Monday, April 11, 2016

But what if you fly?

I ran the El Dorado half marathon a little over a week ago. I didn't have great expectations going into it because I had been training for a 50K, but then decided not to do that, and hadn't done much speedwork. I had the fast 5K, but I didn't know how my new speed would translate to a half marathon. I was so scared going into it. I knew I wanted to run it in under 2:20. In the back of my head somewhere, I thought that 2:15 would be really cool. I tried that in September though, and it was a massive failure.

Leading up to the race I came up with a pacing plan. I knew if I had a great day it would work. I was afraid I was going to fail though. I knew how bad going out too fast could blow up on me, and I didn't want that to happen. Race morning I felt pretty good, and the weather was perfect. Sunny, not too windy, and chilly. My mom came with me, so that was exciting. We rode over with Cristy because she was running the 5K. The plan was for her to watch me start, then run her race, then come find me on the course to cheer for me. She was very encouraging when I was nervous. It was a pretty small field of runners, so I thought there was a decent chance they'd all pass me pretty early on and I'd be at the back. That didn't really happen. What happened is that very early on, the field separated into three groups. There were the fast runners out front, then just a few of us in the middle, and then way behind me was another big group. This meant I was running alone most of the race. I think as the race went on people spread out more, but in the beginning it seemed like they were bunched together.

To hit a 2:20 finish, my average pace needed to be 10:41. I wanted to stay between 10:15 and 10:30 for the first 5 miles. Mile 1 was was really fast. Too fast, but I felt good. Mile 2, same story. By mile 3 I could feel that I was going too fast, so I slowed down but stayed within my goal. Same for mile 4. Mile 5 felt great, until the end. I looked ahead and could see the mile 5 sign, and it was partway up a hill. It was a big hill, but I thought surely it wasn't too bad. The problem was that I couldn't see all of it. I think mile 6 was almost completely uphill. Then we turned into the wind, which had picked up. Miles 6-8 were really windy and really hilly, and I hit a low spot. My stomach was cramping, the wind and hills were awful, and every ache and pain I have felt the last few months reappeared. I kept pushing and thought that no matter what, I'm just doing the best I can. I stopped looking at my watch.

At the end of mile 8, we turned and had a nice long downhill. We were also no longer running into the wind. I started perking up. I looked at my watch, realized I had less than 5 miles to go, and that I was on pace for 2:15, and that I felt great. I knew I had suffered through a lot of 5 mile runs, so unless something happened, I was probably going to do it. This is when I thought of a quote I love.

Here it is:

I was still afraid I might fall. I might run one more mile at this pace and blow up and have to walk the rest of the way. Should I keep pushing? What if I fail? Oh, but what if I fly? What if I just give it all I've got, and I succeed? I decided that sink or swim, I was going for it. 

I was almost to mile 10, and turned, and saw a big hill. There were some volunteers there and I said "oh, well that sucks" and they laughed and told me I get to turn halfway up. I got to the turn, and I saw my mom, Cristy, Danielle, and her friend Alyssa. I cried, because it's what I do. I was so happy to see them. I asked Cristy what her time was, and she had killed it, so that pumped me up. I grabbed a gel from Danielle and kept running. I turned around to yell that I was on target to finish in 2:15. I seriously felt like I was flying at that point. I don't think I have ever felt so good in a race. I had gone a little ways when I realize that the girls had been holding up signs, and they had something on their head. I realized it was unicorn horns, but I was thoroughly confused. With the highs come lows, and shortly after I saw them came another crash. I ate a gel, and that perked me up. We also started seeing a lot of crowd support the last few miles. I love it when people set up in their driveways to cheer for runners! It helps so much. My favorite are the little kids that give high 5's. I think I had about 2 miles to go and I saw Mom, Cristy and the girls again. I was getting pretty tired at that point. I finally read the signs and one said "It's a unicorn day." I had posted on my last blog that to hit my goal I needed to have a unicorn day. It was so cute and funny that it cheered me right back up. The other sign said something about donuts. Danielle thinks it's pretty cool that I eat donuts when I run. 

Mile 12 was a struggle, but was ok. Mile 13 was rough. I knew I only had 1 mile to go though, and I needed to push to make it. The last little section of the race was a bit confusing, because they had part of the road blocked off, but the volunteers were directing us to run on sidewalks. Since I was alone I really had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I wanted to be on the road, but stayed where I was told to be. When I got back close to the finish the sidewalk was full of people, so I went back onto the road. When I tuned the last corner I could see the sign and could see how close I was to 2:15. I feel like I sprinted through here, but it was probably only a jog. In my head I forgot that the race is chip timed and what is on the clock wasn't my real time. I was determined to finish before 2:15! 

I crossed the finish line and looked at my watch, and it said 2:14:47. WOW!! I cried. I hugged my mom. I posed for pictures with the girls and their sign. I felt like I was flying again! I don't know how I did it. I think lifting is helping. I'm running shorter and faster, and man is it fun. I can't keep having huge PR's, but I'll take it while it lasts! 

This was a great race and I would highly recommend it! My only complaints are that the cups of water were tiny and didn't have much in them, and the end was a little confusing. They had so many volunteers though, and it's an excellent course. I'd love to do it again someday. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Where did that come from?

I realize that I bragged about this all over Facebook, but I haven't blogged about my recent 5K race with a huge PR. If you've been dying to hear the details, and just admit it, you have, this is your chance!

Several weeks ago my friend Cristy mentioned that she and another friend, Joy, were doing a St. Patrick's Day 5K and had a team and registration was cheap. I thought it sounded like a fun idea, so I signed up. I quickly began thinking that I've been getting faster and maybe this was finally my chance to run a 5K in under 30 minutes. The only thing I did for a while was thinking about that, and not actually do any work toward it. Several days before the race I decided I was going to do a 3 mile treadmill run at race pace to see if I could do it. I had no real faith in my ability to get it done. None. I got up in the morning anyway and headed to the gym, determined that I was going to give it everything I had. Cristy sent me several encouraging messages, and I got started. I did it! I couldn't believe it, but was very hopeful for the weekend. I needed more miles that day, so after work I headed out for a 5 mile run. The first mile was under 10 minutes. I told myself I needed to slow down. The second mile was under 10 minutes, and I told myself the same thing. I didn't slow down though. Mile 5 was awful, but I had come so far I wasn't giving up! I finished in 48 minutes, 51 seconds. Whoa. Before that morning the longest I had gone at a sub-10 pace was 2 miles. At that point I knew that unless something happened I could probably expect a finish in under 30 minutes.

The day before the race I had a minor wardrobe emergency. It's a St Patrick's Day race, so obviously I needed to wear green. It was cool enough I couldn't wear shorts, and the only capris I had with pockets were purple. I showed Rick my outfit choices. He made fun of me for thinking I could wear it. Then I felt bad because I was going to look stupid. Rick kindly said "what time does Lululemon close?" I was able to get a great pair of capris for the race that I felt good in and were comfy.

Race morning was early! We left Eureka at 5:30. I was nervous, but not terrified. It was chilly and had decent chance of rain, so that was unpleasant. Cristy is a lot faster than me, so my goal was to keep her in my sights as long as I can. There were so many people though I lost track of her almost instantly. Mile 1 felt great, and I had to slow myself down a little bit. Mile 2 started out great, but I was running too fast. I was afraid I'd blow up. I kept trying to slow myself down. Not long before the end of mile 2 I finally caught site of Cristy and was close enough I wanted to try to catch her. I didn't think I could, but it would give me a goal. At the beginning of mile 3 there was a hill, and I was getting closer to her thinking that something wasn't right because I shouldn't be able to catch her. I caught her and tapped her on the shoulder and asked if she was ok. She said yes and we started running together. After a while she started to walk and waved me on. I was so conflicted. It was almost painful to leave her, but I knew she wouldn't want me to give up on my goal. It turned out she was having some stomach issues. With about a quarter of a mile to go I was tired and breathing really hard, but decided to just go for it. I gave it all I had and finished in 28:14! I blew my goal out of the water. I still don't know how it happened. I don't know what I've done to cause me to speed up, but I need to do more of it!

Joy was walking the race with a friend because she's battling an injury right now, so we waited for her.  I'm so grouchy and sad when I can't run that I'm not sure I would have the courage to walk it injured, so I'm impressed Joy came! Plus she's super nice and fun, so I'm really glad she was there! Cristy's daughter Danielle ran as well and finished in a super fast time I can't remember. She's a speed demon! We went and changed clothes, picked up Joy's daughter, did a bit of shopping, and finished our day with a giant meal at Jose Pepper's. I think there's something to be said for these short races that are done in the morning.

I'm running a half marathon next weekend in El Dorado that I'm excited and nervous about. I have a time goal in mind, but it's going to take a unicorn day to make it happen. We'll see!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Back in the saddle!

Wow, it's been a while! I've been running, but I took a break from ultras, and from the stress of running, and just did what I wanted for a long time. It was amazing!

Last spring after running Heartland 50, I had reached total burnout. I didn't love running anymore. I wasn't in a very good place mentally. I decided it was time to stop doing races, and just do what I want. I spent the summer doing short runs, like 3 or 4 miles, and did it several days a week, but never pressured myself. I also started lifting and going to spin classes. Where has lifting been all of my life?! I have been focusing on losing weight, and just getting stronger and better.

Here is a picture of me at Pumpkin Holler 100, and a picture of me last week. Same shirt. I've only lost around 10 pounds, but I can see a huge difference!

At the end of 2015 I decided I was ready to tackle ultras again. I've been training for a 50K, but to be honest, I'm not sure if I'll do it. Right now I'm still really enjoying running for myself, and not for a race. I want to do a 100 in the fall, so my thought was I'll train for a 50K to help get me ready for 100 mile training. Well, I've accomplished that main goal of getting ready for 100 training. I'm pretty much there. Not ready to run a 100 of course, but ready to train for one. So, maybe I'll sign up for the 50K and run it, and maybe not. We'll see.

It has been challenging to ramp up my miles and maintain my lifting. I think as I increase the miles more I'll have to decrease the lifting to two days per week instead of three. Life with my boys is kind of hectic, so most of the time I'm moving stuff around as the week gets busier, and just hanging on for dear life. I'm thrilled at the end of the week when I've hit a mileage goal! It doesn't always look like I expected it to, but I'm getting it done.

Right at this moment, I'm in a great place with my physical fitness. I'm managing to balance it with my family obligations, and with my desires, rather than running because I feel like I need to or it's what I should be doing. Not to say I don't have to force myself sometimes, because I do, but overall I'm enjoying myself a lot.


  • Body recomposition. Lose fat, gain muscle
  • Start a 100 mile training plan
  • Keep lifting. Don't give it up as I increase my miles.
  • Eat healthy to fuel my body and my workouts, and not work out to undo the damage                   of what I ate.