All Guts….and Just a Little Bit of Glory


It doesn’t get easieryou just go fasterGreg Lemond

Last Saturday was my annual test of fitness.

The Jingle Bell 5k.

I’ve been running it for the past 4 years. The route is always the same and conditions really don’t vary too terribly much so I can use it as a good indicator of where my VO2max is hovering. This allows me to gauge my running paces for training so I don’t overwork the recovery days or underwork the harder ones.

It’s one of maybe three straight 5ks I run all year (outside of sprint triathlons). I hate them. Plain and simple, no away around it.

The 5k is a fast and it hurts. I’m not a huge fan of fast pain. I prefer mine to creep up slowly and tap me on the shoulder….usually after 30-60 multisport miles.

However, I DO love testing myself and seeing how I’ve progressed year over year. I’m also I data junkie (contain your shock!) so this gives me some new numbers to look at and a more accurate way to write and evaluate training plans.

All that being said, most coaches and runners will agree, when the 5k is run at threshold pace, it ends up being one of  THE most painful distance tackled.

Saturday, I must’ve done something right.

At about 9am, just under 200 folks lined up to take part in the annual 3.1 mile jaunt.

The course is a flat, fast, and not overly crowded so it is easy to get the work done.

Although on this day, Mother Nature decided to throw a few curveballs and hit us with increased temps (68F), elevated humidity (80%), and yes…she was blowing like the mother she is…winds were out of the southwest at 16-18mph.

At first I was irritated with the temperature and humidity, but as we warmed up I quickly realized the wind was going to be more of a factor. I’ve been running in 15- 20mph+ winds for the past 2 weeks so this “breeze” was nothing new, but not exactly how I wanted to race.

Seeing how I couldn’t change things, I got the bitching out of my system and set my intentions.

AquaDoc and I found some friends to chat with as we waited for the start and for the 1st time in four years…..the race actually began ON TIME!

My original plan was to just keep up with my husband. I felt if I did that then I’d hit my goal of breaking 26 minutes and I would certainly be working to to my maximum potential. Well that plan was ditched the moment the horn blared to signal start. That man blew out like race horse and there was no way in HELL I was going to catch him.

On to plan B: keep husband’s red shirt in sight.

Situations like this one, is why it’s always important to have multiple plans!

1/2 mile 7:14/avg I could still see the red shirt and although I knew deep down I was going too fast, but I didn’t FEEL like it YET! Ahh, lactic acid is soo sneaky that way!

1 mile 7:44/avg I still felt “ok”, but at this point I started to question if I could do this another 2 miles. I blew past the aid station, knowing I could get some water on the way back if I needed it. There was this woman running next to me and she refused to commit to pass or fall behind. This kind of shit messes with my mind and I was trying desperately to ignore her, but she refused to go away.

1.5 mile  7:55/avg At first I was shocked to hold under an 8 min/mi for this long, so I consider THAT in and of itself a huge success. However, I was now in dire straights. My entire body was burning. I could not only FEEL the lactic acid, but I could taste it. You know, that familiar metallic flavor that rises up when you get to “that point”. My husband tried to hi-five me as we passed at the loop, but I couldn’t expend one extra ounce of energy to give it back to him. Apparently he wasn’t working near as hard to reach his goal as I was to make mine. My new running partner was still there and then the wind picked up.

2.0 miles/8:15 This is where I started cutting deals with myself. “Just maintain an 8:30 pace” and it’s done. I told myself the bulk of the work was over and even gave the ok for an aid station stop. Hey, I’d earned it right? Well my ‘id” may have thought so, but my “ego” certainly didn’t agree. There would be no stopping on this day. Then there was this woman. Part of the reason I was so annoyed was because she didn’t “look” like she should be challenging me. Ahh, we all know looks are deceiving in this arena, but it still plays with my mind. Finally I had to have a brief internal chat with myself. I said, “Self, I guarantee she’s not running on legs that have cranked out 85 miles this week, 30 of those miles yesterday. Let her go. Run your race. This is about a whole lot more than these 3 miles.” So I got comfortable in my pace, maintained my form in the headwind, and concentrated on finishing in under 26 minutes. She ran ahead and I was ok with that.

3.0 miles/8:44 I was really beginning to think I may die. All of those news reports of marathoners having MIs recently had me thinking that perhaps I’d be the next one on NBC Nightly News. Then I came back to reality. I had lost sight of my husband’s red shirt a few minutes prior so I knew he had finished, but I couldn’t find the freaking clock. There were droves of elves standing in front of it blocking the view. I had my Garmin, but I NEEDED to see the official time and these asshats were blocking my view. Finally I saw the seconds ticking off  :15, :16, :17…but what were the minutes?

.1 mile/8:06 That was the longest .10 mile I have ever run in my life! Definitely the longest since the last 5k in the spring!! As I inched closer I finally saw the FULL time 25:20 and knew I had what I needed. I crossed the finish line and found the closest trash can. I stood there for a minute, prepared for the worst, but it was nothing more than dry heaves and coughing.

Official Time: 25:30

My 5k time improved by 1:32 and my estimated  VO2max has improved by 2 points since April. I’ll take it.

You have to love all out effort….it just hurts so good!

I found my husband to check and see how his race went. He is finally recovered from his sports hernia, which has been a 6 month pain in the ass (more accurately a pain in his groin) for him. He finished just over 24 minutes and this puts him back to almost where he was before he got injured in July. He really wants to break into that 22 range. I don’t think it will be long now!

We both ended up taking 2nd in the 40-44 AG which is always an added bonus.

In 2 weeks we’re doing it again, this time a 10k test.

Have I mentioned how I don’t really like to hurt?

Below are a few pictures (literally, 3) from the day. I’m in the process of playing with our new MacBook so y’all are lucky enough to view my 1st ever slide show.

I hope everyone is having a great holiday running season!

Run Happy, My Friends!

Better Together


 Today AquaDoc and I have been married for 15 years.

I’ve known the man since I was 15 years old (lets not do the math…suffice to say a very long time) so I can barely remember a time, in my life, without him in it.

Everyday I am grateful that we share so many common interests and that he “gets” what I do and why I do it. There is no explanation needed or conversations to be had about getting up at 4am to train or race. He doesn’t question the weeks of textbooks, notebooks, and papers spread all over the dining room table as I try to write the next best training block.

He just knows…. he understands…. he gets it.

I just love him to pieces and am so glad to be sharing my life with him.

Happy Anniversary!!


Train Happy, My Friends!





Doing The Du


Last Saturday morning was the 1st, in a series of 3 summer duathlons in the area. They span from late April to late July and I decided this would be a good one to tackle before the heat and humidity made a trip to the medic tent inevitable.

AquaDoc agreed to race even though there was no water involved. I have no idea WHY the man hates to run because he’s damn fast. He’s now 6 weeks post op (meniscus removal). Despite the limited running he’s done (3 miles maybe once) he put up an average pace of 7:45 for the hilly 5k portion. The man will be lethal once he gets healthy. I hate him. 🙂

To backtrack a bit….

The race was out in the sticks, BFE…no man’s land. It’s a somewhat hilly course on old country roads. It’s also not a sanctioned event. It’s put on by the local running club so transition is somewhat jacked. This was our 1st time participating so we had not clue we needed to be a bit more self-sufficient. I didn’t really effect the race, but it made transition a bit tricky.

We started the 5k loop going down a delightful hill. My pace was brisk and I felt awesome until some jackass next to me reminded us we would have to run UP that same hill at the end. Gee thanks for the reminder!

Mother nature was kind so the weather was on the cooler side and the course was shady. This all helped keep my body temperature in check as much as possible. I was running at about an 8:30/mi pace and was still at the rear of the pack. This was another lesson in pacing myself and racing MY own race. I know I’m stronger on the bike and I would catch up if I could stay at mid to high 8’s and not slip too far back. 

So that’s what I did. And that hill that we all flew down to start…..well, it was a bitch to climb up at the end. I looked down and charged up and passed the clock in 27 minutes and change. I was pleased with the body of work as my 5k PR is 26:32 and that was on a flat, out and back course.

The hard part was done. Now it was time for the fun!

I was riding solo, ie.. no bike computer. It’s been broken for a few weeks and I’ve been debating a replacement. I was riding with my garmin running watch. It gives me min/mi splits and I can extrapolate the data a bit in my head as I go. I knew 3:15 min/miles or less would be great. If I could hit 3:00’s or below I would be really rocking it. But I was going to have to just peddle my ass off, make up as much time as possible, and see how things turned out. AquaDoc had a 2-3 minute lead and I knew if I could catch him, I would have caught the bulk of the women who were running in the mid 7’s.

Did I mention it was a bit windy? 15-25 mph sustained headwinds with stronger gusts. If it wasn’t a headwind, it was a crosswind. When they blew, it took every bit of skill I had to maintain my course and sometimes I flat-out didn’t.

This was my 1st race with the aero bars and I rode them the entire way. I felt like I was moving fast and making up time. My garmin was chirping every time a clicked off another mile and I’d check my watch for the pace: 3:05, 3:15, 2:45 (OMG), 3:20, 2:33(holy crap!)…and so it went. and I repassed 2 later on. I was doing a fairly good job of catching those speedy runners whose legs were just too tired to fight the hills and the wind.

I passed Aquadoc with about 5 miles to go and at that point, I figured I’d probably caught up with most of the 7 minute milers. I had made up 90 secs and had 5 miles to do the rest. There was just 1 problem…..

As we made the final right turn out onto Hwy 67 (4 lanes of traffic that had not been detoured thank you) we hit a hill and head winds that were blowing close to 30 mph! I looked up and swore people were walking their bikes.  Later I figured it was just the oxygen deprivation to my brain playing tricks on my eyes. It was insane! I just kept reminding myself that everyone else was battling the same conditions.

I shifted to a higher gear and figured since I only had 2 miles to go I could burn my legs out at this point, I just wanted the hell off this road. I saw a  few women that looked like they may be about my age (always thinking 😉 ) so I just hammered on, passed them and finally crossed the finish line. I ended with an average pace of 20.6 mph.

Woolmarket Duathlon (5k run, jacked up transition area, 11 mile bike) : 1:04:57

Good enough for 2nd in the 35-39 age group.

78/168 total and 12/45 overall females.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

There is a definite advantage to getting older.

And living in a small, rural community.

I’ll take it any day and love every single minute!


Ride Happy, My Friends!