Hump Day hill repeats and “easy” runs that aren’t so easy

First, HAPPY RUNNING DAY!  If you aren’t a runner, you will likely scratch your head at all the National Running Day posts.  Don’t worry….it will all be over in about 24 hours!

For National Running Day, I was lucky and blessed to run not-quite-at-the-buttcrack-of-dawn (aka 6AM) when the sun was already rising in the sky.  Running from 6-7 meant that I would have to clean up and change at work.  STOP WORRYING….I brought my Shower Pill body wipe, along with plenty of deodorant and perfume. 😉  My friend, Carmen, was too happy to take my pic as I walked in to change.  hills for breakfast

Carmen was also kind enough to pick up my breakfast.  Yes, I ate MEAT.  And it was delicious! 🙂breakfast

But first things first.  Yesterday afternoon, I ran while Alli was at volleyball practice.  It was supposed to be a 45 min run at “easy” pace.  Let me tell you….there was nothing easy about that run!  Many of you know that for the last 4-6 weeks, Texas has been in full-blown monsoon mode.  My little town recieved 17.69 inches in May and we had maybe 7 days in which we received no rain at all.  I don’t remember the sun being out EVER.  Depressing.  But, I digress.  The whole point of this is to show that I haven’t been running in difficult conditions heat-wise.  That all changed yesterday!

Texas summer weather is here, and you will hear NO complaints from me!  I have missed the sun sooooo much.  But, going from running in cloudy 70s to full sun in the 90s is…..difficult. hot Texas sun

My partner/coach instructed me to run 40-45 min at an 11:00-11:15 pace (YES, I wanted to jump up and down and throw a tantrum like a toddler).  I tried to argue my case to get 60 min out of the run, but he stood his ground and I eventually conceded.  (At this point, I know that my attempts to squeeze blood out of this turnip are futile.)  On to the run…. Generally speaking, I suck at pacing.  The struggle is holding myself back to a healthy, safe pace for that specific run.  It is much easier to run fast and not exercise any self-control.  When I run with my partner, he paces the run and all I do is run.  It is so effortless.  When I run on my own, however, even the “easy” pace is labor-some.  Having said that – I am getting better at realizing when I am off-pace.  Yesterday the pacing did come easier (I have a feeling part of that was due to the heat) but the actual running took every ounce of energy I had (again, a direct result of the heat).  Generally speaking, my heart rate hovers around 140 for our easy runs.  This was my heart rate yesterday…easy run hr

Seriously.  What the heck???  Compare my heart rate for my hill repeats this morning…hill repeat hr

Hill repeats heart rate should be higher than an easy run.  It’s very clear that I need to train more in the heat!

I mentioned the May monsoons.  The entire state has been reeling from the flooding.  So much has been destroyed and even lives lost.  The park that I run in when in Plano is part of a nature preserve, which has several creeks running through it.  I have no idea how high the waters got, but it was clear on my run yesterday that the entire place was underwater.  oak point bridge

This was on the inside of the bridge, which tells me that the water had to be above the railings for this debris to get stuck here.  I’m not the best at guessing distances, but I think there is around 10-15′ drop to the stream below:oak point creekAll throughout the park, the grasses were flattened like this:

Oak point flooding

It was clear which direction the water was flowing!

I just hope that we can continue our reprieve from the rains so that those affected the most can begin to recover from all the devastation.

Keep Texas in your thoughts and prayers!

Happy Hump Hill Repeat Day!

Jen

The good kind of exhausted

It’s no secret that my life is like a 3-ring circus, and most of the rings are of my own doing.  If only I had Hermione’s time-turner, I would be able to stay on top of everything!!  The past few days have gone by in a whirl wind!  I wish I could say my toilets are clean and all the clothes are put away, but (sigh) I cannot.  However, I logged some nice miles over the weekend and spent the rest of it watching Alli’s 10-year-old team dominate the 11s, so the toilets can wait!

First, I’ll get to the running updates:

Thursday evening, we ran hill repeats again.  They weren’t as much fun this time, because my partner had me run them at easy effort on the first 4 repeats.  (I was NOT happy about that, but he didn’t seem to care one bit in the least.)  The last 2 repeats were shorter, but he instructed me to give a hard effort on them.  I clocked a pace that I didn’t even know was possible for me.  OK….I’m not stupid…I know there is NO way I could sustain that pace for any distance at all, but it was a really exciting payoff to be able to see it….attached to ME!  The weirdest thing is that I didn’t go through any stiffness or soreness from this workout.  I’m still not quite sure what to think about that.  When I got home and showered, did some yoga, foam rolled and put on my new Zensah recovery socks.  OH.  MY.  GOSH!  I love them!!  They are amazing and felt sooooo good!zensah

Saturday morning’s long run was to be 10.5 miles, at a god-awfully slow pace.  However, I am coming to understand and appreciate what SLOW runs do for your body, so even tho my partner couldn’t make it for that run I knew I had to maintain the pace.  I kept the pace pretty well through mile 5 with not much fluctuation (SO NOT Jen).  Around mile 6 (when Jen got the run-high), pacing became painfully difficult.  I looked down more times than I could count and found myself close to 1:00 faster than my prescribed pace, but, contrary to my normal response (run the faster pace and just get a little faster), I managed to slow myself and get back into the zone.  This is quite a noteworthy accomplishment and I still don’t know what it means or how I was able to accomplish this on my own.

There really is no better feeling that greeting the sun when out on an early morning run.
There really is no better feeling than greeting the sun when out on an early morning run.
There really are few things more beautiful (to a Texan) than a field of bluebonnets.
There really are few things more beautiful (to a Texan) than a field of bluebonnets.

Around the time that I started having pacing issues, I also had some minor ITB issues.  I tried not to panic.  I stopped and stretched and continued on the way.  I wrestled with the decision to scrap the run and take a shortcut back, but I decided to continue on.  That was probably Crazy Jen rearing her head, but I can’t keep her locked away ALL the time.  I may be rushing recovery by having entered  a half marathon on 5/3, but logging the miles for that race training run was in the back of my mind.  Throughout the day, I felt that ITB tightness, but stretched as much as was possible (which wasn’t much since I was now camped out at the Dallas Convention Center).  The good news is that it now feels great.  I’m hoping and praying that it is all related to increase in distance from the more focused training I’ve been doing the last 6 weeks.  For now, I’m taking the Scarlett O’Hara approach and have decided I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

After the Saturday long run, I came home and did some recovery yoga and foam rolling.  Then Alli and I packed, frantically, and were off to Dallas for a tournament a the convention center.  Alli’s team played in the Mizuno Lone Star Classic, one of the National Qualifiers for USA Volleyball.  This qualifier is the largest in the nation (fitting, since everything is bigger in Texas) and is divided into 2 weekends…each one with over 100 courts.  The teams are seeded, then divided into pools of 4 teams (sometimes 3 teams due to numbers).  There is an AM wave and a PM wave each day during pool play, then brackets are played out on Sunday.  Most divisions are giving out bids for the Girls’ Junior National Championships, so there are 2 days of pool play for every age group except 11s.  And since Alli’s team is a true 10s team, we were playing in the non-bid 11s division, which meant we only played Saturday and Sunday.

We started our pool on Saturday with our referee duties and I gave our scorekeeper the match off and kept score for her.  Mainly because it would make the match go faster, but I also really enjoy keeping score.  I was much more comfortable keeping score here, rather than Friday night when I kept the books for softball.  (I’m too ADHD to keep up with the base runners!)

The pencils were old and terrible.  HOW am I supposed to make it perfect if I can't erase? #scorekeepingnerd
The pencils were old and terrible. HOW am I supposed to make it perfect if I can’t erase? #scorekeepingnerd

Then, it was time for our girls to get to work.  We were in a 3-team pool, and HAD to win both of our games in order to keep our hopes for Gold bracket alive.  The first set was sloppy, but the girls pulled it together and came out on top in the end….29-27.  The next set was a beating and we won 25-6.  We should have won both sets 25-6, but a win is a win.  Next up was an Oklahoma team.  They stomped us in the first set 14-25, but we answered in set 2 for a 25-14 win, finally pulling it out in the tiebreaker 15-12.  These wins put us first in our pool and guaranteed us the right to play for gold on Sunday morning.  However, we had a crossover match later that evening to determine pool seeding for those pools.  AGAIN, playing an Arkansas team, we lost the first set 22-25.  And AGAIN, we battled second set to force a tiebreaker, which we won 15-7.  (WHY can’t they just save my heart and take care of business in 2? LOL)

Luckily, a couple of moms and I got away for drinks in between games Saturday evening.  Made that last game a lot less stressful! LOL
Luckily, a couple of moms and I got away for drinks in between games Saturday evening. Made that last game a lot less stressful! LOL

We were back on the court early Sunday to ref, then play our last 2 pool games.   Just like Saturday, we were in a MUST WIN situation.  We had to win both of our pool games to make it to the 8 team gold bracket.  We took care of business 25-15, 25-5 in the first match.  The second match was closer, but we still managed to close it out in 2 games: 25-22, 25-23.  Making it to the gold bracket meant that the lowest we could finish would be 5th of 44 teams.  Sadly, the first team we were to face would be a team that knocked us out at a tournament a few weeks ago, effectively handing us 5th place in that tournament as well.  We played on our heels the entire first set, which ended terribly 8-25.  The girls came ready for battle during the second set, but we made too many unforced errors and ended the game a little short with 19-25.  Our girls were the only 10s team in this 11s division and ended up 5th.  There is NO way we could walk away with our heads down!!

Our girls are so much fun.  I tried to get video of them playing leap frog during the opposing team's warm-ups.  I mean, they ARE Frogs!!
Our girls are so much fun. I tried to get video of them playing leap-frog during the opposing team’s warm-ups but failed. One parent made a snide comment about the goofing off, but what does she know? They ARE Frogs!! (And they are TEN year olds!)

Normal tournaments are exhausting, but qualifiers are exhausting x 10.  We walked out of the convention center at 9:30 Saturday evening and had to be back on the court, ready at 7:30 AM.  I had reserved a room at the Omni, because it is connected to the Convention Center and for too many good reasons to list.  When we got back to the hotel, the wait to eat at the hotel buffet was 1 1/2 hours.  I knew there was NO way we could do that, so, much to Alli’s disappointment, she had to raid her Sunday snack bag.  I assured her we would find something healthy to eat at the concession stands on Sunday….she was SO worried about her healthy snacks!!  (WHY???  I had already successfully bribed motivated her to get her serves in with the promise of a smoothie!)  Since the hotel buffet had been such a fiasco on Saturday evening, I decided to order room service for breakfast so that we wouldn’t be stuck in that same situation again Sunday morning.  She was SO excited when it arrived!  Doesn’t take much to excite a 10-year-old!

Alli had the eggs and bacon.  I ate the English Muffin and took a few home fries off her hands ;)
Alli had the eggs and bacon. I ate the English Muffin and took a few home fries off her hands 😉

The Omni did a great thing for the Lone Star guests and set up a room in which we could check our luggage until we were finished in the convention center.  It saved me a big hassle as my car was in the valet.  After we claimed our luggage and finally got our car out of the valet, we were on our way home.  And in less than 15 minutes, Alli had settled in for a nice, long, well-deserved nap.

Yes, I took this while driving, BUT traffic was stopped!
Yes, I took this while driving, BUT traffic was stopped!

Happy Marathon Monday!!  I’m cheering on all the runners!

Jen

Monday Training Update

It's Spring in Texas, y'all.
It’s Spring in Texas, y’all.  Dare I say this is better than the Cherry Blossoms?

Last week was crazy busy!  Recently, courtesy of my new partner/coach keeping me reigned in, I logged more miles than I had since before my marathon.  The running has been going amazingly well.  I still have those nagging issues that move around from body part to body part.  Having said that, I am running free of any major issues!

Last week in blogging was busy as well, with losing my tat virginity being my main focus on posting at the first of the week.  Then, I had the pleasure of posting my first blog “series” (aka bad running advice) co-written with my friend at Running Lonely.  I had SO MUCH FUN working on this with him!!  Hopefully, another opportunity will pop up in the future.

Back to running.  First, my partner and I were scheduled for some intervals early last Tuesday morning.  Only he overslept.  So on Tuesday, I did not run.  We shifted our schedule so that we would run on Wednesday morning.  Guess what?  He overslept AGAIN!!! This time, I decided to go without him.  I already knew what paces we were trying to hit and how long the intervals would be, so I set out to do it all on my own.  The miracle is that I executed them exactly as planned!  This was a huge victory for me, because, well….we all know I have severe pacing issues (or self-discipline issues, as some like to point out).

Thursday we basically repeated the interval workout, then took Friday off.  Saturday was an easy run.  I BEGGED for 1 hour, since he forces me to run these easy runs by time and not distance and he AGREED!  And another great run was in the books.

Easter Sunday was our long run – we were planning an 8 miles.  I was having trouble coming up with an 8 mile route and asked, jokingly, if we could run to my hill and back since that would be exactly 8 miles.  At this point, I’m sure he was possessed by someone else (maybe Crazy Jen?) because he agreed!  I have rarely been so excited about something in my life.  Once we got onto the highway, it was a straight shot to the hill.  It is about 1.5 miles from the point that we turn onto the road leaving town.  Of course, all that can be seen ahead is that lovely hill, taunting you.  At my first glance, I was so excited that I nearly started jumping up and down.  If I had been by myself I would have been running a pace ridiculously fast for me.  My partner doesn’t share my love of hills and is self-disciplined where pace is concerned, and even he was barely able to hold me back.  I was fully prepared to have my rear kicked by that hill.  After all, that hill is no joke and I hadn’t run it since November 17, around the time my ITB injury reared its ugly head.  I.  KILLED.  IT!!!  Talk about a feeling of euphoria!  I have been so dedicated to my strength work and cross training and it CLEARLY paid off!  I even joked to my partner that I would NEVER complain about lunges again! LOL

This pic really doesn't do it justice, but isn't it mouthwatering?!?
This pic really doesn’t do it justice, but isn’t it mouthwatering?!?

We ran easy on Tuesday morning, then Wednesday afternoon we headed for the hill again for hill repeats.  OH.  MY.  GOSH.  It was nothing short of amazing.  I killed that workout as well.  However, I did have some residual calf issues and general hip tightness, but overall my body handled the stress of the workout really well.

I had to run the long run alone on Friday, and was a tad bit nervous about holding myself back to the proper pace.  Remember, I ran ALL my long runs at race pace during marathon training.  However, when I am determined I can generally execute things correctly and I did just that!  My pace should have been between 11:45-12:10 for this run, and here is how it all shook out:long run splits

CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!?!  OK, I know mile 9 was a little faster, but I always get excited toward the end.  The run felt pretty good aside from always having to slow myself down, but I couldn’t be more proud that I did it!  Of course, I was all smiles when I was finished!

Yes, I got a wee bit sunburned :)
Yes, I got a wee bit sunburned 🙂

I immediately stretched, slipped my pants on over my compression shorts and headed over to the softball fields for Alli’s first game.  She has not attended one practice.  NOT ONE.  We made the commitment to the volleyball team, on a team level and financially, so that has precedence over anything rec league!  I was SO afraid that she was going to suck it up.  LOL!  But first play of the game, she threw from 3rd to 1st to get an out and ended the game 2-2 on hitting.  Yay for not sucking!!

All smiles after our win!
All smiles after our win!

When we got home, I couldn’t resist taking this pic of the setting sun painting the clouds. Sunset clouds

I’m going to leave you with something seen at Wal-Mart.   My friend Carmen and I ran over last week to get some things for our lunch and neither of us could believe our eyes.

When supplies are limited, just make your own bumper sticker!
When supplies are limited, just make your own bumper sticker!

Happy Monday, all!