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.

 

 

 

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Jalapeño Half Revisited

Early Saturday morning, we loaded up all four kids and the dog to make the hour and a half drive to Fort Worth for the Jalapeño Half. The kids were excited – except for the 4:15 am wakeup – because after the race we were going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. with my brother’s family.

My brother and I ran this race last year for his first half marathon. Since he’s a high school coach and teacher, this is his best time of year for training and racing. On the other hand, I have lower expectations for myself in June.
So what I’m saying is this race was my brother’s idea.

Last Wednesday – 3 days before the race – he sent me a text that he pulled his calf. He was still planning to run though, just slower than he would’ve liked.

We met up at the new venue. Myself and my brother to run the half, and my dad to run the 5k.

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The cloud cover was oh so wonderful! It was humid, but that seems to be a staple right now. The new course ran through some beautiful neighborhood streets near TCU lined with mature trees. Had the sun been out, this canopy would have been even better. We finished the last few miles running through the Trinity Trails. It was a hilly course, but I’ve come to expect that from Fort Worth.

About halfway through I set my focus on finishing under 2 hours – and to finish feeling good. Too many times I have finished a race feeling sick, and then I’m no fun for my support crew. In order for them (him) to keep coming back, I continually remind myself that I enjoy running. To help battle heat and humidity, I dump cups of water over my head at aid stations. The race also had ice cold towels at a station and the finish. It makes a difference.

The only part I didn’t like about the race was seeing the finish line around mile 12. You had to go down about half a mile, cross a bridge, and turn back to the finish. At that point, my legs were seriously done. I just could not go. It wasn’t related to fuel during the race, but probably due to my cutback in carbs over the last week. Weight loss.

I reached both of my goals, and got to see my family after I finished. My official time was 1:58:59 and fourth in my age group – a good several minutes after third place. My dad placed 2nd in his age group in the 5k, and my brother finished despite his pulled muscle. It was a good morning.

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My support crew enjoying their hard-earned snow cones.

Somehow, after the race and before we got to my parents’ house, I got suckered into this:

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Welcome to the family Callie and Messina. Side note: when you have four kids, the hardest part of new puppies is deciding on names. And getting a good night’s sleep. That’ll throw a wrench in training

The best part of the day was spending it with family.

Meeting her new baby cousin.

Meeting her new baby cousin.

Cousins - and a few dogs

Cousins – and a few dogs

Wiped Out!

Wiped Out!

Monday brought more changes with the addition of a licensed driver in our household.

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There are no words to describe the first time your teenager drives off in a car without you in the front seat. Needless to say, it’s a good thing this is a recovery week for me. With all the activity around here, I’m pretty amazed that this post is almost finished.

I’m running a 5k on Friday. It’s my next chance to see how strength is contributing to my speed. Anyone else racing Friday?

 

The Jalapeno Half

I’m a little behind on my race posting, but the week before the Jalapeno Half we closed on a home that needed a little work. My free time has been spent painting, pulling up carpet, and cleaning like a madman. That counts as cross-training right? I can honestly say that I would rather run a marathon than complete a ten-hour painting session.

I had wondered how my fitness would hold up with this major life change, and I’m happy to report that I’ve kept up my running. Nutrition was another story. Did you know painting requires donuts and pizza, and moving furniture brought forth Oatmeal Cream Pies. Oh, Little Debbie, how I’ve missed you!

I’m grateful to be back on track now though. I don’t know if it was the work or the quantity of fat grams I took in, but I didn’t like feeling sluggish. It could have been the four to five hours of nightly sleep that contributed too, though.

Ah, well. Back to the race report.

The Jalapeno Half was on June 29th in Fort Worth. This was my brother’s first half marathon.

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It’s no secret that I don’t like running in the heat, but I love to encourage other runners. When my brother asked me if I would run with him, I was happy to oblige. Plus, I wanted to keep my mileage up through the summer.

After reaching the race site, I realized I didn’t have my Garmin. There’s only been one other race that I forgot my “watch” – my first 5k. I think my brother was kind of counting on me to keep the pace. Oops. I used the Map My Run app on my iPhone, but I didn’t have headphones to hear the 5 minute pace reports. I had no idea how fast I was running which was unnerving.

Before the Race

Before the Race

The race was set to start at 7:30, but there was a slight delay until about 7:45. With each minute that passed I could feel the temps rising.

After the first few miles, I made a porta stop and sent my brother on ahead. When I caught up to him at mile 6, I knew it was time to slow it down. I told him I would be taking some walk breaks and “keep it up,” “you’re doing great,” and “look for me after you finish.”

It looks like my internal pacing is a little off.

My splits are a little uneven

My splits are a little uneven

The course was out and back and hilly in places. I struggled from miles 4-8 taking frequent walk breaks, pouring water over my head at aid stations, and focusing on hydration. I felt my energy pick up after mile 8. Around mile 9, the course photographer was seated on the incline catching runners going up the hill. I told him he picked a cruel place to get pictures. So I had to run up the steep hill when I would’ve rather walked. All in the name of a good race pic, right?

I got a glimpse of my brother close to mile 10, so I surged ahead to catch him. He was struggling with the heat. He trains in West Texas in the heat, but humidity is not nearly as bad as it was in Fort Worth that day. We ran/walked the last three miles and finished together. Instant PR for him. Not bad for a first half marathon.

Post Race Smiles

Post Race Smiles

I’m glad we stood in the shade, because my face was probably as pink as my shirt.

He sent me a text later that I had to see the race results online. It looks like there was an issue with my timing chip. I snapped a pic of the results because this will likely be the only time I ever see this pace with to my name.

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Don’t worry, I did the right thing and contacted Mellew about my time. I’m glad I had my brother’s time to reference. The results have since been corrected. We actually finished with a time of 2:17:48.

I hope he wasn’t discouraged by running in the heat, and I’d like to run more half marathons with him. In February.

Watch for my next post about  how I set a PR in my next race.

The Texas Half

 

On Sunday I completed the Texas Half in Irving. I ran it last year, but the location was at White Rock Lake in Dallas. It was the first race where I broke the two-hour mark (by two seconds) and the first time I ran negative splits in a half marathon. So I guess I’m a little partial. After my race on Sunday, I can say this is one of my favorite half marathons to run (especially since I won a free registration from Mellew Incentives).

 

 

The new location had great parking, and there were plenty of indoor restrooms. Major bonus for an early February race. The weather could not have been better for a half marathon. I should have worn short sleeves. I was only in the second mile when I pushed my sleeves up.

 

Before the race, one of my friends told me he thought I had too much gas left in the tank at the end of the race. I needed to push it harder. My other friend told me I could run a 1:53:00. My plan was to run under 1:58:00. That would put me around a 9:00 pace per mile. I didn’t want to push too hard since I have the Cowtown Marathon in three weeks.

 

 

 

 

I decided to implement the pacing strategy I used in my last 20 miler. I set my Garmin on the pace screen, and ran a specific pace for the first five miles. By mile four I had settled into a comfortable zone. I originally planned to run 9:00, but at the end of the first five I was near an 8:55 pace. Not wanting to run positive splits, I told myself the next five had to be faster. I also decided not to look at my total time for the entire race. The course wasn’t crowded, and I felt strong. I stuck with my fueling strategy, which included a Nuun tablet in my hand-held and carbs every 5K. I want to avoid any future dehydration issues.

 

The second five miles put me around 8:36 pace. Then I decided to try to lock into my 10K pace for the last 5K. I’ve done quite a few speed workouts that involve my 10K pace, so the pace was familiar even though the effort was hard. I can’t explain how I felt at that moment – to know I had less than three miles and had been running at a pace in the 8 minute range. In the last half mile, I thought my legs were going to lock up on me, but I continued to push and finished strong.

 

I was pretty sure I finished under 1:55:00, but math never was my strong subject. For the entire race, I had focused more on pace than actual time, so I was surprised to see the finish clock.

 

 

My official time 1:52:08. This took over seven minutes off of my PR from October! Wow! Maybe this will be the year of my four hour marathon after all.

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PR Baby!!!

PR Baby!!!