Cowtown Marathon 2017

Normally I like to write up my race recaps the week immediately following the race, but to be honest early bedtimes won out last week. I’ve noticed that I tend to get a headache the day after a marathon. So last Monday (with my head pounding) I told the kids they were on their own to get into bed on time, and my light was out before 8:30 p.m. That kind of went along with how the previous week went. After my post about Cowtown, I focused on sleep and nutrition. I went to bed early as much as I could, ran slowly without looking at my watch, and ate all the healthy stuff. I received encouragement and supportive comments from several who read that post, and it all made a difference.

As race week continued, I began to get excited. My husband and I went to the expo Saturday morning – and so I could see my dad after he finished the 10k.

I was happy to get 3 new tubes of chap-stick (which works great for preventing chafing) a Kind bar, and a free tank from the Dallas Athletes booth. If you didn’t know, I love free stuff! Especially right now since we have some financial goals we’re trying to reach. Free is good.

I had decided not to do a traditional carbo-load this time because I had gained enough weight, and it wasn’t like I was going to PR, so I ate a couple of Clif bars and some Swedish Fish and called it good on excess carbs. Then I set about getting everything ready for the race. I pretty much knew what I was going to wear, as did my running buddy who sent this text:

She knows me well.

I added arm warmers just in case the wind made it too cold for me.

I rode in to the race with friends who were running the half. My husband had planned to go to work before I got back, and even though I enjoy him being there, I’m in a lot better shape after a race than I was five years ago. Riding in with my friends helped build my excitement for the race. Neither one of them had ever run Cowtown. For one, it was her 2nd half, so we talked about the course, the hills, and the size of the race. Then we met up with my other friend when we got there. She and I were both doing the full marathon. We also had others from our group we saw beforehand who were doing the ultra.

Ready to Run! Am I in a different climate?

The race start didn’t disappoint. Cowtown’s corrals are organized and efficient. I never felt bunched up. I had decided beforehand to run on effort and just do whatever – probably not an advisable plan, but I was there to have a fun race. I glanced down at my Garmin occassionally when the splits beeped, but didn’t let that determine my speed.

I felt good. Really good. Light on my feet like I hadn’t felt in weeks. Looking back at my splits, the first several miles surprised me. Then I made a quick dart into a porta-potty in the 8th mile. I didn’t get my last minute trip out of the way before the race. But since I was running for fun it didn’t matter.

 

In the second half of the race, I was still running. One of the runners I knew doing the ultra blew by me around mile 10. I briefly thought about trying to keep up with her for a bit, but decided I was good. I started slowing down, but I was still running. There was one small walk break near mile 19 when I was on the lookout for a porta-potty. Again. I continued running. Feeling ok, not great, but not anywhere near how I felt in Dallas after mile 16. Because I was still running – albeit slower, but it was still running! About mile 22, the marathon pain set in. I was hurting, but continued running, even up every hill! I continued thanking officers, volunteers, and smiled at spectators. Oh, and I scored 3 Gu Energy gels along the course. My ROI was getting better. Ha!

Somewhere near the final miles a spectator told me, “Team Chocolate Milk, I’ve seen you at several races and you always inspire me.” That meant so much to me!

I ran out of Nuun near mile 20, so I walked through some water stops in the final miles. Other than that, I was still running. I made a decision to stop at another porta-potty with a mile to go. My stomach wasn’t as happy as my heart was. :0

When I came into the finish area, I started searching for my friends. Then I spotted my husband! I was so surprised, and happy, to see him.

 

 

My official time for marathon number 15 was 4:40:50. It was one of my slower marathons, but the fact that I approached it with a different attitude changed everything about it. I was hurting, yes, but I was happy. I’m pleased with the fact that I ran all the hills. The strength and mobility work is paying off.

Oh, and I did PR in porta-potty stops!

It’s a great race and of course I’ll do it again next year. I have to get the next two medals in the series. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Cowtown Ready?

This post is going to be a little hard to write, but since my first race of the year is Sunday, here goes…

I don’t know if I every really recovered from the 21 miler that was such a struggle. Running has been…difficult. My pace is barely below 10:00 for every run and last Friday I didn’t even get up for my easy run. Missing motivation, mood swings, and general apathy in other areas. I first thought it was hormonal, but after three days of unexplainable shifts in my mood (and the tears that followed), I wasn’t sure what was going on. My poor husband.

I hoped the extra day of not running (Friday) would give me some energy for the long run on Saturday. My friend and I planned to do 12-13 as our taper for Cowtown. It’s no secret that we like to get our long runs started earlier, because our group usually meets at 7:00. Another runner messaged me on Friday and asked if she could join us. To my delight, when I got to our meeting place, there were five of us. It was nice to have the different conversations going, and it helped with my funk a little. We did five miles and then met up with the rest of the group.

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We all headed back out with the others getting a total of 10 done.

It was the last couple of miles that the lack of energy reared its ugly head. My friend, who has been dealing with injury and low weekly mileage, was having some of the same issues – like I’m hitting a wall during every run. We slowed down and even walked a little.

We have decided Cowtown is not going to be a fast marathon for us.

On Sunday, I got out to run another few miles and see how I felt. Also, since I missed Friday’s run, my weekly mileage was a little low. (I know, I know.) It was a little warm out, but I managed 4 miles just under 10:00 average pace.

A few hours later I still was a little out of breath. I looked up the symptoms of overtraining, and I start to wonder if that’s what I’ve got going on.

Mood swings, depression, inability to focus, elevated heart rate, inability to sleep, weight loss. But I didn’t have the weight loss. I’ve actually gained about 5 pounds in the past two months.

But all the other symptoms point to overtraining. Looking back, I don’t really think it was as much overtraining, as it was the toll of everything else going on in my life. I just didn’t realize how it was affecting my body. The week before the 21 miler, I had a great week with some swimming added in. My nutrition was on track. Then I guess everything went haywire the following week and did me in.

So my goal for this week, as I get ready to run a marathon on Sunday, is to get extra sleep and eat right. The Cowtown Marathon will be my 15th marathon, and I want to finish with a smile.

Today a coworker asked me about the weather for Sunday and I said, “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” He said, “Come on now. Be positive.” My response, “I’m positive it doesn’t matter.” 🙂

I’ve come to terms that it will not be my sub four hour marathon. There will be other races for that. It’s disappointing, but not the end of the world.

My question for you: How do you motivate yourself to get excited about a race when you don’t expect to run well?

Still Learning

No matter how many times I train for a marathon, or how much it can feel same-ole, same-ole – I find that I am still learning new things. This was especially true last week.

I’m still trying to adjust to different schedules, and basically have decided I just need to roll with the flow. My son’s work schedule is interfering with my sleep. It’s just not easy to get up at 4:30 when I get in bed at 11 pm. As much as I like to plan, sometimes life gets in the way of training. But I’m a wife and mom first, so I just have to give myself some grace and work it however I can. I did that last Tuesday when I tried to get through my workout, and 20 minutes in I tossed the plan and scratched the workout. I was tired and overdressed and it just felt too hard that morning. I decided not to let a bad run define my training. I got up Wednesday morning and started with the same workout plan. That day I was able to get the workout done in the planned paces. I learned that it’s okay to let myself slide once in a while.

Saturday was my planned 22 miler, and I wasn’t looking forward to getting it done on my own. But I set out to do it anyway.

It was poor planning on my part when I realized I didn’t have enough gels or chews for the long run. I did have some fig newtons though and those are a good source of carbs, so I decided to try that for my fueling strategy.

And that’s why we practice fueling during training and nothing new on race day. That wasn’t a good plan.

I never felt like the carbs worked their way into my system and by mile 16, it started to show in my pace. I also couldn’t figure out why my legs were so heavy after mile 10. I know I’m better prepared with endurance than that! Around mile 18, I wondered if sitting on the balance ball at work had something to do with it. Over the past two weeks I’ve gone from alternating between the ball and my desk chair to sitting almost exclusively on the ball. I spent more time moving last week, and where my legs were aching during the run sure seemed related to the ball. I’m going to back off of it some for now.

Because I had so much trouble in the last five miles, I stopped my long run at mile 21. I didn’t see how I would benefit trudging through another mile. I was pushing 3 1/2 hours by that point, and had quit marathons at least six times.

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Truth.

When I went in the house, defeated from my run, my daughter was dressed and ready for me to take her to swim. She is going to try out for the high school swim team next year, and I told her I would take her over the weekend. She took it upon herself to pick the time. As much as I wanted to eat and shower and go have a good cry, I put my mom attitude up front, and got ready to go swim. I did leave my Garmin at home so I could move slowly through the water. I’d say that counted as another mile. It probably helped work out some of the soreness I would have had in my legs from the run.

Sunday, my husband and I went to the gym. I’m still working on my upper body. That’s three times in 8 days that I worked on my arms. I think that’s a record! I will get stronger.

 

And here’s a picture of Chloe just because it makes me smile.

img_8667Have a great week!

Training Update: Getting ready for Cowtown

The past few weeks have been hectic with life and training. It seems like my weeknights have been more chaotic than they were in the fall. Typically, the blog lands at the bottom of the to do list. Apparently these other people in my house like to eat dinner and such. Now that my oldest daughter is back at college, and my husband has started his new job, maybe I can get back into my routine.

Training for Cowtown has been going strong the past few weeks. I’ve been working on some strength and mobility work, because I plan to follow the Simple Marathon Training this fall. I’ve been doing the SAM work after every run for at least four weeks, and I can tell the difference – at least when I’m running up my hills.

I had some trouble getting back to my usual paces after Dallas, but all of a sudden it clicked one day and running felt good again. It’s been difficult for me to get my mileage up with everything else going on, and running twice a day won’t work right now. So to up my training game, I started swimming again.

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It had been two months since I’d been to the pool, but once I got back in the water I remembered why I enjoyed it. I am slow, and swimming without the concern of a time cutoff had a different effect on me. When I get out of the pool my legs aren’t mad at me, and my glutes don’t whine. Now my arms are another thing. But for now I’m supplementing my running, and working my way back to the strength I felt during half Ironman training. I don’t have any triathlon races planned so far this year, but I believe the swimming can only help me for the marathon.

My running buddy and I haven’t been able to get together for a long run in a few weeks, so this past Saturday I had to tackle a 20 miler almost solo. I did meet up with the group for a few miles, but everyone was going different directions and paces, so I stuck to my plan. It was nice to see some of them out in different areas though as I checked off the miles. I was pleased with my time.

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The plan was to just do the distance, and not worry about the pace. I missed an 18 miler the weekend before, so I didn’t want to shock my body too much. The first and the last mile were the only two miles over 10:00 pace (and the last one had a steep uphill). I discovered a great new gel flavor!

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Tastes just like Nutella!

 

 

This weekend I’m going to do 22 miles, and then I’ll start tapering. My running buddy and several from our group are running the Hot Chocolate 15k in Dallas on Saturday. I hate to miss it, but I’ve got a lot going on and I wanted to make sure my Cowtown training included one more long run of 20 plus.

In other news, I am happy to report that I’m returning as a Nuun ambassador for another year.

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I bought my first tube of Nuun at the Dallas Marathon expo in 2012. I almost DNFd the race the next day due to dehydration. You know, nothing new on race day. After that painfully slow race, I tried Nuun on a long run. I haven’t had any issues since then. It’s easier on my stomach than other sports drinks and without the sugar. Right now, my favorite flavor is Grape.

Finally, have you been following along the World Marathon Challenge this past week? I heard Ryan Hall talk about it at the Dallas Marathon Expo stage, and it was inspiring to follow this journey. Then Mike Wardian made history as he ran all 7 under 3 hours. I can’t even imagine covering that kind of distance! This is a pretty good article about it. And if you check out Ryan Hall’s social media accounts, he did videos along the way. It was interesting to see how he went through some of the same stages in a marathon. “I told myself I wouldn’t go out too fast. I went out too fast.”

He also talked about how he admires the everyday runners who get out and run marathons in 4, 5, and 6 hours.

Again, that’s one of the things I love about this sport. There’s a connection and a community, no matter what pace you run. 🙂

 

Cowtown Marathon 2016 – Completing the Set

Sunday I finished off my marathon season at Cowtown (that’s in Fort Worth for you non-Texans). I went into this race with halfhearted goals and expectations. I was tired of long runs and ready to make some changes in my training. My eating had been terrible all week, and I was the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

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The people running away…that would be my kids on race week.

Even when my dad asked me before the race what my goal was, I shrugged and said “Um, finish?”

Those are not the words of a motivated runner.

My went to pick up my packet on Saturday, and I was hoping to generate some excitement in my brain. I couldn’t find any new gear I wanted, but we had a good day anyway. We only had one child all weekend because the girls had DiscipleNow with church.

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We then had to make a stop at the Lego store so he could spend some of his money.

Sunday started early, but I was happy to meet up with my dad before the race. He was running his second half marathon. Last year at Cowtown was his first. That was the icy year, so he had to come back and do it again. My parents met Jeff Galloway on Friday and talked with him about their run/walk intervals. He got some pointers about changing his timing from 4:1 (minutes) to 30 seconds run, 30 seconds walk.

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I found my running friend and we got ready to sweat it out.

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The start of the race was overcast and windy. The sun stayed behind the clouds and I was grateful. If you’ve never been to Fort Worth, just know there are a few hills. For the half marathon. The full and ultra course have several more hills. There’s a big one at mile 9 that everyone talks about, but we handled those first few hills like champs. Our pace was consistent through the halfway point. We smiled at the signs, thanked the volunteers and police officers, and chatted some. The best parts about having someone with me were the times I wanted to walk but didn’t because she was there. Then the sun came out and started to cook me. I ran out of my Nuun and gels around mile 22, and I needed electrolytes. We walked through the aid stations so I could down some Powerade. The hills were killing us, and the sun too. We settled on finishing and how nice that would feel. The chatting had disappeared and we focused on one mile at a time. I think we were both in tears when we finished. Our finish time was 4:31.

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I was happy to learn that my dad took 8 or 9 minutes off his last year’s time using the 30:30 method. He says he’s done with half marathons though. We’ll see.

My son was really concerned about me. I heard him ask my husband, “Is she okay?” He’s never seen me right after I finish a marathon, especially when it’s warm outside. It takes me a few minutes to pull myself together. Plus, everything hurt from the neck down.

 

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I enjoy a lot about this race. Both of my parents are from Fort Worth, so I’m familiar with the area. I like running through the Stockyards, around TCU, and there are some beautiful neighborhoods. The hills are a bit of a downer though.

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Finished the 3 year medal series!

On the way home from the race, I told my husband I’m done with marathons for a while. I want to focus on getting leaner and faster – then add the distance back. I’m tired of being out there for four and a half hours.

I guess training for a half Ironman will help with that. 😉

The Taper…again

For my first week of tapering for Cowtown, I think I ran more miles than I did in the two weeks before. I will say at least my mileage has been pretty consistent for the last several weeks, hovering around 40 miles per week.

I didn’t really feel like I was tapering – but it didn’t seem like that busy of a week either (at least in training).

I tried out some new socks that Feetures! sent me. These are the best! My socks are the only thing I haven’t changed in over five years of running. I mean the brand of course! I do change out and put on clean socks after every run. 🙂

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Tuesday, I had a birthday lunch at school with the newest teenager in the family.

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They finished our foundation work, and the kids left a reminder for us in the wet cement.

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Thursday morning I had a good mile repeat run, and in the evening my first swim in over two weeks.

Then there was a sluggish, achy leg run on Saturday. I don’t know what the deal was. Maybe I was still recovering from mile repeats. But my friend felt the same way and we kind of whined our way through the 16 miles. The achy legs were made worse by my GI tract that was not on board with running. I was so ready to be done! Then we reminded ourselves that we get to run and shouldn’t be so whiny about it. But I am very excited about the 12 mile long run this weekend.

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Then I came home to my newest piece of gear. I went back and forth trying to decide on this purchase. I try to be cautious when it comes to deciding what is a need and what is a want for my upcoming half Ironman. I had some Christmas money I was still hanging on to, so I took the plunge and ordered the older model – Garmin 910XT. So now I’m too far invested in my race to turn back. 😉

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Here’s one of the few pictures from the Hot Chocolate 15k race that I downloaded last week. I forgot about that perk. You can tell I’m completely zoned in on the finish line.

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I love free race pics!

What’s one of your favorite race perks?

Big Goals and Routine Changes

Toward the end of 2015, I saw a lot of posts/tweets/pics about goals for 2016, and race schedules, and plans. I started to feel like I was behind the curve because I didn’t have my race schedule mapped out for the entire year. All I knew was I had a marathon at the end of February.

Then when I wondered if I would ever get it together, things started to fall into place. Now I have the main arteries in place to map out my training for the first part of the year. I’m set with my big goals at least until the end of June.

My blueprint for the next six months to guide my training:

Train to get closer to a four hour marathon at Cowtown by strengthening more, improving overall nutrition, and pushing myself more on the hard and/or long run days.

Tackle a triathlon with an open water swim before June.

So…I can then compete in my first 70.3 race at the end of June – which I registered for before the end of the year to save some cash.

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That was the easy part.

My motivation is high. My training is back in full swing. I had an awesome long run the day after New Year’s. It was my first run over 5 miles since Dallas, and I’d say it went well. There are benefits when I run with a group who are all faster than me.

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I made myself run hills because I know it will prepare me for Cowtown.

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It totally sucked, but I got it done.

My long run Saturday helped me feel better about my endurance. The weather was nasty, but I found that I was able to push myself through mentally. I always wonder what people think when they drive past me and the weather is less than ideal. Then I saw some a softball game going on at the park, and I thought “Well, at least I’m moving.” IMG_7104

On the weekdays, I have been focusing on finishing my runs by a certain time – no matter if I finish the mileage or not – so I can be sure to get my strength routine done. That means if I oversleep, I run less. Since I noticed such a difference in my form during the Dallas Marathon from adding core training, I want to keep at it. It’s the little things that make the difference.

Nutrition. Well, I was doing fine after Christmas and up until last week. I lost a couple of the pounds I gained after the marathon. Then I hit a few bumps over the weekend (s’mores) but I’ll get back to it.

My biggest challenge right now has been my work schedule – which affected my blog. This post was started last Monday.

I’m starting my second week of working between two offices. When the owner approached me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to broaden my horizons, I said yes. I will not turn down opportunity to learn new functions. The hardest part for me has been adjusting my schedule. My workday is starting earlier (right after I drop the kids at school), which is fine with me, but I lost some of the time I would use to make and eat breakfast, finish getting ready, etc. In a way, it’s forced me to get my act together earlier. On the other hand, my appetite is all out of whack, because I’m eating breakfast earlier, and taking my lunch later. The major benefit to this though is that I’m a two minute drive from home, and I can go home for lunch. Larabars to snack on in between meals is the norm now. I also carry almonds, greek yogurt, and fruit. If you have any more good ideas for healthy, portable snacks, please share!

I’m sure in a few weeks, my schedule will settle down and I’ll be in a routine. That should be right about the time I get ready to start Half Ironman training, which starts right after the Cowtown Marathon.

I sure do love a challenge!