Marathon Recovery and Cookies

For the past two weeks, post Dallas Marathon, I put a concerted effort on recovery. In some ways this was harder than I expected it to be, but getting ready for Christmas helped out in keeping me busy.

The plan was to take an entire week off from running after the marathon. I made it to Saturday. My friend and I decided to show up for the group run because we were craving the company. A nice five miler was enough to get it out of my system. I spent Sunday at the pool, and then eased back into running a few days last week. I also swam a few more times. The swimming was a good way for me to feel like I was doing something, without taxing my legs.

The week of Christmas the weather was nuts here. My runs were done in warm, humid temps. One was a little too fast (because my legs told me so later in the day).

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Then cookie baking on Christmas Eve. What happens when I’m too tired from baking to finish rolling dough and cutting out cookies? My 17 and 12 year old take over, and we get gems like this:

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Then the group run again on Saturday where I was the slowest one there and tried to keep up. I didn’t run as many miles as I planned, but my legs still got a good workout.

 

We later spent the day at my parents’ house, then drove through a few tornado warnings on our way home. That was scary, but it brought a weather shift.

Sunday was rainy and cold – and we had water coming in the crawl space in our house, so we were running the pump on and off, all day and night. I took this time inside to finish planning out my goals for the first half of 2016 and I’m excited about what’s coming.

This week, I was ready to get back to training. A combination of rest and too many cookies ups the motivation a bit. On Monday morning, I started with the treadmill because of the cold and rain. By the time I got done, we had snow. Texas.

I hope everyone had a good Christmas, and will have a safe and happy New Year. I’m looking forward to connecting with you in 2016.

 

 

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Dallas Marathon 2015

The Dallas Marathon is my most anticipated race each year. It was my first half marathon in 2010 and my first full marathon in 2011. I have always said “I love the race, but it doesn’t love me back” because I’ve had kind of a rough run with it. (Unintentional pun)

For my first full, the weather was cold, windy, and rained the entire time. Then 2012 was warm and humid, 2013 iced out, and 2014 didn’t have the best weather conditions either (along with all of my other problems that day).

Needless to say, my standards this year weren’t set too high. I hoped for decent weather, and planned to run with my friend (who I talked into running her first marathon in Dallas). My goals became to run faster than last year and have fun. I still was hoping for the sub 4 hour race, but truthfully knew everything would have to go right for that to happen. But my friend and I talked about running together because that would help both of us pull through.

But first, let me talk about the expo because that was a big part of my weekend. Dallas has done a great job the past two years by bringing in elite ambassadors and adding some interest to the race itself with relay challenges. So on Saturday, we timed it to be at the stage for the introduction of the elites and then they gave some advice for the runners for race day.

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So much speed in one place!

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Desi!

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Deena! (My role model as a master’s runner.)

 

I soaked  it all in (foreshadowing), spoke to Josh Cox and Molly Huddle to thank them for being there, and got a couple of autographs on my bib. I was nervous being around so much running greatness. I wanted to meet Ryan Hall, but that line was longer, so maybe another time. I do love that in this sport, the elite runners that I’ve met are approachable and genuine. This totally made my weekend, no matter how the race turned out for me.

Storms moved in Saturday evening and overnight, so when I drove to Dallas early Sunday morning, it was in the rain. Of course. Thankfully there was no lightning and the wind wasn’t too bad. The temps had dropped though to low 50s with a forecasted high of 60. At least that part was manageable, and much improved from the oppressive humidity Saturday morning for my shakeout run.

I hung out in my friend’s hotel room for a bit, then we made the five minute walk to the start corral. Dallas has three start corrals – A, B, and C. We were in B, and lined up between the 9:15 and 9:30 pace. I’m always surprised by how fast time goes by in the corral! Before I knew it, the National Anthem was over and we were moving toward the start line.

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Rain, rain, go away.

I soon realized we should have started at the front of the corral. We both talked about how we needed to make sure we held back in the first few miles. I’ve got a history of going out too fast. There was no problem in holding back because I felt like it was bottlenecked for about five or six miles, but didn’t want to use energy trying to weave around people. The first mile pace was just under 10:00. We picked up the pace gradually and by the end of mile 5, we were averaging 9:30s which is where we stayed until just before mile 13.

At this point my friend started to fall back. I checked on her a couple of times and she finally told me to go ahead. She wasn’t feeling great. We had worked this out beforehand, that if one of us struggled the other one would go on. But I still worried about her and second guessed leaving her side. We had put in so many miles together that it didn’t seem right to keep on, but I also knew that if I was the one struggling I would want her to go on. So that’s what I did, but I said prayers for her along the way.

I noticed the breeze had cooled the humidity and the temperature felt good. I tried to pick up the pace, but the hills kept me grounded. I ended up averaging 9:25 from 10-15, and 9:33 from 16-20. At mile 19, it became harder to hold the pace down in the 9:30s. From that point on it became a fight to stay in the game. I saw the banner that I signed at the expo, and looked down at my Road ID that contains same message: Hebrews 12:1 Run With Endurance.

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I started counting down the miles from my Garmin (which was a half a mile over already). Each one that ticked off meant I was closer. I remembered what Meb said at the expo about his phrase “Run to win” which means getting the best out of yourself. I checked to see if I was doing my best, and the answer remained yes every time. I surged when I could and willed my legs to go faster. At mile 23, I felt like I was flying. I looked down at my pace – 10:05. Oh, well, at least I felt like I was flying. I repeated “I can do hard things. I’ve done this before.” My lower back started to ache. I would count down the minutes with phrases like “Only 25 more minutes, I can keep doing this for 25 minutes.” I used every self-talk positive phrase I could think of to get my through those last 6 miles, and didn’t let my pace frustrate me. I continued to smile (which may have looked like a grimace at that stage), thanked the volunteers, thanked the police officers, and tried to encourage other runners as I continued. I stayed hydrated with Nuun and I fueled just like I trained. As I came to mile 26, I started to get emotional. Coming through the finisher chute, the tears started. I felt like a winner because I had run strong, and finished the race giving my all. There were no walk breaks, no talking myself out of my goals, or making excuses. As the announcer was calling out the finishers just ahead of the finish line, he gave me a high five and said “Way to go, Team Chocolate Milk.” Then I crossed the line.

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I saw Meb giving out medals, but he was busy getting photos with people too. I looked around but didn’t see any of the other elite ambassadors. I got all my goodies and moved to where I could check my friend’s tracking. I pulled my phone out and dropped a gel. I stood there staring at it on the ground, and another runner came over to pick it up for me. I thanked her and said, “I was trying to decide if it was worth it” because I couldn’t bend my knees.

I saw my friend’s finish on the tracker and went to find her. There was a hug and more tears! We had both done what we set out to do. She finished her first marathon in about the time she expected to. I ran a strong for me race.

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Meeting up with a fellow Team Chocolate member is always fun!

Meeting up with a fellow Team Chocolate Milk member is always fun!

I broke my curse. This was my fastest Dallas race by almost 15 minutes, with a fairly consistent pace. The weather turned out perfect for me because I never overheated. But the fact that I was able to run the entire course gives me hope for my future goals, and a return to my speed two years ago.

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My mind is whirring with the possibilities of what’s next! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio with Team Chocolate Milk

I had the opportunity to run Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio this past weekend as a part of Team Chocolate Milk, and that race now falls in my top 5 for best race experience. A lot of factors went into making it a great weekend, where the only major hiccup was the 45 minute traffic delay 20 minutes away from home Sunday night.

I asked my best running friend along for the trip, and she was able to register with a good discount. We have been training for the Dallas Marathon together, so it seemed appropriate that we should do our last long training run together in San Antonio.

When I picked her up Saturday morning, we laughed about we looked different from our usual Saturday morning attire. Hair fixed, makeup on, regular clothes…mostly. We clean up well.

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This was her first experience with a large race expo, and it was great! We shopped a little, stopped by the Another Mother Runner booth and met Sara, walked right past Meb, and I picked up some of my favorite hydration, Nuun. We stopped by the Chocolate Milk booth and I helped my friend win a towel by answering all the quiz questions correctly. I was happy to see so many people at their booth learning all about the benefits of chocolate milk!

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After checking into the hotel, we made our way down to the Riverwalk in search of an early dinner. We found a nice little restaurant with no wait and split a pasta dish and bruschetta.

When in San Antonio...eat Italian?

When in San Antonio…eat Italian?

I’ve been to San Antonio a few times, but always in the spring or summer. The city and the Riverwalk were absolutely beautiful this time of year. Everything was decorated for Christmas, and I loved walking around just taking in the sights. The pictures don’t do it justice.

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After our brief tour, we headed back to the hotel for some time off our feet and to get ready for race day!

We made our way to the VIP area so I could meet up with the other team members.

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It’s neat to meet people in real life that I first met on social media, but I sometimes wonder if they think I’m weird. After a group photo, and some talk about the race and goals, my friend and I headed to the start corrals.

Our number one goal for the race was to have fun and run it together. I’ve never had company for an entire race. Usually when we go to a race together, we start together but run our own times. I wanted to be able to bring her in for her first sub two-hour half, but we kept our expectations light. We started off slow, and enjoyed the views of running through a new city. Downtown and running right in front of the Alamo were my favorite parts. By mile five we were averaging around 9:05 pace. I started to worry if we were running too fast, but my legs felt great – like I was holding back. Then THE HILL showed up around mile 5. We didn’t talk at all, and by the time we crested the top, my quads were burning. From someone who runs hills on a regular basis, this was surprising. For the next two miles, there was a series of ups and downs. One of the hills, by Trinity University, was loaded with spectators from the school. Their signs were great, and they were lined all the way up the hill. I focused so much on reading signs that I lost sight of the pain of the hill. A favorite said: TU Counseling-Tell me how you feel about this hill. Another was “You’re not over the hill yet, unlike us” from an older couple. I smiled all the way through. Then after mile 7, the course was flat again. Our pace had dropped to 9:09 average, but we gradually began to work it down.

The half split from the full course at mile 11, and I can’t tell you how glad I was to turn for the half. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I was running down the right side of the road, and I looked up to see a vehicle (like a gator) coming right toward me. I moved over and then realized Meb was leaning out of it giving high fives to the runners. I yelled for my friend to get over there and we both got a high five from him. I told her that was our speed boost.

And it was! At mile 12, I knew she would be under two hours, and asked her how she’d like a new PR. She said she hadn’t even looked at her watch, and didn’t want to know. As we crossed the finish, I congratulated her on smashing her old record. We picked up our medals and headed straight for the chocolate milk. If you’re new to the blog, or unfamiliar with the benefits of chocolate milk as a post workout recovery, take a look at this information. It has helped me with my training whether after speedwork at the track or a long run, or swimming, or biking, and it’s delicious! I love being a part of this team. It’s something I believe in, and they always make me feel important. 🙂

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Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio was one of my best race experiences, and the fact that it wasn’t tied to my own PR reminds me that racing can still be fulfilling as I continue down the road. Here’s a little data to go along with it:

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A successful training run.

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What hills?

Nicely executed negative splits!

Nicely executed negative splits!

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A beautiful medal!

Up next: Dallas Marathon on Sunday! Have a great week!

Two Long Runs and a 10k (McKinney Believe)

Going into the last month of training for the Dallas Marathon, I had mixed emotions. On some days, I felt like my training was right on – hitting the paces and feeling the mileage, but recovering well. Other days, I was frustrated that I’ve moved “backward” in my speed. I would wonder if my fastest days were two years ago, and if I would ever get close. I know not to rush things though, so I’ve been moving along following the paces to run a four hour marathon.

During peak week, I had planned to run a 22 mile long run. Yes, I know that’s long. But I also know that my body does best when it knows what to expect on race day. 16 mile long runs don’t mesh well with my body – as I learned a year ago.

The wind that day was terrible, and it was cold. Several miles into my run – right before I met up with the group – I received a text from my husband who was still at work. He was going to be a few hours later than planned. That meant that if the heating company called (we were waiting on a part) to come repair our unit, then I would need to be at the house. That call came in right as I hit mile 14. They said they could be there in 10 minutes, and I asked for 15. I was a mile from the car, so I ran a fast mile back and got home just as they pulled up.

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An hour later we had heat, which was a necessity because it would drop below freezing for the first time of the season. Yes, winter finally arrived to North Texas.

When he finished, I had just enough time to knock out two more miles before I needed to get my daughter to the track for a physical assessment (for something she’s applied for).

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I managed to squeeze in three more at the track. My total for the day was 20 over the span of 5 hours, but it’s okay because I’m giving myself some slack this year. Besides, it’s still time on my feet so it’s not wasted.

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Side note: My daughter is a swimmer. She doesn’t really like to run, partly due to allergies. Allergies in north Texas are the worst – so I’ve heard. I’ve run with her a couple of times to make sure she knew the pace she needed to be able to do. Remember, the wind was still awful. The sun was out but it was cold. She started her first lap wearing my headband and jacket, and by the end of the fourth, they were gone. Later, she tweeted this.

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I’m so proud of her! This was a hard thing for her to do and she did it well.

Thanksgiving day, I was ready for my last hard, long run. This was also my way to ease into taper. The plan was 16-18 with 12 miles at race pace (9:09). My running friend and I agreed to meet, and we had another runner friend show up to run with us. This was the confidence boost I needed after the split long run the week before. She pushed me, and I managed to get 12 at a 9:04 pace, and I was pleased with the overall pace.

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My husband was around some too on his bike, so the miles went by faster than expected.

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My legs were shot the rest of the day though, but it was also due to the amount of time I spent in the kitchen. Overall, it was a good day. Running, family time, food. What more could I ask for?

 

Well, how about a great race to keep up that confidence building?

The rain that started Thursday afternoon and didn’t stop until Monday night. By Friday afternoon, we began keeping watch under the house and running the pump to keep the downstairs from flooding. It wouldn’t stop raining. All that evening, we would set the timer for 30 minutes then go turn on the pump until all the water was out, then set the timer again. It wouldn’t stop coming down. All this rain – crazy! Around 10:00, I crashed and my husband took over. I got up around 2 am and took the next few hours until I left for the race. To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to a cold, rainy 10k on little sleep. It was like having a baby in the house again getting up so much. But my friend and I were going together and misery loves company right?

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I had run this race before in 2010 and 2011 – the 5k – and it was the first race I realized I might possibly be competitive in my age group. I decided to go back to it this year and run the 10k. Thankfully, the 10k started before the 5k, but they also had to change the route due to flooding. So we ran the 5k route twice. Double the hills, double the fun!

I didn’t start my watch early enough, so for the first mile and a half, it was searching my location. I was running by effort, and I couldn’t feel my toes. Yet, I warmed up quickly and had my jacket off and tied around my waist. Not the most fashionable look, but it was nasty weather and I didn’t care.

I did like sharing the route with the 5k, because I was able to see two others from our local running group on the course.

When my GPS finally started working, I managed to keep my pace in the 8:10-8:15 range. I felt strong and I was beginning to feel my toes again. The rain had mostly stopped, or slowed to a slight mist. I aimed for a strong even finish which was uphill. Why? But my legs hung in there.

I know there were less participants this year because a lot of people opted to stay out of the weather. Still, I was surprised to find my name on the results sheet as the Female Master’s winner with my time of 52:02. It certainly wasn’t my fastest! But it was a good, solid, consistently paced run.

…and another block added to my mental building.

This race kicked off a trifecta of race weekends. I’ll be at Rock n Roll San Antonio this weekend for Team Chocolate Milk, and then next week is the Dallas Marathon.

Thanks for putting up with my lengthy post. I think I’m mostly caught up now. 🙂