Saturday, November 26, 2022

Blacksburg Turkey Trot

Thanksgiving is reportedly the day of the year that draws the largest race participation in the US. I did my part to contribute, as did my friends Michaela and Carla (above, photo courtesy of Nora).  I showed up in my several-decades-old homemade felt turkey tail and long-ago-purchased turkey hat that I wear every year, even if just for a solo run. I got lucky this year that my shoes happened to be color coordinated too. 😉  This year I swapped out my maroon VT shirt for a UVA one in tribute to Lavel Davis, Devin Chandler, and D'Sean Perry.

We had the most gorgeous morning and the crowd was large and full of energy for it being 8 am. 

I opened Spotify, paired my headphones, and pulled up my playlist, queuing up the next thing in line: a Fresh Air podcast on Retirement. 😆  Yeah, that's my jam...podcasts! 

My mind was already thinking ahead to the day's meal prep. This would be the first year celebrating without our head chef, Spencer. He only had two days off for the holiday, and being at UCLA it was just too far to travel. He hosted his first Friendsgiving instead.

Once the race began, my thought shifted immediately to the task at hand: run a relaxed but strong 5k. 

Sidebar: one of my reasons for wanting to re-start my blog is to talk a bit about training and racing in the post-menopausal years. It's been a physical and mental adjustment to navigate things like the age-related slow-downs (I'm 55 now), reduced heat tolerance, about a year of insomnia, more need for strength training. The 5K has been, and remains, one of my preferred metrics for where I am in my speed, strength, and fitness.

Anywho, I had no idea what the route was and was just happily following along in what felt like the right gear, the right perceived exertion. I was curious how long I'd been running. I guessed maybe 10 minutes. I glanced down at my Garmin which I had somehow inadvertently paused just after the start and so I had no metrics, and there were no mile markers! I restarted my Garmin, a bit bummed I wouldn't have my splits. Then I shifted my thoughts to gratitude that I could do this at any pace. I also thought about some of my amazing coaching clients too.

I heard a few people yell that I was the "first turkey" and that gave me a boost! I crossed the finish line in 22:46, feeling very pleased with my time, effort, and happy mindset.

I'm about 1:15 slower than my fastest 5K years, but I am running faster this year than last. Contributing factors could be that I am sleeping much better (seemingly due to HRT), and I've been fairly consistent with strength training over the last year too. 

Overall, I train at slower paces these days, not on purpose, but that's just how it is and what I have in me. I find I have a little less energy. Even so, things generally come together on race day and it kind of surprises me. I can probably chalk it up to experience and consistency across many years. And an excellent Coach (thank you Jim McGehee!).

This race was an unexpected and welcome boost for my motivation and spirits. Thanksgiving dinner turned out well too. It's good to put ourselves to the test and see what we can do! 

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Hokie Half

Today was the Hokie Half (half-marathon). That's me on the right, with Ally Bowersock who co-owns Runabout Sports Roanoke, among other talents and distinctions. We both won our age groups today!

After the finish, I ran into a fellow area master's runner, Randy, who asked if I was still doing triathlons and asked about my blog. I told him I was still racing, but with so much change in life over the last few years, I had shelved my own writing. But then and there, I decided it's time to revive the blog. As a health and wellness coach, I encourage clients to journal and I understand the value of time spent reflecting. It's time I "walk the walk" and continue my own conversation in this space.

When I first began my blog, I was in my early 40's and finding my way as a new runner and triathlete. My star was rising, and PRs came with regularity.

Now I am 55. I'm no longer chasing PRs, but I still love to train and love to race. In this phase of my athletic life, it's about finding my personal bests in mind and body that go beyond the time clock. 

Back to today. This was one of those races that ended up so dialed in for me! I added the Hokie Half to my calendar in mid-August after tri Nationals, just as a fun-change up, and I've truly enjoyed preparing for it. We shifted my long runs from Wednesdays to Saturdays and cut back on my cycling. Just those few differences - it's like fluffing the sheets. It freshens everything up! 

Based on my training runs, I came into this race targeting about an 8:25 mile pace. My last half marathon, a year ago, I ran in 1:52, so I was hoping for 1:50ish finish on this course even knowing it's fairly hilly. (My half PR is 1:39:45 from 2016). I stayed very relaxed on the first of the two loops and that paid off with a sweet negative split, averaging about 15 seconds per mile faster on the second half. I totally surprised myself finishing in 1:44:54, which comes out to an 8:00 pace. More importantly, I stayed in a really positive and confident headspace, which is so vital for a good performance. That was the real win for me.

That's racing. You just never know what you might have on the day, for better or for worse. 🤷‍♀️ 

The personalized bibs are fun. "Cort the Sport" is a nod to my dad and his nickname for me from a very young age! 

Always fun to see the Hokie Bird. 

Thanks to Coach Jim McGehee of One on One Endurance for the excellent race prep - 13 years of guidance and encouragement!