It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

October 29, 2012

Double the Halloween Racing Fun!

On Saturday, I did something I have never done before.  I did two races.  One race in the morning and one race in the evening.  Now, the total distance was still less than I would do in a half marathon, so it wasn't necessary a huge challenge or anything, I just thought it would be fun.  My morning race was a 10K, and the evening race was a 5K.

Both of the races were Halloween themed, and I had planned to wear a costume at each of them.  However, we got our first hard freeze and super cold temperatures (mid 20s) on Saturday morning.  Since I'm a slower runner I knew I'd be out there for more than an hour for a 10K, so I thought I would be too cold in my ballerina costume.  I opted to just wear the costume to the evening race, which would still be cold, but likely be in the 40s vs. the 20s.  Plus, I figured with an evening race there would be more people in costume anyway.
Me & Jim pre-race

The first race was the Halloween Hustle in our home city of Lee's Summit, MO.  Jim and I did this race last year.  It's a fairly small race, but it's put on by Bodies By Brad and Jenn - a local personal training studio where I have actually trained.  Also, our good friend and running buddy is the massage therapist there.  So we are happy to race and support this local business.  They have a great set-up with a 5K and a 10K.  You get an awesome medal and technical tee - and PANCAKES at the end.  It's really a great event.  There's also a costume contest which I didn't compete in since I decided against the costume.  I decided to just go with black and orange attire....Halloweenish.

It was about 28 degrees at race start - COLD!  On my Thursday morning run it was 73 degrees, quite a temperature shift!  Jim and I did this race last year and we had both done the 5K.  The 5K had been 2 loops, and the 10K 4 loops.  I was expecting the same thing, and had this thought in my head.  This would turn out to be a HUGE MISTAKE!  I did the first two loops (3.1 miles) and I was struggling a bit more than I would have liked.  I was feeling really tight from the cold and just couldn't seem to get into much of a rhythm.  I started my third loop and literally was the only one out there for as far as I could see.  I thought man, am I seriously like the only one doing the 10K.  I figured the faster runners were ahead of me and I just couldn't see them, but wasn't ANYONE about my same speed or behind me.  I even said something to one of the volunteers - "Am I the only one doing the 10K"?  He said "I don't know, I'm just managing traffic".  I finally finish loop 3 all by my lonesome and start to do loop for when another volunteer asks "Are you doing the 5K or the 10K"?  Duh, the 10K.  He said, "you have to make a left and finish the 10K down there"?  "Huh???"  "But I've already done 3 loops and ran 5 miles - is it another out and back where I can just do 1 loop to get in the 6.2".  Yes, he replies, everyone does 2 loops.  I start running that direction when Jim runs up to me - "Have you already ran 3 loops" he asks, "yes" I reply.  He said "well then don't go that way, that's another 3 mile loop and it's hilly as heck".  I decided to just do my 3rd loop.  I knew I'd still get in my 10K even if it wasn't the route I was supposed to be on.  If I had done the other one I would have ended up with about 8 miles. 

It was a total bummer though because I ran the last 3 miles all by myself.  Where had that guy been when I completed loop 2????  I found out after the race there was some chalk on the ground to show that the 2 races split off, but I hadn't seen it.  That is my major complaint.  You either needed multiple volunteers there shouting - or you needed really good signage to show the course split!  It was frustrating to say the least.  In the end, I still finished the race with just over 6.4 miles on my Garmin.  It wasn't a great race but I finished in 1:13:11 - which was an 11:47 pace (officially).  According to my Garmin I did and 11:23 since it was just over 6.4 miles.  Not bad for me. 

After the race I met back up with Jim.  He had a great race and finished first in his age group.  We got some pancakes and waited for the awards.  It was absolutely FREEZING.  I had been fine while running, but as soon as I stopped it was cold.  By the time we got home I was chilled to the bone and it took several hours to warm back up.

The 2nd race was the Monster Dash 5K.  It's in the River Market area of Kansas City.  It's a great little shopping area near downtown.  The race didn't start until 7pm.  It was still cold, but at least it was in the low 40s.  I was doing this race with 2 girlfriends so that would be fun!

Yes, the pink tennis shoes really make this costume work...hahhaha!
For this one I went all out with my costume.  The Black Swan!  I had decided on this costume at least a month ago and I had working on putting it together for weeks.  Yes, I am a total dork but I LOVE HALLOWEEN!  My girlfriends didn't quite share my enthusiasm.  My friend Jocelyn did have a cute little mask, and my friend Cindy went all out in her trick or treat gloves.  There were lots of people in costume though, which is always fun.

I was planning to run this race fairly slow.  I was in costume and I had already done a I wasn't expecting much.  I ended up running with my friend Jocelyn.  We passed the first mile pretty easily at a 10:11 pace - yikes, I told her, we are going "fast".  Mile 2 was a 10:12, but then mile 3 was pretty much up hill with a few pretty decent inclines and I started to fade.  Oh well, overall I finished in 31:47 (a 10:13 pace) - my PR is 31:40.  I had really run pretty comfortably and honestly could have pushed myself a bit harder in mile 3 - I had no idea I was so close to my PR or I would have pushed a little harder!  This was a pretty small race, but I finished 17th out of 57 in my age group, which is awesome for me!  I'm always towards the bottom half of finishers, this time I was toward the top.  That felt pretty good, even if it was a race that didn't bring out all the fast runners.

Close up

After the race we headed out for pizza.  Great way to end a fun racing day!

Finish line!

October 17, 2012

Prairie Fire Half Marathon Recap

On Sunday, Jim and I ran the Prairie Fire Marathon/Half Marathon.  Jim ran the marathon and I ran the half.   I had eyeballed this race since the previous year due to the medal with the blazing rabbit logo.  I freaking loved the medal, plus Wichita is only about 3 hours from home.  This was Jim's "A" race for the season, but I had no real goal other than to finish.
As I  mentioned in my previous post, injuries have kept me from running or training much lately.  To make matters worse, I had been sick for over a week going into the race.  The previous Sunday I started getting a sore throat, which turned into severe head and chest congestion.  I finally broke down and went to the Dr. Friday night before we left town and found out I had a sinus infection and bronchitis.  I got an antibiotic, but I knew it would still be a few days before I felt better.

Jim and I headed to Wichita on Saturday and went straight to the expo.  We met up with Jon from 2SlowforBoston and chatted awhile.  Well, Jim chatted, I had almost no voice and had to talk in a whisper or sound like a 14 year old boy going through puberty with my voice cracking every other syllable.  But, it was still nice to get to meet him.  Hopefully he didn't think I was rude for not talking more :)

Jon, Me & Jim

Race morning came and I still felt pretty bad.  I hadn't slept much the night before (or really for the past 4 or 5 days) due to the hacking cough, but I was up early and ready to give it whatever I had.  I could tell Jim was nervous and I tried to say motivating and encouraging things.  It was going to be his day, not mine.  Luckily our hotel was super close to the start, so we stayed in until almost 7:30 before we headed down to the starting line.  The race started at 8am.

Me & Jim pre-race
The weather was pretty nice...temperature wise at least  It was about 55 degrees, cool, but not cold.  Temps would likely be in the upper 60s or low 70s by the time I finished the race so I knew it would get warm fast.  The major issue was going to be the wind.  It was about 20 mph at the race start and was only supposed to increase during the day. 

Me & my friend Christa (Jim in background)

My friend Christa was also in town for the half marathon, so we met up before the race started.  She is MUCH faster than me and I hadn't planned to run with her at all as I knew I needed to start slow and take it easy.  But when the gun went off I found myself running with her and talking.  I was feeling pretty winded already.  When we crossed mile 1, I was doing a 10:46 pace.  I know this is slow for most people, but for me, especially recently, it was fast. I told Christa I was going to have to slow down if I was going to make it through the race.  I was already feeling pretty exhausted.  Christa said goodbye and headed off.  I slowed down into a more comfortable pace....or so I thought.  Somehow mile 2 was actually a little faster than mile 1, but yet I was feeling pretty good.  In spite of my cold and lack of running I did a 10:38 2nd mile.  I somehow start thinking I'm Super Woman.  UM, maybe I'm running faster because there is a 20 mph tail wind and I'm going down a slightly downhill stretch......but no, suddenly I start thinking, wow maybe I'm stronger than I realize and I can run this pretty fast today.  I'm an IDIOT.

From miles 3-8 I still managed to maintain a pretty consistent pace of about 11:20, not bad really.  But then at mile 9, it HIT me.  All of a sudden I was running straight into the wind, and climbing a small, but gradual uphill.  The lack of mileage and the sickness really start to take their toll.  I totally crash.  I started wishing this was a 10 mile race like my last one.  13 miles was going to be HARD!  Miles 9-11 were in the mid 12s.  I started run/walking every 5 minutes or so.  I continued to get more tired.  Miles 12-13 were just hard.  I was walking more than running and averaged 13:30s.  I finally saw the finish line and couldn't have been happier.  I finished in 2:37 an 11:59 pace overall. 

I found Madi and Nate (my step-daughter and son-in law) at the finish line and waited for Jim to finish.  In the end, unfortunately the day wouldn't turn out as planned for Jim (you can read his race report here).  I was so disappointed for him.  I knew how hard he had trained and how much this race meant to him and I could feel his pain.

Overall, the weekend was just kind of downer...but that was just due to personal experiences.  The race is great, and I would recommend it to anyone.  They give an awesome medal and a nice technical finisher shirt at the end.  The course is flat and runs through some beautiful neighborhoods and downtown areas.  But sometimes, it doesn't matter how great the race is, it's just not your race.  But we still had a good time in our own way.  It's always great to spend time together doing the thing we love.

Cool Technical Tee finisher shirt

October 10, 2012

Will I ever really know my true athletic potential???

I’m laying it all out here.  I’m frustrated to say the least.

I’m going to try not to complain….a lot.  I have accomplished some amazing things this year – my first marathon in January, my first Half Ironman in July, and a 5K and half marathon PR.  These are not things that come easily.  I know this.

But here’s where my pain point is.  I don’t know if I will ever know my true potential as an athlete and that’s frustrating.  In April I set my half marathon PR with a 10:58 per mile pace.  At that time I was easily running my shorter runs in the low 10s and could even eek out a 9 something pace during my speed sessions.  I knew, just knew that with continued training I would get my times down even farther and finally inch my way from bottom of the pack to middle of the pack…maybe, just maybe.

But here we are in October and I’m running my slowest times all year.  Yesterday I did a 4 mile run and averaged a 13:10 pace.  I wasn’t pushing it, and I have a cold, but still it’s tough to see that kind of pace on the Garmin.  I have a half marathon Sunday, one I have been looking forward to.  It is a super FLAT course, a great one to set a PR on.  This is the race my husband Jim has been training for all year (the full marathon of course), and while I can’t say I’ve been training specifically for this race, my plan was to start training pretty intently for it in late July.  I totally expected to be able to set a new PR at this race, and now I’ll be lucky to do it in under 2:35.

OBSTACLES have kept me from doing much over the past few months.  I am literally a walking injury.  If I’m not injured I’m sick.  Jim told me that if he didn’t live with me, and see that all my issues are legit he would totally think I was a hypochondriac.  I know I have become the “What’s wrong with Michael now” girl, and that’s just downright embarrassing. 

So what’s the problem??  It’s multiple things.  As many of you know I injured my back several years ago and this really is the central issue for me.  I do not have strong core and I know this.  I know that to do what I want to do I need a strong core.  But, I had been so focused on endurance for my marathon and half ironman I hadn’t had much time to focus on strength.  Therefore, my plan post-half ironman was to focus on BETTER, FASTER, STRONGER….that was my new motto!  But then, out of nowhere I develop Veritgo….that last for weeks, I can barely walk, much less train.  I finally get through that and I sign up for personal training sessions and get ready for improvement.  Only one issue, within 2 weeks I had completely wrecked my back.  One day after a long run I was reaching across the bathroom tub and threw my back out. I was in bed for 4 days!  I spent the next 10 days recovering – stretching, ART therapy, etc.  I finally recovered, but have continued to just have a list of minor nagging issues, and 2 colds in the past two months on top of everything else. 

So it’s not surprising that I am where I am today.  Not really surprising at all, just frustrating.  I am ready to push myself to the next level.  I have the dedication and mental focus to move forward, but sometimes my body will not let me.  Every time I push, it pushes back.

But here I am again.  I am signed up for a core/leg strengthening class for cyclists (I’m sure it’s good for runners too).  I’m hopeful it will give me what I need, but I am worried that I will injure myself yet again.  I know to be careful, and I am…but sometimes it still just happens.  So there it is, all my woes.  If anyone has thoughts or suggestions I would LOVE to hear them.

October 04, 2012

KC Blues & Brews 10 Miler!

Finisher medal - guitar/bottle opener

A few months ago Jim and I (and a few friends) decided to do the KC Blues & Brews 10 Miler.  It sounded like a fun race that included an awesome medal and a post-race concert by the Blues Travelers.  It was held in downtown KC and was routed through many KCs hot spots including the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District & KC Power & Light District. 

I have to admit, ever since my Half Ironman in July....I've not done alot.  It really hasn't been intentional, but in typical Michael fashion, I've had more than my share of injuries and set backs.....including vertigo, throwing my back out, and dealing with peroneal tendonitis.  Throw in a nasty cold in there and yeah, like I said, I haven't been doing much training. 

Me and my tri-girl friends!

My running times lately have been SLOW to say the least.  While earlier in the spring and summer I was running comfortably in the 10s, my recent training runs had been in the 12s and even 13s!!  No fun.  So, I knew this wasn't going to be PR setting race, but I wanted to just go out and have fun.

We didn't do a pre-race dance for this one, but we do one heck of a post race air band!

I actually felt pretty good on race morning, and managed to finish the 10 miles at an 11:14 pace...I felt GREAT about this!  It was no where close to the half marathon pace I had set in April, but considering how little I'd been running lately I was pretty happy with it.

Jim had a good race too, which was basically just a recovery run for him after his 20+ miler the day before.  Had he been racing this one he could have easily placed.

After the race we enjoyed some tunes from the Blues Travelers!  I have to say that they were totally awesome!  Jim and I of course acted like a couple of idiots for awhile and then headed home with another race in the books!

We play a mean air guitar

Blues Travelers