Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tulsa Run 15k

Last year Ty and I ran the Tulsa Run 15k for the first time. It's the largest race in the area and everyone always talks about it. When I first moved here and people heard I was a runner one of their first questions was always whether I'd run the Tulsa Run. I didn't really understand the hype and thought a 15k was an odd distance, but after running the race for a 2nd time, I have to agree I love it! The atmosphere of the race is amazing. Since it's so big you are always running with someone else and the crowd support is wonderful. There's only one section of the race that's a little quiet with no spectators around.  Last year mom ran the 5k and then Ty and I did the 15k. This year mom and dad both ran the 5k and then Thomas, Jeremy, and I all ran the 15k. Ty was signed up for the 15k but is still dealing with his ankle injury so he wasn't able to run. Going into last year's race I'd never run a 15k so I knew it would be a PR no matter what kind of race I had. This year I knew what I'd run last year but I also knew I wasn't in anywhere near the shape I was last year.
There's this big thing with the race where if you run in under 60 minutes as a male or under 70 as a female you get a mug. It's kind of like our local version of qualifying for Boston, it's a big deal to a lot of people to earn the mug. Since I got a mug last year, I really wanted to get one again this year. I felt like 7:30 pace should be doable but I was a little nervous about it because I hadn't had a strong race at all this fall. Then I saw a video showing off the mug and really desperately wanted to be under 70. It's one of those awesome color changing mugs that changes color when it gets warm. Last year I ran my 10k about 20 seconds per mile slower than my 5k and my 15k about 20 seconds per mile slower than my 10k. I ran my 10k at the Zoo Run this year in 7:09 pace. If the same were true, that would put my 15k pace around 7:29 which was too close for comfort. The 2 races I've run this fall have been the Zoo Run 10k and the Twilight Thriller 5k. Both races came less than a week after a 20-22 mile long run. I was hopeful that not having run a long run the weekend before the Tulsa Run would feel a bit like a taper to me and would result in a faster time.
Carter and Opa after Opa's race.
Mom and the kids got their faces painted in the kids' zone.
Due to my 5k time from the St. Patrick's Day 5k in the spring and the fact that I'm on the Runner's World Race Team, I qualified for an up front start in the race. I didn't realize that meant my bib would have Elite printed across it which I found a bit embarrassing considering the current shape I'm in. I didn't see the need to start up front so I just headed to the starting area with Jeremy and Thomas. It was pretty cold at the start, in the low 30's, and I have found I don't do well running in shorts below 40 degrees. I don't know what my deal is, but my legs just don't warm up and my race suffers, so I wore tights. I do better with my upper body so I just wore a long sleeved tech shirt. If I had arm warmers I probably would've gone that route. During my warm-up my feet were numb and my hands were freezing. Although it was above freezing, the wind chill was super cold! We took off at the start and my legs were feeling great. I knew the first mile would go out fast since it has a decent amount of downhill so I didn't worry too much about my pace, I just ran what felt sustainable. Jeremy ran with me a bit during this mile and we passed a lot of people. I saw a clock at the mile mark and intended to check what my watch split was so I could see how many seconds it had taken me to start. I missed my watch mile but went through it in 7:14. I was pleased with that and headed into the 2nd mile feeling pretty good as we started to get into the hills of the course.

When my watch beeped for mile 2 in 7:27, I felt a little bit nervous. I knew that should be one of my slower miles because it had a lot of incline in it, but I was still a little worried it was barely under 7:30. I kept repeating in my head, "23, 46, 69," which was where I wanted to be when I hit each 5k mark of the race. I went through mile 3 in 7:02. I intended to check my watch at the 5k mark but didn't look until about 3.2 miles. I was I was at 23:20 so I figured I had gone through the first 5k under 23 minutes as I'd hoped. The results show my 5k split was 22:40. At that point we ran out and back on a road and it was a little bit like a party getting to see everyone going by. I saw my teammates and some women I ran with last year when I was faster go by on their way back. When I made it to the turn around I saw Jeremy was not far behind me. I missed Thomas go by but heard him cheer for me. Then I started scanning the crowd looking for Ty before realizing he wasn't running and I wouldn't see him. I got a little bummed at that point and then I heard someone screaming my name, only to look over and see 3 women whose kids I had in class so that was a nice boost! I went through mile 4 in 7:11. I put a Gu in my pocket just in case I needed it but didn't end up eating it. I drank a scoop of protein mixed with water before the race and that was all I needed.

I went through mile 5 in 7:22 and knew we were coming up on a couple of flat miles. We would cross the bridge and that area of the race was where I passed quite a few runners last year. When we got to the bridge I looked up and saw I had plenty of runners to work toward. We were nearing the 10k mark and I was repeating, "23, 46, 69," over in my head again. I went through mile 6 in 7:08 and saw mats at the 10k mark out ahead. I went through the 10k in 45:13 and got so excited. I knew I was way under where I 'd hoped to be at that point. I also had gone through the 10k mark only 16 seconds slower than what I'd run at the Zoo Run 10k. I'd say not having a 20 miler on my legs made a difference! I passed a few runners through here and was catching up to a woman wearing a glittery skirt and I really wanted to catch her. There were other women between us who I'd already caught but I just had to pass her. My split for mile 7 was 7:09. As we crossed back over the river and I got closer to the last mile I started to dread hitting that mile. I remembered the last mile of the race last year being nearly all uphill and just dying. I tried to stay under 7:15 for that mile but faded to 7:23. I was worried about what the last mile would mean for my overall time. When I hit a mile and a half to go I felt much better knowing I could run 8 minute pace for the rest of the race and still come in under 70.

Mile 8 was 7:19 and then it was time to crest the hill. I passed the girl in the sparkly skirt at that point and took off up the hill. It was steep but not nearly as bad as what I was prepared for. My legs weren't as dead as they had been the previous year and I found myself thinking, "Oh, this isn't too bad." Then, "That was it?!" once I made it to the top. We got a little bit of a downhill after going up the hill and then it was back to a slight incline for the rest of the race. I was really pushing it the last mile, passing people and making ground on people in front of me. I went through mile 9 in 7:16 which was faster than what I ran that mile in last year! I could see a guy a bit ahead of me wearing a shirt that said, "Probably hungover," on the back and I really wanted to catch him. I felt like I was giving it everything I had but I just couldn't quite catch up to him. I ran the last portion of the race in 6:51 pace. I was surprised as I was finishing because I remembered finishing uphill the year before but I didn't feel like I was running uphill. It wasn't until after I finished and was walking down the street that I realized it had actually been uphill. I saw my teammates near the finish line and chatted with them while cheering Jeremy on. I walked with Jeremy after he finished and then we watched for Thomas. We got a picture together after the race with our medals and then headed through the finishing chute to get our food.

I was really proud of myself and what a smart race I had run. I started conservatively and sped up as the race went on, running each 5k faster than the last. My 5k splits were 22:40, 22:33, and 22:26. Last year my 1st 5k was my fastest and my last 5k was my slowest. It felt good to have run such a consistent race. This race was exactly what I needed to give me some confidence that I can get back where I was last fall again. I hadn't had a strong race where I felt good and finished strong since the Turkey Trot last November. Since that race I've had a string of poor performances and disappointing races. It was so nice to go out there and not only run faster than I expected but to feel good while doing it. My legs didn't feel tired or burn as I ran and I just enjoyed the race so much! I'm still riding the high of the race and am actually more proud of my performance this year than my race last year even though I ran over 2 minutes slower than last year. I think it's harder to go into a race and do well when you've had a bad season followed by some bad races than it is to go into a race when you are rocking a season with multiple PRs already in the books. Now I have faith that if I take the time to let my body heal and then get in some good training I can be back where I want to be next fall and hopefully even running some PRs!
Jeremy finishing the race.
Thomas finishing the race.
I finished the race in 1:07:39 which my Garmin showed was 7:14 pace. I did a better job of running the tangents this year as my Garmin showed I ran 9.36 miles compared to 9.38 miles last year! That put me 8th out of 268 in my age group, 34th out of 1,956 women, and 173rd out of 3,612 total runners. Jeremy finished in 1:09:42. He was 37th out of 182 in his age group and 205th overall. Thomas finished in 1:12:51. He was 38th out of 141 in his age group and 308th overall. Mom and dad enjoyed the 5k and hung out in the kids' area with Ty, Carter, and Elise during our race. I heard mom cheering for me as I ran down the finishing stretch. Dad finished the 5k in 25:12 which put him 4th out of 56 in his age group and 194th out of 2,130 overall. Mom finished in 34:55 which put her 12th out of 77 in her age group and 951 overall. Every cup of coffee and tea I've had since the race, I've drank out of my new mug!
The mug starts out black and then turns yellow once it warms up. This is it warming up. 
Here's the mug once it was all warmed up.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, definitely one to add to our schedule every year!

  2. Great race re-cap, and beautiful negative split! I remember your re-cap last year and how you thought the hill at the end was awful. Isn't it funny how something like that gets seared into your memory, and then you run it again and have a different experience? I'm so glad you had such a strong race and are feeling confident! Marathon training and the super long runs it entails really does help other race distances too; I think that's why you were able to go 5K farther at just barely slower than you ran your 10K in. My differential between 10K and half marathon pace is usually around 10 seconds/mile (and 5K and 10K is around 0!).

    Also, where's a picture of this awesome mug?!

    1. I'm sure the long runs helped and I did some 15 mile long runs on really hilly courses along with an 18 mile long run with the last 8 miles all up and down hills so I'm sure that helped make the hills at the end of this race seem easier.

      Oh yes, I need to add a picture of the mug!