Monday, December 30, 2013

Month of Racing: 3rd Weekend Update!




After racing last weekend in Virginia I spent the week in New York with my parents, sister, and Ryan. I had some great runs on Staten Island while we were there and of course enjoyed all of the Holiday festivities that the City had to offer.
Inside Radio City Music Hall seeing the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular with Ryan & My Family
Then we flew back to Denton on Friday and drove to a race Saturday morning in Arlington, Texas. The Don Zetnick Winter Run 10k was my first 10k since July. My goal was to break 36:30 after running 17:37 in the 5k in Virginia last weekend. I felt great running splits of 5:37, 5:39, 5:45, 6:01, 6:07, 5:56 (closed 5:26 pace) and finishing in 36:18. The 2nd mile of the race reminded me of the Jingle Bell 5k I did in Dallas 2 weeks ago. The whole mile we kept going down a slight decline and although I felt great I knew in the back of my mind that I would be climbing back up this for mile 5. So I was actually pleased with my mile 5 split since so much of it was up hill.


The 10k & 2 Mile Start



(The woman with the stroller is in the 2Mile/ had to clarify after some Facebook teasing on this photo)

Same with the young man in this photo (The 10k & 2 Mile shared a start & finish) My athletes teased me about this photo on Twitter

Running hard the last half mile
Side View

The finish

After enjoying meeting so many individuals at the Carrollton Runners Club Prediction 5k two weeks ago I went Sunday morning to their Monthly 5k & Mile runs for a workout. I got in a solid effort running 5:41, 5:48, 5:45 on my Garmin for an official 18:18 5k. More importantly I had fun visiting with the other runners there. I met another individual who loves Saucony (just like one of the sponsors I met at Saturday's race) and it turns out she was at the Arlington race as well and raced the 2 Mile there. I always enjoy hearing more about other's goals and it was fun chatting with several individuals who like myself are getting back into shape and have some fun goals set for this spring.

So far this month of racing has gone really well especially in regards to what I was hoping to gain from it besides just fitness. It has given me confidence of what I can accomplish next year as I lay out an actual training plan. If I can run these times off just running 30-40 miles a week I know that I am still capable of accomplishing so much more when I add in specific workouts and higher mileage. 
This month has also reminded me that at my core I LOVE competing.
I already knew without a doubt that I love competition. After all that is a key part of coaching and I have never been happier than I was this fall training and coaching my athletes through a whole season of competition especially the championship portion of the season. This month of my own racing just reminded me that I still enjoy competing myself and competing will be that much more fun when I have been training hard for it. This spring will still be a test of balancing. As my own training and racing will continue to be a side note of my coaching, but I know that it invigorates me and makes me a better coach when I am still pushing myself physically to be the best athlete I can be. I still think I can learn more from training and racing myself that I can then use to help make my athletes better. So well my body is still able and my mind is still willing I am going to devise a smart schedule and get in some morning training sessions and some Sunday races this spring. 
Next stop for the 4th weekend of my month of racing is Austin, Texas: Sunday January 5th. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jingle Bell 5k Part Deux

Post race at Piccadilly's with my mom, Polly

I raced my 2nd Jingle Bell run of 2013 yesterday morning at the Apple Capital Jingle Bell 5k in Winchester, Virginia. My main goal was to try and run close to 17:30. This seemed reasonable after my 17:56 hilly Saturday 5k last weekend that I followed up with an 18:13 5k less than 24 hours later at The Carrollton Runners Club Prediction Run 5k.
{Quick story about that race} Silly me lined up for a "Prediction Run" with my Garmin on. Not because I cared about actually hitting my predicted time to win a gift card, but because I wanted to get a good workout in and push myself to not settle into too slow of a pace. Needless to say I ran without the watch as soon as someone called attention to it and I realized that clearly I wasn't thinking clearly at 7:30am. I actually was only 13 seconds of my predicted time and received a gift card!




Although I finished as the 2nd woman yesterday morning I am pleased with my effort and I am excited to really get back to training. I decided to lay out a month of racing every weekend to have some fun while getting back into the hang of doing workouts and this was a successful race #3. I have also started to slowly increase my mileage after staying in the 30s and 40s all cross country season (which is extremely low mileage for me).
I always enjoy racing back in my home state of Virginia and having both my parents come was a nice treat. Plus we had surprisingly warm weather! I was pleased that I maintained a decent pace through miles 2 and 3 even though I wasn't able to gain any places those miles. My splits were 5:30, 5:42, 5:43.
Start of the Race!
Leading for the women around the 1st loop

Coming back into the square for the finish
My Dad and I also wore some fun matching Tasmanian Devil Christmas socks!
My dad always called me "Taz" growing up some what because I was speedy, but mostly because I left a mess in every room in the house that I had been in.

Next weekend the plan is to race a 10k! I haven't raced a specific 10k distance race (although I've raced some longer distances) since July. So I am excited to see what I can do as I continue to build fitness. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Graduation & Getting into the Holiday Spirit

Yesterday definitely got me into the holiday spirit as I received a thoughtful Christmas gift from one of my returning athletes. It was also bitter sweet because I also received the nicest card from my two athletes graduating this semester. 
So thoughtful!
I had the pleasure of coaching two great international athletes in their final semester at The University of North Texas. Matt was an exceptional leader on our Men's team and finished his collegiate eligibility with his best individual and team season of cross country at North Texas.  He earned 2nd Team All-Conference USA Honors (11th) and had his highest finish at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships with a 36th place finish (31:32, 10k). 
Carly also closed out her collegiate eligibility with her best individual and team cross country season at North Texas. She was a positive force on our young Women's team and was a member of the 3rd place Team at Conference USA and scored (top 5 runner on the team) for the first time at a championship event in her collegiate career as our 5th runner at the NCAA South Central Regional Championships where she helped the Women's Team to their highest team finish in the past 10 years. 
Track & Field Graduates: Matt, Kendria, Carly (& myself)

Matt & Carly with other student-athlete graduates and AD Rick Villarreal


Carly & Matt's Commemorative Plaques
It was such an honor to have Matt & Carly not only accept me as their new coach in their final semester, but also to have their support as leaders on our teams. I will forever be grateful for their hard work and dedication they gave this season and for contributing to the foundation of the distance program we are building at North Texas. So thank you Matt & Carly and I can't wait to hear about your future success. 

As I continue to "get into the holiday spirit" I thought it would be fun to do my first Jingle Bell/Holiday race. I had a great time this morning at the Shamrock Jingle Bell Run hosted to benefit The St. Patrick's School in Dallas. 
My festive socks! (I also wore some jingle bells on my race bib!)
There were so many young athletes at the race all dressed up for the holiday season and many enjoyed their turn to scream...I mean "sing".. Christmas carols into the microphone that blasted out of the speakers. It was such a fun race environment. I was hoping to run under 17:30 and had a good start to my goal with a 5:21 1st mile (that mile went downhill, uphill and then flat the 2nd half) when the 2nd Mile started creeping downhill and then had some big down hills I knew the 3rd mile might be a bit tough. I clocked a 5:24 on my Garmin for mile 2, but 10:57 through the 2 mile race mark and by then we had started to climb. Then we climbed and climbed. The whole last mile was uphill. I felt great and caught the last runner that was within reach (the other 3 young men had taken off from the gun and stayed as a pack but not within reach to catch). Since I felt great and thought I was progressing through I didn't check my Garmin until it beeped for the 3rd mile. I saw 6:23 and my brain was so confused. By then I heard the announcer and sprinted hard up the last hill to the finish for a 17:56 finishing time (1st Woman and 4th Overall). Although I wanted to run faster I am quite please with my effort. I'm just now getting started on my own training and building my mileage from the ridiculously low weeks I maintained during the cross country season. I'm excited for the month of racing I planned for myself and a gift card to Luke's Locker as well as my fasted 5k since I moved to Denton is definitely an okay way to start!


Yay!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Return From Too Long of a Hiatus

Wow has this fall flown by! I took a break from blogging once the NCAA cross country season got under way to be able to put all of my time and attention towards my first season as a full-time coach.
Coaching the Mean Green Men and Women in cross country this fall was amazing! The program made some huge improvements and I am very excited for the upcoming Track & Field seasons.

A few of the highlights:
I had the pleasure of working with our great Conference USA staff organizing the first Championships of the newly re-aligned Conference USA for the 2013-14 Academic Year. The University of North Texas hosted 15 Women's teams and 13 Men's teams on our home cross country course on November 2, 2013. 

The Men took 2nd in The First Conference USA Championship of the 2013-14 Academic Year
Six Men earned All Conference Honors (Four 2nd Team & Two 3rd Team)
The Women finished 3rd at The Conference USA Championship



Jo Adams and Charlotte Wilson both earned 1st Team All-Conference Honors 
 

Both the Men & Women program's posted their highest team finish in 10 years at The NCAA South Central Regional Championship
The Men were 6th
The Women finished 9th with Jo Adams earning All-Region Honors

As far as my own running is concerned this fall saw my own running take a bit of a hiatus as well. After having to take a month off this summer for my heel to recover I spent this fall doing regular runs with my ladies as well as long runs. I also hopped in a few make-up workout sessions with a few of the ladies; which I always enjoy motivating them while running beside them (I usually ride my bike along for big team workout sessions).
Even though I took a break from training full-time I still had the pleasure of toeing the line at some great events in the greater Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

I ran in August with my friend and North Texas Assistant Swim Coach Brittany at The Around The Mound 5k

Both of us with our "winner's cups" (Brittany won her age group!)
Had a great time with my now fiancĂ© Ryan running the Santa Fe 5k on a Thursday evening in Dallas along with some friends. Felt great this day and was happy to run 18:04 without any specific workouts in my training.
Always fun when Ryan & I race together (& both win!)

Enjoyed my first Overall Race victory at the Depot Day 10 Miler in Gainesville, TX located north of DFW area; this race was just 2 days after the Santa Fe 5k. Lead from the gun and loved that the course was two 5 mile loops and I felt great this day!
Felt awesome this day running my Half Marathon PR pace for a solo 10 Miler

I also ran the DRC Half (The day after the C-USA XC Championships). This was my most painful half yet as I went out way too aggressively for the lack of shape I was in and paid the price the 2nd half of the race (especially the last 4 miles that I crawled). But as always it was great to see some of my new DFW Running friends there and meet a fellow Saucony Hurricane.

One of my new Dallas running friends Roxana
Most recently I took on my longest race (and longest run EVER!) at The Big D 30k. I felt like I did at the 10 Miler and really started to click away the 2nd half as we worked our way back around White Rock Lake in Dallas (I also was smart and patient the first half unlike my dumb racing at the DRC Half. I even chatted with Ryan a bit on our way out in the 30k). I was able to claim the Overall Victory in 2:02.33. I was very happy with my sub 19:00min last 5k as the wind was cold and blowing at points with the temperature staying under 35 degrees!
My first run over 16miles and it was an 18.6 Mile race!

Now that I have settled into my position the plan is to have a bit of time to blog as well as get back to a bit more regular training.

I'm excited for my athletes to get fit over winter break and while they're at home training I will be racing each of the next four weekends. So stay tuned for updates! First up is the Shamrock Jingle Bell 5k in Dallas! http://www.shamrockjinglebellrun.com/

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mapping the Mean Green Cross Country Course

My "work day" started early this morning out on the Mean Green Cross Country course.
Logging some miles using my Garmin to map out a loop
I was introduced to our course this past Friday and I have now begun laying out what I think will be the best course for the 2013 Conference USA Cross Country Championships on November 2nd. The course also needs to work for our Ken Garland Invitational on September 28th.
The course is on the practice golf course that North Texas' outstanding golf program has out grown much to our good fortune. Facilities will maintain whatever loops we determine as the layout of the course. (You gotta' love a facility that is purely maintained for Cross Country!)
 

Looking out from the start line
One of the key challenges is using the back section of the course most effectively. I also want to include the longest/biggest hill/incline we have access to that the old 5k course did not use.
 

The back loop with Mesquite Trees along the perimeter
 


WillowWood Street bordering the far side of the back loop
I'll be out in the sun this afternoon wheeling the course to more effectively test the loops I came up with. Right now the course is a puzzle I'm in the process of mastering as I map out a 2mile, 5k, 6k, 4mile, and 8k to all have the same start, main 1st loop, and finish line.
Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mean Green Cross Country!


To the outsider it might look like I completely forgot about this blog for the last 2 months, but I can assure you I did not. It has been one of my busiest and most exciting summers as I had the opportunity to pursue and interview for something I have been working toward since I graduated from Syracuse, becoming a full-time collegiate coach. As this press release can tell you http://www.meangreensports.com/sports/c-xc/spec-rel/081313aaa.html
it was a successful summer and I am ready for an exciting fall coaching Mean Green cross country!







 
I had to have a button!

North Texas is a strong academic institution and I am thrilled to be a part of an Athletics Department with such a high standard for academic excellence as well as athletic competition. Entering Conference-USA is a moment that Mean Green Athletics has been anticipating and I cannot express how thrilled I am to be a part of it. The Cross Country team will also have the honor of hosting the first C-USA Championship of the 2013-2014 academic year at our home cross country course on November 2nd. I have a lot to do before then, but I plan to keep this blog updated with great training locations in Denton that the team is frequenting, updates on the team's season, my thoughts in general about the DFW area and running, and maybe even a bit on my own running when it comes time for a Turkey Trot.

Go Mean Green!

Friday, June 21, 2013

USA Half Marathon Championships!

In less than 11 hours from now I will have finished my 2nd Half Marathon. My 1st race in my new Saucony Hurricane Kit. And hopefully have a shiny, new PR!

New Race Kit with Sweet USA Bib
I have been anticipating this morning for over 4 months since before I decided to race the Tallahassee Half Marathon in February. All of my spring training has been focused on this race and I am quite happy to add that the weather here in Duluth has decided to help me out by being almost 20 degrees cooler than the typical Tallahassee morning. (Fingers crossed the thunderstorms don't get in the way of the start tomorrow morning!) So far I have been very impressed by Duluth, Grandma's Marathon, and everyone who helps put on this event (and the event hasn't even happened yet). I really like the course even though the fog got a bit in the way when we drove the first 6 miles of the course. Then over the past two days I have been able to do my runs on the last 7 miles of the course. Needless to say I am quite familiar with it. All of that considered I really hope my body hops on board with what I want to accomplish tomorrow.

My main goal is to run a new PR with my secondary goal to be top 25. Based on the results from last year accomplishing my secondary goal will mean I'll have to achieve my main goal. I also want to get out there and compete the entire 13 miles. In my first half I found myself alone after the half way point with over 2 minutes between myself and the man who finished ahead of me and another 2 minutes separating me from the man who finished behind me. Tomorrow that should not be the case. The race organizers have put together a sizable field and I can't wait to test myself to beat as many of my fellow female competitors as possible.
Not only do I want to push myself, but I also just want to have some fun! 
(Like I did Thursday with my mom riding Spongebob's Rock Bottom Plunge at the Mall of America)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Eugene Bound!

So as you may have guessed since I did not race at this morning's Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon my plans changed a bit in the last week. I found out the day after NCAA East Prelims that there would be a spot for me to travel with Florida State to help coach at NCAAs in Eugene! I am so excited to be there with our distance ladies as they finish off what has been a strong Outdoor 2013 campaign. Obviously with these new travel plans my own racing plans changed. Instead of racing this weekend I have been able to continue training and working with our four distance ladies who will be racing at NCAAs! I still hope to be able to run a destination races event in the future, but unfortunately when you're balancing so many things on your schedule you can't always fit everything in.

Ready for the Lady Noles to leave their mark at NCAAs! (Hayward Field)
So what's next for my training and racing?

Since January when I planned out my own training and racing goals for this spring the end goal has been to race well at the USA Half Marathon Championships in Duluth, Minnesota on June 22nd. These plans have not changed even though there have been some highs and lows in training and racing over the past four months since my first half marathon. The month of April highlighting the 'low' category, but I am happy to say that the past month has been steadily working its way back up to the 'high' category. I have been able to get in some higher mileage weeks along with getting my long runs and workout days back up to 15+ miles.

Today's workout was just the confidence boost I needed to know that these few more weeks of consistent training since I didn't race today are a blessing that I definitely needed.

I am still undecided as to what time is a reasonable goal for when I race three weeks from today. All I know is that I am fit and I will be ready to go out there and compete. Also, I still haven't been able to race in my new Saucony Hurricanes' kit that unfortunately came right after my last race so that ads a little extra excitement for this race as well.

Additionally, I have been working out in my new Saucony Women's Type A5 flats
My new favorite flats for the track (Saucony Type A5)
and I have been loving them! I will have to decide if I want to try them for the half or save them for shorter road races and still go with my Saucony Kinvara for the half champs. My workouts the past few weeks have involved interval(s) on the track, up-tempo run off the track, and then interval(s) back on the track so I have been alternating between my two flats during my workouts. The Type A5s definitely have made me lighter for the track intervals; which has helped a lot (both mentally and physically...).

I wanted to close this entry with an inspirational quote and the one that best fits my year of training and racing is:

 “Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”
        – Jack Canfield (Author of Chicken Soup for the Soul series)

This quote is perfect for me. When training and racing on a full-time work schedule (that often involves travel) I have to stay motivated even through the bad workouts and races that are going to happen because my main focus can't be on eliminating everything that isn't ideal for my training and recovery.
I don't want to shy away from an opportunity to race just because my training hasn't gone perfectly. I'm going to put myself on the line and give myself the chance to compete. I can't wait to put this to the test again in three weeks when I toe the line in Duluth. 

 I'm going to get out there and Find My Strong.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Catching up on Training

With my 2nd Half Marathon 2.5 weeks away the past two weeks and this week feel like they are all about catching up on some of the longer training that it seems like I have been missing. Going back to 15 mile long runs has been my favorite part of this training cycle. Long, long runs have always been one of my favorite components of high mileage and I have really enjoyed the 90 second and 3 minute pick-ups that were added to the last 9 to 11 miles of my last 2 long runs. Plus getting my mileage back up to the high 70s has also felt great. (Also, I have been a bit unconventional doing my last 3 long runs on Mondays or Tuesdays, but being physically prepared especially after travel is better than feeling the compulsion to do a "weekend long run.")

Travel has still played its evil role in my training by making one of my workout sessions a bit rough, but overall I am pleased with the direction I have been heading since April 28th.

June 1st!
However, my current excitement for the next two weeks of coaching over shadows my excitement of heading back home to Virginia for my next race. The Lady Noles have put in so much hard work over the past months and it will all be put to the test next week at the NCAA East Prelims. I am definitely still excited to race at The Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon (http://destinationraces.com/runvirginia/) on June 1st, but I know it won't really hit me until after the team's trip to Greensboro, NC next week. In the meantime I will get in another solid 2 weeks of training without wasting energy by spending too much time thinking about my own race until I blog again because there is lots to say about Destination Races and what kind of (special) event they seem to be putting on! Plus it will be my 1st race in my new Saucony Hurricane kit!




Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Taking the Good with the Bad and Then Taking Action to Improve

When I started this blog my biggest fear was the thought of blogging after a bad race. So far this year I have been lucky enough to have solid performances that I have enjoyed blogging about. My race at the Penn Relays this past weekend is the farthest thing from a solid performance. It was downright ugly.

So here I go facing my biggest fear...This is my post-race blog after my worst race of 2013.

Taking the Good with the Bad.

The Good: I saw my mom for the second time in two weeks and we had a fun bike/run in the wildlife refuge outside of Philadelphia before I flew back to Florida. Also, I was able to see my coach for the first time in months and it was great to catch up on stuff besides just training.

Despite having such a poor performance I had several solid workouts in the two weeks leading up to this race. I take confidence from those workouts especially since they were on the track and this year track workouts have been a rare occurrence with the few times I have stepped on the track resulting in some pretty rough sessions. I know the solid sessions I put in the past few weeks and the other work I have put in this spring can still help me in future training and racing.

The Bad: Every step after mile 2 in my race.

I could go into the long list of why I ran so sub par and how awful I felt, but that won't get me anywhere. Instead my course of action is identifying areas in my daily life where I could improve so that my next race will be back in tune. The first step is making more time to be able to fit in the following improvements.

Cross Training (swimming/aqua jogging & biking) I have a pool in my complex and I plan to use it. Also, I own several different bikes so I need to get out the door and hit the roads and the trails. (I've actually already started on this since I've hopped in the pool after my last 4 runs for a nice, easy 15 minutes of aqua jogging and I plan on taking one of my bikes out for a real ride before the weekend is over.)

Going to the Gym (weightlifting/general strength) During the year I have gone to weightlifting with the team, but it doesn't always fall on the best day for my training or racing schedule so I have neglected some of the exercises I used to do. In the coming week I plan to join the gym that is in walking distance from my condo so that I can get in 2-3 weight lifting sessions per week and have another space to hold myself accountable for doing my general strength work/additional forms of cross training  (such as the elliptical, yoga classes).

Injury Prevention/Maintenance (stretching more, active stretching/drills, icing, sports massage) Although I feel I have done a decent job of doing these things I still went into my race with two nagging injuries. I think part of the solution is adding in the weightlifting/general strength I have been neglecting (If I can strengthen some areas that will help prevent some of these minor nagging injuries) while simultaneously increasing the time I spend stretching/doing other injury prevention. I also plan on scheduling an appointment with a chiropractor I know that has a great reputation with athletes to check my alignment to see if something in my stride is off causing my hip pain.

With these new training goals in my mind I look forward to a solid training cycle over the month of May. My next definite race on the calendar is not until June 22nd at the Half Marathon Championships, but I will be researching to find a race for approximately a month from now. In the mean time I will be training smart and staying positive!




Monday, April 22, 2013

Pumped for The Penn Relays 10,000m

The 119th running of The Penn Relays is finally here! I am so excited to be heading back to one of Track & Field's premier events. Unfortunately, I will be flying out early Friday morning after my race so I won't get to stick around and enjoy being a spectator of the other races. I am most excited to be a competitor though spectating would have just been a bonus to the trip.  Below is the start list for my race. 
Will be run in conjunction with the College Women's 10,000m

The entries for the College Women's 10,000m have not been released yet, but I am confident there should be a decent sized field.

I love the days leading up to a big race. So much preparation is about to be put to the test and I especially enjoy clicking off splits in my last pre-race workout. Last night's workout was no different as I felt smooth running some 600m repeats at 10k goal pace. I was pleased with how I felt after a busy ACC Outdoor Track & Field Championship weekend. Coaching the lady Noles in Raleigh this weekend was exhilarating and watching the ladies hit some PR's while giving their all to score team points was inspirational.  Coming so close to beating Clemson for a team title made for a thrilling Saturday and after their solid performances I can't wait for the rest of the season. It also peaked my own excitement for seeing how all of my hard training will pay off when I test myself Thursday night.

My general goal is to compete in the front pack of the race and break 34:00 minutes for the second time. I also have some tougher time and place goals, but for now I am going to stay focused on staying relaxed the first few miles and then turning on my competitiveness. I can't wait to be back in Philadelphia and absorb all the energy The Penn Relays has to offer.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Getting Calloused on the Track

Photo by Amanda Winslow
The primary goal for last night's track 5k was to get out there and run 10k goal pace. I did that for almost two miles before it got ugly. I managed to salvage the last 600m, but I was not prepared for how tough laps 9-11 felt. That aside it was a great night. Nothing beats having your athletes and friends cheering you on and I was blessed to have a great group out there. It was also fun to be in the same race as some of our FSU Striders as they went after their 5k goals. I definitely feel more prepared for my 10k at Penn Relays even though my finishing time was only 17:01 last night. As my coach always says we need to get a bit calloused and that is precisely what I accomplished last night. I am now more calloused for racing on the track. Penn Relays should be an amazing experience and I can't wait to get in there and race. First it's time to re-charge and put in another good workout. Plus we're off to ACCs next week; which I can hardly contain my excitement about. I just love conference weekend! It's only a few times a year that an entire track & field team really comes together and I'm hoping for something special for the team, but no matter what the distance Lady Noles are ready to get after it. It doesn't get much better than being a coach and athlete; last night I was lucky to get to do both within an hour.

Friday, April 12, 2013

From Hilly 10k to Track 5k in 6 Days

Weaving through 5k traffic at the finish. Photo by  Fred Deckert
Despite the many warnings I received about the difficulty of the Springtime 10k course I definitely underestimated how hilly and tough the course would be. I got through it though with a solid time of 36:05 and a 1st place finish. It's 6 days later and I'm excited for tonight's race that will be quite opposite from Saturday's  (NO HILLS!). I am hitting the track for the first time in 11 months and will be running the 5k at the Seminole Invitational at FSU at 8:05pm.

My New Saucony Velocity 4 Spikes
The main goal is to run 10k track goal pace for 5k with hopefully a nice pick-up the last mile. This will be just the physical and mental practice I need before the Penn Relays 10k in only 13 days! I'm also excited to give my new Saucony Velocity 4 spikes a test run. I did some strides in them yesterday and I think I had almost forgotten how much lighter spikes are than my road flats. Ultimately, I am feeling pretty rested after a week of just mileage and the weather seems to be cooperating so far. Hopefully, it's a bit cooler by 8pm and the wind and heavy rains stay away. But in the end that doesn't matter since the whole point is to get out there and feel out the pace while also getting in a hard effort! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Springtime 10k Goals


With my final workout in the books, a nice, short 5.5 miles of work with some great company, I am now focused on Saturday’s race. From what I've heard the Springtime 10k is one of the best road races in Tallahassee with 38 years of history. So I am definitely excited to race the course myself and experience the event. I also keep hearing how tough the course is. Hills, lots of hills, and “don’t go out too fast” have been the common themes repeated by everyone I've chatted with about the race. 
All that considered my main goal is to win the women’s race while also challenging myself with a few time goals.

Time Goal 1
Break my previous road 10k best of 35:24. (Yes, every course is different, but I am still determined this spring to keep bringing down my road 10k PR).

Time Goal 2a
Break 35:00 Minutes. (As runners we always see each minute mark as a barrier designed to be broken so of course I want a finishing time that starts with 34).

Additional time goals inspired by some Springtime 10k history:

Time Goal 2b
Break 35 Minutes. In Springtime's 38 year history only 5 female winners have broken 35:00 minutes in route to their victory. Only 4 more have broken 36:00 minutes. So breaking 36:00 minutes would still place me in the top 10 times of Springtime 10k female winners; which would be a nice accomplishment as well.

Time Goal 3(should probably be called ‘far out goal’): 
Break the course record.
The course record is an impressive 34:09. This is quite a lofty time goal considering my track PR is only 12 seconds faster, but why not put it down! Ultimate/dream goals are what make boring runs go by faster. So I’m going to let myself indulge in a little fantasy racing with this one.

The over arching goal though is to continue improving my fitness as I prepare for the Penn Relays 10k, my first track race in 11 months. And of course have some fun!

Springtime 10k History can be found here: http://www.springtime10k.com/history.html

Monday, March 25, 2013

Testing Fitness on the Track

After a week of uncertainty about what my next bigger goal race would be it has been decided! 

I will be competing in the 10,000m at the 119th Penn Relays on Thursday, April 25th. 
  
Penn Relays is one of the pinnacle events of track & field and I can't wait to race in a stadium that is filled with so much history and energy. The last time I raced at Penn Relays was 10 years ago when I was a freshman in high school. I had a habit then of running like a 'deer in the headlights' according to my High School Coach, Dave Davis. In a month I will get to run 25 laps with a mature confidence I lacked for those three laps that led off our Distance Medley Relay a decade ago. 
In the meantime there is still much work to be done and most likely a hilly 10k road race two and a half weeks before. Having a bigger race to focus on fuels my training and I'm looking forward to getting to hop on the track for a few workouts. After thinking hard about it I am pretty sure I have done two workouts on the track in the past six months. So to say I am excited to test on the track all of the fitness I have built racing and training longer on the roads the past few months is an understatement. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Paddy's Day 10k

Ryan & I (Yes, he wore last year's St Paddy's race T-shirt)

Racing in Jacksonville two weekends in a row was the best idea! 1st Place Sports puts on some great events and this weekend we even got to take advantage of Jacksonville's beaches post race. Plus having my parents in town for both races was an added treat. 

Entering the St. Paddy's Day 10k was another opportunity to get in a hard workout with the added fun of getting to race. I stayed optimistic all week while fighting off a cold that my rundown body luckily did not fully succumb to after the busy weekend I had with the Gate River Run. 

Once the race started I couldn't believe how great I felt! I was racing in the front pack and was in a nice, smooth rhythm. I might have felt a little too good since I led at two points during the first 5k. Once at the 1 Mile Mark (pictures can be seen here: http://photos.jacksonville.com/mycapture/enlarge.asp?image=46434522&event=1626184&CategoryID=67145&picnum=8&move=B#Image) and then again at the 5k mark. 

Ryan, who has barely trained since his 1st marathon a month and half ago, offered to run with me to help me keep a more even pace. Little did we know that I would actually be racing in the front pack. So at about 4 Miles when one of the Masters men in the race put in a solid move and I couldn't match it Ryan left me about a half mile later so that he catch him and win the men's race. 

I kept trying to catch the other man that had been in our pack of four, but my legs just didn't have it in them. The 2nd 5k also got a bit tricky in the last mile and a half as we had to weave through the other participants who were either finishing their 5k or on their 1st loop of the 10k.
I ended up 4th overall and the 1st female finisher with a time of 35:24, a new Road 10k PR! (One of my goals this spring is to just keep chipping that time down until it is closer to my 33:57 track 10k PR)

Before the race I made it one of my goals to try and keep all of mile splits in the 5:30s. I almost did this, but my Garmin had a bit of trouble getting accurate mile splits with all of the sharp turns we made on the cemetery roads. Since there were clocks at each mile mark I have two sets of splits: what I saw on the clocks and what my Garmin said. 
Garmin: 5:36, 5:41, 5:47, 5:35, 5:34, 5:37 
Race Clocks: 5:32, 5:34 (11:06), (17:26 5k)

Overall, I was really pleased with this race. It was exciting to race in the front pack and I was quite relieved that the cold I fought all week didn't really affect me besides my breathing getting pretty burdened the last two miles. 

This week I’m excited to get back up in my mileage and put in some more solid training. I am not sure what I will get to race in the near future. I have a few options in mind and can’t wait to set some more goals once I have a more solidified April/May race schedule. In the meantime I will stay focused and motivated with the June & July races I already have planned.







Monday, March 11, 2013

Another Step Forward

Moving forward in running is always good.

That's a pretty simplistic and redundant statement, but it sums up where my training and racing are right now.

With such a busy schedule I know my own running is often first to not receive the attention it deserves.
Since struggling to balance my own training with my new schedule in the fall this spring has been a dramatic improvement.

I am moving forward.

I am improving from week to week and when I get the opportunity to race that improvement is showing as well.
Gate River Run was a solid step in the right direction.
This year's elite field is probably the most competitive field I have ever raced in.
Despite letting myself get pulled out too quickly for the first two miles and definitely paying for that the last two miles I am quite pleased with my overall performance.
Looking ahead to my season goal of competing well at the US Half Marathon Championships on June 22nd I am one step closer. I actually set a new road 10k PR through 10k. This is great because my road PR has been 2 minutes off of my track PR which is simply ridiculous on my part.

Gate River Run:

5k: 17:35
10k: 35:40

Overall Time/15k: 54:07, 5:49 average pace.

Split
Time
Distance
Avg Pace
Summary54:09.39.425:45
15:33.31.005:33
25:31.31.005:31
35:41.91.005:42
45:47.11.005:47
55:41.61.005:42
65:51.91.005:52
75:51.01.005:51
85:57.21.005:57
96:05.41.006:05
102:08.70.425:10


Competing in such an elite field was a privilege and it was quite exciting to have so many talented women to test my physical abilities against.
The weekend itself was also a BLAST!
Richard Fannin is such an enthusiastic elite coordinator and the weekend that he and his team put on was simply amazing.
It was also great to catch up with old friends and make some new ones too.
Plus I got some great advice from my fellow competitors on how to focus on your own training and racing.
Now its time to recover and get excited for the next step forward.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Gate River Run

In 24 hours my 1st 15k will be underway and I will be racing down the streets of Jacksonville.
A PR is inevitable. That's the one outcome you can be sure of when racing a new distance. 
Everything else is uncharted territory. Especially for this race since not only is it my 1st 15k it is also the most competitive 15k in the country since it is the host of the USA Road Circuit 15k Championship.

The main unknowns on my mind are:
What pace will they race go out in?
What will time will it take to be Top 20? Top 15? Top 10?
How will I feel?

These questions are pointless though.

Instead I will focus on the 'knowns.'
I have prepared for this race.
The long runs, the workouts, and even my half marathon are all components I have assembled that will play a key part in my success at racing this distance.
Racing my first half marathon five weeks ago has been great for my confidence going into this race.
I know that I can run hard for 13 miles and I felt great through 9 miles that day. Although I will be demanding a faster pace from my body for these 9 miles I know I am prepared both physically and mentally for this challenge. 

It's all about competing.
And I'm ready to go.