Rock N Roll Dublin: The 5K

Greetings from Texas! We made it back from Dublin almost two weeks ago, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t trying to talk my husband into moving back just for the sake of the better summer temperatures. Seriously, does anyone know if Aer Lingus (or any other airlines with hubs in Ireland) are hiring?! 😉

Incredible weather notwithstanding, I couldn’t have asked for a better time in Dublin (if you want to see some pictures, check out my Instagram: @mallorycmorris). Then again, I’d argue it’s hard not to have a great time when there’s wonderful people, great food, and a beautiful city involved. But, since you probably didn’t come to this post to hear me gush about Dublin, let’s get down to the real point of this post.

13+ weeks ago, I laced up my running shoes and started training for the Rock N Roll Dublin Remix Challenge. And two weekends, ago, I saw the culmination of weeks of work in the early-morning hours of a Texas summer with a 5K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. Yup, that’s right, yours truly actually ran two races that weekend!

For anyone not familiar with the Rock N Roll Marathon Series, let me explain: in some of their locations, Rock N Roll stages what they call the Remix Challenge: a short race on Saturday (a 5K or 10K) and a long race on Sunday (a half and/or full marathon). In my experience, the short races on Saturday are a great way to let someone get a feel for Rock N Roll’s events without having to take the plunge and commit to a half or full marathon.

And no, you don’t have to run both races of a Remix Challenge. But, for the runners that do decide to run both races (and there’s more people who go this route than you’d think), there’s the bragging rights/added satisfaction of an additional race, extra race medals, etc. It might also prove that we’re a little bit crazier than the typical runner, but that’s a debate for another time! 😉

(The two of us over the River Liffey on our way to the race.)

I’ll be the first to admit that I love Remix Challenges because of the extra bling (race medals) and the bragging rights. But Dublin reminded me that I also love Remix Challenges because the short race is easy. Think about it: if I’ve put in the work to get ready for a thirteen-mile race, then taking the Saturday of race weekend to run 3.1 miles becomes a piece of cake. Provided I’ve done the work to get ready for the half on Sunday, I’m not worried about running a short race on Saturday.

(Pre-race crowd)

Unlike Sunday’s race, Saturday wasn’t about any specific time goal. There wasn’t the concern about pace, endurance, etc. that comes with running the longer races. Instead, Saturday was just about having fun and running for the sake of running. Under the right circumstances, the short races of a Remix Challenge remind of all the reasons I fell in love with running in the first place. In the end, not only was it fun, but I ended up finishing in 31:46! One of my running goals is to get my 5K time under 30 minutes. And while I obviously didn’t meet that goal, getting so close without worrying about it (or without actively trying to get it) was the perfect shot of encouragement as I continue on my running journey.

(And DONE!)

Back to the Grind!

You know I’m back like I never left (I never left)

Another sprint, another step (another step)

Another day, another breath (another breath)

Been chasing dreams, but I never slept (I never slept)

 

With Rock N Roll Dublin done, you may be wondering, “What’s next?”

 

Well, what’s next is the BMW Dallas Marathon in December, with a few shorter races along the way during the training schedule. As of today, it’s 16 weeks until race day, and that ever familiar cycle started over with a 30-minute run in the pre-dawn hours and Texas humidity. And yet, for the achy feet, cranky hamstring, and sluggish pace, this morning’s run still left me feeling like I could conquer the world and ready for the next round of training.

 

No two races are the same, so it stands to reason that no two training cycles are the same. The first run of training feels like flipping to a blank page in a new journal: I really don’t have a clue what’s coming over the course of the next few weeks. Do I have goals in mind? Sure. Are there things I want to learn or do better? Absolutely. But, when all is said and done, each training cycle is its own journey; all I can do is take it one day at a time, one mile at a time, and see what unfolds. I’ve had races where that blank training slate felt daunting and left me more than a little anxious. But this time? Bring. It. ON!

 

I feel glorious, glorious

Got a chance to start again

I was born for this, born for this

It’s who I am, how could I forget?

I made it through the darkest part of the night

And now I see the sunrise

Now I feel glorious, glorious

I feel glorious, glorious

–Glorious, Macklemore feat. Skylar Grey

 

PS For anyone that’s interested, I do plan on recapping my experience in Dublin. Working on that particular post (or two? I haven’t decided yet) has turned into one of those moments where all the words and thoughts in my head try to work their way out at the exact same time. So, bear with me while I work through pulling that story together.

 

PPS For anyone that enjoys running to music, check out this cover of Macklemore’s “Glorious” as performed by the cast of NBC’s (now cancelled…*sob*) show Rise. This song may or may not have been on repeat as I ran this morning. 😉

 

Here We Go!

Good Saturday morning!

I’ve got about 4 minutes until the Rock N Roll 5K starts!

That being said, with all the work that’s gone into this weekend’s races, all that matters is this:

See, I’m Smiling

Normally, this is the point in a training schedule where I start checking my Weather Channel app to get an idea of race-day conditions. At this point, checking the weather helps give me an idea of what to pack.

I realize there’s still 12 days for this to change, but let me tell you this forecast made my morning!

Note to Self

Dear Self,

 

Two weeks from today, if all goes according to plan, you’ll have finished the Rock N Roll Dublin Half Marathon. Two weeks from today you’ll get to see the results of 13 weeks of commitment, discipline, and hundreds of miles.

 

Because this is the point where your worry tends to kick into high gear, let me just say this: be present.

  • DO NOT view a bad run as an omen of failure on race day.
  • DO NOT obsess about the weather.
  • DO NOT let the rest of life derail your training schedule.

Be present. Focus on the moment in front of you, and do what you can in each of those moments as they come.

 

The rest will just have to take care of itself.

Summer Running

Aside from the summer I started, I’ve tended to dial back my running routine during the summer months. Since I live in Texas, I loathe walking across a parking lot to my car during the summer months much less run 4 days a week. As such, I’ve tended to focus on races in late fall or winter. It means race training doesn’t begin in earnest until the middle or end of August: just in time for the temperatures to gradually become more bearable.

Then my husband decided he wanted to run a marathon as part of our honeymoon. In August. So, in the name of an unconventional honeymoon adventure, I started training in the middle of May and have watched the thermometer rise as the miles added up each week. Needless to say, it’s been an interesting experience to put in race-level work during a Texas summer.

So, I thought I’d take a minute and share some of what it means to run during the summer.

  • Summer running means a hot, sweaty, glaring reminder that I’m a glutton for punishment. Granted, I’ve been this way my whole life. But there’s nothing like rising temperatures to realize the inner masochist is alive and well.
  • Summer running means the near-permanent addition of tan lines around my watch, wedding band, socks, etc. I also think there’s the beginning of a tan line on my nose from my sunglasses. And you should see my husband’s farmers’ tan; that’s impressive.
  • Summer running means SPF 50 is my friend if I run during daylight hours. Who doesn’t love the smell of Coppertone?
  • Speaking of daylight, summer running means a dogged determination to find all the shady patches of my route if I’m running during the day. Now, in Texas, the shade doesn’t always provide that much relief, but it’s still better than nothing.
  • Summer running means pre-dawn workouts are a great way to avoid the heat…even if it does mean more humidity. 4AM is my friend!
  • Summer running means I *might* know where all the water fountains in the nearby parks are located. 😉
  • Summer running means the Camelbak stays in my fridge to make sure I have cold water for long runs (because not all long runs take me through the parks).
  • Summer running means the realization that the freezing (and sub-freezing) temps and the need for 3 layers of clothes this past winter suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. Honestly, I *might* be looking forward to those kinds of conditions, again.
  • By the same token, though, summer running means gratitude for the fact that I only need one layer of clothes to go outside.
  • Summer running means relief that it should be at least 20 degrees cooler in Ireland next month.
  • Summer running means the chance to see nature in full bloom. Check out the picture below!
  • Summer running means love for the homes and businesses with sprinkler systems. Take what you can get, right?
  • Summer running means the chance to see what I can and can’t do in different weather conditions.

And, ultimately, summer running has meant a growing gratitude for the fact that–despite the heat, the humidity, the salt/sweat/sunscreen combo–I’m able to run in the first place. There may come a day when I’m no longer able to run, but this summer has reminded me that I’m nowhere near that point. This summer has reminded me that, for all the frustrations that come with the season, training this time of year has opened up a whole new set of reasons to be grateful.

So, this may not be my favorite time of year to run, but I’ll do it anyway because I can and because it’s worth it.

Worth the Read

Somewhere back in the spring, I’d heard that American marathon legend Deena Kastor had released a book. Ever the good bookworm, I made sure to add it to the ever-growing to-be-read list, and I finally started reading her memoir two weeks ago. When you’re deep in race training, reading about other runners is the perfect choice. 😉

 

This post won’t be a full-blown review, but I will recommend this book to runners and non-runners, alike. Kastor and Hamilton write in such a way that it feels like you’re sitting down and just listening to an old friend tell a story. It’s not bogged down with technical runner jargon, so it’s easy for non-runners to follow along. And as she tells her story, she also lays out the mental work that allowed her to become a champion runner.

 

It was definitely fascinating to read about the life of an American legend (and if you do a quick Google search of Kastor’s accomplishments, you’ll know “legend” is not an exaggeration). But Kastor’s book is more than just a listing of victories. The writing radiates with Kastor’s positivity, and as she progresses, her story provides helpful tips, insights, and encouragement along the way. And as is often the case, the lessons and encouragement Kastor provides hold true not only in running, but the rest of life, as well.

 

I was sad to reach the end of this book, last night, which means I’ll be reading this one, again, eventually. Kastor left me feeling like I could not only become a better runner, but a better person, as well, and for that, I am grateful.

Remember Why You Started

TheGoodVibeco

 

My training app reminded me that I’ve reached the halfway mark. I’m now 6 weeks out from the Rock N Roll Dublin Half Marathon. And while I’m feeling good, I have to admit that my pace isn’t what I’d hoped it be at this point.

 

So, before I slip into one of my perfectionist meltdowns and thinking there’s no way I can meet my time goal, I figured now’s a good time to stop and remember why I started training in the first place:

  1. My husband thought it would be cool to run a race as part of our honeymoon. Seriously. We’re building our trip to Ireland around running the Rock N Roll Dublin Half Marathon. I’ll be the first to admit this wasn’t my idea. But, when he suggested it, I couldn’t say no to it, either. It just seemed like the perfect “runner” thing to do. I’m sure there’s a couple of runners out there that have already done the same thing (and if so, I’d love to hear what you did/where you went), but I have to admit it’s kinda nice to do something a little off the beaten path for your honeymoon.
  2. Traveling to race makes for a much more interesting vacation. Honeymoon or not, I contend that running a locale is different. Running lets you experience locations, cities, and neighborhoods differently than just another walking tour or drive. So why not take the chance to experience another country that way?
  3. I want to beat my half marathon personal record (PR). I can’t lie and say that’s not a goal for this race. Heck, this has been the goal for every half marathon since I set my PR–2 hours, 27 minutes, and 32 seconds–in December, 2014. And if I’m honest, this is the goal that has me worrying the most.

 

And as I write this out, I’m reminded that there’s more to running than the time on the clock. Is the time goal important? Sure. Is it the only thing that matters here? No. When all else fails, the only thing I can do is run bravely, and let the rest take care of itself.

And Then She Rested

My normal rest day in this training schedule are on Sunday. But, today, my training schedule gave me another rest day. That’s right: TWO rest days in one week instead of the usual one! And for that, let us give thanks and praise!

 

Rest days are the best and hardest part of a runner’s schedule. It’s the one day of the week (pets willing) where I can sleep late. The running shoes can stay in the closet, and I don’t have to choose between weights, swimming, yoga, etc. as my cross-training session.  Most weeks, I meet rest days with jubilation.

 

So why are rest days hard? Because we all hit points in our running lives where we’re tempted by more. One more mile. One more weight session. One more trip to the pool. It’s so unbelievably easy to think, “what I’m doing now is great, but working one more day is always better, right?” And when there’s a big goal on the line (*cough* new personal record *cough*), that little voice whispering “one more workout” may as well be screaming through a megaphone.

 

In that moment where that voice screams through the megaphone, the best thing I can do is resist and rest. Because sometimes the last thing I need is more work. Because that extra workout doesn’t always help me get to my goal faster. Because, more often than I care to admit, doing more ends up giving me less than what I’d hoped and makes the work ahead that much harder. (Here’s a great article from Runner’s World that summarizes the benefits of rest days.)

 

And what’s true of running is—often—true of the rest of life (well, my life, anyway). How often do I find myself wanting to add one more item to the check list? One more challenge to take on? And for what? How easy is it for me to give in to the notion that if I just dig in and keep going without resting that everything will work itself out and I’ll have what I need? And how often does that approach leave me feeling exhausted, lacking, and struggling to function? The answer is “more times than I care to admit.” But, when I do take that time to scale back and rest, I come back feeling like I could conquer the world.

 

I get that we live in a culture (especially in America) that values being busy and all things “more.” I get that so much of our daily lives screams “more is better” at us through a megaphone from sunrise to sunset. And yet, I’m calling for all of us (myself included) to just rest every now and then. If you’re a runner, take the rest day; put down the running shoes and pick up a book. If you’re not a runner, but you’re just exhausted with your life in general, take the time to rest, too; step away from the to-do list and find something fun to do.

 

Let’s stop believing the lie that “more” always works. Let’s rest every now and then.

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