Houston Marathon 2019

A little over a week ago, I ran my fastest marathon this year.

Ha ha.

Yes, I’m aware it’s only January, but I’m pulling out all the positives from the marathon that I can find. 😉

It’s really easy for me to write up a race recap when the race goes well, when I run my goal time, or when I completely blow my expectations away. But then there are the races that don’t quite turn out like I expected (or hoped) they would. Those recaps are harder to put into words. If you’ve run several races, you’re probably familiar with that feeling. I think the hardest part for me is putting in months of work and then falling short on race day.

If anything, though, I’m stubborn. So regardless of the time on the clock, I will not give up.

Now, about race weekend:

Houston was great. The race was just as well supported as I remembered from 2014 and 2015. From the expo to the finish area, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

When I originally planned the trip, I intended for it to be a family trip. Then we got my younger daughter’s swim meet schedule in the fall, and realized the district meet was the Saturday before the race. So only my oldest daughter went with me, and we had a fun mother-daughter trip.

We left Sherman early Saturday morning, because I wanted to go to the Another Mother Runner live podcast at the expo. I’ve been following them (blogs, podcasts, books) for several years, and I was looking forward to it. After a quick stop for lunch, we made it to Houston and the expo with a little time to spare before the podcast.

 

Sarah and Dimity 

I got a nice bag of goodies for attending, with some of my favorite brands.

 

After the podcast, I got my packet, found my name on the wall, and then met up with the members of RunRelated Team and my coach who were running Houston as well.

This made the expo even better.

Then my daughter and I met my running friend and her husband for an early dinner, and headed back to the hotel to relax. I laid out all my gear on the chair, fuel and all, so I wouldn’t forget anything.

The weather for race day had calmed down from earlier forecasts, and I went with long sleeves and shorts. I honestly have never run a marathon in long sleeves, so I was excited about the cooler weather. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know my body doesn’t agree with warmer or humid weather.

I got up early to eat and relax. I didn’t want to wake my daughter, so I used the light from my phone to get ready. She did wake up to ask me if I had eaten. That meant a lot, that she was checking on me.

When I was finally ready, I met my friend in our hotel lobby and we headed over to the convention center.

 

We were in separate corrals, so I made my way over to mine. I had on sweat pants and a heat sheet to stay warm until we got closer to the start. The best thing I noticed about Houston was the large amount of porta-potties in the convention center, the corrals, and there was even a last minute stop closer to the start line. As my corral moved forward, I saw those and made a decision to make one last stop. I kid you not, as I went into the porta potty, the DJ played Dexy’s Midnight Runner. I laughed at the timing, because I was trying to hurry and all I could hear was “Come on Eileen.”

I made it to the start line and I felt okay. The wind was a little chilly, but I had my ears and hands covered so I felt fine. I didn’t worry about the pace in the first few miles. It can get a little congested, and I didn’t want to waste energy trying to get around people. Because of where I started with the corral, I was a little slower than I wanted to be but I knew it would open up a little later. Also, my coach wanted me to start a little slower than goal pace. By the 3rd mile, my pace was getting closer to my goal pace. I felt fine as I went through those miles, taking in the scenery, watching the runners around me. I had a few slower miles in there, but around mile 11, I needed to refill my bottle. This is where things started to go south. I couldn’t get the volunteers at the water station to understand I just wanted them to pour water in from the pitcher, they kept trying to hand me cups. Then I dropped my cap on the ground, and because my  fingers were a little numb from the cold, I couldn’t get my Nuun tablet in the bottle either. I was flustered, but I should have been able to recover from that and get back on pace. I put my gloves back on to warm my hands up, because the shady parts of the course were still cold to me.

I checked my overall time at the halfway point – 2:07. Okay, I could still pull out a 4:15 and be content.

My Garmin buzzed early for mile 15 (through some buildings) so I knew my mileage would be off after that. Then my race slowed even more. I’m still trying to figure this out. I kept up with my fuel, took my gels on time, and stayed hydrated with my electrolytes. But my pace had gone from 9s to 10s to 11s. I was running, just much slower. I didn’t feel sick, didn’t feel like I hit the wall, and I took very few walk breaks (mostly to take a gel or refill my drink). In the last 5k, I was passing people and felt like I was running strong. Then I looked at my Garmin and saw 11:36 pace for that mile. Oh, man is that humbling!

I finally switched my Garmin over to see the total time in the last mile. I was really hoping to be under 4:30.

Sigh.

I crossed the finish line with an official time of 4:33. It was a finish, and I got the best out of myself on that day. So I was okay with it. I was happy to finally stop moving, and get my chocolate milk.

When I got back to my hotel room, I saw my bag of anti-fatigue capsules on the chair where I laid out my race stuff. Oops.

I’ve used those capsules before every long run and half marathon leading up to the race. Now that I’ve had time to think through things, maybe I didn’t have enough calories beforehand either. I ate a banana with a little bit of peanut butter three hours before, and then applesauce an hour before.

Those are easy fixes for the next race – which is not very far away.

Even though I didn’t run the race I planned for, I enjoyed my time in Houston. And spending the weekend with my daughter really was the best part of the trip. 🙂

After a couple of days, the post race meltdown crept up and caught me off guard. I then resolved to do whatever I need to do. I’ll keep chasing my goals and not give up.

So up next, Cowtown!

 

Advertisements

Houston Marathon 2015

I’ll apologize in advance for the length of this post. There’s a lot of information to cover, but if I try to put it in two posts then I’ll forget a piece of important information like this:

Post Race Chow Down

Post Race Chow Down

When I first decided on my goals for Houston, I made sure some of them were easily reachable. Only one goal was attached to time. Spoiler alert: that was a good thing.

I started my weekend early Friday afternoon when I loaded the kids in the car and headed south. A part of me was disappointed because my husband had a work conflict and couldn’t go. He’s been at every marathon up to this point including the good (Houston 2014), the bad (OKC weather), and the ugly (Dallas 2012). But since he was away, that meant my oldest daughter got to slide in place as my race crew and she served her position well.

We checked in to the hotel Friday evening and walked around a bit downtown. We explored Discovery Green which had an awesome light display (the picture doesn’t do it justice).

IMG_5541

Saturday morning I headed over to the expo, met some of the other race ambassadors, and picked up some gear. I spent some time walking back and forth taking pictures for people with our Instagram frame. Then I did a little shopping to stock up on Nuun, get some new sunglasses, and found a new pair of shorts for $10!

Follow fellow ambassador Steph!

Follow fellow ambassador Steph!

I wrote my goal on the wall, and why I run Houston (it’s flat!).

IMG_5517

The elusive sub 4:00 goal

IMG_5518

After spending four and a half hours on my feet, my daughter and I went to eat and rest in the hotel before the pre-race party. Nerves would creep in every so often as I thought about the race, but I pushed them aside. Whatever will be. Then we went to the pre-race party. Thank you Skechers Performance and Houston Marathon Committee! Yes, Meb was there but I didn’t approach him since I did meet him last year at the expo and he signed my bib. We hung out with fellow ambassadors Lisa and Steph. Then we all took pictures at the finish line.

IMG_5520

My beautiful daughter…

 

IMG_5540

All smiles at the finish line!

IMG_5539

With Houston Marathon Ambassadors Lisa & Steph

 

 

Having the opportunity to serve as a race ambassador for the Houston Marathon still blows my mind. Here I am, this mom of four who lost her identity in her children, and who stumbled upon a new passion just trying to complete a big “someday goal.”  Then I was given the chance to represent this amazing race that I fell in love with last January. The only thing that could make the weekend better would be a great race performance.

The next morning I was ready. Let’s do this.

Before the race

Before the race

The weather was perfect for running a marathon. I decided to go with 9:15 for the first five miles and then bump up the average for the next five. I felt like I was holding back and the first mile was 9:12. By the end of mile 5, I was running 9:07 average. But I still felt like I was holding back. I did notice that I was sweating quite a bit on my forehead though. The next five miles I ran an average of 9:05. I felt like it was cooling off. Then my pace started to slip. The first hill at mile 12 almost did me in. What? I train on hills all the time! Why was I struggling? At the half point I was just over 2 hours and I knew that I wouldn’t PR. I took my first walk break to catch my breath and ease the nausea. I felt heavy in the middle. Darn Christmas cookies!

I then settled into the same pattern I did in Dallas. Walk fast for a minute or so, then pick up the pace and run for several minutes. I had decided after Dallas 2012, when I nearly dehydrated, that I would rather slow down and finish feeling good, than throw up or not finish. So that’s what I did. I put more effort into thanking the volunteers and spectators. When people commented about their love for chocolate milk, I agreed. I tried to make eye contact with everyone who cheered for me by name. I smiled.

My splits were terrible (by my standards), but it was okay. I missed my goal, but I was still 3 minutes faster than I was in Dallas – five weeks ago.

Splits

Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/mile miles/h
5K 07:33:30AM 00:28:19 28:19 09:07 6.59
10K 08:01:32AM 00:56:21 28:02 09:02 6.65
15K 08:30:01AM 01:24:50 28:29 09:10 6.55
HALF 09:05:23AM 02:00:12 35:22 09:20 6.43
25K 09:31:30AM 02:26:19 26:07 10:47 5.57
30K 10:06:50AM 03:01:39 35:20 11:23 5.28
35K 10:42:45AM 03:37:33 35:54 11:34 5.19
40K 11:19:51AM 04:14:39 37:06 11:57 5.03
Finish Net 11:34:06AM 04:28:55 14:16 10:27 5.74

Then I was coming down the finisher chute looking to see if my daughter was in the bleachers. I didn’t see her, but she saw me. (I was looking at the wrong bleachers.)

IMG_5530

I have never been so happy for ice cold chocolate milk.

IMG_5526

Just a side note about how awesome my daughter was over the weekend. She went with me to the start corral, took my gear back, made it to the finish bleachers to watch most of the race – starting right after the half marathon winners came through, then met me in the family reunion area by the time I got my food. She was amazingly supportive and helpful. She even drove part of the way home. The best thing she said to me after the race: Runners are so nice!

Way to go Houston! I can’t wait to be back next year!

 

 

Continue reading

Goals for Houston

It’s race week!!!!

I’m so excited! I have been looking forward to this race ever since I ran it last year! Having the opportunity to participate as a race ambassador has made it even sweeter.

There are so many things I’m looking forward to this weekend – going to the expo, meeting the other ambassadors, and getting the chance to meet some of you who have followed along on this journey.

I’ve set a few goals for the race itself:

1. Time goal: break four hours. I’m going to run more conservatively than what I started off for my last race. The first several weeks after I felt sluggish and drained. Part due to illness, part due to holiday indulgences. Last week I got my nutrition straight and I felt so much better on my runs. The spring was back in my step, and my pace was dropping back to “normal.”

2. Thank everybody. I appreciate volunteers and spectators more with each race I run. I try to make an effort – especially in the late miles when I’m feeling tired – to say thank you to each volunteer that I encounter at an aid station. To the spectators that call out your name and cheer. They are there because of us. Well, maybe not me specifically, but I love seeing them out there anyway. 🙂

3. Smile and have fun. I tend to forget sometimes that running a marathon is a choice I have made. I get to do this. I should enjoy the process of running the race as much as the preparation that went into it. I’m out there because I want to be. My face should reflect it.

 

Don’t forget to download the Houston Marathon app to track your favorite runners.

IMG_5489

 

I’ll be at the expo on Saturday. You can follow my twitter or Instagram account for the time. I’d love to meet you!

 

 

 

A Great Year in Running (2014)

So I’m a little behind on posting a year-end summary for 2014, but I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the year I had. I may have missed my big time goals, but I still had a pretty great year. I ran 18 races which included 4 marathons, 5 half marathons, a 15k, two 10ks, five 5ks, and a trail race. So here’s my recap of 2014 – mostly with pictures.

January: Houston!

Meeting Meb in Houston!

Meeting Meb in Houston at the Expo

Feeling great and smiling!

A 20 minute marathon PR in Houston

February: Cowtown Marathon

Cowtown does a medal right!

Cowtown does a medal right!

March: Rock ‘n Roll Dallas 1/2

PR!

My half marathon PR

April: Finding out I was picked to be a Houston Marathon race ambassador, part of Team Chocolate Milk, and running the OKC Memorial Marathon.

IMG_4533

 

All the Gear

Becoming part of Team Chocolate Milk

Straight into the wind

OKC Marathon

September:

Some first time 5kers

A few first timers (5k)

October: My first half marathon as a pacer

photo 3

 

November: First age group award in a half marathon (benefit of getting older)

IMG_5344December: Dallas Marathon and finding out I will be a Nuun ambassador for 2015!

Marathon Number 9

Marathon Number 9

2015 looks to be pretty great as well as I start with the Houston Marathon. Next week, I’ll post more about my goals for that.

Have a great week everyone!

 

 

My Best Gift

After I wrote my race recap from the Dallas Marathon, I had a pretty rough week. My daughter had the flu (which started on race day) and I had a few days of just feeling blah with some sort of chest cold/congestion and couldn’t taste or smell anything. It made the Christmas goodies less desirable to eat.

I want to thank everyone for the encouraging comments on my blog, on twitter, Instagram and in person about my Dallas race. I was ready to get back up and dust myself off. I have a better attitude about what happened in Dallas, and a new determination for Houston.

I also decided it was time to get ready for Christmas. It’s amazing how quickly time life goes by when you’re training!

In the midst of all the activity, I received one of the best gifts ever. My husband and I went shopping for running shoes the weekend before Christmas. But not for me!

IMG_5448

After all the early morning wake ups getting me to a race, or hanging out waiting on me to finish, listening to me drone on about what went wrong in a race, or talking his ear off when I PR, he has taken the plunge! I count this as my greatest accomplishment as a runner.It’s not about me or what I did. It’s about sharing the love of something I love with someone I love. It’s about seeing someone else discover the joy that running can bring. I don’t care if he runs a mile or a marathon. All I care is that he is taking a step to a healthier lifestyle and sharing that with me.

Christmas with my family was nice. I had a few tempting indulgences that resulted in a few rough runs. I learned that a few cookies (and fudge) do affect my pace. Several members of the running group met on Christmas day in the afternoon and I ran five miles. FYI: Two hours was not long enough to wait to digest that meal. It’s hard to run when you’re full.

On Saturday, I planned to run 18 miles, but the weather started off cold and rainy. I ended up running 8 with my running buddy. We decided to put the longer run until Sunday.

Sunday was cold!

IMG_5463

I was determined to get close to my marathon pace. I managed to start early and had almost 6 miles when I met up with my friend Leda who was planning to do 7 or 8. We did our normal five mile loop and then circled the park for a few miles. She kept running. I knew she was past her mileage plan, and she had a half marathon coming up this Wednesday, but she kept going. “Okay, just around this little loop here and we’ll add another 1.75.” Or “what’s the distance to your house from here?” We kept going. She was ahead and I was dragging behind trying to hang and keep an eye on my pace. We made it back to her car when I had just about a mile and half to go. She had run 11 with me. How awesome was that?!?

After a quick breather, I headed home. I focused on running a strong last mile. Every muscle hurt when I was finished, but I felt confident – and strong.

IMG_5465

Last week, I created a mini “training plan” to get me to Houston with confidence. This week I will focus on hitting specific paces, and some easy runs. Then I’ll start to taper. I’m going back to what I did last year that worked for me.

Happy training and Happy New Year!

Making Cuts

In the past couple of weeks, I have made some changes. These changes are eliminating stress in my life and make training more manageable. With just over a month to go until the Dallas Marathon, I need to keep a positive focus and up my mental game.

The first thing I did was cut our grocery budget. We can spend a ridiculous amount of money on food. We like to eat, and we enjoy going out as a family. It’s one of the ways we spend time together. But I find it hard to make healthy choices at a restaurant. Especially if we go to On The Border. Free chips and salsa. Yes, please. “Would you like me to bring out some more chips?” Sure. Or Italian food. Bread. Bread. Bread. Mmmmmm.

I finally hit a point where I got fed up with myself. I told my husband we needed to stop eating out. I was overeating and it was affecting my training.

Done. We haven’t gone out in three weeks.

Step two was to do a better job of having food to eat at home. After all, most of the time when we went out, it was because of my poor planning with nothing to make for dinner. So for the last three weeks, I have made a trip to the grocery store on Saturday afternoon with a meal plan and a list.  The meals aren’t fancy. This is me we’re talking about. Chicken enchiladas, quesadillas, and layered pasta are just a few of the meals we’ve rotated. I plan to make another round for week four and then start over with week one again. My crock pot has been incredibly handy. One Monday, I threw a package of chicken breasts in the crock pot. I shredded them when I came home from work, and we had enchiladas that night and chicken quesadillas the next. A day later it was chicken and rice. Yes I know, very creative, right? But my stress level in the kitchen has dropped immensely.

Step three: I haven’t had a Diet Coke in over two weeks.

This is an old picture. Promise.

This is an old picture. Promise.

This was a huge cut! One that I’ve tried to do at least ten times in the last six years. I switched to tea – mostly green – so I didn’t cut caffeine. I would like to say I feel great without diet soda in my system, but I haven’t really picked up on that yet. But, hey, I’m saving on the grocery budget too. Double whammy.

I had my first run on the treadmill last week. I did not enjoy it. It has been over four years since I ran on one,  and it was hard. I don’t know why I thought it would be easier doing my easy pace on the treadmill. I was slinging sweat everywhere. Oh, well at least it’s there for the next ice storm.

I'm ready for this year's Icepocalypse!

I’m ready for this year’s Icepocalypse!

 

Friday night, marching season ended with the last football game. No more late night pickups at the high school after an away game.

IMG_5318 IMG_5315

 

I get my early Friday night bedtimes back. Yay! This is my favorite part of fall marathon training – knowing I will get some sleep on the weekends. I do feel like I build up mental toughness doing long runs when I’m tired.

On Saturday, I ran my second 16 miler of this training cycle. It helped to run with a few fast group members that pushed me in the early miles before the wind kicked in.

IMG_5325IMG_5321

Then on Sunday I finished off my highest mileage week since this time last year. I’m feeling good and strong. I don’t feel like I’m overtraining – just hungry. I actually lost a couple of pounds in the last few weeks. Now I just need to work on getting more rest.

This Sunday, I’ll race a half marathon and test out my training. After that race, I’ll decide how to pace my marathon -which is just four short weeks later!

What is one way you’ve eliminated some stress while training?

 

Making Adjustments

So my training must be eating up my brain, because I’ve had several post ideas throughout the last few days. Now that I have time to sit at the computer to type it out, my brain is blank.

There’s been a lot of marathon excitement this month. I revisited this list.

My marathon wish list

My marathon wish list

But first, I need to graduate a child who has a crazy schedule during the fall thanks to marching band. Then I get a year off before the next child starts. So I’m going to enter all the lotteries for Fall 2016 – NYC, Marine Corps, and Chicago. Does anyone else have a list like this?

This is where my training is with less than 3 weeks to my next half marathon, 7 to go for the Dallas marathon, and then another 5 weeks after that for Houston.

I adjusted my training paces to match training for a 3:45 marathon. I previously planned to train for 3:40 which I hoped would help me land under the 3:45 needed to qualify for Boston. Since I haven’t seen the gains in speed from summer that I hoped (and we haven’t had much in the way of fall weather) I don’t want to set myself up for failure. Although 3:45 is still pretty ambitious. (My PR is 4:02:03 from Houston last year.)

I’m going to test my fitness at the half marathon, and move on from there. Last week, I nailed the prescribed paces for all three workouts, but my hardest run was the “easy” 7 miles the day after the tempo. How is it that my hardest run was one of the shortest?

This week didn’t get off to the best start though. I didn’t hit close enough to the pace to feel confident. I know the effort was there, but I think my legs were still tired from the 16 on Saturday. Last week was my highest mileage week so far. The cumulative fatigue in this plan is real. My legs are chronically sore, but I’m going to trust the training and keep pushing forward.

Meanwhile, I’m getting pretty tired of running in the dark.

By the light of the headlamp

By the light of the headlamp

I have been looking forward to my weekends runs for three reasons:

1) After solo miles, a group run on Saturday is the best.

2)Vitamin D – I get to run with the sunrise.

3)I get to sleep in.

Wait, when did 5:30 become sleeping in???

Also, after November 7th, marching band season is done and I get my early Friday night bedtime back. Yay!

Yes, I know. My life is so exciting.

On that note, tomorrow is rest day and I’m going to celebrate by going to bed.