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 Р8:13. 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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding My Speed (Radio Run 5k)

A week ago, I ran my first 5k since last August. I had to go back and verify with my training log, but October was the last time I did any sort of speed work. Short distances on the track: 400s, 800s, 1000 meter repeats, ladder workouts. Short and fast. Recovery intervals. A workout that makes you hurt.

I had almost forgotten that kind of hurt.

As I lined up to start the 5k, I tried not to think about it. Negative voices swirled around my brain: “You’re slower this time.” “You’re not as fast last year.” “You’ve gained weight.” “You need a break.” I didn’t even know how fast I could run anymore. Sub 8:00 miles were a distant memory, replaced with¬†longer intervals and marathon specific pace work. Those evil little self-doubts crept back in, but I pushed them aside. “Just run, Eileen. Don’t even look at your watch.”

My fast running group friend was my rabbit again. We started together. I fell in line behind her and focused on an even effort with my eyes trained ahead¬†– not on my Garmin. The first quarter mile or so was up a hill, but I knew the payoff would come at the end since the course was out and back. Just before the turn around I was hurting, and huffing, and trying to even out my breathing. At the mile two marker, I briefly glanced at my Garmin to see the overall time – 15:24 – not my pace. I continued to try to catch my friend, and evaluate if I was giving all I could. Two male runners passed me in the last mile, and I tried to catch another. We ran at the same pace for a minute or so, then he pulled ahead. A woman on the other side of the road called out “5th female” as I ran past. I welcomed the downhill as I cruised in to the finish and stopped my watch. My official finish time was 24:25.

I don’t know if I was more excited that I ran without checking my pace, or that my mile splits were all under 8:00 with the final mile being my fastest. I almost always go out too fast for the first mile¬†in a 5k. My splits were 7:47, 7:56, 7:41. I also got first in my age group, a nice benefit of local races.

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I now have a base time to work from. Once I run my next half marathon on Saturday, I have a plan to change up my cardio and fitness that will hopefully help me shed some weight and gain some speed.

I picked up a couple of other trinkets the same day:

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It did feel odd to get a medal two weeks after running a race on my own.

Since we were just a few minutes away and it was such a beautiful day, I took the kids to the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens. They enjoyed it more than I thought they would and we did have a good time together.

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Springtime is my favorite time of year!

 

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Blue Red Run Half Marathon

It’s been a little while since I’ve raced a half marathon – June actually with an overcast coolish summer day. After that race, I got a registration discount to sign up for the inaugural Blue Red Run. The timing (4 weeks) before the Dallas Marathon seemed to be a good fit to test my goals.

Like most of the country, North Texas was hit with a nice early cold snap. I kept my early morning runs outdoors except for the day when the wind chill felt like 15 degrees. I know my immune system is being tested with the higher mileage right now, and I didn’t want to push my limits any more than necessary. So I did my easy run on the treadmill that day and finished dripping¬†in sweat.

Race day was cold and damp. There was a light drizzle that continued for the entire race. I was prepared with my new Target C9 hat.

37 degrees and rainy? No problem!

37 degrees and rainy? No problem!

It may not be the cutest, but I’m cheap, it was on sale, and it kept my head dry. If it had been colder or heavier wind, I would have gone with a fleece headband. My head doesn’t usually get too cold, but I like to keep cold wind out of my ears. Kudos to the guy around mile 4 who said to me “It’s beautiful out here.” At first I thought he said “flat hair” so you can see where my mind was.¬†Ha! Seriously though, it was a great course, mostly paved and through a park. Nice for being in the middle of a city.

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Three cheers for outdoor heaters!

 

My goal was to break 1:50:00 which would give me a nice new PR and big boost of confidence. My pace needed to be 8:23. I planned to negative split and follow my usual plan of running 5 miles at one pace, dropping down for the next five, and knocking out the last 5k at a faster pace. This plan worked, with one minor exception. I forgot to account for GPS difference. Miles 1-5 averaged 8:28, 6-10 were at 8:20, mile 11 in 8:22, 12 in 8:35, and the last one was 8:19 for an overall pace of 8:24 for 13.19 miles on the Garmin. My official chip time was 1:50:47 (8:27 pace). I started to feel strong around mile four, but by 9 I was starting to hurt some. It became harder to hold my pace. I took a GU at miles 4, 8, and 11. Mile 12 was my problem though. We went up a hill and straight into the wind. Unfortunately I run like I drive Рaway from the pack Рso there was no drafting. I turned my face downward since the rain had picked up a little, and pushed through. Then a turn and a small downhill took me to the finish.

Representing Team Chocolate Milk

Representing Team Chocolate Milk

Parking was close and I was wet and cold, so I headed straight to the car after I finished to get my jacket and chocolate milk. I had a guy stop me and say, “Hey, you were fast. I was trying to catch you!” I said thank you through my half-frozen lips. At this point, I still thought I had set a PR.

Mmmmm! Lowfat Chocolate Milk

Mmmmm! Lowfat Chocolate Milk

I started my recovery with chocolate milk (I love that carb to protein ratio) and headed back to the finish area.¬†It wasn’t until I checked my time at the result tent that I realized I had missed my PR by five seconds. I’m not going to lie. I was upset with myself. Darn that mile 12 where I lost 10 seconds. My friend found me after she finished. She went to check her results while I was waiting for pancakes. When she came back, she told me she set a PR by one second after being sick all week. Awesome! Oh, and I was third in my age group. What?!?

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This was my first age group place in a half marathon, and I still can’t believe it. Instead of enjoying that little victory for what it was, I spent the afternoon second guessing myself and my goals. I feel like I’ve plateaued and am not getting faster at the shorter distances. It wasn’t until I looked at the official results on Monday that my perspective straightened out.

IMG_5346For a high school girl who was lapped in the 3200 meters on the track, I’d say I’ve made some progress. Of course it’s not always about my time or age group place, but for me to know that I pushed myself to do the best I could at that moment. I can look back at this race with no regrets. Maybe a drier day would’ve been different…but it’s time to move on.¬†I’ve got a marathon in less than four weeks. My goal may still seem way out there, but I’m not going to change anything with my training. I’m just going to keep on moving.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stonebridge Memorial Day 10k

There’s something about kicking off a Monday with a race. Of course, that’s not what makes today special. Today is about remembering those who have lost their lives while protecting our freedom.

I enjoy the freedom I have in running down my street, or going to knock out speed work at the track, or head off to a race. I don’t want to take it for granted, ,and today¬†I wanted to keep¬†that focus during my race. I reminded myself to run for those who couldn’t.

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It was an overcast morning in North Texas, and it rained a little on and off before the start. There were some slick and muddy places to watch out for and the race director warned us ahead of time that the timing mat may be slick. “Slow down, it’s not worth getting hurt. Everyone gets a medal for finishing.”

With a break in the rain, we were off. I did wear my Garmin, and decided to track my mile splits. After the first mile, I kicked it up a notch. Somewhere between miles 2 and 3, the rain started again. I didn’t let that slow me down. I was struggling and I knew I wasn’t going to set a PR, but I took solace in the fact that I was able to mostly knock out some negative splits. I was able to pass a few runners, and only was passed by one that I remember – and she was the Master’s winner. My splits (according to my Garmin) were 8:25, 8:03, 7:59, 8:07 (water stop), 8:04, 8:01, and 7:35 for the last 0.2.

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My official finish was 50:44 which was enough for an age group win.¬†I’d like to say I’m okay with my overall time, but that would be false.¬†It’s hard to look at my time I ran last¬†August – which was faster – and say well, that’s just fine. It doesn’t help that my weight loss isn’t going as planned either. So today I had my pity party, which mostly consisted of self-doubt and a few tears. That may seem silly, but I’m being real here. I’m thankful for a husband who can lift me up when I’m down on myself.

The hardest thing for me to understand though, and it really baffles me, is how I have only set my record times in the middle of high mileage training for a marathon. I set PRs in both the half and 5k back in March one month between two marathons. How does that happen?!?

Now it’s time for me to move on from my doubts and focus in on some speed. I’m looking for a few¬†5 and 10ks to run¬†before my official marathon training starts.¬†I’m not ready to give up on my dream.

 

 

Rock ‘n Roll Dallas Half

Sunday, I ran my first Rock ‘n Roll race. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’ve seen such mixed reviews over different Rock ‘n Roll races, but I know others that have done them and had a blast. Plus, I was able to register with a great discount.

I thought it would be a nice change of pace (no pun intended) to race a half marathon between the Cowtown and Oklahoma City marathons. The week before, I wasn’t sure this was a great idea.