PR-less

2012 was the golden era of my running. If you click on the little running tab up there ^ you will see that in 2012 I earned a PR (personal record) in every distance that I ran. Let me break it down for you:

Took this picture, answered a phone call, and still managed to PR during this race.

Took this picture, answered a phone call, and still managed to PR during this race.

That’s a PR in February, March, April, and May. In the case of some of those distances, the PRs were flying at me left and right. PRing was my schtick. I was good at it, and I liked it.

Alas, the Dash and Dine 5k in May 2012 was the last PR to grace my Garmin. That was almost two years ago, people! TWO! In all fairness, my racing saw a sharp decline following the golden era. I spent 8 months in the racing wasteland that was rural Germany. Even after moving back stateside, the number of races I’ve participated in is nowhere near 2012 proportions. My most recent races (the El Paso Marathon and Bataan) took months to train for. I pinned my PR hopes to the EP full. It didn’t work out to be a new record for me, but I’m not going to beat myself up over it; I fully intend to take another stab at a full marathon PR in due time.

Selfie taken during Big D, April 2012, smashing my previous full marathon finish time.

Selfie taken during Big D, April 2012, smashing my previous full marathon finish time.

Besides, it’s not all about age group placing and PRing. I’d be happy to never PR again if every time I laced up, I felt as good as I did last week. That amazing running perfection only happens once in a while, though. And PRing is fun. I remember walking around after the Austin half marathon (my fastest half to date) feeling victorious! I even talked to strangers. (Y’all know that means I must have been feeling out-of-this-world elation for that to happen.)

I feel like my best chance for a new PR would be in the 10k. I’ve only run four 10ks, and I don’t feel like I topped out in that distance yet. Even though I’d have to run faster than 8:40 for 6 miles, I think a little bit of regular speed work would  push me over the edge. Granted, I have no idea how fast I could run a 10k these days, but I feel like I have a 10k PR still in me.

Unfortunately, it’s not a very popular of a race distance around here. The soonest upcoming 10k isn’t until June, which would give me time to train, but running in June sounds not fun. Plus, it’s two hours away. Four hours of driving for a 1 hour race? Not going to happen.

The scenery at my lightening fast 5k PR. Not pretty to look at, but it sure was flat.

The scenery at my lightening fast 5k PR. Not pretty to look at, but it sure was flat.

My second choice for a PR distance would the half marathon. At the EP full, I ran the first half in 2:07. That would be 10 minutes too slow to PR, but I was trying to pace myself (sort of). Had that been the entire race, I would have pushed myself more. I also happen to think that half marathons are a great distance. I’d love to aim for a sub 1:55.

However, I have no intention of doing that any time soon. We are quickly entering the time of year when the entire state of Texas turns into a frying pan. Even if there was a half around here, and I can’t find any coming up, it’d be miserable. That PR will have to wait.

The secret to my fast finish at the Austin Half, February 2012.

The secret to my fast finish at the Austin Half, February 2012.

Sigh. So I guess it’s you and me, 5k. I love 5ks. That’s probably why I’ve run so many of them. But 5ks are also scary. My PR was run at a 7:50 pace. Even for a mere 3 miles, that sounds really fast to me these days. I’m not sure I could even run 1 mile at that speed. The upside is that 5ks are a dime a dozen around here, so I’ve got options. Not to mention, the short length of the race makes heat less of a factor.

I’m not saying I’m going to go for it. Instead, I’m saying that I’m willing to consider it. I want to see if a 5k PR is even in the realm of possibility and if I’m up for the challenge. A few fast runs around the neighborhood might give me some insight on the possibility of a 5k PR. Who knows, I might scrap it all and just do yoga until fall rolls around.

What is your favorite racing distance? Got any good PR stories? Or advice for throwing up a big 5k PR?

PS Apologies to those of you who read the unfinished version of this post that I accidentally published last night! Zoinks! I guess now you get an inside look at the types of edits I make.

Goooooooooals: EP Marathon

It’s race week, race week, race week. (Not quite as catchy as the “Friday” song, is it?) I’ve had goals in mind during the many months that I’ve been training, but I generally like to wait until the big day gets closer before I make those goals public. You know, so my utter shame in not even being able to attempt certain goals is only witnessed by me and not all of Internetsville. Now that training is mostly over, I might as well spill the beans.

Time Goals

Sprint to the finish! (One of the photos I took at the aquathlon last year.)

Sprint to the finish! (One of the photos I took at the aquathlon last year.)

  1. Finish before the cut-off. This is the cheesy part where I tell you that I respect the distance. I do. If it’s crazy hot (oh, please, no) or windy or typhooning, if I trip at mile 2 (new fear), if I get a stomach virus, if the stars don’t align, then I just want to complete the race. Marathons are hard. Finishing is a big deal.
  2. 4:22 (a PR). I ran Big D two years ago in 4:24. The Run Less, Run Faster plan that I’ve been using has me finishing in just over 4:22. I’m not feeling super confident, but I did follow the plan pretty closely. Plus, a PR after months of training would be so sweet.
  3. Sub-4:15. It’s only a little bit faster than 4:22, but it means each mile needs to be 15 seconds faster. That seems so fast in my mind! This goal is definitely a stretch, but I’m going to go for it anyway.

Strategy

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  1. Control what I can, let go of the rest. That means hydrating and eating well all week. Completing my final runs and keeping my legs fresh. It also means, taking a deep breath and accepting things like weather. All I can do is take care of the things I have control over.
  2. Use the hills. I’ve been thinking about the elevation chart the entire time I’ve been training. There’s no point in being conservative when you are given the gift of running downhill. I’m going to gauge my perceived effort so that I don’t go too fast, but my aim is to go fast downhill.
  3. Push myself. In most of my previous races, I’ve aimed to “run smart.” (Makes sense. Who wants to run stupid?) This time around, I want to be less cautious and more daring. I run the risk of bonking. I also run the risk of earning an awesome finish time. I’ve got to push myself to get it.

Attitude

Still smiling at the end of Big D. I'd like a repeat of that!

Still smiling at the end of Big D. I’d like a repeat of that!

  1. Be thankful. I always feel better when I thank the volunteers out on the course. I also want to take the time to recognize how lucky I am that my body cooperates with my dreams. Especially if I don’t make my time goal, I don’t want to get hung up on what didn’t happen; I want to be thankful that I can at least try.
  2. Have fun. There’s no point in torturing myself for 4+ hours; I need to enjoy it. I want to high five people, cheer on my fellow runners, sing (in my head only – I won’t inflict that on others), and smile.
  3. Remember that it’s not just about me. Sure, it’s mostly about me (isn’t it always?), but I’ve trained with other people in mind. I’m going to be thinking of those people on race day, and I hope I do them justice.

Did I miss anything? Any other goals I should include?

The Best of ’13

I usually do a review at the end of the year of all the things that happened in the preceeding months. This year, I’m switching it up. (Besides, I know most of y’all have been reading along as things happened and/or you are capable of searching the blog for the dirt.) I decided I’d rather highlight some of the year’s best. Best what, you ask. Best of everything!

Best race: Big D

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It wasn’t the race course, the swag, or the finish time that made this race so special. It was getting to run it with my best friend. This was Mary Beth’s first half marathon and a huge goal for her. We ran every step of the way together, and it was awesome to get to witness her cross the finish line. She earned it.

Best vacation: White Sands

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We didn’t travel nearly as much this year as last, but even if we had, White Sands still might have won. It was breathtakingly beautiful, unique, hot as hell, and so fun.

I started the year as a housewife, got hired to work at the gym, and spent the last six months as a library tech. Well all those are good and fun, getting my first paid writing gig was the most fullfilling. I’m aiming for a lot more of that in 2014.

I read a lot of books this year, and a lot of them were good, but this one was the best. (I’ll be doing a recap of my reading challenge later in the week; I’m trying to hurry up and finish one more book before the new year.)

Best Kitchen Creation: Green Salsa

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My mother-in-law’s green salsa recipe is to die for. If I made a gallon of it, I’d eat a gallon of it. (Hence, the reason I only make it in small batches or when we have guests coming over!) Other good eats this year: lasagna rolls, stacked veggie enchiladas, anything involving zoodles.

Best Anniversary: 1 year post-deployment

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This picture never gets old.

Everyone’s reintegration experience is different. Ours was difficult. It took us an entire year of hard work to get back to where we wanted our relationship to be. It was worth it, and the anniversary was so sweet.

It wasn’t all good. 2013 was a tough one. Not quite as bad as 2005, lovingly known as “The Year We Got Crapped On,” but it was up there. Moving stress, painful goodbyes, professional issues, emotional hurdles and hardships – this year had it all. Some days, I felt like I was treading water, and it would just take one more wave to do me in. While I don’t think that I’m better for my struggles (oh, how I would gladly have skipped the struggles!), I think I’m in a better place. I’m ready to make 2014 a fantastic year. I’m ready to put in the work. I’m ready for the good. I’m ready.