Band on the Run 5k

After the Cowtown Marathon, I chose to have an unstructured, no stress week of activity. Everyday I set my alarm for my “sleeping in” time – early enough to get everyone up and ready for the day. Two of those days I woke up before the alarm. On Wednesday morning, I did an easy spin on the bike trainer for 30 minutes, and on Thursday I ran a whopping two miles without looking at my pace.

I also started the process of losing the marathon weight gain. Again. At work, I was faced with the temptation of homemade cookies on Tuesday, pizza on Thursday, and donuts on Friday. But I passed by it all without a second glance. I also baked brownies for the pasta dinner on Friday without a taste test. So yay for all those victories!

Our high school’s band program held its second annual pasta dinner and 5k over the weekend, beginning with the pasta dinner on Friday night. I caved a little on my week of stellar eating with a small plate of spaghetti and 2 oatmeal raisin cookies. I did give my son three of the four meatballs on my plate though, but sitting through the performances of 5 different concert bands weakened my resolve against the cookies. That’s what happens when you have one child in the first band, and one playing last. You’re sitting there for a bit.

Normally, I wouldn’t choose to race a 5k one week after a marathon, but this was about raising money and supporting the band – and it was a great way for me to participate. With my feet.

My parents had come up to visit, go to the dinner/concert, run the race, and celebrate my daughter’s birthday (18!). I’m glad the race was close to the house, because it was kind of bonkers getting everyone ready and out the door. I’m so accustomed to just getting myself ready. But we finally made it and with enough time for me to do a little warm up with my friend. My legs felt strange – like I was bouncing almost. I didn’t know what to expect for the race.

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The plan was for me to run my race, then go back and run my kids in. My husband was out on his bike, so he could keep me posted on their progress.

My friend and I ran together for almost all of the race. It was a small race and we started near the front, behind some high school runners. My favorite thing about this course is the familiarity. I knew the route, and the little uphill near the beginning would be a nice payoff at the end. The rest of the course is flat. At the turnaround, there were band members playing familiar “football game” tunes. I saw my two kids at different points and my parents and waved. The kids were smiling which was a good sign. I managed all right up until the third mile, when I ended up with a side stitch. So I’m trying to hold my pace steady while pinching my side to ease the stitch. That’s what I get for trying to go all out. Finally when I hit the downhill, I found my kick and ran through the finish to the sounds of the band playing the fight song for every finisher. The 5k hurt, but I didn’t have time to whine.

 

I grabbed a bottle of water, reset my Garmin, and headed back to run my kids in. It took less than a mile for me to get to my 10 year old son. He was running for 60 seconds, and walking for 10. I ran with him for a minute, before my husband sent me back to find my daughter. This little boy was in good spirits, and he was going to make it just fine.

Then I found my daughter who was red-faced and smiling. She had been walking with my mom for a bit, but then started talking to someone else and fell behind. She was doing great with her plan of running cone to cone, then walking to the next one. When we got to the downhill, I told her to run the rest of the way in and I pulled off to the side. After she finished, one of the moms came up to me and said, “she encouraged me out there.” That makes me so happy.

IMG_7407 IMG_7409The other great thing about small races: age groups are smaller. I actually was the third female to finish, with a time 3 minutes slower than my PR – but the effort was all out. My daughter was 2nd in her age group. My son is in a more competitive group. We had to remind him that he’s the youngest, and there’s a big difference between ages 10 and 14. He did take almost 3 minutes off of his last 5k though! I reminded them that the important thing was they had fun, and this was for the band. We all had a good time, and my husband didn’t have to run so he was happy. I want to continue to foster the no pressure approach to running with my kids, and activities like this help.

 

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It was a fun race, and I hope to see it grow for next year. It also reminded me how much I’ve missed running shorter distances.

 

Do you enjoy racing 5ks? What about small races?

 

 

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Hot Chocolate 15K Recap

Lately, I seem to be on a “week on, week off” with my training for the Cowtown Marathon. Two weeks ago, I had good speed sessions and a knockout long run. Then for the first part of last week, every run felt flat, slow, and I was ready to be done with each one by mile 3. I was in a funk, and it was hard to get out of bed. So much so that two mornings I slept right through my alarm. I realized later in the week that part of my problem was an increase in pressure at work. Not a bad thing, just me not knowing what to expect. Since I started my new job function, a lot of the responsibility rests on the first part of the month. This was my first month to go through it completely, so I felt a little stressed. I also made the mistake of scheduling other things around this time that I had to adjust my schedule to: daughter’s eye exam, foundation repair…But now I know what to expect, so I’ll be better prepared at the beginning of March and I won’t be training for a marathon either.

I was somewhat ready for a race in the hopes that it would bring me out of my slump and put some motivation back in my body. I was super grateful to my friend who went to pick up packets on Thursday. There was no way that I could have gotten that done with everything else.

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I started to get excited Friday evening, but was still so tired.

Then I overslept on race morning – which has never happened! We were meeting at 5:00 and I popped out of bed at 4:34. At least I had laid out my clothes the night before and my friend was driving, so I had some time to chill on the drive down to Dallas. The car was loaded with some of her extended family (mom, aunt, cousin) who were running the 5k. The generations were all covered from the 30s up to the 70s.

The 5k was scheduled to start first, so we made our way to the start area to find where they would need to line up. The we went inside the building to stay warm a bit. The temps were in the low 40s. A little chilly for a 5k, but good enough for 15.

While they headed over to start, I stayed in the building to stay warm. I met a man who asked me about Team Chocolate Milk. He was 72 and running his first 5k! I was able to share about the benefits of chocolate milk for recovery.

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After the 5k started, my friend and I ran a couple of warmup miles. We were both low for the week, so it wouldn’t hurt to have a double digit day overall. I spied the Nuun setup near the start, so I was able to get some electrolytes before the race.

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I went into this race with zero expectations on my time, but with the anticipation to enjoy a fun race regardless. I decided not to carry my handheld because Nuun was the hydration sponsor. I can not tell you how happy I was to run with my hands empty. No bottle, no pepper spray, no gloves on. It was wonderful!

We lined up between the 8:30 and 9:00 pace groups, and I told my friend our goal was to keep the 9:00 pacer behind us. Other than that, let’s have fun.

And that’s what we did.

The 9:00 pacer passed us after the first mile, but we pulled ahead and didn’t see him again. I grabbed some Nuun at the second aid station, which was followed by the m&ms stop. They were handing them out in a little cups. I passed on by, but my friend grabbed two and said we couldn’t pass them up. “Just take it like a shot!” I managed to get a couple in my mouth, and to be honest, it was rough. That was a first for me! It took me three miles to get past the chocolate taste while running.

I hit my lap button at mile 5. By that point we were averaging 8:47 per mile – and there were some hills. Up and right back down. Then again, and again, and again. I wasn’t expecting all of those, but we talked about how it was like the hill we run every Saturday morning together (sometimes more than once). As the course began to flatten out, we managed to pull a faster pace. I was hitting the Nuun stops whenever they came up – my only problem was the amount I kept getting up my nose and all over my face. I obviously need more practice.

Between mile 6 and 7, I told her if we kept running like we were, I had a chance at a PR. She said she was on track too. At mile 8, our last three miles were averaging 8:28. I hit the lap button and we made our move.

I don’t know if it was the motivation to finally set a new PR, the stress of the week, or the fact that we were running together, but in that moment I became focused on getting to the finish under 1:21:00. My body was recalling negative splits, speed work, strides on tired legs, and every other type of workout I’ve been pulling out. I took a quick sip from the last aid station, knowing that I would need that little bit of umph! from the Nuun. In the last half mile, we started passing 5k walkers, and zoomed around calling out encouragements. I was breathing like I was in the final mile of a 5k. But I was still focused. Right before the finish chute, my friend pulled ahead. My legs were like jelly and I could not catch her! My finish was still strong – hers was just a little stronger. I saw 1:20:xx on the clock and I knew I had it. That last mile and change was in 8:07. The dry spell was over and I set my first new PR in almost two years!

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Now for the fun part! A little Nuun, some water, and a whole bunch of chocolate. The medal was a nice touch too!

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Double PRs!

Double PRs!

The whole group

My friend’s mom (next to me) won her age group! They all look cold!

I am so glad I decided to do this race. It was well done, well supported, and even though I didn’t register in the cheapest price, I still feel like it was a good value for what I paid. I’ll be looking forward to it next year. I also hope to see Nuun as a hydration sponsor in more races, because that was great! The only problem I’m having is that the race kicked off a chocolate frenzy for me and I’m still trying to get my eating back to normal. It didn’t help though that we had a chili cook off (with desserts) and a Super Bowl get together in the same weekend.

Ahhhhh! Now it’s time to taper for Cowtown. I’m so ready!

 

 

 

Marathon Recovery and Cookies

For the past two weeks, post Dallas Marathon, I put a concerted effort on recovery. In some ways this was harder than I expected it to be, but getting ready for Christmas helped out in keeping me busy.

The plan was to take an entire week off from running after the marathon. I made it to Saturday. My friend and I decided to show up for the group run because we were craving the company. A nice five miler was enough to get it out of my system. I spent Sunday at the pool, and then eased back into running a few days last week. I also swam a few more times. The swimming was a good way for me to feel like I was doing something, without taxing my legs.

The week of Christmas the weather was nuts here. My runs were done in warm, humid temps. One was a little too fast (because my legs told me so later in the day).

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Then cookie baking on Christmas Eve. What happens when I’m too tired from baking to finish rolling dough and cutting out cookies? My 17 and 12 year old take over, and we get gems like this:

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Then the group run again on Saturday where I was the slowest one there and tried to keep up. I didn’t run as many miles as I planned, but my legs still got a good workout.

 

We later spent the day at my parents’ house, then drove through a few tornado warnings on our way home. That was scary, but it brought a weather shift.

Sunday was rainy and cold – and we had water coming in the crawl space in our house, so we were running the pump on and off, all day and night. I took this time inside to finish planning out my goals for the first half of 2016 and I’m excited about what’s coming.

This week, I was ready to get back to training. A combination of rest and too many cookies ups the motivation a bit. On Monday morning, I started with the treadmill because of the cold and rain. By the time I got done, we had snow. Texas.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas, and will have a safe and happy New Year. I’m looking forward to connecting with you in 2016.

 

 

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Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio with Team Chocolate Milk

I had the opportunity to run Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio this past weekend as a part of Team Chocolate Milk, and that race now falls in my top 5 for best race experience. A lot of factors went into making it a great weekend, where the only major hiccup was the 45 minute traffic delay 20 minutes away from home Sunday night.

I asked my best running friend along for the trip, and she was able to register with a good discount. We have been training for the Dallas Marathon together, so it seemed appropriate that we should do our last long training run together in San Antonio.

When I picked her up Saturday morning, we laughed about we looked different from our usual Saturday morning attire. Hair fixed, makeup on, regular clothes…mostly. We clean up well.

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This was her first experience with a large race expo, and it was great! We shopped a little, stopped by the Another Mother Runner booth and met Sara, walked right past Meb, and I picked up some of my favorite hydration, Nuun. We stopped by the Chocolate Milk booth and I helped my friend win a towel by answering all the quiz questions correctly. I was happy to see so many people at their booth learning all about the benefits of chocolate milk!

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After checking into the hotel, we made our way down to the Riverwalk in search of an early dinner. We found a nice little restaurant with no wait and split a pasta dish and bruschetta.

When in San Antonio...eat Italian?

When in San Antonio…eat Italian?

I’ve been to San Antonio a few times, but always in the spring or summer. The city and the Riverwalk were absolutely beautiful this time of year. Everything was decorated for Christmas, and I loved walking around just taking in the sights. The pictures don’t do it justice.

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After our brief tour, we headed back to the hotel for some time off our feet and to get ready for race day!

We made our way to the VIP area so I could meet up with the other team members.

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It’s neat to meet people in real life that I first met on social media, but I sometimes wonder if they think I’m weird. After a group photo, and some talk about the race and goals, my friend and I headed to the start corrals.

Our number one goal for the race was to have fun and run it together. I’ve never had company for an entire race. Usually when we go to a race together, we start together but run our own times. I wanted to be able to bring her in for her first sub two-hour half, but we kept our expectations light. We started off slow, and enjoyed the views of running through a new city. Downtown and running right in front of the Alamo were my favorite parts. By mile five we were averaging around 9:05 pace. I started to worry if we were running too fast, but my legs felt great – like I was holding back. Then THE HILL showed up around mile 5. We didn’t talk at all, and by the time we crested the top, my quads were burning. From someone who runs hills on a regular basis, this was surprising. For the next two miles, there was a series of ups and downs. One of the hills, by Trinity University, was loaded with spectators from the school. Their signs were great, and they were lined all the way up the hill. I focused so much on reading signs that I lost sight of the pain of the hill. A favorite said: TU Counseling-Tell me how you feel about this hill. Another was “You’re not over the hill yet, unlike us” from an older couple. I smiled all the way through. Then after mile 7, the course was flat again. Our pace had dropped to 9:09 average, but we gradually began to work it down.

The half split from the full course at mile 11, and I can’t tell you how glad I was to turn for the half. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I was running down the right side of the road, and I looked up to see a vehicle (like a gator) coming right toward me. I moved over and then realized Meb was leaning out of it giving high fives to the runners. I yelled for my friend to get over there and we both got a high five from him. I told her that was our speed boost.

And it was! At mile 12, I knew she would be under two hours, and asked her how she’d like a new PR. She said she hadn’t even looked at her watch, and didn’t want to know. As we crossed the finish, I congratulated her on smashing her old record. We picked up our medals and headed straight for the chocolate milk. If you’re new to the blog, or unfamiliar with the benefits of chocolate milk as a post workout recovery, take a look at this information. It has helped me with my training whether after speedwork at the track or a long run, or swimming, or biking, and it’s delicious! I love being a part of this team. It’s something I believe in, and they always make me feel important. 🙂

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Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio was one of my best race experiences, and the fact that it wasn’t tied to my own PR reminds me that racing can still be fulfilling as I continue down the road. Here’s a little data to go along with it:

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A successful training run.

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What hills?

Nicely executed negative splits!

Nicely executed negative splits!

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A beautiful medal!

Up next: Dallas Marathon on Sunday! Have a great week!

Last Week’s Training

Because it’s peak week (and life is hitting hard today), here is my synopsis of last week’s marathon training – in pictures.

Finishing a run with this beautiful backdrop:

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Cooler temperatures have arrived (some days):

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Which means long sleeves (and compression socks for tired legs):

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Maybe a hint that we should turn on the heater. For reference, she sleeps with her ceiling fan on and likes her room cold:

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Perfect weather for a long run, which equates to faster paces:

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Lots of chocolate milk on hand:

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On Saturday afternoon, we went to a seminar at Trishop in Dallas. They were celebrating their 4th anniversary all weekend with events, giveaways, and sales. Both of us won a prize and ended up with all this stuff:

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I’ll try out the chews probably after Dallas, since it’s less than a month away. The session was informative – about Ironman – and geared toward first-timers.  Yes, that’s a someday goal that will take me a while to get to. But I wanted to see what kind of info I could come away with. It was time well spent and I’m putting a timeline in place.

 

 

Another Perspective (Volunteering for a Race)

Last week I ran five days and a total of 21 miles. On Thursday, I asked my Airrosti doctor about a long run. I had been running three and four milers. He told me I could run as far as I wanted to as long as there was no sharp or stabbing pain. If that happened, I had to stop immediately.

I headed out with my running friend Saturday morning with a plan to hopefully make it five or six miles. We meet at the park and usually head out for a five mile loop then finish any extra around the park.

This was the result:

A little slower, but I'll take it!

A little slower, but I’ll take it!

By the middle of the sixth mile, my foot started throbbing but once I went home- rolled, stretched, and iced – it was better. I was happy with my distance and it felt good to push my endurance. I’m amazed at how quickly it disappeared. Last fall it was common for me to run 7 miles before work, and now double digits are a distant memory. Actually, it’s only been three weeks since my last half marathon, but it feels so much longer.

After my run, my husband and I headed downtown to the new Farmer’s Market to check it out. I thought it would just be an easy ride there and back. Two hours later, which included a ride to a (not so easy) trail that goes around a small lake, we were back in the driveway and my quads were crying. I could write a whole post just about the ride. I actually muttered the phrase “I can’t.” Instead, here’s a highlight:

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Note all the mud on his tires…and bluebonnets

 

Early Sunday morning I left the house at 4:30 to head to Dallas. I was volunteering for the Skyline Half. I encourage all runners to volunteer for a race – especially a water stop. It will make you appreciate the volunteers so much more once you have experienced it yourself.

They get as little sleep as the runners do.

5:30 am check in!

5:30 am check in!

There is a lot of waiting.

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Then finally some action with a rush of runners. I discovered after yelling out “Gatorade!” forty times, the word sounds really strange. It was a warm day for runners, and since it was down in the river basin it was sticky too. I saw some of my friends from our running group, and they seemed excited to see me. I was also surprised to see some just hang out for a bit before moving on. I typically don’t stop at aid stations unless I’m refilling my hand-held so it was another side of racing I hadn’t seen. There was more waiting as the pack thinned out before the walkers started coming. When the last runner came through, we finished cleaning up. Instead of waiting for the truck to pick us up, we walked back to the start area – which took about 15 minutes. It was also where the closest porta-potties were located (as far as we knew). The finish area was mostly cleared out and there were just a few runners left to come through.

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When I got back to my car, it had been almost 6 hours since I’d had anything to eat. I only drank water as we were walking back. No porta-potties meant no drinking for me. I was hot, gatorade stained, tired, and famished. Oh and my feet hurt. But the best part was that because I was part of a group of volunteers that helped out the Dallas chapter of Back on my Feet, a member was able to get registered and ran his first half marathon that day. I also heard words of thanks and appreciation from runners throughout the morning. It was worth it.

Tell me, have you volunteered for a race? What did you get to do?

 

 

Relief!

For my first running injury  in almost five years, I waited almost four months to seek professional help. Not recommended.

I tried all the remedies for plantar fasciitis, which reared its ugly head the day after the Dallas Marathon. I even took time off. Nothing worked. It was better sometimes, but the pain never went away. I started to worry that I really botched my foot up by continuing to run – even though the pain was not made worse while running. It was the long runs that did me in.

After 3 miles on Monday afternoon and then again Wednesday morning, I was almost back to limping.

On Friday, I had my first Airrosti appointment. The doctor didn’t look at me crazy when I gave my injury history and said I ran two more marathons and some half marathons after the pain started.

Then there was some pain as he worked with the tissue around my foot, but wha-la! My foot felt better and I could put weight on it. I was given some stretching/rolling activities and permission to run 3 miles over the weekend to see how the pain was in comparison to my two runs earlier in the week.

Warning: This does not feel good. But it works.

Warning: This does not feel good. But it works.

Saturday, I ran 3 miles. I felt good. Then we headed to Edgefest – which can be described as an all day concert with various alternative bands. It was what my daughter wanted for her birthday, but no way was she going without cool parent chaperones. 🙂

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We even found Waldo!

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There was some walking involved, but by the end of the day my foot was not throbbing or swollen – like it has done in the past. I was not limping. I still wasn’t walking my usual speed, but it was definitely better.

Sunday I rode the bike for an hour and my foot was still the same as it was on Saturday. But Monday morning’s 4 miler on the treadmill (thanks to heavy rain) did not quite agree with me. Thankfully I had another appointment Monday afternoon. A little more pain, but a lot of relief. This time I was given some balance exercises to work on.  Now I can put weight on my right foot without wincing. It’s something I won’t take for granted.

I will continue to take it easy, as I move back into a regular running routine. I have a 5k on May 16, so that’s my next goal. Then a half in June. No need to push it.

Have you ever had a running injury? Were you stubborn about seeking professional help like I was?