Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run

Last night I ran Maudie’s Moonlight Margarita Run 5k. The course reminds me a lot of the Pittsfield Independence Day 5k course. It started with a slight uphill, then it was pretty flat the rest of the way.

It was also 89 degrees and with the humidity felt like 98 degrees (not the “band”). Hopefully the Independence Day 5k will be less humid.

Before the race stared, I was standing under the Mo Pac bridge with all the other runners and it felt like it was 120 degrees. My clothes were sticking to me before I had even taken one step! Once the race started, I felt pretty good. I took off at about 5:55 pace, and was able to hold that for a bit. My first mile averaged 6:12 pace.

I caught myself falling into to 6:40’s in the second mile, but I was able to focus on catching up to “the next pack” and pulled out a 6:18 mile. The third mile I was able to concentrate and focus on finishing strong. I sped up a bit for a 6:17 and I kicked the last 0.1 in at 5:53 pace!

All in all I finished with a chip time of 19:29 which is a Texas PR (last summer I only broke 20 minutes 3 times, with a best of 19:50). I feel like I’m in much better shape this summer, I think because of my longer track workouts.

My next race will be the Independence Day 5k in Pittsfield. It should be cooler than I’m used to running in, so hopefully I can take advantage of that and get a good run in!

Sunstroke #2 and #3

I’ve run two more races in the Summer Sunstroke Stampede.

I’m attempting to run a 19:40 by keeping a steady 6:20 pace throughout these races. At least, that’s my plan but I’m not executing it very well. Partly because the first mile of the course is very fast and partly because my brain thinks it can run faster than my body is willing to let it.

Stampede #2:

I arrived just in time to register and get to the starting line. The regular front runners didn’t show up,  but my rival from last season was there (last year my rival and I were in the same age group and took turns beating each other every week). When the gun went off I found myself all alone in the lead. My first thought was “could I win this race?” then I thought “Am I going to take a wrong turn?” followed by “have I already missed the first turn? Is everyone following me off the course?”

Then I looked at my watch and saw that I went out at a 5:30 pace and needed to pull waaay back if I wanted to keep to my plan. So I pulled back to 5:45 and my rival passed me with a Rogue Runner hot on his tail. I pulled back to 6:00 pace and a few more runners went by. I wasn’t too concerned. If I stuck to my plan I should find myself running a Texas PR and I would be happy to do just that.

I crossed the first mile in about 6:08, which was much too fast. The middle of the race is mostly a gentle inverse decline, so it wasn’t difficult to keep pulling back. I got my pace under control and hit the second mile at 6:18 pace. I started reeling in everyone that passed me in the first mile and I was on pace to run better than I had hoped! But 2 miles is a little too early to start counting my eggs.

The longest mile of a 5k is the third mile. I felt pretty good coming into this mile. I was in control and keeping on my pace. Usually by this time in a race I am stuck in no-mans-land. Far enough away from the pack in front of me that I won’t catch them, and far enough ahead of the pack behind me that they won’t catch me. That’s a tough place to be when you want to run a good time. This week I found myself at the back of a small, strung out pack of runners and I was able to pick up my pace and pick a few of them off. This helped me pull through in a Texas PR of 19:50!

I was pretty happy with my time, but I know I can do better. I need to run a more consistent race. I need to start slower so that I can finish stronger. In order to prepare to run a more consistent pace I decided to run a 4 x mile repeat track working that weekend. I would run each mile at 6:20 pace with a mile rest in between each one. I want to train my body to know what a 6:20 pace feels like, both when I am fresh and when I am exhausted. The workout went well, even though it rained the entire time. I was right around 6:20 pace for each mile and I was pretty tuckered out.

Stampede #3:

Started too fast again. 6:06 pace. It’s weird because I don’t feel like I’m running fast. When I go for a regular run, if I start at 7:00 pace it feels fast, but when race time comes I take off at 5:40 pace and it just feels natural (even though that’s a faster pace than my all-time 5k PR). I still have a lot of work to do with my first mile pacing.

Second mile I ran a 6:08. I changed my plan mid-race, which is never a good idea. I thought to my self “Self, maybe deep down you really are in 19 min shape,if you run a good 2nd mile then the third mile will come.”

Somewhere in the third mile I revisited my new plan, “Self, you’re an idiot.” I spend a good part of the third mile running over 7:00 pace. Last week I felt strong in the third mile, this week I felt helpless. I was running just to get to the finish. I was no longer concerned with my time, I wasn’t even convinced I would make it all the way to the finish line.

All the people that I picked off in week #2 stayed ahead of me this week as I, in the words of the race MC, “squeaked in under 20 minutes”. I still finished faster than any race from last year, so that’s not bad. I’m mostly disappointing in my inability to execute on my plan. Once I can start running a consistent 6:20 pace I will have something to work with. Right now, I feel like my performances are determined by luck-of-the-weather and who-else-shows-up. I’d rather be in control of my running destiny.

I’m going to do some more pace work this weekend. I’m thinking a ladder of some sort. I really want to work on my opening pace, so I’d like to get a bunch of work going from “0 to 6:20 pace”.

Sunstroke Summer Stampede Race #1: The Beginning of the End

This is the 10th and last year that the Sunstroke Summer Stampede race series will run. Last year I tried all summer to break 20 minutes and came tantalizingly close with a 20:01 in the last race of the series.

Today I ran my first sub-20 5k in Texas! I came in 4th overall with a 19:55. I was pretty far back from the top 3, but I think I can break into that group if I can get some quality time in on the track.

The last two weeks haven’t been great for mileage. I clocked in at 20 and 18, and I’m looking at maybe making 25 miles this week. I’m quickly falling behind in my challenge, but I’m still confident that I can make it! I have 74 days left to run 421 miles. That puts be at needing 40 miles per week, which is still a reasonable amount of distance. I don’t want to fall too much farther behind, though.

Day 5, right on schedule

The loop I planned on running today was the 6 mile loop from Monday with an extra 2 mile out-and-back tacked onto the end to round it out to 10, but I took a wrong turn.

That’s a running theme with me.

My wrong turn turned the 10 mile loop into a surprising 4 mile loop. That turned out to be a great distance, though, because I was able to go ahead with Monday’s 6 mile loop and round it out to an even 10 without the hassle of an out-and-back!

I also worked in a half hour of 1 minute one, 1 minute off fartleks, totaling 15 minutes of speed work. I felt real good. Carrying water with me makes all the difference. (It also didn’t hurt that it was at least 15 degrees cooler today than it was on Monday)

I’m right on pace to get 25 in for the week! It’ll be pretty exciting when I hit that mark because i haven’t run a 35+ mile week in almost 8 months.

One last note, I RSVP’d for the Midnight Moontower Run next week. It’s a 7 – 16 mile run that starts at 11:30PM Friday night. I have an 11AM flight to Massachusetts Saturday morning … so we’ll see how that works out.

Day 4

Yesterday, I didn’t buy a $3500 vacuum cleaner from a door to door salesman.He did vacuum and shampoo the biggest room in my house, though. Unfortunately his demonstration took over 4 hours and sucked up all my training time.

Lesson learned: If someone knocks on the door, “I’m sorry, I don’t have any floors.”

Today I will sneak some speed work into a 10 mile run. Probably 10×1 fartleks. Saturday will be track day. And tomorrow I’ll get 7 – 10 in. If I can stick to this plan then I should be good for a 35 mile week and right on pace for 500 miles in 100 days!

Day 2, 488 Miles to Go

Remember my training theme, “Don’t skip the water stops?”

I didn’t.

I set out for a 10 mile run yesterday afternoon after staying out too late the night before and postponing what was supposed to be an early morning run. Mentally, I haven’t adjusted to the heat of Texas, and I am still not accustomed to having to carry water with me on my runs. Five miles into my run with no shade and amid-80’s temperature and I was beat. I cut the 10 miles down to about 6.5 because I wasn’t able to keep my pace up, and it’s far too early to invite injuries.

So, I learned a few things. First, I will be carrying my water bottle with me on every run. No need to risk dehydration when I don’t have to. Second, I will be picking up a massive amount of sun screen to wear on my runs.

This was the first time I ran in my new neighborhood. The loop was pretty good. I was hoping it would be closer to 7 miles than it was, but at the time I was glad I was a half mile closer to water than I expected. My plan for 10 miles was just to add on a few miles before I turned onto my street, so I can make it work.

I’m almost 12 miles into the challenge. Today is my day off. Tomorrow I will hopefully be able to find a track and get some speed work in!

Day 1, 495 Miles to Go

I started by own 500 Mile Club Challenge today.

I’ve run 500 miles in 100 days several times before. It’s never been easy. In High School, my team used the 500 Mile Club to keep in shape over the summer and take our fitness to the next level for the Cross Country season. After college, I used the 500 Mile Club as motivation to keep my mileage up and counter balance all the excuses to skip a run that I might conjure up during the day.

It’s easy to say “I had a long day at work” and “it’s getting dark” and “I have to get an early start tomorrow” and rationalize that it’s okay to skip today’s run. But when you give yourself a goal of 35 miles a week that means you have to make that distance up by running on your rest day; or by tacking an extra mile on to every run for an entire week; or running a double … and who has time for that? It’s tough to make up the distance once you miss a few days in the 500 Mile Club Challenge.

This time around, I would like to run a half marathon once I have completed the challenge. I’m leaning towards The Hottest Half in Dallas. I think it will be an apropos end cap to my challenge because throughout the 100 days I plan on running in the Sunstroke Summer Stampede 5k Race Series, which is exactly what it sounds like. The theme for my 500 Mile Club Challenge will be “Don’t skip the water stops!”

So, my plan is to run 5 days a week. According to my personal 500 Mile Club Challenge page, I need to average 7 miles a day. I ran on the trails for 4.75 miles this morning. The funny thing about trail running is that it always feels like I ran farther and faster than my watch reports. I think it is because I take shorter steps and basically do a high knee drill for most of the run.

I’m not worried about getting off to a slow start towards 500 miles, I’ve still got fresh legs so I should be able to make it up pretty easily. Tomorrow I will get up well before the crack of dawn and run 10 miles in the dark.

Strong Arming your way to Fast Finishes

When I first started racing, my arms were always the first to go.

Arm strength is important in running. Swinging your arms helps to drive your legs and propel yourself forward. When you need to dig a little deeper, push a little harder and run a little faster you pump your arms more vigorously and the rest of your body will follow.

When I raced, before my legs felt fatigued, before I was winded, I would struggle to keep my arms up and swinging. My shoulders would tire out and I would find my arms dropping down to my sides. After I spent so much time and energy making my legs strong and my lungs robust it was my neglected arms that dragged me down like an anchor!

I took one really simple step to solve my mid-race arm atrophy affliction: pushups. Not a lot of push ups, I only needed to make my arms strong enough so they could hold up their own weight for the duration of a 5 or 10k race.

So before I left for my next workout, I dropped and gave myself 30. At least, I attempted 30 push ups. I gave a good effort until about 20 and then I sort of wiggled around for “10” more. So, before my next run I lowered my bar and only did 20 push ups, but I concentrated on making sure they were high quality push ups. You will get more out of doing fewer push ups correctly than to do many push ups with poor form.

Doing push ups before your run will do two things for you. 1) push ups make your arms stronger. 2) Doing push ups before you run will make your arms a little tired before you even start running which gives you the perfect opportunity to practice running with tired arms. So you are both getting stronger and getting better at running when weak. That’s a double whammy workout!

After a couple weeks doing a few quick push ups before each of my runs I began to see results in my race times. My arms were no longer getting tired at all during my races! I was able to run strong much longer and that made me more confident. I was on an upward spiral!

Every few weeks, as I grew accustomed to doing push ups before each run, I would add a few more push ups to my routine. I still do push ups every day. I topped out at 50 push ups. That’s all I need to keep my arms strong enough to push me through any race I might find myself running and it only takes me 1 minute to do them.

Start your run off right. Do a few pushups and you’ll be strong enough to hold your arms up high when you cross the finish line!