Plano Balloon Race Recap

This weekend was the culmination of 7 weeks of blood, sweat and tears to get myself race ready.  When I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my heel on July 13, I fully expected that I would not have any shot at running this race.  I kept doing the math in my head over and over and I just didn’t see how it could happen.  My coach, on the other hand, told me that he felt it was a possibility and advised me to take it one run at a time.  Being able to cycle during the injury helped me maintain some level of fitness, although there isn’t anything that can keep you in running shape quite like running.  I’ve had some ups and downs the past 7 weeks.  I’ve been humbled – again.  Injuries have a funny way of doing that to you.

I’m not at 100% and I don’t expect to be 100% for quite a while.  Every increase in mileage has presented its hiccups.  And while I want nothing more than to focus on speed work – speed work provides an extra special hiccup that my body just isn’t quite ready to handle.  In the words of Juba from the movie Gladiator, I’ll be doing speed work “soon, but not yet”.

Queen of Stupid Sh*t (QoSS) Strikes Again

I had NO idea how this race would go.  I know how I have performed on the recent long runs – but those are at a turtle’s pace.  I know how I have performed on the easy runs (which are one degree faster than long runs).  I became increasingly nervous this week about “racing” the race, particularly because of some nagging heel issues from a tempo run one week ago Thursday.  It was bothering me so much that I had a lengthy discussion with my coach after Tuesday’s run and he told me to ditch the remaining workouts for the week except for the Saturday shake out run.  I iced it (some) and wore compressions (less than I should have) and continued my stretching.  My heel seemed to be getting better, but on Friday it just seemed to get worse…and worse….and worse.

OK…back up.  My coach also told me to “take it easy on the strength” during taper week and I did take it easy.  However, Friday morning (I know you can all see the slow-motion crash about to happen) I had a “great” idea while I was doing my ankle exercises.  Instead of doing my strength set for my hips, I would do those single leg deadlifts that I have been meaning to add in.  (Can I just say this was before I had even one whole cup of coffee?) So, I did the deadlifts.  And they were HARD.  And I should have stopped.  And I shouldn’t have used the heaviest handheld weights that I own.  And I regretted it as soon as I finished.  I seriously have NO idea what came over me.  Obviously someone let Crazy Jen loose AGAIN and forgot to tell me!  Just when I thought that I had committed ALL the sins of running….

As a result, my hamstrings hated me and I think that was THE reason my ankle was so angry.

Luckily, everything felt fairly decent on the shake out run, so I tried to put my worries aside.

Up, Up and Away

Race morning finally arrived, and…..I didn’t feel good.  My stomach was just nauseous.  I tried to eat, but it just didn’t taste good.  I knew this was going to cause a problem during the race, but at one hour until the gun, there really wasn’t much I could do.  I had decided to stay in a hotel so that I could sleep later, but I was away from home so that kind-of backfired since I didn’t sleep that well.  Plus, I had gone to GrapeFest (tomorrow’s post!) and had lots of wine and some fried pickles.  Even though I had really good intentions of hydrating at the hotel, it didn’t happen……I’m sure you can see a pattern developing.

My HM PR is 2:14.  I’ve actually run a 2:04 HM in training, but I can’t count that.  My ego, even knowing that I’ve only just built enough base for this race, really wanted a 2:14.  After the week with my ankle, I knew I couldn’t possibly shoot for that without causing some big problems down the road.  My coach advised me to run the first mile at 11, through mile 6 at 10:45 and pick up to 10:30 until mile 11, where I could open up if I was feeling like it.

The first few miles went fairly well.  I still felt crappy with my stomach issues and nagging allergies, but I was able to maintain my pace easily enough.  By mile 7, I started to struggle to keep the pace, which at this point I was sure was directly related to my lack of breakfast (lack of properly hydrating on Saturday hadn’t even crossed my mind at this point).  I was planning to take my gel at the next water station but it just so happens that they were handing out squeeze packets of applesauce.  I opted for the applesauce.  Just thinking about the gel made me sick to my stomach.  The applesauce did make me feel better for a bit and it gave me the energy boost I needed.

WAIT!  I haven’t even mentioned my ankle.  My ankle was a little sore at the start and through the first 3ish miles, but after that it worked itself out or I just went completely numb or I was too worried about my stomach.  In any case, the ankle wasn’t an issue. 🙂

The aid station with the applesauce was a two-way water station, so I grabbed an applesauce on the way back through.  The second one didn’t taste as good as the first and I spent the next mile or so just dealing with the yuck feeling of water and applesauce sloshing around on my stomach and debating whether to push myself to the point of puking (because I would have HAD to feel better, right?)

Around mile 10, I felt my psoas getting tight.  And then I became upset with myself because I haven’t released my psoas in some time and I was sure that the hamstring issue was impacting my psoas and I came full circle to being angry with myself about those dead lifts again.  And then I was just mad at my myofascia guy – he really shouldn’t have moved to Colorado and left me to take care of all this on my own.  Luckily, I wasn’t thinking about my upset stomach while I was cursing my myofascia guy.

The nausea at mile 12 became almost more than I could handle, so I walked for a tenth of a mile to calm my system down.  It worked and gave me enough of a boost to git’er done.  I was able to run a good, quick pace the rest of the race.  I was glad that I had some in reserve to do that and it sort-of redeemed the crap that happened on the course.

I ended up with 2:26:11.  That is my slowest HM EVER.  But you know what?  I’m not upset at all.  Just 10 weeks ago, I was sure that I would not be able to run.  And even though I did commit some biggies on the running sin list, I still did it.  And my coach told me that I hit it out of the park!  Even though he gave me times for a faster race – he expected a 2:35 finish.  Imagine what I could have done had I hydrated and eaten properly on Saturday….and skipped the new strength exercise….and not had too much wine at Grape Fest….and actually fueled my body with a good breakfast….  Aaaaaand my ankle seems OK.  It is a little swollen and a little sore, but I have my compressions on and am icing it every chance I get.  All in all, I have to declare this race a huge success!

Except for the fail….when I stopped my watch at the end of the race, I hit delete instead of save.  So I have no splits.  No cadence.  No heart rate data.  No elevation.  I nearly passed out right there before I got my medal.  Each time I think of it, I get a terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach.  This will be good therapy for my OCD.  Right??

I took this between periods of laying on the ground, thinking I might die at any moment while I was waiting on my friend Erica to cross the finish line!
I took this between periods of laying on the ground, thinking I might die at any moment while I was waiting on my friend Erica to cross the finish line!

Friends at Races are THE BEST

I recently joined Renegade Endurance, which is a running/racing club that has several members in my area.  I was able to meet up with a couple of the ladies in the group who also ran the race.  It was so much fun meeting new runner friends and I am excited to be a part of this amazing team!

Aubrun and her mother Christy from our Renegade team!
Aubrun and her mother Christy from our Renegade team!

And Dara, the cohort in crime to Erica, volunteered at the race and made a sign especially for little ‘ole me!  I LOVE IT!!!

Dara volunteered instead of running this race this year. And she made this sign just for me! I LOVE it!!!

 

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Everything is connected and change is difficult

Of course, the running updates are first and foremost.

Running is going REALLY well.  This past week I have moved from the interval stage of recovery to running without breaks.  Even though that sounds like the most exciting news ever, even more exciting is that my ankles are giving me less and less trouble after each run.  I’ve known for some time that I needed to address strength and mobility issues in my ankles, I just didn’t know exactly what to do.  A couple weeks ago, I read an article that suggested one-legged calf raises while holding a hand weight.  I screen shotted the exercise instructions as I had EVERY intention of going home and doing them that evening.  Except several days passed before I actually did the exercise.  After the not-so-stellar post run stiffness (and soreness) in my ankles continued, I bit the bullet last Monday and started them.

The exercise is so simple that one wouldn’t expect it to do much at all (or at least me, anyway).  Basically, you hold a hand weight in one hand and hold the other hand against a wall for balance.  Then raise up as high on the balls/toes of your feet as high you can and lower slowly down only on the leg (same side as weight).  Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg and you’re done!  The weight should be just enough to cause some fatigue by the end of each set.

OH.  MY.  GOSH.  I began feeling the difference almost immediately!  The normal post-run stiffness from Tuesday’s run was at least 50% less than “normal”.  I barely even noticed any stiffness after my Thursday run.  Saturday I ran 6 miles – the longest since my injury – and I had ZERO post-run issues!!

During marathon training, I experienced these same issues with my calves and Achilles, so the feeling wasn’t new to me.  It’s just that my ITB was a bigger problem at the time.  I think that after strengthening my hips, the next weak body part in line was destined to fail and that is how I ended up in a boot in July!  I never cease to be amazed at how everything in your body is connected, especially parts that you wouldn’t expect to have anything to do with each other!  This reminded me of my friend Jane and one of her posts earlier this year.  She actually fixed a hip issue by rolling her foot on a therapy ball!

Recovery is important, too.

I worry about calories.  I know I shouldn’t, but I started this whole running gig to help with weight loss.  While I wasn’t that overweight, I weighed more than I should have and I DO NOT want to go back there.  So sometimes (OK, a lot of times) I don’t want to drink my recovery drink because it seems like a lot of calories to me.  I know that I am eating to run and need to change my mindset accordingly.  I have known this a LONG time, but actually changing my mindset is harder than one would think!  I realize that I wasn’t fueling properly post-run and I know that contributed to my stress fracture.  I won’t be skipping recovery fuel any more, even though I wince at the calories!  These are good calories and I must remember that!

No, it isn't ice cream. It's my recovery drink.
No, it isn’t ice cream. It’s my recovery drink.

Cycling is a close second.

Something exciting happened yesterday morning.  I saw a REAL cyclist on the way to church, and it wasn’t me!! (OK….I’m not saying I qualify as a *real* cyclist.)  In any case, I was so excited that I had Alli snap a pic!  IMG_5083

BTW, I think that the novelty cyclist and I have the same shoes!
BTW, I think that the novelty cyclist and I have the same ugly cycling shoes!

After a mad dash to get Logan a pair of athletic shoes, I went out for a ride myself.  I checked the weather beforehand and learned that I would be facing a 15 mph headwind for the last half of the ride.  That was SO exciting to me….NOT!  Of course, the first half was a breeze – literally.  The last half was a battle between my will power and the wind, but I WON!!

Aaaaaand….I didn’t fall off my bike!  #winning

Change is difficult.

Many of you know that Alli has played for MadFrog Volleyball since she was in 2nd grade.  That is going to change this season, as she will be making a move to Skyline Juniors, another club in our region.

I wanted Alli to play for our high school coach, who also coaches 11s at Skyline, but wasn’t willing to rock the boat with Madfrog for one year with him.  When it became clear that MadFrog might not be the best place for Alli this season, I contacted Coach McKinney immediately.

I’m so thankful that he felt she could contribute to his team!  He is an AMAZING coach and I was terribly sad that Alli wouldn’t get the experience of playing for him this year.  Alli was apprehensive at first….it is so difficult to leave a place so comfortable and familiar and one that feels like home.  It was difficult for her to leave her teammates whom she had grown to love.  However, she is growing to love her new home at Skyline.  She absolutely loves Coach McKinney and his assistant and she has realized that there are good friends to be made wherever she goes!  I can’t wait to see how she grows and matures as a player throughout this upcoming club season!

Callie and Blair - Alli's most treasured teammates ever!
Callie and Blair – Alli’s most treasured teammates ever!

 

It’s marathon season, baby!

I’ve been sucking it up at blogging lately.  I envisioned more discretionary time when I decided to take the season off from officiating.  That HAS NOT been the case.  This is the busiest time of the year as far as work is concerned, however, the non-working hours are flying by!  Of course, I’ll blame this on Coach McKinney for twisting my arm into keeping score for our home games this past week. 😉

Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!
Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!
What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??
What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??

The time not spent in the gym officiating has been a blessing, though!  I have actually been able to spend a lot of time with the kids, for which I am very thankful.  Bobby and I even twisted Logan’s arm into seeing Mission Impossible with us on Sunday afternoon.  I was more excited about Logan coming along than I was about the movie!

The weekend was packed!  Cycling, running, movie, pool party and birthday dinner for Bobby just to name a few.

 

Marathon Training <GULP>

I realized yesterday that it is time to think about marathon training.  I will be running Dallas Marathon on December 13.  I considered running a different marathon (for about a nanosecond), but I STILL have unfinished business out on THAT course.

This time around, I’ll be taking a more laid-back approach.  I think that knowing I completed my first marathon under hellish body conditions has given me a confidence that I didn’t have before.  Before, I thought I could finish a marathon, but now I know I can finish a marathon.  The not-knowing-for-sure intensified the obsessive part of my personality (I know – this obsessiveness is news to everyone!) and, as a result, I made marathon training very stressful on myself mentally.  Physically, I made marathon training stressful on my body because I ran all my long runs at race pace. (I literally cringe EVERY time I think about it! SO STUPID!!!)

My main goal is to remain injury-free.  I haven’t had time to built a good base since my return from the stress fracture two weeks ago.  Even though things are going well, it is more imperative than ever that I address every little ache and pain before it blossoms into a full-blown injury.  I think that not officiating this season will free up enough time for me that I can stay focused on this part of the process.

A nice distraction from the 16 week plan will be the 2 half marathons that I have on the horizon.  Plano Balloon HM is mid-September and I have NO time goal whatsoever for this race.  I want to finish.  It will be hard not to push myself, but I’m not sure that I will be able to push myself too much regardless.  Even though I was able to cycle during my stress fracture, my heart rate during my recent runs is higher than normal.  And chances are it will be as hot as blazes on race day!  Rock n Roll St. Louis is in mid-October.  Hopefully my time will be a bit better by then, but I still don’t expect to post a sub-2 as I had hoped.  Who wants to travel for a race and stress about your time anyway!  LOL

I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor's former club coaches. I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11!
I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor’s former club coaches (it was his FIRST!). I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11 and I realized I could get close!

By focusing on the half marathons, I’ll be half-way through “marathon training” before I give much thought to Dallas.  It may not be the best way to PR, but I figure I could walk it and get a better time than I had last year.  (Let it go, Jen.  Let it go.)  Honestly, I would like to run a 4:00-4:15 marathon.  Not even sure if it will be possible, but I’m not going to spend much time focusing on it.  Plus, if I build my base properly and add in the appropriate speed work, I may just surprise myself!

The bottom line is that I want to run the race healthy, whatever that means for my time.  Last year I needed to know that I could finish.  This year I need to know what it feels like to run a marathon without nagging injuries.  What can I say?  I’ll probably never be satisfied!

Time for Truth Telling

Running is going well.  In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I am still having some issues with ankle stiffness and soreness post-runs.  This was very stressful to me at first, because mentally I feel injured and keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  However, the ankles are less stiff/sore after each run and it is all working out more quickly than before.  As far as any issues during my runs – I am happy to say I have nothing to report!!

I have worked my way up to 20:1 intervals x 3 without having any problems, so my next run will be a continuous 45 min run!  The recovery from that should give me a good gauge of where I stand.  If all goes well, I’ll be running a 6 mile long run this weekend in preparation for Plano Balloon Half Marathon!!

I’ll try not to be the sucky-sometimes-blogger in the weeks to come.  The start of school on Monday will undoubtedly shock me out of summer mode.  I can almost feel my increase in productivity now!

Happy Hump Day AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my very special friend, Carmen! IMG_5023

Jen

Summer is not endless but neither are stress fractures!

It has been some time since I posted an update.  It’s odd to think that I have been THAT busy this summer, but I have!

Game of Thrones

I’ve been wanting to watch GoT for some time, but couldn’t commit the time.  I’m a little obsessive with things and want to give 100% in everything I do.  (Except housecleaning.  I struggle with that.)  When I was sidelined with the injury, I did not stay off my foot which obviously made things worse.  When I learned I actually had a stress fracture, I decided that there was no time like the present to start the series, and could use it as an excuse to prop up my foot.  I took this job VERY seriously.  I’m a little proud and a little ashamed to admit that I finished all 5 seasons in the span of 2 weeks.  Yup.  Fifty episodes in 14 days.  I still get up in the morning expecting to watch another episode and have to admit I feel a little sadness that it is already over.  All I can say is that I CANNOT wait for Season 6!!IMG_4784-0

 

“The Boot”

Recovery from the stress fracture is gong well.  I spent one week in the boot 24/7.  Since then, I’ve been wearing it only at night, although I have to admit I skipped 3 nights!  (I’m a rebel!!)  The first week I was out of the boot, I had some soreness and aches in that area, but nothing substantial to report since one week ago Thursday.  I went to my follow up appointment yesterday and received the news for which I had hoped!!  I was released to run (@ 25% of the volume I was running before injury).  Of course, I ran last evening!  I ran a slow 30 min run with 2 min run intervals followed by a 1 min recovery walk.  All felt good, although I could tell that my ankle was a little weak.  This morning, things are still feeling good, so I will take that as a very good sign!  Today will be a rest day with some strength work sprinkled in….and foam rolling and stretching.  LOTS of foam rolling and stretching!

Cycling counts

I count myself extremely lucky to have been able to continue my fitness with cycling and have enjoyed every minute!  Cycling is different than running, in that I can feel the strength gained in each subsequent workout.  I hadn’t been cycling often, so I was a bit out of shape where the bike was concerned.  However, it didn’t take long to notice the gains in my fitness.  I started out averaging 11 mph and on a recent “easy” ride, I averaged 13.5 mph…..that was riding 2 gears higher than the first rides!  Thanks to training in the Texas heat, I even maxed out my heart rate last week!  The only problem I have encountered is that my competitive nature makes me want to push myself every time I’m out the door.  It occurred to me that cycling is probably like running, in that most rides should be “easy” and that the harder rides should have a specific focus in mind.

I have no complaints about this hot, Texas sun!  Summer is the best time of the year!
I have no complaints about this hot, Texas sun! Summer is the best time of the year!

When I bought my first bike a year ago, I was advised to get a hybrid.  While I have enjoyed that bike, I have longed for a road bike so that I could be more aggressive with my cycling.  (Remember my obsessive nature.)  The bike shop where I bought the hybrid seemed so expensive.  Honestly, I couldn’t justify spending $1,500 on a road bike.  I just don’t cycle enough to warrant spending that kind of money.  I decided to try some other bike shops to see what was available and found one right away!  The bike I chose was already on sale and I was able to get another 20% off so I ended up with something very affordable.  The only downside is that it had to be ordered but should arrive within the week!!  I’m even considering cycling to work until I start the school taxi service again.

One of my last rides on this bike.  My new one is supposed to arrive in the bike shop today!
One of my last rides on this bike. My new one is supposed to arrive in the bike shop today!

Speaking of work….

Work really is a terrible 4-letter word, is it not??  While I count myself extremely lucky to work in a school district which allows me a 6-week break every summer, I would be lying if I said I was actually ready to go back to work.  The summer has gone by faster than usual, even though I spent 2 weeks of my vacation on my arse watching Game of Thrones!  Today is my last day of summer vacation and I feel as though I’ve accomplished NOTHING!!  I’m in a bit of a panic over this, but part of me is happy to get back into a routine.  I am actually much more productive with a set schedule, so maybe I’ll get some thinks done around the house after all!  In any case, tomorrow will come whether I’m ready or not, so I may as well get prepared!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Jen

Tacos, Running and the Texas Sun finally returns!

My love of street tacos is no secret to anyone.  I’m always searching for the best….and sadly, the best I’ve ever had were from a taco place here in my hometown that closed a couple years ago.  (I’m still crying inside over that one.)  This picture popped up on my TimeHop a couple days ago and I’ve literally been tasting those tacos ever since!Taco Alli

Best.  Tacos.  Ever.  And isn’t Alli the cutest?!?

Seeing this pic reminded me that it’s been a while since I made tacos of my own, so instead of Taco Tuesday, we had Taco Sunday at the Kirkpatrick house.  I have the easiest, most delicious crock pot marinade recipe and since I couldn’t settle on one, decided on pork AND chicken. street tacos

Generally speaking, I like to make guacamole to go along with it, but the avocados were mostly too ripe or not ripe enough.  Plus, I eat WAY too much each time I make guac and it’s swimsuit season!  I also cooked some black beans (NOT from a can) and brown rice.  It was more delicious than I can describe!!yummy tacos

Seriously, I could eat this for every meal!

Running this weekend went very well.  Saturday we were off at 5 AM for a 60 minute easy run.  (Have I mentioned how my partner LOVES the timed runs?)  We ended up with a hair over 5 miles and I was greeted by this beautiful sunrise as I pulled back into my driveway.  5 miler sunrise

Absolutely breathtaking.  Ever sunrise I   By 11 AM on Saturday, I had run, cleaned my house and already had nap #1.  It was a great day!

Sunday turned out to be a great day, as well, which started off with a 10 mile long run.  We were planning to run 11, but my partner’s hip started getting tight and there was no reason to push it for one extra mile.  He assures me that we can run 12 this weekend to stay on schedule. 😉  Then, Bobby and I spent a lot of time working in our patio and around the pool because……IT WASN’T RAINING!

The weekend was so productive and relaxing.  I enjoyed not having anywhere to go….I rarely have unscheduled time and I wanted to take full advantage of it!

The only problem was that I really wanted to lay out by the pool Sunday afternoon, but it was cloudy all day long!  Of course, since I am still working, Monday was sunny all day….until I got home and changed into my swimsuit.  Sun please come out

Seriously?!?  When and how did I piss off Mother Nature so badly?!?  Luckily I was patient and these clouds passed in a matter of minutes.  And I spent the next hour just soaking up the sun.  Ahhhhhhhh!  I have been waiting to do just that for what seems like an eternity!The Iz

I’ll leave you with a pic of Izze, the granddog.  Taylor spent the night in her Denton house last night, so Izze slept with me.  And this is how she said goodbye to me this morning….from her cozy spot!

Happy Tuesday!

 

Rock the Block Race Recap

Saturday marked a milestone of sorts for me.  I ran a 10k….my second 10k race ever.  Once I ran my first half marathon, I thought was kind-of done with the shorter races. All it took was a good friend recently pointing out the benefits of 10k’s as speed training for half marathons and I was sold!

I ran my first 10k in November 2012 with 1:02:28.  Going into this race, I knew that I should be able to come in faster than that, but what I really wanted to beat was a 10k PB (NO, NOT peanut butter….Personal Best.  (I don’t run peanut butter – I consume it! (Ok..maybe I do run ON peanut butter. ))) of 58:38 that I ran in training last August.  I REALLY wanted to beat that time.  However, I didn’t believe in myself.  A lot has happened since August and my confidence has been shaken, in spite of the amazing direction that training has been going of late.  I think another reason I was so vested in this race was that I was actually going to be able to race it.  I wasn’t able to race my marathon because of my injury and had to hold back on my half marathon a couple of weeks ago since it was my first distance race after my recovery (so any time could easily be explained away with because my coach made me hold back).  My credibility as a runner was on the line, so to speak.  Maybe not as far as everyone else was concerned, but definitely regarding my perception of myself.

This was a small, local race which was to be held on some trails in Plano, but after the monsoons (11″ of rain and counting for May), the trails were flooded and a new course was mapped out on the streets at the last moment.  The course for the 10k was basically running the 5k course twice.  I generally don’t like courses like this, but I was just happy to run the race and I think the race organizers did a great job with what they had to work.  Race day weather was iffy, as storms were slated to move through, although not until after the race.  But let’s face it: this IS Texas and the weather changes minute-to-minute.  The weather was cloudy and the humidity was stifling, making the air feel so thick I thought I could cut it with a knife.

After warming up, my partner/coach went over race strategy with me and I felt fairly confident about being able to execute it and off to the start line we went.  He told me to get as close to the start line as I could and that he would see me at the finish line.  I was so excited that Taylor had decided to run the race  and was glad to have her to chat with while we waited for the gun to go off.  Side note: my heart rate at the start line was between 97-101.  By comparison, my normal heart rate before a run is around 70.  I was SO NERVOUS!!!  I kept telling myself to calm down because if my HR was that high at the start, I knew I would be in trouble later in the race, but I couldn’t calm myself down as much as I tried.

Proof of my nervousness.  I'm sure I was looking at HR on my Garmin but didn't realize I was chewing my fingers!
Proof of my nervousness. I’m sure I was looking at HR on my Garmin but didn’t realize I was chewing my fingers!
Start line selfie with my favorite oldest daughter :)
Start line selfie with my favorite oldest daughter 🙂

The race started and off we went.  I’m glad that I was close to the start line as there were fewer people to weave through and as a result I found my groove fairly quickly.  However, my groove was 9:15 and I was supposed to hold 10:00 for the first mile.  I was able to slow myself to 9:45 and even 10:00 for a small period of time, but basically I went out too fast. (Please act surprised.) Garmin says that my best time on that mile was 8:06 (gak!!!) and average heart rate 151 (NOT GOOD).  My average pace for that mile was 9:36.  (Average paces actually make me look like I am in control of my pace.  If only you could see the flux within each mile….)

When I hit mile 2, I was supposed to increase the pace to 9:30 and hold for 2 miles.  Most of this mile I ran around 9:15.  I did try to slow myself down, but wasn’t too terribly successful here either.  At this point, I figured, “hey, I’m only 15 seconds below goal pace.  That shouldn’t affect me later in the race.” (yeah, right.) Mile 2 came in at 9:21 (not too bad, for me) and even better was my fastest time this mile was 8:57 (at least my fastest time was slower….).  My heart rate average, though, was already up to 164.

Mile 3 came in at 9:12 – still much faster than I should have been running.  The top pace this mile was 8:36 and my HR was 170.  (Thank goodness I was too worried with my pace to pay attention to my heart rate a this point, or my HR would have spiked even more…)  My 5k time was 28:00 flat.  I have no idea if this is a PR for me (don’t kill me for not keeping track!) but I know should be pretty close!  The thing I remember about nearing the 5k mark was how HOT I felt because of the humidity and ZERO breeze.  When I hit the 3 mile mark, it started sprinkling and I remember being SO excited.  The excitement was short-lived, as it seemed to sprinkle only for a few seconds.  (Then it was back to nearly-dying mode)

Mile 4 was the point that I was supposed to shoot for a 9:00 pace until kicking it up a notch during the last mile.  Mile 4 also marked the start-over point for the loop (aka mental assassination).  I was determined to kick it in, but at this point the heat and humidity were starting to wear on me.  Also wearing on me was knowing I would have to run all those inclines again, but this time around I would already be tired.  (OK, and I’ll admit this may be where going out to fast started to affect me.) Even though I had a great first 5k, I doubted my ability to maintain this pace for another 3.1 miles.  Mile 4 came in close to my mark, though, at 9:04 and heart rate average of 178.  I was beginning to realize my heart rate was really getting up there which added yet another concern regarding my ability to maintain and increase during those last couple miles.  (This is also the point at which I questioned HOW I was ever able to run for 26.2 miles! LOL)

Mile 5 came in at 9:08 and my heart rate average went up to 182.  I used the downhills on this mile to get my heart rate down somewhat and on the ups tried to simply maintain effort (not necessarily pace) so that my heart rate didn’t spike too much. (And you just thought I ran without a plan!) Apparently this strategy worked, as it wasn’t a monumental jump like the previous miles. (BTW, I completely realize that my heart rate didn’t have far to go at this point, but, hey, give a dog a bone here.) Again, the heat was really starting to wear on me and I couldn’t help but wonder if I would be able to keep pushing myself without losing ground.  Luckily, I’m stubborn beyond measure and was able to maintain my pace.  I also passed Taylor toward the end of mile 5.  Seeing loved ones during a race is so meaningful and uplifting and her encouraging words definitely gave me a boost.

Mile 6 was when I really tried to pick it up, but it seemed like my legs were moving in slo-mo and the pace on my Garmin was STUCK.  Passed my coach and he told me it was time to kick it up.  I may or may not have cursed at him.  COULD HE NOT TELL I HAD ALREADY KICKED IT UP?!?  OK…I did kick in a little bit more after my encounter with him.  I clocked a 9:01 with my best time being 7:58 (maybe Garmin got confused?  I don’t even think I can run that fast, if only for a few seconds.) and my last .2 came in at 8:27.  Heart rate averages for this last leg were 184 & 187.  I was so upset with myself because, at the time, I didn’t feel I was picking it up very well.  Looking at the data, I realize that I attempted the pick up but my max heart rate was 192.  I am OK with that, because it tells me that my body was doing all it could do.  Aside from my pace goal, I wanted to give everything I had and leave it on the course.  The max heart rate tells me that I did just that.

My official time was 57:46, beating my personal best by almost one minute!  Taylor was waiting for me at the finish line.  Of course she ran a 52:33 without no training and snagged 3rd place in her age group.  Speaking of age groups….I was told (after we left) that I had placed 2nd in my age group, which was surprising to me.  When we started searching results, I had been placed in the 45-49 AG. (WHAT THE HECK?!? (For the record…I am 42 and should have been 40-44))  OF COURSE I emailed the timing company to get this corrected!

Taylor and I hung around the finish line waiting for my partner to come through.  After he finished, we discussed medals, but didn’t see anyone handing them out so assumed that there might not be a medal for this race.  As we were leaving, though, we noticed several people did, in fact, have medals but at that point we were too tired to turn around and try to get ours.  I know that the hearts of runners all over the world are breaking right now, but I’m OK about not having a medal.  Really.  Although, I’m not sure Erica is OK with me not having the medal…ERica

 

All in all, I am beyond happy with the race results.  Aside from going out too fast and dealing with my racing heart rate, the race went very, very well – MUCH better than I ever expected.  My legs felt great the entire time.  My stride felt almost effortless.  It was so natural and I didn’t feel I had to force it at all.  One day post-race and I am amazingly well – aside from some minor glute soreness now and then,  my legs feel as loose as if they hadn’t even run yesterday.  Considering it all, I declare the race a success!!

I have to mention that I have some of the most wonderful friends.  Friends who believed in my ability to crush this PR even when I didn’t believe it in my heart.  Friends that sent me messages of encouragement before my race.  I thought of all of them during the race and their support definitely carried me that last mile when my heart could have jumped out of my chest at any moment.  And even though this was a tiny race, it was a biggie for me and I am grateful beyond words for their support.

Happy weekend!

Jen

 

Hello, Texas Humidity!

I just realized that I haven’t posted this week!  What on Earth has come over me?

It has been a busy week, to be sure, but the busyness has turned out to be very manageable!

Mother’s Day was a great day.  It was rainy, but my house was clean which made the day so much more enjoyable since I didn’t have that hanging over my head.  My family knocked it out of the park again with my gift: a charm bracelet with the kids’ birthstones.

Taylor & Logan were born in November while Alli was born in February.  They were so excited to get a 2-fer on the November birthstone.
Taylor & Logan were born in November while Alli was born in February. They were so excited to get a 2-fer on the November birthstone.

Monday evening, I was privileged to coach the JV girls in their Spring league games.  In Texas, the UIL prohibits school coaches from coaching their own players except during the volleyball season.  I was so honored to be asked to coach!  Taylor was in town and came along, and I think we already know that she is a much better coach than I am!  However, I was pleased with the progress the girls made during the evening.  We practiced on Wednesday and this time, Taylor’s long-time friend and high school classmate, Mason, came to help.  He gave the setters some homework 😉Mason

We all know how much I love volleyball and this is going to be a fun group to work with over the next 3 weeks, because they are full of potential!

The run schedule was a little screwy again this week due to some factors outside anyone’s control.  I ran last night (solo) while Alli was at practice.  It LOOKS like a nice cool day from the pic, right?cloudy run

WRONG!!  It was so HUMID!  I don’t know what the actual temps were but I suspect somewhere in the 80s.  The air was so thick!  But it was good, because I haven’t worked out much in Texas heat this season and it will act as a nice segue into hot, sunny, humid runs.  I was to do tempos @ 10 and recovery @ 11:15, but I had a little problem in execution.  (OK I know this is nothing new….)Intervals

There was a loop of thoughts going through my head that kept me from completely focusing on my pace.  In addition, there is an area in this park where my GPS gets wonked up EVERY SINGLE TIME, so I don’t trust the pace on my watch completely.  The loop in my head: OMG it is so humid sweat is getting in my eyes.  I NEVER sweat that much.  What the hell?  Puddle.  Yay.  How wet shall I get my shoes this time?  Crap!  I’m going wayyyy to fast.  I can’t be going that fast!  Wait…breathing is harder.  YES YOU ARE GOING THAT FAST!  SLOW down Jen.  Slow down!  OMG I really need to pee.  I hope I can make it to the bathroom.  OK, I’ll slow down after I get to the bathroom.  If I slow down now it will take longer to get there and if it takes longer to get there I’m going to be in trouble.  (For the record, I BARELY made it.  I’ve never come that close! Whew!)

After the run, I sent the splits to partner/coach and he said – looks pretty good except for a few hiccups.  A FEW HICCUPS?  He had no idea.  The pacing within each tempo (and recovery) was all over the map.  Honestly, I am surprised I was able to hit them as close as I did.  But I got my work in, I wore myself out (I’ll blame the humidity) and all-in-all it was a good run.  I’m currently fighting tightness in my left glute, but what’s new??  I’m working to stay on top of it and hopefully it is just related to my return-to-consistent-strength-training. (Sigh…..yes I had slacked off a bit.)

Haha!!  Tired and sweaty!
Haha!! Tired and sweaty!

Overall, though, it was a very good week!  AND…..I have NO plans this weekend!!  Best feeling ever!

Happy Friday!

Jen