Sunday, December 7, 2014

Determination

Our Track & Field season as coaches begins in August as our staff goes on a retreat to plan for the upcoming year. Part of this time is spent on us planning how we can continue to build a successful culture in our program. A small part of what we did this August was each of us picking a word to describe where our focus was coming from for the upcoming year. The word I chose was "determination." This came from the conversations I had with many of my male athletes that were determined to win a conference championship especially when we found out that we would be hosting on our home course again.
Throughout the season I was inspired by so many of my student-athletes who showed determination as they pursued both their individual and team goals. A major part of this was the hard work and effort they put in by showing up for every workout prepared to do all that was asked of them and by taking the time to take care of themselves by doing all the "little things" such as foam rolling, icing, eating and sleeping right, and supporting their teammates to do the same. Many of them over came mental and physical obstacles at points during the season, but everyone stayed focused in attitude and action and we accomplished so many of the goals we laid out in August.

In case you weren't able to follow along this season here is a brief summary of what the team accomplished this fall:
The men again had 6 individuals earn All Conference USA honors as they took home the team championship.
The women improved to 4 individuals earning All Conference USA honors after having two take individual honors last year. The team again took home a solid 3rd place finish.
The Men and Women improved on their South Central Regional team finishes from last year with the men taking 4th and the women taking 8th. Charlotte Wilson earned individual All-Region honors and her 13th place finish was the highest by a female athlete in recent North Texas history.
The men had 3 individuals earn All-Region honors with Troy Taylor qualifying for the NCAA Championships.

Both teams saw substantial improvement and are determined to build on that success during both the Indoor and Outdoor Track season. I am so lucky to have such strong young people to coach and as I finish writing their winter break training I can't help but get excited for what I know each one of them will accomplish in the next six months!

So Proud of all of these determined student-athletes!

Update on my own running:

As the season has come to a close the word "determination" has taken on meaning for my own running. I haven't blogged since October. At that point in my own training I was excited about building my mileage and really sharpening myself into what I hoped would be the best 5k shape I had been in for the past couple years through some more 5k/10k specific workouts. The plan was for all of that fitness to hopefully culminate at the 2014 USATF Club Cross Country Championships on December 13th. I don't want to dwell on the accident that led to my current situation as I spent the past weeks being frustrated by a situation that I know was out of my control which as runner makes it even more upsetting to be still dealing with injuries and not being able to run the way I want to.
As returning to running to has been put on hold again  (after a couple weeks where I thought I might be able to salvage some of this fall's training) I have decided to keep my determination as I work towards my bigger goal of qualifying for the Olympic Trials is the marathon. Although I am not able to even run at the moment I am going to focus on what I can do to improve the injuries that the accident left me. I know the best way for me to have a chance at qualifying is to be patient as my body takes time to heal and resume training once my body is completely ready. I am going to be resolute in keeping my positive attitude and not waver from my ultimate goals.
I will still be making the trip to Club XC Nationals this weekend. Only instead of as a competitor I will be attending as a fan. I'm excited to see so many of my friends compete and support the sport that I love so much! I know it will be a great event and I can't wait to watch an impressive individual and team competition.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Team Updates & Getting into 5k Shape!

A lot has happened since the last time I took the 30-90 minutes it takes me to update this blog. It seems like during cross country season I always find one more thing I deem more important to do than the little things like cleaning, organizing, and of course writing my blog (Mentioning those first two was for Ryan). So hopefully my Twitter and Facebook updates have kept those who want to see updates on my running and the team's progress this season in the loop.

First, an update on the team:
We have now hit the halfway point of the season. For the ladies the next race is the Conference USA Championship which we are so excited to be hosting again on Saturday, November 1st! That means the training the next two weeks is going to be tough as we try to get all the fitness we can before the championship portion of the season! The Women are currently ranked 11th in the South Central Region and are the 3rd highest regionally ranked Conference USA team! Charlotte Wilson also took a big step towards her individual goals this season taking 7th at the Chile Pepper Festival.

The ladies at Chile Pepper last weekend. So proud of this group & what they can still accomplish this year!
On the Men's side we added a meet this year and the Top 7 guys and I will be heading to Terre Haute, Indiana for the Pre-National meet on October 18th! The men are still putting in plenty of hard training like the ladies, but their last regular season meet is one we're looking forward to taking full advantage of  and trying to run on a bit less tired legs to capitalize on the opportunity of getting to race some nationally ranked teams.
Troy (8th) & Alejandro (6th) took Top 10 finishes at Chile Pepper 
The men will enter the meet with the program's highest regional ranking ever of 5th in the South Central Region! (And they're currently tied with Middle Tennessee State as the highest regionally ranked Conference USA Team).
Embedded image permalink
The Men leading the race at our Home Meet

Now for an update on my own running:
Since Mid-July I have been very pleased to have kept my weekly mileage between 45-65 miles per week. Making my average much higher than what I managed to put in last fall. I also had some fun the last 3 weekends before official practice started running some local 5ks and was pleased to run 18:22 and 18:20. This week I'm running another local 5k and I'm hoping to see a bump in my fitness since August as I have actually managed to get in some workouts over the past 6 weeks. This race is the last "fitness test" before I really try to focus on getting in some quality training for the USATF Club Cross Country Championships that I plan to race on December 13th in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The last time I was pleased with my Club XC performance I was in the best 5k/10k shape of my life having just run my 10k track PR (33:57) at the end of October. So the plan for the next 9 weeks is to gain as much 5k/10k fitness as I can while also setting some realistic goals for my performance in December. I know I at least need to be in sub 17:30 5k shape by then, but I'm hoping by the Turkey Trot 5k I race in November that maybe I can be in 17:00 5k shape to give myself the best chance of a Top 50 finish on December 13th (My highest finish was 18th in Seattle in 2011).


Running with the front back in Seattle 2011: My best XC race since High School


 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

One Month Post Marathon: Am I a Marathoner?


One of my Goals was to Smile at least once every Mile!
Exactly a month and two days ago I completed my first marathon at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota. It was amazing to represent Saucony and wear products that I love and truly believe in at this premier event. I think more accurately though I raced my first marathon. Finishing was never one of my fears. I knew I could crawl to the end if I had to. My biggest concern was running what I deemed a decent time and competing against the other women in the race. What I deemed a decent time changed from when I first discussed my marathon goals with my coach to what we discussed in the middle of training and finally what we decided was reasonable in the weeks before. Originally I had an ultimate goal of 2:43 a realistic goal of 2:46 or so and a minimal goal of breaking 2:50. By the morning of the race the ultimate goal was to break 2:50 and I was determined to be happy if I made it.

Seeing the clock with a 1.2miles to go at the 25 Mile marker I tried to smile as I knew I could break 2:50. The pain in my quads was killing me, but by the grimaces in my finishing photos I know I gave everything I had that day finishing in 2:49:25.


Fueling!


Before the race when I could walk with ease!
My splits reveal how I "raced" rather than ran this marathon. You can see where my splits drop under 6:20 pace right after I decided I had been running with a group that had settled on too slow of a pace or someone passed me that I thought I should go run with. Putting those surges in at the time seemed like a great idea. Why? Well I felt fine at 10 miles, 12miles, 13miles, 15miles, 16miles, and even 19miles, but I agree with my coach that those cost me a faster time in the end. I still have a lot to learn about even pacing in marathon racing and training.

Mile
Mile Splits
1
6:12
2
6:16
3
6:11
4
6:22
5
6:21
6
6:13
7
6:18
8
6:23
9
6:25
10
6:14
Surge
11
6:27
12
6:15
Surge
13
6:15
14
6:24
15
6:19
Surge
16
6:13
Surge
17
6:33
18
6:31
19
6:19
Surge
20
6:40
21
6:45
22
6:39
23
6:53
24
6:49
25
6:35
26
6:29
.2
(6:23pace last .39 on Garmin)

Post race with my awesome mom, Polly!
The ultimate goal is still to break 2:43 and run the Olympic Trails B Qualifying standard, but until then I am focused on making myself more prepared for the next marathon cycle. This fall my top priority as always in my athletes. I am really excited about the returners and newcomers we have and I am ready to be in full "Cross Country mode." So in tune with that my fun/big race this semester is the USATF Club Cross Country Championships in December. I will be focusing on 5k, 10k, and half marathon training this fall as I put in the best consistent weeks of training that I can and I am excited for how those weeks will help me in the spring.

I foolishly ran a July 4th 5k which prolonged my recovery, but the past week I finally felt “Normal” again so I’m excited to be getting my mileage back into the 60s this week.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grandma's Marathon: Here I come Ready or Not!

Grandma's Marathon and my first time racing 26.2 Miles is now just 42 hours away! To say I'm excited is an understatement. I literally had a dance party the last 10 minutes in the car before Ryan dropped me off at the airport, but don't let this statement fool you prepping for my first marathon has not been a party every day.
s
A few weeks ago I started a blog that I wish I had finished to post. I had titled it "Getting into a training groove for 26.2." This fit at the time the way I was feeling. It started "Despite the Ups and Downs I have been struggling through the past weeks with marathon training I feel like I am finally hitting a good groove the past two weeks. Perfect timing since I really only have a few more weeks to gain as much fitness as I can before tapering for June 21st!"
Since then I probably had the roughest 7-10 days of my entire training cycle. I suffered my second "run, walk, cry." (A catchy name for a not so pleasant experience) I have only experienced this feeling while training for the marathon. I had one a few weeks into training when I stranded myself out too far on a long run the Sunday after a big travel weekend and just felt awful and couldn't imagine how I was going to race 26.2 miles when I couldn't even get myself to run over 14 miles that day. My second "run, walk, cry" was brought on by my hip/hamstring majorly flaring up. Even though I was seeing a chiropractor who felt he could finally fix my hip after the misplacement he believed was caused in March 2011 when I was hit by that truck while running it was feeling particularly awful that week and pulling with every step. Those 7-10 Days I felt physically broken down and mentally I couldn't seem to get myself to a good place about training.

Luckily after a few talks with my coach, some easy running days, and a fantastic sport massage my body came back. And then this week my mentality has now jumped from a good place to an awesome place! (It doesn't hurt that after seeing my chiropractor again my my hip/hamstring is feeling much better and we think we've finally figured out how to make the "fix" stick).
I honestly can't wait to see what I can do Saturday. I think part of this excitement comes from the peace I have made with the fact that I can't change my preparation now. Training for my first marathon is now over. It was what it was and it will have to be good enough for Saturday.
So physically ready or not I am mentally ready to enjoy pushing myself through racing 26.2!
Now if I can just manage to run the first half smart...
Find Your Strong.

During my Training I ran a few Half-Marathons as workouts. Just wanted to share a few pictures below.

The Start of the CRC Half Marathon
Ran a smart progressive effort. 1st female, 2nd Overall 1:24:48




The Patriot Half-Marathon
Where I learned that Rockwall, Texas is HILLY!
1st Female, 5th or 6th Overall, 1:25:24
My Mom came out to cheer at the Patriot Half even in the rain. 






Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Marathon Training Update!

Marathon training and I have had a Love/Hate relationship the past 6 weeks. But after this past weekend’s 2 hour and 30min run (20.3 Miles) I am finally feeling confident that I have the Time on Feet long runs down and my hilly mid-week long runs have been clicking all along. Thus, I am starting to lean more towards a loving relationship with marathon training.

Now my major goal is to learn how to mentally and physically get through my marathon pace/effort workouts. The only part of my training I have not figured out. (I even count that I figured out how to run EASY on my easy days as an accomplishment…this is what you have to do to survive the first weeks of marathon training…give yourself credit for the most ridiculous “accomplishments”  well at least in my world..) Now back to Marathon Pace sessions. I wrote mentally first because based on my other training and my 2 “workout races” the Marathon Pace sessions I am being given should be well within reach physically. I find the half marathon pace sessions very doable right now, but somehow can’t get my brain to sustain my effort on slower, longer intervals and sessions. My solution is to try to prepare better mentally and break the session up in my mind like I do my long runs. I try to never over think the fact that I will be out running for over two hours so maybe I shouldn't think about mile reps 4-8 until I've done #3. Also, this week we are going to just focus on the effort and less on hitting my actually goal pace for the session. I need to just complete the prescribed session this week as my minimal goal. (This past week I hit the mileage goal for the day, but changed what I was doing to shorter reps at half marathon pace since mentally that was all I could get through).
"I think I'm getting the hang of this Marathoner thing"



The plan worked! I got through my first Marathon Pace session correctly yesterday. I did 2 X 4 miles at Marathon Pace and even though it got pretty windy by the end I was never discouraged. I think one of the major factors was that my fiancĂ© Ryan volunteered to ride his bike while I ran which made a huge difference. I didn’t think about how much I had left I just cruised along.

This morning I have an easy Mid Week Long Run and then the next challenge will be longer surges in my Long Run this weekend!





A  few other  updates:

More Amazing shoes for More Awesome miles!
Huntsville 10 Mile: Texas 10 Series: Very hilly course. Ran 6:10-6:20 the first 5 mile loop then chatted the whole second loop with new friend running 6:30-6:40 pace (We split the prize money and points for the series). Then I finished up 20 Miles total for the day!

Rock n Roll Dallas Half Marathon: Ran Marathon Goal Pace and was happy to still be the 4th Female overall.




A great “Ice Bath” swim in the Pacific Ocean after a great 20 Miler in Long Beach. Had great company from one of my Kiwi athletes for the 1st 14 Miles. 



Grandma's Marathon in 7 weeks!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Grandma's Marathon: 2 Weeks Down, 14 To Go!

grandmas header
My 16 weeks of official preparation for my debut in the marathon has begun! I have two solid weeks of training under my belt and 14 weeks to go to be as fit as I can be when I toe the line at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota on June 21st!

I am really excited to be training hard again. It has been 8 months since I have had a set training plan. Coincidentally that was right after I raced the US Half Marathon Championships in Duluth, Minnesota. Having raced in Duluth before was one of the main reasons I chose Grandma's Marathon. I loved my experience in Duluth and I like that I have run on half of the marathon course before. The timing is also perfect since Conference and the Preliminary NCAA Rounds are both in May so I will have a week or two of "down time" before my big race.

I had fun this fall adjusting to my new coaching schedule and enduring lots of pain as I raced hard without any solid training. I'm hoping enduring racing two 30ks off of 30-40 miles of easy running a week some how prepared me for how much the last 6-8 miles of the marathon will hurt. I at least think some mental toughness was gained from those endeavors. That mental toughness combined with getting back to the higher mileage I've known for the majority of my running career will hopefully have my body and mind prepared.

I have a few races planned this spring that fit with the training plan that one of my experienced, professional marathon friends has be wonderful enough to lay out for me. She has raced some great marathons in her career and I trust her guidance as I prepare for my big day.

Also, the best news since my last blog came the day before my birthday this past month when I found out I would be representing Saucony again this year as a member of their 2014 Saucony Hurricane Team. I am so excited to be able to race for Saucony in my first marathon!

Mean Green Distance News:
We wrapped up our Indoor season two weeks ago at the C-USA Indoor Track & Field Championships and it was a great conclusion to a strong Indoor campaign that saw many athletes set big personal bests.

A few of the highlights from Indoor:

Jo Adams ran an 11 second personal best to set the school record in the Mile with a time of 4:38.83. She also was Runner-Up in the Mile and 3k at Conference.
Excited for what she can accomplish in the Outdoor Season!

The Men set three distance school records this indoor season: 800, 5k, and DMR.
The DMR set the record at the Conference meet while also taking a Runner-Up finish.

Proud of them! Conner Bey, Bryce McAndrew, Alex Hita, & Austin Yaeger

The Outdoor season gets under way this next week with some of my group opening at TCU on Friday and the rest will open up at Texas Relays in two weeks!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Texas 10 Series: College Station


Sunday morning in College Station was the first of seven 10 mile road races to be contested across the state in 2014 as part of the Texas 10 Series. I was excited for the series as soon as I discovered it on the Run On! Race Calendar. Actually experiencing the first race this weekend I have gained even more excitement for this series. The event was extremely well organized, had amazing volunteers & police officers, an excellent course, fantastic announcing, and was great fun for every runner. I personally appreciated that the race organizers had decided to give the lead woman in the race a lead bicycle as well as the overall leader. This proved to be invaluable as we closed the final mile and he cleared a nice path for me to the finish line amongst the 5 Miler finishers. The water stations were awesome and proved to be fantastic cheering sections out on the lonely windier back stretch of the loop. Those young ladies pumped me up to push even harder!


The Start!
As many posted on the Texas 10 Series Facebook page it was really just the weather that got in the way of the event reaching perfection. All the runners met the strong wind from miles 2.5 to 4.5 on the 5 Mile loop that we repeated twice. I decided not to look at my Garmin splits once I hit the wind because I was feeling great and had moved into second place overall (1st woman). This was a smart idea since I might have discouraged myself if I saw the 6:21 mile I split for mile 5. I felt the best I have in quite a while on the second loop after I took my GU at Mile 6. I pressed hard into the wind to finish in 1:01:15 as the 1st Woman and 2nd Overall. My Halfway split was 30:29 so I was happy to have maintained pace pretty well the second loop. I was most pleased with my last 2 miles into the wind being faster than the first loops windy miles.

Splits:

1st Loop: 5:54, 5:49, 5:59, 6:13, 6:21

2nd Loop: 6:04, 5:53, 6:06, 6:10, 6:16

Putting up the North Texas "Eagle Claw" as they announced me as the University of North Texas Cross Country Coach

One of the biggest accomplishments I feel I had this weekend was being mentally tough on Saturday evening. With my athletes we talk about mental preparation for every race and how you cannot allow how you feel on your pre-meet or even warm-up the day of the race deter you from the goals you have outlined for yourself. Saturday afternoon I had gotten a pretty bad headache that manifested into a stomach ache by the time I was able to sit down to dinner at 8:30pm. I didn’t eat too much and felt pretty gross. Instead of letting this deter me I got chocolate milk and went straight to bed. I woke up feeling much better and for me there’s nothing oatmeal and a Starbucks coffee can’t overcome on race morning. How great I felt during the race made the night before seem like a distant memory. I was glad I had not panicked just because I wasn’t feeling how I wish I felt less than 12 hours before my race. The body is often tougher than we think especially if we’ve trained our mind to help us push the body to do what we want it to do. #FindYourStrong

Next Race in the Texas 10 Series: Boerne, TX 3-30-14 http://www.texas10series.com/interior.cfm?pg=7

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Rogue 30k: Wind, Exciting Miles 7-11, and Owwwww....A Painful Finish


The chilly temperatures and strong wind (25-30mph) didn't deter me this morning as I started the Rogue Distance Festival 30k in Cedar Park/Austin. {Mainly because I had already paid $85 to enter and Ryan & I had made the trip to Austin the day before} But seriously I lined up ready to still fight for my goal of running 6:20-6:30 pace with an ideal goal of breaking 2:00:00 (6:26 pace).
I made friends on the starting line with a woman hoping to run the half marathon at 6:20-6:30 pace. The gun went off and we settled into our rhythm.

We're hard to see here as we're about to pass the stroller that got off to a speedy start

We chatted a bit the first few miles which offered a bit of a distraction as the first 4 miles went relentlessly into a head wind. We picked up another runner at about mile 4 and he worked with me through mile 6.5 and then I was on my own. This was okay since there finally wasn't a head wind! It seemed to take me a little bit to feel the rhythm since my legs felt like jello after running into the wind for so long. But then the miles just started clicking off and I ran the inclines and declines with a solid pace. I kept my focus on a man I could see in the distance ahead of me but he turned off just before mile 12 for the half-marathon. About a half mile later the course turned and I was facing my dear friend the head wind again. I struggled for a mile hitting 6:45, but then the course had some turns and I got back to 6:30. My hopes were up I thought 2:00:00 was still within reach. Then straight on head wind greeted me again. I felt beat. I was struggling to run 6:50-7:00min pace as I battled the last 4 miles of the course. I managed to finish with a 6:36 pace effort for the last .6miles (.7 on my Garmin) and averaged 6:33 pace for the race setting a new PR of 2:02:18 besting my old PR from my November debut of 2:02:33.
Finishing what I started
Splits:
Mile 1
6:22
2
6:33
3
6:38
4
6:28
5
6:32
6
6:30
7
6:12
8
6:20
9
6:14
10
6:18
11
6:15
12
6:23
13
6:47
14
6:32
15
6:59
16
6:51
17
6:44
18
6:57
.6
6:36

I'm happy to have won my 2nd 30k and to be 5th Overall in the race, but I definitely finished feeling beat. Beat down by the wind. The part that hurts is that I really feel I could have broken 2:00:00 in a 30k today, but the fact that I didn't fuels my fire to get back to regular training and have myself fit and ready to reach more challenging goals even if I face adverse weather conditions again.

Shivering a bit receiving my award

Overall, it was a great event and I think it was the perfect way to end my month of racing. While enjoying competing again the past month I also wanted to teach myself how to endure through pain & discomfort and learn to persevere when a race is not going to plan. This 30k provided the perfect lesson plan.
Also, the next time I head to Austin to race I hope Ryan and I have more time to go out and explore the city.
Up Next: Mean Green Distance starts official practice and we head to College Station to compete at our 1st Indoor Meet January 17th!