UCAN Half Marathon

Things have finally started moving for me in my first phase of building a better runner.¬†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 frustrated¬†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 flat 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 head¬†at aid stations.¬†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 come¬†but never did. The sun came out and heated it up more. My sunglasses were in the car. ūüė¶

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!

 

 

 

Family Traditions (SEF 5k)

Last week was a cutback week for me for marathon training, and I had some fun with it.

Even though the heat hasn’t let up much here, I still got out with the kids and ran to get ready for the 5k we were all doing on Saturday.

They wanted to go to the park to run and then play. Sure, why not?

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Then on Thursday we ran a mile and a half. My 13 year old daughter would run ahead and walk until the 10 year old almost caught up to her. Then she’d take off again. Nice, friendly competition between siblings. Two weeks ago, she decided she¬†was ready to start training for the 5k, and she made good progress in a short amount of time.

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Saturday morning, we were ready to race the Sherman Education Foundation 5k. This was my 7th time to run this race, and it wasn’t the first time for them either. I told them to make sure to run their own race the way they wanted to. Slow and steady, or run/walk – whatever is¬†best for them.

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After I finished a very painful 3 miles (I have not been training at sub 8:00 pace!), I grabbed some water and a banana, and headed back out on the course to run my kids in. With a little over a half a mile to go, I saw my 10 year old and ran with him for a minute. He went on to finish, and I found his sister a few minutes back. My husband was out on the course with his bike, to encourage them. When my daughter askedhow far she had left to run, I told her about 3/4 of a mile. Her response, “Really? I’m almost done!” Probably not many kids who think 3/4 of a mile is a short distance. My kids have a different perspective on what “far” is. ūüôā

I’m proud of the way they ran the race. My youngest ran faster than he did at the 5k in August, and it wasn’t much cooler. The humidity was high – still. I ran almost the exact same time I ran the race in last year (when it was rainy and a little cooler). This year my time was 24:23. I was hoping to get back in the 23 minute range, but I guess if I don’t train for 5ks, I really can’t expect to bust out a time close to my PR. I did manage to win my age group though. I guess I can’t complain about my 5k time if I’m always training for marathons.img_8239

This is my favorite local race of the year¬†because of the traditions around it as a family. The traditions are changing a little with our family – two of my kids had to grow up and move off. ūüė¶ But after the race, we visited the¬†Arts Fest and spent some¬†time at the different booths. And of course we had funnel cake. That tradition hasn’t changed.

With the 5k on Saturday, I got up planning to meet my running buddy for a 12-13 mile long run Sunday morning. This is what I woke up to:

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With the time constraints (and lightning factor), I reluctantly got on the treadmill. The storms weren’t¬†moving through anytime soon. By the time it started to clear up, I was up to 10 miles. I just finished off at 13, and that ended my cutback week. That was a rough run, but at least I had podcasts to listen to. Before Sunday, my longest treadmill run was 9 miles. I didn’t want to go that far on the treadmill, but I have goals that won’t be reached by skipping a long run. I learned for next time to put towels around the treadmill, because it was a gross sweaty mess. My body is just too efficient at cooling.

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Partly bad lighting, but yes my face probably was that red.

That ended my first cutback week of Dallas Marathon training, and now I’ll start ramping up the miles while I wait for fall temperatures to show up.

Anybody else?

 

 

 

 

Stick with It

When I set out on my long run last¬†Sunday afternoon, I was instantly reminded of how hard running¬†feels at times. As I wrote in my last post, I am moving the long run to later in the day so my body can adjust to running in warmer temperatures. That day, my first mistake was eating too soon before¬†I headed out. I wanted to hurry and get back so I had time to catch up on¬†yard work. That’s the other hard part about training for an endurance event through the spring. Everything is growing! I have crape myrtle trees that look more like shrubs because they need pruned. The English Ivy is creeping everywhere. The miniature rose bushes are thriving – thankfully.

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It would be a lot easier to keep up with if half my family wasn’t prone to allergies, but anyway… back to my training.

I realized one mile into my 9 mile run, that my food wasn’t settled. By the second mile I adjusted my route. Mile 3 involved a few walk breaks and was¬†my slowest mile. I thought I might throw up so I¬†headed back toward my neighborhood. I went in the house at mile 6.5 and asked my three kids who wanted to go finish my run for me. There were no takers. I forced myself back out to finish,¬†and it was between miles 7 and 8 when I felt like my food had settled and I was feeling better. I finally got it done after a quick chat with a neighbor who asked me if I was training for a 5k. “Yes, something like that.” ūüėČ

I was reminded of a few things with that run:

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve had to really talk myself through finishing a run. I wanted to quit so many times.
  2. Running later in the day requires better planning. I should’ve thought about how my meal would affect me running when the sun is beating down on me.
  3. Even though running is the easiest sport to me with triathlon, it doesn’t mean the run will be easy. I’ve got to break through the mental aspect of getting through a hard run.

Once I finished, I was glad I pushed through. These are the moments I will try to remember on race day when it gets hard. Getting through a tough run reminds me that there are ups and downs throughout and an upward turn could be just around the corner.

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I was rewarded with my next run at the track on Tuesday when I was able to nail my 5k pace for 600m intervals. When I looked at the workout, I thought “yeah, right” but I did it! It was my first track workout in months, and it was refreshing to have some pep in my legs.

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I like the fact that you never really know how a run will turn out. It’s nice to surprise yourself sometimes – on the road, on the track, on the trail. Wherever your training takes you, just stay with it. You won’t regret it.

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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Dallas Marathon 2015

The Dallas Marathon is my most anticipated race each year. It was my first half marathon in 2010 and my first full marathon in 2011. I have always said “I love the race, but it doesn’t love me back” because I’ve had kind of a rough run with it. (Unintentional pun)

For my first full, the weather was cold, windy, and rained the entire time. Then¬†2012¬†was warm and humid, 2013 iced out, and 2014 didn’t have the best weather conditions either (along with all of my other problems that day).

Needless to say, my standards this year weren’t set too high. I hoped for decent weather, and planned to run with my friend (who I talked into running her first marathon in Dallas). My goals became to run faster than last year and have fun. I still was hoping for the sub 4 hour race, but truthfully knew everything would have to go right for that to happen. But my friend and I talked about running together because that would help both of us pull through.

But first, let me talk about the expo because that was a big part of my weekend. Dallas has done a great job the past two years by bringing in elite ambassadors and adding some interest to the race itself with relay challenges. So on Saturday, we timed it to be at the stage for the introduction of the elites and then they gave some advice for the runners for race day.

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So much speed in one place!

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Desi!

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Deena! (My role model as a master’s runner.)

 

I soaked ¬†it all in (foreshadowing), spoke to Josh Cox and Molly Huddle to thank them for being there, and got a couple of autographs on my bib. I was nervous being around so much running greatness. I wanted to meet Ryan Hall, but that line was longer, so maybe another time. I do love that in this sport, the elite runners that I’ve met are approachable and genuine. This totally made my weekend, no matter how the race turned out for me.

Storms moved in Saturday evening and overnight, so when I drove to Dallas early Sunday morning, it was in the rain. Of course. Thankfully there was no lightning and the wind wasn’t too bad. The temps had dropped though to low 50s with a forecasted high of 60. At least that part was manageable, and much improved from the oppressive humidity Saturday morning for my shakeout run.

I hung¬†out in my friend’s hotel room for a bit, then we made the five minute walk to the start corral. Dallas has three start corrals – A, B, and C. We were in B, and lined up between the 9:15 and 9:30 pace.¬†I’m always surprised by how fast time goes by in the corral! Before I knew it, the National Anthem was over and we were moving toward the start line.

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Rain, rain, go away.

I soon realized we should have started at the front of the corral. We both talked about how we needed to make sure we held back in the first few miles. I’ve got a history of going out too fast. There was no problem in holding back because I felt like it was bottlenecked for about five or six miles, but didn’t want to use energy trying to weave around people. The first mile pace was just under 10:00. We picked up the pace gradually and by the end of mile 5, we were averaging 9:30s which is where we stayed until just before mile 13.

At this point my friend started to fall back. I checked on her a couple of times and she finally told me to go ahead. She wasn’t feeling great. We had worked this out beforehand, that if one of us struggled the other one would go on.¬†But I still worried about her and second guessed leaving her side. We had put in so many miles together that it didn’t seem right to keep on, but I also knew that if I was the one struggling I would want her to go on. So that’s what I did, but I said prayers for her along the way.

I noticed the breeze had cooled the humidity and the temperature felt good. I tried to pick up the pace, but the hills kept me grounded. I ended up averaging 9:25 from 10-15, and 9:33 from 16-20. At mile 19, it became harder to hold the pace down in the 9:30s. From that point on it became a fight to stay in the game. I saw the banner that I signed at the expo, and looked down at my Road ID that contains same message: Hebrews 12:1 Run With Endurance.

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I started counting down the miles from my Garmin (which was a half a mile over already). Each one that ticked off meant I was closer. I remembered what Meb said at the expo about his phrase “Run to win” which means getting the best out of yourself. I checked to see if I was doing my best, and the answer remained yes every time. I surged when I could and willed my legs to go faster. At mile 23, I felt like I was flying. I looked down at my pace – 10:05. Oh, well, at least I felt like I was flying. I repeated “I can do hard things. I’ve done this before.” My lower back started to ache. I would count down the minutes with phrases like “Only 25 more minutes, I can keep doing this for 25 minutes.” I used every self-talk positive phrase I could think of to get my through those last 6 miles, and didn’t let my pace frustrate me. I continued to smile (which may have looked like a grimace at that stage), thanked the volunteers, thanked the police officers, and tried to encourage other runners as I continued. I stayed hydrated with Nuun and I fueled just like I trained. As I came to mile 26, I started to get emotional. Coming through the finisher chute, the tears started. I felt like a winner because I had run strong, and finished the race giving¬†my all. There were no walk breaks, no talking myself out of my goals, or making excuses. As the announcer was calling out the finishers just ahead of the finish line, he gave me a high five and said “Way to go, Team Chocolate Milk.” Then I crossed the line.

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I saw Meb giving out medals, but he was busy getting photos with people too. I looked around but didn’t see any of the other elite ambassadors. I got all my goodies and moved to where I could check my friend’s tracking. I pulled my phone out and dropped a gel. I stood there staring at it on the ground, and another runner came over to pick it up for me. I thanked her and said, “I was trying to decide if it was worth it” because I couldn’t bend my knees.

I saw my friend’s finish on the tracker and went to find her. There was a hug and more tears! We had both done what we set out to do. She finished her first marathon in about the time she expected to. I ran a strong for me race.

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Meeting up with a fellow Team Chocolate member is always fun!

Meeting up with a fellow Team Chocolate Milk member is always fun!

I broke my curse. This was my fastest Dallas race by almost 15 minutes, with a fairly consistent pace. The weather turned out perfect for me because I never overheated. But the fact that I was able to run the entire course gives me hope for my future goals, and a return to my speed two years ago.

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My mind is whirring with the possibilities of what’s next! ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Long Runs and a 10k (McKinney Believe)

Going into the last month of training for the Dallas Marathon, I had mixed emotions. On some days, I felt like my training was right on – hitting the paces and feeling the mileage, but recovering well. Other days, I was frustrated that I’ve moved “backward” in my speed. I would wonder if my fastest days were two years ago, and if I would ever get close. I know not to rush things though, so I’ve been moving along following the paces to run a four hour marathon.

During peak week, I had planned to run a 22 mile long run. Yes, I know that’s long. But I also know that my body does best when it knows what to expect on race day. 16 mile long runs don’t mesh well with my body – as I learned a year ago.

The wind that day was terrible, and it was cold. Several miles into my run – right before I met up with the group – I received a text from my husband who was still at work. He was going to be a few hours later than planned. That meant that if the heating company called (we were waiting on a part) to come repair our unit, then I would need to be at the house. That call came in right as I hit mile 14. They said they could be there in 10 minutes, and I asked for 15. I was a mile from the car, so I ran a fast mile back and got home just as they pulled up.

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An hour later we had heat, which was a necessity because it would drop below freezing for the first time of the season. Yes, winter finally arrived to North Texas.

When he finished, I had just enough time to knock out two more miles before I needed to get my daughter to the track for a physical assessment (for¬†something¬†she’s applied for).

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I managed¬†to squeeze in three more at the track. My total for the day was 20 over the span of 5 hours, but it’s okay because I’m giving myself some slack this year. Besides, it’s still time on my feet so it’s not wasted.

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Side note: My daughter is a swimmer. She doesn’t really like to run, partly due to allergies. Allergies in north Texas are the worst – so I’ve heard. I’ve run with her a couple of times to make sure she knew the pace she needed to be able to do. Remember, the wind was still awful. The sun was out but it was cold. She started her first lap wearing my headband and jacket, and by the end of the fourth, they were gone. Later, she tweeted this.

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I’m so proud of her! This was a hard thing for her to do and she did it well.

Thanksgiving day, I was ready for my last hard, long run. This was also my way to ease into taper. The plan was 16-18 with 12 miles at race pace (9:09). My running friend and I agreed to meet, and we had another runner friend show up to run with us. This was the confidence boost I needed after the split long run the week before. She pushed me, and I managed to get 12 at a 9:04 pace, and I was pleased with the overall pace.

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My husband was around some too on his bike, so the miles went by faster than expected.

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My legs were shot the rest of the day though, but it was also due to the amount of time I spent in the kitchen. Overall, it was a good day. Running, family time, food. What more could I ask for?

 

Well, how about a great race to keep up that confidence building?

The rain that started Thursday afternoon and didn’t stop until Monday night. By Friday afternoon, we began keeping watch under the house and running the pump to keep the downstairs from flooding. It wouldn’t stop raining. All that evening, we would set the timer for 30 minutes then go turn on the pump until all the water was out, then set the timer again. It wouldn’t stop coming down. All this rain – crazy! Around 10:00, I crashed and my husband took over. I got up around 2 am and took the next few hours until I left for the race. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to a cold, rainy 10k on little sleep. It was like having a baby in the house again getting up so much. But my friend and I were going together and misery loves company right?

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I had run this race before in 2010 and 2011 – the 5k – and it was the first race I realized I might possibly be competitive in my age group. I decided to go back to it this year and run the 10k. Thankfully, the 10k started before the 5k, but they also had to change the route due to flooding. So we ran the 5k route twice. Double the hills, double the fun!

I didn’t start my watch early enough, so for the first mile and a half, it was searching my location. I was running by effort, and I couldn’t feel my toes. Yet, I warmed up quickly and had my jacket off and tied around my waist. Not the most fashionable look, but it was nasty weather and I didn’t care.

I did like sharing the route with the 5k, because I was able to see two others from our local running group on the course.

When my GPS finally started working, I managed to keep my pace in the 8:10-8:15 range. I felt strong and I was beginning to feel my toes again. The rain had mostly stopped, or slowed to a slight mist. I aimed for a strong even finish which was uphill. Why? But my legs hung in there.

I know there were less participants this year because a lot of people opted to stay out of the weather. Still, I was surprised to find my name on the results sheet as the Female Master’s winner with my time of 52:02. It certainly wasn’t my fastest! But it was a good, solid, consistently paced run.

…and¬†another¬†block added to my mental building.

This race kicked off a trifecta of race weekends. I’ll be at Rock n Roll San Antonio this weekend for Team Chocolate Milk, and then next week is the Dallas Marathon.

Thanks for putting up with my lengthy post. I think I’m mostly caught up now. ūüôā

 

 

 

 

Monster Tri Recap

Oh, hey there! Yes, I’m still around. I’ve had a devil of a time trying to get to this race recap. The whole marathon training, being mom, senior year, marching band season kind of takes over sometimes. Sometimes, it’s¬†all I can do to make sure the utilities are paid up and there is food in the house to eat. The latter part of that statement is getting harder to do. One day last week, my oldest daughter told me we were out of “lunch stuff.” My reply was, “That’s because we have enough food for dinner. Apparently I can’t keep up with both.” True story.

So here I am, ready to write my race recap and the time change has me ready to fall asleep by 7:30 pm.

I digress.

The Monster Tri was on the Sunday before Halloween. This was my second triathlon, and I was feeling better about my swim this time around.

The day before the race it was rainy. The forecast called for more rain. The good thing about the rain was that it moved the Area marching contest to Monday instead of the day before the race. The bad thing about the rain was that I’m inexperienced riding in the rain. We bought new tires for my bike (which still had the original ones) so that my tread would be better¬†on the wet roads. I also bought elastic laces to put through my running shoes to save time in transition.

Just so you know, it’s not the most relaxing thing to change tires and shoelaces the day before a race and practice transition. But, you do what you have to! My main goal for the race was to gain more experience – not speed.

Also, if you thought runners got up super early for races, triathlon is a whole other ballgame. Transition area opened at 6:15, and the race was supposed to start at 7:15. Body marking, laying out gear, getting organized, checking tire pressure, etc. I also have a tendency to stress over being late. Fortunately, my #1 fan gets me there on time (early). ¬†That’s his military background, but I’m not complaining.

I wasn’t as nervous for this race. My running friend was doing it too. We did a warm up in the pool, which was smaller than the first race, and I felt okay about it. They delayed the start by about 10 minutes because of cloud cover.

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The swim went okay. I started off fine for the first few lanes, but swimming under the rope into the next lane threw me off. I finally found my groove in¬†the last two lanes. It wasn’t great, but it was better than my first race when I couldn’t keep my head in the water.

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Better, but still lots of room for improvement!

Out of the water and outside to the transition was a shock to my system. Wet and then cold. Temps were in the 50s and a slight north wind. But I decided not to throw on a jacket.

I survived the bike mount. Read: I didn’t fall trying to clip in.

The bike was an out and back 16 mile ride of rolling hills. The toughest part for me was the wind. On the way out I saw several people changing tires along the way, so I figured a flat was in my future. Thankfully, I made it to the turnaround with no issues. I have noticed that one of my strengths is climbing, because that’s when I pass people. It must be my running legs. But I’m still a chicken on the downhills. Coming in to dismount, I was ecstatic that I made it on and off the bike with no falls.

My legs were wobbly to start the run. I wore my Garmin, planning to turn it on for the run, but it couldn’t locate GPS. I ran by feel and felt strong on the run, just like in the last race. I only remember being passed by one person, and she was 29, so I’m ok with that. I kind of like being able to see everyone’s age. It gives me a competitive push.

By the time I finished the 5k run, I was ready to eat! Thanks to marathon training, a later start, and forgetting my prerace fuel, I grabbed some pancakes and ate like I ran a marathon. I also managed to eat pretty much¬†all day long. I couldn’t believe how hungry I was! Later, it hit me that I didn’t get my chocolate milk recovery. I bet that’s a big part of why I was hungry all day.

I was surprised (ok, maybe giddy is a better term) when I found out I placed 3rd in my age group. It was a smaller field, but when I looked at all the times I feel pretty good about my race. My swim had improved from 10:27 (300meters) to 7:25 (250 yards). I survived my first time clipped in on the bike, and the run was strong. All this in the middle of marathon training made it that much sweeter.

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I’m looking forward to planning out a triathlon race schedule for next spring/summer. I’m enjoying the challenge.

Here’s a quick recap from the last week in pictures, because it was just a blur of band/mom stuff/training:

Cheering on the band at Area:IMG_6683IMG_6687IMG_6696

A two part Saturday long run, because life:IMG_6704 IMG_6705Halloween:IMG_6708
Next up – 2nd 20 miler of the training cycle on Saturday after the last football game Friday.

Enjoy your weekend!