Let’s talk about Dallas

Before we talk about Dallas, let’s talk training…and racing.

Believe 10K

This past weekend, my training called for 8 miles on Saturday and 20 on Sunday.  However, there is a local 10K (which happens to be the first 10K that I ever ran) that I really wanted to run.  I got coach approval, registered and all was set……until the monsoons began on Thanksgiving day.

It was COLD and it was WET…….I HATE to be cold!  But race or no race, I had to run some miles and running a race – even in wet, cold rain –  was certain to be more fun than a regular training run.  Luckily, the rain stopped just as the race started….for the entirety of the race!

My body felt really good during the race.  I was supposed to keep my heart rate in Zone 2 for the first 4 miles, but I struggled with that because there were SO MANY HILLS.  After some reflection I feel that I could have pushed a little harder on the last couple miles, but I was being a bit cautious…..because of the HILLS.  I was afraid that if I pushed too hard, too early, that I would lose steam and slow down at the end.  I’m still trying to find that magical race exertion balance.  In the end, it worked out, because I PR’d by 1:30 (my last PR was in the Spring) and I won my age group!!  Miracles never cease to happen! Let this be a lesson to all of you to always run in cruddy weather because a lot of people don’t show up!  I didn’t stay for the awards, because I NEVER expected to win my age group.  It was so cold plus the announcing of the winners was so slow that I opted for Starbucks after the overall winners were announced for the 5K.

My Major Award
My Major Award

Another cool thing about this race was that I finally got to wear my race shirt from my run club, Renegade Endurance.  The jerseys came in the week after I got back from St. Louis and I haven’t raced since then, so it was fun to break it in with a PR and an age group win!  (I was too cold to have any pics made at the race site and barely remembered to take the pic when I got home.)  #ADHDprobsIMG_6239

Last Long Run

Because the monsoons over Thanksgiving break caused some flooding in my area, I had to run my last long run on the treadmill. <sad violin music>

Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it.  My longest run on the treadmill prior to Sunday was 5 miles.  I dreaded this run on several levels.  This run was my last chance to work on fueling and hydration before the race.  The conditions on a treadmill are just no match for being outside.  I did tweak my fueling a bit and I won’t truly know if it will work until race day.  Terrain was my another issue.  There is no preparation for a road race like running on a road!  Finally, and I suspect this was highly influenced by terrain (or lack thereof), my heart rate was SO LOW.  I try to keep my heart rate low on long runs, but my heart rate was about 15 beats per minute below where it usually is.  (If you’re confused – it’s just one more way that my treadmill run differed from a road run.)   I could have sped up to increase my heart rate, but then it wouldn’t have been a long SLOW run.  During the run, I focused on the fact that, at the most basic level, long runs are about time spent on your feet.

Mentally, I battled boredom.  I watched movies, but I am convinced that was not a good thing.  As I got into the movie, I paid less attention to what I was doing on the run.  This is the precise reason that I stopped running with music – I do not need any additional distractions!

In the end, a run is a run and when I was done, I felt VERY accomplished!IMG_62539 Days and Counting

Soooooooo, Dallas is 9 days and counting.  This time last year, I was a nervous wreck.  I knew that the race was going to be hard and terrible and painful, but I tried to hold on to that hope that my ITB would behave.  It didn’t.  I’m still shaking my head over it.

This taper is different.  Even though I spent a ridiculous amount of time recovering from injuries in 2015, I’ve also gained an unbelievable amount of fitness and strength over the past two months.  The difference is that I have been working with a new coach since the beginning of October.  In the words of one of my running buddies, “He attacked my weaknesses” and, as a result, I am running stronger and faster than ever.  In the beginning, he told me he would get me to Dallas injury-free and strong.  I didn’t believe him because at that point, I was still injured – mentally and physically.  I had spent SO much time on injury that it was becoming hard to believe that I would ever get over that hump.  I honestly didn’t believe that I could be strong enough to run the full at Dallas.  But guess what?  My coach delivered.

I am more than strong enough to run Dallas.  More importantly, I have transitioned mentally from seeing myself as weak and injured to strong and healthy.  Instead of a taper filled with anxiety and apprehension, I am filled with energy and excitement because I can’t wait to run this race!!

Happy Friday!

Jen

 

Rituals come and go but runners will always be quirky

Runners are a funny bunch.  I recently found myself thinking about rituals that have come and gone during my time as a runner and some of them make me scratch my head.

  • There was a time when I would not run if I didn’t have “Quench” gum to chew.  I was convinced that I could not run without it!  This habit quickly changed after I started consistently running longer distances.  Gum doesn’t taste good after 5 miles.  LOL
  • Another crutch was music.  Music was bad for me.  My cadence and pace were too affected by the beat of the music, which generally had me running too fast.  I ditched the music for good early this year and I haven’t missed it at all!  In fact, it has helped me become more in tune with what is going on in my body during the run.  I am more aware of changes in terrain, pace, heart rate, breathing, and most importantly – any signals that my body gives me about things being “off”.  Now if I could just learn to act on these signals quickly enough…  Never say never, but I can’t see myself ever running with music again.
  • Even though when I started running I ran on my own, I ended up with a partner when I was a fairly new runner.  I came to depend on her for all things running.  When the time came for us to part ways, I wasn’t sure that I could do it without her….I didn’t think I could manage mentally without her by my side.  Sometimes I miss having another person out there with me on the road, but I wouldn’t trade the solo experience for anything.  I proved that I can rely on myself and push through whatever comes my way.  And that is empowering.
  • Compressions.  If you had told me 5 years ago that I would go to Wal-Mart post-run in my compression shorts, I would have labeled you a crazy person.  NEVER did I ever think I would have a reason to wear compressions.  Let’s just say once you cross over to compressions, you never go back! LOL
  • Believe it or not, there was a time when I had NO idea that chafing could (or would) actually occur!  Vaseline has become one of my best friends on the long run.
  • Negative splits: I was once under the misguided reasoning that ALL runs needed to be run in negative splits.  That’s a terrible way to train and I paid for it dearly.
  • Distance versus timed runs:  I only recently began running timed runs.  Not always running a specific mileage has actually been freeing.  When I ran for distance, I would not have been able to stop my GPS at 4.98 miles….that would have sent my OCD into overdrive!  My run log isn’t as ‘well-rounded’, but I have found that I now focus more on the purpose of the run rather than details that won’t ultimately improve my fitness.

Ready for St. Louis!

If you had told me 3 weeks ago I would be feeling as healthy as I feel today, I would have attempted to have you committed.  My heel – actually my entire foot – felt terrible.  It took a full week after Plano before I could get through the day without pain. I could not see myself being able to run 13.1 miles, much less attempting to run it competitively.  I am still not supposed to try to compete as much as I am to focus on my heart rate zones.  My focus has to remain on Dallas Marathon, which is now less than 2 months away.  I don’t have time for another setback!

Change-up

I have known for sometime that my Newtons needed to go, but I hoped that by strengthening my calves and ankles I would be able to rehab the problem without changing shoes.

This week, at the suggestion of my new coach, I started running in On Running shoes.  They.  Are.  Ahhhhhmazing!  They are sooooo good for my feet!  I am running in the Clouds and they are very lightweight.  You almost feel as though you aren’t even wearing shoes!  The thing that sold me, though, was the ease of my foot strike in them.  I wore them on Monday to test them out and things felt pretty good.  I wore them last night on my Fartlek workout and I am really hooked!  NO heel issues whatsoever, during or after.  (Imagine me dancing and singing, “I’m So Excited”)

My On Running shoes.  They are awesome!
My On Running shoes. They are awesome!

All in all, I’m feeling strong going into this weekend, and I am beyond thankful for it!

Happy Thursday!

Jen