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).

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.