2021 OUC Half Marathon

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Running Friend (n):  One who listens, does not judge, and somehow makes two hours of running fun.

(Pinterest)

Yes, I made the trek over to run the Orlando Hometown Half Marathon again this year.  This is becoming my favorite half marathon due to the course, weather, proximity, and the great Track Shack staff.

The is the 8th time for me running this half marathon and it may have been the most enjoyable.  I signed up for the race in December 2020 with the intent to target a Personal Record (PR) during the event.  I made an adjustment to my mindset during packet pickup to just enjoy the course, the spectators and, great December weather in Orlando.

I still wanted to beat my 2020 time but did not overemphasize the concept of a time-based goal.  My training has been good but nothing like the miles or training sessions I put in in 2019.  The hills in Tallahassee helped prepare me for races so I knew where my conditioning was before every race.  Targeted race times were easier to predict due to hill training.

I toed the start line this year with the intent to get/stay close to a pace so I would complete the half marathon in 2:15 (two hours and 15 minutes).  This would be ten minutes slower than my PR but obtainable without stressing my body too much just to hit a number.  This is personal growth for me because I normally beat myself up if I do not hit a certain number.  Decided to listen to my body and have fun since that is what this is all about.

I crossed the finish line this year in a time of 2:18:58 (two hours, 18 minutes, and 58 seconds).  Close but extremely happy with this time.  Why you ask?

Great question! 😊

I knew my tree branch, Daniel Botero was signed up for the race and we texted to make sure we connected prior to the race start.  Always great seeing my tree branches and this was the first time Daniel and I have seen each other in-person since February 2020.  While catching up and stretching Daniel asked me what my targeted time was for the race.  I gave him 2:15 for my targeted time and he asked if he could tag along. 

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Looking at past articles on my training program and race schedules highlight I run alone.  This is mostly by choice but also because not many people in my Fort Pierce circle exercise or run.  I happily accepted Daniel’s request to run with me and embraced having a tree branch running with me.  I was surprised when he identified he would try to keep up with me—made me laugh a bit too since I am a lot older than him.

We agreed to run together until it was no longer practical.  Happy to report I got to run the first 5 miles of the half marathon with Daniel.  We kept a decent pace of 9:30 per minute over this distance before going our separate race strategies.

I traditionally run 8 smaller races within the half marathon.  I find it easier mentally and physically to leverage this approach and it has helped me gets faster.

Example:  The water stops are approximately 1.8 miles apart for most half marathons.

I run to each water stop and then walk through the area to drink water and Gatorade.  Please note, I do not stop moving forward but take about a 20 – 30 second walk break to replenish my fluids.  I take off running to the next water stop after getting my water and Gatorade.  This concept creates 8 smaller races and helps me stay strong throughout the half marathon.

There are other running strategies for success, but this works well for me.

My pace stayed consistent for the first 8 miles, but I began to slow a bit when the lactic acid in my legs started to get away from me.  I incorporated beet and tart cherry juice into my diet to help with the lactic acid buildup but there are times when it just jumps up and grabs you by the quads.  This was one of those times!

I carry nutrition gels in my running belt and started taking them at the 8-mile mark.  The gels help get more carbs into my system and helps with the leg pain.  Yes, I spend money, time and, effort to put myself in pain—runners are a unique breed.

A new adventure for this race is I ran with the 2:15 pace group for a good portion after mile 8.  The pacer was an experienced marathoner and paces half marathons for fun—again, we are a unique breed. 😊

I was happy to have company again and stayed with the group until my quads told me to slow down—I did!  My goal at this point was to stay ahead of the 2:20 pace group that was further behind me—I refused to let them catch up with me.  I stayed between both pace groups as I made my way back downtown Orlando.  The crowds were huge at this portion of the course and having people cheer for me gave me the extra inspiration to finish strong.

Yes, I was able to fake wellness and sprint across the finish line with a smile on my face.  This was a forced smile but smile I did.  Looked down at my watch and was happy with my effort and time for the day. 

Track Shack ran a 3-year series and every runner that completed the OUC Half Marathon in 2019, 2020 and 2021 got an extra medal to go along with the normal swag.  I did not realize I was in this elite group but happily accepted my additional bling.

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Made my way to the runner’s village to get some refreshments and recover.  I wanted to stick around to cheer Daniel across the line and make sure he was okay.  He came across the finish line in good shape and I directed him to the medical tent to get some ice on his legs.  I always get ice to begin the recovery process and it helps with pain and inflammation caused by a 13.1-mile race.

Got a couple beers to replenish carbs and Daniel and I parted ways with a new memory for our growing friendship.  Hope to run with him again in 2022!

My plan is to run the OUC Half Marathon again in 2022.  Who is going to join me?

Irie!

OUC 3

Track Shack UCF 5 Miler

5 Mile race

“Every morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most”.

(Buddha)

Merriam-Webster defines resilience as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Happy to report there has not been any misfortune for me, but the change has been an adjustment to my training regimen.  I am still putting in work but not able to get the same quality sessions I put in pre-COVID.  This can be directly attributed to my work role in Fort Pierce but please do not think I am complaining.

We have made some major operational improvements and there is light at the end of the tunnel where we will soon normalize operations and I can get back to putting in more training miles.

The concept of resiliency reminds me of the old saying:  try and then try again!

Decided to use shorter races as a bigger part of my training program to get me prepared for the rigors of the half marathon distance.  I have the 2021 Rock N Roll Savannah half marathon in November and the 2021 Track Shack OUC half marathon in December.  My overall goal is to run a half marathon under 2 hours and the Track Shack OUC half marathon is the ideal setup to make this happen.  I need to put in additional training miles to build my endurance back to my 2019 levels. 

My fastest half marathon was the 2019 Track Shack OUC half marathon with a time of 2:05:51 (two hours, five minutes, and 51 seconds).  2020 was set to be my fastest year ever but of course COVID-19 shut down racing and my training lagged—that’s on me! 😊

So, what’s my plan to correct my training and speed issues?  Well, I check multiple running clubs to see what races are being offered locally and within driving distance to me in Fort Pierce. 

I routinely scan the Fleet Feet Stuart and Orlando Track Shack events pages to determine which races are available to help with my training program.  I just shared with my best friend I have a hard time training with race pace—it is a mental thing for me since I do not have competitors or anyone to pace with.  I am sure I may be the only active running with this issue but targeting real races seems to get my competitive nature going.  This may not be the ideal strategy, but I will try this out to get me closer to my half marathon goal. 

Made my way back over to Orlando for the 2021 Track U Can Finish 5 Mile race to get some speed work in.  I ran this same event when I lived in Oviedo, but this is the first time I tackled the race distance in 8 years. 

This is an interesting event because it has multiple distances available for runners to try.  The first event is the U Can Finish 2 Mile race and Track Shack has a distance dare.  Runners can sign up to run the 2-mile race and then compete in the 5-mile race right after.  The hook for distance dare runners is the opportunity to collect 3 medals:  2-mile, 5-mile, and distance dare medals.  Runners love their bling and a lot of them took part in the distance dare.  I did not—officially. 😊

Did something new on race day to ensure I got in extra training miles.  I stay in the same hotel each time I visit the Orlando area and it is down the street from the UCF campus. 

I decided to leave my vehicle parked at the hotel and ran the 2-mile distance to the UCF campus for the start of the 5-mile race.  Figured this was a great way to warmup and stretch my legs before my race and ensured I would get in a long training session—it was just broken up into segments.

Toed the line for the 5-mile race completely warmed up and excited to run on the UCF campus again.  The race village was setup directly in front of the Career Services building where I worked for 4-years prior to moving to Tallahassee and the FSU Career Center.  Great being back on the old stomping grounds. 😊

My goal for the 5-mile race was simply to test my endurance and consistently run miles splits with a 9 on the front of them (9:05, 9:10, etc.).  Mission accomplished.

The UCF campus is completely flat which helped a lot.  Went out with the intent to run my race based on feel and then push myself when I could. 

Mile-1 went by at an 8:44 per minute pace and I felt good with the effort.  Mile-2 through 5 were:  9:15, 9:33, 9:57, 9:42 which got me to the finish line at 47:29.  Targeted 45 flat but happy with my results considering I put in a 2-mile run before my race. 

Collected my 5-mile medal and took some pictures to commemorate the race and my time back at UCF.  Got some refreshments and stretched a bit before heading out.  I tucked my race medal away and began my 2-mile journey back to my hotel—yes, I ran back for a total of 9 training miles for the day.  Felt great every step of the day!

I will look for additional races to help me prepare for my next two half marathons.  Still have some speed in these legs, just need to release it in my unique way.

FYI—I am still on pace to meet my 2021 goals of 1,000 training miles.  Imagine my mileage if I could stay consistent with my training.

Irie!

How do you display resilience in your daily activities?  Thanks!

“Life does not get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient”.

(Steve Maraboli)

Half Marathon training (South Florida)

Celebration of running

“Life is short…running makes it seem longer”.

(Baron Hansen)

September 5, 2021 is coming!  This date may only be circled on my calendar, but it has importance to my Walk into the Future.

The Virginia Beach Rock N Roll Half Marathon will take place on 9/5/21.  This year’s race marks the 20th anniversary of the Rock n Roll series in Virginia Beach and will also be the last time this race is run.  Received an email last week stating the city of Virginia Beach and the Rock n Roll series agreed to make this the last hoorah.  This is my first visit to Virginia Beach, and I will have to make the most of it.

The date of the half marathon is significant to me due to my training program.  I did not have a huge half marathon training focus in 2020 due to COVID-19.  I got miles in but never found my training pace because most races were cancelled due to COVID protocols.

Fast forward to 2021 and races are slowly coming back and the running tourist in me is excited to hit the road again.  I am looking forward to exploring new locations and testing myself against courses I have only read about or seen pictures.

So, what’s the problem you may ask?  Great question and thanks!  The problem is:  it is HOT down here!!! 😊

I will not get into the concept of climate change, global warming, etc. but this south Florida heat and humidity is impacting my training program.

I officially launched my half marathon training on 6/28/21.  This put me two months out from the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll half and should be plenty of time to get mentally and physically prepared to run.  I am getting my runs and bike rides in but struggle to extend my miles due to the heat and humidity in my current location.  My long runs top out at 7 miles because I want to be mindful of the impact the heat has while training. 

I get up earlier for my weekend runs but the temperature hits the mid-80s by 9 am and only goes up from there.  Not complaining because most of my runs on done close to the water so I can always stop and make it a beach outing when I am done with my runs.

I did not think the four-hour drive from Tallahassee to Fort Pierce would make much difference on my running program but there is a different level of heat down here.  Again, not complaining but stating a fact.  This is a fact I must come to grips with soon to keep preparing for future races.  I targeted several local 5ks to keep my competitive juices flowing but need these short races to get me race ready. 

I added more bike rides (gym and outside) to get more miles on my legs to build up the threshold needed to run and complete a half marathon.  This is a new approach for me but a safe way to extend my training without having to deal with the south Florida heat.

I recently added treadmill runs to my training program.  I am not a fan of running on a treadmill, but this equipment allows me to log miles and push myself to get ready for the actual process of running a half marathon.  My new training routine consists of morning miles on my regular route near the beach and then a treadmill session with equal miles.

The one treadmill trick I started using is to cover the time/distance/speed display.  Running on the treadmill is a mentally draining exercise for me and I believe it is because the display does not match what I THINK I’m accomplishing.  Simply put, it feels like I have run further than the display shows so I get frustrated with the process.  Covering the display allows me to forget about the distance and time and just put in the work.  I see multiple people who appear to enjoy their time on the treadmill, and I am amazed watching them.  I need to get over my treadmill DREAD and just put in the work. 

Looking forward to cooler weather so I can get back to longer outside runs again.  Did I mention it is hot in South Florida? 😊

“Don’t be a jogger.  They are the ones who find dead bodies”.

(RuntotheFinish)

Running into the Future—goal within reach

Run article

“Set goals and crush them”.

(www.tresfleeck.com)

Goals continue to be a big part of my Walk into the Future.  I sit down in January and write out my goals for the year.  I break these goals up into categories so I can track my completion progress.

My weekly physical fitness goals include weight training (2 days), run (3 days) and speed work on Wednesdays.  My overarching physical fitness goal is 1,000 training miles in 2021—this includes running and biking miles.

I set 1,000 training miles as a goal to push my training to a new level.  This mile marker also helps my motivation since there are not as many races to run in this COVID-19 world.  I am always looking for ways to maintain my running edge and adding more miles to my training program appears to be a good thing for me.

Happy to report I logged 615 miles so far in 2021.  I have not been consistent with my long runs but routinely get in three quality sessions each week. 

Tuesdays:  3 – 4 miles (after work)

Thursdays:  4 – 6 miles (after work)

Saturdays:  6 – 8 miles (morning runs)

My Tuesday and Thursday runs are done when I get off work, so I am not concerned about my run times during these sessions.  Working 9, 10, 11-hour days creates a mental drain, but I still make time to hit the road since this helps to recharge me physically and mentally.  Some days are a lot slower than others, but I smile because I am out doing something I love.  Never thought I would say that, but I would be lost without my running program—it just took me awhile to come to this conclusion.

My Saturday runs are not like my long training sessions when I had half marathons to train for.  I routinely crushed 10+ mile runs on Saturdays before my move to Fort Pierce but 8 is the longest distance I hit when running locally.  I have not found a route that allows me to enjoy the run while getting in longer distances.  I have searched multiple locations, but nothing is available like the St. Mark’s Trail or John Brown Park in Tallahassee:

The trail system in Tallahassee allowed me to push my mileage and extend my long runs up to 16 miles on multiple training sessions.  I plan to get back to the longer versions of my runs since I am looking forward to getting back to being a running tourist

I am scheduled to run the 2021 Rock n Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon in September.  I have never run this race or visited the city so looking forward to getting back to a starting line to test my conditioning against some world class athletes.  My goal for this race is to run another Personal Record (PR) and get under 2 hours for the distance.  I was on track to go under 2 hours before COVID-19 hit the world, but I am confident I am going to hit my goal.

My training for Virginia Beach will increase my speed towards the Orlando OUC Half Marathon in December.  This course is completely flat so it should provide a fast track to help me hit my goals.  This will truly springboard my runs into 2022 as I gear up for a full running season—8 or more half marathons.

A full marathon (26.2 miles) will make it on my goals list for 2022—there I said it so now it is out in the open.  Let’s see who is going to run it with me! Come on Laurens! 😊

What goals did you set for 2021?  How is your progress so far?

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible”.

(Tony Robbins)

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