I think I swim maybe one meet a year and I always have so much fun that I always want to do more. Swim meets are super low key. I never feel that pre race nervous insanity that has been known to muck me up before other race types. They tend to start at the late, late hour of 9 AM and there’s no packet pick up or bike gear set up. It’s just a very chill type event in comparison to marathons and triathlons. And, to be extremely honest, since I don’t ever feel like I’m going to place super well, I
feel put way less pressure on myself. As I’ve said before, I am a very good triathlon swimmer, but as a stand alone swimmer I’m nowhere near the fasties. I swam in high school so I am comfortable in the water, but I didn’t start swimming until I was 14/15. That’s like old lady age in the swim world! But it does help me out in triathlon.
I do love swimming and the swim is where it’s at! Want to know just how fast you can swim a 50 or a 100? The swim meet is your answer. And trust me, these events are tough. Sure you are only swimming for a few minutes, but you are swimming ALL OUT. Think of racing on the track. It’s that level of exertion.
The meet was from Friday to Sunday, but I chose to swim only two events on Saturday. I went into the it not feeling very sure about where my swim fitness was. I have been swimming here and there, but not nearly enough. Of course, this is changing now that run season is mostly over here in Florida. It was 80 degrees last weekend.
I decided since I didn’t feel super in swim shape that I’d swim the 500 and the 200. Wait. What?
Hear me out. I didn’t want to do sprints as I knew they were going to hurt – a lot, so I chose the longer stuff as I felt I could control the speed a bit better. This seems counterintuitive, but that’s how my brain worked when I registered. When you register for a swim meet, you have to put in what you think your times will be. These can either be based off past times or in my current state, total guesses. So, being the discombobulated person that I am, I put down an expected time of 8:55 for the 500 and 3:05 for the 200. For some reason, I was thinking more of my open water and practice times and I guess that’s why I thought I’d be at those paces. These are about 1:47/100 yards and 1:32/100 yards respectively.
My KLR/CAM buddies.
The first event of the day was the 500. It was a mixed event, meaning men and women swam with each other in the heats. I was in heat three so I had some time to warm up. One of the best things about swim meets, is that the ages tend to skew toward an older crowd, at least in my area (Hi, Florida). I love seeing people in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and yes, 80’s, completely smashing it. I’m in awe of how fast these people are. It’s pretty awesome.
Anyway, back to my 500. It was my turn on the blocks and I didn’t practice a start and just sorta hoped I’d get it right. The goggles coming off or partially off is always a fear. You’d think I’d have that nailed by now, but I get rusty and I swear the blocks get higher every year. Ha! I got up on those suckers though and hear the beeps and off I went.
I managed to get a half goggle of water on my left eye. Well, poop. No sense in fixing it, I just swam on while my poor left eye was continually chlorine washed.
I went out a bit hot on the first 50. I tried not to, but I was all race adrenaline-d up. I managed to pull it back a bit and tried to cruise. The water in my left goggle sloshed around but I didn’t want to fix it. I just kept swimming. I didn’t feel nearly as tired as I expected and as I saw the counter board dip into the water before I hit my flip turn, I marveled at how good I felt. I must have had a bit more swim fitness that I thought. I attempted to really pick it up the last 50 so that I didn’t have a complete positive split swim. It still was.
I hit the timing pad and popped up to see a 7:38.94 (1:32/100 yards) on the clock. Hot damn! I was much faster than I had predicted and I was really excited about it. I’ll take that time – in any fitness! I definitely want to do this event again with a bit more time in the pool.
After the 500 I had lots of time to chill out and enjoy my KLR/CAM teammates. The one downside to swim meets is the waiting in between events. It can take a very long time. It’s usually when all the swimmers chitchat, eat snacks, and then warm up again pre-event. I was a tad more nervous for that 200 because, to me, the 200 is the 10K of swimming. And you all know how much I love the 10K. It’s not long enough to groove, and it’s not short enough to go all out. It’s just a steady burn.
I got some good pre 200 coaching from a friend who swims like a fish. She told me to swim the first 50 feeling good, the second 50 focus on pull, the third 50 focus on kick, and the last 50 FAST. It really helped. I wound up swimming a 2:50 (1:27/100 yards). And that is a new swim meet 200 PR for me. I beat my time from last year by 4 seconds. Hooray!
All in all, I had a great day at the meet. I’m looking to do more but not sure I can fit them into my race calendar this year.
As always, thanks for reading. Have a great weekend!
I’m not sure if you all know this, but I hate the 10K distance. I never run it, and when I do, I’m reminded of how completely stupid it is. Don’t argue with me. It’s dumb. It’s basically a 5K that’s extended. You get to redline and hang on for 3+ more miles. It. Is. The. Worst.*
So, what do I do? I decide to race the 10K at Best Damn Race last weekend.
I spoke with Coach Jon about racing again, the weekend after a half marathon, and he wanted to know why I would like to race again so soon. I figured for starters, it was free. (Which we all know is the BEST reason to race.) I’m in pretty good with the race director so I got a comp. I also figured that since I plan to race the olympic distance triathlon at St. Anthony’s Triathlon this year it would be a good way to prove to myself that the 10K is really not THAT bad. And of course, bonus points for finally hitting a new PR at any distance. I haven’t run a PR in quite some time and I knew the 10K was my best shot at it.
I admit I had some trepidation about racing a 10K the weekend after a hard fought half marathon. My legs didn’t feel super fresh, but they weren’t shot either. Race morning conditions for the 10K looked more than ideal, save for the wind. I woke up super early, as per usual, and got to the race location about 16 hours before it started. I sat in my car and took advantage of a primo parking spot with the heater on full blast. In terms of temps, it wasn’t that cold, but the wind was making my teeth chatter.
Fortunately, the 10K started first and I love an early race start. I will never complain about a race starting “too early.” Those of us running the 10K or half marathon from Tribal were able to take a group shot, where almost everyone looked at the camera…
I did a warm up jog around, found a lone porta potty, and was ready to go for the race. In order to PR I just needed to run sub 50:07. I ran that 50 minute time back in 2015 in Las Vegas. My 10K times really don’t make a lot of sense if you look at my all time half PR (1:43:21, 2012) and my 5K PR (22:19, 2013). And I think mostly it’s because, well, the 10K is dumb. Ok, fine, it’s probably because I haven’t run a lot of them because, see first paragraph.
I digress. The race started promptly at 6:45 AM and off we went. I run this race route regularly so I knew exactly what to expect. It’s got some elevation changes, yes, in Florida, and while they aren’t exactly huge, they are enough to feel and see in Training Peaks. And for the record, I did correct the elevation for however well that actually works.
As I ran the first mile, I felt really good. There’s a slight downhill there, as you can see, and my first mile clicked off at 7:43. Uh-oh. I was aiming to run a 49 minute race. I knew that was about an 8:03 per mile, so naturally I ran about 20 seconds faster than that. I gave myself a “What have you done!” thought and then thought, “You know what self? I’m gonna hang on and see what happens.” Mile two was slightly faster at a 7:42. Oops. “You know self, you really aren’t so great at pacing today.”
But then, I hit mile three and it was a 7:41. I felt good. I felt strong.
And then I realized, I had three more miles. F$^king 10K.
This picture is when I was telling myself (and the photog) how much I loathe the 10K. I mean, have you seen a more stank face? I don’t think so.
Mile four is probably the biggest hill on the course. And I felt it. While I did pass several people on the climb, my pace dropped to a 7:55. Well crap. I told myself, “Get your shit together” and picked up the pace. Mile five was a 7:44, and then I knew I just had to hang on for the last mile as a PR was in was my grasp. Unfortunately, the last mile was straight into a head wind. I tried desperately to find someone to tuck in behind for wind blockage but we were all running like lunatics at this point – speeding up and slowing down. No one seemed to be holding a steady pace, including myself. One man I tried to tuck behind slowed down, so then I went to pass him and he sped up. I don’t think it was intentional, the wind just sucked and it was tough to get a handle on pacing for this final mile. I heard mile six (7:53) beep on my Garmin and I did my best to pick it up heading into the chute.
That is the face of pure relief. I had done it! A new 10K PR with an official time of 48:25. I crushed that 50:07 and felt damn proud of myself.
I’d like to say that several factors played into my personal success at this race:
- I lost 5 pounds. No fast food is still going strong and I’ve been really regimented on my nutrition. Do I love it? Not really, but I do love how much better I’m feeling.
- I’ve been training pretty well. The week before the Celebration Half Marathon I hit 9 x 1K just under eight minute miles and it gave me a good boost of confidence.
- Mental toughness. I’ve had some struggles with this in the past and lately I’ve really been working on shutting up my “chimp brain.” I named him Mr. Peepers and it seems to work when I divert his attention on to why I want to keep running hard.
For stats, I finished 8th of 147 in my age group as all the very fast local women showed up. I finished 28 of 880 women in the 10K. I finished 107 in 1264 overall in the 10K. But most importantly, I’m number one in your hearts.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. I still don’t like the 10K.
*All opinions are my own and you know I’m right about the stupid 10K.
My original A race for the year is in the books! I registered for the Celebration Half Marathon a while ago and was counting it as an A race for 2018. This was before I knew I would be running Chicago, but I’ve got time to make that an A race too. Last weekend will go down as one of the most fun and inspiring races to date. I loved almost every minute of it. I’ll get to the minutes I did not love shortly. Here we go!
A couple of ladies I coach (Jenni and Jen) had asked if I wanted to stay with them and some of our other running buddies at a vacation rental home they had access to and stayed at last year. I enjoyed Celebration two years ago when I ran it and so I decided it would be a fun little girls trip this year. I knew I wanted to run the half and I waited until last week to really lock in a goal pace. Based on my 5K time and the humidity I decided a 1:50 would be challenging and yet still attainable. Both Coach Jon and Coach Nick offered me sage advice pre race about embracing the suck and going after it. I have had some ups and downs in my long runs lately so I was a little concerned I’d mentally suffer. I listened carefully to what they said and filed it into that part of my brain that holds sage advice I sometimes ignore.
In addition, another athlete I coach, and dear friend, Judy, would be racing the full marathon and going after a Boston Qualifier (BQ). This was a pretty big deal as she had always sworn off the full marathon after not really enjoying it in years past. This changed when she realized how the BQ was within her grasp and I fully supported it. (Along with her besties and family, of course.) Judy is an easy athlete to coach. She does everything I say and is mentally very tough. She makes my job as a coach easy.
Oh and lest I forget my buddy’s Kevin, Harold, and Cate were also running the full. Essentially it was a big old party in Celebration. And by party I mean quiet dinner and bed by 8:30 at the VRBO. (I may have been uninvited for next year due to my asking for a bit more quiet at bedtime. Every party’s got a pooper…)
Anyway, my friend Kelly and I decided to caravan over to Celebration on Saturday afternoon and meet the rest of the ladies, sans Judy, who was staying elsewhere, at the VRBO. We grabbed our packets and chilled out a bit before dinner. Some of our group headed to Bongo’s for Cuban while a few stayed in, and Kelly and I went to an Italian place to meet Judy and Brenda. Confused yet? Yes, there were a lot of us!
Over dinner we talked about our goals. Judy seemed ready to rock and roll. I felt pretty good about the 1:50 but of course secretly hoped I could break that. It’s been quite some time since I’ve gone sub 1:50. My all time PR is 1:44 so I definitely want to keep working my way down to that. It may never happen, but I will keep trying.
Fast forward to race morning – it’s early. We get to the race start at 5:00 AM as we all want to park close to the finish line. It’s a relatively small race, capped at about 1,800 total for the full and half. And since I knew I was staying to cheer Judy in, getting a close spot was crucial. I wanted to have a clean change of clothes nearby. I got to see my two other athletes, Jenni and Jen, off to the start. We were all a little unhappy about the humidity and warm-ish temps that were creeping up as the day progressed. But I told them to do their best and I would do the same. I also got to see Judy and was really pleased when she said she felt more confident in herself than she had at marathons past. This was a sure sign to me that this was going to be her day.
I lined up more toward the front of the race than my 1:50 finish time goal but I know this race has some narrow and winding boardwalk sections and I wanted to be in front in case I needed to pass anyone. I was respectful during the race to stay to the right lest someone needed to pass me. After the national anthem, at 7:00 AM, we were off.
One thing Coach Jon had said to me, that I often say to my own athletes, was to start conservatively and “don’t get greedy.” What do I do immediately at mile two? I get greedy. I had that, “Oh but I feel so good!” moment and hopped onto the 3:35 marathon pace group. They were running an 8:12/mile average and I thought I could hang on and get that sub 1:50. As it turns out, by mile five, this was a mistake. I let them go and tried to hang on to 8:15-8:20.
As I ran, I reminded myself of how badly I wanted this 1:50. I was sweating buckets and wished I could take off my tank top but my dang bib had the timing chip and I didn’t want to deal with that. I read the funny signs along the course and laughed when I saw one that read, “Surely you can’t be serious. I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley!” And then another one read, “Have fun storming the castle!” I’m a sucker for movie quotes and I enjoyed these signs immensely. The race had put out a ton of these signs along a boring stretch of road and they really helped. (I may have suggested this to a race director I know very well.)
At mile eight it was a fight to stay on pace. I saw Coach Nick at mile 10 cheering and yelling to me that Kevin was just ahead of me, which I knew as I’d watched his bright orange Tribal tank from behind for about five miles. Nick’s presence gave me the boost I needed as I had dropped to an 8:25. I picked it back up and hung on. Those last three miles were tough as hell. I yelled internally, “HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THIS?” and did the best I could to acknowledge the pain but not let it slow me down. I ran this race with more heart than I can say.
My friend Michael ran by me around mile 11.5 and I knew he was aiming for a 1:50 too so I tried to stick with him, but he had a bit more pep than I did. I knew I’d be cutting it close. At mile 13 I saw Judy’s husband, Hugo, and their boys cheering and offering a lot of cowbell. It was awesome. Hugo snapped this pic, I was hurting. You can see that plainly on my face and in that form. Yowza.
Fortunately I only had a bit left to go and I ran as hard as I could knowing it was going to be a squeeze. When I saw 1:50 and change on the clock I knew I’d make it. And I did! My official time was 1:50:27! Good enough for 12th out of 172 in my age group.
After grabbing my medal and water (and sitting on the ground for several minutes stretching), I headed to my car and met up with Kelly. Kelly hit her sub 2:00 goal and we discussed the humidity. It had begun to get warmer so I checked my phone for updates on Jenni, Jen, Judy and quite a few others.
Kelly and I changed our clothes and met up with a few from our crew who had finished as more of my group that was running the half came in. We got some food and found a spot to cheer runners in. I was communicating with Hugo as to where Judy was and when she was at mile 21 I got a stomach ache because I was so anxious for her! I seriously had to dash to a porta-potty while talking with friends. Ha!
Me, Coach Nick, and Kelly post race.
As Judy got closer our little group grew when Hugo and the rest of Judy’s support team all gathered near the finish line. Harold came in just in front of Judy so I got see him even though it was he who saw me first! It’s nerve wracking to be a coach waiting on an athlete trying to BQ. It’s normally nerve wracking waiting for any athletes to finish when they have big goals, but I’ve known and coached Judy for so long now that I was getting super emotional knowing she’d make it. And of course, soon enough, we saw her across this little body of water and screamed our heads off.
Judy’s BQ time is 4:00, so we all know she needed to run faster than that to actually register. She came running in and I ran with her and we held hands for bit as I told her let’s go Judy! I let her go and into the chute she went for a finish time of 3:57:08! She’d done it! She BQ! Time will tell if it’s enough to register, but I couldn’t be more proud of her!
Me and Boston Qualifier Judy!
Why yes I am happier for her than I am for my own race finish. It’s a big accomplishment and the fact that she trusts me to help her achieve her goals is just a phenomenal feeling. I am SO proud of you and INSPIRED by you Judy!
I don’t know how to finish this post as it was such a cool day. My athletes all did well and hung tough in less than ideal conditions. I’m really impressed by everyone who ran yesterday and I highly recommend the Celebration races. Congrats to all!
Like any good resolutionist, I have failed on my first goal of 2018. I wanted to post here once per week, but I totally missed last week. Go me! #SoStrong On the plus side, I’ve stuck to my other goals and while I did mention race goals in my year end wrap up I neglected to tell you all about some secret stuff I’ve got going on. Thus, I’ve decided on a confessions post. It’s overdue and I figured you all don’t judge me, right? Right!?
Let’s get started on those confessions, mkay?
Confession 1: I hurt my back last week, but it’s better now. I don’t know why this is a confession, but it is. Mostly because I’ve never hurt my back and I felt like an old lady for telling anyone. I think I slightly strained it while lifting massive weights. AKA the 45 lb bar with no weights on it. Womp. It doesn’t hurt at all now – thankfully!
Confession 2: I need to lose some L-B’s. I ate with reckless abandon in December and quite frankly, a few months prior to December and my clothes were getting real, real tight. I was feeling very self conscious and uncomfortable not to mention, I think dropping a few will help lighten my running load. Happy to report that I’ve lost four pounds in four weeks. I’ve been watching what I eat and… this leads me to…
Confession 3: I had to give up fast food. Yes. I had a fast food problem. I am embarrassed to admit this but my McDonald’s breakfast runs and Taco Bell dinner extravaganzas were getting out of hand. Don’t look at me like that. That shit is delicious. Is it it total and utter garbage? Absolutely. Which is why I’ve gone cold turkey. No fast food for 2018. I’m making the exception of Starbucks, because coffee is life and their food doesn’t really entice me, but other than that – no place with a drive thru. I am a sucker for convenience and in this day and age that usually means unhealthy., And please don’t tell me I can order a salad. Pfft. I’d rather not even attempt to order healthy at a drive thru.
Drive Thru Attendant: “Hi, what can we get you today?”
Me: “I’ll take a salad with… bahahahaha JK JK. Get me a #5 with….”
Confession 4: 22 days of no fast food hasn’t been easy! How sad is that?
Confession 5: I’m sweating as I type this because the fast food thing is super embarrassing! I do pride myself on trying to set a good example for others, so of course, this bad habit of mine was hidden and I did some shame car eating. (I definitely have some food issues that I am working on!) I am the type of person who will work out over eating right and now that I’m
32 35 37, I know I can’t just work out a ton and expect to look the same way I did at 27. I grew up on fast food and it’s always been a struggle to avoid it.
Confession 6: I love the bike trainer and I don’t care who knows it. I don’t even really want to ride outside anymore. I think this is probably bad for my bike anxiety but man, I love the trainer.
Confession 7: Unlike most of my Floridian friends, I don’t want this winter to end. We’ve had such great, cold-for-us weather that I’ll be sad when I am dripping buckets of sweat during the summer months. I tend to run hot in general so I think that is why I love it. I wore shorts on my long run this weekend and I heard some women running by comment on it. It made me laugh, I just get so hot so easily. Always have. Keep the winter coming!
Confession 8: While I do love this cold, I could really use a tan. My summer tri tan is long gone and I confess I miss the days of fake n bake. Am I the worst right now or what? Fast food and tanning booths! I admit I haven’t used a tanning booth since 2002 and won’t use one again. But I sure will get myself a spray tan!
Confession 9: I am feeling lighter after having shared all of this with you guys. All five of you must be super excited about how gross I am!
I am going to truly try my best to avoid the drive thrus and while I know I can totally get crap food at other places, the first step for me was saying no to my usual faves. I will miss you McGriddle, McMuffin, soft taco with hot sauce and cinnamon twists, but it was time we parted ways. I will promise to keep you all posted if I fall off the wagon so long as you all promise to continue to feign interest in my eating habits. Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have any confessions you need to share. It always feels good to get stuff off of your chest, even if it’s a McRib. (Not really, I don’t eat those, I’m not a monster.)
Here’s Florence in a onesie just because:
Thanks for reading!
It’s the second week of January and I’m on track with my goal of one post per week. Ha! Let’s see if I can make this last.
Last Saturday I ran my second 25K ever. In. Da. Woods. I ran this race last year but I ran with a friend who was coming off of a surgery, so we took our time and sort of dicked around. This year I had a goal to run it harder and earn myself a top finisher award. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had a bunch of friends and Tribal Multisport teammates race the various distances offered as well.
Croom is a park located with the Withlacoochee (yes, coochee) State Forest. It’s about an hour north of where I live and even though I’ve run there a few times, I always end up a tad lost and alone and it’s dark and scary. Fortunately for me, my good friends Brian and Caitlin offered to carpool. I gave them a dollar for the toll road and they bought me post race snacks. Not sure how I ended up on this side of the deal but now that I am writing it out I should probably send them flowers or something. Hee hee….
Post race with Caitlin and Brian. We call ourselves Team BBC.
Anyway, last Saturday was a cold one for us Floridians. I mean, I think it was cold everywhere last Saturday and it got us too. The feels like temps at Croom were about 27 degrees when we started and I don’t think they warmed up that much by the time we finished. I decided to run in tights, a tank, a long sleeved shirt, gloves, and a head/earband thingamajig. I figured I’d take something off at some point during the race. Spoiler: I did not.
My strategy for the start of the race that keeps you on the road for about a mile, was to use the cold weather for a little free speed before I hit the trails. My first mile was an 8:30 and I felt really good. I slowed it down once we hit the sandy section and tried to pick it up again when we reached more hard packed dirt. At some point Brian was with me, then passed me, and I knew Caitlin would pass me at some point too. I ran along alone for a while. I stopped quickly for water at the first aid station and then kept chugging along.
I fell in line during a single track portion with a man named John and a woman who was right behind him. They seemed like actual trail runners so I was happy to keep their pace and tried to hang on as I was running so much better than I had at this trail in the past. (I did a night race here before too and it kicked my butt.) I felt a lot stronger than I have in a while and started to look at my pace and work on a goal to stay within. As the terrain got hillier and root-ier my pace slowed but I fought through.
The thing about trail running that is so so so great is that you are so focused on not busting your face (at least I am) that the miles, while slower paced, go by so much faster! Before I knew it, nine miles had gone by. My IT bands and hips were not happy at this point as I haven’t been doing a lot of hill work but I pulled a Jens and said “Shut up legs.”
By the next aid station, around mile ten, Caitlin caught up to me and Brian was there as he had waited for Caitlin. We said our hellos and Brian stopped to pace with a friend running the 50K, while Caitlin took off like a rocket. I kept to my pace and decided I would finish this thing under 10:00 minute miles if I had to sprint up a hill. Ok, so I didn’t quite sprint up the last big climb but I did try to keep the pace up. The closer I got to the finish the more excited I got about how well I was running. The cold weather helped, of course, but I also think I have gotten a little better at running in da woods.
I finished right under 10:00 minute miles and was able to snag a top finisher award. I came in 13th out of 45 women finishers. I’m pretty pleased with that. What I am not please with is how badly I beat up my toes! The third piggy on both feet was so angry after that race. I think those toenails may go bye bye. I’m not quite sure what I did there, but I did wear trail shoes that I’ve worn a few times before. I’m guessing elevation and scrunching those toes for stability really pissed them off. Poor little piggies.
Tribal buddies: Michael, Michael, Me, and Erin (It was her birthday!)
After the race we celebrated with more friends and shared Erin’s birthday cupcakes. They were delicious! Everyone had great races and headed home to thaw out.
I still love me some running in da woods and hope to do more trail races this year. I don’t think I’ll ever do an ultra, but never say never…