A Return to the Fiesta Bowl 5K & Half Marathon

Like just about everyone else, I have been incredibly busy getting ready for the holidays.  The kids are finishing up final exams this week and I’m still having a hard time getting any of the shopping wrapped up.  Last weekend I hosted a get-together at my house with my girlfriends and then on Saturday night we hosted 30+ from my husband’s company for their holiday party – at our house.  Throw in a 2-day gymnastics clinic on the other side of Phoenix, a basketball game for my daughter and a few other activities, we have been on the run!

I am noticing, however, a definite slide in my focus though and so I’m getting back to the basics – and that includes keeping up this blog.

So, I’ll recap my other big adventure from last weekend now, and then address my crappy eating, etc. in other post.

I may have mentioned that quite a few years ago I started to get into running.  I had always like the idea of being a runner – but pretty much sucked at it.  I did know that if I worked at it until I could run one mile, adding additional miles on was much easier, for some reason.  I learned this lesson in college, at least, and held on to the belief that it would still hold true for moms of three children of advancing age…  So, in 2008, I worked my way up from very very short interval running on a treadmill to a half mile, then a full mile, etc.  When I was at the half mile straight through point, I was contacted by a friend/co-worker of my husband’s who said he was starting out in running as well.  He was a cancer survivor, recently been given a clean bill of health by his doctor – but he was also told he wouldn’t be able to “run”.  Well, that pretty much made him want to run… So we trained together “virtually” in the early days of Facebook.  Posting our runs to each other so we could have mutual support.  Then he decided we needed a goal – and he suggested that we run the 5K of the Fiesta Bowl 5K & Half Marathon, which was a few months away.  I had done some 5K’s in college and loved them, so I was excited to take on training for this race.  And slowly I built up the endurance.  My daughter played volleyball in those years and practiced at a nice park in Scottsdale that had a great path that wound around the playground.  I still had little kids but they were old enough to manage on the playground while I ran and just kept my eye on them.  So, just a few days before the big race, I finished a 3.1 mile run in the park.  I was so proud – and so ready for race day.  My top speeds then were about a 14-15 minute mile.  I hoped to cross the finish line of the 5K in under 45:00, and I hoped that I could run the whole thing.

I loved picking up the race packet.  I loved getting my things together for the race.  I loved the excitement and the challenge.  I was scared but I was also ready to run.  Quite a few of my husband’s friends and co-workers either registered to run the race or came out to cheer

2008 me, at a pre-race get-together the night before our 5K.

2008 me, at a pre-race get-together the night before our 5K.

us on.  My husband brought our 3 kids out too.   I ran the whole thing – but it was really really hard.  I will never forget my high school friend, Eric, an ultra marathon runner but,

Heading into the finish line in 2008.  That giant cotton high-neck t-shirt makes me hot just looking at it.

Heading into the finish line in 2008. That giant cotton high-neck t-shirt makes me hot just looking at it.

back then merely (haha) a 26.2 marathon runner, had run from his house which was at least 4 miles away to catch up with me as I made the first big turn.  As I chugged along at my 15:00/mi pace, he freaking ran BACKWARDS and cheered me on.  I’m sure he could have walked faster, but it was really fun to have him out there!  I think my finish time was somewhere around 43:00.  My friend and training partner finished about a minute ahead of me.  The

This was my oldest, Sarah, in 2008.

This was my oldest, Sarah, in 2008.

kids were really proud of me.  They cheered me on as I crossed the finish line.  I came home and crashed.  So worn out.  It cracks me up now thinking about how I felt like I had just run a marathon or something – but it goes to show me that we are all at different places…even 2008 5K runner Martha.


So I gave myself like a WEEK to recover from that 5K … and then I caught a cold.  And that cold developed into bronchitis (and possibly pneumonia if I remember correctly).  I tried to get out on another run after I felt better but I had lost so much of my stamina I quickly got discouraged.  My running buddy did continue for quite a while though.  I basically let all of my progress go….and just stopped running.  I wonder what would have happened if I had kept going?  I probably would not have packed on another 40-50 pounds.  But, then again, my weight loss journey has led me to amazing people so I’m thinking that waiting for a “comeback” in 2013/2014 was all part of making my running experience that much more special…

Fast forward to last weekend:

IMG_0903As part of my Runner’s Den training group that I participated in this fall, we were given some pretty nice discounts for local races.  The half marathon that I ran last month was included in our registration fee and we could register for the Fiesta Bowl Half Marathon & 5K for only $20 – a great deal for a half.  I really had no intention of running a half marathon every month, but I also don’t like passing up free or great deals.  So, I signed upbib for the half marathon on Sunday.  At the time, I didn’t realize I was going to have such a full weekend but I should have just assumed that because mid-December is always nuts.  One of the biggest benefits of doing these smaller races frequently is that it is definitely helping me to not stress about the race distance any more.  Last month I realized that I could get through a half marathon, even if I wasn’t trained as well as I wanted.  I was probably in even worse shape heading into the race on Sunday but I was confident in my ability to finish.  I find that when the stress is gone, I can just enjoy the run – and I really did!  This particular race was very special though because I was returning to the spot where I left off in 2008.  But this time I was a faster, leaner, improved version of myself.  I remember at the 5K in 2008 being completely bewildered by the fact that people were actually running 13.1 miles at the same time.  Who on earth does that?!?  I loved that on Sunday it didn’t seem all the strange to me that, despite being on the go for days and days on end and hosting over 40 people in my house the past 2 days, that running 13.1 not only seemed doable, I jokingly told my husband it was probably going to be the “easiest” part of the weekend.

My go to pre-race breakfast - whole wheat english muffin, PB, banana and chocolate chips.  Doesn't seem to upset my tummy.

My go to pre-race breakfast – whole wheat english muffin, PB, banana and chocolate chips. Doesn’t seem to upset my tummy.

Anyway, I put on my headphones and, for the first time, I had quickly created a playlist of upbeat and fast songs just for this race.  I had a hard time finding a parking place but I knew the area well (this is close to where I grew up in downtown Scottsdale) and made my way to the starting line just as they were starting the race.  I also knew it didn’t really matter if I was a minute or two late – it was chip timed.  Again, race experience helps me to relax and not worry so much, making the whole thing more enjoyable.  We took off and headed north, then east, then north again.  We ran along Scottsdale Road which was nice – although half of the lanes were still open and the kinda foggy conditions in the early morning were keeping the car pollution a bit too close to us.  I know these streets well though so it was nice to have a good feel for what was coming up at each 1/2 mile, etc.  We turned and headed east again – the half mile course taking me right by the park I mentioned I trained at during volleyball practice.  That seemed so far from downtown Scottsdale, but on foot, not really that bad.  We turned onto Hayden Road and headed south, eventually joining up with the 5K route that I remembered.  I replayed that race in my head.

So, it all went pretty well for the first 7 miles.  I haven’t felt that good running in a while.  Unfortunately, for the 2nd time, all of a sudden I had a lot of pain in my left knee.  I jokingly thought in my head – I bet my Garmin says “7.5 miles” right now.  And, guess what, I was right.  Damn it!  I learned in the last race that taking a walk break does help this.  I didn’t really want to because I felt so good cardiovascular-ly.  This was the price I was going to pay for not doing enough long runs this past fall.  Now I get it.  Running a half marathon every month but not going longer distances the rest of the time is not helping my leg muscles get ready for this.  I just haven’t really had the time to set aside the hours it takes to run 7-12 miles on the weekends lately.  Well, I haven’t made that a priority.  Maybe I need to if I have 2 more half marathons on the schedule in 2015.  Anyway, it was really discouraging and it slowed me down tremendously.  I tried to run through the pain but a few times it was actually making me nauseous, so I walked again.  It wasn’t just my knee towards the end, it was pretty much all my muscles in both legs.  Clearly they were not ready.  I was happy that my breathing was up for the task.  I have been doing a lot of interval training and faster but shorter runs lately so maybe that has helped with that at least.  I finished the race at 2:41:10.  Faster than the 2:43 from last month but a full 11 minutes slower than my Rock n’ Roll Arizona last year.  I definitely have some work to do to get back to that time.  I’m not sure if I have time now, the race is one month from tomorrow.

fiesta bowl half results

I didn’t have anyone at the race with me this time.  Again, it would have been nice but my family is in just as much need of rest as I am.  Dragging them out of bed after having the party at our house the night before wasn’t necessary.  I was able to walk back to the car on my own – which was an improvement from my first half marathon.  I did have someone take a picture of me with my medal.

fiesta bowl half marathon_121414

I had submitted a form online through the Fiesta Bowl race website requesting an extra IMG_0912medal, if available, that I could send to Brennan.  I was really pleased that the race director, Chris, emailed me back almost immediately and said he would be happy for me to have one and to find him at the race to get it.  So, I wandered around a bit and found someone that could direct me to Chris, even walking me over to him to introduce me.  Chris remembered right away and sent one of the volunteers into the finishing chute to grab a medal for me.  I thought that was very nice.  I know they have extras, I just like that they were very cool about it all too.  They had race shirts on sale from last year in blue – one of Brennan’s favorite colors.  They didn’t seem to have a date on them so I decided to send one of those with the medal instead of trying to get this year’s shirt for him (which was fluorescent orange).  Brennan has earned some bling of his own this month too.  He is finally old enough to participate in the Special Olympics and has really enjoyed learning how to bowl.  He earned a bronze medal last week!

brennan bowling medal


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