My StudiOne Story: Full Time Part Timer

Here is the fourth installment on the road to StudiOne.  If you missed the first one or three, you can link back through my journey below:

  1. The race that started it all
  2. The gym that shaped my training philosophy (and rest of my life)
  3. Choosing Tulsa

And now I present to you what I did for the two years in Tulsa while I waited for StudiOne to happen.  I did move here with high hopes of having my own personal training studio.  I wanted a place where I could train people one on one or in group fitness classes.  I also wanted to be able to coach running.  Yoga was nowhere on my radar except that I enjoyed taking classes.

I took a giant leap of faith and moved here with no job lined up.  (This was pre-budgeter Sprenk.)  I know I was spinning my wheels trying to get various training groups together around town.  I coached a small group of three people to their first half marathons in the Route 66 half.  I took over (and still manage) the events at my friends’ coffee shop.  My friend Katie works in the event industry and she helped get me a few leads to at least have some cash flow while I worked on growing my training business.

One of my main gigs at this point was working fancy style events for Skyloft (the top floor of one of the few skyscrapers in Tulsa) – galas, weddings, bar mitzvahs etc.  It wasn’t at all along my career path but it worked well for me initially.  I had a steady though small flow of income while I explored my training options in Tulsa, and was still able to have most of my daytimes free, sacrificing nights and weekends to work these special events.  By the wintertime, this job was wearing me out.  I’m grateful for the small stability this gig gave me when I first moved here, and that it led me to a bride named Leslie, who led me to swiping right on Tinder for a dude named Chap.

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View from SkyLoft

My second home was (still is) Foolish Things Coffee.  I did most of my work there since I didn’t have internet at my house yet.  Luckily for me, Justin and Katie needed some help managing the special events part of the business and I took over a job that I really enjoy and fits easily into my schedule (still does).  I manage inquiries for the use of the cafe for events ranging from birthday parties to book clubs to baby showers, rehearsal dinners and small receptions.  It’s easily manageable and I look forward to getting dressed up on the weekends.  I appreciated the smaller scale of this event management position compared to the one at SkyLoft.

Working the two event jobs gave me time to explore different gyms in Tulsa to see where I might want to train and/or teach.  I tried a lot of different things.  I ran a Groupon promo to have an outdoor bootcamp in my neighborhood.  0 people signed up.  I tried to teach bootcamps at my friends’ kickboxing gym but it was in a tough part of town for me to get to (I have a small radius).  I finally settled on teaching at the YMCA and working the floor.  I washed towels, cleaned machines and gave tours.  For one hour on my shift each day, I was able to teach a Sets and Reps weight lifting class.  I worked a split day 10-2 and then again 3-6:30.  It seemed to be a good fit for a while.

Then, an incredible opportunity fell in my lap while I was searching Demand.com as I did periodically to see what else was out there.  There was a fitness manager position available for a downtown start up called Live Streaming Fitness.  Their goal was to offer live fitness classes on their website all day, and filmed right here in Tulsa.  I applied and made it through the interview.  It seemed really wonderful at first as I interviewed and hired all different kinds of fitness teachers from Tulsa – conditioning coaches, yoga teachers, aerobics teachers, kickboxing etc.  I wrote plans for classes and planned out larger month long programs and challenges for members.

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Behind the scenes at LSF

Soon, the newness wore off and the expectations of most corporate or office jobs wore on me a little bit.  I wanted to be able to run or workout on my lunch break.  I wanted to travel for races and fun more than the number of paid vacation days allowed.  I quickly realized something I probably already knew: I don’t do well being bossed.

Much against Chap’s best advice, I turned in my two weeks’ notice and went back to part time at the YMCA.  I took on more teaching roles this time, added one private client and an outdoor boot camp.  I’m a big believer that nothing is a mistake and two of the trainers I hired at LSF led me to additional paying jobs I still hold today (that’ll be a later post – how to keep StudiOne floating).

Throughout all of this transition and job hunting and leaving, I found a steady yoga practice at Foolish Things.  Katie and Justin had envisioned having yoga on the patio weekend mornings before opening and as it happened, had a teacher inquiring about teaching for us.  I met with Teresa Moyer one afternoon at the cafe and talked to her about what we wanted as a coffee shop, and what she wanted as an instructor.  She was newly certified and wanted a chance to give a donation based class to our customers.  We gave her the green light and Saturday yoga became a thing.  I was stoked to get to have access to yoga every week.

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Yoga on the patio

There clearly isn’t a clean, straight line to living the dream.  I knew this as I walked through each of these transitions, trying to make ends meet (even driving for Uber for a while!) and just tried to promise myself that I would continue to work on and tend to the personal training and coaching dream.  Looking back it all is so clear how one step (and seeming mistakes) all led to a pretty sweet life I have going right now.  Important relationships (personal and professional), connections to future jobs, experience and income were all provided in some capacity from each job I tried and eventually left.  My bottom line for working – don’t be miserable.  No job is worth being unhappy.  I kept my eyes on my end goal and just meandered my way to it.

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My road to the Studio

Race Recap: 2017 Firecracker 5k

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Last year, this race was my target run for my 5k PR.  This year, I ran it because it’s part of the Four Season’s Challenge I’m participating in with the Oklahoma Sport and Fitness race team.  And it would be a fun way to get some tempo work in for my 26.2 training.  I’ve been having a rough time on runs recently (thanks OK heat and humidity) and this was a welcome change to slogging through some miles on my own.

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Start line (photo: Fleet Feet Tulsa)

Based on this year’s race, you wouldn’t know that last year I really tried to work on my 5ks.  While I definitely improved my times over the course of two years of dedicated speedwork and practice, I never really nailed down the pacing.  And that is certainly apparent in this race!

I didn’t really know what to expect from this run as far as finish times go.  Marathon training and 5k training don’t work the same systems and so I’m out of 5k shape.  On the drive over to Fleet Feet, Chap was trying to tell me he was sure I could finally break that 22 minute mark.  And while yes, I would like to eventually nail that goal, marathon training is not the season to do it.  So I was just going to run hard and try to hit a seven something pace.

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Rainy start! (Photo: Fleet Feet Tulsa)

Race morning was completely different from last year’s sunny and hot start.  This year, as we were waiting at the starting line, it started pouring on us!  I don’t mind the rain at all for short races, and it actually felt really good because the air was so sticky without the rain.  It seemed like it took forever for them to get us started and I even started to get cold just standing there.  I was soaked before we got started.

Finally, we were off!  The whole first mile it kept raining on us, and eventually it stopped but the streets were still wet.  I had my watch on and my Strava app to help me pace but for some reason I never looked at my watch.  And while Strava will tell me how fast I ran the previous mile, the rain water kept my headphones from staying in my ears.  I decided to run by feel.

The race starts out pretty flat, heading west towards the BOK center.  We hit a little hill on Denver taking us north towards Brady area and then turn back east to a flat streak to Guthrie Green.  Another baby hill (by this time though, we’re at or past halfway and it feels huge) takes us up by Cain’s and then back down.  We ran back along the same Denver route and back to the store.  Those hills also felt gigantic in this last mile.  I walked a little, but tried to only allow myself 5 deep breaths to regroup and then started running again.

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Tough finish (Photo: Fleet Feet Tulsa)

I finished tough, being dragged along by the motivating words of fellow racers, “less than half a mile to go, come on.  One foot in front of the other.”   I always appreciate this encouragement even though sometimes I’m like, “walking is still one foot in front of the other.”  Sometimes it’s good to get a dose of my own medicine, and have someone else telling me that I can hang longer than I think.

Finally the finish line was in sight and I crossed, trying my best to hold down some puke (if you’re new here, get used to puke talk on race posts.)  I managed to keep it down but decided no more breakfasts on 5k days.

My finishing time was 23:42  , which managed to be a 4th in my age group placement (last race in that age group in Tulsa!).  It’s a little slower than last year’s but I am so pleased that I’m that close after distance training the past 16 weeks.

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Positive splits!

After studying my splits, I know I have an out-of-the-gate-too-fast issue to work on.  I ran by feel, and it didn’t feel like a 6:32 mile when everyone else around me is trotting along or passing me (of course they are, I start in the front of the pack).  Maybe I need to start a little farther back.  My paces dropped off significantly each mile, but that first mile was my fastest ever recorded on my apps so that’s a pretty encouraging stat :).

Overall, it’s a fun race and one of the more popular ones in Tulsa (in my opinion – seems like a lot more people at this one than some others I’ve done).  Fleet Feet always puts on a great after party, and has awesome support through volunteers.

2 of 4 races down for the challenge and I love how the medals are coming together!

Later that afternoon, I got to run 5 more miles to finish off that day’s assigned 8.  Michelle joined me, the humidity was gone and it was only in the 80s.  It was awesome.

What’s your philosophy on racing 5ks?  Run as hard as you can the whole time?  Or start a little slower so you can really push it at the end?

Thirty Thursdays: Break My Half Marathon PR

Hi friends!  The big 3-0 gets closer every day and I’m still working on checking things off my fun 30 before 30 list.   Today’s story came completely unexpectedly.  One of my fitness goals for this year (and really, if any runner is being honest, a goal since the last time I set a PR) was to set a new PR in my half marathon distance.  My previous best time is 1:47:36, set on the St. Jude course in Memphis, TN one December morning over 5 years ago.  I was young, I was coaching running and I had a pace mate Russ who leisurely jogged along beside me taking all the shots of beer offered while keeping me company and dragging me through the last two miles.

This racing season has been so rewarding to me.  I trained specifically for the 5k distance and finally nailed some PRs down in the St. Patrick’s Day and Spring Fling races.  I did not at all feel trained or ready for the half marathon distance.  Rather, I chose this race because it was local, free to me because of Oklahoma Sports and Fitness membership and it was a good time to start building mileage up before the July marathon.  I was absolutely not expecting to PR or even try for one.  Right up to the start line.

IMG_7375On race day I was all on my own.  It’s not often that I race alone but I don’t mind it either.  I run this sport for me and while it’s so wonderful to have company and share the miles, going alone will never stop me from doing a race.  I worked late the night before again, and was up way earlier than I normally would have been to take Chap to the airport.  This completely threw off my rest, my eating schedule and my coffee plans.  But, I wasn’t worried about it because I just wanted to enjoy the race.

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I waited until the last minute to trot on over to the start line.  I was so glad I did because it was freezing in the high 40s in just my shorts and a tank top.  I’m pretty sure my teeth chattered the first two miles.   I got my app all set to track (Strava), Maren’s Deluxe album pulled up on Spotify (country music to keep me from going too fast), and stuck my phone in my beloved side pocket.  Got the GPS started on my watch, waved to some friends and waited for the gun.  We were off and I still had no plan.  Since it was a smaller race, I was near the front.  I felt myself getting swept up into the lead runners and made a mental note to slow down.  It was a beautiful day, I was loving my side-pocketed-shorts and the basking in the anticipation of a new flat course.

Eventually my app talked to me and said, previous mile in 7:45.  WHAT?  Way faster than I felt like I was going, and way too fast to maintain for 12 more miles.  The next mile ticked by in the neighborhoods of Jenks: 7:32.  DAMN!  Still way faster than I thought I should be going.  But, it wasn’t hard.  I was in a good rhythm and hanging stride for stride with a fellow OKSandF teammate so I thought I’ll just keep this pace as long as I can.

I expected to hold it maybe to halfway, or just a little past.  I remember texting M saying “I’m running 7:30s!”.  And texting my dad, “racing a half this morning, just did 5 in 37:45”.  I like these longer races because they allow more time to really hang around a group of runners.  I had several women that hung around me (or me around them) for many of the middle miles.  Miles 3-6 I hung behind a duo that were super chatty.  I didn’t listen to them but stayed one stride behind.  Then I passed and was passed, passed and was passed another gal for a few more miles.  Every time I shifted positions with any of these people, there was also a positive energy transfer.

Finally we made it to the turn around on the riverside trail, just a little over halfway.  I was ready to slow down but was also in my favorite part of the race – the heavy-traffic part of an out and back.  I cheered for everyone that I could as they passed.  Sometimes I ran out of breath but it’s fun scanning the lines of runners for friends and Insta running buddies.  I really started to slow down a mile or so into this turn around and my friends I drafted on for a while passed me again.  One gal said, “come on you can hang with us” and I just waved them on.

The last three miles were a struggle.  Between doing the math in my head of the average minute per mile I needed to run to break 1:40, then to PR, then to stay below 1:43 and trying to actually stay moving, my brain and body were hurting.  I noticed the fatigue in my arms (yes, still), and a blister forming under the ball and big toe of my right foot.  My right knee was getting stiff and tight and my lungs and ribs were tired of breathing.  But the road was flat and the weather perfect so I tried to keep moving.  I thought about my Fit Camp girls, my running girls, Teresa and Steve and my family.  Thought about mimosas later in the day and a nice nap.

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Sprinting and crawling to the finish

I am not ashamed to say that I walked a good part of the last three miles.  I tried to take 100 deep yoga breaths running to every 6 deep yoga breaths walking.  Not sure how the numbers fell that way but they did.  I was walking along when a gal I’d been behind for a while earlier came up behind me.  “We’re so close, let’s go”  This got me running again, but I couldn’t stay with her even though she was so encouraging.  We were able to quickly talk about our sub 1:45 goals and she powered in to a strong finish.  I did not have such a strong finish but I got there!  I ran it in too but man did it feel like I was running fast and not going anywhere!  But I made it.  I killed my PR and beat 1:45.  I was so, so surprised (even though that math back towards mile 10 pretty much secured a PR in my head).  My official time was 1:43:38.  I was so surprised because even though I’d been training fast for the 5k distance, I had only done one long run since the last half in October.  That partially explains why I bonked out at mile 10, but it doesn’t explain to me how I was so strong for 10 miles.  I’m pumped though!

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PR for me!

I would have loved to hang around and search down my new friends from the race but instead had to jet off to teach.  I could not have asked for a better day to run and ease into the routine of weekend long runs.  I’d highly recommend this race to local Tulsans!

Next up on the race calendar: Boston 5k on April 15 (have decided to run for fun, not race), Garmin Half Marathon on April 22 (not trying to PR, but guess I know how that can go now!) and that’s it for April.  Next main focus is the big mileage increase for July, and then will target another September PR.

 

 

StudiOne Story: Choosing Tulsa

Hi there!  This post is the third story from an undetermined number of pieces to make up the book that is “running my own little kingdom of StudiOne”.  A friend and reader asked me to talk about what it’s like to run our Studio and I decided to take several posts to show the evolution of this dream come true.  It’s been an interesting road to get here and I wanted to be able to portray that

even if you’re not doing in the immediate moment what you believe is your passion and your end game, you can still be well on your road to getting there.

If you missed either of the first two stories you can read about the race that changed my life, and the gym that made me a personal trainer.  Now I’m going to talk about how I went from being so heartset on returning to Memphis and ended up in Tulsa.

When I left the story last, I had just pulled away from Memphis for a summer at home taking summer school classes that were pre-requisites to my graduate studies at the University of Texas.  Yep, 24 years old and living with my (gracious) parents.  It was a mostly uneventful summer as I prepared for a move to Texas.  I can’t remember what sparked this thought but as I was mapping out my route from Indy to Austin I thought, I should swing through Oklahoma and say hi to my friend Katie.  (I really didn’t want to go to Austin and honestly think I was just postponing my arrival there).

 

Katie and I grew up as best friends and basically sisters in our small town WASPish childhood home.  We played basketball together, dated the same boys and I think she spent the night at my house more than her own.  We went our separate ways for college, she to Wheaton in Chicago and me to Rhodes in Memphis.  For a taste of how different our experiences were : when she called me to tell me she was engaged, I was buying tequila for the jello shots at my 21st birthday party.  I went to her wedding in January of 2010 to watch my beautiful friend marry this jockey football player I’d met only once and just remember thinking why would they quit college early?

Flash forward to 2012.  I planned a quick two night stay in Tulsa on my way southwest.  Katie and Justin were living with his folks while they did the buildout for their cafe.  We went to Fat Guys and Andolini’s, Old School Bagel and Brookside.  I got a tour of the under construction Foolish Things which was just the greatest and most inspiring thing that could probably have happened on this trip.  We had a great time catching up and I promised I would come back to see the finished cafe before I graduated.

I don’t write much about Austin because it just wasn’t a place I connected with.  This surprised me as much as it surprised anyone.  A warm, active city with beautiful parks, live music and plenty of options for running trails?  Sounds like my heaven.  I might have needed a massive attitude adjustment my first semester (I was on academic probation for bad grades and didn’t even know it until they told me I was removed from the list…..).  I think it was a combination of feeling like I left something great in Memphis, being massively disappointed in this “high ranking graduate program” I had chosen and generally annoyed at the ever present traffic.  I survived, I made some great friends, some poor decisions and adopted a sweet little puppy.  Now that I’m on the other side of the period of life that is 24-26 I would like to say to those approaching it, watch out!  There will be times of massive self-doubt, depression, confusion and carelessness.  Obviously this will not be the case for everyone but I certainly (and I have friends who agree) would have appreciated a little warning that this hurricane of a two years was even a possibility.

I made good on my promise and returned to Tulsa, Katie and Justin in November of 2015 to run the Route 66 Half Marathon.  I drove up on a Saturday, stayed that night, ran Sunday and left Monday morning.  They had moved into their own house and opened the cafe, all while I was floundering about in my Austin hurricane.  I don’t know if it was the nice toll booth lady who paid for my toll when I had absolutely no change coming into OK, or the majestic deco-inspired Tulsa skyline but as I drove into downtown Tulsa that night, coming north on 75 across the river, I just thought, I could move here.  As soon as I uttered those words to my hosts it was over.  If the coffee and floral business don’t work out for these two, they can be professional Tulsa recruiters.

We didn’t have much time that weekend to keep exploring Tulsa but I’m pretty sure we went back to Andolini’s and went over all the great things about Tulsa over and over on their couch.  Katie had started her own business since I was gone and the cafe was so cool to see finally open.  Another inspiring moment and I just thought, I want to be where people are living out their dreams.  And I drove off, making no promises this time but also kind of knowing what was going to happen.

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Majestic skyline

I had devised a plan that in March or April of my second year, I would visit Memphis and visit Tulsa while maybe still considering the possibility of staying in Austin, to really pick where I wanted to go next.  But first, I had a trip to New Orleans with Sharon (my friend and fellow blogger who inspired this series), and Erin my then-roommate.  We were running a race but the part of New Orleans that is relevant to this story is: I decided to have my fortune read in Jackson Square.  The lady I picked was a card reader and after talking for a while she said she would place three cards in front of me and then interpret their meaning to my life.  She laid three cards face down on her table.  In my head I assigned a city to each card: Austin, Tulsa and Memphis.  Here is how she talked about the cards and the cities they matched in my head.  Austin:  this card is chaos.  It represents an unsettled and difficult time.  Tulsa: this card is all rainbows and unicorns and new beginnings.  Memphis:  this card represents being inside out and upside down.  It’s really good and it’s really bad.  You’ll have a good ride but you better hang on.

Spot on.  But also kind of tossed aside, because come on.

I returned to Tulsa mid-spring of my graduating year.  It followed a trip to Memphis and my intention was to really think about each place and what my life would look like with each as a backdrop.  In my mind I really just had two choices: Memphis (familiar and home sweet home), Tulsa (fun and full of new opportunities).  The details of each trip are a little hazy but I remember sitting at Foolish Things with Justin and Katie, helping to host an event (sitting where I am this second actually) and I just decided.  It was a peaceful and exhilarating feeling.  I still had a few months until I would make my move but I just knew this would be it.  I told Katie and Justin that night and the next day Katie took me out to look at houses.  We looked at one over by TU, and two in Owen Park.  The third one we looked at in Owen Park is now my home!

I called my parents to tell them I was thinking about moving to Tulsa and that it was probably a good time to buy a house.  They agreed.  But I think also thought I jumped the gun a little bit on picking a house.  My mom joined me on yet another trip to T-town to see the house, and I think try to (unsuccessfully) talk me out of it.  But I know me.  And I know that when I find something I like, I’m not going to keep looking for something that could maybe be better.  I’m sure it doesn’t make sense to a lot of people from the outside that the third house I ever considered buying was the one but it doesn’t surprise me at all 😉

And that is how I got to Tulsa.  A deeply rooted friendship, the lure of a fun and growing city and a chance to try something I’ve never tried before.  I still love and will always miss Memphis, my first home away from home but I also knew what life looked like there.  I was ready for a new adventure and creating a life on my terms.  Stay tuned for the next installment which will be the story of the two years spent in Tulsa working while I dreamt of the studio.

 

Race: Spring Fling for a Cause 5k

Many of you know that a small piece of my heart and life lives in Muskogee.  This opens up an entirely new willingness and radar for additional races.

Chap watched me struggle to break my long-standing 5k PR for nearly a year when he suggested this Spring Fling for a Cause 5k in Fort Gibson.  It’s flat, it’s an out an back (my favorite for short runs) and it’s during the time of year when temperatures are likely tolerable.  I put it on the calendar thinking it could be a backup race in case the St Patrick’s 5k wasn’t a PR.

This race rolled around and I so wasn’t into it.  I worked late the night before, had to drive out to Muskogee and got in around 11pm only to wake up to 16 mph winds and rain (thanks Michelle for teaching me to read the windometers).  And I lost my running partner.  A broken nose injury benched Chap so I was facing the out and back on my own.

Even as we sat in the car at the start line and I watched maybe 100 people scurry about, I didn’t want to go.  The rain had just picked up, it was in the low 50s and the winds were crazy.  But Chap said, “You won’t regret it.”

With 2 minutes to start I scurried to the start line, turned on my watch and Strava app and bounced around to stay warm.  Then we were off.  I had a goal to try for sub 7s the whole time which would get me my sub 22 target.   It was raining and windy but I couldn’t really tell which way the wind was blowing.  We were running down a paved, flat road that would eventually wind us around a corner before we turned around.  I had about ten people in front of me, mostly males and one female, before I just zoned out.  I tried to keep my pace around my track workout pace and as close to the 7 minute mark as I could.  For this I use my Garmin and keep the display on the elapsed time and pace screen.

I remember beginning to slowly pass the tail end of the pack in front of me.  The lead pack is normally far out of my reach but small town races are a different story.  I started ticking past them one at a time.  First the gal, then two fellas running together and then one guy on his own.  The first mile marker went off on my app and I checked my watch – mile 1 was under 7.

I was banking time as my dad would say.  I kept my pace as close as I could to that until the turn around.  That’s where I met the wind and realized that before when I didn’t know what direction it was coming from, it definitely wasn’t blowing against me.  But now, when I’m halfway in and pretty tired, I can feel it.  I fought through it the best I could to mile 2, also under 7 minutes.   A guy pushing a baby in a stroller motivated me to stay on pace.  I just kept chasing him, we caught the same pace for a little bit and then I pulled on past.

The last mile was the toughest.  I was feeling similar fatigue in my arms that I felt in the St. Patrick’s Day 5k.  (Which Chap later attributed to me moving my arms too much in my stride.  True statement, and good observation.)  I wanted to walk.  So much.  But I just kept refocusing my mind on my breath, on the strength I knew I had from weeks and months of consistent track and circuit work, and on the finish line which was just a flat road ahead (ok, and maybe on the donuts and fella at the finish).

When that third mile time went off on my app, I checked my watch and the distance to the finish line and pushed it.  I thought for sure I could beat the 22 minute mark.  I was running as fast as I thought I could to the finish and just as I’m about to cross the line, the guy with the stroller comes blazing past me.  Talk about a strong finish.

I was just relieved to be done and so happy to have another PR even though I was only 4 seconds off that 22.  They handed me a water bottle instead of a medal at the finish and my arms were so weak I threw it right at Chap’s broken nose (on accident!) so I didn’t have to hold it.  There’s more work to be done, and I am thrilled with the progress made this season!

We stuck around for the awards ceremony which gave me plenty of time to eat a few donuts ;).  Chap knew some people so he was chatty and I just tried to stay warm.  For the first time ever I placed as the first female in a race.  I still can’t really believe it.  And fourth overall.  Sure, it’s a smaller race but come on, me?  The girl who had to be bribed in to running over 10 years ago.  I’m not sure I’ll ever place first in that division or top 5 overall again so I tried to soak it in.  I’ve got some pretty cool hardware to show for it, and a lot of motivation and inspiration to set up the next training cycle (time to drag out the distance by 10-23 miles!)

If you don’t mind making the drive from Tulsa to Ft. Gibson the morning of a run, I’d highly recommend this race.  Flat course, reasonable registration fee, excellent cause (Special Olympics), well organized, small, great food after and great trophies!

It’s easy to get caught up in missed goals.  At the end of each race, PR or not, I try to reflect on the “fun” of the training, the will to race and the spirit of the sport.  I like how strong being fast makes me feel,  and the reward for the work put in.   It doesn’t come easy, and it certainly hasn’t come quickly but with consistency, I’m chipping off those seconds of my PRs.

 

2017 St. Patrick’s Day 5k

If anything will bring me back to the blog, it’s a good race recap.  And since the 2017 Sweetheart Run Double ushered in spring race season, there will be plenty of recaps coming up.  Yesterday’s 5k is the first of 5 races (Ft Gibson, Aquarium, BAA 5k, Garmin) happening over the next six weeks!

I ran this course last year as a coach to a client so I was very familiar with the up and down layout of this short race.  I’d also run the north part of it earlier in the week on a 10-miler with Michelle.  Psychologically I felt prepared.  Physically (save some lingering respiratory issues), thanks to StudiOne Fit Camp and track days, and consistently running with faster partners, I felt prepared.

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Mary, my stroller partner

I rested completely the two days leading up to the run – no circuits or miles, extra naps and earlier bedtimes.  I wrestled all week with wanting to finish my Fit Camp program and giving this race a shot.  It’s not my target race so early in the week I was motivated to keep up with my normal workouts.  But by Wednesday night I was feeling pretty beat down and let the spirit of the race win me over.

Friday night was a low-key night at home with leftover homemade chicken noodle soup and an attempt to pack up for a trip the night before instead of the morning of.  It worked, mostly.  This race has a later start so I was able to get up in the morning and finish tidying up, load my car, grab coffee, drop some things off at the studio, realize I only packed my running and circuit shoes, go back home, and make it to find parking. With 15 minutes to spare, I sat in the car for a while debating my race outfit.  It was drizzling with more rain in the forecast (hat on).  Low 40s and cloudy (mid-length tights, long sleeve shirt).  Considered a rain jacket but thought I would be too hot.

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Waiting to start

While I was searching around for my race pals, big and cold drops started to pour down so I caught some shelter under a shop overhang.  This is definitely up there among least desirable start conditions I’ve had.  I hang out until they announced 2 minutes to start.  I managed to find Catharine and Jessie, talk quickly about goals and then the gun went off suddenly.

False start.

We take a minute to push back behind the line and then get a true countdown.  Then we’re off.  I have my phone in my favorite side pockets with music and Strava tracking the miles.  Watch on my wrist to help me not go out too fast.  And a general goal to keep it as close to 7 mins a mile as I can.

The first mile is mostly flat, and I feel pretty strong.  I can feel tiredness deep in my legs but part of that is the 5k race and part is all the activity early in the week.  When that first mile goes by and my pace is read, I don’t feel as tired as I should for a sub-7 mile.  I try to mentally prep for the inclines that I know are coming.  They’re not too steep or long but still noticeable.  Thankfully I start to hit the faster runners coming back upstream and their energy fuels me enough to get to the turnaround.

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All downhill from here into the flat finish.  I love running against the crowds (Sweetheart Run, Tulsa Run, St Patricks) and it carries me to the end of the runners.  The flat finish still stretches out in front of me and I start to notice tired forearms and pains in my upper back.  I want so badly to walk or pause but I try to just keep moving. I haven’t seen Michelle at all, and I know Catharine is right behind me.  I alternate thinking about members and how they inspire me at Fit Camp until finally I’m across the line.

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Tough, rainy effort

I go hands to knees in an effort not to puke and get a friendly pat a squeal from Michelle as she comes across right behind me, followed not too far by Catharine.  We all realize and briefly celebrate our PRs.  I am so, so relieved to finally have another after chasing last year’s Go Short PR for over a year!  My Strava even says I broke 22 minutes but I’ll keep working on an official sub-22.  We take a few pictures in the rain, a little immune to the cold now. And then I have to dart back to the car to hit the road for vacation.  Next up: Ft. Gibson Spring Fling for a Cause.

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Training gals, PRs for most!

Races: The Sweetheart Double

Last weekend I ran for the first time in the Tulsa Fleet Feet Sweetheart Run.  When I first put it on the calendar, I was thinking I would race the 5k in my ever-continuing effort to break the 22 minute mark.  Then I discovered their option to do the 5k and 10k, one right after the other.  I figured this would be a fun option, especially as I increase mileage a bit with upcoming half marathons (and a looming full in July – I know, I still don’t know how that happened).  Also, since there are few things better than running with friends, I enlisted the company of Teresa for the 5k and Michelle for the 10k.  I tried to rally some more friends but was unsuccessful.

The plan was to run with Teresa in the 5k, and chase Michelle in the 10.  The race fell on the day exactly 9 weeks from my Boston 5k race, so I’ve been in speed training mode for a while – including track workouts, circuits and partner runs with M, who is faster than me.

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Flowers and a bib, true love.

I spent the night at Michelle’s, mostly because I currently don’t have a toilet in my house (post about the bathroom renovation is forthcoming) but also because who doesn’t love a sleepover?  We are a sight to be seen getting ready in the morning.  Making sure we’ve got coffee, food, bibs, shoes and gear all before heading out the door is a chatty, calm chaos with some pump-up music in the background.

We met up with Teresa at the Studio and walked to the start line.  It was a little chilly and overcast but I knew we would warm up once we started running.  Cassi and Steve were there to cheer us on!

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StudiOne community is the best.

In true Michelle and Sprenkel race form, we barely made it into the corrals before the gun went off.  I stayed with Teresa and Michelle went on to run a 4th place age group finish.  Teresa really wanted to beat her 5k time from last year, but I should have coached her better out of it considering she hadn’t run even close to the same training as she did the race before.  Life was just tough the weeks leading up to the race and didn’t leave much time for training.  If I had one wish for her, I would love that her competitive side could subside so she could just enjoy being out in the race (but I also know it took me years to develop that kind of relaxed approach).  I loved running with you T, and am so proud of the runner you are, and are becoming!  Can’t wait to race out there with you again!

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Blurry but smiling!

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Our prizes!

I had about ten minutes to find Michelle.  We reviewed our plan at the start line which was basically run fast but don’t kill us.  I would stay with her as long as I could, like I do on our longer training runs, with a more specific goal of staying under an 8 minute average.

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Start line!

The first part of the course led us out of the flat Blue Dome neighborhood.  We were mostly downhill out of downtown towards the river. We both had our watches on, and the Strava app going but I wasn’t paying too much attention to pace.  My effort to this point felt strong, kind of in that perfect not too easy but not totally taxing zone.  We were a little chatty and I was just thinking of staying with her as long as I could.

We cruised right down the Denver hill and my next goal was to really push the flat two miles we had left before we had to go back up the hill.  This is also the part of the race where the lead runners started to run back against us.  Michelle pointed out there were only 9 females ahead of us, we had a good chance of placing in the top 10 ladies.  Soon, we were part of that lead pack running against the big stream and that is always encouraging to me.  With the breaths we had (Michelle had more than I did), we cheered on people running against us.

Then we were at the hill, four miles behind us, 2.2 in front of us.  We fell into the climb with another gal in a St. Jude singlet and the three of us pulled each other up that hill.  Michelle pulled ahead of me, and I could hear her expletives as I let out exasperated sighs and our new pal commiserated with us.  It was long and moderately steep – several blocks. There were moments I thought I would puke but seeing those two girls in front of me kept me in a run instead of a walk.

The ending was not glamorous.  I was hot and humid by mile 5 and taking the cups of water to pour on the top of my head.  This trick makes me look really really sweaty but also quickly cools me down.

When that final stretch of a few turns around the block hit, I tried to draw on thoughts of track workouts, step ups and jump lunges – all things from my training that make for strong legs.  If anything, it’s distracting and helps tick off some distance.

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Glamorous action shot

Finished strong, reaching my goals and hitting a 10k PR.   We hung around for a little while to get our official results – a 2nd place age group for M, 3rd for me.  9th overall female for M, 11th for me.

Overall, I really enjoyed this course.  I loved doing the back to back races and getting the magnetic metals for each was clever.  I’m very pleased to be placing in age groups in 10k distances and satisfied with how the harder running and circuit training is paying off.  It hasn’t been perfect but it has been consistent.

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2 and 3, 9 and 11.

Next race: Saturday, March 11, St. Patrick’s Day 5k.