Sunday, May 29, 2016

Runners Know But the Coffee Doesn't Care.....

Southern runners, above all others, know this time of year, if it rains in the afternoon or evening, the AM run will be extra thick and sticky (high humidity).  Runners know you should get an early start. Does the coffee care?  Does the coffee have any compassion?  NO !  The coffee holds me hostage, like a dog on a chain, until I know I MUST leave NOW, or I will not be able to run today (too hot).

When I can no longer delay, I make my break.  Unlike the dog who breaks free of his chain & bolts down the road, I take off at the slowest pace possible, ready to suffer the consequences of my AM "Coffee Capture."    It's a sweat fest, but I get it done.  (7 miles at 10:04 avg)

On my last post I mentioned the upcoming Greek Fest 5k.    I"m ending my 5th week of a 12 week 5k training plan.  My recent best time was mid April, at the Zydeco 5k in Gulf Shores (26:08).   I'm in no rush to see big jumps in speed, but I do love seeing results from my training.  It's getting hot here, but with my recent speed work, I did have a goal to go sub 26:00.  I'm talking about a goal of 25:58 would have been cool with me.

I've been doing some reading about,  and practicing "mind work."  It's given me a new and exciting focus.  With this return to "whatever happens", let's be real, I'm older now.  I don't let that get in my way, and I feel great, but at the same time, I am a realist.  At 48, I'm being extra cautious, training wise.   I truly feel the mind work will benefit me as much as the physical work this time around.  This time around, I will have self imposed limits on my training, but I think the mind work will pick up the slack.  I've come to realize for all of the HEAVY training I did in the past, if I had a weakness, it was the mind.  (ex. - slowing down at the end of workouts = slowing down at the end of races).   I've been practicing not letting myself slow down in the last part of the workouts.  I've been using mantras.  Some of my recent favorites :
 "Finish Strong", "This is Where Growth Happens",  "Maintain the Pace". 
 I'm already seeing the results from practicing this.

The Greek Fest 5k is in New Orleans.   Typically, New Orleans is flat, very few hills, but lucky me, this course was changed this year, and the new course included a hill.  Also, while waiting for the start, and warming up for the race, I realized we would be running out with the wind at our back, and the return would be into the wind.

My return to racing is a little different this time around.  Over the past 3 plus years, the few races that I've entered, I DO NOT "RACE".   I have promised myself to stay out of the "hurt zone."  For me, this has made the return more enjoyable.  In the first mile of the Greek Fest 5k, I kept reminding myself that I was going to fast, but I continued on with the wind at my back.  I realized it was going to take me to a hurt that I don't like to go to these days. (racing)  As we made the turn, hello wind.....
During the 3rd mile, I tried really hard to maintain my pace, but felt like I had fallen off.  I was running a little harder than I wanted to, but not "all out racing."  To my BIG surprise, I finished the race at 25:37.  A 31 second improvement over my recent best time in a 5k.  Excitement

Even though I'm no where near where I used to be, I still run "by the numbers."  I  thankful that I can enjoy THIS  new journey now.  Yes, it's different, yes it's slower, yes the training volume is much lower, but guess what......IT'S FUN AGAIN !    Of course, as soon as I get in the car (hubby driving home)  I HAVE TO look at my splits.  8:09 (too fast, wind at my back), 8:20 (perfect pace, & into the wind), last mile - 8:19 (finish strong, finish strong, maintain the pace, maintain the pace......)   The 3rd mile shows me the "mind work" is working it's magic.  

I'm not sure about any other 5ks this summer.  I will continue on with the 2nd half of the 5k training plan, and I may run a 5k at the end of the program but it will be HOT then (mid July), so I may be happy to end my spring racing with the Greek Fest 5k.   To be continued......

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A New Plan, A New Journey !

The Journey to Return to Fitness begins ! 

After a 3 year hiatus (basically since Boston 26.2,  2013), I'm back at it with passion, a new plan, a new journey.   It's a 3 year plan that I won't fully disclose, that part doesn't matter anyway.  The thrill for me is the journey.  I was truly blessed to run Boston 2 times, but you know what?  What was so much better than Boston was the journey to get there.  I truly mean that ! 

Jan 2016, within the first week, I decided that I would up my average mileage per week from an average in 2015 of ........ 9, that's NINE, yes, 9 miles per week average.  I decided on a goal of 20 miles per week.  So far I'm a few miles ahead of schedule.   I suppose with the higher mileage some motivation developed.  Thank you Jesus !   3 weeks ago, I started an intermediate 12 wk 5k plan. 

Actually, I really should back up to last fall.   My friend Kelly called me out of the blue.  We have been friends for many years, but we hadn't linked up for a run in over a year.   I told her I would meet her on one of her slow days.  One thing led to another,  and she invited me to run a fartlek run with her.  I hesitantly agreed.  I haven't done a lot of running and ZERO speed in 3 years.   Looking back, those few times Kelly text me have been super important in getting me going again.    Through my "running career", I've had several very important run friends that have taken me to another level.   Run friends are amazing and so important.......

So that I could coordinate with Kelly, I ask if she would share the last 4 weeks of her plan with me.  She text it to me and I started following it (somewhat), even when we didn't link up.  October 2015,  I ran a half marathon with my cousin, Laura in Mandeville, LA.  It was so fun to run with her.   We finished with a time of 2:08.   We talked, we walked while waiting on a friend, we ran, we finished the last half mile hard.   Time didn't matter at all to me, I just wanted to cover the distance and have a starting place.    This gave me a start,  and my goal was to improve.    In Dec. 2015,  I ran a 2:04 in which,  either the course was long, or I ran REALLY bad tangents, (13.3).     It doesn't matter, my only fall goal was to see small improvements,  on low mileage,  with a quality day added in sporadically.    Next, was a Feb. 2016 race in Greenville, MS, the MS River half.  It was Valentine's weekend, so what better way to celebrate my love than with a weekend away and a run?  Perfection for this gal!  I finished this one in 2:00 which was my exact goal for the day.   I was pumped with the finish time because the first 7+ miles was into a strong headwind (25 degree windchill), a little break for a mile or 2, and then back into the wind to the finish.   I run my best in this type of cold, but I can do without the wind.  My next, and final half of the spring,  was April 2nd.   The Rise & Shine half in Hattiesburg.  My goal was to go sub 2:00.  I ended up 1:59.   Breaking the 2 hour mark was an important hurdle for me.  Super excited to finish the spring with this time.  

I always run by the numbers.  At this point, it doesn't matter to me that my times are dramatically slower than my former run self.  I'm just thrilled to be back in the game, on the journey, and loving seeing some gains. 

Knowing I was ending my half season, I took a couple easy weeks and then was inspired to focus on some speed for a while.   I'm not a natural speed runner, and it takes a LONG time for me to develop any type of speed.  I've lost all of it from what I had built for 10+ years of intense training.  I'm currently in my 3rd week of the 12 week program.  I can't even explain how happy I am to be back on "a journey" again   So far, I two 5k times -  26:22- the Tomato Fest 5k, Chalmette, LA,  and 26:08 - the Zydeco 5k, Gulf Shores, AL.  The first 5k was just a test run, like a tempo effort, just to get a starting point.   The 2nd, my goal was to run faster than 26:22.   I won 2nd overall female in the first race, and 1st place in my age group in the 2nd race.  My next 5k will be May 27th, the Greek Fest 5k.  I will have 5 weeks of quality runs (hills and intervals) by Greek Fest.  By then, it will be hot and steamy in New Orleans, but I'm still hoping to see improvement. 

I can't even explain the level of my excitement 3 weeks in.
 I'm love'n it !