Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lessons learned the hard way from racing

In the world of running and racing, it doesn't get much better than staying strong and running a smart, perfectly executed race.  Usually these are the races that end with our best time on the finish line clock.  We learn a lot from these races and set the bar to measure all our future races by the success we earned in that one.

So what about those races we want to forget about the moment we cross the finish line?  We showed up to race and for whatever reason lost our way?  Maybe it was the weather, the course, our fitness level or our mind but for some reason we lost focus and the willpower to give it our best.  What about the races we fight just to finish- forget the time because we know it's going to be bad?  What are the lessons we learn from these racing disasters?


I remember the half marathon I started a bit too optimistically.  In my head I had a goal pacing plan but my body wasn't quite ready for it yet.  The last five miles were awful.  After it was over I was really wishing I had a time machine so I could get a do-over...
Sure, you can pass me... I was done!

One of my clients I coach had a race this weekend that did not go as planned.  She sent me her times and admitted that she went out too fast and could never recover from that first mile. It's a tough lesson to learn the hard way but most of us have been down that road more than once.


Friday night my oldest daughter was having her usual case of pre-race jitters.  "Did I say I wanted to run in this race?  I don't know if I want to do it now..." etc.  One thing about racing with your kids- they all process race anxiety differently.  My six and eight year-old were also running in it and didn't worry at all about it.  My oldest is more serious about it.  She likes running and typically races well but she also worries and puts pressure on herself sometimes to do well.  She does this in other areas- not just running.  I tried to reassure her with talks about doing your best and not worrying about what others will run.  Run your race.

Saturday morning we headed to the race.  It was a one mile which was actually put on by their school and all proceeds went to the cross country and track team.  The majority of runners were kids (or parents with their kids) so it was a fun atmosphere.  While my plantar fasciitis is improving it is definitely not in one mile racing shape if you know what I mean.  I had planned to pace with my oldest daughter and then afterwards my son (separate heats for men and women).  Abi's fastest mile time was a 7:21 (which she ran a few weeks ago during a 5k) so she was hoping for something in the lower 7's.

When the gun went off we quickly settled into a rhythm.   The pace was more around her 5k pace.  I have raced 5 and 10k's with my daughter and she generally does well with pacing.  I tried to let her know that she was doing great but actually running closer to an 8 minute pace- not 7 like she said she wanted. This did not go over well and I quickly learned that she was struggling.  She was not in a good mood and the next few minutes were rough.  There was even one point that she just stopped running for a few seconds.  I looked at her said, "This is a one mile race. You can do this." (She has run 5 and 10k's without stopping- what was going on?) 


She ended up finishing several seconds from her PR with a 7:35.

As soon as we finished I had to hurry over to the guys race so that I could run with my son.  He was pretty worn out by the time we got to the starting line (over a half mile away) so we really didn't plan that out well.  He is completely non-competitive right now when it comes to running but he wanted to do this race since it was for his school.  We jogged our way to the finish line and he was more than happy to sit and rest under a tree when we were done.

After we finished my daughter came up to me looking very distraught .  She said she was sorry for her bad attitude while we were running together.  I told her was ok- it's over now.  But she wanted more.  She was not at peace.  She asked if she could do it again and try harder.  She knew she had given up and didn't give it her best effort.  That leaves a bad feeling in your stomach.  I shook my head and told her she couldn't.  "You get one shot at a race. There will be another race at another time but you just get one shot at this one."  

It's a hard lesson to learn.  We talked more about it once we were home and settled.  I told her that all sports can get hard sometimes.  The good things in life usually require a lot of work.  We miss out on a lot of opportunities when we don't put ourselves out there and try our best.  I brought up some examples of things we've done as a family or been able to enjoy as a result of hard work and she understood.  I don't know when Abi's next race will be but I have a feeling that whenever she decides she's ready to get back out there she will have a better attitude and give it her all.


What are some race lessons you've learned the hard way?


Do you ever race with your kids?  What do you do when the race doesn't go as planned?


Saturday, August 9, 2014

A vacation, a race and a trip to the emergency room...

Has it really been over two weeks since my last post?!

It seems like most of our summer activities have been crammed into the last few weeks and we are officially one week away from the first day of school for three of my little people. I cannot believe that in just a few days we will be back to earlier bedtimes, making lunches, and functioning on a much more structured schedule.  I've really enjoyed the lazy days of summer.  I can honestly say that we did not go overboard on the activities and craziness.  We had fun times but we also had a lot of downtime.  Days with nothing going on but playing and being creative in the house or outside.  It was wonderful.
Blueberry picking a few miles from our house
Our kids and the neighbor kids across the street made a play about a family... during the Mexican American War?! 
They had a few lemonade stands too
Lots of barbies- this happens to be a barbie wedding
The cast of Tangled stopped long enough for me to take this picture
And of course, their favorite musical- Wicked. 

Before I start in our vacation I guess I should back up to the days leading up to it. 

A few days before I left a friend and fellow running blogger Amanda from Runninghood mentioned that she and her kids would be traveling through the area so I invited them to stop by for a visit.  The kids had fun playing and we were able to catch up and chat.


I also got in a few more workouts including some easy paced runs outside ranging from 4-8 miles.  One of my "easy" 4 mile runs was not planned very well.  I decided one Sunday afternoon to run during the hottest time of the day and somehow managed to convince Jackie to join me.  It was 96 degrees but the heat index was 109! Not my smartest move.

Waaaaaaaay too hot outside to be running!

Two days before I left Jackie and I made it to a 5 minute plank!  It took us most of the summer but we added a little time on every few days and we made it!

Now for the Vacation...
En route to Kentucky

Every two years my mom's side of the family has a reunion hosted by one of the siblings.  (My mom has 3 brothers and 3 sisters and each of them have at least 4 children- who are all having their own children so you can imagine it's a large crowd.)  This reunion was hosted by my aunt who lives in Kentucky.  My grandparents rented a Christian camp (after the regular camping session was over) so we had plenty of room for everyone.
The entire family Sunday morning

There was a lot of relaxing and visiting.  We played games, hiked, fished.







And of course, I found a local road race! I actually found it online a few months ago but wasn't sure if I could do it because of my foot.  (I'm trying to recover from a pesky case of plantar fasciitis.) Having taken off 2.5 weeks from running entirely followed by 1.5 weeks of easy running is not the best (or smartest) way to go into a race.  Yes, I realize I probably shouldn't have done it at all but it was RIGHT by our camp and I LOVE getting to experience new races like this.

My last vacation race was the Quiet Valley Rooster 5k in Pennsylvania last summer.  That experience taught me that sometimes the best way to go into a vacation race is with low expectations.  You never know what the weather and course will be like in unfamiliar territory- especially with smaller local road races.  In the case last summer I had no idea it was a trail/ cross country race until we got to the race.  BIG difference between that and a road race!

The race we ran in Kentucky was called the Back to School 5K which raised money for a local scholarship program.  I must admit that even though the course had a lot of rolling elevation change (and finished on an uphill) I actually liked it a lot.  The course was spread out around the local middle school campus and somehow we never had to go on public roads which made it feel a lot safer than other 5k's.  (I think about this a lot when my kids are racing.)  We also ran one lap around the track- in the middle of the race!

My oldest daughter had planned to run this 5k with me and the night before my son decided he wanted to as well.  Normally we are all about pre-registering but I had emailed the RD and she just said to come morning of (since we were from out of town) and she would give us the pre-registration rate.  My aunt announced the race the night before and two of my cousins also decided they wanted to run.  As far as crowd support goes we had a huge fan club.  John and my younger two were there, as well as a bunch of my cousins, two aunts, two of my sisters, nieces and my parents.  I loved it!

My pacing plan
It's a little scary trying to predict your 5k pace when you haven't done speed work in well over a month.  I knew my usual 5k pace would be way too fast so I aimed somewhere between 10k and half marathon pace.  I thought hitting between a 6:10-6:20 would be a realistic goal.  I could always slow down even more (or stop) if my foot hurt.  No pressure!!

Mile 1- 6:10.  Right where I needed to be.  I stayed in control and tried not to think about what my pace would have been if I were healthy.  I should note this race has a quarter mile downhill start.  Very nice in the beginning but I knew we would have to go back up the hill to finish...  I was actually running alongside Abi the first minute (and we were in the 5:20's).  I knew she was starting way too fast but she was excited and the downhill was hard to control.

Mile 2- 6:26.  Right around the time my watch beeped at the mile marker I passed the second place female and I think I was around fifth overall.  I could feel my foot pain- it wasn't bad- just not invisible the way I want it to be!  I knew the biggest hill was about halfway through mile two.  At the time I didn't think it was that bad but I guess it did affect my time.  Halfway through this mile we ran a lap around the track and I was right behind the first place female. Our pace was slowing down so I decided to pass her on the first straightaway.  From there I kept going and passed a younger high school age kid.


Mile 3- 6:07.  I was feeling pretty good but ready to wrap this party up. Time to head back up the hill to the finish.

Mile 3.12- 0:45 (6:24 avg. pace).

Total Time: 19:30. 1st female (3rd OA) 6:17 avg.

Official Results can be found here.

As soon as I finished I grabbed some water and then headed back to find Abi.  She was moving right along and getting close to the final parking lot loop.  She said she had just run her fastest mile ever in mile 1!  In June she ran a 7:22 at the RRCA one mile championship.  In this 5k her first mile split was a 7:21- and she still had another 2.1 miles to go!




She wanted to stop and walk but I reminded her she was almost done.  I told her as soon as we got to the top of the hill she would see the finish line clock and she could walk if she wanted to.  Of course, when we got to the top she forgot all about stopping and started sprinting it in.  She finished in exactly 25:00.  (Her second fastest 5k ever.)  Then I turned around again to find my son.

He was a little further back and he was ready to be done.  He wanted to hold my hand so we ran for a long time hand in hand.  I'm not sure how much longer he'll like to run this way so I'm just going to soak it up while I can!

After everyone finished this race had a one mile walk.  I guess the timing company used this time to get all the results/ age group awards together.  I walked a mile with my aunt.  It was great having so many family members there.
My two cousins (Daniel & Tab), my older two and I after the race

Ashton and my dad just hanging out after the race


so proud of these two!

The rest of our trip was pretty relaxing except for the last night when my husband had a little fishing accident which resulted in a trip to the emergency room...

He had decided to take the kids fishing which was going well for a while until our youngest walked out in front of my husband as he was about to cast.  John quickly yanked his pole back so he wouldn't get Ashton.  Unfortunately, he hooked himself in the back pretty good.

It was a triple hook and two of the three hooks were lodged in his back.

It was not this particular hook but this gives you an idea
A few of us tried to get it out but it wasn't moving.  Plus, the hook had been in a fish's mouth minutes earlier so there was no telling how many germs it had on it.  It was around 9 pm at this point so John and I left the kids with my parents and headed to the emergency room. 


After a few hours we made it back to see the doctor.  Thankfully John was given a shot to numb his back area so he didn't feel a thing as they pushed and pulled out the hooks.  Then they gave him a tetanus shot and put him on some antibiotics to fight off any infection. 

We got back to camp around 1:30 am and left the next morning for Arkansas.  It was a long day but we made it home.  I'm happy to report that John is healing nicely although I'm not sure when he will take all the kids finishing again... :-)


Any other vacation racers out there?

Or vacation emergency room visitors?

How are you spending your last few weeks of summer?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

We were on a Break!!

It's been too long.... I've been so strong.  So sane.  I've been so good about cross training.  But I'm ready to get back to running.  I don't want to be on this break anymore!


Yes, I did go on a brief leave of absence from blogging.  I just couldn't muster up the strength to talk about my cross-over into the world of biking and swimming. It's been new, exciting, challenging and humbling but I'm at the point that I'm ready to get back to normal.

During my little break-up with running here's a snap shot of what's been going on:
  
  • Physical Therapy and Doctor- A few days after the Fast Firecracker I went to see my doctor to figure out what I needed to do.  X-rays showed no sign of fracture or bone spur which was really good news. Basically I'm just dealing with a persistent case of plantar fasciitis.  He referred me to our local sports medicine doctor and a physical therapist.  My physical therapist has really been working on my calf and foot muscles.  There were moments of pure torture and pain but I kept reminding myself that this was helping me.  I'm doing a series of stretches every day and wearing a night splint when I go to bed.  I kept reading about runners doing this to help alleviate foot pain in the morning but I thought it would be too uncomfortable.  Believe it or not it doesn't really bother me.  I forget I'm even wearing it!  And best part about it- my foot feels completely normal in the morning!
    • 9 miles swimming (in a 17 day period)- 1 mile swim each session.  I was a little unsure about how accurate the distance was but my friend measured it with her new TomTom watch on the swimming setting and confirmed it was one mile.  Phew.  (You know how anal runners are about getting their distance right!)  It takes me between 32-35 minutes to swim a mile. 

      34 pennies = 34 out & back's which = 1 mile!

    • 171 miles biking (outdoor and on stationary bike).  Biking is definitely my weakest of the triathlon three.  I did notice improvement during the past two and a half weeks.  (Started at 11 mph and this weekend averaged 14 mph.)
    Testing out the bike... This was actually my first ride on a bike (outside) in 25 years!
    Running friends that are willing to ride bikes are pretty awesome!
    • Two longer bike rides including an 18 miler and then a 26.3 mile ride over a hilly route.  I went with a friend who bikes a lot and knows what she's doing.  I was WAY out of my comfort zone on that ride.  It was a crazy hard workout but I loved it.
    • I also experienced my first bike accident on a 12 mi bike ride early one morning by myself.  I went on the bike trail I have run on literally hundreds of times.  In one section there are two cattle guards which are annoying to run over but on a bike it is ten times scarier.  I slid off the cattle guards and lost control and then slid off the trail down a ditch.  I landed upside down with my bike on top of me.  Had some scrapes and bruises but nothing too serious.  It could have been much worse.
    Cattle guard crossing- annoying when you run but much worse on a bike!
    the lovely ditch I fell down
    I took this pic to text to John after I regrouped!

    2 days after the bike accident
    leg was also bruised and then had an allergic reaction to Neosporin
    • First run on an Alter G treadmill! I actually have done this twice now and plan to use it again tomorrow when I'm at Physical Therapy.  I could probably do a whole post on Alter G treadmill running but basically it is a treadmill that gives you the option of running at a fraction of your body weight.  This makes it MUCH easier on your joints, etc.  I ran 2 easy miles the first time and then last week I was able to get in 10 miles at a 6:58 pace (which felt like a 7:58 pace).





    PT time for plantar fasciitis

    • Strength Training and Core Work- I've really tried to keep this going strong.  I am lifting more consistently now for the first time since high school.  I am continuing to do my push-ups and planking.  Two weeks ago Jackie and I hit a 4:00 minute plank and yesterday made it to 4:30.  (We are working our way up to 5.)  We do not plank every single day and we do not always shoot for one long one.  Sometimes we do 4 sets of 1-2 minutes each or a 5 min plank routine (switching sides, raising legs, etc).  It's good to change it up along the way.

    A 1 mile swim followed by a 4 min plank.  We were pretty pumped!



    we made it to 4:30!
      • Running- This morning I ran outside and all I can say is that it was okay.  I didn't feel any "pain" per say but after a few miles my foot started to feel a little "off"/ heavy?  Can anyone with PF relate?  We stopped at 5 miles.  Honestly I was pretty beat.  I know I'm getting a good workout swimming and biking but it's just different.  I can tell I haven't been running (in the heat).  

      Overall, my foot is MUCH better than it was at its worst (the night after the Fast Firecracker) but it's still not 100%.  I'm hoping I can start to slowly add in running outside- at least a couple of days per week mixed with cross training.  I feel extremely slow and out of running shape right now.  I know a few weeks off is nothing compared to the time I had to take off during my stress fracture.


      I'm still seriously considering doing my first triathlon in September.  It's hard to picture racing anything right now but hopefully by then things will be going better.  I'm trying to appreciate the little victories.  After months of daily foot pain I am walking pain-free.  Surely running is right around the corner... :-)