Chunky Monkey

It took me just a few days to come off of my race high from the Houston Marathon and land smack down in a deep pool of degradation. After tapering for one marathon I didn’t get to run (Dallas) and overdoing the Christmas goodies in the month of December, the wheels came off of my nutrition plan for the most of January. With another taper and a carbo-load for Houston, I was sick of eating refined grains (bagels) and processed foods (s’mores for the kids). I have not been able to fit into my good jeans since before Christmas, so I decided that Tuesday would be the day to cut the sugar (added and artificial). I have a friend on day 12 of a sugar detox so I know it can be done, but I have several races coming up this month and I know I need the energy. I just wanted to take a few days to get the cravings out of my system and clean up my habits. This would mean no Diet Coke either which is a huge deal for me. I have been trying to quit drinking Diet Coke for a while, but I eventually cave.

A few days ago, I started jokingly calling myself chunky monkey. I even said this to my husband a few times to intensify my efforts. He always tells me to quit it. I tend to go through times where I’m so hard on myself. I can be disciplined during the day until late afternoon when I lose self-control for the rest of the night. I could go to bed an hour earlier and save about 300 calories a day. Then I berate myself about my weakness. This past week I was even tougher on myself because I was trying to recover (i.e. little to no running)and I was hungry all the time. It didn’t help for me to watch me cross the finish line video and see my race photos. I am my worst critic.

Today we had beautiful spring like temperatures and I headed out for my longest run of the week. I was running in shorts, not weighted down by my handheld or Gu, and I felt light on my feet.

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One of my favorite things about running is that it clears my head and helps me think straight. It hit me that I had not taken the time to truly revel in my best marathon. I am now running faster than I ever have in my life, and so what if I have a few extra pounds from Christmas. It obviously didn’t affect my pace. So why was I continually putting myself down over a few pounds? I can’t take it off in a day, and overall my eating is healthier than even a year ago. Yes, I have big goals and nutrition is an important part of that, but if I can be disciplined enough to get up at 4:30 on a weekday morning to go run, surely I can overcome an evening snack fest.

So here are the positives I’m focusing on in an effort to lift myself up:

  • I went without a Diet Coke from Tuesday-Friday. I did reward myself over the weekend.
  • I had little to no added or artificial sugars on Tuesday and Wednesday, and only on one meal Thursday evening. I can’t pass up a date night with my husband.
  • My teenage daughter asked me to run with her Wednesday evening. Even with sore legs, I was not going to turn her down. We ran a mile together.
  • I have had enough rest this week that my passion for running is even stronger. I’m looking forward to the races I have scheduled in the next couple of months.

I’m running the Texas Half next week to kick off my February races. This month will be a whirlwind, but I’m going to do my best to keep progress/updates coming on a regular basis.

Have a great week!

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2014 Houston Marathon

Yesterday I ran my first Houston Marathon. It was my sixth marathon overall and I couldn’t have asked for a better race. The whole weekend was a blast, and I love writing a positive race report.

We headed to Houston Saturday morning after dropping our two youngest kids with my parents. At ages 8 and 10, they’re not quite ready to hang out for several hours waiting on me. This was the first time that both teenagers went and I enjoyed having my crew there. We finally made it to the expo a little before 1:00 – just in time for me to get my packet and jump in line to meet Meb.

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All the stories are true. He is a standup super nice guy. I also found my way onto this photo on twitter:

Thumbs Up!

Thumbs Up!

 

We didn’t spend a whole lot of other time at the expo, because I was ready to check in to the hotel. I like to eat an early dinner and laze around the hotel room in the evening before a marathon. Of course, I’ve only traveled for two others (Oklahoma City in 2012 and 2013).

Race day started early. My kids didn’t think we were serious when we told them when we’d get up, but they learned quick that dad doesn’t mess around getting me to race sites early. We’d rather beat the traffic – and the stress – by getting there early and parking close. My legs appreciate that after a race. The forecast looked good. It was damp early on but by the time the race started it was just chilly. I stayed warm in the corral with a heat sheet I saved from a previous marathon.

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My taper over the past week had been messing with my mind. My good jeans didn’t fit and my nutrition has been out of whack since the beginning of January. When I tapered (and partially carboloaded) for a race I didn’t get to run (Dallas), I kind of got off track. I can’t really explain how I felt before the race except that I wasn’t nervous. All I could control was to follow my race plan: with my Garmin on the pace screen I would work 5 miles at a time. The plan was miles 1-5 at 9:20-9:25 pace, miles 6-10 at 9:15, 11-15 at 9:09 and holding on through 20. Then I was to let loose with all I had left. I knew this plan wouldn’t put me at 4 hours, but I could at least break 4:10 and get close.

And that’s what I did.

I took the advice of a friend who told me, “You’re going to feel like flying in the beginning. Don’t.”

It was flat. I wanted to go faster. I periodically checked my pace. 9:20. Okay, don’t go any faster. I held back and at mile 5, I was averaging close to 9:20. Right on target. For the next 5, my pace was consistent and I was still holding back. After months of training in my hilly neighborhood, my legs kept waiting on the road to move – up or down. I bumped up my pace at mile 11 and hit the halfway mark at 2:00:28. If I could just hang on to my pace, I knew I could break 4 hours. I also knew not to get too cocky. It was more than just running another 13 miles.

The alert level signs along the course flashed “Level Green – Optimal Conditions – Run as Planned.” So I did.

I had a few fast miles between miles 11-20 when I was running under 9:00 per mile. I still felt great. My fueling strategy was working like a charm. Gu gel every 4.5 miles and Kona Cola Nuun in my handheld. The only time I walked was through a couple of water stops to refill my bottle. My legs were feeling really strong and welcomed the hill (bridge) at mile 12. There were a few other ups and downs after that too.

Mile 21 did a number on my legs and I started to lose my 9:00 pace. I decided to keep my Garmin on total pace for the last 10k. I was having a pep talk with my brain. “Don’t do anything that will make you feel like you didn’t give it all you had.” “Don’t you dare slow down now. You will nail your goal!” Instead of talking myself down from my goal as I have in the past, I was my best cheerleader. “You’ve got this!” “Your PR is in the bag.” “4 hours baby!” I was running with my ambition. My legs were churning as much as I could will them to go. I could feel the heat getting to me somewhere in the last four miles so I dumped a cup of water over my head and continued to push.  I crossed the finish with a smile.

Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/mile miles/h
5K 07:33:41AM 00:29:03 29:03 09:21 6.42
10K 08:02:32AM 00:57:55 28:52 09:18 6.46
15K 08:30:41AM 01:26:03 28:08 09:04 6.63
HALF 09:05:05AM 02:00:28 34:25 09:05 6.61
25K 09:27:04AM 02:22:27 21:59 09:04 6.62
30K 09:55:27AM 02:50:49 28:22 09:08 6.57
35K 10:24:06AM 03:19:29 28:40 09:14 6.51
40K 10:53:42AM 03:49:04 29:35 09:32 6.30
Finish Net 11:06:40AM 04:02:03 12:59 09:31 6.31

Obviously the last 5k was a struggle but I’ll take it. I knocked 20 minutes off of my PR from last February!

Feeling great and smiling!

Feeling great and smiling!

This race is a must do for me next year. I loved having so many runners still around me after the half marathon split off at mile 8. I was never running alone and to me that’s a big deal. The volunteers were great, the spectators were wonderful, and the energy level was high. I nailed my goals that I initially set for the Dallas Marathon and I feel great – although the stairs at home are giving me a little trouble right now.

How do you feel after a race when everything goes right?

Stupidity Trumps Mileage

Ever have those times when you’re moving along toward a goal and you question your sanity? You start to question if the pursuit is worth it. You wonder – briefly – if anyone else would understand what is driving you to reach this goal. Then you come to the realization that maybe you’re not insane, you’re just being stupid.

In my last post, I contemplated working toward my mileage goal for 2013. I can report that I nailed it exactly, but it came with a price.

The disappointment of training (and tapering) for a marathon I didn’t get to run, bundled with the major ice storm drove my need to accomplish one of my big goals for the year. I reasoned that I was “too close not to” run toward my goal of 2000 miles for the year. While most people struggle to find time to run during the holidays, I feel blessed that I don’t have to run at 4:xx to get home before it’s time to get kids ready for school. I was able to sleep in until 6 most mornings and still log high miles. But with the addition of more double run days, running crept into family time more than I wanted it to.

By Monday the 30th, I was reminded of the importance of knowing how your body responds in different situations. The higher mileage took its toll on me. The week before, I managed with foam rolling and extra rest. When it came down to the last three days, I was just trudging through the miles. I ran back to back (14 mile) long runs paying little attention to nutrition. I was filling my body with sugar laden holiday treats because I was burning so many calories. I was hungry, but I wasn’t fueling properly. On Monday evening I was running a fever, but by Tuesday morning I felt okay. I reasoned that if I just went slow…

My last run of the year was slow and mentally painful. I took inside water breaks every two miles. I no longer wanted to run. I didn’t feel good at the end of the run. I hit my goal – whoohoo – but I didn’t care anymore. I lost joy by checking off the miles.

IMG_4269 New Year’s Day I couldn’t have gone for a run if I wanted to. I woke up sick and barely left the couch or my bed all day. I couldn’t handle solid food and went the whole day without any Diet Coke. Gasp!

It took me three whole days to get my energy back up for a run. The desire to lace up wasn’t there either. Saturday morning I slept in, but I finally headed out the door for a medium length run. I needed my routine back.  My first run of the year was not long or fast, but I felt great when I finished. The joy was back.

First run of 2014

First run of 2014

I finished my long run on Sunday, in the cold and wind. What a difference a week makes! I did come to the conclusion that perhaps I should invest in full length pants. My Nike capris are the warmest tights I have. Any suggestions? My confidence is back along with my joy of running. I’m feeling good about Houston on the 19th.

Starting temps for my long run. Brrr! Windy.

Starting temps for my long run. Brrr! Windy.

 

12 miles at race pace

12 miles at race pace

 

No fashion awards for me!

No fashion awards for me!

I did not set a mileage goal for this year. In fact, I really have one main goal for 2014 at this point. I’m going to run a 4:00:00 marathon. If that happens in Houston, I will be ecstatic.

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Cold, but confident.