Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio 2017

What a fast, fun weekend I had running Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio.  My friend and I went together for the third year in a row to run the half marathon. This is one of my Chocolate Milk sponsored races, and it’s a fun way to cap off  marathon training – using a race as the last long run before Dallas Marathon. No worries about weather or time goals, but just to have fun.

We left Saturday morning, and made a stop in Austin to see my daughter. She works at a pizza place right off campus, and it was perfect timing for lunch.

The weather was beautiful (80 degrees!) and there were a lot of people out. For dinner, we managed to get in to Joe’s Crab Shack without a wait, but when we left there were a lot of people waiting. The Riverwalk is so pretty with all the Christmas decorations and lights. We walked over to the Alamo to see a little more of the city at night.

Then just like two party animals, we went back to the hotel and were asleep before 10 pm.

Race morning was foggy and humid. I know if I’m standing in the corral in a tank and I’m comfortable, it’s not a great sign.

We found our friends from our running group!

Then we made our way to our corral. I really wanted to run under 2 hours, because I hadn’t been able to do that this year. I knew it may be harder with the warmer weather, but I didn’t want to leave all my goals for the marathon. So I tucked that in my head as my A goal, and just decided to see how it went. The first mile was slower than I wanted, but it was so crowded. We were weaving around people just trying to get a good pace. It’s hard to do that solo. It’s even harder trying to keep up with another person. Somehow we stayed together for about 5 miles, but Leda would pull ahead, and then I’d get stuck trying to get around someone, and surge to try to catch up. We have an agreement that if one of us feels good, we will go on. I didn’t want to hold her back because her training has been going so well. I looked at my Garmin, and decided I was okay at that pace, and told her to go on. I could see her just ahead of me for the next mile, and then the rain started. At first it was a light rain, and the next thing I knew it was dripping off of my visor and I was soaked. On the positive side, it was just what I needed to cool me off. I think it saved my race.

I focused on even splits and effort for the next few miles. Then I can upon the Wear Blue: Run to Remember section. There was a gallery of photos on each side of the road of service members we’ve lost. So many lives lost. Where the photos stopped, a line of people in blue shirts on each side of the road picked up. Each person was  holding an American flag and cheering – louldy – for the runners. This is the point of the race where I completely lost myself and became emotional as everyone cheered the runners, waving their flags. It was probably a half a mile of people lined along both sides of the road, and I choked up. I was doing good not to lose it completely.

After a short little climb, I settled back into my pace, weaving around people when necessary. There were some slick spots to watch out for from the rain. I slowed down running over a metal drainage grid that was slippery, and a dirty flat road altered my pace as well. Near mile 10, I spotted my friend up ahead and focused on trying to catch her. I had been watching my splits (and doing math) so I knew I was running steady. There was a little monster of a climb about mile 10.5 and just after the top of that hill, I called out to her. When I caught up with her she was struggling a little. I told her, “We are right at two hours.” She stayed with me, and I picked up the pace a little. As close as I was, I was not going to let that 2 hour goal go! Don’t take your feet off of the coals. I wasn’t running at full race pace for a half, but I was pushing to get that goal. The last two miles, which were slightly downhill, ended up being the fastest with both of them around 8:40. It was also the only time of the race I wasn’t weaving around people and could run straight down the road.

My official finish time was 1:59:40. It was close, but I made it. Correction, we made it. We finished within one second of each other. Both of us had run our fastest half of the year.

I got my chocolate milk at the finish. It was so good!

…and we really did have a lot of fun. The only bad part about it was all the weaving through people for so much of the race. My Garmin distance actually showed 13.42 which is higher than it usually is for a half marathon. So I did run faster than 2 hours, but reaching a goal is such a great feeling nonetheless.

Now, it’s on to the Dallas Marathon this weekend. I’m running the 5k Saturday, and the full marathon Sunday as part of the weekend series. The weather looks promising so far! I’m working on my mental game this week, and trying to get as much rest as I can with band concerts and basketball practices.

Have a great weekend everyone, and if you see me in Dallas please say hi!

 

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Marathon Training, An Announcement, and a 10K

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

More Summer Racing

It’s been an interesting mix of workouts the past few weeks. I’ve done a couple of bike rides, some trail running, track work, hills, and a little bit of racing to keep my motivation strong. 🙂

 

A few weeks ago, I ran my third half marathon of the year at the Jalapeno Half in Fort Worth.

It’s been a few years since I’ve done this race, and the course is different. I was expecting a hilly tough course on the roads. Instead, we got an overcast day along the Trinity Trails in Trinity Park. It was halfway out on the paved path, a turnaround, and back. I had a goal of wanting to run just under 2 hours. Spoiler alert: I didn’t quite make it, but it was my fastest so far this year. I held pretty steady around the 9:00 pace up until mile 8 and then there was a porta-potty stop in mile 11. But I didn’t quit on myself (no walking) and finished with 2:04:34. Since most of my long runs have been around the 10 mile mark lately, I’m happy with that.

I made sure to bring my own chocolate milk!

It was a big surprise when I checked my results and found I placed 3rd in my age group. I figured it was a small group, but online results showed more than 20, and about 400 runners in the half. Even though it certainly wasn’t my fastest half, it helped boost my motivation to keep working hard. So I’ll take that trophy! 🙂

My next race was a 5k in McKinney this past Saturday – the Red, White, Blue Run. This is why I’ve been working at the track every week – trying to remind my legs they can run fast.

We had some heavy rain the night before and early in the morning, so I wasn’t even sure if I was going to get to race. But the storms cleared out, and I got to the race site early enough to do a couple of warmup miles. My goal was to run under 25:00 based on my Strava mile (7:45) the week before, and my Memorial Day 10k. Prior to this, my last 5k was in September, so I was long overdue for a fast run.

As the start time neared, the early morning cool air had disappeared. At least it was still overcast. There were about 150 runners, so it wasn’t a huge race but enough people to engage my competitive side. The main trouble I had from the start was with my shoes through some wet places. There’s not a lot of tread, and I’ve only used them on the track. But they are lighter than all the other shoes I run in so they feel great! My Garmin buzzed the first mile right around 8:00 pace, and some quick math let me know I needed to hang on or drop it down some. My second mile was almost the same time, and I started to reel in some of the runners that were ahead of me. Right before the end of the third mile, there was a short climb. I knew it was coming, but boy did it hurt. In fact, the whole race hurt! When I saw my pace at the end of the third mile, I knew that to make my sub 25, I needed to bust it out to the finish. It was going to be close, and I thought there was a chance I wouldn’t make it. But then I crossed the finish and saw my time. 24:34!

 

This is probably the best (evenly) paced 5k I’ve ever run. My first mile is always the fastest – by more than a few seconds – but not this time. I didn’t step off the coals!

Strong finish!

I went back to get my yoga mat out of the car and do my strength and mobility (SAM) work. Then I headed back over to the site to check my results. I won Female Masters! More motivation for me to keep working hard – and a pretty nice award too!

 

Later, I compared my time to that September 5k. It was on a flat course and my time was only 11 seconds faster than this one. Even though I have felt slower this year, I’m really running about the same as I was last fall. I think it’s just that I’ve had several races (marathons, half marathons) where I let myself off the hook, and quit chasing my goals with passion. I settled for comfortable, and I’m not okay with that anymore. My running is kind of like my math classes were in high school. I could make good grades, but I had to really work hard to get those good grades. It wasn’t natural for me (like reading and writing). So when I don’t put forth that effort to work on speed, or race, or just push myself period, then I’m just not going to get any better. I want to improve, not stay the same. I don’t know if that makes sense, because I really need to get some sleep right now, but basically I need to be as intentional with my running as I was with my math classes.

This coming Sunday, I have one more race before marathon training starts – Too Hot to Handle 15k. It’s going to be a warm one! But I’m going to do my best and stay on the coals.

 

 

 

Remembrance Run 10K

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build a Better Runner

Consistency. Patience. Strengthen. Give Back.

This sums up what I’ve been working on since RnR Dallas.

I had a little chat with myself after that Dallas race. I was blunt and to the point. You could also call it a “come to Jesus meeting.” I know no one cares about my finish time (except me), but I also know I can get more out of myself. I have tried to figure out why I didn’t “bounce back” after Cowtown like I have in the past. Most of my PR races were run in 2014, and then I dealt with plantar fasciitis and haven’t seen those speeds. It was exactly two years ago when I contacted Airrosti and cautiously came back to running 5 days a week. Then last year at this time I started training for my first half-Ironman, and was only running 3 days a week. My average weekly mileage is lower and my workouts feel blah.

In short: I’ve been giving myself a pass. I know that I’m a runner who needs to run to run faster. I also know that I run better when I weigh less than I do right now.

Enter phase one of Build a Better Runner: Lose the weight, do more strengthening, keep the mileage consistent. Which is hard as my body adjusts to eating less carbs and more muscular soreness. It makes the running feel harder. So when I go do speed work at the track and run 800s at my half marathon PR pace, my first instinct is to throw in the towel. This is where patience comes in.

…and foam rolling with Chloe.

I have a renewed vision of my goals and what I want to accomplish. Now I need to take the steps to get there.

My next race is a half marathon on the 29th. I won a free entry back in December, so I don’t know much about the course. I’d like to see my time back under two hours, but realistically I’m shooting for under 2:05. This is how my long run went on Saturday:

But it was great helping another runner get to 13 miles in preparation for her first half at Oklahoma City. She was so excited, and I was so proud of her!

On the non-running side, I’m wanting to give back to the running community where I can. My friend and I served as volunteers at the Big D Marathon earlier this month. It wasn’t the best weather, but it was out at White Rock Lake and it’s so pretty there.

I’m volunteering at Texasman (triathlon) at the end of the month. This allows me to still be a part of races while my husband and I are working toward our financial goals.

Also, congratulations to all the Boston Marathoners! I seriously admire all of you. I’ve kept it no secret that it’s my goal to qualify and run it. My motto right now: Don’t wish for it. Work for it.”

 

 

 

 

Cowtown Ready?

This post is going to be a little hard to write, but since my first race of the year is Sunday, here goes…

I don’t know if I every really recovered from the 21 miler that was such a struggle. Running has been…difficult. My pace is barely below 10:00 for every run and last Friday I didn’t even get up for my easy run. Missing motivation, mood swings, and general apathy in other areas. I first thought it was hormonal, but after three days of unexplainable shifts in my mood (and the tears that followed), I wasn’t sure what was going on. My poor husband.

I hoped the extra day of not running (Friday) would give me some energy for the long run on Saturday. My friend and I planned to do 12-13 as our taper for Cowtown. It’s no secret that we like to get our long runs started earlier, because our group usually meets at 7:00. Another runner messaged me on Friday and asked if she could join us. To my delight, when I got to our meeting place, there were five of us. It was nice to have the different conversations going, and it helped with my funk a little. We did five miles and then met up with the rest of the group.

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We all headed back out with the others getting a total of 10 done.

It was the last couple of miles that the lack of energy reared its ugly head. My friend, who has been dealing with injury and low weekly mileage, was having some of the same issues – like I’m hitting a wall during every run. We slowed down and even walked a little.

We have decided Cowtown is not going to be a fast marathon for us.

On Sunday, I got out to run another few miles and see how I felt. Also, since I missed Friday’s run, my weekly mileage was a little low. (I know, I know.) It was a little warm out, but I managed 4 miles just under 10:00 average pace.

A few hours later I still was a little out of breath. I looked up the symptoms of overtraining, and I start to wonder if that’s what I’ve got going on.

Mood swings, depression, inability to focus, elevated heart rate, inability to sleep, weight loss. But I didn’t have the weight loss. I’ve actually gained about 5 pounds in the past two months.

But all the other symptoms point to overtraining. Looking back, I don’t really think it was as much overtraining, as it was the toll of everything else going on in my life. I just didn’t realize how it was affecting my body. The week before the 21 miler, I had a great week with some swimming added in. My nutrition was on track. Then I guess everything went haywire the following week and did me in.

So my goal for this week, as I get ready to run a marathon on Sunday, is to get extra sleep and eat right. The Cowtown Marathon will be my 15th marathon, and I want to finish with a smile.

Today a coworker asked me about the weather for Sunday and I said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” He said, “Come on now. Be positive.” My response, “I’m positive it doesn’t matter.” 🙂

I’ve come to terms that it will not be my sub four hour marathon. There will be other races for that. It’s disappointing, but not the end of the world.

My question for you: How do you motivate yourself to get excited about a race when you don’t expect to run well?

Wrapping up 2016

Once the dust from last Sunday’s race settled, I went through a bit of a period of disappointment. Trying to examine what I could’ve changed, yet trying to still be proud that I did something big. Dallas was my 14th marathon, and even though I didn’t reach my time goal, that’s still kind of a big deal. So I decided to do some reflecting on my year as a whole to help myself move on past the post-race funk.

2016 was a big year for tri-ing new things and facing fears. (See what I did there.)

I conquered my first open water swim. In a group. Of strangers. Very fit triathletes. I didn’t die from embarrassment.

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I did my first Olympic triathlon – which coincidentally was the first time I swam a mile.

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I rode in my first bike rally. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I survived. I also learned not to grip the handlebars too tightly.

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I completed my first half Ironman. Now that was a hard day, and I didn’t even know I could do it.

Until I did.

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I set a new PR at the Hot Chocolate 15k back in February. And I took a “shot” of M&Ms in that race too. That was a first, and not recommended. At least not at a fast pace.

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I also drank a whole lot of chocolate milk this year! 🙂

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The triathlon adventures brought renewed passion to my running. I have decided to continue to pursue my running goals while keeping up my fitness in the pool and on the bike. I learned that I can continue to improve in many ways and continue to find new goals to challenge myself.

It’s been a pretty busy year, and I’m looking forward to 2017!