Ten for Texas 2014: Why I was Stronger with a Run-Walk Strategy

Almost every year David and I somehow talk ourselves into signing up for the Ten for Texas 10-mile run.  I think we have signed up for the past 5 years, though not making it to the start due to travels one of the years.  Each year we say we won’t, but then one of us (most likely me) talks the other into it.  Maybe it’s the confirmation that we could pick up and run ten miles at any time during the year, or maybe it’s just our love of races in The Woodlands which always have outstanding support, but we find some excuse to do it.

This year I talked David and our friend Regina into running it.  I thought it would be a nice end-of-season fall race to look forward to.  Little did I know that a few weeks after we signed up that I’d have to take some time off of training for medical reasons.  The dermatologist found a suspicious mole that had to be removed and required me to stay inactive for a couple of weeks to help with healing.  It turned out not to be a big deal thankfully, but it really was tough for me to deal with two weeks of NO activity.  I was certain that I would be so out of shape after two weeks off, and I was not even sure if I would want to run this race.

Oddly enough, the two weeks off were not at all bad.  I made the switch from exercising my body to working on exercising my mind.  I worked on patience & gratitude, tried doing a meditation most mornings and evenings, and spent a lot of time going on neighborhood walks with David (which were explicitly not to be for exercise according to my doctor).  And you know what?  I didn’t die from lack of exercise.  I actually was very much at peace with myself and the process.  Of course I would have loved to exercise most days, but it also made me think about how I need to train my mind.  I wish I could say I was keeping up with my meditations today, but it has been a bit spotty since exercise was re-instated.  After two weeks off my lungs were a little more tired than usual and I felt I’d lost some muscle, but it wasn’t too tough to get back to where I was.

Anyway, I had one week prior to the ten-mile race to get my body back in action.  Marni provided me some great getting-back-to-it workouts with plenty of walk breaks as I got my legs working again.  By the end of the week, we talked race strategy and she suggested this plan for my race:  for the first 6 miles, I would run 5 minutes, then walk 10-20 seconds to help postpone fatigue.  At mile 6, I was to walk for 30-60 seconds.  Then for the last 4 miles, I could run up to one mile and walk 20-30 seconds in between, and if I was feeling good I could run those last 4 miles at a strong pace.

I decided I would think of this as a training run as was not sure what my paces would look like and did not want to set any expectations that would be disappointing.  The morning of the race, we carpooled with my friend Regina and met up with other friends Nia, Stephanie, Henry, Jamie and Toby at the race site.  I said bye to David and he headed closer to the start line with a faster pace group.  I was somewhere in between 8-9 minute mile pace groups.

The race started and I made it a point not too look at my pace too much.  I would just go by feel.  I took my walk breaks every 5 minutes and the 5 minutes went by SO fast.  I have never ran a race that flew by like it.  I just pulled over to the side at 5 minutes, took a 10-15 second walk and maybe a sip of nutrition (I had a flask with water and one with 2.5oz Infinit Napalm), then re-started.  Funny thing is, I had more people talking to me at this race than ever.  Many commenting on how I was slowly passing them with my method, others told me I was doing a great training run and wanted to know what was I training for?, and someone even asked if I was doing the Galloway method.  Nope, I was just coming back from some time off and was reducing the fatigue of running ten miles all at once.

The run continued and we got really lucky as the sky got dark over head bringing in a cold front, but no rain, so this kept my heart rate down.  Before I reached the half-way I saw David on the other side of the median and we got to should “Go David/Brittany!” to each other.  After I turned and passed the 10K mat, I realized I had ran a 50-minute 10K, and I wasn’t feeling bad at all.  I knew I could step it up for the last few miles.  I took my 30-second walk break at mile 6 and then it was time to negative split this run.  I let my legs go and as they were moving beneath me I felt so much gratitude for the ability to run and for my body to recover and stay strong.  I kept up with my short walk breaks each mile, and was really pushing hard the last few miles.  I ended up starting the race at an 8:45 and finishing with sub-7 minute miles for an average of 8:22 min/mi.  I finished 14/235 women in my AG, and tied my time from last year’s race of 1:23.  Last year I ran 8:20 throughout the whole race (and felt pretty terrible, though it was a bit warmer), and this year I managed my race, negative split, and got the same time overall.  I really thought I reduced fatigue and ran this smartly after being off a couple weeks.  I also did not feel like I was compromising anything and I was never counting down miles.  I was just very happy to run and was so proud of my effort.  I feel that I am a changed runner for the better.  Walking is not failure; it just postpones fatigue and helps me feel stronger.

David had a strong effort and almost tied his PR, but he said he wasn’t feeling as good as normal on this race.  He also placed 14th in his AG.

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I’ve been playing around with some free templates from Digital Project Life and Gimp, since I love documenting, journaling, etc. and above is the resulting race page.  It still needs some work, but considering it was my first time using Gimp, free fonts, and templates/layers I was happy with it.

Run Gear: Betty Designs Tri Kit // Garmin 910xt & HR monitor // Betty visor // Oakley Radar Sunglasses // CEP Compression Socks // Asics GT-2000 shoes

Run Nutrition: 2 wasa crackers with PB, honey & raisins for breakfast // 1/2 Hammer Gel before start // 1 flask with 2.5 oz Infinit Napalm (sips every half mile or less) // 1 flask of water in other hand // ice for cooling at aid stations

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A Year of the Betty

It’s no secret that I am a proud owner of a LOT of Betty Designs gear and part of the Betty Designs team.   Most of my gear has been purchased out of pocket since this is a brand that I just feel great in.   I have had such gratitude for being part of the Betty Designs team this past year and I hope to once again represent the brand next year.  I have loved spreading the message that badass is beautiful; the gear empowers me, and makes me feel confident and beautiful at the same time.  I want to keep sending this message to other women – you CAN have it all!  So now for a  recap of my “year of Betty”.

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My year started in November 2013 with off-season and a trip to Patagonia.  I didn’t do any swim, bike or run for two weeks, but I still had a lot of opportunities to bring some Betty for hiking and traveling.  I loved exploring on my two feet and seeing some of the most amazing landscapes on the planet.

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As much as I enjoyed the traveling and the offseason, winter rolled through and I was very busy building some strength and honing in on my swim/bike/run skills.  I had Ironman Texas on the horizon and my plan was not just to race, but to race strongly.  I did a ton of cold-weather training, and my fave piece this winter was my Betty Team Vest.  I had never had a cycling vest before and it was amazing.  The winters here in Houston are mild compared to most places, so it was the perfect cover for most chilly situations, but never too hot.

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In February my big highlight was traveling to Florida for TriMarni camp where I met some awesome friends and fellow Betty Kelsey Abbott.  I was so grateful to meet these strong, passionate (and FAST) women.  And if there is anyone that deserves a mention when talking about being a #badass endurance athlete that is beautiful inside and out it’s my coach Marni – check out her website if you haven’t.

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Speaking of strong women, I also can’t help but think of the amazing Diana Nyad.  Both an outstanding athlete and speaker; she was a true inspiration and ever so gracious.  So grateful for the opportunity to hear her speak earlier this year.

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Spring continued and I got into my focused ironman training.  Many mornings were spent in the pool, and many evenings were spent doing bike-run bricks on the local George-Bush park trail across from my office.

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As ironman got closer one of my best training memories included my solo century ride – done at the same time that David was doing a down-winder on his kiteboard.  I felt pretty empowered knowing that I could kick butt for 100-miles and finish it up with a 45-minute run!  Yes, I love being self sufficient.

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I was also very proud of my weekday 3-hour ride and numerous weekend bricks done on the IMTX bike course.  I kept my Betty bottles filled with Infinit and made full use of my Betty tri kit plus matching Oakley sunglasses in lava pink.

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Then it was time.  As much as I loved training, before I knew it, it was taper and then time to race.  My husband, in-laws and friends surprised me with T-shirts and posters in Betty-style.  They knew I would be psyched to see the bright pink (and I could easily pick them out of the crowd).

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Though I was pretty anxious and hardly slept the night before, I carried out my plan and executed just as I had trained.  I LOVED the swim, had fun on the bike, and broke through the mental difficulty of the run.  I really enjoyed all the camaraderie and chatting that the Betty team kit brought.  I had so many strangers commented on how they loved the design and wanted to know “what’s a Betty?”

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I also truly appreciated the support on the race course.  Fellow Bettys Leanne Redwine, Kristina Jensen, and Andree Micelli were racing, and Jen Rulon was cheering (easily visible with her signature Betty trucker hat).

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The online support from my Betty sistas was amazing too – I was just beaming inside to have them and many others cheering me on.

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What I a special day, and what pride I had wearing the Betty Team kit, and feeling that I looked #badass and beautiful despite the many hours of sweat, lake water, sunscreen and who knows what else.  I wore the kit the entire race and did not have to change.

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After ironman I took some time for recovery this summer and really enjoyed meeting other Houstonian Betty girls Leanne & Hilary for lunch and using my gear for doing some unstructured training such as mountain biking and long swims.

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This year I tried to be smart about my races and choose quantity over quality, as opposed to past years where I signed up for every race on the planet for FOMO (fear of missing out).  I wanted to be focused on the fewer races that I did enter.  My last tri of the season would be Towne Lake (full recap here).  This one would be special since David and a number of our friends would be racing with me.

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I also knew this would be a hard race because it was going to be HOT.  Why do I sign up for triathlons in Texas on Labor Day year after year?!

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Despite the heat, I raced smart – holding back on the bike just enough to chase down my competition on the run and win a spot on the podium for 2nd place in my age group.  I was glowing and could not think of a better way to end a stellar season.

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I also got to see Leanne at Town Lake and even more recently at this weekend’s 10 for Texas Ten Miler (recap to come soon).  This woman is my tri idol!  Believe it or not, she is a mother of THREE adorable girls, a successful business woman, and is a super fit and fast ironwoman and runner.  Truly inspiration.  This is one of the things I have loved about the Betty group; there are women of all ages, from all over the world that are all kicking butt at what they are passionate about, whether it is triathlon, running, paddleboarding, cyclocross or something equally amazing.  So many strong women, and  I am inspired to do more every time I see them post.

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I’ve been so very thankful to be part of this amazing team and I hope to continue to represent and show the world that you can feel beautiful, love your body and succeed in your fitness goals, whatever they are.  There is nothing more beautiful than being confident and loving yourself.

Most of my gear has been purchased online at bettydesigns.com – feel free to email me if you have any questions on sizing or want to find out more.

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