Tuesday, June 16, 2015

TOTR - Group or Solo Running?

This is my first time linking up via MCM Mama Runs to talk about Group or Solo Running and I'm so excited to jump in on this conversation because it is one that I've been thinking about a lot lately!!

So why has this been on my mind a lot lately? Well, it's no surprise to anybody that has been reading that I'm struggling...and have been for a long time!! I would definitely say that my struggle started back during my marathon training. Heading out for those really long runs all by myself was brutal and my hamster brain got the best of me time and time again. But let me back up for just a bit...

At least a couple days a week I am out with my Mom & Sister so even though I'm technically not running solo, we are all at our own paces and are running solo the majority of the time. But I've gotten a taste a few times of how it feels to run with someone else. First I got to run with my lovely DIL, Auxi, a few times. Unfortunately for me, she and my son got stationed in Okinawa, Japan so I can't run with her these days. Ha! There's just a little bit of a distance problem...lol

Like in April when we did the San Jacinto Run United 5k together...
What has also spoiled me lately, especially on the longer runs, is getting to do several training runs leading up to the Ventura Marathon last year, along with a couple races now, with my running friend, Sally!

I've gotten tastes of what it's like to run with someone and I fear I may never be able to go back!!!

Sally on the right after the Avocado Half in May 2015
Sally on the left at the Idyllwild 10k in June 2015
So my dilemma is now that I know how nice it is to share the miles with someone and how quickly it goes when you're chatting away about anything and everything I want to have that on a more regular basis!!! But I know that Sally is holding back for me as she is much quicker than I am. And I also know that as far as training runs go, Sally likes to start a little later than my ridiculously early morning runs. My other dilemma is that there aren't any running groups in my area that I know of. There is a Moms Run This Town group about 20 minutes away that I could meet up with, but I also feel like I'm not really a "mom" like those ladies are. My kids are grown and I'm on grand kids now. LOL Many of those gals are still pushing strollers. Then the third dilemma is that I'm not a speedster. I fear that even if I found a running group that I'd still be running solo because I'm not equally paced with someone else. Like that time I went on a group run in Temecula with Sally and the entire group quickly left me in the dust. Like, it was literally, maybe 5 minutes before they were all long gone and I was...running solo. Thankfully Sally came back and shared some of the miles with me because I didn't even have the route and ended up lost very quickly. Let's just say it was not the best experience ever...

The best part about my only group run to date was that it was a new-to-me running area so there was lots to look at! 
Even though I would really love to run with a group, especially when doing the longer training runs and/or races, I have several roadblocks to doing so on a regular basis. So most of the time I am solo. So ask me what I prefer, solo or group, and I would probably say that group would be pretty awesome if I ever get a chance to really try it. Solo is pretty cool some of the time especially if I have a lot on my mind and want to just zone out. But my real preference would be if I could find a perfectly matched BRF...someone that wants to run at the butt crack o'dawn on a regular basis, lives locally, and can push me out of my comfort zone and make me go just a little faster. That's not too much to ask, is it? Know anyone??? ;-)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Virtual 13er - Race Recap

This past weekend was the actual Skirt Sports 13er race in Louisville, Colorado and although I really, Really, REALLY wish I could have been there for it I could at least participate via a virtual race! I knew going into it that I really wasn't prepared for 13.1 miles even though I had done the Avocado Half just three weeks back and the Idyllwild 10k just last weekend. My training leading up to both of those races was pretty darn pathetic and just because you can run 13.1 miles, doesn't mean that you're body necessarily wants to. But I put on my game face and prepared to tackle the distance all by my lonesome.

I started out with my Mom & Sister for the loop around the neighborhood before stopping to use the facilities (that were really nice BTW - best race facilities ever considering it was my own bathroom at home! LOL) and bidding adieu to Mom & Sis and heading outside of the neighborhood. I had planned a route ahead of time, but this is going to come back into play here in a moment so just hold onto that little nugget for a moment.

Wearing my Skirt Sports Fearless Visor, Go Getter Tank, Kelly Bra, and Switzer Skirt (not shown here)
I decided that since I wasn't all that prepared that I would run 5:00/2:00 intervals and would just do my best to run when I was supposed to. This worked out pretty well for the first 7-8ish miles but I seriously ran out of steam along the way and started feeling every single ache and pain - like a twinge in my "bad" knee, the bad form that was causing my toes to catch the pavement on my right leg, the soreness on the top of my left foot. Every random ache and pain possible...but really I think it was because my brain wasn't in the right place. I knew I wasn't prepared, but I went for it anyways.

So where the pre-planned route comes back into the picture is right about the same time the wheels started falling off of my pretty red wagon...coincidence? I think not.

I had planned a route that included some new to me sections, along with some tried and true areas all within my local area. I got to run my "bridge", the hills by the high school and then an out and back on a new stretch of sidewalk that was previously un-runnable due to high traffic. Then the "plan" was to go down this section I call "the long boring" however I hadn't planned on the fact that I was out there all by myself this time and the long boring is a section that is sparsely populated and runs along the backs of houses and a large dirt field. If I was with someone else I would have felt perfectly comfortable going down that route; however, by myself it just didn't feel right. I felt like I would be isolating myself just a bit too much running that area, especially since it was early still and there were some random people out and about. So I made the decision to stick to the more populated streets, in essence removing a couple mile loop.

So as I came back towards my actual neighborhood, I ran my bridge one more time and then had the option of keeping going on the street or heading back inside the gates and finishing out inside my community. I opted for heading inside the community and that's when I totally fizzled. I had gone 10.5 miles at that point and had little aches and pains everywhere and I'll admit it...I totally gave up. Could I have done another couple miles and finished my 13.1? Yeah, probably. Would it have killed me or caused grievous injury? Probably not. But I didn't have it in me and I knew it. I was out there by myself, I was hungry, I was hot and sweaty, I was tired, and I was DONE. I knew it. So I threw in the towel and ended with 11.1 miles. If I had done that route that I originally planned, I probably would have finished the full 13.1. But the way I look at it is that it was better for me to be self-aware of my surroundings and potential dangers and make it home with 11.1 miles than to be stupid and not make it home at all. Right?

I'm still pretty upset with myself for not just finishing it. And I know that yet again, my downfall was my mental toughness. It gets me every single time. I start to get the hamster brain of doubt, pain, fatigue and I just give up. It kills me. I could have run my neighborhood loops a couple times and gotten it done safely, but the thought of running those streets by myself was extremely undesirable.

So the bad brain won again.

But I'm not completely out...I learned some things that I can use in my next training cycle and I made it home safely with 11 miles under my belt. None of those things say I'm a loser...and since I was running a virtual race, guess what - there's nobody to say I didn't finish it!!! Ha!!

Next year I'm hoping I can actually be in Colorado, but even if I'm on my own again in 2016, I know that I can implement some lessons learned and do a better job of it! So here's to 2016 and 13er redemption!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Idyllwild 10k Race Recap

This past Saturday, June 6, 2015, I participated in the Idyllwild 5k/10k run in Idyllwild, CA. Idyllwild is a small mountain community in the San Bernardino Mountains just above the valley where I live and is a place that me and my family have enjoyed visiting pretty much as long as I can remember. This is the sixth consecutive year that I've participated in this race doing the 10k five of those times, and the 5k once while I was still recovering from my knee disaster and illness. This race is small and challenging, but I absolutely LOVE it and look forward to it every year. Last year's race recap can be found here.

One of the most exciting parts of this year's race was that my daughter, Michelle, was running her very first 5k! She had begun with Couch to 5k and then kind of winged it on her own running a couple times a week. She hadn't necessarily "trained" for the race, but she was excited to participate in one and was ready as she was going to be at that point in time. My sister also had one of her daughters running the 5k race as her first as well! Now, I should point out that my daughter is 21, and her daughter is 8 and had done the kids races previously but had aged out of them this year. My sister also had her other daughter Kaylie participating for the second year in a row, and her husband, Stephen. My running friend, Sally, was also running the 10k and on top of that, my Mom was also doing the 5k and I had a couple of coworkers that would be running the 5k or 10k. In other words, we had a pretty good group up there participating in some fashion this year!!

Me & My Daughter, Michelle at the Subaru Selfie Station before the race!
It was a pretty chilly morning up in the mountains, but standing in the sunshine before the race started made it bearable. Me & Chellie rode up with Sally and met my family there. Check-in was super easy and quick as this is such a small, local race. It was nice to see a Subaru selfie station and tent set up as this race really doesn't have any extra frills at all. So seeing any group there handing out goodies was a nice surprise. Another local company was handing out trail mix samples as well.

The 5k race starts 45 minutes before the 10k as there are multiple runners that compete in both distances, so after warming up in the sun for a bit I was able to send Michelle and my family off on their 5k races!

Off and Running!
I actually really enjoy that the 10k starts after the 5 because it allows me to see the early 5k runners returning and it is always so amazing and inspiring as this race attracts some serious competitors, many from local track teams. And this year did not disappoint as the first runner came in at just under 15 minutes! Keep in mind that this race is at over 5,000 ft elevation and has some hills. There were also some older runners and little itty bitty tykes coming in at around 20 minutes. These people are crazy fast, yo!! My daughter had anticipated that it would take her around 45 minutes, so I was anxiously hoping I would get to see her come in before having to take off for my race start, so imagine my surprise when my coworker ran over and pointed out that my daughter had just passed me while I wasn't paying attention because I wasn't expecting her for several more minutes! She finished in 37 minutes and some change and was super proud of that - as she should be!!! She totally rocked it and did even better than she expected. And her first comment to me once she could breathe again - when can we do another one?!? HUZZAH!!!!

Another pre-race selfie...Sally on the left, me in the middle, Michelle on the right.
It was finally time for me & Sally to get started...I mentioned before that I had co-workers that would also be running the race; Jennifer from the Business Office and Brian from Information Technology. Well, it turns out that Jennifer overslept and never made it, but Brian did fabulous for such a challenging 10k! He and Jennifer are both currently training for their first half marathons. Hers is the Disneyland in September and his is in October in Temecula. So finally all the 10k runners got started and were off in a flash! It's a downhill start and runners always take off super fast in this one. I always seem to get caught up in it and then pay for it about a mile in with tight shins. This year I really restrained myself and just enjoyed falling into an easy pace with Sally. We were definitely towards the back of the pack though.

The first several miles went super smooth and passed quickly. I really feel bad that I hold Sally back because she's a little speedster, but boy do I enjoy running with her!! It sure does make the miles fly. I did get a little tight around Mile 2.5 but not enough to require stretching. Taking some walk breaks was enough to loosen me up. Around mile 3.5 Sally asked if we had gone past 2 miles yet and I couldn't help laughing because we were at mile 3.6!! That's how smooth the early miles went. LOL

We eventually made it to "the hill" that is such a freaking killer in this race. Seriously, it is a hike and I know people run it, but there's no way at my current level that I could. I would surely die!!
Course Elevation Profile
But you know what? This year was much easier than previous years and I think I owe it all to Sally! Having someone beside me talking when I could barely breathe made a world of difference. I could just focus on what she was saying instead of the fact that I wanted to die or quit, or maybe both.

Once we tackled the hill we put it into gear and enjoyed the heck out of the downhill portion! That's one thing I love about this race - you totally EARN that downhill! Another bonus was finding some Ca$hMoneyYeahYeah on the ground!!! $20!!!! That's the second time (in 6 years whomp-whomp) that I've found a Jackson while running!

Blurry, but you get the idea...
We kept up a fairly nice pace until the final hill, walked that little bad boy, and then kicked it into high gear for the finish!! I crossed the line at 1:19 which is better than last year, but not a PR (current 10k PR is 1:16). But I am totally okay with that because, honestly, this race felt pretty darn good. I know I could do even better if I actually put in the training. My coworker finished in about 1:05 which is fabulous!! I will note that the road traffic seemed to be more than usual this year. We started about 15 minutes behind schedule due to an accident at the bottom of the hill that was delaying participants. They do have the two roads where you have to actually cross the street manned by crossing guards that stop traffic, but while you're out on the other roads traffic is wide open and there were lots of cars out there. Several large diesel trucks spewed their nasty exhaust as they went by which was less than enjoyable especially when you're already sucking wind. Minor complaint there - if this race gets any bigger they should consider closing roads entirely IMHO.

Co-worker's friend, Kenny on the left, me in the center sporting my SkirtSports Jaguar Skirt, and Brian on the right.
We double checked the times that were posted and found out that my daughter only had three people in her age group, so she actually came away with a 3rd place AG finish!! We walked over to the award ceremony so she could pick up her "trophy" which is a glass mug etched with the design. Interesting side story here: This race doesn't have medals, but it does have a long sleeve shirt with an artist's drawing of various woodland creatures/trees/etc. The artist is a local and she does an awesome job each year. I don't usually have much cause to wear the shirts since they are long sleeve, but they are so unique and I treasure all of them that I have. My previous ones are all in the quilt my sister is making for me!! This year was a fox on a black shirt. You can kind of see it on several people in the picture above of my daughter off and running at the start of the 5k.

3rd Place Age Group Finish! Not bad for her first race...Next one she wants a beer garden! hahaha
 After touching base with everyone and picking up that awesome mug we stopped in at the little coffee shop, Higher Grounds, and I used my found Jackson to get me, Sally, and Chellie a coffee and Veggie Muffin to split that was absolutely delicious!! Well, Michelle might have thought it was a little too "earthy or fresh"...hahaha. I would probably say it was more of a Frittata in a muffin paper, but I don't even care - it was so yummy they can call it whatever they want! I actually want to find a recipe and make it myself. It had mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, red onion, spinach, cheese, eggs and probably some other stuff that I can't remember. We sat for a few and just enjoyed our accomplishments before heading back down the hill.

All in all, I love this race. It is definitely one of my favorites and I love that it is so challenging, I love that it is a gorgeous location, and I love that it supports a great cause (local PE programs). There isn't a doubt that I will be back again next year!! One area that they could improve upon though is the timing. It's not chip timed and results aren't always accurate. I was listed as 21 years old on the finishing results which made my time 2/2 in that age group. HA! Sally was listed as 53 which is nowhere close to accurate and even though she was right behind me coming into the finish, they have her time listed as two minutes after mine. Don't think that's correct...LOL But really, for me as a non-competitor, it is a non-issue. It is simply something that could be improved, but won't keep me from going back again next year. This is definitely a race I can recommend especially if you're looking for a challenge and enjoy fresh mountain air.

What I Wore: