, so I was on a mission to finish my distance. The pool was busier than I expected for a Saturday morning, but it was good because the water was choppier than when I usually swim. Abby was in the same lane as me, using the kickboard so that was good experience as well. I finished up my longest swim session thus far, and called it a day.

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It was actually 1200 yds, but I had a calf cramp that started another length.

Except that we still had an egg hunt to do. I was surprised that my oldest daughter wanted to hunt eggs too. After the first round, they told me it was too easy. So I had to go back and hide them again.

 

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I love that these kids can do things together and enjoy each other’s company.

Easter was damp, cool, and windy, but I had a short bike ride planned. I enjoyed a nice recovery ride with my ten year old, with a lot of loops around lightly traveled streets, and time in the school parking lot. I practiced starting and stopping, turning and clipping in/out. There’s only one way to get better on the bike. Practice, practice, practice.

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It may not have been speedy or far, but I was able to combine family time with training, and to me that’s a win.

Band on the Run 5k

After the Cowtown Marathon, I chose to have an unstructured, no stress week of activity. Everyday I set my alarm for my “sleeping in” time – early enough to get everyone up and ready for the day. Two of those days I woke up before the alarm. On Wednesday morning, I did an easy spin on the bike trainer for 30 minutes, and on Thursday I ran a whopping two miles without looking at my pace.

I also started the process of losing the marathon weight gain. Again. At work, I was faced with the temptation of homemade cookies on Tuesday, pizza on Thursday, and donuts on Friday. But I passed by it all without a second glance. I also baked brownies for the pasta dinner on Friday without a taste test. So yay for all those victories!

Our high school’s band program held its second annual pasta dinner and 5k over the weekend, beginning with the pasta dinner on Friday night. I caved a little on my week of stellar eating with a small plate of spaghetti and 2 oatmeal raisin cookies. I did give my son three of the four meatballs on my plate though, but sitting through the performances of 5 different concert bands weakened my resolve against the cookies. That’s what happens when you have one child in the first band, and one playing last. You’re sitting there for a bit.

Normally, I wouldn’t choose to race a 5k one week after a marathon, but this was about raising money and supporting the band – and it was a great way for me to participate. With my feet.

My parents had come up to visit, go to the dinner/concert, run the race, and celebrate my daughter’s birthday (18!). I’m glad the race was close to the house, because it was kind of bonkers getting everyone ready and out the door. I’m so accustomed to just getting myself ready. But we finally made it and with enough time for me to do a little warm up with my friend. My legs felt strange – like I was bouncing almost. I didn’t know what to expect for the race.

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The plan was for me to run my race, then go back and run my kids in. My husband was out on his bike, so he could keep me posted on their progress.

My friend and I ran together for almost all of the race. It was a small race and we started near the front, behind some high school runners. My favorite thing about this course is the familiarity. I knew the route, and the little uphill near the beginning would be a nice payoff at the end. The rest of the course is flat. At the turnaround, there were band members playing familiar “football game” tunes. I saw my two kids at different points and my parents and waved. The kids were smiling which was a good sign. I managed all right up until the third mile, when I ended up with a side stitch. So I’m trying to hold my pace steady while pinching my side to ease the stitch. That’s what I get for trying to go all out. Finally when I hit the downhill, I found my kick and ran through the finish to the sounds of the band playing the fight song for every finisher. The 5k hurt, but I didn’t have time to whine.

 

I grabbed a bottle of water, reset my Garmin, and headed back to run my kids in. It took less than a mile for me to get to my 10 year old son. He was running for 60 seconds, and walking for 10. I ran with him for a minute, before my husband sent me back to find my daughter. This little boy was in good spirits, and he was going to make it just fine.

Then I found my daughter who was red-faced and smiling. She had been walking with my mom for a bit, but then started talking to someone else and fell behind. She was doing great with her plan of running cone to cone, then walking to the next one. When we got to the downhill, I told her to run the rest of the way in and I pulled off to the side. After she finished, one of the moms came up to me and said, “she encouraged me out there.” That makes me so happy.

IMG_7407 IMG_7409The other great thing about small races: age groups are smaller. I actually was the third female to finish, with a time 3 minutes slower than my PR – but the effort was all out. My daughter was 2nd in her age group. My son is in a more competitive group. We had to remind him that he’s the youngest, and there’s a big difference between ages 10 and 14. He did take almost 3 minutes off of his last 5k though! I reminded them that the important thing was they had fun, and this was for the band. We all had a good time, and my husband didn’t have to run so he was happy. I want to continue to foster the no pressure approach to running with my kids, and activities like this help.

 

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It was a fun race, and I hope to see it grow for next year. It also reminded me how much I’ve missed running shorter distances.

 

Do you enjoy racing 5ks? What about small races?

 

 

SEF Celebrate the Run 2015

Saturday was my 6th time to participate in the Sherman Education Foundation’s Celebrate the Run. One of my favorite things about this race is the goody bag actually has goodies every year!

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The first two years I ran the 5k (they also had a 15k). The next three years they held a 10k in place of the 15k, so I ran that distance. This year there was no 10k. It was a 5k and a fitness challenge course (sponsored by the local Crossfit group). I was disappointed to see the 10k go away, so I ran the 5k. Out of my two youngest children (high schooler was performing with the band), only my littlest wanted to run this year.

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The morning started off rainy, and I worried that my son wouldn’t want to run. But it did lighten up to just barely a mist by the time the race started.

We had agreed ahead of time that we would run our own races and I would come back for him after I finished. He hasn’t quite learned how to pace yet, so he takes walk breaks.

I ran my race without looking at my Garmin. I gauged myself based on effort. I knew I probably couldn’t run in the 23 minute range again yet, but was hoping I would be closer to the top of 24:00. My last 5k was in May with a time of 24:41. According to my Strava data, my second mile was the fastest. I didn’t have much of a kick at the end, but my official finish time was 24:18.

I grabbed a bottle of water from the finish, my Nuun bottle from my husband, and ran double-fisting the bottles to find my son. It took me about 3/4 of a mile to get to him. He was smiling and when he saw me, he told me that he was finding all the puddles so his socks were wet. Obviously he was doing okay.

We ran and walked and talked, then I stepped off the course so he could run fast to the finish.

The best part of the morning was when he realized that he won his age group – and that he actually finished before two others. There are not many kids in the 9 and under category who will give up a Saturday morning.

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He had fun and wants to keep running. I think we’ve found something that we can work on together to improve, but only as much as he wants to. I will not push my kids, but I will help them any way I can.

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Later that evening, he asked me if I keep all my bibs.  (I do.) Monday morning when I took off the shoe tag, he wouldn’t let me throw it away. (I toss mine though.) He’s a little sentimental like his mother, and he was joyful about it too.

After the race on Saturday, I continued my cutback week with my long run on Sunday. I planned to take it easy, and let my body dictate the pace. I was sorer than I thought I’d be from the 5k I guess, and had some trouble finding energy. That could partly be due to the Whoppers, candy corn, and brownies I ate on Saturday. Garbage in – garbage out. Think I’d learn by now.

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This week I’ll do better.

 

 

 

 

Teaching Moments

I know this is a running blog, but I believe this post applies to running and other areas of life as well.

Sunday I pulled my bike off the trainer and went to ride with my husband. It had been 3 weeks since I’d taken it outside. I have been on the road twice since I got the new pedals and shoes, and haven’t been back out since my first fall (which was the same ride I got chased by a German Shepherd).

So on Sunday when my husband and I went to ride, I felt a little off. I couldn’t clip in easily when we started. Then we went a direction where I thought there would be little traffic. There wasn’t. Nothing clicked, and it was making me nervous.

Back home to switch bikes to ride with him. Back on the trainer went the road bike.

That evening I practiced. Clip in. Clip out. Clip in. Clip out. Boring. Boring. Boring.

Yesterday evening, I decided to take a short ride on the road. My 9 year old son asked if he could ride with me. We decided we would go to an empty parking lot down the road. He could ride freely, and I could practice starting and stopping. Clipping in and clipping out.

At the end of our driveway, when we were ready to take off, I had my second fall. He dropped his bike and ran over to me to make sure I was okay. He helped me stand up, brush the gravel off, and check my wounds. He looked at me and asked if I wanted to go back in. “No, I’m okay. Let’s go.” I tried again. I started to get nervous. Then again. Come on Eileen, I thought. Finally, I got my left foot clipped in and we headed out. We rode in the parking lot until I was more confident in my ability, and he was tired. Then we headed home.

I realized later that was a teachable moment. I could’ve reacted any number of ways when I fell. But I chose to stand up, dust myself off, and say “Let’s go.” I’m hoping my son will remember that I didn’t give up when learning something new. He watched me keep at it until I got it. That’s the lesson. Of course then he told me, “I think you should leave the clipping in to Daddy.” Just because he didn’t like to see me get hurt.

One of the reasons I was hesitant to get into triathlon was fear. Fear of falling, fear of not being able to figure it out. Fear of moving outside of my comfort zone.

Will I fall again? I’m sure of it. Will it hurt? Of course. But I’m going to keep at it.

Hopefully my shoes (and bike) will survive the learning curve.

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