Hotcake Hustle 10k Race Recap

I ran my first race of 2016 this past weekend and, I’ll save the suspense – I ran another PR!  I was mentally floundering in the long, dry spell without races for the 10 weeks between Dallas Marathon and Cowtown Half Marathon.  So I looked at my schedule and found a couple of races to “fill in” that void and break up the monotony of training…the first, of which, was the Hotcake Hustle 10k .

The last 10k I ran was during Thanksgiving break, when we had received record amounts of rain (and flooding) along with temps in the 30s.  (Northern people STOP rolling your eyes – that was COLD weather for Texans!)  I tell you this because the forecast was almost exactly the same for my 10k on Saturday.  I was beginning to think the gods of running were trying to tell me that 10k wasn’t a distance I should consider racing!  In the end, the weather was perfect – temps around 40, not a lot of wind and NO RAIN!  Actually, perfect racing conditions as far as I’m concerned.

Before the race

Many people know of my dear friend, Jane, who lives in Ottawa, Canada.  We have been fortunate enough to meet in person twice: once when she came to San Antonio to run Rock ‘n’ Roll and this past October when we met in St. Louis for yet another Rock ‘n’ Roll race!  Well…..she blogs, and during football season, frequently references her trips to the Ottawa RedBlacks games.  (Her dad has season tickets.)  Imagine my surprise, when this caught my eye while waiting for the race to start!img_6961

I HAD to ask him to take a picture!  I explained that my friend lives in Ottawa and attends the games and that she would DIE when I sent this to her!  He was Canadian, by the way, grew up there and I assume he is living now in God’s Country, I mean Texas.  Of course, I immediately sent the pic to Jane!

The Race

I’m glad I didn’t check the route before the race.  The thought of it would have driven me mad.  The course was out and back and the 10k’ers ran the “loop” twice.  Generally speaking, anytime there are runners running on both sides of the road I get mental, always wondering where the turn around point will be.  Luckily, this time I was too preoccupied with running over a bridge while trying to keep my heart rate under control – I might have momentarily obsessed over having to run that TWICE.  As it turned out, the bridge was WORSE on the way back….if you assume it would be the same, you would be WRONG (I have the elevation on my Garmin to prove it).img_7032

I was to keep my heart rate around 160 for the first couple of miles then open it up.  At the 2-mile point, however, I still had the back side of the bridge to tackle.  I knew the front side had been tough, so I decided to wait until I was over the back side before pushing the pace going forward.  That turned out to be a really good idea (yes, Jen actually does make smart decisions at times).  When I opened up, my goal was keeping my heart rate on the high side of the 170s.  I was too cautious to push it over 180 at this point in the race because 1) I had that damn bridge AGAIN and 2) it was highly unlikely I could maintain that for the next 3 miles.

The second loop was fun and fast (for me anyway), except the back side of the bridge really slowed me down AGAIN.  I know I have previously professed my love of hills, but I’m beginning to only like hills during training.  LOL

My nature is to hold back and stay in my familiar, comfortable place.  I DO NOT want to fail, and in a race situation like this, failure (to me) would be tanking at the end.  I tried to push myself out of that comfortable, familiar place during the race and I feel that I did a fairly good job.  I probably could have pushed it a tad bit more, but who knows…..I might have been right on the edge of doing too much.  Again, #myoneword for the year, uncomfortable, came into play.  I reminded myself that I was well-trained and prepared and all I needed to do was get out of my comfy spot and let great things happen.  I guess I would have to call it a success!  My legs were definitely dead by the end and I beat my previous 5k time by about 1:00, as well as new PR for my 10k by 1:00.img_6963

After the race, I had two different women come up to me to compliment me.  How AWESOME is that?!?  One of them mentioned that she noticed me at other races and was always impressed.  First, what a great feeling it is to have a complete stranger compliment you!  And second, YAY for women coming together to support each other!  Honestly, I think THAT was the BEST part of the race!

I ended up with an official time of 55:20.  I came in 119/462 overall, 43/287 out of all female runners, and 7/51 in my age group.  Not too shabby 🙂

And today,  I enjoyed a cup of coffee out of my finisher “medal”img_6969

Now I’m twiddling my thumbs until my next race!

Happy MLK Day ~ keep moving forward!

Jen

 

 

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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

 

EPIC weekend: amazing running friends and the best race ever!

St. Louis with friends

For months, a group of my running friends from Twitter have been planning racing Rock ‘n Roll St. Louis.  Luckily, none of us had to do anything except register and book our flights and hotel as our Type-A Canadian friend planned every single minute for us and was over-the-top organized nice enough to create an itinerary with all our events about 6 weeks in advance!  She even made dinner reservations for us.  We did have to purchase our tickets to the Arch and Riverboat on our own (oh, the horror! LOL!!), but a 5 year-old couldn’t have messed it up because her instructions were complete with screen shots.  IT.  WAS.  AWESOME!!!

Words can’t describe how excited I was to meet these people in person, and they did not disappoint!  I’m not going to go into great detail about our weekend, because my Type-A Canadian friend beat me to the recap and hers is better than I could have managed anyway. 🙂 (Plus, she had the selfie stick and is a great at photo documentation.)

I arrived Saturday and was blessed that my St. Louis-area friend Carli offered to pick me (and Mark, who arrived just before me) up from the airport.  She was so gracious and took us to check-in to our hotel then drove us to the expo for packet pick-up.  I picked up a long sleeve shirt at the expo to race in after near hypothermia coming off the plane……all I brought for the race was a tank (#TexanProblems)!

We then rushed to meet Jane, Pood and Jenn for the Riverboat cruise.  After the cruise, we walked the 1.5-2 miles back to hour hotel, then 45 min later walked the same distance back to the Arch area to eat – Chrissi and Carli, both from St. Louis joined with their families – and then back to the hotel!  LOL  I wanted to look less slobbish than usual, so I wore boots.  (Can I just say now that was a bad idea?)  By the time the evening was over, my shins were sore!  I NEVER have shin issues…..and I should learn to never say never.

I shared a room with my Sole Sister, Jenn, who is a New Yorker by way of California and we had the best time!  I swear we must have been separated at birth…except for our hair, which I will discuss later.  We got to bed as quickly as we could, but it was well after 10 when my head hit the pillow.

Best.  Race.  Ever.  

I actually got up late on race day.  HOW that was even possible, I’ll never know – especially when you consider that I woke up at 3 AM every morning the 5 days prior.  I had my Fitbit alarm set for 5:00 and 5:15 as a back up and woke up to Jenn’s alarm at 5:30.  Contrary to my usual obsessive-worrying self, I took it in stride, got ready quickly without rushing too much and headed down for breakfast.

Jane generally likes to get to the corrals an hour ahead of time.  Yes. An HOUR.  And it isn’t like she has to jockey for a place because she is ALWAYS in corral 1 (we don’t call her the Ottawa Cheetah for nothing)!  This time, though, the corrals didn’t open until 30 minutes prior to start and since Jane was “taking this one easy” (I suspect it was mostly because it was cold), Jane wanted to wait a bit before heading down to the corrals.  We were well after 6:30 before we made it down to the start.

The breathtaking view as we walked from our hotel to the start line.
The breathtaking view as we walked from our hotel to the start line.

I actually wasn’t nervous at all.  Somehow, I managed to let go of all the stress and decided that I would accept what I could get.  I could tell the weather was going to be perfect and my last few runs prior had been nothing short of amazing, so I was hoping to come in around 2:20.  I couldn’t have high expectations, because I was still working through the heel injury and had not “trained” for a half AND I didn’t even taper!  As we were parting ways, Pood asked if he could hang with me for a while, since he didn’t feel like running his usual 1:58.  It’s hard for me to type that without giggling.  I made it very clear that I had to stay in my heart rate zone but that my coach had given me permission to open up at mile 9, “if I was feeling it.” (In other words, Pood, prepare to run S L O W.)

The race finally started with this beautiful view of the sun beginning to rise behind the Arch.

Another gorgeous Arch pic!
Another gorgeous Arch pic!

And now, for the miracle.  I DID NOT START OUT TOO FAST.  (Go ahead, read that again.)  I even told Pood that we had to slow down!  What runners EVER say that about their race??  I knew that I had to keep my heart rate in check for the next 9 miles.  I also knew what my heart rate would do over the next 9 miles, and that there were some “hills” sprinkled in that would make things interesting.

Pood and I laughed, talked and joked through the first part of the race.  I told him at mile 4 that I was feeling REALLY good and if things continued, I would crank it up at mile 9.  At mile 7, I told him that I was definitely going to push on at mile 9.  Somewhere around mile 8, a woman started gagging as I was passing her.  Thank goodness it was a dry heave, because otherwise I would have been covered in someone else’s bodily fluids.  GAG

Around mile 8, I began to realize I had a shot at getting close to my PR.  I had to be mentally strong for this part of the race, because at this point, it took a lot to hold back until I reached mile 9.  It’s ALWAYS easier to push yourself.

Pood ran ahead of me at one point to get in line with a bunch of cheerleaders to give me a high-five.  How awesome is that?!?

At mile 9 I opened up the pace by about :45/mile.  I really felt that I could push it quite a bit more, but I knew that I would tank if I tried to run 4 miles at a pace much faster than where I was.  Mile 10 was a tad bit faster and I managed to kick it up a little bit more in mile 11.  Even though I could feel that my quads were getting fatigued, I felt that I could push myself harder those last 2 miles.  I was motivated, because I knew how close it would be for me to cross that finish line with a PR.  While I did not feel that the race was hilly at all, the inclines on that last mile were excruciating.  There was one last “hill” at mile 13, then thank goodness it was downhill to the finish!

I NEVER divulge my pace info, but that is changing today.  The splits for my last few miles were: 9: 10:24, 10: 9:44, 11: 9:38, 12: 9:09, 13: 8:40.  I’m really proud of those last 4 miles. 🙂  This is the first time I’ve ever managed to finish that strong at a race.  It felt so good, and I managed a PR!  My time was 2:13:17, beating my old PR by a whopping :43 seconds! LOL  I’ll gladly take it, as I NEVER expected to run this race that well!!

Pood and I after the race!
Pood and I after the race!

Fun always comes to an end

After the race, we found Jane (who had to wait an eternity for us to cross the finish after her 1:38 LOL) and some other local St. Louis twitter peeps.  We stood around talking and joking until all our crew had caught up with us and then we talked some more!  We finally started making our way back to the hotel to shower and grab a bite to eat.

Since I have the thickest hair West of the Mississippi, I showered first so that I could start the drying and straightening while Jenn showered and got ready.  She was able to shower, get dressed, dry her hair, straighten her hair and put on make-up before I finished straightening mine.  #thickhairproblems

My Sole Sister Jenn
My Sole Sister Jenn

Carli and Mr Carli (Greg) met us for lunch at the hotel restaurant (which was actually quite good) and we laughed and talked some more before realizing we needed to get moving if we wanted to catch the tour of Anheuser-Busch AND make it to the Arch tour on time.

The Budweiser tour was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip.  We toured the stables, which are immaculate and house a chandelier (yes, a chandelier in the horse stables) that apparently has a twin somewhere in Dallas.  We were given a sample of Budweiser during the tour but afterward we were able to choose a full glass from a much larger selection.  I ended up with an Apple Ale, which may have turned me into a beer drinker!

I am now on a quest to locate this chandelier's Dallas twin
I am now on a quest to locate this chandelier’s Dallas twin
Apple Ale....my new favorite!
Apple Ale….my new favorite!

After the Bud tour, we rushed to our Arch tour.  Another highlight of the trip.  I think the ride up in the little 1960’s pod elevator was the best part!  We then headed to meet the Carli, Mr. Carli (Greg), Chrissi and Mr. Chrissi (Jeff) for dinner, but stopped first for a drink!

The Arch's shadow revealed by the setting sun.
The Arch’s shadow revealed by the setting sun.

Sadly, all good things must come to and end and I was back on Texas soil Monday morning, but not before a Jen moment….. I printed my boarding pass at the airport so I didn’t notice that I had achieved the allusive and lofty TSA pre-check status until the screener pointed it out for me.  He told me that I could go to the pre-check line, but I was already there so I decided to continue on my fake-security path.  I regretted that choice almost immediately, however, when I was randomly chosen for an extended search.  The worst part was waiting for the screener to come to our line.  He simply asked if I had a cell phone, then he took a swab and tested it.  Luckily, I passed!!

Can’t wait until our next adventure!

Happy Friday!

Jen