November 11, 2014

State XC & a Training Update

My third XC season as head coach has ended. And my girls made it to State! Being a small, rural community, the school has only sent a team to State once before this year, and that was my first year as coach. This year, I knew the girls were looking good, but it was difficult to know how we'd do, as they realigned the sections, giving us new competition. Our County is so small, that all the teams automatically advance to Sectionals. At the Sectional, the top 3 teams advance to State, along with the next 6 individuals after the top 3 teams' athletes are removed. I did some research and came to the conclusion that we did have a chance of making it to State. If my predictions were correct, we would battle for 3rd place (out of 9 teams). The race was so close that I didn't know how we did and had to wait for the official results. I had counted finishers, but the race had combined 6A and 7A; so I knew my count was likely flawed somewhere.

It turned out we placed 4th, and the girls were super bummed… until they called out the 6 wild card spots. My 6 girls nailed all the spots! Meaning they were all going to State! (And yes, this is really something basically unheard of in the sport, especially with 9 teams, but it shows you what a tight race my girls ran.) I also had two boys that nailed wild card spots. 

The State Meet was 5.5 hours away, and would mean staying overnight in a hotel. I toyed with the thought of going for nearly a week. I know it sounds crazy for a head coach to miss the biggest meet of the year, but I couldn't even wrap my head around driving that far and staying in a hotel with a 7 week old! I talked to the AD about it, and he gave me his blessing to do whatever I felt was best, saying that he would make arrangements for the assistant coach to be giving access to all typical head coach privileges. I went ahead and got everything squared away for the team, and didn't tell them that I considered not going. However, as race day approached, I decided that I just couldn't miss it. Hubby and I would make the trip.

To my complete surprise, our weekend went amazingly well. We drove up on Friday, and were only about 30 minutes behind the team. We went to the course Friday afternoon. Hubby walked around w Savannah while the team jogged, and we discussed everyone's racing strategies for the next morning. That evening, hubby and I agreed that we might not both be able to attend the team dinner at Olive Garden. Once we got there, though, Savannah was fast asleep in her carrier, and we both enjoyed time with the team. She even slept a LOT that evening, giving me time to make some last minute posters for our tent site and be able to walk the halls checking on the kids. 

Race morning, I slipped out with our assistant coach very early, leaving hubby and baby at hotel for awhile. He arrived at a perfect time, between the girls and boys races, allowing me to feed her in the car. And the 5.5 hour drive went extremely well. We stopped for feedings and diaper changes, but other that those, made great time. She didn't fuss until we were about 20 minutes from home. 

My athletes ran VERY well at State, all but 1 PRed. They had a lot of fun, too. The course is neat, rolling through the Indian Mounds. 

And my own training…

I'm up to upper 40s, low 50s in mileage, with runs from 6 to 13 miles. I had my first tempo workout last week. It was actually labeled "steady state," but I pretty much blasted that out of the water. 

Being I'm starting close to the bottom, Coach has me doing all my runs by feel. However, data is important; so I've been wearing the garmin, but putting it on the screen that just shows mileage or time, not pace. I did a 1 mile warm up, then had 5 miles of "steady state", followed by 1 mile cool down. (Actually the workout read more warm up and cool down, but hubby had to get to work early; so I had to cut part of that.) 

I started the first mile at what felt comfortable/hard. Man, it felt good to run fast! The Garmin beeped at 1 mile of the tempo and flashed a 7:05 on the screen. WHAT?!?! Considering what I'd been running, that didn't seem possible. At that point, I knew I wanted to hold steady or speed up, but would have to be conscious of what I was doing since the garmin didn't show the pace the entire time, only at the end of the mile. 2nd mile came quickly at 7:06. I then had to stop for about 15 seconds to be able to cross an intersection. Next mile 6:56. Something clicked in my head, and I then decided I wanted to feel the burn. I wanted to hurt. I missed the pounding heart, pouring sweat, burning muscles or good, hard running. I didn't want to run steady. I wanted to pound the pavement. I wanted to hurt. It had been 10 LONG months of easy running, of trying to control myself, of being "smart." I didn't want that anymore. I wanted to BLOW. UP. 

Mile 4 6:51
Mile 5 6:50
And blow up afterwards, I did. My jog home was crazy slow, lactic acid hit almost immediately. I had that hard race headache and my vision blurred for a short second. 

It. Felt. Awesome. 

Fast forward to Sunday. Back when I was about 7 months pregnant, I got offered a free entry to the Pensacola Marathon. It would be the 10 year anniversary of the race, and they wanted to recognize all former champions and honor them by a free entry. It was decided I would use the half as an easy run, obviously. This would be only the 2nd time I'd done 13 miles since June. 

In order to control myself, I started with the 3:30 pacing group, which is 8 minute pace, 1:45 half. My friend Livvy was the 3:30 pace leader; so she and I had fun talking and running together. Just after mile 7 (I think) the half marathoners split away from the marathoners. I didn't even wear my garmin; so I had no idea after that what pace I was running. I sped up a little and caught a group of men. One mentioned that we were just under 8 minute pace; so I made mental note to hold steady there until Mile 10. And Mile 10, I was feeling pretty darn awesome; so I decided to push it the last 3 miles. I passed 27 people. LOL. At Mile 11, I passed a guy that yelled at me, "You're kicking too early!" Hahaha. 

Finish time 1:41:30
3rd in AG

Interestingly enough, I don't have a lot of feelings about this race. It was my first PP race; I had no goals attached to it; and it is there for data uses only. I'm neither thrilled nor disappointed with my performance. I feel okay with where I am right now, but a little overwhelmed with the amount of work I have in front of me to get back to where I was. Honestly, I have doubts of EVER getting back there. (I know, I'm only 2 months out; so even discussing it sounds crazy train.) 

This week, I get to switch a 6 miler for an 8, giving me a slight mileage increase, and I get to add fartleks to my routine. Later this afternoon, I'll go for 1 minute on, 1 minute off, at 10K effort. 

And so the comeback continues…

Run Happy, friends!


  1. That's so amazing how your girls got to state! And sounds like the event couldn't have worked out more smoothly for you. That's a tough weekend to pull off with an infant!
    I can't believe your running these days. You must have retained a lot of fitness to come our with 6:50 miles after having a baby! High-five for you!

  2. So good-I'm not the only one who enjoys a hard-earned effort headache!

    I wonder what the average post pregnancy time for a half is?? I still thnk you'll get creepy fast in upcoming seasons...

    Congrats on State!!

  3. love a post like this: full of happy news about your running, your 'girls' and your baby... Thank you for sharing with us.

    I feel I need a forced break, but I scared to take a break because I feel I will just get unfit and the niggles won't go away. looks like your forced break did you good!

  4. Ahhhh, so fun to get back in and push yourself!

    You might want to check out Beth Gerdes blog. She had her first baby in May and did an Ironman in October. She might have some good tips for you :)

  5. Wow. I thought it likely you'd never quite get back to speed, and that you'd be OK with that.
    But already 50 MPW, cranking out sub-7s in a workout, and easing to a 1:41 half? Yikes.
    You may have doubts, but now I wonder if a year from now, you may be faster than ever.