State 22: B.A.A. Half Marathon

When I was looking for a race to choose for Massachusetts, I knew I wanted it to be in Boston.  I stumbled across the B.A.A. Half Marathon in 2015 but had missed registration for it.  As I read about the race, I learned that it’s part of a distance challenge and the best way to guarantee entry is to sign up for the medley of a 5k, 10k and half spread across the year.   In 2016 I paid special attention to registration deadlines, set an alarm on my phone and registered for the medley right on time.  I never had any intention of doing the first two races, just wanted a guaranteed entry to the half.

When I learned the 5k race shared weekends with THE Boston Marathon, I decided to run that as well.  Chap and I used my companion pass to both get out there, and made a weekend of the 5k race, my first trip to Boston and spectating the marathon.  (Side note: Before we left for this trip, I had just signed up for the Jack and Jill Marathon with Michelle.  This is the trip that inspired me to train to qualify. )  This post isn’t about that weekend so I’m not going to write much about it here, but enjoy the pictures!

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State 22: Massachusetts

I loved Boston so much in April and was thrilled to revisit it this fall.  I was looking forward to colored leaves and crisp temperatures.  Unfortunately we didn’t get either of those.  Chap has been a reliable and wonderful travel and race companion but he didn’t get invited on this trip.   I wanted to share my companion pass with a long time soul sister and so invited one of my very oldest and best friends Katie (also the one who got me to Tulsa!) to come run with me.

We had a mediocre training cycle.  Honestly the summer and early fall just kind of disappeared in front of our eyes.  We’re both small business owners, Katie has a two year old and while we managed to stay very committed to working out, we just didn’t get the weekend long runs in.  We made it up to 8 miles in training and I knew that would be enough to get us across the line so we called it good.

It also helped us to enjoy our trip – alleviating the pressure of going for a particular time on an unfamiliar course.  I try to plan two or three runs a year where I’ll really go for it and the others are just meant to be enjoyable.  Because of this we were able to eat and drink and walk all over Boston without worrying about it affecting our performance on Sunday.

You can read a play by play of our tour of Boston on the Studio blog here.

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Carb loading.  Not totally justified but still delicious.

I want to recap three pros and three cons of the race on this blog today, more of a review of the event than the trip.

Pros

  1. Boston.  Boston is a historic city on its own.  But there is so much running history too.  One morning Katie and I went to the river to do a few shakeout miles and on our way back to the train stop, I saw a group of girls running through Boston Common who I recognized but couldn’t quite pinpoint.  I later recognized them as the women behind my favorite planner – Believe Training Journal.
  2. Race organization.  Our bibs were mailed to us.  We picked up our shirts at the finish line.  There was no waiting around or messing with an expo and it was awesome.
  3. Race course.  The course was scenic and beautiful.  We ran through the Emerald Necklace park system.  It was pretty full of rolling hills which I wasn’t really prepared for but we handled them (thanks, Tulsa).

Cons

  1. The Weather.  This was out of anyone’s control of course but our plans to just run and then dry shampoo our hair when we got back to the Air BnB (when we thought it would be in the 50s) went out the window in the first mile.  No one’s fault but still.
  2. Race organization.  There were over 6,000 runners and a single start!  On narrow park trails.  That is crazy to me.  Maybe because they’re Boston and they can get away with it.
  3. Race course. Though scenic, it was crowded because of the single start.  Parts of it had us running against later miles of the course and it was especially tight then.  And smelly.  Lots of humid, sweaty runners.

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    Crowded

This was definitely just a checkmark state and more of an excuse to go back to Boston with a best girlfriend.  It’s always better with some company, and not always about setting PRs, breaking 2 hours or running the whole way.

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Pre Race (we’re as tired as we look)

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If you want to be coached to your first or fastest race, email me!  coachsprenkel@gmail.com.  Customized plans, including run workouts, strength workouts and stretching.

 

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Rudolph Run Week 11 Update

This week was pretty exciting for me.  We officially started our running club at StudiOne and I checked off another state (#22) on my half marathon quest.  My typical running days fall on the same days we host the club at the Studio so I took a little detour from my specific plan this week to make sure our group was all set to go.  We had a lot of fun, everyone worked really hard and I’m thrilled to get this program going for Tulsa!

  • Track:  I was supposed to get in 5×800 but the girls in the group weren’t ready for that distance yet so we dropped down to 400s.  I took some time running with each participant so wasn’t at my pace.  But I figured since it’s race week and all, any miles out there are good miles.  2.29 total.
  • Tempo:  Similar story here.  Usually I’ll tack on some additional miles after our group run, but today I did not.  I had a lot of work to get done before trying to pack for the Boston trip, and considered any miles logged good miles.  I went 2.66 with the group at a comfortable pace.
  • Shake-out:  This was a bonus run for the week.  Katie and I got to Boston on Friday for our Sunday race.  I knew the race was going to be in a park system and not around the downtown area so I asked if she would go with me for an easy run around the Charles.  She said yes and we got 2.48 done on Saturday.
  • Long: RACE!  This week my long run got to be the B.A.A. Half Marathon.  Katie and I ran it together and because of the surprisingly warm weather, rolling hills and lack of proper endurance training, we walked a little bit.  Our goal was to finish and have some fun doing it, and also get to explore Boston a little.  We walked probably a half marathon distance on Saturday (not ideal race prep!) but didn’t want this run to slow down our sightseeing.  The race ran through the park system in the southwest part of town.  I wasn’t crazy about the course, mostly because I think I’d rather run through some parts of the city, but it was scenic and lovely.  A few leaves starting to turn on the trees. (I’ll post more details about our Boston Trip later this week).

Total Miles: 20.9

Overall, even though this week didn’t go exactly to plan (only 2 Fit Camps, no yoga and not prescribed runs), I am pleased with the consistency of the days and my flexibility around our trip.

My Summer Long Run Uniform

I made a pledge at the start of the year to not purchase any items of clothing for all of 2017 (with a few exceptions).  At this point in the game, I hadn’t signed up to run a marathon yet, so I made a few more exceptions once I was enlisted in this endeavor and had miles of training in front of me.  I wore two particular articles of clothing for every long run and during the race.  They were perfect and I have no complaints about either item of clothing.  Since I loved them so much, I want to tell you about each piece.  I will definitely be buying a second pair of each once my purchasing ban is lifted and I start summer training again next year.

The Perfect Running Bra

It does exist and it is made by Lululemon.  I have squeezed myself into sports bra after sports bra but this is the one y’all: The Enlite Bra.

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Summer long run uniform

I’m lucky in that I don’t have to contend too much with my girls and their bounce or weight when I run.  And I’d honestly never really thought twice about a good sports bra, until I wore this one.   It made the days I wore other sports bras seem restrictive and uncomfortable.

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Full coverage on the front and no bouncing!

I love the Enlite because it has individual cups for each gal.  Turns out I don’t really love having them smooshed into a uni-boob.  I also love that it hooks in the back in addition to the usual elasticity of sports clothing because that helped eliminate some of the bounce that happens when running (again, I don’t have much to contend with here, but I did notice).  The criss-crossed straps in the back also helped me feel tucked in and tight.  The best part though was probably the fabric.  It is SO soft.  And there’s something magical about it that doesn’t collect sweat (and man were there some sweaty days in July gearing up for that race).  I remember wearing a different bra on a humid night run of way less than half the distance of some of those morning long runs and I had to wring it out it got so soaked in sweat.  I never had to wring out the Enlite, because of the magic fabric.

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Enlite Bra + mid thigh tights = perfect running combo

The Perfect Running Bottoms

When I first started running, I wasn’t too picky about the kind of clothing I had on.  I didn’t know any better.  It only took one run over 5 miles to learn that shorts are not a good option for my legs for that many miles.  No thigh gap there.  So for years, I’ve run in mid-length tights all through the summer months for runs over 5 miles.  When the temps started to climb in Oklahoma on this marathon training cycle, I knew I needed a different plan.

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I spy a phone tucked into a side pocket

I bought my favorite pair of running bottoms to date.  They are the mid-thigh tight shorts that remind me of biker shorts.  They’re amazing for a few reasons:

  1. They are way cooler (as in temps) than tights just a few inches longer.
  2. They are way more comfortable than traditional shorts and I can wear them for miles and miles without a concern of chafing.
  3. THEY HAVE SIDE POCKETS

I’ve written about my love for side pockets before but I’ll reiterate again.  As a digital runner who uses her phone for music, run tracking and instagramming on the run, side pockets changed the game for me.  There is less sweat there than at the normal small-of-the-back pocket and the bounce from the large device is minimal when it’s snug against your leg.  There’s also plenty of room for hours of snacks and mid-run essentials like salt tablets and Aleve.  I’ll never buy pants or shorts intended for running without side pockets again.  Ever.

Unfortunately this version of the shorts is no longer in production but I’ll let you know when something similar is available for purchase.   I’ll definitely be buying another pair when they come back around!

 

 

The Greatest Adventure

I wrote this post for our StudiOne blog right after the race but I never shared it here.  I’m not sure how much crossover there is between my two worlds but I wanted to re-share it here because I think there’s an important message about believing in yourself in my story.   Mine is specifically running, but yours could be anything else.  Job, school, relationships.  Put in the work and see what happens before you sell yourself short.  You just might believe you can do it (I’ll be trying again next year!).

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Whose idea was this anyway?

Last weekend, StudiOne instructor Michelle and I traveled to the west coast to run in our Jack and Jill Marathon.  We’d been training for 16 weeks in hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  I, Sprenkel, was originally planning to accompany Michelle on her BQ attempt and check off the half marathon distance of my 21st state.  But, on the day we registered back in February, the half was already sold out.  So I committed to the full, but only reluctantly.  I, Sprenkel, who after my last marathon in 2013 called my dad to make him promise to never let me sign up for another one, was game to run 26.2 miles again (never say never, eh?) but was not interested in the work or idea of qualifying for Boston.  Well, ok the idea of it because what runner isn’t?  But I am a half marathoner, a recent 5k racer and never in my 10 years of running would I have considered myself strong enough to qualify for Boston.  Never.  (This is important, are you getting it?)

Somewhere between the time of signing up and starting our official training, I’d been convinced by two women that I could at least train like I wanted to qualify.  One of them was Michelle, who was begging for a training partner, and also believed in me before I did.  The other was Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to register and run in the infamous 1967 Boston Marathon.  I listened to her speak in April and this line brought me to tears, “We are very good at underestimating what we’re capable of.”  That settled it.  I flew home to Michelle and we started training the very next week.  Who am I to stand in my own way?

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Lots of miles on Brookside

The first half of training went really, exceptionally well.  Our schedules matched so we were able to run most of our training days together.  The weather was great, we were hitting our paces and the grudge of weeks and miles of training hadn’t set in yet.  Then more than halfway through, our schedules changed, the weather turned nasty and the long miles dragged on.  I was making bets left and right to help me eat right and get the last of my miles in.  But we dug in and got the training done.

Going into the race, we were both unsure of what to actually expect.  Michelle scoped out the course that was most likely to get us a fast time, which is why we hauled ass across the US to run.  The 40 degree temperature difference would certainly work in our favor and so would the downhill.  But still, that doubt lingered that we could hit the low 8:00 paces because we hadn’t been in the Tulsa heat and humidity.  I almost tossed in the BQ towel before the race even started.

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Shakeout run on the sound

We had a beautiful first full day in Seattle that we spent carefully eating and touring around.  We went for a shakeout run on the river at noon time and barely broke a sweat.  It was heaven.  There was a lot of chatter about our race strategy to keep us from going out too fast.  I definitely couldn’t pull one of my 5k race starts where I bolt out of the gate – too many miles for that.  We made sure to stock up on fuel for during the race (my Aunt Annie’s fruit snacks) and a blanket for the start line since we would be waiting around for an hour.  We tried to go to bed early but our nerves kept us up later than we would have liked.  Luckily we were running on more than 12 hours of sleep from the previous night.

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Marathon morning

Race day came at 3am on Sunday.  We got dressed in our layers and put our glide on all the proper seams.  There are so many sequential things important in this time period.  We had to leave by 3:45 am to make it to our 4:30 bus on time.  After we were dressed and made sure we had all the watches, headphones, playlists, snacks and pills (salt and Aleve) we would need, we made our breakfast of steel cut oats and ran out the door.

I stayed surprisingly calm throughout the whole morning.  I get more nervous for 5ks than I did for this.  I was calm on the bus, although I did get a little annoyed at all the race chatter going on on the bus.  At that point, you’ve done everything you can to get ready for the race and I didn’t want to hear any more what if this happens or what if that happens?  I stayed calm as we huddled under our blanket waiting for the start.  Even stayed calm on the walk to the start line and the quick hop into the bushes for one last bathroom break (hey it happens, and you don’t want to have to stop on the course if you’re going for time).  Before I knew it, we were off, and I was still calm.

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Headlamps for the tunnel

It felt so good to be running.  The mountains were incredible, the temperature was perfect and I had my best running pal by my side.  Without a definite plan still, I just wanted to run by feel and keep a mindful approach to my breath and effort levels.  About half a mile in we hit the famous Snoqualmie tunnel.  For about 2.5 miles of disorienting darkness, we paced behind the 3:35 pace man.  It was quiet except for the steps of runners, and occasional drip drip of water in puddles and the steady breathing of a dozen people around me.  I didn’t have any signal in the tunnel so had no music in my ears.

At mile 3 we popped out the other side and I was so happy to be able to see the whole ground beneath me.  I shed my top long sleeve layer and tossed the headlamps into the bucket.  Soon after, a flood of my Motigo messages for miles 1-3 came all at once.  Michelle and I laughed out loud in excitement of the familiar voices.

For a good amount of miles after the tunnel, we ran together, comfortably and steadily.  The scenery was indescribable and I wished often that I wasn’t racing so I could have stopped to take pictures.  We were surrounded by beautiful green trees, an expansive blue sky above us and the green landscape was dotted with bright, colorful flowers beside the trail.  Somewhere in those middle miles, I looked at Michelle and said, “I think we can make it.”

When we got to the mile 15 water stop, I knew some of the toughest miles were ahead of us.  I was still feeling strong so I kept a pretty good pace.  I have to walk through the water stops or I’ll swallow too much air, but I tried to move as quickly as I could.  Working for the next mile marker and Motigo message with every step.  The water tables were about two miles apart and by 17 I didn’t have Michelle in my sights anymore when I looked back over my shoulder.  We’d made an agreement that we would stay together as long as we could, but then if one of us needed to push on, to leave the other.

There’s a famous quote in the running world: “The first half of the marathon is 20 miles, the second half is the last 6.2”.  And y’all is there truth to that.  When I hit mile 20, I was still moving along at goal pace but then it’s like all at once all your systems start to shut down.  Knees, feet and ankles were aching.  Soon the shoulders joined in the party.  I felt like I was going as fast as I could but I also knew I had slowed down.  But I kept moving.  Keep moving for the cheers!  I was always excited to see who would be there to greet me at the next mile.   And I even got a little miffed on a few miles when I knew there were certain people aware of the difficulty of those miles (18 and 20).

Those final six miles passed so slowly and at this point, after the 3:35 pacer passed me, I had no expectation of hitting a qualifying time.  But I was still so so amazed at my own run.  The last mile was the hardest: Motigo had no option for cheers at mile 26 (something I plan to speak to them about), a man on the sidelines cheering shouted out, “Just under 500 yards to go” and I spent at least 500 yards trying to figure out how far that is in meters, and still had no finish line in sight, and my shoulders were aching so much.  I’d developed a calf cramp that had modified my gait a little bit and was pretty much shuffling along the trail.  Then I saw it.  And perked up a bit.  Despite all the pain, I still felt surprisingly strong so I put on my best sprint and crossed the finish line.

I took my medal and two bottles of water before trotting back to find Michelle.  She finished strong, not far behind me.  We both hobbled around gathering up snacks and our start line bags.  We called or texted our biggest fans with our times and limped over to the shuttle bus.  Michelle couldn’t feel her legs and I had such a bad cramp in my shoulder that I couldn’t move my left arm.

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We did it!

Looking back, a week later, I don’t remember any sadness or disappointment from either of us.  During the race I was reminded so powerfully of the magic of running, and especially the magic of a well-trained for marathon.  They’re not always enjoyable, and not every step of Jack and Jill was bliss.  But, for most of those 26.2 miles, I felt fearless, strong and capable.  I thought back on training struggles, days I wanted to give up, and doubts I had in myself.  I remembered years ago when running used to be a punishment to myself for overeating or indulging in delicious food.  And I celebrated that now running is a tool I use to feel strong and able.  I listened with so much love in my heart to my messages from friends and family, near and far.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude and humility that so many people would take time out of their days to cheer for me (Motigo founder reached out to me to tell me I set the record for cheers in a single race <3).

Before the race, I thought of one of my favorite quotes, “Maybe it won’t work out, but maybe seeing if it will is the greatest adventure ever.”  I was at peace at that starting line that even if we missed it, I grew as a runner in that training cycle.  My perception of myself and my capabilities completely shifted.  I never missed a track workout. I completed long runs in the 80+ degrees of the Tulsa summer, while friends were in town and before vacations.  I ran on treadmills on cruise ships.  I said no to brunch and dinner plans, donuts and ice cream for 16 weeks.  And oh man, did Michelle and I adventure through the city streets and weather of Oklahoma.  But I grew.  I stretched.  I pushed.  Michelle gave me the nudge I needed to at least think about it, and then the support I needed to get through it.  Kathrine gave me the push to commit to trying.  And I gave myself permission to fly.  I can’t wait to go back and get that BQ!

Don’t stand in your own way y’all.  We are our biggest critics, doubters and obstacles.  If you need a nudge, or a support team like I had, myself, Teresa and the students and teachers at StudiOne can help you.  It’s fall racing season in Tulsa – pick an October or November race and see what you can do!

 

Podcast Picks

It’s the eve of my final 20 mile training run for this Boston Qualifying attempt.  I was telling Chap today that I’m on the front end of the crazy taper antics where runners start to panic (mild at first) that their training time is running out.  I know that in the next three weeks there’s not a lot I can do to really improve my conditioning a substantial amount.  There is a lot I can do to undo my training though.  So these next three weeks will be very cautious, and like I outlined earlier this week, a little rigorously routined.  This is me trying to find any way besides running that I could improve a little – nutrition, sleep, recovery, mentality, etc.  So, here I am on a Saturday night at 8pm already ready for bed.

I have recently been introduced to the world of podcasts.  And what an overwhelming world it is!  I’ve been enjoying some episodes in the middle hours of long runs (usually running related), as background noise while I clean or cook, and as an alternative to music in the car.  I usually find that I like to listen to something related to what I’m doing at the moment.  Except when I’m walking Miley or driving – that’s when I go rogue and pick episodes at random.

These podcast pick posts will mostly be for me, so that I have a record of podcasts that I enjoyed to reference down the road.  I hope that maybe it’s helpful for some of you to find episodes that you might like, without drowning in the seemingly millions of episodes out there.  Seriously, I think my eyes went cross one night when I was scrolling and scrolling through categories and top ranked and recommended podcasts.

It’s still completely overwhelming to me so I would love to hear how you “do” podcasts.  I’ve had several dozen recommended to me and that’s usually where I start.  I subscribe to the ones I really like.  Sometimes when I have downtime I browse the top hits (as mentioned above) or search particular key words.  Do you subscribe?  Do you go in order of the episodes or search for topics you like?   How often do you listen?  Is there a time when you always listen or don’t listen?  Tell me more!

Here are the episodes I loved this week!  I promise to never even mention ones that don’t interest me at all so you don’t waste the same precious time.  Here’s what I listened to and loved this week:

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Episode 589: Tell me I’m Fat

  1. This American Life Episode 589: Tell Me I’m Fat.    IF YOU LISTEN TO THIS ONE, I WANT TO HAVE AN ADULT DISCUSSION ABOUT IT WITH YOU – LET ME KNOW.  (yes, I’m yelling because I want to make sure you hear that)  I listened to this episode fiddling around the house and taking an epsom salt bath after a tough run one day.  I downloaded it because the title and description intrigued me, both as someone who has lost weight before, and as someone who works with fat people.  So many brilliant points that I agree with were addressed in this podcast.  The first part of the podcasts interviews two different fat women – one who accepts herself as she is (not in an instant though of course, through very much painful emotional acceptance) and one who loses the weight but still has the baggage of it hanging on her.  Both perspectives are so interesting and critical to understand.  And, let me say this loud and clear for everyone to hear: BEING FAT/OVERWEIGHT/OBESE (yes, even) DOES NOT ALWAYS CORRELATE TO POOR HEALTH/LAZINESS/GLUTTONY.  (yelling again, this time in bold!) I know that is the stigma, and that is what we are taught but it isn’t true.  Someone can be fat AND healthy, just as someone can be thin AND unhealthy.  Then, in a surprise twist I didn’t see coming, Tulsa makes an appearance (although not in a proud moment).  ORU’s POPs (Pounds Off Program) of the 70s is discussed and I was shocked to hear that they required all students to be in a particular body fat percentage range in order to come back to school.  One girl they interviewed was 4 pounds over the weight they wanted her when she returned after summer break and they wouldn’t let her enroll for that semester! WTF?  And there is very little information on it outside of the podcast.

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    Interview with Kathrine Switzer

  2. Marathon Training Academy – Interview with Kathrine Switzer.  Listen to this for motivation to overcome anything.  I started listening to this on my 15 miler last weekend when I was really struggling.  Even Kathrine, the woman who pushed me into training for this by saying, “We are very good at underestimating what we’re capable of”, couldn’t get me through those last miles last weekend.  I finished the episode on a walk with Miley this week.  She told this same tale of how she got to that iconic Boston Marathon in 1967 that she did when I heard her speak in Boston in April.  It is no less inspiring the second time around.  She is driven, funny, well-spoken, realistic and inspiring.  She goes on to talk about how that one race catapulted her to champion for women’s distance running to be included in the Olympics (not until the 70s) and women to be able to participate in races all over the world.  Even if you’re not into the “feminist stuff”, it’s worth a listen to hear how running has evolved in the past 50 years.  We’ve come a long way and the people of my day are spoiled rotten.

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    Episode 238: The Savant of Speed

  3.  The Tim Ferris Show Episode 238: The Savant of Speed – Ryan Flaherty.  I knew who Tim Ferris was before I heard about this podcast.  He’s the author of 4 Hour Workweek and 4 Hour Body.  As a trainer, I’m familiar with his approaches in the 4 Hour Body and for the most part don’t agree with them.  I also think he’s kind of a conceited asshole.  All that to say, I certainly wasn’t going to listen to his podcast on my own accord.  Chap recommended it to me (he loves this dude) last winter and only recently did I finally have a listen.  And only because Chap suggested this specific episode – “it’s got some good running related stuff in there”.  He was right.  But man these episodes are long!  I started this one on my first super long run of this training cycle maybe 8 weeks ago, and only now finished it.  But this Ryan guy that Tim interviews has a lot of excellent and nerdy insight into fitness, training and running.  I took these three things out of it – 1. Do the 7 way hips exercises to strengthen hip muscles and prevent injury (been doing it fairly diligently on run days)  2.  Incorporate step-downs to prevent injury  3. Add hexbar deadlifts with no eccentric loading to make you faster.  You might enjoy this one if you’re a runner or into human performance science at all.

 

What all have you been listening to?  And seriously, if you listen to the This American Life one I posted, please tell me!

 

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?

4 Week Peek

We’ve finally reached July, and that date that seemed so safely far away when we signed up for this race is now in the current month.  I’m about to go on a complaining rant here with the understanding that this will be the last time I let myself complain about how this training is going, so if you don’t want to hear the whining then just scroll on down to the next section.

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It’s the final grind of the marathon training.  Peak mileage weeks, the longest of the track workouts (2k should NOT get to count as track work) and tempo runs that used to be long run distances are making for one tired and grumpy gal.  Coupled with that is the start of the hot and humid season in Oklahoma where whether you run in the darkness of the night, or just before the dawn, there is absolutely no time in the day when you won’t feel like you’re wading through the air or have lost half of your body weight in water by the end of the run.   Running has become flat out miserable.  I can’t hit my goal times, and sometimes I can’t even hit my goal distances.  Michelle and I are both too busy balancing work and personal lives to match up our schedules so much of our long miles are being done on our lonesomes.  I miss strength training 3 times a week (have been keeping it around 2).  I miss sleeping in on Sundays.  I miss donuts, ice cream and cookie dough.

Done Complaining

This past weekend I ran back to back doublers within 24 hours of each other.  I wanted to get the 26 mile distance in that time frame, even if not all in a row.  It was a horrible struggle.  Saturday, I did the 10 miler in the heat of the day because I’d put it off and put it off, knowing I would be tired and not on pace.  But so pumped I got it done.  Then, today, Sunday, I got up early to do 15.  I made it a miserable run/walking 10.4 before I just completely threw in the towel and walked the rest back to my car.  As miserable as I was on both runs, I used that time to make some determinations about the remaining 4 weeks.

  1. I’m still in this.  Yes, training might suck right now but I’m going to keep fighting through it and finish the last 4 weeks as strong as I started.  I can’t worry about if I’ll hit that magic 3:30 time, only that I will give what’s left my best shot.
  2. No more complaining.  Period.
  3. Prioritize rest.  I’ve been feeling mentally and physically wiped out the past two weeks.  And while I can’t control the busy, active nature of my schedule, I can make a few improvements to how I handle it.
    • No electronics after 9pm.
    • In bed by 10pm, books only.
    • Up at a consistent time each day – still debating this one but thinking it’s gonna have to be in the mid to late- 4ams.
  4. Prioritize healthier eating.  I’m about an 80% well-rounded eater about 80% of the time.  Recently it’s dropped to maybe 50/50 on both because of travel and socializing.  I am committing to making a conscientious effort for the next four weeks to eat a healthy mix of carbs, fats and proteins and as close to whole foods as possible.
  5. To encourage me to stay excited about the 12 training runs left, I’ve dedicated each run to a person or group of people.  This will help keep each run fresh and motivating to me to run in that person(s) honor.

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Once again running is showing me that just as in relationships and in life, you can’t give up when it gets hard.  Stick with it, tweak your approach and take care of all the areas that are a part of the bigger picture.  In running this means the training, the resting and the nutrition.  In relationships it might mean taking care of communication struggles, or  paying more attention to the needs of your people.  And in life, it means taking care of your whole self, body mind and spirit.

I still love running, I just don’t have to like it all the time.  (But now I’m disliking it without complaining).