2017 Tulsa Run Recap

I loved this run.  I’ve run this race each year since I’ve moved to Tulsa because the locals hype it up so much, and it does not disappoint.  It’s been around longer than the marathons here and has years of history and support.  This year was the 40th anniversary!

My mentality for this run was to just have a good time.  Enjoy the weather, enjoy the course, enjoy the run.  Since there was no pressure on a specific performance, I went out for a girls’ night on Friday (or maybe because of the girls’ night, I didn’t put any pressure on).  Either way, it was great to spend time outside of fitness hanging with the gals.  We went to Prairie Brewpub for drinks and dinner before seeing Maren Morris at the Brady.

I was in bed by midnight and then up again around six to make sure I got to the Studio to see the 5k gals off.  Their race was first at 7:50.  I brought almost my entire wardrobe with me to the Studio because it’s been so long since I’ve run in this kind of weather.  The forecast was calling for low 30s but I knew the sun would be shining and we’d warm up fast.  I had fleece-lined pants, regular pants, gloves, a hat, ear warmers, jackets, long sleeves and a costume.  Last minute I decided to go with the costume, a long sleeve shirt and my regular pants (with a side pocket of course).

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Michelle and I started together with no real plan except to have fun.  I thought about alternating hard miles with easy miles, but once we were out there just decided to run it strong.  Before we even hit the first mile I knew I was going to be too warm.  At mile 2 I began “Operation Layer Reduction while Still Running”  My velvet sleeves of the Supergirl costume were making me so hot as a double layer.  I knew I had to take one layer off but didn’t want it to be the costume.  This was a very involved operation because my bib was pinned to my undershirt, and I wanted the undershirt to be the layer lost.  So I removed the bib, took off both shirts, had Michelle hold my headphones and undershirt, put the costume layer back on, reattach the bib and tie the undershirt around my waist.  So much relief!

We kept running at a pretty good pace, rolling over the hills, and then reached my favorite part of the course.  When we get to Peoria, there’s a couple of miles of runners running against each other and it is so fun and encouraging.  I remember several specific moments of just pure bliss (I know, crazy talk) – smiling at other runners, keeping an eye on Michelle ahead of me and feeling strong.  Plus people loved the costume and cheered me on the whole way!

I did start to struggle a little bit once we crossed to the west side and had just under two miles to go.  I had a little side stitch that lasted a while so I just told myself to breathe through it and keep moving.  I never stopped and it eventually went away.

Finally, we came to the rolling hill to get us back up from the river.  I could still see Michelle but she was a good distance ahead and I knew I wouldn’t catch her.  I rounded the corner on Boston and just pushed it to the finish.  Next order of business was brunch!

I ended up with about a 20 second PR and a renewed sense of racing.  I’m looking forward to continuing to train through the winter, and pick a few more key races to practice running strong in.  What a great event!

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The New Road to Boston

This past week was the final acceptance of official qualifications for the 2018 Boston Marathon.  I was not anxiously waiting to see if my time allowed me to participate because I knew my 3:39:36 in July didn’t make the Female 18-35 year old age group cut-off of 3:35:00.  This year participants had to beat the cutoff by over 3 minutes to qualify.  Which is why I’m training to target a 3:30 next year.

Seeing all of this for the past few weeks on Instagram Runners’ feeds (people I don’t know but still follow through the IG running community) has really inspired me to think again about qualifying and to make a formal strategic plan.  I want to try again next year and I want to do it at the same race.  I’ll be familiar with the course, where to stay and the time of year spent in training.  July is a long way off so it gives me time to mentally and physically prepare, too.

Big Picture Boston Plan

There are three phases of this training – 5k, half and final.  The first 12 weeks, I will follow a 5k training plan to help me build my anaerobic and aerobic bases back up, and get me back down to some paces I haven’t seen in a while.  For the first two or three weeks of September I was trying to hop back in on a half marathon plan and those distances were just too intimidating.  I was excited to start the 5k workouts so that’s what I picked.  The target race is the Rudolph Run on December 16 in Broken Arrow.  It’s the last of my 4 Seasons challenge and I’ll have completed 3 of the 4.

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One step at a time.

The second phase rolls in right behind the 5k, with maybe a week off for pulling back a little bit.  I’ll jump up to the half marathon distances in training to target the Aquarium Run at the start of April next year.  This is the course I PRd on this year and I’m ready to do it again.  A sub 1:40 would have me really feeling good about starting marathon training.

After the half race, I’ll start the training cycle for the 3:30 marathon.  It’ll be just like last year except I’ll have snuck that half marathon training in the middle.  When I decided to go for the full this past time, I was only training for 5k distances so really had to make a big jump in miles.

The cool thing is, if I stick with it in all areas of the training (strength, runs, yoga, maintenance, nutrition), I know I can do it.  I know it.  And it can be next year.

But it starts with right now.  It starts with a daily commitment to some kind of progress.  I ordered another Believe Training Journal so I could start fresh and enjoyed keeping track of runs this week.

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Graduated to “Compete” this year

 

12 weeks to Rudolph 5k

This first week of training went really well.  I have a renewed spirit towards running after a long rest in August and a tough few weeks trying to get miles back under my feet in early September.  I changed my plan to shorter distances and have enjoyed getting back out there.  The temps are dropping too which is beautiful and amazing.  I got three runs in this week:

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Week 1 of Cycle 1 complete!  Almost 100% compliance (no yoga)

  • Track: 8 sets of 400.  I love 400s and the quick turnover of the feet.  I managed to get a few sub 6:30s and the rest sub 7:30.
  • Tempo:  I was planning to do a 1,2,1 tempo but got a 1.5 warmup in because of friends, 2 hard miles and about a half mile cooldown.  Those 2 miles in the middle were my first sub-8 miles since marathon training.  #celebratethelittlethings.
  • Long: I ran long with my friend Katie this morning.  We’re doing a half marathon in Boston next weekend so went a little farther than I would normally for a 5k this weekend.  We made it to 8.8, taking it from the Studio to the west side of the river just past the soccer fields.  It was a beautiful perfect morning.

Total miles: 25.94

That’s more than half the miles I ran all of September combined!  Good turnaround at the end of the month!

I should have done more yoga this week but have been busy planning a running program here for the studio.  I will do more yoga next week than I did this week and that will be an improvement!

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100% days in October so far! 1/1 days I made progress to my goals.

If you want help making an attainable plan for you, reach out to me and I can help you hit your goals!  Whether you want to get faster or go farther – I’ve got the tools and experience to get you there!

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.

 

2016 Firecracker 5k

Good morning y’all!  I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July – I sure did.

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Firecracker 5k 23:20

I started off one of my favorite holidays by running in the Fleet Feet Firecracker 5k.  I’ve been working on 5k spadework and tempo runs since January and in March, when the temps were still low and the weather kind of dreary, I decided to shoot for this race for my 21:something goal.  Well about three weeks before the race, I was out on a practice 5k run and realized I had completely forgotten what the heat and humidity can do to average pace times.  It’s no joke how much it can slow you down!  (Seriously, we learned about it in grad school, although now I can’t remember the specific statistic.  I just know that it’s true).

So after that practice run, I nearly bagged signing up for the race.  It was three weeks away, definitely not enough time to get ready to PR and close enough to the race that the fees would be high.  I had pretty much talked myself out of it.  But then this other  voice in my head took over.

You can’t just skip the race because you think you won’t do well.

Well, I could.  But I decided that I wouldn’t.  I signed up that day, staying true to my goal of running this race but adjusting what I expected from the outcome.  I decided I would shoot for under 24 minutes and work on getting faster each mile.  I hit half of that goal.

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Flat Sprenk ready to go.

The race was set for 7:30 am and it looked like we’d luck out with no rain and temps in the low 70s.  I’m not one to get to the race early to hang around so we headed to the start line around 7:15.  I had my usual coffee and water at wake-up time and banana at the start line.  Works well for this distance.

The start line was crowded!  I ran into one of the runners I follow on Instagram but had never met in real life and we wished each other luck – man, what technology does!  Honestly I don’t remember thinking about much except wanting to get it started.  I need to get better at calming down at the start to stick with the game plan.  Which was to start slower and pick up pace as the race went on.

When I race a race, rather than run it for fun, I work my way up to the front of the pack.  It’s an intimidating place to be with all of these lanky, sleek-muscled fast-looking people!  But I go there because I’m racing, just like them.  And even though I feel like I don’t fit in, I do.  Mostly.

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Waiting for the strollers to go.

This race I got swept up into them a little out of my league.  I could feel when we made our first turn onto Boulder off of Second that I was going too fast.  I checked my app (which was off anyway because I didn’t start it on time….so much to think about at that start line!) and saw I was running a sub-7!  Whoa Sprenk, slow down!  So I slowed my pace a bit but wanted to keep it steady and still under 8 minutes.  By 1.5 miles, I was hot but still pushing.  We looped around in near Guthrie Green and headed back toward the Denver dip in the road.  I had to walk up that hill.  I even tried to pull on the strength of all those mornings running back and forth over the Boulder bridge but it just wasn’t there.  (The end of the race can be real tough if you tank it in the first mile like I did on accident).

Then I was on Second with the finish line in sight.  But still so far.  I turned it up a gear (or thought I did).  Making my way into the crowd.  Closer and closer to the finish line.  I felt like I was sprinting but video that Chap got showed later I definitely wasn’t.  Oh well, it’s all in the perceived effort right?

I crossed the line at 23:20.  Not fast enough for an age group place which is always fun, but fast enough to meet my sub-24 goal!  I chowed down on a breakfast taco and then had to run home to change before a morning at the studio.  IMG_1267

I’m so glad I raced.  Even though I didn’t meet my original goal, I didn’t quit and I learned from this race.  I’m a firm believer that every race, every training run has something to offer you if you’ll just look.  The good and the bad.  Yesterday wasn’t bad, it wasn’t my best.  But it was good!  And I learned that I need to pace myself!  This lesson will give me a focus for the next training cycle 🙂

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Sun was so bright!

 

Quick Race Review:

I enjoyed this race.  The course was challenging but a nice tour through downtown’s neighborhoods.  The medal was awesome (and not too common for 5ks) and so were the breakfast tacos.  I was not crazy at all about the very stiff cotton t-shirts we got and am certain I’ll never wear mine.  That’s mostly my only complaint about this particular race!  I’d definitely do it again next year.