Currently Wearing: Running Shoes

My training partners during college used to tease me because I was religious about replacing my running shoes. Every 4-5 months, no questions asked, even if the tread was still in tact, Katie would be getting new shoes. Ha. I think part of it stemmed from this fear of getting injured from running in old shoes, but if I’m honest, most of it was the allure of a fresh new pair of trainers.

blogpostshoes (1 of 1)

the porch outside of our apartment during college….lol not all were mine, but most were mine.

Still to this day I love browsing our local running store when I’m bored ha. I’m not quite as fanatic as I used to be, mostly because we’re on a pretty tight budget, but I still rotate my shoes between 3-4 pairs, and try to replace them after I put sufficient mileage on them. Needless to say, I have tried nearly every running shoe on the market, and friends often ask my opinion on which shoes they should get. Which brings me to my next point: which running shoes really are best? Ask any expert, and they will tell you, it totally depends on your training, your foot contact with the ground (ie pronation vs supination vs neutral), and ultimately how the shoe feels. I like to rotate between 3 different types: an everyday heavier trainer, a lightweight trainer, and a super lightweight racing flat. I thought it might help to break it down by what I’m currently wearing. Maybe this will help next time you’re in the market for a new pair!

Currently wearing: Saucony Triumph ISO 2blogpostshoes (3 of 5)Purpose: every day, well-cushioned trainer. This has been a phenomenal shoe that I’ve worn primarily for walking, easy miles, long runs, and also running up and down the street  w/ the baby monitor during nap time ha.

Similar shoe to this that I’ve tried and liked: Saucony Guide, Brooks Ghost, Brooks Glycerin, Hoka One One BondiPearl Izumi N3

Currently wearing: Saucony Triumph ISO 1 blogpostshoes (5 of 5)Purpose: this is the same shoe as above, but an older model . Love!

Currently wearing: Nike Pegasus+29blogpostshoes (1 of 5)Purpose: again, every day trainer. This is a super old model, but newer-to-me shoe. I had a gift card to a running store and found these on the sale rack in my size, so snagged them for free! They are a little narrower than I prefer, and a little lighter and more responsive than the Triumph, so I’ll wear them for tempos on occasion, as well as easy miles.

Similar shoe to this that I’ve tried and liked: Pearl Izumi N2, Hoka One One Clifton, Saucony Breakthru

Currently wearing: Saucony Kinvara 5Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPurpose: tempo, fast workout, lighter shoe with less stability. I wish I could get away with wearing this shoe for every run, because I love it that much. Just not enough cushion for everyday running in my opinion. Probably on my 7th pair of these! They don’t last as long as a more substantial shoe like the Triumph or Pegasus above, but they are so light, yet still supportive for longer runs. I replace these about every 200 miles.

Similar shoe to this that I’ve tried and liked: Brooks Launch, Pearl Izumi N2

Currently wearing: Pearl Izumi N0blogpostshoes (4 of 5)Purpose: uber lightweight, ideal racing flat. Straightforward with this one. This is a no frills racing flat with pretty much zero stability or cushion. I wear these in races from 1 mile to about 10k. For half marathons and longer, I’ll jump up to the Saucony Kinvara.

Similar shoe to this that I’ve tried and liked: Adidas adios boost

blogpostshoes (1 of 1) copy

Another 5 mile race in the books and learning you’re actually strong.

Well, guys. Fall is finally here. I never thought I’d be able to say that. I had doubts the heat would EVER leave, but like all the years prior, it comes and goes as promised. I know that sounds all poetic and mushy, but think about it. How amazing are the seasons? Every year we get to experience a re-birth of color, smell and temperature. I think if we took a vote, fall would win for everyone’s favorite season.

IMG_8447.JPG

aren’t we all excited for hot coffee again?!? PS: this recipe for these pancakes coming soon!

Despite wanting to talk about how great the cooler weather is and rave with everyone and their mother about pumpkin spice lattes, I’m going to live in the past for a few more posts (or at least until I catch up with race recaps).

Let’s go back a few weeks to the Memphis Road Race Series 5 mile.

LAWDDDD IT WAS HOT.

Dead of August and minimal course shade.

Let’s do this.

I was coming off a win and big PR at the Overton Park 5 mile classic a few weeks prior, so there’s always the pressure to better that time. Knowing Overton Park was half on trails, and this was all on road and less hilly, I thought surely I could grab another PR.

Since racing garmin-less, I’ve felt less expectation to hit a certain “time” or “pace”. My plan? Go for a win and be brave. Alright, here we go, I can try to do that! I don’t ever have a difficult time competing against those around me, but the tough part of this race came two days prior.

On Thursday before the race (race was on Sunday), I had a great workout with a training bud. Let me give you a little background info on my training plan. My coach will sometimes give me a “general” range of reps for intervals. For example, Thursday’s workout was “18-24x 8 seconds at 200meter pace with 1 minute rest between each”. Okay okay, I know what you’re thinking. 8 SECONDS?!? I promise, if you run these correctly, 8 seconds is difficult. My coach gives us a range because we need to be in tune with our bodies. If my legs are only able to give me 18 reps in a given day, I do not need to feel the pressure to run all 24. I really like this style. I know some people would always run the maximum given amount, but really, you have to listen. That day, I’ll be honest, I didn’t listen. This workout was tough. By the time we got to number 16 in this workout, my legs were screaming. I knew it would be a good day if I made it to 18. If I were running this by myself, I would have stopped at 18. Then there’s that competitive side of me again…shoot. Always sneaks in. Before I knew it we completed all 24, and I could barely jog home my legs were shaking so bad!

IMG_8347.JPGThe next day I was kicking myself for being stubborn, knowing I had a race in 2 days and I needed to recover! I took an ice bath, stretched, foam rolled, everything I could to try and recover. Well, the soreness was still present on race day. Stiff legs and far from poppy, but my coach advised me to still run it, and just treat it as a tempo. That completely took the pressure off, so I obliged and planned to still run.

IMG_8379.JPG

Also, what else was present on race day involves Mother Nature. Dang it! Despite feeling like everything was against me for this race, I took an ibuprofen for those Mother Nature cramps, and decided I’d still give it my all despite feeling sluggish and fat. (If you’re a woman you can understand).

Just as the name of the race implies, this is a series, meaning you’ll usually find the same people at each of the races. I didn’t sign up for the entire series, but I was fully aware there were some fast girls running all the races. When I got to the starting line, I made my way to the front, and noticed only one other girl lined up at the front. I figured that’s who I would be up against.

IMG_8922.JPG

Welllll, come to find out, homegirl ran division 1 track and cross country a few short years ago, and wellll, she went out with the 2 lead guys from the get-go. Shoot. I kept her in sight, and promised myself I’d try to reel her in after mile two.

The first few miles were relatively uneventful. I had no watch, and the miles weren’t marked, so I had to estimate where the 2 mile was by the water stations. I figured they probably put them every other mile, so when I came to the first stop, I guessed that was about mile 2. I kept division 1 homegirl in sight, and went to go catch her, but she must have had the same idea as me with the men in front of her, because she sped up, too.

IMG_8467.JPG

I grabbed a swig of water at the aid station, and I don’t know if I forgot to breath or what, but after grabbing that water, the infamous diaphragm side cramp came on. Shoooot. I knew it would be a long 3 miles, but I decided, “hey, I already have a million factors against me this race, what’s one more pain?” So, I dug deep and tried to keep homegirl within visible distance, although I could tell she was pulling away little by little.

Like I said, there weren’t any mile markers, or maybe I was too distracted by my legs being on fire and my side cramp coming through my rib-cage, but I had no idea how much distance we still had to cover before the finish. This was probably a good thing, to be honest. If I knew I still had half of the race left, I think mentally I would have given up then.

IMG_8464.JPG

It’s so amazing how our brains work. I swear I thought I still had at least 2 miles to go in this awful race, and then I hear someone say, “Mile 4! One mile to go!” WAIT ARE YOU SERIOUS?! I can hang on for another mile!

So I did.

I stayed with the pack of guys I ran with most of the race. As much as I wanted to pull away from them like I normally would try to do, I just couldn’t. I was giving everything I had to stick with them.

IMG_8462.JPGThe last little bit of the course winds around a huge park during which you can see the finish line the entire time. Can we all agree these are the WORST courses? Seriously, I was like, “Can I just cut across that baseball field and finish, pleassseeee?”

The finish chute is somewhat on an incline, so I pushed up the hill. My body hurt and I felt nowhere near a PR, but when I saw the finish-line clock, I was pleasantly surprised! 15 Second PR!
31:58. Barely got under 32! 6:23 average pace.

Not incredible, but we all know a new personal best is better than no personal best, and for what my body gave me that day, I can’t complain one bit. Hot weather, course with a million turns, stiff competition, and tired legs were what I had to work with, and I made it work. It wasn’t pretty, but I made it work.

IMG_6964.JPG

I learned that day you’re capable of probably more than you think you are. Not wearing a watch further solidified my previous thoughts that it can hold you back. If I had set a time goal or even a pace goal, I probably would have been super conservative for fear of not being able to get a PR with my tired legs. I’m glad I didn’t wear a watch, and I’m glad I was able to push through when it wasn’t my best day.

As for homegirl, she beat me by about 40 seconds, and I kept her in visible distance the entire time. I found out some of her other times from races, and she really is a phenomenal runner, so I’m pleased with being in relatively close proximity even! Ha!

Now, back to autumn. I am soooo glad the temperatures are no longer as hot as that race! Stay tuned for more race recaps from this summer! I’m slowly getting through them, and look forward to sharing more race days and insights I learn from this crazy journey.

IMG_8617.JPG

Winning the oldest foot race in Memphis and wedding photos!

Less than a week after the dreadful experience that was the Chicago Rock’n’Roll ½ Marathon, Jon and I got married! Wahoo! Honestly, it was the greatest week and weekend, so as you can imagine, the disappointment from the race quickly disappeared. We had a wedding to attend, and it was OURS!IMG_8373.JPGIMG_8497

Following our blissful wedding (No honeymoon; booo 😦 ) we were kind of jolted back into real life. Jon started classes two days later, and I was back at work the following Monday as well. Additionally, I had the attitude that if we had to be back in real life, why shouldn’t I keep training? Despite giving myself grace the week and few weeks after the wedding with training, I honestly didn’t miss a workout, and I think it was partly because with everything going on and all the changes, training was something consistent in my life full of so many new things. For example, when I had to talk to a million people at the rehearsal dinner with zero alone time (#introvertprobz), I actually wanted to wake up on my wedding day and do a workout. Beth joined me at the local track, and we pounded out a ladder workout at 3k pace. It was refreshing, and just what I needed. I am thankful she was willing to wake up. True friend right there.IMG_8498

Jumping right into training after the wedding had its perks, but like I said, I gave and I’m still giving myself wiggle room. In a perfect world I would wake up early before work (5am ish) and get the workout done. Lately, though, I find myself wanting to sleep in and relax with the hubz in the morning, drinking coffee, and talking about our plans for the day. Would I have a better workout if I woke up and got it done in the morning?  Probably.  But, spending this morning time together when we don’t have a lot of time at night is really valuable to me, and ultimately that life-long relationship is more important than getting a workout done in the morning. So there’s that.

IMG_8004As I give myself grace on getting morning workouts done and going to bed a little later than I prefer, I think it’s ironic I’ve actually had a really great last month of training and racing. And that’s what brings me to my post for today: winning the oldest footrace in Memphis.

This year was the 41st annual Overton park 5 miler. This race is known for being really tough and HOTT. It’s August in the South!

Following Rock’n’Roll Chicago, for good reason I believe, I decided to race without a watch for the first time in years.  For my running confidence, I needed to do this. I knew I was fit enough to run sub 1:30 at Chicago, and I decided to approach this race with a clean slate. It is known for being really hilly, half on trails and grass, and lots of turns. I had no idea what to expect, but I told myself I would dig deep and work hard and most importantly not start my watch or look at a race clock.

So that’s what I did, and following suit with the last few posts: this is the story of that morning.

The race started at 8am less than 2 miles from our apartment, so it was perfect to use that as a warm-up. When I arrived at the park, I realized how cool of a tradition this race is! 41 years is a long time! There were guys running this race for their 30th year in a row. I’m not even 30 years old. I felt humbled to be there.

Like I said, I knew this was a tough course. The director told me beforehand he re-did the course this year to make it as difficult as possible?!! OH GOOD! Ha. For some reason I wasn’t nervous, though. I knew it would be hard, but it would be hard for everyone. Everyone would have to run the same course as me. Solidarity.

I gave Jon a kiss before heading to the starting line, and before I knew it we were off!

IMG_7942Because I run almost daily in this park, I know it like the back of my hand. I know when there is a slight uphill or a downhill, and I know about how far points to points are. Like previous races, I promised I wouldn’t start “racing” until the half-way point. Within the first mile, I found myself in a group of men a little older than me, and I was first female. It made me giggle a little when two guys (obviously training partners/friends) were going back and forth about the “pace” we were holding.

“Okay, *Bob, you’re a little ambitious right now. We are a little ahead of pace!”

IMG_7988.JPGI obviously had no idea what pace we were at because remember I didn’t have my watch turned on!

It was a freeing moment 🙂 I felt strong, and for once I didn’t even care about the pace.

When I got to mile 2.5 (or what I presumed to be), I picked it up and started to “race” as I promised myself. I broke away from that pack of guys and really dialed into a hard effort.

Around mile 3, we hit the trails! With it being single track, I solely concentrated on not falling LOLL. (I very rarely run trails).

I passed my coach and a water station at mile 4, and with one mile to go, still having zero clue where I was pace wise, I felt strong and HAPPY! Can you tell? 😉

IMG_7947.JPGThe last mile seemed like eternity, and with it being an uphill, it was tough! I tried super hard to catch the guy in front of me, but couldn’t quite make it.

Regardless, I ended up 1st female overall, and when I crossed the finish line seeing the clock, boy was I pretty shocked. 32:14!

IMG_7979.JPGI did the math and realized I just ran 6:27 pace on a super tough course. I persevered and I finally felt confident about my training again after the disappointing Chicago experience.

We all have peaks and troughs in our training. That’s part of it. I’ve had a really good summer, but I know there absolutely has to be troughs and valleys in order to appreciate the peaks. This race was a peak, and I’m thankful for that. I don’t take days like this lightly; I know this is a gift I’ve been given for a short time, even if for a lifetime. Life is short.