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!


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!