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!

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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.

Boston Distance Medley

Back when I was researching specific races to check some more states off, I came across the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) half marathon, hosted in October.  I stumbled across this race last summer and it was already too late to register for it, but I made a point to pay attention to registration this year.

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Boston bound!

As I was double checking the registration date, I stumbled across a series of events called the Boston Distance Medley.  This race series includes a 5k, 10k and the half marathon.  Registration for the series opened up before all of the others and it guarantees your entry into each race.  I figured the little bit of extra money for all three was worth it to make sure I got into both the 5k and half, my two target races.

As excited as I am to cross the state off in October for the half marathon, I’m actually more excited for the 5k in April (I’ll probably skip the 10k.  Three trips to Boston is a little much for me in one year, when there are other states to cross off!)  The race is Saturday, April 15 which is 13 weeks away. That gives me the Sweetheart Race and the St. Patricks Day Run to practice breaking that 22 mark, and then I can really go for it on a historic course!  And the best part?  Marathon Monday is the Monday right after the 5k so of course I’ll stick around to see one of the (if not THE) most historic runs in the world.  Not sure if I’m more excited for my race, or that race.

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Nothing motivates like a race deadline

I’m hoping to find someone to go with me, either to run the race or just to go watch the marathon but this is one trip I’m so excited about I’d do it solo if I had to!

Any suggestions for things to do in Boston?!

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!

Winter Season W3: Track Run

Y’all I am determined to keep up a daily blogging habit.  I have a few reasons for this:

  1. So I can look back on this journey to two new PRs and keep track of what went well and what didn’t
  2. So I can reconnect to this online world of like minded fast-running, healthy-eating, organized-at-home creative people.  Or at least network with some so I stay inspired.
  3. Reconnect to you, the readers to share my perspective on things in life and continue to tell stories.  If there’s any particular content you’d like to see, let me know and I’ll try to sneak it in.

So, as I get started back into this, I am going to work on using the word “so” a little bit less and also commit to writing daily.  This may mean a few junky posts for a bit while I just sit down at my computer to hash out some thoughts, get a little creative or wake up the writer in me again.  I used to have lists and lists of things to write about but today I can’t think of a single thing except to tell you how my runs have gone.  So, (whoops) that’s what I’ll do.

I have two big, hard, almost impossible goals I’ve been chasing for a while now.  I want to break 22 minutes (used to be 21 but then I got a little more realistic) in the 5k and I want to break a long-standing (almost 4 years, maybe 5?) half marathon PR.  Before I turn 30 in August (the back up plan is just anytime in 2017).

Setting the goal, and even making the plan are the easy parts.  Doing the plan through to the finish is the tough part.  Here’s the plan:

  1. 3 quality runs a week (via Run Less, Run Faster method): track, tempo and long (I’ve added my own twist to the long run, which I’ll tell you about soon!)
  2. Fit Camp Style workouts 3x per week: This is my own version of strength training.  I give credit to this for my last half marathon success on a single long run of 7 miles.
  3. Yoga everyday: not necessarily a class a day, but some kind of on the mat designated stretch out time.  The key to staying injury free.

Lucky for me, all of those things are at my studio! There really isn’t a better time for me to try to do this.  Yesterday was my week 3 track day.  The first week I ran 400s which I’ve come to love, last week was 800s which I kind of hate and this week’s assignment was 2 one mile repeats and an 800.  Weird horribly “long” track distances.

I planned to run with two of the girls who usually come to the YogaFit class on Tuesday mornings but we had some extra people show up (which is awesome!) so we went for a windy 3 mile run instead.  I was still determined to get my track work in so I hopped straight on the treadmill after class (my preferred track location).  My legs were so tired!  I did my best to keep up with my set pace but a lot of the time had to scroll down or hop to the sides.  This is always disheartening and reminds me of a slow balloon deflation.  I was so hopeful starting the workout and then as I trudged along and my legs got heavier, my little hope balloon slowly lost all its air.  But, I did it.  It’s over and I can write it down in my Believe Training Journal (more motivating to get runs in than it should be).

Hope y’all have a great first Wednesday of the new year and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for some more dusting of the rust writing…..(it’ll get better, I promise hope.)

 

Winter Season, part 2

Last week took an unexpected turn after that ambitious first Tuesday Track workout.  Wednesday was business as usual, which meant a strong arm workout in the afternoon with one of my classes and a routine mid-week day otherwise.

Then came Thursday.  I woke up with a splitting headache.  Very similar to the one I had a few weeks ago when I also had some sinus and congestion issues going on.  Behind one eye, affected by light and noise, and making me feel sick.  Usually I’ll get up and do things before I teach my lunch classes but I accidentally stayed in bed until about noon.

Once I got to the studio, I drank some water thinking maybe I was dehydrated, and about five minutes later, mid-interval for my poor kiddos, I had to leave for the bathroom.  Like a champ, I managed to finish teaching but hit the bed immediately when I got home.  The rest of the night was a tag team between bed and bathroom.  So not pleasant.

Friday I was on my feet again but with no appetite.  No workout this day.  Same situation Saturday.   By Sunday I was feeling alright again but the polar vortex made me not want to go outside to run.  So I decided I’d just start over.  I used the time locked in doors to register of 2 of my 3 goal races in the spring – Sweetheart Run on February 18 and St. Patrick’s Day 5k in March, both in Tulsa.

I also spent some time playing in my Believe Training Journal.  I made the tentative calendar for the year, thought about four major goals and re-wrote my first week of training.

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This morning I was all set to do a repeat of the 8×400 from last week’s Track Tuesday.  Except that I did not want to run at all.  Even indoors on the treadmill.  I don’t know if it was the idea of repeating the same workout, or just that I wasn’t in the mood.  But I had to drag myself over there.  And then, when the treadmill cut off after 7 intervals, I just let it end.

Regardless, got a 1 mile warmup at 7.5mph followed by 7 rounds of 400m at 8.5mph  for a total of 4.5 miles.

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Week 1, run 1 is done!  So thankful.

Go Short, Go Long, Go Very Long

Publishing out of order for the sake of trying to get a new habit going!  Route 66 is coming, I promise!

As part of trying to get faster in general this year, I decided to focus on my most hated distance – the 5k.  I plan to check in on my progress every month by running one (either a local race or just the distance on my own) and tailoring my training to this particular distance.  I know I won’t be able to resist the pull of the half marathon but my training will not be geared towards a strong half marathon time.

I decided this almost immediately following the Route 66 race last November.  You’ll see why in a few days when that post pops up.  A large part too was that I needed shorter runs and training days to help me manage my time better, and to feel successful.

I started 5k training almost immediately after the half marathon.  Nothing like a disappointing performance to light a fire underneath your motivation, right?  So, it’s been about 7 or 8 weeks of focused training of one track, one tempo and one long run per week.  Plus some cross training and lots of yoga.  I’m very pleased with my first test of training!

Race Review

  • Price: Reasonable, purchased on sale during Thanksgiving weekend.
  • Course: Awesome.  West side of river trails.  If race grows too big, could be very crowded.
  • Organization: Not great.  We had that false start and awards seemed to take forever to get started in the cold.  Volunteers were awesome.
  • Post-Race: Awesome.  I wish I’d remembered to use my food and beverage tickets!
  • Would I run again? Yes.

I signed up for this race on either Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Fleet Feet, the organizers, do a nice discount on one of those big sale days and I took full advantage signing up for this 5k and the Golden Driller half in April.  This particular race had four distances to choose from: 5k, 10k, 25k and 50k.  With my new goal in mind, I selected the 5k.

Packet pickup was a breeze.  I was in and out of the downtown location in less than 4 minutes.  I chose the earliest time on the Friday before the race to go.  It was a simple packet, as to be expected with such a small local race, and included our bib, shirt and four safety pins.

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Contents of the Packet

The morning of race day was pretty low key for me.  I got up, fed Miley, grabbed a banana and headed to Foolish Things for a cup of coffee before the race.  The later start time of 8:30 was awesome for these morning errands.

The start was at River West Festival Park, a recently renovated part of the trail system on the west side (obviously) of the river.  I showed up around 8:20, had no trouble parking and finished my coffee in the car.  The start line was just a quick warmup jog away.

Not much was around, a few tents and the vendors for after the run.  The start line was set up and we had a great view of downtown.  I’m imagine this park to be pretty stunning when all the wildlife isn’t in hibernation!  I’m way excited to get back on these trails in the spring.

I found my spot close to the front of the pack in the corral.  The entire 5k is run on the trail system on the west side.  We had a small glitch at the start where the race director did the countdown but we didn’t actually start when he said go.  This added some time to my app timer but wasn’t a huge upset since the chips didn’t activate yet. We got officially started about 5 minutes late and I got swept up in those front runners.

The 10k group was also running with us, but at our turn around at the pedestrian bridge on 21st street, they continued on.  This race was small and I could see the leaders almost the entire time.  I definitely had my sights set on April (I learned her name later), the lead female.  I felt my leg muscles starting to get the wave of fatigue before the half mile and knew I should back off.  So easy to get swept away in the energy.

The race flew by!  It’s been so long since I’ve run a 5k that it seemed really short!  It wasn’t very hilly and I enjoyed the out and back part of it.  Loved the energy of people running against me after the turn around and cheered as many on as I could in between breaths.

My pacing was decent throughout the race – I prefer negative splits but I feel like I gave it my all without tanking too early.  It’s always nice to feel strong through the entire distance, and also at the end like you might lose your banana and coffee.

I’ve never ever finished so well in a race.  It was a personal best but also, placed well in the field of runners.  Everyone at the finish was so polite and friendly and congratulatory. The first female came up and introduced herself to me, and we congratulated each other on great runs.  I was 90 seconds behind her.  I met a guy named Jim who hung around with me while we waited for age group awards.  He’s familiar with the local racing scene and told me April is one of the best in the state.  A couple other runners came up to talk too and it was nice meeting such friendly people – not sure if it was my breakout time or my flashy pants!

We stood around for what felt like forever waiting for these awards.  My fingers went numb and my brain was so cold I completely forgot about the free beverage and food tickets!  I missed out on some Old School Bagels, Marshalls Beer and a food truck.

I set my sights on 24 minutes today – that’s been the goal of training these past 7 weeks.  I’m surprised by my fast time today, but I’m also not.  I’ve been consistent with the training runs, eating well and consistent with strength training and yoga.  These are the results I should have.  Let’s see if success can fuel the flames as much as disappointment did in November!