Finally Friday

Every time we have a short (aka 4-day) work week, it seems twice as long.  I mean, Tuesday as Monday is much worse than a regular Monday and generally requires at least twice the coffee to survive.  When Friday comes, however, it is twice as sweet!  And this Friday is sweeter than ever, because it is effectively the last day of school!  I still have to work until June 10, but summer vacation is so close that I can taste it!!

It’s no secret that I avoid track workouts like the plague.  The one time I decided to try speed work, I ran 1600s at a wayyyy too fast pace and ended up with hamstring problems. (No need to point out the folly in that.  I have added this to my long list of running sins.)  After the hamstring debacle, I swore off speed work for good.  That is, until I found a partner who knows what he is doing and happens to really like the track workouts.  I was still riding the high of my 10k PR this week and made the mistake of admitting that I was looking forward to summer track workouts.  That’s all it took.  The rest is history.

In addition to the grueling track workout suddenly hanging over my head (because of my own big mouth) Wednesday afternoon, the sun had (finally) come out and was shining as big as Texas.  The humidity was stifling with the temps close to 90.  But I was SO happy to see the sun after the monsoons, torrential downpours and flooding that I wouldn’t DARE complain!  I was fully prepared to puke during the workout, if needed.  ūüėČsun finally

We ran ladders with one lap walk/recovery in between.  Since I am just starting speed work, he had us start with 200s, then we worked our way up to 800s, running 2 of each distance.  Our pace was controlled with the goal of running each 400 at 2:15 – not far off the pace that I ran toward the end of my 10k. Had I been running them on my own, I would have pushed a lot harder to quicken the pace (which would have landed me in hammy troubles again, to be sure (who knew speed workouts don’t require you to run as fast as you possibly can?)).  He did allow me to increase my pace on the 600 and 400 to 2:00/400 when we worked our way back.  That was fun and I enjoyed that challenge at the end of the workout.

Now time for the confessional:  I really liked the track workout.  Like, REALLY!!  Hills are still my first love, but if I can’t make it to the hills the track will do ūüôātrack

Thursday morning, I did yoga and actually felt really good!  My glutes had minimal soreness, but I didn’t experience any tightness to speak of.  Just goes to show how the proper workouts can yield such amazing results!

When I arrived at work Thursday, I had to hit the ground running.  This is the last week of school, for the most part, and my first priority was to get report cards in teacher’s boxes so they could get them ready to go home.  As I was mid-hustle and bustle, copying and sorting, I was summoned to our Assistant Principal’s office.  In all honesty, I was a little put out with her as I couldn’t imagine WHAT she needed help with at 8AM!  I grabbed my coffee (because I never go anywhere without coffee before 10AM) and rounded the corner to her office.  She was standing in her doorway and one of our PE teachers was standing beside her, filming this exchange with his iPhone.  I knew something was off, but didn’t know exactly WHAT was off.  I could tell she was up to something because she had the strangest look on her face.  Plus, she kept looking behind me while making an even stranger face.  I turned around to see what she was looking at and saw this:skunk

Yep, I walked right past it!  When I turned around, I jumped a little.  The critter was facing the other direction and my first thought was about how it got in here and how I had not been sprayed when I walked by.  Then I realized it was STUFFED!!! Needless to say, Shannon was sorely disappointed that I walked past it without seeing it.  I know you are asking: how does one unintentionally foil an evil plan?  All I can say is that you have to be Jen to pull it off.

This brings up another question: What the heck is wrong with me that I don’t notice a huge stuffed skunk on the floor right next to me??  Ok…..maybe that question shouldn’t be answered.

Happy Friday all!

Here’s to hoping for no more flooding in Texas this weekend!

Jen

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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 ūüôā

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

 

Friday Funk

I’ve been in a funk lately. ¬†Not a life-funk, but a blog funk. ¬†I suspect it has something to do with the end of the school year (I’m barely hanging on by my fingernails!). ¬†More likely it has something to do with the fact that I now live in a tropical rainforest….actually, a rainforest without the forest. ¬†I am growing weary of having my runs cancelled because of thunderstorms!! ¬†And even though the closest tornado has only been about 15 miles from me, enough with the bad weather!

Seriously.  STOP.

Seriously. STOP.

This is the upcoming forecast, which is pretty much the same as it has been for the last month!  You can imagine how excited and suprised I was when this beauty popped out at us last evening!

Stick around, please.  I need some Vitamin D!

Stick around, please. I need some Vitamin D!

Currently, storms are predicted for Saturday, which is hopefully my new 10k PR day.  As of right now, the storms are expected to come in after lunch.  <fingers crossed>  But, like I said Рthis is Texas and the forecast changes hourly.  Literally.

Non-funky things have been going on in my life, though!! ¬†For one, Taylor is home for the summer! ¬†I’m not the only one who was beyond excited to have her back!sisters

I’m not sure if I mentioned it or not, but I have been coaching our JV volleyball team in their Spring league games. ¬†I have had SO MUCH FUN and I think the girls are learning and improving. ¬†We are having weekly practices, but since I had a conflict during practice yesterday, Taylor took over. ¬†Taylor is MUCH more qualified and capable than I am, but I still felt as if I was leaving my newborn with a babysitter! ¬†When she sent me this text about the practice, it made my day!JV

Maybe I do have a clue what I am doing! ūüôā

Maybe I’m not in a funk after all.

Happy Friday! ¬†Don’t forget to take a moment to remember those who have given their lives for our country!

Jen

What?!? Jen is racing a 10k?

I’ve never been much of a “race-runner”, so to speak. ¬†Before this year, I hadn’t run many races. ¬†In fact, I didn’t even save any of my race medals until 2014. ¬†I know……it is mind-boggling!! ¬†(Keep your pants on…..I now keep my medals!)

So back to the races…. ¬†Most of you know that I ran my first half marathon of 2015 a couple of weeks ago. ¬†It was my post-injury debut and the race went amazingly well. ¬†So well, in fact, that I’ve been bitten by the racing bug and have been searching for possible races to help in preparing me for my goal of running a sub-2 half marathon this Fall. ¬†While discussing the loveliness that is running/racing in the blazing hot Texas sun, a good friend suggested that I consider running some 10k’s as it could serve as speed work to help get me to that half marathon PR. ¬†Who am I to ignore good advice? (Please don’t answer that. ¬†But, hey, now is as good of a time as ever to start. ¬†(Now might also be a good time to point out that I’m a bit of a distance snob…15k and half marathons are generally the shortest distances I want to run. ¬†I really dislike 5ks, because you have to show up so early for a less-than-30-minute race….too much hassle! LOL))

I was able to find a¬†small, local 10k which I will be running this Saturday. ¬†In the beginning (yes I know the beginning was only 2 weeks ago), I assumed this race would be a training run. ¬†Race day is¬†fast approaching, which made me come to the realization that I need goals that will push me out of my comfort zone a bit. ¬†I didn’t have to think long (or hard) about what I would like to accomplish. ¬†I want to run a sub-1:00 10k. ¬†I know I can do this because it happened during training, except….it was before the injury (aka shredding) of my ITB.

Order of the Day

Now onto the important matter at hand. ¬†I’m going to throw my actual goal out there,¬†but I’m also going to start working on my list of excuses should I fall short. ¬†Anyone is more than welcome to contribute, as the more excuses I have at my disposal, the better. ūüėČ ¬†As for my goal: like I mentioned – I want to come in under 1:00, but I would¬†really¬†be happy if I could come in anywhere 57 or less. ¬†(I’m not the best at being open about stuff like this, so consider yourself lucky!) ¬†I’ve typically not been one to run hard until I need to puke in race situations (OK, in ANY situation), but I’ve been inspired by my Twitter friend, Earl. ¬†He ran his first half marathon this past Saturday (1:33:39….KILLED IT!) and I know how he poured his heart and soul into that race! ¬†So Earl….if I end up puking my guts out – it will all be because of you! ¬†I will be sporting my sunglasses, though, because ain’t nobody got time to look at ugly race pics!¬†ūüėČ

No, this has nothing to do with the post, but taking it did make me feel like a halfway-legit photographer.

This has nothing to do with the post, but taking it did make me feel like a halfway-legit photographer.

 

 

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 ūüėČMason

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

 

Off Balance

My word of the year is Balance, which I blogged¬†about around the first of the year. ¬†There are soooo many areas in which I constantly fight imbalance. ¬†I realize this struggle isn’t unique to me: ¬†I think everyone in our society wrestles with it – especially moms!

Actually, I have been doing better with my balancing act than I thought was possible. ¬†I was maintaining a¬†regular strength training schedule and things were rocking and rolling as I got stronger and stronger with my running. ¬†But in April, I practically derailed and I didn’t even realize how much until yesterday.

The running has been going GREAT!! ¬†My volume has increased almost to what I was running before my injury….last month I ran 83 miles! ¬†I ran all this without experiencing any major issues so life is good on that front. ¬†However, almost all of my midweek runs have been at 5 AM, which is the time I had allotted for strength work, yoga and foam rolling. ¬†What has slipped?? You guessed it: strength work, yoga and foam rolling. ¬†(ALL the things I SWORE wouldn’t slip!) ¬†The other side of this coin is that I am a piddler, and during my morning strength sessions I take coffee breaks…..LOTS of coffee breaks :). ¬†Those mornings really are¬†as relaxing for me as they are beneficial for strengthening my body and a great way to start the day, which makes the impact of all this two-fold. ¬†I am slacking on things I need to do to keep me running healthy and I am slacking on things I need to do to keep me mentally grounded. ¬†I haven’t quite gotten a handle on how to offset this, as most of my evenings are packed full with volleyball and softball. ¬†My biggest problem: I am rarely at home.

I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that I feel tired ALL. ¬†THE. ¬†TIME. ¬†That is SO NOT me. ¬†In the back of my mind, I have known that I was burning the candle at both ends and that eventually it would catch up to me – and yesterday it did. ¬†I got up at ¬†the usual 4:20 to get ready for our 5AM run but something happened when I went to make my coffee. ¬†I was stretching and afterward….my back wasn’t right. ¬†It just felt tight and was hard to take a deep breath. ¬†I got ready regardless and was about to walk out the door when I saw lightening. ¬†I’m not going to lie: I was glad that we had to cancel the run. ¬†All-in-all, I just didn’t feel myself. ¬†I felt sluggish, exhausted and now I had this back thing to worry about. ¬†I went to work and realized throughout the morning that I¬†wasn’t only NOT feeling better….I was feeling worse!¬† So I decided to take the afternoon off and that turned out to be the smartest decision I’ve made in a while. ¬†I went home and fell asleep almost immediately. ¬†I took three 1-hour naps. ¬†THREE! ¬†(And when I say naps, I really mean slipped into an unconscious state, because I was effectively dead to the world! ¬†It might be important to note that I NEVER take naps nor am I able to fall asleep when I do try one.) ¬†By the time I woke up from the last one, I felt human again. ¬†I had literally nearly run myself ragged.

We were planning to run this morning. ¬†When my alarm went off at 4:20, I heard thunder almost immediately and checked my weather app. ¬†Sure enough, we were covered up in a thunderstorm. ¬†So what did I do? ¬†I set my alarm for 5:30 and enjoyed another hour of sleep. ¬†I¬†should have gotten up to do strength work, but as a good friend reminded me yesterday: sleep is an important component of recovery (and I have not been getting my rest!). ¬†So after a pre-9PM bedtime and some extra zzzzz’s this morning, I feel like Jen again – spunky and energetic! ¬†And I think the rest was much more important that an AM strength session. ¬†Hopefully I can get that in this evening ūüôā

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week and we have the BEST Parent Teacher Organization around!  They provided sub sandwiches on Monday, breakfast on Tuesday, and lunch yesterday from a local Italian restaurant (YES, I ate before I went home!).  This morning, the school board provided breakfast and even though I had already eaten breakfast at home, I pigged out on this breakfast burrito.

breakfast burritio

Oh man, was it ever delicious!  I am Texan Рof course I LOVE breakfast tacos!

This morning I also drank coffee from my new coffee cup for the first time. ¬†I love it! Another special addition to my collection. ūüôārunner mug

Happy Thursday everyone! ¬†I’m feeling fairly balanced…..for now! ūüôā

Jen

Skyline Half: Race Recap

This will be my second (feeble) attempt at blogging a race recap. ¬†My first time was fitting as it was about my first marathon. ¬†I have remembered so many things since from that race that, during the race I wanted to add to the blog, but didn’t recall when I was writing the post. ¬†I sat down after this race to jot down some notes, but I already know I will pale in comparison to my seasoned, more-wordy blogger friends. ūüôā

Pre-Race

¬†I was up at the butt-crack of dawn (which is to say that I was up at my usual wake-up time) aka 4:45 AM. ¬†Luckily I had prepared my coffee the night before so all I had to do was hit the start button. ¬†(Yes, I have tried the timer and NO, I don’t use it. ¬†I just don’t trust myself to set it correctly.) ¬†So I started my coffee and while it was brewing, showered and got dressed. ¬†I was so worried that I was going to forget something even though I packed my bag the night before. ¬†I’m going to spoil it for you now and tell you that I did not get out of the house with everything I needed. ¬†The good news is that I only forgot 2 things. ¬†The bad news is that both those items were food/fuel-related. ¬†OK….back on track. ¬†So I got dressed and grabbed my first cup of coffee (fittingly out of the coffee cup my Twitter sole sister¬†@karaokejennjenn sent me!) and finally started to wake up. ¬†As my English muffin was toasting, I checked my bag and set everything by the door. ¬†Then I inhaled ate¬†my usual breakfast of cinnamon raisin English muffin with peanut butter, honey and cinnamon. ¬†(This seriously makes me soooooo happy every morning!) ¬†At 5:45, I was out the door and had all my bags (and coffee!) in the car.

Barely made it Arrived at Race!Bridge

After a couple of “set-backs” en route, I arrived at the race with roughly 30 minutes to spare. ¬†Normally this would stress me out, but this time wasn’t as big of a big deal, since this race was such a small one anyway. ¬†However, I really needed to pee. ¬†So my first order of business (after pinning my bib on) was to find a port-a-potty. ¬†I was able to find a couple and got in line, only to have a race volunteer shoo us away because 2 of the 3 were out of toilet paper. ¬†(Looking back, it might have been best to drip dry in the paper-less potty.) ¬†We were sent down the hill to the main potty location, which also had a long line by this point.

The actual potties are in the top left of the pic.  Terribly long when you are about to wet your shorts.

The actual potties are in the top left of the pic. Terribly long when you are about to wet your shorts.

When I had arrived, I texted my Twitter friend, Erica (@anotherhalfpls) because we were planning to meet up and celebrate Dara’s (@daralem) birthday with tacos and (my) cupcakes after the race. ¬†Would you believe that they arrived after I did, found a port-a-potty, used it and found me STILL in my potty line? ¬†By the time they found me, I had to pee so badly that my mouth was watering. ¬†Seriously it was nearing defcon 5! ¬†Luckily, I made it before I had an accident AND made it to the start with 5 minutes to spare (even if the 5 minutes was courtesy of a late race start ;).

The potty wasn’t my only pre-race problem, though. ¬†I had intended to grab a banana at the house to eat just before the race, since it would be almost 3 hours since eating breakfast by the time the race started. ¬†Sadly, I did not remember the banana (the first of 2 forgotten food items), so I was basically starving at this point! But, oh well. ¬†Couldn’t change anything, so I decided I wouldn’t stress over it (SOOOOO not me). ¬†PLUS, when if things went awry, I would have a great excuse because everyone knows improper fueling can derail a race!

The Race

 This was the inaugural running of the Skyline Half Marathon.  It was a small race put on by Run Project in the Dallas area.  There were around 850 runners total, with roughly 350 of those running the half marathon.  Even though this was a small race, the numbers seemed high for the trails that we ran beneath the bridge.  The start was crowded and it seemed to take well over a mile before the crowds started to thin.  race start

My partner was running the race with me to pace me so that I didn’t run lights out until I passed out on the sidewalk (don’t laugh – it could have happened). ¬†Seriously, though, he has come to know me very well and knows that I wouldn’t have been able to resist the urge to run full-throttle from the start, which could have led me right back into another injury. ¬†As I stated last week, this was to be executed as a “training” run, although I knew from the start we would run a bit faster than our usual slower-than-a-turtle long slow run pace. ¬†He had told me that the first 10 miles would be run around 11:15, with us increasing speed the last 3 miles to 10:30 or so. ¬†(Please know that I protested this in full-blown toddler tantrum mode, even though these paces were much faster than our turtle long slow runs.)

For those of you who have the Garmin Forerunner 620 and have always wondered what the “Race” activity profile does, you’re in luck because I used that profile. ¬†If you are someone who runs a race purely on “feel”, then this setting will work for you, as the only thing displayed is distance and time. ¬†(You will get the usual mile split notification on each mile.) ¬†If you are like me and look down at your watch only to realize you’re going 1:30 faster than you thought/should….this is not the profile you should use on race day. ¬†At race start, I wasn’t too concerned about this, since I wasn’t to worry about pace anyway….that was the partner’s job. ¬†LOL

Mile 1 came in at 11:16, much to my dismay after he had announced that we had gone out too fast and rattled off a 10:45 pace (I had gotten a bit excited that he was going to let us run faster than planned). ¬†Of course, he is nothing, if not steady and our next 4 miles came in around 11:20-11:35 – all slower than I wanted, but he assured me it was well within his race plan, within his “fudge factor” as he called it. ¬†My legs felt really fresh and everything felt so good. ¬†I was able to get into a good groove early on and even tried to run off and leave him several times (not on purpose…just me in my ‘zone’)…until he asked where I was going. ¬†I reminded him that the rope around my waist might have been a good idea. ¬†Around mile 5, he told me that he was going to cut me loose at mile 7. ¬†I seriously nearly screamed. (I have a feeling this may have been his plan all along. ¬†I’m glad that he waited to tell me, though!) ¬†I was sooooo excited! ¬†I found it hard to contain my excitement and still kept trying to motor off. ¬†I was feeling so strong at this point. ¬†However, in the back of my head, I wondered what the second half would bring because of the second food item I had forgotten at home: my gel.

When our watches alerted us to mile 7, my partner told me to go run my race, that he knew I was ready and I would do great. ¬†And as I ran ahead of him, he reminded me not to run it as hard as I could and to try to hold myself back a little. ¬†Mile 8 came in at 10:30, roughly 1:00 faster than our previous miles. ¬†I spent some time trying to get into a rhythm without running full-out. ¬†I wanted to post negative splits, but I knew that I needed some extra strategy to navigate those end-of-race miles without any fuel. ¬†I’ve never run that far without fueling and my breakfast had been sooooo long ago. ¬†Mile 9 came in at 10:52. ¬†I’m not quite sure what happened to cause that, because even though I made all these mental notes during the race…..I can’t remember! ¬†I’m sure it was ALL due to lack of fuel. ¬†LOL!!! ¬†I did realize after mile 9 that I needed to start accelerating my pace. ¬†Mile 10 came in at 10:02 and at this point, I was around the 1:50 mark and knew that¬†I would really have to push it to finish before 2:30. ¬†(A slower than 2:30 finish was really bugging me. ¬†I just didn’t think I could live with that.) ¬†At the mile 10 water stop, I decided I should probably drink Gatorade to give me something resembling fuel. ¬†I didn’t chase it with water, however, and pushing the pace, along with the blazing heat caused me do develop some nausea. ¬†I’m certain it had NOTHING to do with the big-ass bridge I had just climbed in the blazing sun. ¬†(For the record, I still LOVE hills….and I won against that bridge!) ¬†I kept pushing, though, and miles 11-13 came in at 9:53, 9:40, 9:47. ¬†I could tell the heat and lack of fuel were taking a toll because I could feel my quads and was starting to feel a little fatigued.¬† ¬†There were 2 more water stations and I walked through both of those, but this time I chased the Gatorade with water. ¬†It was just enough to keep me going. ¬†Miles 12-13 were brutally hot and it wasn’t made any better from the way I was pushing myself. ¬†However, I still felt SO STRONG! ¬†I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t had any issues at all, and I began to realize that I could finish the race in a good physical and mental state. ¬†The last .10 came in at 9:16 pace, but that was an easy push as I was under the bridge and in the shade by that point. ¬†My official finish was 2:23:50, which is almost 8 minutes off my half marathon PR of 2:14:00 (which isn’t to be confused with my training PB of 2:04 :). ¬†I’ll gladly take it, though, because the run was amazing!

Yes, Marci, I am keeping this medal! ;)

Yes, Marci, I am keeping this medal! ūüėČ

Race Lessons

Every race teaches some lessons and this one is no different.

First and foremost, this race gave me back my confidence and swagger. ¬†That may sound funny to a lot of you, but I am completely serious. ¬†My spirit was almost broken with that ITB injury and I didn’t trust my body. ¬†I still didn’t fully trust my body coming into this race, even with some of the amazing strides that I had made during training. ¬†I owe all of that to my partner and coach. ¬†Without his guidance to train smart, I can almost guarantee I would be injured again. ¬†I appreciate his help so very much.

Second, Jen shouldn’t use the race profile on her Garmin. ¬†I need to be able to adjust my pace more often than every mile and I felt like I was running blind when I was finally cut loose on my own. ¬†Until I gain the experience to know the feel of each pace, I need to keep my watch out of race mode!

We walked through every water stop. ¬†My partner is a big believer in this and I just shook my head at him. ¬†However, it was WAY better than carrying my own water and it really didn’t affect my time. ¬†I really enjoyed not having all that “stuff” to carry.

This was my first race without music. ¬†I haven’t run with music since my partner and I started running together in March, so this is the farthest distance I’ve gone without it. ¬†I really don’t miss it at all anymore, and I can even handle solo runs without it. ¬†I do think that it is helping me listen to my body and stay more in touch with myself during the run.

This isn’t really a “lesson”, but I MUST work on my mental game during races. ¬†On the races where the course loops back around, I have difficult time dealing with seeing the other runners passing by the other way. ¬†It just seems like I will NEVER get to the turn-around point and in this race, there were two!!

Post-Race Party Time!

Personally, I was disappointed with the post-race support provided by the race organizers. ¬†There was a water station just past the finish line, but then runners were herded up to street level to get medals. ¬†So up to street level we went. ¬†There was a tent with breakfast burritos and bananas….but NO WATER! ¬†So of course we headed over to the beer tent and tried out a new lager that a local brewery was sampling. ¬†Lakewood Brewery out of Garland was giving away their newest brew, Lakewood Lager. ¬†I’m not a big beer drinker, but it was decent and it was wet and cold. ¬†Wet and cold met all the specifications I needed in a beverage at that point. ¬†After the beer, I headed to change clothes and meet Erica and Dara after their finish.

Erica, Dara and I were planning to meet another Twitter friend, Maegen (@MtotheG7) at Rusty’s Tacos in Plano to celebrate Dara’s birthday and our completion of the race. ¬†Erica was in rare form, still angry at Mother Nature for blessing us with another blazing hot race day and causing her face to be ‘white with salt’. (STILL laughing over that remark) ¬† (She had melted in Plano Balloon Half last Fall and I think she still has flashbacks of how terrible it was.) ¬†This was my first time to eat at Rusty’s and I was not disappointed. ¬†I am Texan, after all, and ALWAYS game for street tacos. ¬†I was SO HUNGRY that I almost forgot to take a pic!!¬†Rustys

We sat out on the patio and, surprisingly, it was so lovely and breezy.  It was NOTHING like the race course! The girsl

And after we were stuffed with tacos, everyone got a box of birthday cupcakes!Dara's bday cupcakes

 Have I mentioned how much I love making cupcakes?

And now, two days post race, I am feeling FABULOUS!!  I have zero soreness in my muscles and minimal tightness.  I even ran an easy 30 min this morning and it felt amazing!! The race was a win all the way around!

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Jen