Family Traditions (SEF 5k)

Last week was a cutback week for me for marathon training, and I had some fun with it.

Even though the heat hasn’t let up much here, I still got out with the kids and ran to get ready for the 5k we were all doing on Saturday.

They wanted to go to the park to run and then play. Sure, why not?

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Then on Thursday we ran a mile and a half. My 13 year old daughter would run ahead and walk until the 10 year old almost caught up to her. Then she’d take off again. Nice, friendly competition between siblings. Two weeks ago, she decided she¬†was ready to start training for the 5k, and she made good progress in a short amount of time.

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Saturday morning, we were ready to race the Sherman Education Foundation 5k. This was my 7th time to run this race, and it wasn’t the first time for them either. I told them to make sure to run their own race the way they wanted to. Slow and steady, or run/walk – whatever is¬†best for them.

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After I finished a very painful 3 miles (I have not been training at sub 8:00 pace!), I grabbed some water and a banana, and headed back out on the course to run my kids in. With a little over a half a mile to go, I saw my 10 year old and ran with him for a minute. He went on to finish, and I found his sister a few minutes back. My husband was out on the course with his bike, to encourage them. When my daughter askedhow far she had left to run, I told her about 3/4 of a mile. Her response, “Really? I’m almost done!” Probably not many kids who think 3/4 of a mile is a short distance. My kids have a different perspective on what “far” is. ūüôā

I’m proud of the way they ran the race. My youngest ran faster than he did at the 5k in August, and it wasn’t much cooler. The humidity was high – still. I ran almost the exact same time I ran the race in last year (when it was rainy and a little cooler). This year my time was 24:23. I was hoping to get back in the 23 minute range, but I guess if I don’t train for 5ks, I really can’t expect to bust out a time close to my PR. I did manage to win my age group though. I guess I can’t complain about my 5k time if I’m always training for marathons.img_8239

This is my favorite local race of the year¬†because of the traditions around it as a family. The traditions are changing a little with our family – two of my kids had to grow up and move off. ūüė¶ But after the race, we visited the¬†Arts Fest and spent some¬†time at the different booths. And of course we had funnel cake. That tradition hasn’t changed.

With the 5k on Saturday, I got up planning to meet my running buddy for a 12-13 mile long run Sunday morning. This is what I woke up to:

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With the time constraints (and lightning factor), I reluctantly got on the treadmill. The storms weren’t¬†moving through anytime soon. By the time it started to clear up, I was up to 10 miles. I just finished off at 13, and that ended my cutback week. That was a rough run, but at least I had podcasts to listen to. Before Sunday, my longest treadmill run was 9 miles. I didn’t want to go that far on the treadmill, but I have goals that won’t be reached by skipping a long run. I learned for next time to put towels around the treadmill, because it was a gross sweaty mess. My body is just too efficient at cooling.

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Partly bad lighting, but yes my face probably was that red.

That ended my first cutback week of Dallas Marathon training, and now I’ll start ramping up the miles while I wait for fall temperatures to show up.

Anybody else?

 

 

 

 

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Time 2 Tri & Tri It for Casa

It’s race week! I can’t believe it’s here already, and I feel so totally unprepared (even though I’ve been training my tail off for the past 15 weeks). I’m just anxious and nervous about it all, and I feel like my training has been scattered since the week after¬†Texasman. My poor husband has had to put up with my obsessive worry, and I feel really bad for him. So in order to not think about it right now and get myself worked up anymore, I’m going to take a look back.

June 12th, the day after the Collin Classic, I completed a sprint triathlon. This race was the culmination of training with a group called Time 2 Tri. This group had a weekend event back in April at Playtri, as an effort to get more women involved in triathlon. I came across their booth at the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll expo in March. I decided to go to the event, even though I wasn’t brand new to triathlon, because I want to keep learning and meeting people.

This weekend event at Playtri kicked off eight weeks of training set up by a coach: strength training, group rides, swim sessions, and track workouts. With my distance from the workout locations, I was only able to participate in some of the swim sessions. I feel like I gained a huge benefit from it. For some of these women this was their first venture into triathlon, and it was great to see their excitement about completing their first race.

The Tolltag Triathlon (Tri It for Casa) was a 500m open water swim in a small man-made lake. The main thing I was nervous about was the fact that my hands were still kind of numb from the biking. The water was too warm for a wetsuit, so I hoped my legs wouldn’t drag me down too much. I was in the last swim wave (again) but this race was much smaller and I wasn’t nearly as anxious. I felt calm in the water, and didn’t worry about my speed. The hardest part of the swim was hoisting myself up on the floating dock. Thankfully someone was there with a hand out to help me up. It was slippery! I made it out of the water in just over 15 minutes. Not fast by any means, but I felt good.

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In transition, I heard a woman come in saying “I did it! I really did it!” She was just talking to herself, but you could see the sense of accomplishment on her face. She was excited!

Then I headed off on the bike for a flat, fast (for me) 11 miles. The woman from transition passed me and asked, “Hey do you know how I make this thing easier to go up hill?” I quickly told her how my bike worked, and she was off. This was a great ride for beginners. Long stretches of straight road. Cracks and gravel were marked with paint. No crazy hills. Riding in my aerobars. I loved it. 15.3mph was a good pace for me.

Then back in to transition for the run, and I was much faster on this race by carrying my hat and number belt out with me to put on while running. The sun was starting to come out and it was getting warm, but it was a 5k. Three miles to run just sounded awesome in my head. I’m almost done! I ran steady but not all out, and I was able to negative split my run with a time of 27:10. A good brick workout for me.

It was great seeing other Time 2 Tri members out on the course. Someone had brought pink ribbons for all of us to tie on our shoulder. It was a good way for us to identify and encourage each other. The coach was at the finish line cheering everyone in, along with a couple of others who came out to watch and will be doing their first triathlon in a week with a pool swim. I had a lot of fun, and it was wonderful to be a part of a group that was so supportive and encouraging.

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So instead of continuing to be anxious about Sunday’s race, I’m going to try to focus on how far I’ve come. It was just about a year ago that I started training for my first triathlon, and a 300m pool swim scared me. I couldn’t even make it to the wall without going stopping.¬†Now I’ve done four triathlons, two with open water swims (and one that was very tough). I may not be fast, but I’m making progress. It’s me against me. That’s all that really matters.

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

 

Halfway There!

This week starts¬†the second half of my 18 week training cycle for the Dallas Marathon. I’m not going to lie; there have been a few rough patches. The humidity has been higher this year it seems, and most of my speed and tempo runs have been at 75-80 degrees with 80% humidity (or higher). I’ve had some sweat drenched running clothes¬†and not so easy “easy” paced runs.

In addition to tough workouts, I seem to have become inept in the kitchen. I broke my own rule I set back in August. My sixteen year old needed¬†to bring homemade chocolate chip cookies to school a few weeks ago (with night before notice). She was going to make them, but I thought I would be nice and help her out while she was taking a shower after band. Translation: I did all the mixing and baking. I must have been more tired than I thought because I misread the recipe. We didn’t realize until after the fact that the cookies were a little salty. Instead of 1/4 teaspoon, I put in 3/4 of salt. Oops. I guess with all the heat, I needed some extra sodium.

Training aside, my favorite thing so far this month was my first job as a pacer in a half marathon. The Showdown Half was this past Saturday, and I helped pace the 2:15 group. This gave me the chance to help give back to the running community, without changing my training around too much. I still had the benefit of motivation from a race.

IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!

This was a great race with so much energy. The skies were overcast, and temps were in the high 50s. There were a few minutes of misty rain, but it felt wonderful. There were a few hills especially in the second half, but a nice course. In our group there were at least two first time half marathoners, and a runner who set a 10 minute PR. At one point around mile 10, he told me he thought he shouldn’t be feeling this good running 10:15 miles. He expected to be running 11 minute miles at that point. When we got to the last quarter mile, I¬†sent them on ahead¬†to finish strong.

A friend of mine, who was running her second half, set a 15 minute PR! Awesome!

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I would love to have the chance to pace another half marathon. It was nice to take the focus off my own training and encourage someone else, to remember what it’s like to achieve new distances and paces that were thought impossible. It renewed my motivation.

Look at the size of that medal!

Look at the size of that medal!

Monday, I finally had cooler weather for a speed session. I headed to the track with 61 degrees and wind for 1600 meter repeats. My goal was 7:30 for each one. I ran 7:27, 7:29, and 7:33. The funny thing about the speed sessions is that whether I’m running 400 or 1600, the lap time is still the same. That should mean the shorter sessions were easier, right? Yeah, okay. I’m content with that portion of my training, and next week I’ll move into strength workouts – where the distances are longer.

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Now I’m off to bed for tomorrow’s early tempo run. So excited that it will be cool for 8 miles at race pace. Now, let’s see if I can get it. Don’t forget, you can follow my training at Daily Mile or connect on Instagram. The links are on the home page.

Have a great week!

 

Yes You Can (SEF Arts Fest)

Saturday was my favorite race day of the year. This was the fifth year¬†our family has participated in the Sherman Education Foundation run. There is a 5k, 10k, and fun run. The schools get involved and it’s one of the biggest local races we have. The goodie bags are awesome – string backpacks, reusable bottles, etc… It’s also held in conjunction with the Sherman¬†Arts Festival. What better way to spend the day as a family than to run together and eat funnel cake?

This year we changed things up a bit. In the past I have run either the 5 or 10k, then ran the fun run with the kids as a cool down. This time, my youngest two decided they wanted to do the 5k. Since their first 5k in April – an untimed color run – they’ve been asking to do another. My parents planned a trip up. My dad was going to run the 10k, and my mom was going to walk her first 5k. My husband (who got his fill of mandatory running in his Navy career) was the finish line support crew.

Earlier in the week I decided not to change my marathon training around. I wanted to see how I could race on tired legs. I’ve run my fastest times when I was marathon training. Go figure. But since it was still warm and humid all week, I gave up hope on a PR. By Saturday morning I had been dealing with lack of sleep, busyness at work, busyness at home – helping translate Spanish homework at 10 pm – and general stress all week. My Garmin had quit, my appetite was blah, and running felt tougher than it should have. I needed relief and sleep. Oh, and this was an “easy” week for training.

Thank goodness there was no football game Friday night.

Saturday morning, I ran to the start as my warm up and met up with the rest of my crew. I also ran into my friend who was running the 5k as a shakeout run before her first half marathon the next day.

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The 10k course was hilly and tough – especially the hill between mile 4-4.5. It knocked the wind right out of me. That’s also the point where my legs said, “Hey, we ran 9 miles yesterday. What the heck are you doing?” Since I didn’t have a GPS watch, I had my iPhone tucked in my iFitness belt with the Nike Plus app going. I had the audio on, but my breathing was so awfully loud, all I could hear for the first three miles was “average pace 7…” I had no idea how fast I was going, but I had my eye trained on another runner from our group who is faster than me. Before the race, I told her I was using her as my rabbit. After the hill, I lost her. I did what I could to run strong, but I was so grateful to be finished. My official time was 50:54, and my mile splits on the app were 7:33, 8:01, 8:09, 8:10, 8:35, and 8:33. Oops. I went out just a little too fast.

After I crossed the mat, I heard my son call out to me. Then my daughter came running up. Her face was red from running, but she was smiling. “I finished before you.” I was so proud of them for finishing on their own. The look on their faces when I asked them if they wanted to do the color fun run was priceless. They were done¬†running for the day.

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I found my mom and congratulated her finish, then went to cheer in my dad while my husband headed over to the gazebo to hear the band (and our oldest daughter) kick off the start of the Arts Festival.

My dad and I both placed first in our age groups in the 10k. My mom was fourth in her age group for the 5k. Pretty nice¬†for a first race¬†and she’s a fast walker. My friend running her shakeout in the 5k: Grand Masters Overall female winner. (She went on to finish a great half marathon on Sunday.) Her mom ran her first 5k race and¬†placed first in her age group ¬†– at age 70.

I write all this because it goes back to the heart of my blog. I started this blog to honor my dad who ran his first 5k at age 61. He didn’t think he could run. He was walking 30 minutes a day on the treadmill, and I told him he could do a 5k. My mom, who can’t run because of knee problems, was walking 30 minutes on the treadmill at a time. My dad told her she could walk a 5k. So she did. At age 62. Yes, anyone can run. They can participate in many ways.

So many people can get started just because you put an idea in their head that they can do it. Don’t be afraid to say so.

 

And the funnel cake? It was worth it.

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Might As Well Jump

On Saturday for our group run, I ran with a¬†new to the group¬†member. Our daughters have been friends for the past six years, so I knew her before either of us started running. She started running about two years ago¬†with her first 5k.¬†Following¬†introductions to the other group members, I mentioned that she was planning her first half marathon. She was considering one for September but didn’t know if that was too soon. A nice group discussion ensued filled with assurance, encouragement, and advice.

We ran together for six miles chatting away about how running has changed us – for the better. It’s not always about speed or distance, but being reminded of the joy of running.

Seeing her excitement (and a little trepidation) took me back to the¬†decision to register for my first marathon. My husband had to give me the last little push, because I didn’t feel “ready.”

Let’s set specific distances aside for just a moment.

Do you like to dream big? Do you have your sights set on a goal that sounds crazy to others? Do you want to run a long distance race? Is there something keeping you from taking that next step?

We don’t always feel “ready.” The decision feels huge, seemingly impossible, no matter¬†the distance. Sometimes, though, we just have to jump.

So what does that long distance look like for you?

For some, it is a 5k (3.1 miles), and others a half marathon (13.1). Some may be even be considering making the jump to 26.2 for a marathon. Some just need that first step out the door.

My first run lasted 12 minutes almost four years ago. It’s all I could handle. Now running is a natural part of me.

It can happen. You can do it. Take that jump. Go on and register for that race already. Believe in yourself. If you need a push like I did, this is it. ūüôā

Oh, and by the way, if you’re looking for a great half or full marathon, join me in Houston: ¬†http://www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com. Lottery registration opens on Wednesday, June 4th.¬†You can get the details here about registration, and see my race review from 2014 here. I’d love to see you there!

Wednesday, June 4th is also National Running Day. If you haven’t taken that first step to start yet, this would be a great day to do it! You might as well jump!

 

Just Start

On Saturday, I ran¬†the second annual Heroes of Midlothian 5k. You can read about last year’s race¬†here¬†to know more about the background and the foundation.

Three weeks post OKC marathon¬†and I did not set a PR. That’s okay. I went out too fast, looked at my Garmin way too many times, and did too much thinking in the last mile. I started planning how many distances I would tackle before I hit a new age group in August. Apparently I lost some of my focus in doing so. Oops. I had a great time, though, all for reasons not related to my race time or place.

While we were waiting on my dad to get there, I did a warm up mile and went back to the car. Before heading the stage area for the opening ceremonies, I started to take a picture. Random guy in the vehicle next to us was getting out and jumped in for a “selfie.”

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He then jumped over for a picture with my husband. Note the bike tire making its appearance as well.

IMG_4649He told us that he was going to sprint the 5k, then jog the reverse distance. His first triathlon was the next day, and he once weighed 325 pounds. Awesome. (Side note – I eventually found out this guy is in my dad’s running group and he told me to tag him on Facebook.)

We then met up with my dad and I¬†ran into another running¬†friend from Sherman. Our daughters have been friends for about five years and she started running a couple of years ago. She did this race last year too. Her sister lives there and they both run. I think it’s funny that we met up at a 5k so far away. Small world.

After I finished (23:31) I had a guy behind me tell me, “I was trying to catch you.” I guess it was a strong finish.¬†I laughed (as much as someone can right after a 5k)¬†and headed back around¬†to cheer the others through. My dad knocked down a new PR¬†with a time of 28:08 and placed second in his age group!

My other friend also set a PR and placed second in her age group!

I heard someone ask my dad how he got started running and he pointed to me.¬†He told them I may run marathons but my biggest accomplishment was getting him to run. Three years ago he was walking five days a week on the treadmill – motivated by a weight loss contest at work. I told him he could do a 5k by working in a few minutes of running time and building on that. He started the Couch to 5k program and was hooked. I’ve watched¬†this retired football coach progress¬†from walking to a 5k, to completing several¬†10ks, and he is now looking for the right half marathon. I tell you this because he once said he would never run farther than a 5k.

Me and my dad

Me and my dad

 

That is why¬†Saturday was such a big deal. To me, it wasn’t about my race, my finish time or age group place, but about being able to share that passion for something that can’t be bought. It’s impossible to explain to those who haven’t experienced it. As¬†my other running friend said to me, “I’ve reached the point where I need the run.”

Honestly, it doesn’t always start that way. I didn’t enjoy my first run – and many more after that. But¬†it’s that way for me¬†now – as a general rule ūüėČ and I love seeing that spark ignite in others.

Don’t count yourself out. You can do much more than you think is possible.

Just start.