Monday, September 17, 2018

The Process

I began this blog post last week and then decided to not post it until after I gained acceptance into the Boston Marathon. Well....

I AM IN!!

I got my confirmation of acceptance today and of course, immediately burst into tears. In the lead up to this morning, the Boston Athletic Association was making it really clear that it would be tougher than ever to get into the race.

Here's my post from last week:

*****


It's finally here...registration week!

I have lots of family and friends who are not runners, and I know the Boston Marathon process can seem pretty darn confusing. When I first started running, I had no idea you had to qualify to run it. And then I had no idea they had a charity program. And then they changed up all the rules a few years ago, and it got more confusing.

Qualifying doesn't necessarily get you into the race. You can check "Qualified for Boston" off your bucket list, but to secure a spot at the starting line, it can be tougher than that.

Back in 2012, Boston changed up the rules because the race was selling out so fast and some of the fastest runners out there weren't getting into the race. The qualifying standards got tougher, and they instituted a rolling registration schedule.

Currently the qualifying standards are as follows. They are based on gender and age group, and your qualifying time needed is based on your age on Boston Marathon race day.

MEN

18-34: 3:05
35-39: 3:10
40-44: 3:15
45-49: 3:25
50-54: 3:30
55-59: 3:40
60-64: 3:55
65-69: 4:10
70-74: 4:25
75-79: 4:40
80+: 4:55

WOMEN

18-34: 3:35
35-39: 3:40
40-44: 3:45
45-49: 3:55 <----that's me!
50-54: 4:00
55-59: 4:10
60-64: 4:25
65-69: 4:40
70-74: 4:55
75-59: 5:10
80+: 5:25

The qualifying window is typically 7-19 months prior to race day, mid-September to mid-September. Registration is in the September in the year prior to the race. The qualification window for the race will close when registration closes, so you can qualify right up until the last minute.

The registration process goes on for about 2.5 weeks. It is a rolling admission schedule, starting with the fastest qualifiers in his or her age group.

The first day of registration, in this case September 10, is for those who met their standard by 20 minutes or more. On the third day, September 12, it is opened up for those who met their standard by 10 minutes or more. On the fifth day, September 14, it is opened up for those who met their standard by 5 minutes or more. Each new group gets a chance to register provided the field size has not been met.

The second week of registration, starting on September 17, includes all qualifiers provided they reopen it. They will announce the evening of September 15 if they are reopening registration for all qualifiers. Then registration is typically open for a couple more days, and then they will announce if the field size has now been met and if they will be able to accept all qualifiers up to this point. With the exception of 2013, there have been too many applicants for the available spots and this is where it kind of sucks.

Because there are too many applicants, they have to determine where a cut-off needs to be. It's not first-come, first-serve, but rather based on how far under your qualifying time you were able to run. Last year was the strictest cut off since they began this new process, at 3 minutes, 23 seconds under your respective qualifying standard. So if you ran a 3:31:37 and you needed a 3:35 to qualify, you got in. But if you ran a 3:31:38, you did not. Pretty brutal!

It takes them over a week to determine what this cut off is going to be since it's based on how many register and who registers. I would imagine it's a nerve-wracking wait to find out if you are really getting in or if you'll have to try again next year.

I have a cushion of 5 minutes, 7 seconds, so I get to register on September 14. I will be on pins and needles waiting for the announcement on September 15 on if they will be reopening registrations for all qualifiers. If they do, then I know my cushion was big enough.

Greg has a cushion of 4 minutes, 43 seconds. So he has to wait until September 17 and will be one of those who is on pins and needles. However, I would imagine if they reopen, then that kind of cushion should be enough. You never know for sure until the announcement, but I think he'd be pretty safe.

I had an interesting road to my qualification. My first shot at it, at Mississippi Gulf Coast, ended in disappointment not because I didn't run fast enough, but because the course was mismarked and came up short. I calculated that had it been accurate I probably would've qualified with about a 4:10 cushion, not fast enough to avoid the dreaded wait. But because Boston is not accepting any times for that race, I had to run another qualifying time. I did that in Baton Rouge a few weeks later, and ended up with a bigger cushion that what I would've had in Mississippi. While at the time, the shock of a messed up course was agonizing after all that hard work and a great race, it could end up being a blessing in disguise. I honestly don't think I would've pushed as hard at the Louisiana Marathon knowing I had already qualified with over 4 minutes to spare. Or maybe I would've wanted that 5 minutes. I just don't know for certain. Instead, I HAD TO qualify to actually get the opportunity to apply to run Boston. Wouldn't it be crazy if the cut off is 4:15 or something like that? I'm not sure I would've been fast enough in Mississippi! That truly would've sucked.

So there you have it. The crazy Boston Marathon registration process.

They will also be indicating if there will be any changes to the qualification standards for future races. Will they toughen the standards again? Should they? I'm in the camp that thinks they should toughen the standards starting in 2021, particularly if it's a very large cut off again this year. But maybe it'll be smaller and they won't feel the need to tighten things. It certainly would give me a kick in the pants to push myself even harder in the coming years if I want to continue to qualify.

*****


And now....here we are on Monday, September 17, and they did reopen registration for all qualifiers, but they very clearly stated that they would only take a "small percentage" of Week 2 submissions. The cut off is going to be massive. Greg is sitting on a 4:43 under and he registered this morning. He will need to wait about 9 days to find out if it's enough. I think he'll be just fine and we will REALLY celebrate when he gets that email!




Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Training Update

For crap's sake, I'm ready for the cold temperatures of fall and winter.

This summer has SUCKED!! I don't remember the last time I ran in weather that was under 75 degrees. I had a taste of a sub-70 dew point last week and it was glorious, but once in dozens of training runs is definitely not enough!

Give me frozen boogers and numb fingers, please.

Of course, when that actually happens, I'll be wishing for tank top running weather. Isn't that how it always is?

I am in Week 9 of California International Marathon training and it's going well. Not spectacular because, like I said, the weather sucks and I'm pretty much totally sick of "80 degrees at 5:30am" training runs. But I am not injured, my endurance is really good, and I'm enjoying training nonetheless.

I just wish I could see my speed and know where I really truly stand with my marathon goals. Pretty hard to do that when it's so oppressive and it takes major discipline to keep my heart rate in control during 18 mile training runs, discipline that means I'm running pretty slow so I don't burn out and overdo it and end up injured.

Let's talk some positives now....

My heart rate data is better than last year, and yet the weather is worse. I'm consistently keeping a lower average heart rate during easy, recovery, and long runs. This morning I ran 8 miles and tried to keep a faster cadence and push a bit more than a very easy run, but never looked at my watch data. At the end of the run my average heart rate was 129, solidly Zone 1 and 2. But I was quicker than usual (not fast, definitely not fast!). For it being 100% humidity out and a pretty long run for mid week, I'd say that was great!

My interval times are faster. It might not seem like much to see a half mile interval split faster than this time last year when you compare that to racing 26.2 miles, but it's still a positive data point.

I'm putting in higher volume earlier in training and I'm not dying (yet) from it.

It's so easy for a marathoner to get burned out trying to train in the summer, and it's hard to see fitness improvements when you know you're running way slower than ability because of the weather constraints. I like to keep a few things in mind while I train through this and wait for cooler temps. First, it's okay to be slow right now. It's okay for the intervals to be a bit shorter right now. It's okay to ease into goal pace work during long runs. My main concern is building my endurance and watching my effort level, to becoming comfortable with faster paces during intervals, to watching my heart rate trends and seeing them move in a positive direction week over week, and to take my recovery very, very seriously.

When the temps start trending down this upcoming week, I am hoping to see my training improve with regards to pace vs effort level. I think I saw a glimpse of that this morning. Plus, if last Friday's run in better weather is any indication, this improvement should be pretty noticeable. I have a long run planned this weekend with four goal marathon pace miles. I'm actually looking forward to this because it should give me a lot of good feedback to use in my future training weeks. The temps will hopefully be a few degrees cooler than they have been but even if they aren't, it's *only* four race pace miles. I can do four!

I'm pushing myself into 45+ mile weeks now, and a 200 mile month for September. Next month I have two races planned to gauge my fitness. On October 7 is a 10 mile race and on October 28 is a half marathon. I have never raced a 10 miler before, but I have an idea of how I want to approach it. What I'm really curious about is how fast I can run a half marathon. My PR is old as dirt and I haven't broken 1:50 yet and I haven't ever attempted it. I really REALLY want to obliterate 1:50. So Houston, could you pretty please give me good racing conditions on October 28? K thanks.

Things for me to keep in mind as these weeks get tougher leading up to my December 2 marathon:

1. Consistency. Show up and do work everyday, whether it's a hard effort or a recovery run. Every run has importance and I need to take them all seriously. My friends will just have to understand why I can't stay late at that party on Saturday night.

2. Self care. More sleep, better eating habits, consistent hydration, stretching and rolling. Keep the damn cookies away from me. I ain't eating them!

3. Recovery. Why do people have such a hard time with this concept? If you ran hard every single time you laced up your shoes, you would never improve! Recovery effort is Zone 1! If that means you run 11:00 pace when your marathon pace is 8:45, then that's what you run. Truthfully in the summer I find it pretty hard to stay completely in Zone 1, but trust me when I say I am crawling and I'm not even breathing heavy in very low Zone 2 so I cut myself some slack here. I am totally in love with runs like this.

4. Warm up. That first mile is a really easy one, for every single run. When I take that seriously, the rest of my run goes so much better. I'm almost 45 years old. I need to warm up, dammit. On Tuesdays when we do our intervals and tempo runs, our first mile is often well over 11:00 pace. We take it very easy and incorporate drills a few minutes in. When we start our first speed interval, our bodies are ready for it. This will be especially important to do prior to any race start.

5. Believing in myself. It might seem crazy to consider approaching 8:30 pace for a marathon, but at one point I thought under 8:50 pace was insane, and I did it twice in five weeks. I'm in better shape now and I have to believe I'm capable of improvement.

6. Celebrating the small victories. Was my pace 10 sec/mile faster at the same effort compared to my run two weeks ago? That's a victory! Did I maintain Zone 2 over three hours into my long run? Victory! Did 7:30 pace during my interval feel almost easy compared to last week? Another victory! Every little improvement gives me more confidence to take into the next run.

I have 88 more days until California International Marathon. 12 weeks, 4 days. Lots of time to train, to get stronger, to get more confident.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Boston Bound times two

 "Marathons are stupid. I repeat, MARATHONS ARE STUPID. Now that I've got my first marathon under my belt, I can certifiably confirm that they are stupid." - Greg Hahn

My husband ran his first marathon, and I think he's now wishing it was also his last. But since he qualified for Boston with a pretty significant cushion, he's now going to tackle that course with me.

This whole idea of his began when I finished Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon in December. He decided he wanted to run Boston with me, and that meant he needed to qualify as well. He had very little long distance racing experience, and no marathons, but he's really fast. It was going to be a crazy journey, that's for sure!

I wrote him a plan and it wasn't easy at all. I didn't approach it like I would a first time marathoner. I approached it like it was for someone with one shot to make it to Boston. He wanted it that way, so that's how we did it. Six months with gradual base building, speed and endurance building, and a few shorter races to gauge fitness. 900 miles later, he made it to the start line on July 29 in Snoqualmie Pass, Washington.

Preparing properly a few days prior at Edna Valley Vineyards, with a chicken friend

Drove up the Pacific Coast Highway en route to San Jose to then fly to Seattle

Packet Pickup!
Race Start
Checking out the finish line

He didn't have as many nerves before race day as I would've expected. He was definitely eager to get it done. As we drove the 40 miles to the race start that morning, he grew more anxious. He explained his mentality like this:
Mentality of actual race day is just like any other competitive sport. It's game time. Go out and do what you trained to do. That's what you put in all the work for.
This attitude definitely helped him control the anxiety.


Ready as he'll ever be!

He chose a race along the Iron Horse and Snoqualmie trails, so unfortunately because of the difficulty in accessing the course, I wouldn't be able to see him many times during the race. We scouted out the route the day before to be sure I knew where I was going and it was planned for me to see him at the halfway point and around 21 miles and then hightail it to the finish line.


The race start. I didn't capture Greg, but I did get a pic of my friend Bill (in yellow)

He felt great for most of the race. I was worried the heat and humidity would deplete him sooner than expected. Temps at the start were a muggy 65 degrees and would climb to well over 70 before he was done. He kept focusing on the fact that it was still 15 degrees cooler than all his training runs. Sure enough, he was fine with the weather and shot through 13.1 in just under 1:38, a 5 minute PR at that distance. His BQ time is 3:25, and his goal was 3:20, so he was doing great. Needing a 1:42-1:47 in the second half was really awesome.

In order to get to the next checkpoint at 21 miles, I first needed to run down a 1.2 mile steep dirt road. Luckily when I arrived at the road to head up to the trail, I got to hitch a ride with a volunteer firefighter so I didn't have to climb up the road too much. Not so lucky on the way down, but I made it to the next point with plenty of time to spare. I was definitely noticing how hot it was getting outside and was genuinely worried for Greg.

The road leading to 13.1 mile checkpoint
My cool ride up the hill
Coming into the 13.1 aid station


I tracked him via his phone location and knew he was still right on pace and sure enough, at 2:40 into the race, I saw him. I was positioned on the trail at about 21.3 miles. He looked so strong still and I screamed my head off, jumped up and down like a lunatic, told him I loved him and to not slow down and got it all on video.



Moving so fast, he's blurry



Less than five more miles!!

At this point, I was an absolute nervous wreck. I know how marathons feel and the next half hour for him was going to be excruciating. He had time in the bank (he was definitely running balls-to-the-wall) and could slow down and still run a 3:20 but I was still stressed out for him. This whole marathon sherpa thing is a lot harder than you'd think! Especially on unfamiliar roads and dirt trails.

I made it to the finish line with 20 minutes to spare. I religiously checked his location and it showed me he was still doing just fine. He probably wanted to die but he still appeared to be running a good enough pace. Waiting those last 20 minutes at the line and hearing the announcer cheer for all the finishers hitting BQs was only serving to make my heart rate go up higher. At this point I knew Greg was going to do it. It just remained to be seen just how big of a qualifying time cushion he could get.

Waiting at the finish

Seeing him coming through to the finish was probably one of the best moments ever, despite the fact that I could definitely tell at that point that he wanted to die. There's no sugar coating it - he looked pretty depleted!




He finished in 3:20:17, which is 4:43 under his qualifying time. SO close to that 5 minutes that he needed to register at the same time as me, but still a really comfortable cushion.




My husband was a Boston Qualified Marathon Finisher!

Thank God that was over.

But now I genuinely was worried about him. He was feeling awful and he looked even worse (sorry, honey). He found a lounger to rest on at the medical tent and was pretty much not functional for several minutes. A crapload of water, Gatorade, and Muscle Milk helped. A paramedic came over and was concerned and wanted to be sure he was ok.

That conversation went something like this:

Greg: Can I have an IV?
Paramedic:  We'd have to take you to the hospital
Greg: I'm good. I don't need an IV.
That's the paramedic in the background

He made his ankle bloody

He was so glad it was over. He also told me over and over that marathons were stupid and maybe he wouldn't actually register for Boston after all because that would mean running another marathon and marathons are stupid. He has since come to terms with running one more, but for awhile there I really thought he'd forgo actually running Boston! The fact that he'd be running much slower with me helped him come to his senses.

We've spent so much time talking about how he executed the race and I seriously could not be prouder of him. Before the race, I coached him on the mental side of the last 10K, and those lessons coupled with his past athletic pursuits got him through the worst part of the race.

He started feeling the fatigue at 20 miles and his pace slowed slightly but he was ahead of pace so he allowed his body the break. It got really difficult at 24 miles and the final part of the race was excruciating for him. I asked him how he got through it.

He focused on what he had left and not what he had already done. "Anyone can run 6...5...4...3 miles" is what he told himself.

The slowdown in the final few miles didn't worry him because he was ahead of pace. He kept calculating that he only needed 9 minute miles toward the end and he would still qualify. This made it less daunting.

People were dropping like flies, but rather than let that mess with his head, it gave him greater resolve to keep pushing and not walk.

He kept reminding himself that he didn't push this hard, train that long, and endure that much pain in the race to just give up at that point.

He might as well be destroyed and hit his goal and feel the accomplishment rather than the letdown. 

He didn't want to disappoint me. (I assured him that he could never disappoint me no matter what the clock said in the end.) 

It's not often that one qualifies for Boston on their first marathon finish, and I'm so glad my husband was a big enough badass to do just that. He did it so he could run a prestigious marathon with me and I think that is just about the sweetest thing ever.

I'll keep him.

Post race recovery
Touring Seattle the day after
Got to see my niece!


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Nine years

Nine years ago today, I hugged my sister for the very last time. I had no idea that would be it. She died two weeks later.


Nearly every year, I write a blog post about my sister around this time of year. It helps me to get through the milestone dates and to keep her memory alive. It helps me come to terms with my grief, which ebbs and flows through the years but never disappears. It never will. The loss is too great.

From 2017: 8 years later

From 2016: If I could call you

From 2015: When something is missing

From 2012: Reflections


When I saw her the last time, I hadn't seen her in four years. FOUR YEARS. Looking back on that, I'm so upset with myself by not making it a bigger priority to see her. We lived in two different parts of the country, had young families, and traveling was difficult. We happened to both be traveling to California in July 2009 and got to spend a couple days together. That was all....only two days in four years. Not nearly enough, but I'm so grateful for those two days. Knowing that I had just seen her has helped me tremendously over the years in getting through my grief.



It doesn't matter how many years have passed...I still wish with all my being that I could pick up the phone and call her. She was my only sister. I could use a sister right now. As I'm entering the last years of raising my kids and am in the throes of teenagerhood, it would be so nice to commiserate with her and get her advice. Sure, I've got so many friends dealing with similar issues, but family is a whole different thing. There is nothing like family. They are irreplaceable.

I want to always be thankful for the people that are in my life, especially our parents. I am beyond excited to see them next week when we travel to California. I wish we had more time there, but it's a crazy schedule with having to fly to Washington for Greg's race as well. However, I'm going to use every minute I can to soak up the love. I never want to take them for granted. Our kids are very lucky to still have both sets of grandparents around. I never knew my paternal grandpa as he passed before I was born, and my paternal grandma died when I was 16. My maternal grandparents both passed over a decade ago. If my kids could spend every week with their grandparents, they would. I do hate sometimes that we live so far away, and I feel some guilt for willingly moving far away, but I think we do a good job of making the most of our time together.

Tell people you love them, appreciate them, and then go and make time for them, even if it's just a phone call. Show grace, find the positives, and for just a minute, think about how you would feel if it was all gone suddenly. Because it can happen.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Go Time

This blog post has two parts to it - "Go Time" as it relates to my upcoming training, and "Go Time" regarding my husband's marathon journey and the start of his taper.

My marathon training technically starts today (with a rest day! Ha!). Twenty one weeks of intense training leading up to California International Marathon on December 2. The last few months I've been trying to maintain my fitness, gauge where I'm at, and prepare for the rigors of my most ambitious training cycle yet. These last two months have been especially great for me as I've been running purely for the love of it rather than because of some obligation I feel. Since May 1, I have run 300 miles.

Most of my miles have been easy pace, trying to build my base and my aerobic capacity, with a couple of days and a few miles per week of speed thrown in there to keep it interesting. With this summer being warmer than normal, being able to run easy without guilt has been vital to keep my head in the game. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the heat and humidity and to dread each workout, but when you take the pressure of speed out of the equation and put the focus back on base building, that dread can virtually disappear. While it's certainly not as fun as running in cooler temps, I'm still finding a lot of joy in every mile that I'm out there. I honestly don't remember ever feeling this at ease during the summer months.

So what is my training going to look like? For Mississippi Gulf Coast and Louisiana last winter, I increased my volume and the percentage of easy miles run, while upping the intensity and pushing my limits during my hard effort runs. I religiously wore my heart rate monitor and tracked my improvement. I got my body into pretty darn good shape (for an almost-44 year old). The formula worked, and because I'm entering this training cycle ahead of where I was a year ago, I don't see any reason why I can't push my limits a bit more. More miles, longer tempo runs, more race pace simulation, while still taking rest and recovery very seriously and listening to my body and my head. I'm looking forward to honing in on more marathon specific training again. The last few months have been fun, but the focus will get tighter now.

But let's hear it for my husband! He just finished peak marathon training week with a 21 mile run yesterday and a 58 mile week. He's run over 270 miles since June 1! His race is on July 29 in Washington and he's as ready as he's ever going to be. He has done the work, shown me that the speed and endurance is there to meet his goal. This is his FIRST marathon, so he's entering uncharted territory on race day. I've run 14 marathons, some great ones and some truly horrendous ones so I know where his head will be on race day and throughout the marathon. I've tried to coach him to the best of my ability to not only prepare his body physically for the demands of 26.2 miles, but to prepare his head for the possibility of wanting to quit 20 miles into the race. He knows he's capable of completing the race in the time goal he's set for himself, and so hopefully with the mental training, his head won't sabotage him. The marathon can be a dirty beast sometimes, but it's not inevitable that one will hit the mental or physical wall. I have a lot of confidence my husband will become one hell of a marathoner on July 29.

I am so excited to go on this journey with him, and then to have him by my side cheering me on and supporting me as I begin my training for marathon #15.  Teamwork!!


Monday, June 18, 2018

Bring on the Heat

It's summer! This usually means misery for Central Texas runners and athletes. We don't get a break from warm and humid mornings and see pretty much nothing but 90s or 100s as the high temps day in and day out. There's really not any great time of day to exercise outdoors. This forces us to either acclimate to the heat or hate life for months and months.

Up until last year, I really despised running in the summer and refused to train for a marathon during these months. It was bad enough trying to train for January and February races since training would typically start in August when we would still have one or two months of heat. But last year I changed my attitude, changed my training, and sucked it up because I had a big goal and I didn't want anything to screw with that.

It worked! I actually had a great training cycle and the heat didn't screw with me nearly as bad as it has in previous years. I slowed it down, wore my heart rate monitor, mostly ran early in the morning before the sun would get too high in the sky, and added so much volume that my body had no choice but to get used to it.

My marathon training doesn't officially start until the middle of July, but I've been trying to maintain 4-5 days and 30 miles per week of running since May began. The temps before sunrise rarely dip below 75 and the humidity hovers over 80%. It's not exactly conducive to fast times and endurance training.



But I'm doing great! I can safely say that I haven't been horribly affected by the weather. Sure, it hurts more to hit my fast intervals and I haven't even tried to do a longer tempo run, and I slow it down during long runs, but I'm actually really enjoying running right now. Even after an hour or two out on my Sunday long runs, I'm finding myself still with energy and my breathing is totally under control. A couple weeks ago I planned to run 12 miles, but at my turnaround point I was feeling so good and was having a great run, so I decided to keep going and knocked out 14 miles instead. I'm pretty sure that's the longest June run I've ever had in my life and I finished it feeling accomplished and happy. I've also run a few 12 mile runs and am feeling great about those as well. Now, mind you, my pace is WAY over marathon pace, but I'm keeping my heart rate in the high 120s or low 130s, which is actually better than last year at this time. Solid Zone 1 and Zone 2 training, with Zone 3 typically only coming on uphill stretches. Not bad for 80 degrees and relentless sweating.




A part of me is definitely being inspired by my husband right now. He's smack in the middle of the hardest part of marathon training. It's his first marathon and he chose a July 29 race (don't worry, it's in Washington, NOT Texas!). He has two more 20+ mile training runs to complete and he's hanging in there, hitting paces on his hard effort days that I could only dream about. His strength and determination is definitely fueling my love of running and helping me to keep my volume base on a much higher summer level than normal. I'm enjoying sharing this time with him, that's for sure. I'm very thankful for this inspiration.

July 9 officially marks the start of my 21 week California International Marathon training plan. It's really not going to feel any different than how I'm running right now, at least in the first few weeks. I should be able to ease into the higher volume weeks without difficulty as long as I stay healthy. I'm on target to run 130 miles this month and I'm quite pleased with that number.

When you've found the winning formula, you've gotta stick with it!


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Believe

Several months ago I used a quote in one of my blog posts about my training.

Be mindful of the deceptive paralysis that can take hold when you become intimidated by your increasingly faster paces.

If I had allowed myself to freak out over the pace I was running as I started my 5k on April 22, there's no way I would've ended up averaging 7:12 pace.

Okay, so it wasn't technically a 5K, because I am notorious for picking races that come up short. It's absolutely frustrating as I really have no idea what to call my PR. Most of my fastest "5Ks" have been on short courses. And some of them I didn't even wear my watch so I actually have no clue just how short they were. Going into yesterday's race I was calling my 5K PR 23:30 because that's how fast I ran a portion of my April 8 10K race and the fastest official 5K I have.

But I digress. I could've continued running 7 minute pace for 58 seconds to make it a full 5K. Maybe I should have after I collected my medal.

Back to my point.

In looking at last year's results, I saw that the winning female ran it in 23:27, so I had it in the back of my mind that perhaps I'd go for the win at this race. I forgot that half the race is run in a vineyard, weaving through several rows of vines. Probably not ideal for trying to win or to PR. But still, it depended on who showed up, but I knew based on this race's history that heck, maybe I could win it? It gave me something to shoot for. I also was hoping for a true legitimate 5K PR on a full 3.1 mile course.

Unfortunately, because apparently a full 3.1 mile course is just too much to ask for when I run 5K races, they had to change the course at the last minute. Heavy rain the night before caused the vines to become way too muddy, so they weren't going to let us run through them. They instead had the brilliant idea to have us do two loops of the road. Sounds ok, sure, but unfortunately it was pretty much a cluster.

On the positive side, I came in 3rd place female, 10th overall, and 1st in my age group. Freaking awesome run, that's for sure!

Before the race

Why does that dude have his hands in his pockets?

My plan was to stay as close to any female that was in front of me and hope that either I could overtake them or they'd bonk (I'm a horrible person). The leader got out in front quickly and was running exceptionally well. She also looked 16. There was also a lady right in front of me, probably about 10-15 seconds ahead, that I basically paced off of. I was running hard, and it was not at all comfortable, and my heartrate very quickly got up to 150. But I didn't want her to get too far ahead. So there I sat in 3rd place for that first loop. The first place girl looked to be getting at least a minute ahead of me.

My first mile came in at 7:16. I have never ever ever in my life ran a mile that fast to start a 5K race. It didn't feel like a 7:16. It felt like a 7:40. I did my absolute best to not completely freak myself out over this. Hence the importance of that quote above.

I'm so serious. This is the first loop.

As we came in to finish the first loop, we intersected with the rest of the runners and walkers (there were over 500 people so in the 10 minutes or so it took us to run that first loop they had barely gotten everyone through the start). It was an absolute shit show because nobody was telling us which side of the cones to run on, for the back of the pack to stay to one side, or anything. We were completely winging it. And even though there were about a dozen runners ahead of me flying past them, the majority of the walkers still took up the entire width of the road and were not moving an inch. The leaders were literally weaving through these participants. I actually got run off the road around a turn at one point because someone stepped directly in front of me. Once we got back into the neighborhood roads there was a bit more room to navigate but it was still a mess. Nobody was moving to one side. I had to yell "on your left" multiple times and hoped that these folks would understand that the runners on their second loop were coming through and we all needed to work together to make this a successful race.

In the meantime, the leading female seemed to possibly be slowing down, but the second place girl wasn't slowing down at all and I was still 10-15 seconds behind her. She was freaking killing it.

Mile 2 came in at 7:19, a little bit of a slowdown but not too bad considering the obstacle course.

The pain of the second loop

At this point I did realize the course would be short. We did the turnaround for loop 2 at just under 1.5 miles. I wasn't horribly bummed because I knew that although it wouldn't be an official 5K, I was still running my fastest 3-ish mile race I've ever run and it was a real kick to see if I could hold on for dear life or not. Chasing the second place girl was definitely pushing me to keep pace. She was not giving me an inch!

As we came in on the very last turn with about a 10th of a mile to go, and I continued to weave through people and run on the grass shoulder of the road (seriously, people still weren't moving to the right), I gave it everything I had to finish strong and maintain 3rd place female.

I crossed the line of my 2.96 mile race in 21:17 officially. 7:12 pace. My last mile was skirting sub-7 and I think I may have been able to dip below it had I been able to run for another .14 miles. But regardless I was pretty dang happy that I was 40 seconds per mile faster in this race than in my 10K from 2 weeks ago. Honestly didn't even think I'd run much faster than 7:30 pace. Didn't even think I could do that.

I may have been freaking out over my miles coming in so much faster than I thought they would, but somehow I was able to maintain it and even get faster during that last mile.

My ugly finish line face makes me laugh

So glad that is over

Ain't gonna lie, however, running zone 4 and 5 for all but 2 minutes of that run HURT LIKE A BITCH. Average heartrate was 160, just about the same as my 10K race on April 8. My Garmin was super happy with me because it added two points to my VO2 max, which had gone down a few points since my marathon. It's the little things that make me happy.


I love that they gave out bottles of wine to the age group winners

Greg took first in his half marathon (ahem...11.3 mile) race

April ended up being a really lazy month except for these races. I was in the gym strength training more consistently, but I was also sick for several days. I only ran 85 miles in April, my lowest mileage in a very long time. But in May, I have been able to run much more consistently. I should be well over 100 miles by the time June rolls around. This will set me up better when I start official marathon training in July. I'll be ready to up the intensity and volume safely. A part of me feels really guilty about this "laziness" but the smarter side of me knows that a break was good for me. It will help me be completely ready for the next marathon cycle. Going into it with these new PRs and newfound confidence in my speed is priceless to me. A year ago I couldn't even come close to running that pace.

However, I'm a little worried about a pain I've been having intermittently behind my right knee. I've never had pain there before, and I've been foam rolling, stretching, and doing trigger point above and below it in the hopes of finding the culprit, but no luck for the long term. Yesterday it didn't bug me, but today it did, so it's a little weird. I have an appointment with a doctor on Friday. I'm not messing with it and want it worked out.

I really am so ready to start official training!