Build a Better Runner

Consistency. Patience. Strengthen. Give Back.

This sums up what I’ve been working on since RnR Dallas.

I had a little chat with myself after that Dallas race. I was blunt and to the point. You could also call it a “come to Jesus meeting.” I know no one cares about my finish time (except me), but I also know I can get more out of myself. I have tried to figure out why I didn’t “bounce back” after Cowtown like I have in the past. Most of my PR races were run in 2014, and then I dealt with plantar fasciitis and haven’t seen those speeds. It was exactly two years ago when I contacted Airrosti and cautiously came back to running 5 days a week. Then last year at this time I started training for my first half-Ironman, and was only running 3 days a week. My average weekly mileage is lower and my workouts feel blah.

In short: I’ve been giving myself a pass. I know that I’m a runner who needs to run to run faster. I also know that I run better when I weigh less than I do right now.

Enter phase one of Build a Better Runner: Lose the weight, do more strengthening, keep the mileage consistent. Which is hard as my body adjusts to eating less carbs and more muscular soreness. It makes the running feel harder. So when I go do speed work at the track and run 800s at my half marathon PR pace, my first instinct is to throw in the towel. This is where patience comes in.

…and foam rolling with Chloe.

I have a renewed vision of my goals and what I want to accomplish. Now I need to take the steps to get there.

My next race is a half marathon on the 29th. I won a free entry back in December, so I don’t know much about the course. I’d like to see my time back under two hours, but realistically I’m shooting for under 2:05. This is how my long run went on Saturday:

But it was great helping another runner get to 13 miles in preparation for her first half at Oklahoma City. She was so excited, and I was so proud of her!

On the non-running side, I’m wanting to give back to the running community where I can. My friend and I served as volunteers at the Big D Marathon earlier this month. It wasn’t the best weather, but it was out at White Rock Lake and it’s so pretty there.

I’m volunteering at Texasman (triathlon) at the end of the month. This allows me to still be a part of races while my husband and I are working toward our financial goals.

Also, congratulations to all the Boston Marathoners! I seriously admire all of you. I’ve kept it no secret that it’s my goal to qualify and run it. My motto right now: Don’t wish for it. Work for it.”

 

 

 

 

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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?

 

 

A Busy Weekend

After my big news on Friday, I got up Saturday morning to head to the Fairview Half and 5k to work on one of my 2014 goals –  volunteering for races.

I was originally assigned to the finish line, but a last minute cancellation required a course monitor for the 5k. So I parked my car on the shoulder of the road just past the second mile marker.

This was my view:

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The hardest part  was trying to find the right words to call out to the runners. “Great job!” “You’re looking great!” “Less than a mile to go!”

After the sweeper bike came through and told me I could go, I drove to the finish area.

Seeing the winners of the half marathon come across, I realized I’ve never watched the finish of a race, because I’m always running in it. I was taken aback by how effortlessly they seemed to finish. They looked so smooth and poised – no posture issues there. It was so motivating, I was almost jealous and ready to take off running. I knew several from my running group who were running the race, and I enjoyed seeing PRs, age group wins, and finish line accomplishments. As I continued watching runners finish, I saw several with tears, lots of hugs, and smiles all around.

I point back to the name of this blog. I truly believe that anyone can run, whether that means running or walking the race, volunteering, or cheering. Anyone can be a part.

Then there are the other perks of volunteering:

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Yum.

On Sunday, I cranked out my longest long run for Oklahoma City. It was cool and rainy, but this was my only shot to get it done. I’ve said it before: You don’t get to choose your weather for race day. I pushed my pace more because of the rain, spending the middle 10 miles near race pace. The last five started to slow down, and I was afraid I was getting a blister on my foot. Anyway, this was my fastest 20 miler to date – in spite of the rain.

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There’s a sub 4 marathon in me somewhere.

Recovery:

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(Don’t forget to vote. You can do it once a day every day until April 18th)

 

I spent what was left of my day with achy legs and most of the night and the next day dealing with a stomach virus my children were kind enough to share. That’s one way to lose a few pounds, but not recommended.

 

Have you ever volunteered for a race?

What about being a spectator?

 

 

Volunteer for a Race

When I started this blog almost two years ago, I struggled to find a name for it that would encapsulate my view about running (at that time). Running was reaching me in a way nothing else had, and I wanted others to experience that. Still do.

My husband brought up the point that every person does not have the ability to run. I agreed with him, but “there’s a way to be involved in running whether you are running, walking, being supportive, encouraging, or volunteering.

Most of the time I take on the role of runner, but this past Saturday I became a volunteer for a trail race.

Trail running.

I’ve written a post or two about it, but I have been wanting to help give back to the sport. A member of the local running group is the race director for a trail race and solicited volunteers. There was an open time slot from 12-4, so I could still get my Saturday long run in. My 16 year old son loves to help out (and will do anything for a free t-shirt and food) so he went along with me. I planned on posting pictures of the trail, the aid station, and my son at the race, but there was no signal on my phone and the camera wouldn’t work. Boo.

The race was a 12k and 50k out on a hiking trail at Lake Texoma. It was about a 35 minute drive from our home. When we got there, all the 12k runners had finished. My runner friend was the first female finisher! I was so proud of her for that. My son and I were to be working the last aid station along the course. It was pouring rain when we got there. What a muddy mess! Six runners out of 32 had passed through already. My job was to check off the numbers on the list as they came through and keep the food stocked whick kind of made me nervous. The list is a big responsibility.

The variety of foods on the table was interesting. As a marathon runner, the most solid thing I’ve eaten while running was an orange slice. This table had peanut butter sandwiches, grapes, bananas, oranges, pickles, and Coke. There were also electrolyte tablets and salt. We actually ran out of Coke because most of the runners coming through wanted some.  The runners would stop and chat for a few minutes while eating, and then move along. Most of them were in good spirits, taking the weather for what it was. One needed the mileage, another time on her feet, and others were having a good time together pulling each other up the muddy slopes. They were all grateful for the aid station and appreciative. I was impressed with their spirit.

My son and I were happy to be there helping. He even showed some interest when the race director told him about a five mile race (along with other distances) in February. He used to run some with me at a local park with a trail. He enjoys the focus and challenge on the trail.

I was glad to be able to give back to the running community. I have never had such appreciation for volunteers as I did at my first marathon. In the cold. In the rain. It was nasty, and they were out there for me and others like me.

So even if you can’t physically run, don’t let that discourage you. You can still be a part of running. Runners need volunteers. They make races possible.