Fort Worth Marathon

“Tell me about your worst marathon.”

It was an effort to take the focus off of how I felt, and to also know that I’m not alone in having bad races.

I was running my 20th marathon this past Sunday, and having another bad day. It feels like it’s becoming more of the norm the past few years, somewhat of a streak: not having the result on race day of what I’m capable of running, of what I’ve trained for.

There have been races where I knew exactly what went wrong. Dallas 2012 – too hot and humid, and I didn’t adjust my goal. Houston 2015 – plantar fasciitis. Dallas 2017 – warmed up too fast. Days I went out too fast, days my nutrition was off, etc, etc…Same song and dance, different day.

But I didn’t have any of that this year. In fact,Β  I still can’t pinpoint the issue from Sunday. I kind of felt the same in Houston in January.

So here’s my recap of the Fort Worth Marathon: the good, the bad, and everything in between.

RACE WEEK

I found out earlier in the week that one of my running friends, who originally was going to run the 20 miler, signed up for the marathon. She said we were running together. My first thought was that I didn’t want to hold her back. She’s a lot faster than me. In fact, I’ve set my 5k and 10k PRs chasing her in local races. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized I would do the same thing. So my plan for race day was not to look at my Garmin and let her lead the way. I told her my goal times for the race, and I wanted to start off slower. My A goal was 4:20 or better, B goal was to beat my Cowtown time from February (4:29), and my C goal was to finish with a smile.

We didn’t have a lot of kid activities during the week, so I was able to take time to relax and enjoy no concession stand duty, games, or swim meets. I was able to go to bed early every night except Friday. It was a nice calm week compared to what we’ve had the past few months. I ate most of my meals at home where I could control what went into my food. The only exception was lunch on Saturday when we ate out. I pulled my gear together early Saturday evening, and went to bed early.

RACE DAY

I felt okay race morning when I got up. Not great, but okay. I wasn’t too nervous, but I was ready to run. My friend and I drove down that morning and picked up our packets. Small race perk! For my previous marathons, I’ve only done four different races (Dallas, Cowtown, Houston, OKC). This was a new one for me, and I decided to do it because I’d heard good things about it. My friend had run the half and the 20 miler in previous years.

Race Ready

The temperature was 50 degrees and there was a slight breeze. I had hoped for a little cooler weather, but it was manageable. We met up at the start with a couple of other runners from our group, but once we started they were gone. We’d see them a couple other times throughout and wave. For the marathon, the course was out and back, 2 laps.

The first few miles we settled into a rhythm. I didn’t feel like we were going too fast, but I remember saying that my legs hadn’t joined the party yet. I don’t know if it was the concrete trail or what. Finally around mile 7 or 8, I felt like I had a little spring in my step, but it didn’t last long. We made the turn at the halfway point (lap 1) and I said, “I just feel flat.” Our half time was somewhere around 2:10. I should have been perfectly fine. I had just paced a 2:10 in October and felt wonderful running at that pace.

We took a couple of walk breaks, and I kept apologizing. I felt so bad. I tried to convince her to go on without me and she wasn’t having it. She said “No, we’re running together.” In later miles, when I felt worse, we would pick markers along the trail to take walk breaks. Anytime I could go past those markers it felt like a little victory. I asked her about her worst marathon, and then talked about mine (which wasn’t even this race). Then we talked about our best races, our favorite ones for whatever reason, and how it’s so hard fitting in marathons when we both run better with cooler weather. We saw other runners struggling, and tried to encourage those around us. At a couple of the aid stations we had the best orange slices and some Coke. Oh, and the volunteers were so great!

At mile marker 23, she said “Ok, just a 5k” and while it sounded short, I knew it wasn’t going to be quick. At mile 24, I was so ready to be done, but unable to run as much as I wanted to. I looked down at my Garmin which I had set on the time of day. I was pushing the 5 hr mark if I slowed down any more. After mile 25, I switched over to distance. My watch had been beeping the splits just before the mile markers so I knew I was pretty close. We had 16 minutes to make it 1.2 miles. It was going to be close at the rate I had been going. There were a few first time marathoners around us, and I put my energy into cheering them on. “You’re awesome! Almost there.” Did you know it’s only acceptable to say you’re almost there in a marathon in the last half mile? I think that taking the focus off of myself helped me get through the last bit. I was able to run most of the last mile, which was probably the fastest one of the second half. We finished with a strong push for the last .2. Then I stopped my Garmin and dashed behind a fence where I almost threw up. Thankfully I didn’t and avoided that embarrassment. We had made it under 5 hours.

We finished just in time to get our numbers in for the prize drawings. I thought it was pretty cool that they do cash drawings for each race distance. How cool to win $1000 just for finishing a marathon! They also did cash prizes for the half and 20 mile races as well as other gifts.

We didn’t win, but I did get this great medal/belt buckle for finishing!

My friend and I learned a lot more about each other along the way too. She got to see a different side of me through the race. Thankfully, I never made it to the cussing stage. πŸ˜‰

On the drive home after the race, we had already started planning the next one. Hers for a BQ, mine to have a better day.

 

There will be a next time for me, because I’m a bit of a stubborn runner. The thing is, I know I can run a smart, faster marathon.

Because I have!

So I’m not giving up. It’s there. Somewhere.

 

 

Catching Up

It’s the final week before my next marathon, and I realized that my blogging kind of went to the wayside for a few months. School activities – mostly football and marching band, have taken up a lot of my evenings and Saturdays. With early morning training, on my free nights, I chose sleep. In all honesty, I knew it wasn’t the best idea to train for a marathon date that was so close to the end of football/band. I knew I would be tired. I knew marching season would take up a lot of my time. What I didn’t factor in, was how the Thursday night concession stand would wear on me. That was new for me this year, because in the past I’ve done either a couple of nights or every other week. I’ve been pacing myself as a band mom. But since I’m in my 7th year of band, I figured it was my turn to help out more. Also, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time when they needed someone to take Thursdays. πŸ˜‰ But even with all of this, I tried to limit the amount of frito pies and nachos I ate, and I set up my rest days for Fridays. That was a good plan.

 

Those are some of the things I could control.

The stuff that was out of my control with this training was the weather, plumbing problems, late night band pickups, early Saturday morning drop-offs, husband’s work schedule, and did I mention the weather?

18 miles in the summer that wouldn’t end.

While my training hasn’t been full of knock out workouts and fast long runs, I’ve settled with the fact that it’s been good enough. Flexibility has been the overall theme. My tune up half to test my fitness had a 9 am start and temps in the high 70s. That was a bust. The weather cooled off a week later. Of course.

A couple of my long runs in the past month had to be switched around at the last minute, including the longest one. But I do feel like they were decent enough for me to go into the race hopeful to hit some of my goals. I also tried to keep my sense of humor, even when the distance didn’t pan out.

JAWS!

 

As I wrote on one of my Instagram posts, training is rarely perfectly smooth – kind of like life. It’s important to remember that running is just a part of my life; it’s not my entire life.

So I set my A, B, and C goals for this marathon coming up Sunday. I’m ready.

 

Testing the Water

This has been a strange, quick summer of running. I have done a little more racing than I originally intended, but also have taken a few baby steps out of my comfort zone (more trail). To use a metaphor, I’ve been testing the deep end of the water with my toe, while safely maintaining my seat on dry land.

My original plan for summer was to drop some weight, gain some strength, and work on speed for a 5k. Here’s what has actually happened:

A couple of weeks after RNR San Diego, I ran a 15k trail race with two of my running friends. This was only my 2nd official trail race. A sharp contrast to the cool, low humidity weather in San Diego, the Frisco Trail Race was hot and sunny. There were a lot of open places on the trail, and the sun was draining my energy. I felt fine up until mile 8, then I was ready to be done. The deep ruts in some places on the trail were not good for my ankles, so I was happy to be finished. Lots of switchbacks too. The map and the drone footage from the race looked cool, but it wasn’t as fun to run the course, in my opinion. At least there were free pictures from it, and I did enjoy time with friends.

At the end of June, I went to run “Trails and Tacos” hosted by the McKinney Running Club with some other running friends. It was a free, 15k distance trail run at Erwin Park. The running club had breakfast tacos afterward. I enjoyed this trail more than the one in Frisco. More coverage, no deep ruts. There were still some places out in the open sun that made it tough, and so many mountain bikes! No time goals here either, so I just enjoyed my time on the trail.

In July, I ran the Too Hot to Handle half marathon in Dallas with a couple of my other friends. This was mostly for my friend who wanted a race to check her training progress. She likes to run in the heat. My goal was to finish without getting sick. I have set the bar high for summer racing. πŸ˜‰ I am probably going to write a whole other post about responsibility on the road because of what I witnessed with the bikes and runners around White Rock Lake, but here I’m just going to focus on my race. I felt pretty good until about mile 9, then the heat got me so I ran/walked it in. My heart rate got a little too high and it’s not worth the risk. If I can’t keep my sense of humor or smile, then I don’t need to be out there. I want to be able to run for years, so I try to pay attention to my body. When it says slow down, I do.

 

I made sure to cool down after the race under the sprinkler with a popsicle and a cold towel on my skin.

This was pretty close to being one of my slowest half marathons and I am okay with that. I didn’t set out to run a time goal. I set out to complete a half marathon. I like being “half ready” year round. I’m back to the point where a 10 mile run feels normal, as it did several years ago. Everyone is different though. What’s good for me may not be what’s best for you! The nice thing about doing this race, is that I didn’t feel sore later or the next day. My recovery was good, it was just the heat that got me. That’s kind of an expectation of summer running.

A little over a week ago, we took some trail time out at Cross Timbers. The last time I ran there was in March. There were no monster horse flies then, or worries of snakes, or clearing spiderwebs. The flies are awful now! It didn’t matter how fast you ran in some places, you were still swatting and dodging the massive flies.

And Cross Timbers has a way of making you feel out of shape. We covered 4 miles that took well over an hour. There is some climbing! My quads were sore for two days after that run!

I’ve enjoyed my time on the trail these past months, but I can’t seem to make the jump to go farther yet. Officially.

 

As far as the rest of my summer goals:

On dropping weight, I’ve lost about .3 of a pound. I’ve had more trouble with this than anything. I don’t know how I can fit all my runs in but can’t turn down an ice cream cone. It’s about discipline, but my metabolism has slowed down which makes it hard. Oh, and I really really like peanut butter.

On building strength, I’ve started going to the gym with one of my friends on Sundays to lift. It’s not something I’ve ever done consistently or made a priority. So this is our fight against age and slow metabolisms. We’ve gone two weeks in a row, and it’s much easier to agree to meet a friend than go on my own. I also did some RIPPED classes at the gym earlier this summer with my daughter who was home from college. It’s good to change things up once in a while.

I’m winding down a bit this week to get ready for the 5k this weekend. I’ve been doing track workouts just about every week to get my speed back, because I need the speed in the shorter distances to get faster for the longer ones. Track work the past two months consisted of variations of 5k goal pace. 400s, 600s, 800s. Last week was 5 x 1000m. It was tough, and I hit the paces on all but the last one. These workouts have given me a specific focus for the majority of summer.

Saturday’s 5k will be my last race in my current age group. After this, it’s time to move to the longer, marathon focused work.

So there’s my summer running in a nutshell. Band has started for my high school junior, and football for my youngest. This is my gauge that summer is basically over in our house. Routines and schedules are back in place, and my running will be more structured.

It’s going to be a busy fall, but I really don’t know how to do it any other way.

 

 

 

 

Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Half Marathon

I got to take my first destination race trip earlier this month, to the Rock ‘n Roll San Diego Marathon. I was excited for the opportunity to represent Team Chocolate Milk, and the whole weekend was so much fun.

My running friend, Leda, and I took this trip together. We both needed a break from reality for a few days.

This was also my first flight in years! I haven’t been on a plane in so long (pre-9/11) but with kids, etc. it’s just been hard to get away. So my first introduction to TSA involved a full pat down (welcome back to air travel) and then we were ready to head out of Texas. The only issue we had was a short flight delay, but we arrived in San Diego to cloudy skies and cool temperatures. I’m glad I grabbed a light jacket at the last minute before leaving home!

Our hotel was great and let us check in three hours early! We then headed to the expo at the convention center on foot, stopping to eat a slice of pizza on the way.

Palm Trees!

At the expo we picked up our packets, got some freebies, and bought some new socks.

Ready for Chocolate Milk!

We explored some more around the convention center, and found a place for dinner. As we made our way back to the hotel, we came across the Donut Bar. One of our running friends had suggested we stop there while we were in town. She said there would be a line but it was worth it. They were closed when we got there, but the sign said there was an encore ropening at 5 pm. It was 4:45 so we waited.

There are 2 donuts in that huge box – and a line out the door!

It was worth it.

 

Since we had decided against running the 5k, our Saturday schedule was wide open. The hardest part was waiting for the breakfast room to open, because we were both wide awake by 4:00 am. πŸ™‚

We took advantage of no time schedule and the opportunity to explore San Diego. I wasn’t too worried about my race time. It wouldn’t be my fastest half marathon, and I didn’t know if I would ever have the chance to come back to San Diego. So we said the heck with it, and looked at our options. My husband (a Navy vet) had suggested we go to the USS Midway since we were so close. It was a lot of walking, but so interesting! As the wife of a veteran, and mom to a Navy ROTC midshipman (she will be a commissioned officer this time next year), the Navy has had a lot of influence on my life. It makes me appreciate my comfortable life so much more, seeing what our service members go through to keep us safe.

USS Midway

The Hangar Deck

After about four hours touring the Midway Museum, we headed down the road for a late lunch/early dinner. We found the park where they were setting up the stage and post race party area.

Interesting art sculpture in a park

We trekked up the big hill back to our hotel, and my legs were tired! I laid out my flat runner and was ready to get some sleep!

RACE DAY!

I had no trouble getting ready for a 6:30 am race start, because we kept our body clocks on our own time zone. We had about a mile to walk to the start in Balboa Park, and it was a cool 62 degrees.

If you’ve ever run a Rock ‘n Roll race, you know the energy at the start line is great. I dropped my bag (with my jacket) at the VIP gear check. Thank you chocolate milk! Then we headed to our corral.

 

I was excited to run!

Once we started, Leda and I ran together for a minute, then we each settled into our own pace. I couldn’t believe how great the weather felt! I could run and breathe – at the same time! πŸ™‚ I didn’t worry about my pace too much, and just focused on settling into my pace. I gave myself a quick reminder to enjoy the run, and also gave myself grace for having tired legs, but I didn’t give myself an out for it either. I knew the course had some hills, but boy I was not prepared for that many! I think hills are one of my strengths as a runner, but I didn’t want to use up all my energy. I just worked on picking up the pace on the downhills to even it out. I knew from the course profile the last couple of miles were mostly downhill and I could kick it out then.

A little past mile 4 was the wear blue: run to remember mile. Do you know how hard it is to run at half marathon pace and try not to lose it? The combination of touring the USS Midway the day before, being a Navy wife, having a daughter who will be a Naval officer in a year, and knowing service members who have lost their lives, it hit me hard. There are pictures of those who’ve lost their lives. Their name, rank, age, and the year they died. Picture after picture along the road for over half a mile. All so young! I was trying to breathe and not cry. Then when the pictures stop, the people holding flags start. On each side of the road, cheering for you for the rest of the mile. Some of them were in uniform, some were wearing blue. I’m stumbling with my words here, so all I can say is I’m thankful, grateful.

I continued my foot tour of San Diego and navigated the hills with a smooth pace. There were lots of spectators along the way – and more hills. It was still cool and cloudy. I was happy to see that I was staying around a 9:00 pace. There was a huge downhill in mile 10 that I would have liked to fly down, but in my mind I could see me sprawled out across the pavement if I did. So I held back and took it steady. A guy flew by me on the way down, but he was young and it made my quads hurt just watching him.

Then we had to go back up. Again.

Course elevation from my Garmin. Note the big drop near the end.

Finally, in the last 5k I kicked up the pace. Mile 12 was almost all downhill and I was booking it. I knew I was close to being under 2 hours, and there were no excuses. At the beginning of mile 13, there was one more tough climb, but the rest was a smooth descent to the finish. I crossed the finish line pleased with my effort. No stops, no walks. Negative splits.

 

Negative Splits!

I found my chocolate milk!

 

And why do I love to recover with chocolate milk? You can read the research here. I also like that it’s ready to go. It’s affordable, can get it anywhere, and it is easy on my stomach when I can’t always eat after a hard run. It took me a while before I was ready to eat, so I was glad to have started the recovery process with my chocolate milk.

I then headed over to the VIP tent, which was set up near the stage. I got a post race massage, and a little more food to tide me over. I saw Meb with his family, and some of the elite runners I follow. But I’m a chicken when I don’t have anyone to push me out there to meet them. I later saw where Meb had paced a family member in his first half marathon. How awesome is that!

I found Leda and we enjoyed some time sitting on the grass, listening to the music from the stage, and chatting about the race.

Then we went down to the harbor so I could get a few souvenirs, and my medal picture.

 

And the trek back up the hill to the hotel with what was left of my quads.

Our hotel was near the building at the top of this picture.

 

Then we found a great place for lunch and another wonderful place for some gelato. I definitely indulged, and I’m not even sorry.

How do you choose?

Pick 2 flavors!

Also, my Garmin showed I had 22 miles total for the day.

I really enjoyed this trip so much. We had great food everywhere, good service, and no issues at all.

It was a nice break; all centered around doing what I love to do: run.

…and eat. πŸ™‚

 

It’s Almost Half Time

I took a little break after Danman.

I needed a little time away from the long distances, and the back to back weekend long runs. I had plenty of time for a break, and to still build up for my next half marathon (RNR San Diego). I also needed time to uncover the speed in my legs again. I couldn’t keep it sharp with all the fatigue from the buildup for Danman. Planned breaks are good. Forced breaks are not.

I did different things. I tried a new class at the gym, and it involved burpees and lots of other stuff out of my comfort zone. I also got back to the pool some. I worked with my kettle bell more.

Then I signed up for a local 5k on a whim with our local running group, so there wasn’t much time left to sharpen my speed. You know, there’s only one way to find out your current 5k fitness – and that’s by racing a 5k.

With literally no recent speed work to judge goal pace from, I thought I maybe could run under 25. I ran a few miles before the race, to get my slower miles out of the way. (It takes me a while to warm up.) My goal was to keep my eyes on the back of one of my fast friends, not look at my watch, and just hang on.

My lack of speed work was evident. Fast friend was gone when the gun went off, and I didn’t see her again until I finished! I mostly only looked at my Garmin when the mile splits beeped.

Splits and thoughts:

Mile 1: not too bad, just hang on to this pace (8:13)

Mile 2: Oh goodness, I can’t breathe (8:25)

Mile 3: Just keep it faster than mile 2 (8:22)

My official time was 25:59 which was slower than I wanted, but it gave me a baseline to work from for this summer. It was also enough for an age group win, and that’s not something I take for granted.

Beat the Heat 5k

The next race I had scheduled (to gauge my goal half marathon pace), was the Disco Run 15k. 2 weeks before the half, it would be a good chance to see how my planned pace would hold up over 9 miles. So I talked my friend into it, and we headed down to Dallas last Sunday morning. After I drank my Ucan, we went to the start area to wait. The humidity wasn’t too bad, but it looked like it might get warm. There was a breeze so that helped. Then they announced that the 15k course was flooded, so everyone in the 15k would get to run the 10k. My friend and I looked at each other with disappointment. My first thought was, “Dang, now I have to run faster!” Most people would probably be excited to run less than they signed up for. Not us, we’re weird. We ran about a mile to warm up, and then I was ready to go.

Before the sweat-fest

I made a mental note to try to come in under 55 minutes. I’m really not even sure where I came up with that number. It sounded like a good plan to be under 9:00 pace.

Then we were off!

The first thing I noted was that the course was gravel, and not smooth. There were some larger rocks on the path, and they were worse in the middle. It took a little while for the crowd to thin enough for me to realize this, and I moved over to the side. This slowed me down some, although probably not as much as I’d like to think it did. I was careful though, because I could feel my foot roll across some of the larger rocks and I didn’t want to risk rolling an ankle. My first mile was 8:40. Ok, hang on to that, I thought.

The sun was out and it was warming up. The course was an out and back, so when we made the turnaround just after mile 3, I knew what was coming. By mile 4, I was completely okay with running 10k and not 15. The rocks were doing my legs in, and they were aching. I walked up the steep hill in mile 5, took a deep breath, and then sucked it up to pick up speed again. That mile was my slowest. I made my way around the 5k walkers just past their turnaround, so I did more weaving from the middle of the path to the side again. But it wasn’t too crowded. When I could see the finish area, I picked it up as much as I could to finish strong. When I finished, I remembered how hard it is to run in the heat. This was my first hot race of the year.

We hung around for awards, because the results for age groups weren’t posted. I didn’t think I placed, because there were lots of ladies ahead of me. It’s a good thing we waited, because I ended up 2nd in my age group, and my friend won hers!

I’ve never actually stood on a podium, so that was fun. My official time was 54:52, meaning I met my last minute sub 55 plan.

Watermelon and pancakes at the finish were amazing, because it was a hot morning! They also had a costume contest and a great band. It was a fun themed race!

I’m pleased with both race efforts. I believe I got the best out of myself on both days – no matter what the time was on the clock. This is my current fitness, and that’s where I’m working from. I’m going to try to fit in another 5k in July or August before I move age groups, and see how my speed has improved.

 

This coming weekend, I’ll be racing my first half marathon since Dallas. I’m excited for this trip! I’ve never been to San Diego, and I’ve never gone to run a race without driving there. I’ll be there with Team Chocolate Milk, and you can follow my race updates on Instagram all weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

DanMan Challenge

I never know what I’m capable of if I don’t try.

That was my motto going into DanMan. My goal was 50 miles, and even though it was a stretch, I knew I needed the mindset that I would complete 50. Otherwise, I was giving myself a way out the first time it got hard.

So on the morning of April 6th, my husband and I loaded up the car and headed north. He brought his mountain bike just in case. Good call.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, or how my body would react. My longest trail run leading up to DanMan was 13 miles a few weeks earlier, and the most time I had ever spent on my feet was a 5 hour road marathon in 2012. I did feel like I still had my marathon fitness from January and February though. The layout of the course, and the fact that it was free, kept me from freaking out too much. My main concern for that day was the weather and the threat of thunderstorms.

I met up with some of the guys I’ve run with on the trails/met through Strava who were also signed up for the 50 miler. That made it less scary knowing others there.

My kind of people! Donuts and Coke before the run.

Everyone ran the first loop, which was 10k. I was running with the guys, and we settled into a run/walk the hills rhythm. As we came back around to the start/ranch house, my husband had his bike ready to go out. I changed my hat (because it was starting to rain) to one that would cover my head better. We headed out together on the second loop, which was for half, marathon, and 50 milers. The course was mainly dirt roads around the ranch, so he biked on one side while I ran/walked on the other.

We made the turn off for the 50 mile loop, and that’s when the weather took a turn. Rain started coming down harder, and there was lightning and thunder. I got a refresher course on where to go/what to do if you’re out on the trail or road when there’s lightning. We counted seconds between lightning strikes and thunder. 6 miles away, then 8, then 10. The lightning was moving off, but it was pouring. Rain was dripping off my hat, and I was trying to just get through the muddy sections and stay upright.Β  We finished the loop and came back onto the main loop, and we even got to run with Dan (the Danman) for a bit. Then we made our way back to the ranch house/start.

Those hills though…

At this point I was close to 17 miles in 4 hours. My quads were aching from the hills and my inner thighs were sore. Most of my miles were averaging 13 minute pace.

My husband took a break while I headed back out on the first 10k loop. This time it was very different. I was slipping and sliding, and even fell back on my rear from sliding in the mud. It wasn’t much of a fall, more of a slip and sit move. I told the guys to go on without me. I knew the layout of the course by then. I started getting frustrated with the amount of time it was taking to cover the distance. Miles were ranging from 15-20 minutes. The long uphill back to the ranch house took forever. My shoes were heavy with mud. I kept trying to scrape them off, but it didn’t make much of a difference. The cars that passed me on their way out of the ranch would slow and wave, shout out encouragement or cheer, and that lifted my spirits. When I finished the loop, I found my husband by the car. “I need to change my shoes.” It was mile 23. I changed my hat again too, to a dry visor.

By this time, the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to come out. It was a little humid, but I wasn’t running much so it didn’t bother me as bad as it usually does. My husband headed back out with me on his bike. By this time I was expecting to make it to around 33 miles with the next two loops. But it was still so muddy.

I was hurting from my legs sliding side to side – I’m not used to that movement you know. I was walking a lot more. My quads were aching. I was covering miles in 20 minutes. I had an alert on my Garmin set for every 45 minutes to remind me to fuel. Thank goodness for that. I would’ve missed a lot of calories. I remember saying, “Didn’t I just take a gel a few minutes ago?” Time was moving fast, but my legs were moving oh so slow.

And the low points. I cried – more than once. I said, “I knew it would be hard. I just didn’t know it would be this hard this early.” I hadn’t even made it to the marathon distance.

But then I did.

My husband took my phone and posted pictures to Facebook for my friends following along. Before we reached the turn off loop for the 50 milers again, I told him I wanted to skip it. I just wanted to be done. He agreed.

For all the low points, I had just as many smiles of celebration. I cheered each mile over 26 as a new distance. Yes, I finished another mile. Yes, that was a 17 minute mile instead of 20. Little victories helped get me back to the ranch house – where all I wanted to do was stop moving.

When I came up to the ranch house from the mud and reached the aid station table, I stopped my Garmin. I was done.

By that point, I didn’t care that I didn’t make it to 50k, and for sure 50 miles. The mud had done me in and my legs were through.

I looked at the table full of food that I had passed three times throughout the day. Pretzels, Nutella, trail mix, m&ms, pb&j, pickles, chips, crackers… So much food, but nothing sounded good. I wasn’t nauseous, and I knew I needed some calories. The man taking care of the table handed me a cup of Ramen with saltine crackers on top. It’s exactly what I needed.

After cleaning up and changing clothes, we headed into the ranch house where we could sit down and eat, and talk about the day. My legs were pretty mad at me and my feet were a mess, but I had a feeling of accomplishment that I haven’t had in a while. It was humbling for sure, but I don’t think my time on the trails, or with ultras, is through.

On a final note, I will say that trail race food is so much better than road race food.

Brisket, coleslaw, potato salad, pie. YUM!

 

What’s Next?

We took my son to a Mavs game a couple of months ago, and had the world’s most obnoxious fan sitting behind us. At one point, she hollered at the ref (like he could hear her from our seats), “What are you? Stupid?” Then she yelled out “S-T-O-O-P-I-D.” My 13 year-old swung his head around and mouthed “she can’t even spell stupid.”

When I think about my next endeavor, that phrase runs through my brain.

Here’s how I got there:

Part of my post Houston race meltdown meant I needed to shift my focus. I’ve been chasing that BQ goal for several years, and I’m coming up short of where I want to be. My journey will continue though. Since my race schedule was wide open after Cowtown, I felt a little lost on what to do next. I made a list of what things I needed to work on, to continue to improve in the marathon specifically. But honestly, it’s easier for me to get out of bed to train when I have races on the calendar. I guess that’s why it seems like I’m always training for a race.

A friend of mine suggested the Danman Challenge. It’s close – maybe an hour’s drive from my home – and it’s free. That’s perfect for this frugal runner. It would also help take my focus off the numbers (paces) for a bit, while I could do keep doing what I love to do – run a lot. The drawback: the distance is a jump from the marathon to 50 miles. It is definitely a new challenge. No fanfare. No medals. Just testing my limits on going the distance – and that seems to be the point of Danman.

I’ve kept it kind of quiet on social media, without really putting out there what I’m planning. Admittedly, there’s a fear of falling short. I’ve never run more than a marathon, and here I’m going to attempt twice the distance – on a trail setting. I’ve been winging the training. Long runs on the roads on Saturdays, long runs on trails on Sundays. Lots and lots of miles. I treated Cowtown as a hard training week, and was running the week after. I don’t know if it’s enough, but I fit in what I could while keeping the household running.

One of my running friends recently asked me what I was training for next, and my answer was “I’m training for stupid.”

But on a serious note, I’m going into this challenge with the mindset that I’m going to complete 50 miles. If I don’t, I’ve already given myself permission to quit when it gets tough.

I’ll come out on the other side either all in for ultra distances, or I’ll be happy to step back to the marathon. I’m sure I’ll find out a lot about myself.

Here’s to being S-T-O-O-P-I-D. πŸ˜‰