Life is Going to Happen

Every time I have a big race (or even just a key workout) coming up, I plan to take extra time for rest and recovery.  I designate a time when I’m going to spend a few hours with my feet up on the couch or go to bed an hour earlier.  I might as well flash a neon sign that says “Now’s the time!  Bring me your illnesses, bedtime stalling, and meltdowns!  It’s time to fuss with each other or dirty a bunch of dishes.”  I’m surely guaranteed at least one of the above.  Maybe there will even be a minor emergency somewhere around the house.  

I don’t know if this is coincidence or if I’m just more aware of it because I’m anticipating the extra rest.  I enjoy my accomplishments as a runner, but I am certain I would benefit from more sleep.
 
But life doesn’t work that way.  
 
The first few times something came up I would get upset or stress over the lost rest time, but I was still able to run my race and survive.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that my plans as a runner come after being a wife and mother.  So if that means I miss out on some sleep two nights before a race because someone needs me, then so be it.  If my race taper finds me washing four loads of towels from a hot water heater accident, then that’s what I do.  Someday, maybe I’ll get the extra rest once the kids are grown.  Until then, I’ll just see what life brings me for the next big race.
 
 
Race Note:  I’m running my second marathon on Sunday in Oklahoma City.  I’m shooting for a new PR to post on my author’s bio page, and yes, last week I did wash and dry four loads of towels.
 
Happy Running! 
  
 

The Purpose of a Race

 

On Sunday I ran a half marathon in Dallas in place of my twelve-mile training run for the week.  I’m in the taper (backing off the mileage) phase of my marathon training plan, so this was a “short” run in comparison to past weeks.

 
As tempting as it could have been to try to set a new PR (personal record), I had a different purpose for this race.  
 
My purpose, other than receiving a shiny new medal with the added benefit of having traffic stop for me, was to pace myself for the marathon I’m running in less than two weeks.  This pace is about 45 seconds per mile slower than what I averaged in January when I ran my best half marathon.  I love to see how much faster I have become, so it was different for me to run this way.  Oh, and have I mentioned how much I love to compete against myself?  That could be an entire post on its own.  Even up to the start of the race, a friend and I were discussing our intended pace.  I briefly considered going faster than planned, but I knew that I had not fueled properly in the days prior, and my legs were still pretty tired from gardening the past week.  
 
I decided to stick to the purpose of running my marathon race pace, and I did okay until the last few miles.  Then I steadily increased the speed to the finish.  It was not an easy run by any means (at what point does 13.1 miles become easy), but I’m hoping this plan will increase my confidence for the marathon I’m running April 29th.
 
I also found a few unexpected positives along the way.  I spent more time enjoying the scenery, the smells of spring, and appreciating the spectators and volunteers.  I crossed the finish and was pleased with the result.  
 
When you plan a race, do you have a purpose beforehand – even if it’s just to have a good time?  It’s a good idea to know why you’re going to run.  You’ll know what you’re running for, and it will build your confidence when you achieve that purpose.   

A Tough Half and a Few Tips

The half marathon I ran at the end of March was labeled “Toughest Half in Texas.”  It was by far the toughest one I’ve ever run, but I was ready.  Even though I had been tired and felt overworked two weeks before the race, I made sure I cut back and rested the week before.  I went into Saturday’s race rested and prepared. 

In my history of running, I’ve made a few mistakes in race preparation, but it wasn’t until I started to focus on improving my time that I began to take a more proactive approach.  There were a few steps I took that helped me get ready, so when I crossed the finish line I was confident I gave my best effort.

1.  Fuel Up – It took me four half marathons to learn how to get enough carbohydrates during the race, and a friend told me I needed to increase my calories in the days before.  This is not the time to cut calories, and it’s something I struggled with.  Not the eating part.  I love to eat.  It’s the not worrying about weight gain part that I struggle with, but I followed my friend’s advice for the last three races I’ve completed.  The result:  a consistent amount of energy during the race, and a finish where I don’t feel like throwing up.

2.  Know the course – This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s an easy detail to overlook.  I was prepared for those Texas size hills at mile 5, because I reviewed the elevation chart on the race website.  I made sure in my training to hit hills around miles 5-10 so that my legs would be ready.  In earlier weeks of my training I studied hill training.  I came across this – “It’s a hill, get over it.”  This made me smile as I willed my legs up the steep hills.  I also trusted in my training.

3.  Train the way you want to race – I’ve had a tendency to run slower as I go longer.  In the last few months, I have changed my training to start slower and then steadily increase my pace.  This helps my legs get accustomed to running faster when tired.

I’m still learning a lot as I go along.  It’s taken me almost two years to get to this point.  My hope is that by sharing these simple tips, you can learn from my naivety and get more enjoyment from any run you complete.