Thursday, August 27, 2015


Well, along with my newbie runner PR peak, I have apparently also peaked out in writing my running blog.  Ah, the newbie peak is so nice while you are up on top!  If you don't understand it or haven't experience the runner's peak, there's a time in your first five years or so of running where you can just keep getting faster without a TON of extra effort.  I'm not saying it's magical, but the effort level compared to the return on your investment is pretty low compared to someone who has been running for a long time.  Take my 5K race times for example:

*October 2010 - 28:58 - First 5K race EVER!
*November 2010 - 26:40 - yes, I took 2+ minutes off my overall time in 3 weeks!
*May 2011 - 25:15 - another minute and a half faster in just 6 months!
*October 2011 - 23:41 - In my first year, I'd taken a full 5 minutes off my 5k time!
11/17/2012 - 24:48 - Jingle Bell Run, course was a LONG 3.3 miles, so I'm throwing it out!  :)
*7/4/2013 - 23:20 (Jacksonville)
*9/28/2013 - 23:08 (Washington Park)
*6/20/2014 - 22:04 - (Scholastic 5k) My current PR.

* = new PR for 5K

Aside from that STUPID long 5K course (my pace was a PR), from October 2010 to June 2014, I PR'd every 5K I ran.  I was able to take nearly seven full minutes off my 5K time, and I really don't think I was putting in the equivalent effort for those results.  I had some quality workouts, but very inconsistent, and I had no plan.

This brings me to 2015.  While my mind is used to getting PRs without a ton of effort, my legs and cardio tell me otherwise.  My 5k results have been considerably slower than my PR, and I've had to work for every bit of those times!

April 2015 (22:53) (Washington Park)
July 2015 (22:58) (Jacksonville)

Yes, they are still decent times.  Yes, I was able to place in my age group in both of these races. I left both of them feeling that I couldn't have done better.  The easy PRs of my first few years of running are gone.  I guess that means I'm not a newbie anymore.

So what to do now?  If I want to break that 22 minute mark, I have to train for it.  Speedwork is key.  Mileage is key.  Cross training is key.  If I put the effort in, yes, I can do it.  Now I just need to convince my mind and my (now 42 year old) body to go along with that plan!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Wow, I can't believe I haven't written a blog entry since the Chicago Marathon.  I guess, just like the huge build up to the marathon, followed by a running slump of sorts, I must have ended up in a blogging slump as well.  So, let's see what's been going on with me since October 2012:
  • October 20, 2012 - Red Ribbon Run 5M.  With just 13 days since the Chicago Marathon, I didn't know if I would even run this race.  However, I won a free entry through a contest, so I would play it by ear.  Turned out, I felt pretty decent after about a week, so I decided to run.  My goal for this race would be to attempt to pace under 8:00 minute miles.  I thought it was a good goal for this flat, straight course.  I hit my pace, finishing in 39:10.  Surprisingly, I felt amazing considering we were less than two weeks since the marathon, and I hadn't ran very much.  It was good for curing any mental or physical barriers that might have occurred from the marathon.  I think I'm good to go!
  • November 17, 2012 - Jingle Bell Run 5k.  This is the race that I had my first "official" PR (chip-timed), second race ever, when I began running back in 2010.  I was looking foward to a new PR because I was consistently running faster miles than I my last PR a year earlier.  Unfortunately, the course was two-tenths of a mile too long (3.3k)!  My pace was a PR, but my overall time was over 24 minutes.  It was still good for a 1st Place age group award, but bummed about not getting my PR.  Not sure I will run this race again. Shane was running a trail race on the same day that sounded much more fun.
  • April 6, 2013 - Ran the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon with a new PR of 1:51:09 (8:29 pace).  I was shooting to get under 1:50, but I really didn't train hard for it.  I stayed with the pace group until nearly mile 10 and then ran out of steam!  I am proud of my finish though.  I'll get it next time.  I'm also going to train up to 15 miles as to not bonk again in mile 11.
  • May 4, 2013 - Ran the Indy 500 Mini Marathon with a bunch of friends.  It was such a fun, amazing day even though my finish time was over three hours.  We made a whole weekend out of it and just had a blast!  I will need to go run this one again as it was a well ran, very fun, flat race!  Had a blast post-race hanging in downtown Indy as well.  This is half marathon state #4.
  • May 25, 2013 - The Passavant 10k.  This was the race that I placed 2nd in my age group last year.  This would also be the race that I attempt to go under 50 minutes for a 10k.  That means pacing under 8:00 for the whole race.  Going into it, I wasn't sure if I was there yet.  It was early in the season.  I finished at 49:22!  Second in my age group again.  Pretty happy with how I felt today.   Started off rough, but pace got really comfortable by the end.
  • July 4, 2013 - The Premier Bank 5k.  I have gotten used to longer races, so a 5k will be interesting.  My goal for this day would be to go under 23 minutes.  I was disappointed there weren't timing chips and I also heard the course runs 20-30 seconds longer than other 5k.  Oh well.  I was here, and ready to run.  The race started downhill and crowded, so the first mile was fast.  Settled in, and was able to eek out a 23:20, and a 1st place age group award.  I will break that 23 minute mark next time!!
  • July 13, 2013 - Women's Distance Festival 2M.  I've never been able to run this race before usually due to some scheduling conflict in one way or another.  My ultimate goal would be to run it under 14 minutes.  My realistic goal would be to run it in 14:30.  With that time, I would be taking nearly a 40 seconds off of my previous 2 mile race time last August.  I started fast, but settled in behind a girl running about my pace.  We passed each other a couple of times during the race, but in the last quarter mile, I had enough left to pass three people including my pacer.  I stopped my watch and saw that it was still on 13!  My official time was 13:50.  I couldn't even believe it!  Good enough for a 1st Place Master's Division win and a $40 gift card to Springfield Running Center.  Sweet!!  I'm really proud of this one.  My fastest full mile ever at 6:37.  Yikes, that first mile was too fast! 
The next stop is the parade run 2M on August 8th.  I can't imagine doing better than 13:50, but it's a flater, faster course!  We'll see!  I'll try to check back in before the year is over!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicago Marathon 2012

The alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m.  I'm in the Allerton Hotel right in the middle of Chicago's Magnificent Mile.  It's still dark, and I'm not ready to get up yet, but the day is not going to wait for me.  Who am I kidding? I wasn't really sleeping that well in the first place between race nerves and sirens on the streets below.  I reach over, grab my phone off the nightstand and check the weather.  Forecasts have been predicting around 38 degrees at race start time.  A little cool, but it will be great for what we have to do today.  Hmmm...the current weather says 44 degrees.  Is that right?  Warmer than expected, but it sounds PERFECT to me!

What doesn't seem perfect is my readiness for this day.  Three weeks ago, following my 18 mile run, I would have said I was ready.  Even though we had a shortened training schedule due to Shane's injuries (plantar fasciitis), several summer trips, lots of weddings and other events that kept us behind schedule, I felt wonderful after the 18.  I felt like I could have done another eight that day--easy.  One week later, during the 20 mile run, it was a whole different story. 

Shane and I at the Chicago Marathon Expo
On the 20 mile run, an ache started at the back of my knee around mile five.  I thought I could run through it, but by mile seven, I had to stop running.  In my two years of running, I have never had to stop.  The pain had spread from my knee up to my glutes and hip flexors and down to my shins.  I think I adjusted my running form to compensate for the knee pain and maybe caused some damage.  Not good.  I turned around at 7.3, and walked a defeated 7.3 back to the car as Shane and Rick (also training for Chicago) ran on.  A few times I tried running on my way back, but the pain stopped me immediately.  This was a huge set back for me physically and mentally.  With only two weeks left until Chicago, I would not have a chance to make up this run.  My confidence took a huge blow.

Fearing that I did some real damage, I iced/ibuprofened daily and laid off the running for four days.  I had three more runs planned before Chicago.  During those runs, I felt my knee pain.  It wasn't bad enough to stop running, and it came and went away during the runs.  So, I determined I would be able to run Chicago.  How well and for how long, I'm not sure.  Originally, I had hoped to follow a 4:10 pace group, but that was no longer possible in my mind.  My worst case scenario is if I have to walk it in, I would do so, and hold my head high for finishing.  I hated that I was thinking worse case scenario, but I had to be realistic.  I got KT Tape two days before the race with hopes it would help stabilize my knee.

Back to marathon morning.  We decided we would ride the bus the 1.5 miles down Michigan Avenue to the race location.  We get outside, and there are so many people walking to the starting line.  Starting to walk toward the race location seems to make more sense than sitting at a bus stop waiting.  So we walk.  Thankfully, it isn't freezing cold.  I am wearing extra layers that I will pitch off along the race course.  We chat with a girl from our hotel all the way to the race location.  This is her third marathon.  She has also ran in San Franscisco and the Disney Marathon. 

We find Rick and Jordan almost right away at the designated meeting place.  We head to the porta-potties one last time, and then find our way to Corral J.  Shane was supposed to be in Corral G--he had a higher finishing time predicted back when we registered.  The first lady doesn't allow him in even though he is going BACK two corrals.  So, he walks to the other side of the corral and they let him right by.  He was worried for a minute. 

This is it, we're here--the Chicago Marathon--in our starting corral, packed in like sardines.  We wait through some announcements and then they move the 2nd wave corrals up to the starting line.  We walk forward toward the starting line for what seems like several minutes.  With the race moments from starting, it's time to lose the sweatpants.  It's weird to just drop them on the ground.  There's so many piles of pitched clothing on the ground though, so I add to the top of one pile.  I am keeping the fleece jacket for a while.  It's still pretty chilly out.  I down my 5-Hour Energy drink and some sport beans.  Breakfast of champions, right? This will get me through for a while today.  Then it's time....after a walk up to the starting line, we start running.

The sheer number of people running, packed in around us, is crazy!  Ahead of us and behind, there are people as far as I can see.  Forty-five thousand registered.  We are going slower than planned.  None of us are feeling at the top of our running game though.  We've all had aches and pains and missed training runs recently.  In the first five miles, we walk through a couple of the water stops as planned.  I'm getting warmed up, so I take off my fleece.  I'm not ready to ditch it just yet.  It seems to get cold when we are between the buildings, so I tie it around my waist. 

We pass a little girl at the side of the road, maybe 7 or 8 years old, who sees her daddy run by. She starts jumping, clapping and screaming, "Go Daddy!". I think of Jocelyn and nearly start crying. It seriously takes me a couple minutes to get it under control.  Damn race day emotions!

We lose Jordan and Rick at one of the water stations.  I think they are behind us, but a few miles later we see them up ahead of us.  They skipped over one of the stops, but we catch them at the next one.  Generally, I feel pretty decent for the first six miles.  We are running slow though.  We still have 20 miles left to go.  That's some real perspective for you.

Chicago Marathon post at 10K:  At 9:14:15 am, Tammy Bumgarner (39577), 10K, Elapsed Time: 01:04:48, Pace: 10:26.

It's a perfect temperature outside for running. I can't believe how wonderful the day turned out to be. The last couple of years it has been hot on race day for Chicago.  People have died of heat strokes and heat related issues.  I guess I'm ready to lose the fleece for good.  I feel so weird about pitching it to the side of the road, but I do it anyways.  Bye fleece!

Around mile nine, a couple of guys in the group need to stop for the bathroom, so we stop as a group.  I don't have to go yet, but I don't want to run on by myself, nor to I want to be the only person who needs to stop and pee later.  I force myself.  We stop on one side of the street and the line is pretty long.  A volunteer points out that there are more on the other side of the street with a shorter line.  Crossing the street during the Chicago Marathon is quite an accomplishment in itself.  I kind of jumped in and joined the flow as I "froggered" to the other side.  The porta-potty is absolutely disgusting.  I can't imagine how many people have used it, and I don't want to know.  I get in and out as fast as possible.  Off we go again.

Somewhere around mile 10, my left hip starts aching.  At first, it's a slight and dull ache, but it works itself up to a decent sharp pain with each foot fall.  The pain lets up and comes back again.  Then various different pains are popping up in places including in my arches of my feet and a slight one in my knee.  I push on, hoping and praying the pain eases up and moves on.

Chicago Marathon post at 13.1:  At 10:30:24 am, Tammy Bumgarner (39577), HALF, Elapsed Time: 02:20:57, Pace: 11:03.

At this point, I find it ridiculous just how bad I feel physically.  Mentally, I'm not doing that well either considering there's still half a race to go.  I take a self-assessment, and I feel worse right now than at the end of any of the four half marathons I've completed at a much faster pace.  Well, maybe not Moab--that one was rough!  It's easy to forget how hard something was when you are not in the moment.  My legs feel like heavy stumps, and I'm worried about my aches and pains.  Our pace per mile has slowed even more.  I'm sure the bathroom break played a role in that, but generally, I think we are moving slower.

As we approach a block in a tree-lined residential area, I see the runners ahead of us waving to the side of the road.  It strikes me as very strange because there's no one standing there. When we get to the block, I see it's a nursing home and the 2nd floor windows are lined with elderly people all smiling and waving at us. I wave back. It reminds me of the book Water for Elephants. It makes me happy and I smile.  I almost tear up again....damn race emotions!

My memories of the rest of the race comes in chunks, so I'll have to recall it in the same way.  I'm amazed at how much my brain is already shutting out.  I was trying to remember funny signs along the road.  I can recall about three now.  I'm sure these memories are not in the order they occurred, but really, does it matter?  I don't think so.
  • Someone is passing out Twizzlers on the side of the side of the road!  Oh, that is so awesome!  My favorite candy EVER!!  I wish I took more than one though.
  • I'm worried about my hip pain coming and going, but I'm glad my knee is holding up fairly well.  I think the KT Tape makes a big difference.
  • I'm getting SO sick of Gatorade.  I don't think I will drink yellow Gatorade ever again.  After the halfway point, I only take water.  The thought of Gatorade makes me want to hurl.
  • Around mile 18, I'm struggling terribly with heavy legs so I put on music.  It totally revives me!
  • We finally see Rick and Jordan's family in the crowd.  I have no idea where this was, but I think it was right before Chinatown.
  • We are all struggling in one way or another.  However, when someone tells the rest of us we can go on ahead, with unspoken words, we decide that we are going to finish together.  No matter what.  Even if three of us have to carry the other across the finish line.  I volunteer to be carried, but no one takes me up on it.  Jerks.
  • We are being passed by the 4:40 pace group. We need to keep moving!
  • We are breaking the race down into two mile chunks.  We'll take a one minute walk break for each two miles we do.
  • That idea was short-lived.  Two miles is too long.  We feel like crap, and we're falling apart.  Breaking the race down to one mile chunks with walk breaks now.
  • A sign at 24 miles says, "Feel free to PUNCH anyone who yells 'You're almost there!'"  There are several times I think about punching people.
  • I really appreciate this crowd in Chicago.  They are so supportive of the runners.  Amazing.
  • At mile 25, we hope to run the race out to the finish line.  Each time we walk, it's harder to get started again.  I just want to run this out.
As we near mile 26, Shane's legs cramp up.  You can see the pain in his face.  I try to distract him from it, but it doesn't work.  He has to stop.  We walk.  We're so close to the finish!  Moments later, Shane is able to get going again. We turn the final corner and run four-wide across the finish line with our hands in the air. 

We are done!!  I'm not sure I've ever felt so much relief at a finish line. 

Chicago Marathon Post:  At 1:09:43 pm, Tammy Bumgarner (39577), FINISHED, Elapsed Time: 05:00:16, Pace: 12:54.

Really?!  We missed under five hours by 16 seconds?!  Ugh.

We celebrate with hugs all around.  We are happy to be done, and glad to finish side-by-side.  I wouldn't have had it any other way today.  I wish we all could have felt better, but that wasn't in the cards for this one.  We walk through the finisher's area wrapped in mylar, collect our medals, post-race snacks and slowly walk toward the exit area.  I feel like we are walking in a post-apocalyptic world.  It's all very surreal.  None of us feels like stopping for the free beer. 

While I'm glad that I was able to finish a marathon, and I always said I was training to finish, I thought "finishing" meant under 4:30.  I know it sounds petty, especially to someone who has never completed a marathon, but I can't help it!  I had expectations (originally 4:10 finish time), and those expectations were not met.  Not even close, really.  I hate that I feel this way.  I should be happy, but I'm left feeling unsatisfied.

We don't hang out long.  Rick and Jordan find their family, and Rick's wife, Becky, snaps a picture for us as we sit near the curb at Michigan Avenue.  We need to get back to our hotel.  The public transportation is running behind or non-existant.  After 15+ minutes of being passed by full taxis and watching the estimated arrival time of the bus keep growing, we decide to start walking. 

Eventually, we would walk the whole 1.5 miles back to our hotel.  It ended up being an interesting experience though.  We talk with other runners walking in the crowds.  We have several people pass us on the street offering their congratulations and smiles.  This is seriously the friendliest environment that I've ever experienced in Chicago.  Everywhere you look, there are people in mylar wraps with medals around their necks surrounded by people supporting them.  It's kind of an amazing thing to be a part of.

I do not regret the Chicago Marathon.  While it has left me feeling a bit unsatisfied, that just means I need to eventually do another one of these.  I know that I will pick something a little smaller.  While the support from the crowds won't be as big, I think that will be okay with me.  Sometimes just getting lost in my thoughts in a run is a good thing.  The next one, I will train for a long time and train properly.  I will also do a marathon in the spring so I don't have to give up summer races for training runs and kill myself on 90+ degree days requiring a long run.  I just don't have the flexibility in my life to always get up and run before the sun comes up. 

I am reminded again that the experiences I have with friends and loved ones last a lifetime and are much more important than great race times and PRs.  I need to keep my focus here.  I just completed 26.2 freaking miles through the streets of Chicago powered by my own strength and endurance (more like 30 miles if you count the walks to and from the hotel).  I am proud of that. 

I don't know how long this link will last, but here are my marathon photos:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Neglected!! And a marathon??

My blog has been so neglected and I feel bad about it.  I know that I love going back reading and reliving experiences I've had along this running journey.  I even enjoy writing them.  It just seem like I can't find time for a lot of things anymore.  So, what's going on with me. 

(1)  I've run about five races that I need to catch up and write about. 

(2)  I got 2nd in my age group in two of them!  Crazy!

(3)  I signed up for the Chicago Marathon!! 

Yep, that's right.  I'm going to try a full marathon!

Okay, so between my day job, my three part time jobs (Realtor, photographer and director of a non-profit organization), and my other full time jobs of wife and mother, I decided to throw training for a marathon in there--after I was done training for the triathlon. 

No wonder I don't have a minute of my day unscheduled.  Without my Google calendar, I wouldn't know if I was coming or going.  I'll slow down in a little while, but for now, I'm going to get this done.  No, I don't fit everything in.  Yes, my home is in total disarray.  But I'm good right now.  Just get to and through to October 7th without injuring myself or losing my daughter by leaving her somewhere, and I'll call it a success!

My goals for Chicago are unclear at this point.  I might jump in on the 4:10 pace group.  While I'd love to break the four hour mark, I don't want to kill myself to do it.  I want to enjoy the experience.  I'll let you know how that works out for me pretty soon.  It's in six and a half weeks, and coming at me at full steam.  I've still never ran more than 13.1.  This weekend's long run should get me over that for the first time ever. 

Wish me luck folks!  I'm gonna need it!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another Triathlon?? Stoneman 2012

So last year, if you read my first triathlon experience, you'll know I got worked over, but vowed to try it again, and hopefully do better.  With that in mind, I started working on swimming after joining the YMCA in December 2011.  While I loved swimming as a kid, swimming laps seems to frustrate me a little.  It's tiring, I don't ever seem to do better, and I have a tendency to want to give up on things I don't excel at.  The perfectionist in me wants to focus energy into things I'm good at--not this flailing around in a pool trying to get to the other side while not drowning.  Silly, really.

But I keep at it because I had to try this thing again.  I worked on swimming, got a new bike since last year, and the running will always be my saving grace.  As spring approached, most things were getting neglected except the running.  I was training for half marathons, so finding time to bike was ridiculous.  I found myself swimming one lunch hour per week when I felt like it.  It was hard.  I couldn't really go more than 50 yards without running out of steam.  How was I going to do a 500 yard open water swim? 

Eventually, I worked myself up to about 700 yards and tried to not rest very long in between 50 yard intervals.  I would try to go 75 or 100 yards without stopping at times, but it was just so hard.  When I got really tired, I would switch over to breast stroke, which I felt like I could go forever.  A week before the triathlon, I knew I could definitely do breast stroke for 500 yards.  It may not be pretty, and it may not be fast, but it would get the job done!

The days leading up to the tri, I was a nervous mess.  Last year I could proceed blissfully unaware of what was in store for me.  This year--not so much.  That swim was one of the hardest, scariest things I have done in my life.  I don't know if I'm ready.

It is the morning of the race, and I am just nervous.  Everything is laid out and planned out, so I am able to get to the race location without problems.  Since I experienced this all last year, I wasn't as freaked out about getting there and getting set up in the transition area.  We watch the Iron Abe competitors start and a few of them come in before they call our waves to get ready.  Oh, the butterflies!

I am with Sarah, someone I met recently.  Her husband is a musician as well and knows Shane.  We also did a portrait shoot for her kids a couple months back.  This is her first triathlon, and she is pretty nervous as well.  I try to tell her she will do fine, she can rest if she gets tired just like I did last year.  She has never done an open water swim before, and it can be very intimidating.  We head down the boat ramp into the water.  I am waiting for the others to get out ahead of me just like I did last year.  Sarah and I hang back.  It's time to go, they start our wave.

With a rush of adrenaline and splashing water, we are off!  I start immediately with my breast stroke as I planned.  I am suprised how comfortable I am with it.  It is another story for Sarah.  The panic I felt last year, I remember it so well, got the best of her.  It can be clausterphobic.  She tells me she can't do it.  I see fear in her eyes.  I suggest she roll over and float so she can catch her breath, she is still struggling though.  Panic has set in, and I'm not sure if she will be able to calm herself.  I ask her if she wants me to call for help.  She says yes.  I lift my hand out of the water and wave to course support about 30 yards away on a jet ski.  He sees me, and I point over to Sarah and wave for him to come here.  He starts moving towards us.  I tell Sarah he's coming, and that she will be just fine.  I feel guilty for moving on, but I can't stay here and tread water forever.  Our wave has gained considerable ground on me, not that I'm racing them.  I begin moving forward again.

I am going slow and steady and before I know it I reach the turn around buoy.  I'm not wiped out physically or mentally like I was this time last year.  I even caught up and passed a couple people from my wave.  It's a little boost of confidence that needed.  The wave that started three minutes behind me, Shane's wave, is also catching up to me.  This is okay though, they caught up with me last year before I even reached the halfway mark.  Slow and steady.  Slow and steady.  This year, I don't see Shane when he passes me, but I'm pretty sure he did.

I am about 3/4ths the way done, and I hear someone on a surf board ask if I'm okay.  I'm moving along steadily, so I'm wondering if she's asking someone behind me.  I keep swimming.  She asks again.  I look around really quick and ask, "Who?  Me?"  And she says yes.  I tell her I am fine, and keep swimming.  It makes me wonder if I look like I'm struggling since I'm doing a breast stroke.  Who knows? 

I've got the dock in my sights.  I have no problems with veering off course this year since I can see where I'm going with each breath I take.  I stay to the outside of the course though to let the faster swimmers get by me.  I don't want to mess anyone else up.  I get to the dock and climb out of the water.

Swim results:  18:02.5 - Not fast AT ALL, but I took nearly three minutes off my last year's time.  I'm also not completely wiped out going into the rest of the race!

Wow!  What a difference!  Last year at this time, I couldn't breathe and felt like death warmed over!  This year, I am feeling pretty decent as I run to the transition area.  It seems like there's more bikes left than there was last year when I came out of the water.  Generally, I'm feeling good!

I wore the shorts over my swimsuit during the swim, so it's one less thing I have to worry about this year.  I put on my shirt, socks and shoes.  I grab my bike and go!

Transition 1:  02:03.0.  I take 43 seconds off my last year's time. I'm guessing that's how long it would take me to put on shorts while I'm wet.

I head off on my bike.  I feel much better about biking this year.  It helps that I'm familiar with the bike instead of riding it for the first time.  Instead of forgetting to start my GPS for the first mile like last year, this year, I just forget to turn it on altogether!  So the first mile is a lot of the GPS trying to find satellites.  Grrrr!  Eventually it kicks on as I get on East Lake Drive.  I look at my average speed, and it's consistently over 17 mph, which is very good for me.  I even have miles at 18 and 19 mph.  I'm thrilled!  Maybe I'm finally getting this biking thing.

We hit the hill on New City Road, and I'm still doing okay.  I pass some slower bikers and occasionally get passed by someone faster.  I'm still feeling quite a bit better than last year.  I see Shane heading back the other way.  I'm not as far behind him as I was last year. 

I make the turn around at mile 6, and head back down the hill.  I turn back onto Pawnee Road and it hits me like a ton of bricks....the headwind.  Uphill and into a headwind.  No wonder I was flying through the first half!  Here I was thinking how amazing I was doing, not realizing the wind was pushing me along.  It's crazy how much it can affect you.  I'm pushing hard and barely keeping it over 15 mph now. 

For the last mile, I remember Shane saying to shift into a lower gear and spin faster to get your legs ready to transition to the faster turnover during the run.  I do it, hoping it will work.  Push, push, push....all the way back to transition. 

Bike results:  45:04.4.  I took just over three minutes off my last year's time.  Yay!

I head into transition feeling a little wobbly, but good.  I get to the bike rack and it's kind of collapsed.  Definitely leaning.  My bike won't fit under the rack.  I don't know what to do.  I start stuggling to get it to stand up anyway possible.  One of the volunteers comes over and tells me to go ahead, and they'll take care of it.  I take off my helmet and start running.

Transition 2:  01:05.6.  This was 15 seconds more than last year due to bike struggle!

I take off and I'm anticipating the concrete stumps for legs, but surprisingly, I feel decent.  That's weird.  While I am certainly not speeding down this road, I feel much better than last year, keeping a consistent pace just over nine minute miles.  How I feel at this moment, I don't think I'll need to walk this year.  Last year, my legs were begging me to walk from the first second. 

I'm not sure how far into the run I am when I see Shane heading back the other direction. He looks like he's doing okay, but he just might be in a bit of pain from the tendonitis he's been battling lately.  I keep heading toward the halfway turn-around point.  I have passed a couple of runners, and some of the Iron Abe runners have flown by me. 

Since we all have our ages written on the back of our calves, it's kind of funny how that changes your thought processes when you get passed by someone.  When you get passed by someone 10 to 20 years older than you, it can be a little humbling.  I stick right behind a 40-something woman running around my pace. 

The day is getting hot, and I'm really starting to run out of steam.  Good thing I've got just over a mile left.  I grab some water on the way back.  I quickly walk through and drink some while my 40-something pacer is getting ahead of me.  I throw the cup down and slowly catch back up with her.  I turn the corner to head back towards the lake bridge.  The final stretch.  Somehow I feel like I can go a little faster and give just a bit more.  I pass my 40-something pacer. 

I cross the bridge, and I'm almost to the finish.  My GPS rings out that three miles are done.  My third mile is 10 seconds faster than my previous two.  I really stretch out my stride on the final tenth of a mile and I'm pacing around 7:30 for the final hurrah.  Somehow I can always pull something out when I see that finish line!

5K results:  28:52.7.  I took a full three minutes off my last year's running time as well.

I am so thrilled with how I feel at this moment, I can't even explain.  Not only do I feel so much better than last year, I know I enjoyed it so much more. 

Overall Results:  01:35:08.2. 

That's more than NINE minutes off my last year's time!  Is that an amazing overall finish time?  No.  Do I care?  No!  This triathlon thing is so different than running for me.  It is a much harder test of mental and physical endurance.  I don't want to underplay how tough running is, but it comes so much easier to me than swimming or biking.  I'm sure I'll continue to do sprint triathlons.  I have absolutely no desire to do a longer version.  As long as I'm training right and pushing myself to be stronger, every finish will be one that I can be proud of.  I'm happy with this.  Glowing, really.

As a side note, Sarah didn't finish the swim, but she finished the rest of the triathlon.  She could have taken the easy way out and just called it a total loss, but instead, she got on that bike and went 12 miles and then ran the the 5K.  That's what it's all about!  Do as much as you can do, but don't ever give up! 

I will probably see you again this same time next year.  Who knows?  Maybe I'll take another nine minutes off my time.  =)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Warrior Dash 2012

What can I say?  This just sounded FUN!!  Mud, obstacles, trail running--sign me up!  The bad part was that we had to drive nearly three hours to get there, but TOTALLY worth it, and I would go back and do it again.

A friend of mine doing the Couch to 5k signed up for this with her co-workers.  The wave she was starting in was already sold out, so I decided if I could find someone to go with, I'd start in a later wave.  I put the call out on Facebook, and viola!  A plan to run with Tara and Susan came together.  I knew Tara from the DailyMile website, and we had met once to do speedwork at the track. Susan is a friend of Tara's.

That day, as we are driving up to the farm in Channahon, Illinois that hosts the event, we catch glimpses of warriors on the course.  They are running through wooded areas in packs like wolves.  I seriously can't wait to get out there!  I'm a little nervous because I don't know what to expect, but I'm pretty sure it will be fun.  We get parked, pick up our race packets (including Viking helmet with horns), and headed back to the car to start getting ready.  There was a couple parked next to us who just got done, and we asked them for some tips.  They also gave us some of their leftover water jugs for rinsing off later. 

The race itself is not so much a race as a challenge.  It starts with a trail run around some fields.  We went maybe a mile before hitting the first obstacle.  We cross wood planks over ditches, slide down muddy waterfalls into a pit of mud, slide down mud slick hills, climb over wrecked cars, wooden walls and more!  The final half mile has a huge rope wall to climb, fire to leap over, and a mud pit covered with barbed wire.  While ducking under barbed wire, I accidentally stuck my face in the muddy water.  Good thing my mouth was closed!

We stick together for the whole experience, and it is such fun.  I completed all the obstacles, but it kind of left me wanting more.  There was a long wait at each one which made our overall time pretty high, around 51 minutes for a 5K.  I wouldn't mind trying this one again, getting to the front of our wave so you can race through the obstacles without standing in line for them.  I'm curious what my time would be.  I wouldn't mind trying a Tough Mudder too.  That looks fun also! 

Some pictures right when we finished.  Very dirty!

Here we are after we are a little cleaned up.  GO WARRIORS!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Passavant 10K - 2012

Shane is still injured and not running regularly.  I'm doing okay running by myself on my lunch hours, but it was still so much better and consistent when he was running too.  I'm also running slower with no one to push me.  The Passavant 10K in Jacksonville is coming up soon.  The race junky that I've become has decided to sign up for it.  It's a flat course, and I'm ready for a new 10K PR.  My time at Abe's Amble last year was okay, but I know I can beat it now. 

The Tuesday before the race (I hadn't registered yet), I was doing some short intervals in our cross-training class at the YMCA.  Stupid, competitive me, I was keeping up with the guys with sprints the whole way.  This severely wore me down.  The final interval, one of the guys says, "Hey, let's go all out."  Sigh.  Could I say no?  I think not.  Ready, set, go, and we race about 200 yards in an all out sprint.  I tried to keep up with him, but he was so fast.  I didn't lag too far behind, but I could'nt have caught up if my life depended on it.  When I stopped running, I really felt the pain.  I pulled something.  Bad.  Butt muscle.  Gluteous.  Whatever.  It was killing me!  The worst part was I was I still had to jog back to work from here which is about a mile away.

After some extreme Googling, it looks like I have piriformis syndrome.  Crap!  I was looking forward to running the Passavant race, and now it seems like a lost cause.  I'm hoping this is temporary. 

I do a lot of resting and icing over the next couple of days, and on the deadline for online registration, I decide I should be healed well enough by Saturday.  It's still hurting of course, but I'm taking a chance that with two more days of healing that I'll be okay.

Friday, I'm feeling somewhat back to normal.  My pain in the butt is nearly gone, but slightly lingering below the surface.  I'm not sure how an 8:00 pace is going to go. 

Saturday morning comes, and it's a HOT one!  By 7:00 a.m., it's already over 80 degrees outside.  The race doesn't even start for another 30 minutes.  I am by myself today, I'm not sure I even know anyone racing except for a few from the DailyMile website that I haven't met in person.  I park, get ready, and warm up by running around the parking lot and getting some of my race nerves adrenaline burned off.  I end up running into a couple people I know during pre-race annoucements.

We head over to the starting area and it's pretty congested.  The start/finish line has an arch over it, so everyone has to run through it to get started.  I head back through the crowd of people already in line and try to pick the runners that look like they might be around my pace.  I don't want to judge a book by a cover, but I think some of these people have no idea, and they are WAY to close to the starting line.  Eh, I'll just jump in where ever I can squeeze in.  Not long after, we're off!

The race starts heading downhill under an overpass.  The crowd is moving fast, but thinning out just a quickly.  We start winding through a neighborhood, and I'm keeping pace decently.  For a short amount of time, I'm running right next to "Boston Billy", Bill Rogers who has come to town to support the race among other things. 

Mile 1:  7:54, a bit faster than goal pace.

Shortly after the first mile, the piriformis injury starts a slow ache.  Crap!  I back down the pace a bit and start worrying if I'm going to be able to run the full five that I have left to do.  I'm now running somewhere in between 8:20 and 8:30.  An 8:00 pace for the rest is definitely not happening today.  I'm focusing on staying on minimum pace while worrying that I might be doing worse damage by running injured. 

Mile 2:  8:22

Mile 3:  8:35 - dropping pace big time!

I hit the turn around at the half way point.  I've made it this far, I need to keep on pushing.  My pain has gotten a little worse than initially, but it seems to have leveled out for now.  It's so hot today too!  It's making everything a struggle.

Mile 4:  8:32, just over two miles to go.  I can do this!

Right about this time, someone who could be in my age group passes me.  I've decided this is the person I'm going to race for the next two miles.  In seeing the runners ahead of me on their way back earlier in the race, I know that I'm still doing fairly well as far as female runners go.  I set the cruise mode behind this runner and stick close. 

Mile 5:  8:20

Just a bit over a mile left!  The route is deceiving because I knew we were back on the main street leading back to the start/finish area.  We take a turn into a neighborhood, and some nice folks have a sprinkler spraying into the street to cool off runners. It's amazing feeling and so welcomed! It energizes me a bit.  As we take another turn, I decide that it's time to pass the girl I'm following.  I think she is running out of steam anyways.  We've been slowing down a bit.  Less than a mile left to go, and I'm feeling more numb than in pain right now. 

Mile 6:  8:22, so glorious to be so close to done!

I start to lengthen my strides and pick up my pace at bit. I pass a couple of more runners as we get back on the main road with the finish line in sight.  I give it all I've got to get across the finish. 
Official results:  51:32/8:21 pace - A new 10k PR!
I quickly look around for a first aid tent or something.  I need to get some ice on my backside!  Ouch!  The last kicker really did it.  This is painful!  After looking around, I see nothing, so I ask a volunteer handing out Gatorade if there is first aid to get ice.  She says she doesn't know, but gives me a bunch of ice out of the Gatorade tubs in plastic wrappers from the drink cases.  It will have to do!  I stick the ice down the back of my pants and head off to get some food. 

I'm checking out the results as they are posting, and I'm floored when I come up 11th female overall and 2nd in my age group!  I'm so excited and I wish I had someone to share this with!  I wish Shane was here!  While I didn't do as well as I could have, or should have if uninjured, I'm thrilled with these results as you can imagine.  I walk to my car to get my phone so I can at least text Shane to let him know.  I also down a few ibuprofen to hopefully assist with the pain.

I hang around and receive my 2nd place medal.  I'm smiling through the pain.  So, my thoughts on this race is that I am definitely doing it next year when I'm healthy.  I love the flat course with not a lot of turns.  I'm sure I can improve on this time quite a bit.  Hopefully next year Shane will be able to run it with me.  When you don't have loved ones to share your joy, it's just not as sweet somehow.