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. ūüėČ 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.

 

 

 

 

Stick with It

When I set out on my long run last¬†Sunday afternoon, I was instantly reminded of how hard running¬†feels at times. As I wrote in my last post, I am moving the long run to later in the day so my body can adjust to running in warmer temperatures. That day, my first mistake was eating too soon before¬†I headed out. I wanted to hurry and get back so I had time to catch up on¬†yard work. That’s the other hard part about training for an endurance event through the spring. Everything is growing! I have crape myrtle trees that look more like shrubs because they need pruned. The English Ivy is creeping everywhere. The miniature rose bushes are thriving – thankfully.

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It would be a lot easier to keep up with if half my family wasn’t prone to allergies, but anyway… back to my training.

I realized one mile into my 9 mile run, that my food wasn’t settled. By the second mile I adjusted my route. Mile 3 involved a few walk breaks and was¬†my slowest mile. I thought I might throw up so I¬†headed back toward my neighborhood. I went in the house at mile 6.5 and asked my three kids who wanted to go finish my run for me. There were no takers. I forced myself back out to finish,¬†and it was between miles 7 and 8 when I felt like my food had settled and I was feeling better. I finally got it done after a quick chat with a neighbor who asked me if I was training for a 5k. “Yes, something like that.” ūüėČ

I was reminded of a few things with that run:

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve had to really talk myself through finishing a run. I wanted to quit so many times.
  2. Running later in the day requires better planning. I should’ve thought about how my meal would affect me running when the sun is beating down on me.
  3. Even though running is the easiest sport to me with triathlon, it doesn’t mean the run will be easy. I’ve got to break through the mental aspect of getting through a hard run.

Once I finished, I was glad I pushed through. These are the moments I will try to remember on race day when it gets hard. Getting through a tough run reminds me that there are ups and downs throughout and an upward turn could be just around the corner.

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I was rewarded with my next run at the track on Tuesday when I was able to nail my 5k pace for 600m intervals. When I looked at the workout, I thought “yeah, right” but I did it! It was my first track workout in months, and it was refreshing to have some pep in my legs.

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I like the fact that you never really know how a run will turn out. It’s nice to surprise yourself sometimes – on the road, on the track, on the trail. Wherever your training takes you, just stay with it. You won’t regret it.

Cowtown Marathon 2016 – Completing the Set

Sunday I finished off my marathon season at Cowtown (that’s in Fort Worth for you non-Texans). I went into this race with halfhearted goals and expectations. I was tired of long runs and ready to make some changes in my training. My eating had been terrible all week, and I was¬†the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

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The people running away…that would be my kids on race week.

Even when my dad asked me before the race what my goal was, I shrugged and said “Um, finish?”

Those are not the words of a motivated runner.

My went to pick up my packet on Saturday, and I was hoping to generate some excitement in my brain. I¬†couldn’t find any new gear I wanted, but we had a good day anyway. We only had one child all weekend because the girls had DiscipleNow with church.

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We then had to make a stop at the Lego store so he could spend some of his money.

Sunday started early, but I was happy to meet up with my dad before the race. He was running his second half marathon. Last year at Cowtown was his first. That was the icy year, so he had to come back and do it again. My parents met Jeff Galloway on Friday and talked with him about their run/walk intervals. He got some pointers about changing his timing from 4:1 (minutes) to 30 seconds run, 30 seconds walk.

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I found my running friend and we got ready to sweat it out.

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The start of the race was overcast and windy. The sun stayed behind the clouds and I was grateful. If you’ve never been to Fort Worth, just know there are a few hills. For the half marathon. The full and ultra course have several more hills. There’s a big one at mile 9 that everyone talks about, but we handled those first few hills like champs. Our pace was consistent through the halfway point. We smiled at the signs, thanked the volunteers and police officers, and chatted some. The best parts about having someone with me were the times I wanted to walk but didn’t because she was there. Then the sun came out and started to cook me. I ran out of my Nuun¬†and gels around mile 22, and I needed electrolytes. We walked through the aid stations so I could down some Powerade. The hills were killing us, and the sun too. We settled on finishing and how nice that would feel. The chatting had disappeared and we focused on one mile at a time. I think we were both in tears when we finished. Our finish time was 4:31.

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I was happy to learn that my dad took 8 or 9 minutes off his last year’s time using the 30:30 method. He says he’s done with half marathons though. We’ll see.

My son was really concerned about me. I heard him ask my husband, “Is she okay?” He’s never seen me right after I finish a marathon, especially when it’s warm outside. It takes me a few minutes to pull myself together. Plus, everything hurt from the neck down.

 

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I enjoy a lot about this race. Both of my parents are from Fort Worth, so I’m familiar with the area. I like running through the Stockyards, around TCU, and there are some beautiful neighborhoods. The hills are a bit of a downer though.

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Finished the 3 year medal series!

On the way home from the race, I told my husband I’m done with marathons for a while. I want to focus on getting leaner and faster – then add the distance back. I’m tired of being out there for four and a half hours.

I guess training for a half Ironman will help with that. ūüėČ

Too Hot to Handle 15k

All the rain we had between May and June had me spoiled with cooler temperatures. Then all of a sudden everything dried up and July got hot. Thank goodness we have been doing group social runs at 6:30 on Tuesday evenings. I believe that helped with my heat acclimation for the Too Hot to Handle 15k on Sunday.

This was my third year in a row to run this race. The first two years, I set a PR. This year, I knew it was out of the question. Since I have been building back my strength, I set out to enjoy my July race.

According to my Garmin connect, for the 7:30 start time it was 81 degrees with 70% humidity.

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Oh, the things we do because we love to run!

 

For the first five miles my friend and I ran together chatting just like we do on our Saturday long runs. It was nice to talk about observations throughout the race with someone else, instead of mentally tweeting and blogging through the miles. Without really focusing on speed, by mile five our average pace was 9:01. We both carry a handheld as we run, so it was the aid station just after the turn-around Рnear mile 5 Рbefore we slowed so I could add some water to my bottle. Just before that, I realized I forgot my additional Nuun tablet to refill my bottle. Not a smart move for a heavy sweater.

As we approached mile 6, I started to get the nauseous “I’m running too hard for the heat” feeling, but I kept steady with my friend. I vowed to cross the 10k timing mat before I took a walk break. I sent her on ahead and¬†for¬†the next 3 plus miles I ran/walked with no rhyme or reason to the ratio. I ran until I felt too hot, then I walked until I felt better. I noticed that I could run faster if I took walk breaks, than if I just ran slower. Somehow, even with the stops at aid stations for cold towels, I kept my average pace for those last miles under 10 minutes a mile. That’s progress.

My finish time was 1:29:08 which put me 13th in my age group (out of 72). Not too shabby for a race with almost 800 finishers. Even though I ran slower this year Рby several minutes РI decided not to sweat it (ha!) and be content with where I am.

I ran over 9 miles, with a pain free foot, in the summer heat, without throwing up. That, my friends, is a win.

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Plus, I now have this nice medal combo to show for it.

 

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The next race on my calendar is the sprint triathlon on August 9th.

 

 

 

 

Half Marathon Ready

After dealing with setbacks on my speed and mileage due to my plantar fasciitis injury, I finally feel ready for my half marathon this Sunday. My foot was a little inflamed after 12 miles in the rain, dodging puddles, but is better this week.

I kept most of my weekly runs short last week, with one 6 miler and the rest under 4. On Wednesday, for National Running Day, we had a group social run. That was fun because I got to run with some new faces.

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On Saturday it was warm and humid. Even starting at 7 am is starting to feel too late. Our group starts and finishes at a park with a pool, and it’s too bad it’s not open that early because it is certainly inviting after a sweaty long run.

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My 10 miler gave¬†me enough feedback to know I’m probably not in sub-2:00 range yet, with the heat.

This morning I ran a 6 mile progression run. My fastest mile is just over what I was running half marathons at last fall.

Patience.

But I am continually reminding myself of what’s important.

I can run.

I am running for more than a medal. I am running the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon in Irving which benefits Wounded Warrior Project.

I am also running for Medals of Honor and will be donating my medal to the family of a fallen military serviceman.

As the wife of a Navy veteran, I want to do whatever I can to help our military, families, and others who have served.

That’s what is keeping me from getting frustrated with my progress.

So on Sunday, I will do my best, but ultimately I am not running for myself.

 

 

Lead On

Thanks to a member of Texoma Runners, our local running group, I found one more 10k to run before I change age groups. The Christmas in July 5k, 10k, and fun run was a small race, but with chip timing. Saturday was the hottest day of the year yet, so it made perfect sense to test my Summer of Speed progress. Right?

To give you an idea of my mother runner life, Friday night at 11:30 I was picking up my oldest daughter from church. She had been on a mission trip in Nicaragua for eight days. I got a quick rundown on the drive home and she was ready to crash when we got home. With less than five hours of sleep, the next morning I set off for¬†#3 of my “4 before 40.”

I did enough of a warm up to wake up my legs, and boy it was hot. I realized how small the race was when they had the 10k runners line up at the start. The 5k would start 10 minutes after. I’ve done enough races and finally have the confidence to start near the front instead of safely tucked in the middle. I stood back about two feet from the start so the fast runners could line up in front. But no one stepped up ahead of me ¬†– except for one guy to my right.¬†I had no idea how many runners are behind me and I don’t turn around because maybe they think I’m arrogant lining up at the front. I certainly don’t feel like I belong up front.

Two things ran through my mind:
1. I’m seriously bad with directions. I’m going to follow the others.
2. I feel pretty good.

Side note: My¬†Friday morning run was terrible. I ran six miles at what should’ve been an easy pace, and I felt like I was running with a brick on my chest. It’s not a feeling you want the day before a race.

On “Go!” the runner to my right shot off and I fell in line behind him. For the first half a mile I trained my eyes on his back watching the turns. Then he was gone. Fortunately the course was well marked since no other runners passed me. Where the heck were they? It’s an odd feeling being at¬†the front of a group.

With a left turn near the end of mile 1, I saw a guy about a 1/4 mile behind me. Oh, good. If I’m no longer alone, maybe I won’t get off course.

By the end of the 2nd mile, I still felt strong. My pace was well under 8:00 which would keep me under a 50:00 finish. That was my contingent goal since a PR in July was a long shot.

The course was two 5k loops with a turn through the parking lot for the first loop. The same guy was still behind me. Closer now. It was a matter of time (or maybe a mile) before he passed me.

Heading out for the second loop we met 5k runners finishing their last mile.¬†There were calls of encouragement from runners of both distances. I like to call out “good job” because I know how much it means to me in a race.

At a turn around mile 4 1/2, a volunteer told us we had it when I glanced back. There was one aid station on the course which we crossed at miles 1, 2, 4 & 5. I slowed at mile 5 for a drink. I was hot. I scooted over to the left so the same guy who was behind could go around. I said “sorry” as I moved. He said, “You’re my pacer.” He waited for me. As I picked up my speed I said “Well, I’ve been slowing down.” He offered me some water, which I declined. I guess I sounded like I was dying. We ended up running the entire last mile step for step. The finishing kick put me one second in front of him. That’s when I confirmed that I was 2nd place overall and first female for the 10k. My time was 48:22 which is only about 30 seconds from my PR. My pace per mile splits were 7:40, 7:52, 7:49, 8:10, 8:12, 8:10.

Lest I get a big head, I must admit there were a total of 14 finishers in the 10k and about 40 in the 5k. That keeps me grounded. But I liken it to leading a Saturday group run (which I never do because we have some fast runners in our group).

It was a fun race. Shady, mostly flat, snow cones, and it was for charity. I met some runners from a Facebook group. You can always tell who the blogger is – the one with the camera.

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And my summertime running was given another boost.

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Saturday will be my final race before I change age groups. As of today, the forecast is looking good for a 5k.

4 before 40 and a 15k

It has been a week. ¬†Somehow, I’m keeping my training and goals in place as life keeps throwing curveballs. At least this is a good week to have air conditioner problems. Thank you cold front.

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Those low temperatures were nowhere in sight for Sunday’s Too Hot to Handle 15k, but I was still excited about the race. I was looking forward to a nice new PR and my friend was running her longest distance in preparation for her first half marathon in September. This delivery earlier in the week added to my excitement.

 

All the Gear

All the Gear

Now I would get my first chance to represent Team Chocolate Milk.Ready to Represent!

Ready to Represent!

The nice thing about a 15k is that it’s not a half marathon. I have little experience racing this distance so I went out too fast – for the heat. My first five miles were the fastest. With starting temps around 80 degrees, the heat did take its toll on me. There were plenty of opportunities to cool off along the course¬†– shaded areas, sprinklers at the aid stations, and ice cold disposable towels.

I made a decision a couple of years ago after a difficult humid marathon that I would always pay attention to my body. I would rather finish a race feeling good than throw up or dehydrate. That means when I start to overheat I will slow down, dump water over my head, and walk if necessary. That’s exactly what I did. I started feeling the heat after the 10k mark, so¬†I lost¬†my negative splits. That was fine, because my focus stayed on my overall time goal.

 

I’m changing age groups in less than a month, and I am trying to run strong and PR the shorter distances. I call it my “4 before 40.” It’s a fun way for me to stay motivated through the summer heat while I’m working on building strength and speed. My new 15k PR gave me the motivation I needed. I still can’t believe I was 6th in my age group!

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1:21:06

The race was great. A lot of runners out in the Texas July heat. Run On knows how to put on a race. At the finish there were ice cold terry towels, a sprinkler cooling station in the shade, plenty of ice cold water, popsicles, and post race food. I made sure this time to have my post race chocolate milk in a cooler in the car. At a race earlier this year, I found out the hard way that the 4:1 combination of carbs and protein is exactly what my body Рand gut Рneeds to recover. Chocolate milk really does make a difference.

Post Race Celebration

Post Race Celebration

 

I have two races left¬†in my “4 before 40” – 10k on July 26 and a 5k on August 2nd. Meanwhile, I’m upping the protein and strength training for the next four weeks.

Happy summer running!