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.

 

 

Thirty Thursdays: Book List

Here we are again for another 30 before 30 bucket list item.  If this list is proof of anything, it’s proof that I do really well with action items.  I’m certain I won’t get every item checked off this list by August, but I’m also positive that I’ve done more things because of this list than otherwise.  So I made a list within a list.

I wanted to get into the habit of reading for pleasure again.  I completely lost this in graduate school (except when I’d escape to Mexico for Christmas and binge read shelves of books) and never took the time to build the habit back up.

I perused Pinterest and the internet for lists of books people should read before they turn 30, lists of books all women should read, lists of books for young entrepreneurs etc.  And this is the list I came up with:

  1. Anna Karenina
  2. Start with Why
  3. The Beautiful and the Damned
  4. Contents May Have Shifted  X
  5. The Edible Woman
  6. Play it as it Lays
  7. The House of the Spirits
  8. The Awakening
  9. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
  10. Bluets
  11. A Room of One’s Own
  12. To Kill a Mockingbird
  13. Villette
  14. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
  15. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis
  16. Sharp Objects
  17. The Bluest Eye
  18. Why Not Me
  19. Save Me the Waltz
  20. Bastard Out of Carolina
  21. Love Medicine
  22. The Color Master
  23. I Feel Bad About My Neck
  24. The Age of Grief
  25. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
  26. Tiny Beautiful Things
  27. Friendship
  28. Bad Feminist
  29. Their Eyes Were Watching God
  30. We Should All Be Feminists
  31. Men Explain Things to Me
  32. The Dream of A Common Language X
  33. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
  34. The Sun Also Rises
  35. Infinite Jest
  36. Unbearable Lightness of Being
  37. Leaves of Grass
  38. How Should a Person Be
  39. Portrait of a Lady
  40. A People’s History of the United States
  41. The Power of Habit
  42. Total Money Makeover
  43. The $100 Startup
  44. The Traveler’s Gift
  45. Essentialism
  46. Blue Like Jazz
  47. How to Win Friends
  48. Energy Bus
  49. Think and Grow Rich
  50. Bible
  51. All the Single Ladies
  52. Seabiscuit
  53. small great things
  54. The Nest
  55. Hidden Figures
  56. Eleanor and Park

Originally this list was meant to be 30 books long.  But the lists I kept finding for recommendations forced me to continue adding to this one.  I tried to compile a decent mixture of fiction and non-fiction, modern and classical writings, books I’ve read already and completely new ones, and a broad spectrum of topics.  I’ve crossed out the books I’ve completed on this list since making it, and put an X next to ones I’ve tried but couldn’t stay into.

Have you read any of these?  What else would you add to the list for someone to read before they turn 30?

Thirty Thursdays

In my weekly schedule, Thursdays are track days.  I have some time between my early classes and my lunch classes to get a good string of outdoor miles in.  I’m pretty amazed that today I actually managed to get any miles in.  I wanted to get a studio blog post written before I ran out the door.  So I sat in bed working on it typing up a story of how I got bribed into running over ten years ago.  Searching and placing photos at just the right increments with perfectly thought out captions.  Just as I was hitting save on this pretty creative and wonderful blog, I lost it.  A quick prayer that the little draft I saw in the queue of posts was answered with a “no”.  I let out an exasperated sigh, did some deep yoga breathing and then decided to quickly re-write it with the pertinent info I was trying to get across rather than try to rewrite the actual story I had told with it (I’ll have to tell it again another day).

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The one-glove, borrowed-watch, too-early-in-the-year-for-excuses look.

The determination within to run was still strong.  I drove to the studio so I could just finish up there before teaching my lunchtime class, bag packed with changes of clothes and all my cold weather gear (in the mid-20s!).  Except one glove.  And my watch.  So I borrowed Michelle’s and tucked one hand into my coat sleeve.  At this point I had run out of time to get my assigned miles in but I figured some miles are better than no miles.  My assignment was 1 mile easy, 2 miles hard, 1 mile easy, 2 miles hard and 1 cool down mile.  I figured I had time for 1 easy, 2 hard, 1 cooldown.

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Guess where the hill is.

The watch didn’t find the satellite until probably a half mile in so I probably really warmed up for a mile and a half.  I made a goal for myself to hit the two fast miles in under 8 minutes each.  I was on pace until I hit the pedestrian bridge across the river and lost the satellites.  By now I was wondering at what point I would hit hospital hill.  Would I have to be running fast up it, or would I be on my cooldown?  Luckily, especially since I was headed into a pretty strong wind, I was on my rest.  So, I don’t know what my actual distance or time was but I do have some mile splits.  Even though one was a little skewed by the pedestrian bridge.  I still got out there, and even in the 20s, it wasn’t horrible!

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Really loving having a journal just for training for the first time ever.

Thursdays are also going to be Thirty Thursdays here on the blog.  2017 is the year of 30 for me and a while back I mentioned the 30 before 30 list I put together.  As I was making it, I wanted to include some adventures, acquire some new skills, of course travel and stay dedicated to my fitness goals.  I think the list covers a nice spectrum of mind, body, spirit, career, home and adventure.  Of course, with 30 items there’s a lot of room to cover those things.  I’ve checked a few things off since posting that list and each week I’ll pick one topic to share here.  This week all you get is the announcement of that new schedule because of the day it’s been.  And hey, I’m just glad I got that run in and got a post up two days in a row!

30 before 30

My birthday is in just a few short days.  A few months ago I told someone I was 27.  Then last week I told Chap that I promised I’d make a dentist appointment before I turned 30 next week.  Apparently late 20s comes with some memory loss?  Or I’m deep enough into ambiguous ages that I can’t even keep track anymore….I am 28.  29 on Saturday.

I know people react differently to aging, and I’m sure part of that is being at different stages of life.  This current age used to seem so old and adult and put together.  If I could only tell my 15 year old self what it’s really like (some days you’re a great adult and other days you survive on cereal and naps with your mutt Miley) maybe she’d not be in such a rush to grow up.  Although the cereal and dog parts aren’t so bad.

In anticipation of the monumental (so they say) dirty 30 next year, I started making a list of things I wanted to accomplish, experience or learn before then last year.  I’ve slowly been working my way through the list and using the hashtag #sprenks30before30 on Instagram to document it.  I had some friends ask for the complete list so I’ve compiled it below.  I like to think I have a nice mix of adventure and travel, fitness and knowledge, goals and skills to master.  Many of these will be money dependent so I’m not expecting to complete the entire list but it’s nice to have something to dream about.

These are in no particular order except what I thought them up in:

  1. Skydive
  2. Snow Ski
  3. Red Rocks Concert
  4. Travel Out of the Continent
  5. Open Fitness Studio
  6. 20 States on the Race Map
  7. Porch Swing on House
  8. Eric Church Concert
  9. Skinny Dip (not in a pool)
  10. 2 Nights Camping Trip
  11. Scuba Dive
  12. Learn Another Language
  13. Rappelling
  14. Hot Air Balloon Ride
  15. 15 Pullups
  16. Half PR (beat 1:47:36)
  17. Open Retirement Account
  18. Sub 21minute 5k
  19. RYT Certification
  20. Winter Cruise
  21. Remodel Bathroom
  22. Alaska Trip
  23. Payback Graduate School Debt
  24. Cook Rice Without Burning It
  25. Helicopter Ride
  26. File My Own Taxes
  27. Read
  28. Shooting Range
  29. Year of News
  30. ???

And as I’m typing this, it appears my inability to count my age also translates to making lists.  I thought I had 30 things!  What would you put as the last item on my 30 before 30 list?