I think it is safe to assume that if you say you are training for a 5k, people think you are either a newbie or coming back from an injury. After all isn’t running all about conquering the marathon, or is it the 100 miler these days?

In March I ditched my Boston marathon training  for the 5k. I just wasn’t feeling good on my long runs and I did not feel like I was progressing. It could be my new life at 6-7,200 feet or my heart was not into running so many 20 milers. My race, will be the 5k at the Senior Olympics, it is my first year, and before you scoff, the women’s 5k for 50-54 record time is 18:55 and the mens 16:27. How many of you have done that?

I took a 10k  plan that Vince Sherry at the Run SMART Project wrote for me a couple of years ago when I was running a strong 22:00 on the Van Cordlandt XC course in the Bronx and a solid 45:00 in the 10k in Central Park, changed up some times to match my heart rate training, and altitude affects, i.e. lower performance.

Why is 5k harder than marathon training? First off, every week is between 40 and 50 miles, there is no build up, then taper. Almost every week is the same.  There are two 10 or 11 miles runs and two track workouts, the 10 mile runs are the day after a track workout and I usually do them on the trail which means they are slow but much harder than the road.  Track workouts amount to an average of 6 miles of running, often times mile repeats, but a favorite of mine is 4 x 200, 200, 400 with equal recovery. On easy days it is 6 -7 miles. There are no recovery weeks and only one rest day. And guess what? I am freakin’ beat, sore and cranky.

Today was rough. I have a high hamstring strain on the left side, I’m tired because I do not refuel well, and I just want the race to come. It is hard to run hard for 12 weeks!I met Michelle and it should have been really fun, bring the dogs, cut the running in half because I was so sore, and hike up 5 trail miles,  then jog down, easy.  Along the way we  both agreed walking is way too hard. It takes too long, you get too hot and too tired. I brought Conrad and Homer who were also too hot. On the way down, Homer kept tripping me. He was tired and hot and stuck to my feet. The trail finally opened up to a very wide arroyo and we had just 2.5 miles left to run home when Homer clipped my left foot and went under my body, sending me to the ground with what felt like an arrow being shot into my left butt check. I felt searing pain as if  I ripped my left leg right off my body, and started to cry in pain and frustrations. I sat there, the dogs running around me wanting to know what happened. I got up, and  hobbled for the next half mile until I could straighten up. I felt really sad. We still had two miles to get home, where then Michelle got me some ice. It was a life saver on that 30 mile drive home.

I decided to thumb though my training books and read about “overreaching and overtraining” then I thought, “Hilary, you are an idiot, if you need to read what you are doing to yourself, you are obviously doing it.” Why is it hard to admit? Because none of the runs are long, 11 miles, the track workouts are fun, so how could it be overreaching? Well, not refueling properly, assuming it is not so hard and also adding 4-6 miles a day of dog walking, and the full 12 weeks without recovery is too much. I was running better at the end of March than I am now.  So, what to do? Grill up some salmon and spinach, eat up and watch a good movie from the sofa.  All with a block of ice stuck to my ass and the dogs piled on top of me. I still have 10 days to “recover.”

I spent the past two weekends in Albuquerque. I think every running who likes cities and loves running trails should visit there. The Bosque trail is the best urban /wilderness trail I have  run. We caught it just off Mountain Blvd, right in downtown and were immediately cloaked by trees, rivers, ditches, birds and jungle of reeds; it was fantastic.

I have been bitching and moaning about my quad for weeks, it is all very boring but Sunday was a real turn around in my joy of running. I went with my friend Hondo. We started out thinking we would make a 5 mile circle on the trail, Hondo would stop after 5 and I would make a second loop to 10. Instead, as soon as we got off the road and onto the trails winding around the Rio Grande banks, we just kept running and running. We had not planned on being long but before we know it, we ran 17 miles. I wore my HR monitor and kept saw afterwards my HR average was 72% which is rare. I often run way over that, even on what should be my aerobic run. This run further convinced me to keep long runs and easy runs at 70%. The run felt great, I was not tired, I didn’t hurt too much anyway. I had not planned on that run so I wore my Saucony Type A5 usually reserved for track running and racing, so my feet were a little sore from the rocky parts of the trail but not bad. When got back home to meet Laura who spent the morning pampering homeless animals and helping them  find homes.  Laura is  Hondo’s wife and one of my funnest friends, she and I met in 2006 hiking the CDT for Backpacker Magazine.  We went to bunch at Hannah & Nate’s in Corrales and thankfully timed it right to miss the church and mother’s day brunch crowd.

There are paved bike trails and an abundance of dirt trails on the Bosque. You can check out the maps here. I want to run the there everyday!  I want to live in Albuquerque, wilderness trail running followed by delicious food, great coffee and all things weird. It is a weird city caught in some strange 1970’s time warp and I like it, so do my legs and my dogs. When the dogs are happy I am happy.

I have eight weeks before my target 5k race and I am within 3 pounds of racing weight. I say that  tongue-in-cheek, because while I am at a nice 114, I lost three pounds over the weekend with the flu. It was a total melt down, and most likely it  was not the flu but food poisoning that I did to myself.  That is one way to slim down fast,  NOT recommended.

Today is the first day I ran in 5 days, I did a  3.5 mile jog around the trails, my stomach not feeling great but okay.  I feel about 70%. What is letting me know I am not too well is my lack of desire to eat yet and rather just drink Emergen-C and Alka-Seltzer. That stuff is pretty great.  (and my extreme crankiness) I never take anything, no aspirin, nothing, but when I gave in to Alka-Seltzer it was awesome. I was staying at my friend’s, Laura and Hondo’s home in Albuquerque (and I cannot imagine a better place to be while sick, plus I really dig ABQ) and after trying their Alka-Seltzer I had to buy some. I know it sounds simple, but I never buy pain relievers. I prefer to feel the pain from training errors, rather than mask it and damage myself more.

Training was going great before I got sick. I saw Dr. Damien Passalacqua, chiropractor because all the PT was not helping my weird right leg and oh boy, did I feel good. I did a track workout on Tuesday, 6 total miles with warm-up and cool-down, of 400’s in 1:40 or 6:42 pace. I have not been able to do anything under 7:10 pace  without my leg flaring up. But this was a piece of cake, it was as if I was running a 9:00 pace. It felt so good, finally. But then I got sick and I am a little set back, but nothing to worry about for the race.

Finally it is Boston Marathon Day, my favorite day of the year. While I did not run this year, I cancelled entry, I was thrilled to see Kenyan born, Santa Fe, New Mexico based Carolina Rotich win today. That is the NM pride in me. I would have also really loved to see Desiree Linden win, Desi is always my number one pick! But that smile on Carolina’s face could not be beat.

Michelle Holland and Hilary Lorenz on the road to Chimayo

Michelle Holland and Hilary Lorenz on the road to Chimayo

Right now I am having the most fun running I have had in a long time. Despite my continued right leg burning muscle shut down on uphills that I have been dealing with for three years, training has been great! I think this is the first time that I have had a training partner my own age, my own ability, training for similar races and able to run 3+ times a week together on road, trail and track.

One thing I always wanted to see, or do, in New Mexico is the pilgrimage to Chimayo. Considered one of the top 10 Catholic (of which I am not) holiest places in the word, over 12,000 people walk to the church, the Sanctario, on Good Friday. It turned out Michelle, who has lived in Chimayo for about 15 years always wanted to run it, but never had anyone to do it with. So this year, my first full year in NM, she and I ran. People walk from over 100 miles away, some dragging enormous crosses, many with commemorative t-shirts.  And while it seems that it would be a  somber event, come on, Jesus was crucified, people were really friendly, joked, and then ate Fritto pie and roasted corn at the church. We ran 13 miles, went home and ate almond butter and banana on gluten free toast. It was delicious.

We continue to go to the Pojoaque track to do workouts. Yesterday was 6 x 3:00 at 7:00 pace with 2:00 recovery. I still find it hard. My  HR, that was at the lower end of tempo, I was 20 beats below my max, but every time I get to 7:00 pace, around 165HR, my leg goes wild and shuts down about 2:00 into it.  We cut back a bit, but it did not help starting at a 6:30 pace. It can be hard dialing that pace in on the track. We ended with 7:15 average and at 6,600 ft, I will take that in a heartbeat! Nine more weeks to the Roswell Senior Olympics!


Hilary and her new burro friends

The week is over and I am now qualified for the 200, 400, 800, 1500 and 5k races at the Senior Olympics in Roswell. I am happy the formalities are over, I feel pretty tired. I did not taper or cut any hard workouts prior to the 5k run. It was slow, but even. I just have to accept, for now, that my 5k times above 6500 ft are alway 2-2.5 minutes slower than sea level. That is a lot!

After looking at my 400 time (1:24) and my mile time (6:58 while running easy-not racing but effortful) that speed is not an issue. I would be happy to run my 5k at 7:00 pace. At sea level my 5k is about 7:05 on hilly cross country courses. But on Saturday my pace was, 7:56, 8:04, 8:00 and 7:25 for the last .1. I could not run faster. My leg was acting up as well, my quad freezing up which hurts like mad, but it was all I had. Then today, Sunday, my new friend Michelle and I ran 8 miles. I thought, “oh this will be nice” but holy cow it was HARD. It was a 4 mile out and back, with 1,000 ft of elevation gain in the first 4 miles, plus it was super soft sand. I was dying. But here is the thing. My HR was low, 145, my breathing hardly noticeable, but I still had to have several walk breaks on the way up. I was so happy once we finished, it took 1:45 to run 8 miles! So what’s up?

I consulted Heart Rate Training by Roy Benson (my former coach) and Declan Connolly and got an answer. page 35….”You go out for a run, you perceive the effort as pretty hard, you check your HR for validation expecting your HR to be high, but it is surprisingly low and your pace is slow.” Problem? Have not properly recovered from previous runs or worst, you are starting to become overtrained. Well I know my problem, not recovering properly = not eating. After racing on Saturday, then running some recovery miles I ate huevos ranchero, then never ate again that day. Running takes away my appetite and unless I plan and bring food to stuff in my mouth after a run, I may not eat for hours. This is a consistent problem that I often overlook, especially when I am trying to lower my body fat %.

So my plan. I have 10 weeks before state games.  1. Always have a good variety of food in the house. 2. Take banana or other high quality carb with me to eat post run. 3. If I am too lazy to eat, get some Endurox R4, it is great recovery drink. 4. Two race pace workouts a week, intervals and stamina runs. And lastly to just have fun! Today, post run, I had fun with my two new burro friends seen at the top.

On Good Friday, Michelle and I will run to the El Santuario de Chimayo.El Santuario receives almost 300,000 visitors per year and has been called ” the most important Catholic pilgrimage center in the United States. During holy week the road is jammed packed with pilgrims, entire families will be making the walk from far away places. We will probably run about 10 miles not the 200, 300, 400 mile walks that the deeply devoted make.  I have never been there during holy week and I am not religious, but I think it will be extraordinary.

Michelle Holland, Hilary Lorenz and JJoseph Martinez, Rio Arriba County Recreation Director

Runners Michelle Holland and Hilary Lorenz with Joseph Martinez, Rio Arriba County Recreation Director photo by Ginger Legato

March 21st and 22nd was the qualifying games for Rio Arriba County, New Mexico Senior Olympics and wow was it fun. Normally I am excited to age into a new  racing category, but I was not so fond of 50 until I joined the games. You can see  my last post on how it  transpired.

The above photo is of Michelle Holland who won the 10K at the local, state, and national games, setting a record in that placed her in the top 10 best times in the nation. Local qualifying is easy because there are few people in the 50-60 AG,  fewer runners overall and most of them are men. We ran, but there was no need to kill ourselves racing it out. Many of our distances were combined. We ran a 400 (1:24) but they also clocked us at 200 meters to get a qualify time, if we want to race it at state. We ran the mile, pretty easy pace, 7:00, and they clocked our 800. Next weekend we will run the 5k. After that we have 11 weeks to get in shape for state. With 11 weeks of training and dropping almost 4,000 feet of elevation, I plan to breeze in on a 6:00 mile or better.

Hilary Lorenz during 400m

Hilary Lorenz during 400m photo by Ginger Legato

The best part of the day was cheering for and timing the other athletes. A total of 82  participated, and most will go to state. I would guess the majority of people I met were between 75 and 87, with the oldest athlete  97, and they are kicked ass. Let’s face it, aging is scary because the majority of people don’t give a shit, are lazy and they let themselves fall apart. Most people around us, and many of our family members, do not exercise, have heart conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, and are obese. What a terrible role model for aging, of course it looks scary, and it is completely unnecessary! Yes, some of these athletes are over weight and have heart conditions but it does not stop them. I watched an 80-year-old man kick ass, and I do mean kick ass, on the 100 meter run. He  won state previously and is going to nationals. After I congratulated him, while admiring his perfect posture and quick cadence, he puts on a big grin and says, “and I have a pacemaker.” He was not about to let his pacemaker get in the way of being super fit and compete hard. Another athlete running the 800 has a leaky mitral valve and atrial fibrillation, but so what? Is he suppose to sit on the sofa and “take it easy” until he dies? How horrible! No, he ran and then he biked 40K. People do not need to be  agile to compete, there are tons of sports to choose from. There is  an estimated pace 400 and 800. In this race, you estimate how long it will take you to walk the 400 or 800. You then walk it and whoever is closest to their estimated time without going over wins. So the woman who walked the distance a cane,and got teased for having a performance aid, may be a slower than a sure-footed walker but could win the race.

I am so proud to represent Rio Arriba County in the State Games at Roswell in June. I plan to run the 400, 800, 1500 and 5k. I am also very proud to be on the  Dashing Whippets Racing Team and of course I had to wear that shirt for inspiration, I am guessing it was the first of the Whippets runners to go in the Senior Olympics,  and my Front Runners New York sports bra underneath for that support. (no pun intended).  And as I said in my last post, my goal is to represent Rio Arriba in the Senior Olympics for the next 50 years and win several  national level races.  I have come of a new age and I am excited! Fifty is going to be all right.


A month ago a friend was helping fund raise to send senior athletes from Taos country to the State Senior Olympic Games in Roswell. (yes the place of all the UFOs!). I  donated artwork to help raise money for the qualified athletes get to the games. Two days later I came home to an official looking form held down by a rock at my front door. It was an entry into the Senior Olympics. Wooaaaahhhhh, Senior Olympics, you must have gotten the wrong house.

Well my friends Senior Olympics start at age 50. Yes, 50, that scares and freaks the crap out of me. But two encounters about the games in a week from two very different people, hell, why not listen. There was a phone number on the paper, I called and talked to Carol, an extremely exuberant women (a friend of a friend of a friend) who said, “Hilary, you have to sign up immediately, the forms are due now drive it to the city office building today”, a 45 mile round trip. I did. I met he head of recreation for the county and he too was wildly enthusiastic. He said they have 2 workouts a week, the county fully supports the program. They will bus us to Roswell for the State Games and there was a meeting on Sunday about the regional qualifiers.  Okay, I signed up for the 800, 1500, and 5k. I may do the 10k.  I have the opportunity to learn and practice a bunch of other stuff; shotput, javelin, airgun, high jump, long jump. But I would probably hurt myself and not be able to run.

At Sunday’s meeting I met the other runners,  it was all men. But they told me I must contact Michelle. She is one of their stars. She is 6  or 7 years older than me but ran a 44:51 10K in the 50-54 AG at State.  My best 10k is 45:48. and that 44:51 is the state record. I feel a challenge coming on. ( it is still at a higher elevation race which will slow me down) I checked the National Records for the 5k. I have always wanted to run a fast 5k, but I have not done training specific for that. The National record is 18:55, I will never see that. But I can get to the top 10, the slowest is 21:20. National Games are not until 2017, qualify in 2016. I will also represent NM.

After slogging around the last three months trying to make my long runs, it was not happening, and I am not running Boston this year. On  Friday I got in my first track workout in over 8 months, 10 x 200 with 200 rest, Saturday 5 miles EZ, Saturday, Sunday 1.67 mile warm-up followed by 2:00 fast, 1:00 slow to very slow x 9. This was done on rolling, mostly uphill roads at 6200 ft. I woke up today, excited to do another  run. I am excited to run again. I want to run short and fast. I want to race. Friday I am running with Michelle. We will coordinate our training for state. I want to see UFOs.

Senior Olympics? Bring it on! My next chapter in life, compete for 50 freakin’ years! That is my next life goal.

That is me on the left, I took great pride in beating the two lovely ladies with the really nice bellies on the right. They too could be at the senior Olympics! I want to feel that rush of running short and hard again. And I will. And I will be back in NYC for the 5th Avenue Mile 2015, sub 6:00.

Fifth Avenue Mile

Fifth Avenue Mile

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