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. šŸ™‚

 

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! šŸ™‚

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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Remembrance Run 10K

Building a better runnerĀ 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 Ā 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.Ā 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. šŸ™‚

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. Ā But for now, I’ll just have some fun with it and enjoy the change of pace. šŸ™‚

 

 

 

 

 

 

UCAN Half Marathon

Things have finally started moving for me in my first phase of building a better runner.Ā The scale is moving down – slowly – but it’s moving. My strength is building, and my run pace is dropping – a little. It’s progress.

Which is part of why I was frustrated with myself at the UCAN half marathon.

But I made a major mistake from the start, and there’s no one to blame but myself. I’m also frustratedĀ that I won’t have another half marathon to measure progress until late June, but the summer heat will slow that one down.

The race was well done, plenty of runners, pacers, and a mostly flatĀ course through parks in McKinney. They had UCAN available before the race, and I had a backup GU if I needed it. I also carried my Nuun.

My first mistake was to line up behind the 2:00 pacers – and then try to stay with them! I did my Racing Weight 10k check earlier in the week, and my 10k pace is sitting right around 9:00 right now. Tack on temperatures in the 70s, and 85% humidity, and that was a rookie mistake I shouldn’t have made. The smart thing would have been to start out slower, and then steadily speed up.

The humidity was awful, and there wasn’t much of a breeze in the first few miles. If the humidity hadn’t been so unbearable, I would’ve enjoyed the scenery more. I started taking walk breaks in mile 6, and my race just went to pot (in my oxygen deprived state).

I’ve always held the opinion that I would rather walk in a race before throwing up, and that’s where I was. I had salt residue on my skin even with the Nuun, so I began dumping water over my headĀ at aid stations.Ā I tried to stay positive. I waved and called out to other runners I knew on the course, and I chatted with other runners around me. There were some out and back places which helped. I waited on the rain that was supposed to comeĀ but never did. The sun came out and heated it up more. My sunglasses were in the car. šŸ˜¦

Then I finished

 

– and this is how I felt.

I found out later that my time (2:17 something) didn’t even show up on the results, but I didn’t care too much. I sent an email to the race director but it’s not that big of a deal.

I was upset, but after reading other posts on Instagram and Facebook, I started to feel a little better. I just need to realize that humidity does me in. Every time. FYI: This is not how your mile splits should look.

On a positive note, the race was well done. The medals were huge! The pacers were great. Free race photos! They just needed some chocolate milk for recovery. Fortunately there was a QT right down the road.

 

My next race will be a 10k on Memorial Day. What a great way to start a week off right!

 

 

 

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 milerĀ 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 beĀ 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 otherĀ symptoms point to overtraining. LookingĀ 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 sleepĀ 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.” šŸ™‚

I’ve come to terms that it will not be my sub four hour marathon. There will be otherĀ 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?

Still Learning

No matter how many times I train for a marathon, or how much it can feel same-ole, same-ole – I find that I am still learning new things. This was especially true last week.

I’m still trying to adjust to different schedules, and basically have decided I just need to roll with the flow. My son’s work schedule is interfering with my sleep. It’s just not easy to get up at 4:30 when I get in bed at 11 pm. As much as I like to plan, sometimes life gets in the way of training. But I’m a wife and mom first, so I just have to give myself some grace and work it however I can. I did that last Tuesday when I tried to get through my workout, and 20 minutes in I tossed the plan and scratched the workout. I was tired and overdressed and it just felt too hard that morning. I decided not to let a bad run define my training. I got up Wednesday morning and started with the same workout plan. That day I was able to get the workout done in the planned paces. I learned that it’s okay to let myself slide once in a while.

Saturday was my planned 22 miler, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting it done on my own. But I set out to do it anyway.

It was poor planning on my part when I realized I didn’t have enough gels or chews for the long run. I did have some fig newtons though and those are a good source of carbs, so I decided to try that for my fueling strategy.

And that’s why we practice fueling during training and nothing new on race day. That wasn’tĀ a good plan.

I never felt like the carbs worked their way into my system and by mile 16, it started to show in my pace. I also couldn’t figure out why my legs were so heavy after mile 10. I know I’m better prepared with endurance than that! Around mile 18, I wondered if sitting on the balance ball at work had something to do with it. Over the past two weeks I’ve gone from alternating between the ball and my desk chair to sitting almost exclusively on the ball. I spent more time moving last week, and where my legs were aching during the run sure seemed related to the ball. I’m going to back off of it some for now.

Because I had so much trouble in the last five miles, I stopped my long run at mile 21. I didn’t see how I would benefit trudging through another mile. I was pushing 3 1/2 hours by that point, and had quit marathons at least six times.

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Truth.

When I went in the house, defeated from my run, my daughter was dressed and ready for me to take her to swim. She is going toĀ try out for the high school swim team next year, and I told her I would take her over the weekend. She took it upon herself to pick the time. As much as I wanted to eat and shower and go have a good cry, I put my mom attitude up front, and got ready to go swim. I did leave my Garmin at home so I could move slowly through the water. I’d say that counted as another mile. It probably helped work out some of the soreness I would have had in my legs from the run.

Sunday, my husband and I went to the gym. I’m still working on my upper body. That’s three times in 8 days that I worked on my arms. I think that’s a record! I will get stronger.

 

And here’s a picture of Chloe just because it makes me smile.

img_8667Have a great week!

BMW Dallas Marathon

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Yes, Christmas, but it’s also that time of year for the Dallas Marathon. While my Facebook feed is full of people sharing Christmas memories, mine pops up with marathon memories.

I’ve been running the Dallas Marathon every year since 2010 (minus the ice storm of 2013) when I ran my first half. My first full marathon was Dallas in 2011 and I’ve registered for the full every year after. The race experience continues to improve, and this year was the best so far.

As I started my taper week, I had all kinds of stuff going on. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most relaxing race week. I didn’t really have the time I wanted to focus on rest, recovery, and preparing my mind for Sunday. But in a way, I wondered if it was beneficial that I didn’t have time to over-think and wonder if I was prepared. Basically I didn’t have a chance to worry.

We planned our trip to the expo on Saturday when the elite ambassadors would be on the speaker stage. I enjoyed this last year, and carried their advice through the race with me. I wanted that again.

I got my bib signed by Desi, Deena, and Ryan Hall. I met Deena and Desi last year, but this was the first time I’ve met Ryan Hall.

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To me, that made the 16 weeks of early mornings and long runs totally worth it. I also knew they would be handing out medals at the finish line, and that became one of my race goals since I was oblivious the last two years. I love that they are so willing to give of their time to the running community!

I snapped a picture of my Dallas Marathon history.

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I ended up missing lunch, but I made an early dinner when we got home. I never really felt bloated from too many carbs, but I felt like I was loaded and ready to run 26.2.

Race day weather was perfect for me. Temps in the 50s with a little wind. My husband and I got there early with time to chill in the convention center, then I met up with my friend in the start corral.

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We ran the first five miles together, and then I moved into race pace. My plan was to run the first 5 miles in the 9:20 range, then bump up to race pace (9:05-9:10). She’s been battling foot pain, so her plan was to finish. I felt good. It was overcast and there was a little bit of a mist to keep us cool.

I felt like I was holding back in the first five miles (which was a good thing) but at mile 10 all of a sudden my legs felt heavy. I took in my fuel about half a mile earlier than planned, and it seemed to help some. Then I was doing okay holding onto my pace, but it felt harder than it should’ve. My hydration was fine, my nutrition was fine, but my legs felt like I had on ankle weights.

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My pace started to fall off when I was running by the lake (miles 16-17). There was a crosswind and I got a little chilled, but it didn’t last long. Ā At mile 19, I made a quick porta-potty stop. I lost my sub 4:00 goal, and was losing my 2nd goal – to PR. I negotiated a third goal in my head, and then a fourth. I walked, I ran, I walked, and I ran. In the last four miles – straight into the wind – the goal became to finish the best I could and still be proud of my race. My legs were shuffling and so very heavy. The distance on my Garmin was almost a half a mile off from the mile markers. I finally stopped looking at the watch. I ran the entire last mile, and I felt like I was barely moving.

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Positive Splits (you’re doing it wrong)

When I was coming down to finish, I saw one of my Team Chocolate Milk members waving to me. That was encouraging, and so was seeing the announcer at the finish line.

This is my blazing fast finish (10:45 pace) captured by my husband.

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I spotted volunteers handing out medals, and then saw Ryan Hall. I waited behind two people to get my medal from him. Then I saw Leo Manzano handing out medals too. That experience was worth the pain of the race, and gave me a positive outlook for my finish. That was also my final race goal – to get my medal from an elite runner. šŸ™‚

I am so grateful for all the volunteers, police officers, and spectators – and especially seeing those who cheered specifically for me. Thank you Jennifer and your pool noodle! šŸ™‚ It made an unpleasant run much better.

 

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Team Chocolate Milk!

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I am so thankful toĀ Dallas Marathon for a great race experience! It truly was a great weekend. There will be another race, and I’ll get that sub 4!

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The Showdown Half Marathon (2016)

I recently ran my 2nd half marathon of the year, and it was the first race I was able to push myself and see how my running time has improved. Aside from the half Ironman, my last half marathon was Rock N Roll DallasĀ in March. So I was a little excited to run theĀ Showdown half and check the reality of myĀ four hour marathon goal.

As much as I hated the hills on this race last year, I decided to go ahead and do it again this year for several reasons:

  1. The race is well done. There are pacers, plenty of course support, and best of all – chocolate milk at the finish.
  2. I need the hills to prepare for the Dallas Marathon. It’s not a flat course, and the toughest hills fall after mile 13.
  3. My training partner was running it as well, so we rode to the race together. Races are more fun with friends.

The morning of the race, the weather was perfect. A cool front had moved in and it was around 51 degrees at the start. My perfect running weather falls in the range of 45 to 50 degrees. I couldn’t believe after all the heat and humidity, that we were actually getting a break on race day.

My friend and I talked about where to start the race. Do we start in front of the 2:00 pace group or with 1:55? I really had no idea what to expect out of myself, so she decided on 1:55 and we lined up behind the pacers. I hoped to be under 1:55, and secretly was hoping to be in the 1:53 range. After looking at my Garmin at the end of the first mile (8:37!) I wondered if I was screwing up my race too early. But the pace felt comfortable, great even, and I felt so light on my feet! We stayed with the pacers at least through mile 6. At times I felt like I was holding back. I had more. Close to mile 7, my friend pulled off to make a quickĀ stop and told me to go on ahead. She’s been battling foot problems (most likely plantar fasciitis) for the last few weeks, and after stopping it would take her a bit to get warmed up again. I know that feeling all too well.

Being in the second half of the race, I decided to pull ahead of the pace group. I think it’s possibly the most miles I’ve stayed with a pace group. I tend to stay away from packs in races. I ranĀ an 8:07 for mile 8 and still felt good for that point of the race. Spoiler alert: that was my fastest mile of the race. For the next few miles I kept my focus on staying ahead of the pace group and even effort through the hills. Ā Mile 10 was a little tough, and my slowest mile, but I made up for itĀ in the last 5k. I crossed the finish with an official time of 1:53:04. It was my fastest half since November 2013 (when I was five seconds from my PR). Now that feels good!

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There weren’t as many hills as I remembered, but I think my training is paying off as well. The course seemed a little different in the last few miles, butĀ it was still a challenge. I was so excited thatĀ I was so close to running under 1:53. I feel like the four hour marathon is still a realistic goal, so I’ll keep pushing.Ā It was a good race, and I’m so glad I went. It totally energized my training.

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Oh, and then there are these race perks:

Free race photos

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and a Texas sized medal!

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