State 20: Garmin Half Marathon, KS

On this journey to run in all the states, sometimes I just pick a race that works with my schedule and budget, and sometimes I have a specific race in mind.  Kansas had a specific race.

The Wizard of Oz has long been a favorite story of mine.  I wanted to be Dorothy so badly when I was young that I dubbed my then-crawling little brother “Toto” and only responded to my parents if they addressed me as “Dorothy”.  My mama, being the superwoman she was, put together a homemade Dorothy costume out of a blue overall dress and patent red shoes from Walmart.  It was perfect, except for the reluctancy of “Toto” to actually follow along.

So of course I wanted to run in a Wizard of Oz themed race.  And of course I would dress up as Dorothy.  Due to conflicts the first two years I lived in Tulsa I couldn’t make the race but last April, I set an intention to get it this year.

I recruited Chap to drive with me through the pouring rain up to Olathe.  I managed to keep him company for the first two hours of our late Friday night drive and then gave in to the ZZZs somewhere in the flatlands of Kansas.   Since we weren’t planning to stay to tour around Olathe, I booked a last minute Priceline hotel pretty close to the start.   Once we arrived, I looked up the closest Starbucks for my morning fuel, plugged in my watch to charge and set an alarm.

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Flat Dorothy

I woke up, but not to my alarm.  Simply from the habit of having to be up around 6am most days of the week.  The clock said 6:07 (start time 6:45).  Shit.  I scrambled into my outfit and my running shoes, grabbed my watch and forced Chap awake.  Thank goodness I packed several Superhero Muffins from the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook because my extra sleep threw the chance of oatmeal and coffee out the window.  I chowed down on two of those muffins while carefully dressing up as Dorothy.

Being an out of town race, I hadn’t picked up my packet yet so that was the first order of business but every single route we tried was jam packed with traffic.  When we tried to get onto the interstate, the merging lane and the on ramp were bumper to bumper and not moving.  I thought about getting out right there and warmup running to the start.  Chap suggested we just backup in the shoulder lane off the on-ramp and take a backroad.  I’d blindly trust that man to go anywhere so I let him call the shots.  We found the backroad and he got me as close as he could to the start before the roads were blocked off.  Thanks babe.

As I was running down the road towards packet pickup, I got wind that the start of the race was postponed.  Probably because of all the trouble getting to the start.  So, I relaxed a little, grabbed my bib number and had time to revel in the fact that it was in the low 50s and not raining.

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The skirt is flared from the incredible headwind, not from my blazing speed.

I knew to expect a hilly race and had no plans to PR.  I just wanted to log some miles in pursuit of our marathon race in July, dressed up as Dorothy.  And I got exactly that.  The hills just rolled and rolled.  But I kept a steady pace through most of the race.  A lot of that is due to a fellow states-chaser and new running pal Jon.  We fell into step early on and started chatting about running (duh) and from there just hung together the rest of the race.  We saw other characters from the movie, fell into the 1:50 pace group led by a guy Jon dubbed “Drill Sergeant” who rattled off random facts as we crossed each mile (Did you know that there is a 5 year old boy who has run over 48 marathons?!  And the oldest person to ever complete one was 101 years old!).

When we got into the back miles it leveled off a little bit but the wind really started picking up.  At this point we had passed the Sarge and his group but could still hear his chants.  I heard him yell up to us, “Dorothy, get behind that guy and draft off of him.”  So I did.  For the rest of the race.

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There’s no place like the finish….

The last hill was brutal.  It comes at about 3/4 of a mile to go.  But I told Jon I wouldn’t quit on him and he stayed close enough for me to stick with him.  A few other runners joined conversation about different races and the hills.  This is definitely one of the chattiest runs I’ve done.  Maybe it was my costume 🙂

The course finally leveled off to a strong finish.  Chap found me and I posed for some pictures with some fans of the costume.  This was one of the best post-race parties I’ve ever seen.  They had a beer buffet of craft and less crafty beers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and margaritas from Chuy’s.  I had two more miles to log for training so Chap joined me on two loops around Garmin’s campus and then we had our party.

This was a wonderful race.  Aside from the trouble getting to the start, it was very well run, very friendly and a challenging but fun course.  I won’t be doing it again (no repeat states except home until the country is finished) but would definitely recommend it to friends.  And I highly recommend wearing a costume.  The “Go Dorothy” cheers definitely kept me going.  So much that I might become a costumed runner!

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Also, how do people wear these costumes without pants underneath?!

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.

 

 

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.

Sprenk’s Favorite Things: Side Pockets

How did Friday get here again already?  How is it almost February?  Sometimes I laugh that after 30 years of dealing with the passing of time, I still get caught up in how fast it always seems to go.  Friday means I get to share a favorite thing with you!

Every so often there’s an innovation to something standard that is so brilliantly simple, you wonder why the hell it took so long for it to catch on.  The main development I’m sharing today is the SIDE POCKET.

Pockets on workout pants have evolved over the years.  Some were just big enough for keys, some on the front elastic band with no zipper, some on the back sacrum area with a zipper (painful for crunch work, and damaging to your phone), eventually they grew bigger to hold music devices and phones, and then finally, someone thought to put a big pocket on the side of the upper leg.

My first pair of pants with this perk were hot pink All the Right Places crop from Lululemon.  I bought them because they were pink, and realized later on my first run in them that this pocket was gold.

This year, my favorite tights for doing circuit workouts in also have a side pocket.  It’s great because I’m working out by myself most of the time and want to have headphones in.  Since I do floor work, I don’t want to smash my phone in my back pocket so I slip it into the side pocket of these tights.  These Tight Stuff tights deserve their own favorite things day I love them so much.

Finally, when I run now, I mostly always choose my full length leggings because they’re the only real cold weather running tights I have with this feature.  Before I owned pants with a lateral pocket, I would just carry my phone in my hand (to avoid the sweaty back pocket).  I never realized how burdensome that is!  It’s so freeing to stick it in that leg pocket and still have the headphones be long enough to reach my ears.

Besides being handy for my phone on runs and during workouts, they’re also at the perfect location for me to just walk around with my hands in my pockets – a joy I didn’t even know existed!

It’s hard now for me to buy pants without this side pocket functionality.  Yoga specific pants would be ok, since I’m not usually needing to carry a phone with me for those, but otherwise, from now on running and studio pants will be filtered by the option of the side pocket or not.

Do you love the side pocket?   How do you do music during your runs and workouts?

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?

Organized Home: Kitchen Counters

Moving right along this week into the kitchen.  I am so glad that this Organized 365 project called 40 Days: One Whole House didn’t tackle the entire kitchen at once.  Instead, we’re easing in very slowly starting with the kitchen counters.  I listened to the less-than-15-minutes podcast for this topic on a drive out for dinner with Chap and the kids, and was ready to tackle the counters the next day.

In the podcast, she talks about all horizontal surfaces in your home and how they end up becoming holding spaces for all kinds of things.  Keys, papers, bills, extra cups.  It’s so easy to just set things down and leave them there for later.  I’m working hard on making a space for everything, and then returning items to their homes when they’re not being used.

The first task for the kitchen counters was to take everything off of them.  Everything.  Appliances.  Papers.  Grocery bags.  Drying racks.  Bananas.  That part was easy (my dining room table has turned into a lovely holding space for all of my items in purgatory during this project).  Then, her rule is that you can’t return anything to the kitchen until you use it.  You’re supposed to use the whole week to figure this out but I didn’t want to so I started my meal prep for the week and only returned the things I used during that time.

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Purgatory for Stuff

In the podcast, she specifically calls out several things that most people have out on their counters and should maybe reconsider.  The first is a toaster.  I don’t have a toaster but I do have a microwave.  I don’t use it everyday, and I’m not even sure I use it every two days.  I tried to move this to the laundry room shelf but the plugs weren’t compatible so it had to stay in the kitchen.  Next were those porcelain canisters of all the kitchen utensils.  I have one, and I do use it everyday, but the look of it does clutter up the counters and I have plenty of drawer space.  The utensils are now in a drawer close to the stove for easy grabbing.  And the canister moved to the mantle to hold a new snake plant!

I decided to also tackle the fridge space while I was going at the counters.  Taking down expired Save the Dates and old holiday cards.  The only things that went back up were scenery magnets and art of my favorite cities (Memphis and Tulsa).

It was pretty simple for me to decide what to not put back on the counters.  The three big jars of protein powder I hadn’t scooped from in months.  The utensil canister.  A big bowl to hold fruit that’s usually empty.  And it was nice to rearrange a little.   This new layout worked great while I was prepping veggies and meals for the week, and I love that it feels a lot less crowded in here – from the counter space to the fridge!

Need to work on getting those doors to stay shut!  Next week: pantries and leftovers.