Sunday, June 25, 2017

Waddling to regain some confidence: Sertoma Duck Waddle 5K

The short:
I went into the Sertoma Duck Waddle 5K feeling very unsure of myself, then surprised myself with an 18:29 for the overall female win.  I haven't run speed work since May, so I'm crediting the weather for my ability to still run sub-6:00 pace (it was around 65* and only 45% humidity -- amazing for June in Missouri)!  Maybe Mother Nature doesn't hate me after all!  Official results are here.

The long:
I came pretty close to not running this race.  I'd been feeling "off" all week, probably catching up from our power-packed vacation, and Dam to Dam sure did a number on my running confidence.  The Duck Waddle was never intended to be a goal race, plus Albani and I were already registered, so I ended up deciding that I would go for the win and if my time was 20:00 (where my confidence was) then so what?  I know it sounds crazy that I felt incapable of running 6:25 pace for 3.1 miles when I recently averaged 6:31 pace for 13.1 while struggling the entire way, but something about that half made me feel like every race I ran was bound to get slower and slower from here on and there was nothing I could do about it.

I ran this race last year, and based on that experience I didn't expect it would be competitive.  I did my usual warm-up jog, uptempo running, drills, and strides, then met Albani and Jon on the starting line.  Albani was running the 1 mile, and the two races started together.  I'd seen the 1 mile turn-around sign while running my warm-up, and I was nervous about her missing it and continuing on with the 5K runners because it was on the side of the road and not very prominent, so I told her about it several times!

At the start, as usual several runners shot out fast, but about a quarter mile in when we sorted out I found myself behind three college-aged guys, a man around my age who I knew was faster than me, and a woman.  I pulled up behind her and figured I'd pace off her and see what happened.  She pressed on, looking strong.  I felt like we were running 6:15-6:20 pace, so I was a mix of surprised and terrified when I saw our first mile split of 6:05.  At that point I realized that I was going to have to work for the win; I wasn't sure if I had it in me, but I will fight with all I have when competing!  I was also getting more worried about Albani seeing the 1 mile turn-around, because there hadn't been anyone standing at it, or a cone, or anything aside from the little sign in the grass beside the road.

I stayed right with the lady until we went up an incline, probably around the halfway point.  I could feel that I was stronger going up that hill than she was, and in a moment I had a few steps on her, so I went ahead and threw in a surge to try to take a more dominating lead.  I went through mile 2 in 6:02.  Shortly after mile 2 the course had a hairpin turn, so I was able to assess my lead and it was minimal.  I ran the final mile terrified that she was coming for me (my split was 5:52).  I finished in 18:29, and she came in in 18:57, but most of my lead came during the final mile.

As soon as I crossed the line, Albani came running over to me to tell me she won the mile race!  She beat all of the boys and girls!  Since the 5K and 1 mile started together, she was the first across the finish line period.  I was so relieved that she'd seen the mile turn-around sign; when I asked her about it she told me that she saw it just fine, her tone suggesting that I was crazy for being so concerned.  She ended up wearing her medal and bib number for the entire day, and then slept in both on race night!

Although an 18:29 5K isn't a relatively strong performance for me (my PR 10K was run with splits of 18:34/18:35, so almost the exact same pace as this race for twice the distance), it's still one of my best 5Ks ever so I was quite pleased.  It also further reminded me what a big factor the weather is, as 65* without high humidity was pretty much the best weather we could have had at 8:00 a.m. at the end of June in Missouri!  I think the humidity gets me more than the warmth, so 45% humidity instead of 95% humidity made all of the difference.

Now I return to The Summer of Base plus once a month 5K races.  What brilliant person thought up this combination?! 
Perfect form!
Awards (I also won a gift card)
Clock shot + truck

Multisporting for the day

Friday, June 23, 2017

Why being an endurance athlete is helpful on a Disney vacation

I can identify countless life situations in which being an endurance athlete is an asset (e.g., moving, long days at work, any home improvement project, parenting, yard work, childbirth, etc....), but I found myself evaluating it in relation to vacationing on my recent trip.  Here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
  1. You are used to persisting in the face of exhaustion and glycogen depletion, and you can keep putting one foot in front of the other when you're extremely tired and/or hungry.
  2. You own excessive amounts of tech clothing, which proves invaluable at theme parks.
  3. You can carry more in your sports bra and running shorts pocket than most people can fit into an oversize bag.
  4. You can skip the "bag check" line due to #3.
  5. You take pride in being able to outlast everyone else in your group.
  6. You never forget to stay hydrated.
  7. You pack electrolyte tabs for the trip.
  8. You know the rejuvenating power of legs up the wall.
  9. Your body is used to carbo-loading followed by carbohydrate depletion, and you can function in both states.
  10. You learn the area near your hotel by running it every morning, and prevent your party from getting lost multiple times, in addition to knowing the best restaurant options within walking distance.
  11. You can obtain extra hotel towels daily from the fitness center.
  12. Your practice at blocking out well-meaning spectators telling you that you're "almost there" at any point before mile 26 of a marathon comes in handy when blocking out the noise from millions of people.
  13. You are extra efficient in making your way through parks because you know how to run/walk the tangents.
  14. You own Hokas.
  15. You know how to make a ponytail with staying power.
  16. You are regularly active while sleep-deprived.
Failure is not an option in distance running or on vacation

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Plenty of sunshine headin' my way: Vacation Days 7-9

June 13 - Sea World
7.4 miles (7:15 average), with a faster final mile on the road our hotel was on (Palm Parkway) to try to pick up a final Strava segment...but alas, I ran on the wrong side of the road again.

Our final full day in Orlando was spent at Sea World!  We did everything one could possibly do there, and were there the whole time they were open (9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.).  Two of their major rides were closed, so that was disappointing, but we would have had to skip something else had we done those since we were there until they kicked us out (I was singing "You don't have to go home but you can't stay here" in my head on our zombie theme park shuffle walk out of the park).

Albani loved touching the stingrays and sharks, and she tried to get wet at the Shamu Orca whale show (her uncle sat with her and his kids; Jon and I sat out of the Splash Zone!).  We rode to the top of the huge classic (old) Sea World tower, rode through Antarctica and on a helicopter simulation ride, and saw dolphin, bubble ("Pop"), and pet shows ("Pets Ahoy").  We all got plenty wet in the rain yet again -- our Orlando daily tradition by that point.  We finished the day in the kids' ride area, and there were no lines since everyone smart had already gone home, so the kids could run off and on the rides without waiting.

After Sea World, we got Chinese take-out and the kids swam in the hotel pool from about 9:15-10:00 p.m. It was a long day!

Sea World entrance

Antarctica entrance

It was 32* in the penguin area!

The controller is shaped like a turtle

Touching stingrays, which she loved

The Manta was an amazing roller coaster

Orca whale show

Touching sharks (& look at her curls!)

Eating here was clearly a must
June 14 - Air Travel Day/Benton Visit
My final run in Orlando was 9.3 miles at 7:37 average, with a Strava segment course record on Palm Parkway (the correct side of the road this time!).  By some miracle and/or GPS error, I ran the nearly 1 mile segment at 6:15 pace without feeling like I over-extended myself -- keep in mind that I was supposed to be base running all these vacation days, so although the Strava segment-chasing was really fun, I knew I needed to keep it in check, and most of the segments I took were 6:30-6:45 pace.  Plus I was really tired during this run!

We didn't set alarms and slept in for the first time (me until 6:45 a.m.), then got packed up and ready for our return flight!  It was delayed about 60 minutes, which seems to be about as good as one can hope for, but we arrived in Wichita around 4:15 p.m.  My dad picked us up at the airport and we spent the night at my parents' house.  My mom provided a lot of healthy food, which was greatly appreciated!  I was so over the hotel breakfast by the final day; Albani loved it because she got donuts every day (I never purchase donuts at home because I'm mean like that).

They still loved each other at the end
June 15 - Benton Visit/Car Travel Day
7.1 miles on Kansas country roads at 7:30 average pace.  I love running the roads around my parents' house because I always reminisce about training in that area in high school!

We gave my dad early Father's Day gifts before driving back to Ozark that afternoon!  I loved our vacation, but there is truly no place like home, and we thanked God for bringing us back safe and happy.
Happy early Father's Day!

Grandma love

Walking data from my phone

Above is a screenshot of my vacation walking, with a "normal" day before we left included for reference (June 6 is my normal work day; June 7 is a travel day) -- so we walked 39.7 miles over our 6 active vacation days.  I felt like we walked farther than this recorded most days, but then I remembered how much longer it takes to get somewhere when walking vs. running, plus this doesn't account for standing around time on feet!  Wish I could count this in my weekly mileage!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My, oh my, what a wonderful day: Vacation Days 5 & 6

Before I dive into another vacation post, if any of you are interested in trying nuun, use the code hydratefriends2017 through June 23 to order through their website at 25% off!  nuun energy is my favorite, because it contains caffeine.  I drink it before races and after I sweat a lot (e.g., after pretty much every run all summer), and I had a tab every morning on this vacation!  I am also beyond excited that nuun is going to be provided on the course at CIM!

June 11 - Animal Kingdom
A 4 miler at 7:33 average pace, and with a Strava course record on the segment I tried to get but ran on the wrong side of the road for on June 9.  My legs were dead when I started this run (8:18 first mile), and the only reason my average pace was pretty normal was because I ran the mile with the segment in 6:31 (it was a 0.6 segment but I was unclear on exactly where it started and ended, as per always).  I then did what every intelligent person with theme park-inflicted dead legs would do and completed 20 minutes of leg strength training before another park!

Day 4/Park 4 was Animal Kingdom!  We took the 8:30 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. shuttles, so it was another 12 hour day.  We spent most of the morning waiting in long lines for the new Avatar rides in the World of Pandora area that had just opened, but both rides were pretty amazing (one you flew on a banshee in virtual reality, and the other you floated down a river).  The whole Avatar area was really phenomenal and it was clear that A LOT of work went into designing and constructing it.  It would be ideal to FastPass those rides, but since Jon didn't want to plan which days we were doing which park in advance (because of the weather), they were all taken before we booked ours.

We did FastPasses for a River Rapids ride (everyone got pretty wet), the Expedition Everest roller coaster (Albani and Jon went to a bird show instead), and a ride called Dinosaur. We did a Safari ride, the Lion King show, A Bug's Life show, the Dinoworld kids area, and really everything in the park.  We got rained on some, but timed being in the Lion King show for the worst of it.  Albani loved getting wet in the rain, but I hated it because while it was fine being wet outside, when we went inside into the air conditioning it was uncomfortably freezing.

Animal Kingdom entrance

In the World of Pandora

The Avatar river ride
Expedition Everest in the background

Some of my best work


Near A Bug's Life in the center island of the park

Legs up the wall part 4 -- my daily Disney tradition!

June 12 - Kennedy Space Center (NASA)
This was my scheduled day off running, but I did a short one since our hotel fitness center left a lot to be desired; 3.2 miles at 7:14 average.  I pulled off two Strava segment records; one that I found due to my wrong turn on June 10, and another that I saw on another Strava athlete's run route when checking the side of the road for the one I accidentally found.  One can find segments in more efficient ways on the desktop Strava site, but I was using the app and also didn't really spend any time on it (probably a good thing).  I then did 20 minutes of arm and core work.  My goal for strength training was to get in one full body workout while on vacation, and I accomplished that but split it up over two days.

We went to Kennedy Space Center after doing the four Disney parks in four days.  It was about a 75 minute drive from our hotel, and we drove our rental van.  Jon and I visited this space center on our honeymoon, and I was worried it would be boring since we'd already seen it all, but they'd changed quite a bit so it was worth doing again; plus Albani learned a lot about space exploration, touched a moon rock, and bought a cool solar souvenir.  The Atlantis shuttle was the best new addition.

We were hoping to go to Cocoa Beach afterward, but the weather had other plans.  It also rained much of the day at NASA, and I was again uncomfortably cold when indoors.  The kids were pretty disappointed about missing the beach, but it just wasn't worth driving over an hour out of our way to go to the beach during a torrential downpour.

Kennedy Space Center entrance

Representing Midwest running events

Small child/large rocket

Touching a moon rock
Atlantis building

Atlantis shuttle - my nephew took this awesome photo

Albani in a shuttle simulator

A replicated control room

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Zip-a-dee-ay: Vacation Days 3 & 4

June 9 - Magic Kingdom

10.2 mile "long run" (7:02 average pace).  I did this run a day early since we were planning on staying late at the Magic Kingdom that night, and I was glad I did!  This was a relaxed run, but I picked it up to get the Strava segments I'd discovered on my run the day before.  Since I only had a vague idea of where they were, I ended up running about a mile at a time at a little faster pace (6:40ish) in order to get segments that were less than a quarter mile long each.  I picked up course records on three of the four; the other one didn't pick up and when I looked at the map after I noticed I ran it on the wrong side of the road (so that final 6:40 mile was for nothing, haha!).

This was our longest day, at the biggest and most crowded Disney park, the Magic Kingdom!  We left on the 8:30 a.m. shuttle and returned on the 10:30 p.m. shuttle, were on the move the whole time, and still weren't able to do quite everything!

Our longest waits were for the Seven Dwarves Train Mine (Albani cried on it) and Space Mountain (Albani did not ride it, but did Stitch and Toy Story rides while waiting with Jon).  We did FastPasses for Splash Mountain,  Peter Pan's Flight, and the Haunted Mansion.  We also did a Frozen ride, two Little Mermaid rides, Go Karts, a carousel, the Swiss Family Robinson house, It's a Small World ride, and some other rides I'm forgetting, plus shows. Albani said that a Small World was creepy, and I agree!

We had to watch the fireworks show, along with illuminations of Cinderella's castle, on our walk to the shuttle so we didn't miss it, which was disappointing because it was pretty amazing.  However, I was definitely in "theme park zombie shuffle-mode" at that point; that is how I finished every day on this vacation!  Although I was the most fit in our group, I was waking up 1.5-2 hours earlier than everyone else each day in order to run and shower first, which seemed to level the playing field. 

After this endeavor, and after the vacation as a whole, I feel like I could do the whole thing more efficiently if we went again in a few months, and if anyone is planning a Disney vacation I have tips for you!
Magic Kingdom
Classic Disney shot, trying to avoid crowds
Albani asked if this one would be scary
Samatha's driving might be scary
Inside Cinderella's castle
Legs up the wall while waiting on the shuttle, part deux
June 10 - Hollywood Studios

4 miles relaxed (7:29).  I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m., and woke up with a start at 6:49 a.m.!  I later realized I'd set the Monday through Friday alarm, and it was Saturday...oy.  My plans of a short run plus strength training were foiled, but I was running by 7:02 a.m. and knew I'd be fine to get in 3 miles.  I took a wrong turn, though, and ended up with 4 miles because of it.  I ended up running a Strava segment and getting the course record where I took the wrong turn, but since it was at 7:30-something pace I decided I would go back for it another day.

Our third Disney park was Hollywood Studios. We were pretty worn out from the Magic Kingdom and it was raining all afternoon, so we left on the 8:30 a.m. shuttle and returned on the 6:00 p.m. one.  It's a smaller park so we were still able to do almost everything; my main regret was missing the Rock 'n' Roll roller coaster.  We did FastPasses for Star Wars Star Tours, an Indiana Jones stunt show, and the Toy Story ride.  Albani and Chris did Jedi training, which they loved!  They also got to meet and talk to several Star Wars Characters, including BB8. Our lunches were even Star Wars themed.

Hollywood Studios entrance
Star Tours
My little Star Wars fan
Toy Story area
Waiting in line for the Toy Story ride
Chicken and Darth Vadar waffles
Jedi training
This was one of her favorite parts of the vacation
Chris in Jedi training
BB8 was a big hit
Tower of Terror in the background (Albani and I didn't go)
Best use of time while waiting for the shuttle day 3!