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.

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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

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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!

 

 

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon 2014

Sunday, I ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for my third straight year.  In pure OKC fashion, the weather was my biggest challenge. Again.

Friday afternoon, we headed south to drop all the kids with my parents. Nearly five hours later (after fighting to get through Dallas both directions) we made it back home. Exciting life we lead – we were in bed by 10:00. Saturday morning, we headed out of town after a quick stop for disposable ponchos. The forecast was a little iffy on rain.

We didn’t spend a whole lot of time at the expo. We made the rounds and I bought a couple of things I found on sale.

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After a late lunch at Olive Garden, with unlimited breadsticks we headed to the hotel. I have learned to eat my big meal at lunchtime and have a light, early dinner on race eve.

Race day morning we rose early and after the third discussion about why I didn’t get a hotel near the start/finish we made it to our usual parking lot. There are perks to doing repeat races. We have learned our way around.

The race was scheduled to start at 6:30. I downed my applesauce and moved into the corral, then the first 30 minute delay was announced. There were storms blowing up out on the course with lightning, possible hail. It was typical spring weather for the area. Then the race was delayed until 7:15. We found a shelter to hang out under. A third announcement delayed the race until 8, at which point we headed back to the car.

And waited.

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And watched the clouds roll.

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The most frustrating part of the delay was that my iPhone had no connection. I couldn’t get updates on any social media sites, and my husband kept getting kicked off. I began to wonder if we would even have the race. After the last race that wasn’t, I don’t think my mood could’ve survived another cancellation so soon. He told me I would need to go home and run 26 miles around town if they cancelled.

Finally, at 8:00 they announced the race would start in 15 minutes. There was the 168 seconds of silence (one for each victim of the bombing in 1995), the national anthem, and then the wheelchair start. I found the 4:00 pace group, and determined that I would hang with them. The rain had stopped, the temperature was nice and cool, and I was ready.

When we started, the breeze stopped. I hung with the pace group until 15k, but I was sticky and sweaty. It was nice letting someone else guide the pace so I didn’t keep checking my watch, but after several miles I found out that they were banking time to walk the water stops. I carry a handheld so I don’t have to stop at each one. By the 10k mark, we were a minute under. It felt fast to me, and I probably should’ve dropped back after the first few miles. I lost them uphill around 15k, then the sun came out. But it wasn’t just the sun. You can tell from my splits when we turned into the wind. Not just a slight breeze, but a hang on to your hat wind speed. I hit halfway just under 2 hours, so I had a chance to make my four hour goal, but the wind was kicking my tail. Around mile 14, I tossed the time goal and stuck to mostly a 4 min. run/1 min. walk routine. When I hit shady areas or with the wind at my back, I ran longer before walking.

I first saw my husband (on his bike) around mile 5. Then around mile 21-22, when I started feeling defeated from the wind and heat, I saw him again. The way the course was set up, he was able to ride in the next lane almost all the way to the finish.  These miles were mostly into the wind, and he told me not to worry about time. Just finish. I continued my run/walk, but every time I walked, it hurt to start running again. My calves were sore, my hips were sore, and I was hot. I went through the 3 Nuun tablets in my 20 oz. handheld before mile 20. I was gulping Powerade and water at every aid station, dumping water over my head and running through the sprinklers. I don’t know the temperature, but there was salt residue on my skin. A wind gust blew a table over at a water stop. Thank goodness, the marathon has frequent aid stations in those last few miles, because I needed every stop. I was so happy to see the finish line stretch.

Straight into the wind

Straight into the wind

Crossing the line without the nausea I’ve experienced the past two years was worth the slower time. Such obstacles to overcome – storm delay, humidity, heat, wind – made it that much more of an accomplishment.

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I posted 3 goals to my Facebook status that morning:

1. Enjoy the run.
2. Not run the same exact time I ran the last two years. 4:32
3. Actually get one of the Carl’s Jr. hamburgers at the finish.

 

This was my update:

1. Every finish is a win.

2. I ran a 4:40 instead of 4:32. Respect the sun.

3. I got my burger. (It was great!)

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Marathon #8 is done. It wasn’t my slowest, but it sure drained me physically. I’ll be back again next year, no matter the weather. It has such a great purpose and meaning. Here is a recap video from the marathon’s site:

I’m going to take a break from high mileage for a few months. I have some pretty big goals to gear up for the fall/winter. More on that next week!

 

Toughest race conditions you’ve endured?

Do you choose a race for location, time of year, or meaning? Or all of the above?

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Taper Don’ts

Ah, race week. It’s finally here – the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is on Sunday.

Actually, I can’t believe time has moved so fast. Spring weather came and went here in North Texas, and now it feels like early summer. Oh yeah. I also remember why I enjoy fall marathon training so much better. When you start training in the summer and move into cooler temps, it’s a joy to find race pace efforts are easier. In the spring, for me anyway, it’s tough moving from cooler temperatures to 80 degree sweaty runs. I’m not going to let that get me down though.

I moved into taper mode last week, but it was one of those times that life bumped against training. I did my last hard workout last Tuesday with mile repeats at the park. While I was there, I saw two of the runners from our group being interviewed by the local news. They were headed to Boston. I waved as I went by and when I circled again the news station had gone. One of them asked me what I was running, and I told him I was probably running his easy pace. He jumped in and paced me through the next two. I was dying at 7:25-7:30 pace, and he didn’t even break a sweat. I noticed that running with someone faster helped me shift focus and I ran the repeats a little faster than I would have on my own. Oh, and this guy ran a 3:11 yesterday and is the same age as me. So fast!

By Sunday, I was not feeling “tapered” so I took an extra rest day and watched a movie with the kids. I realized why I felt wiped out, so I created my list of taper don’ts to reference for future marathons.

1. Do not volunteer to chaperone a [2nd grade] field trip which involves four floors of walking at a museum. But I did earn mom points for it.

The Perot Museum in Dallas

The Perot Museum in Dallas

2. Do not sign your kids up for their first color run a week before a marathon – to run after completing your long run. Do the long run a different day. Extra mom points for this one.

First 5k for these two!

First 5k for these two!

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Messy!

 

They had a blast, and the way the course circled around, I could run with the youngest – who took off like a flash – and still check on the other two to make sure they were having fun. I’ve come a long way from the mom who wouldn’t let her kids fingerpaint or play with play-doh because of the mess. The oldest daughter asked if we could do it again next year.

3. Do not do yard work the week before or on race week. Thank goodness it rained Sunday afternoon, so I put my feet up and watched a movie guilt-free. I may have been last on the planet to see “Frozen,” but the kids were happy to watch it again. Mom points.

After continuous training for marathons since August, I suppose it’s okay to earn some mom points. This week, though my family has been warned. My feet are going up and I’m going to rest.

I haven’t given up on my four hour goal for Sunday. The weather looks warmer than I’d like, but after my fast (for me) 20 miler three weeks ago in the rain, I know I can do it. Mind over matter. It’s a brain thing I need to conquer.

Congratulations to all the Boston Marathoners! My motivation is high after yesterday and I can’t wait to work my tail off to get there.

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon 2013

It’s been three days since Sunday’s marathon, and my body is still reminding me I am in recovery. My quads and calves have been compressed, foam rolled, self-massaged, and rubbed down with Ben-Gay. My legs still cry every time I stand up.

This was my second year to run the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Both years the weather affected my performance, but this time, I went with a “no PR” attitude. It was about what the race represents. This race was set up to remember the ones killed in the bombing of the federal building in 1995. With the bombing in Boston just two weeks before, it was a run to remember for two reasons.

A movement within the running community encouraged runners to wear red socks to remember Boston and green laces for Oklahoma City. The green laces are part of the fundraising for the race. The turnout I saw along the course was amazing. The groups of  firefighters walking the half course in their full gear is enough to choke anyone up. I was also impressed by the many inspirational shirts I see along the course. Many were running to remember someone, and there were shirts for Boston. The most memorable for me had three lines printed across the back:

Run for Oklahoma City 1995

Run for NYC 2001

Run for Boston 2013

I won’t spend a lot of time on this post talking about my race. I’m still tackling running well in rising temperatures. I did have a great time and I plan to go back again next year.

Dick Beardsley at the race expo

Dick Beardsley at the race expo

 

Start corral with two friends from our running group

Start corral with two friends from our running group

 

Finish photo with part of the memorial behind me

Finish photo with part of the memorial behind me

My time? Well, I don’t know how I did this, but I was seven seconds faster than I was last year. Those last six miles get me every time!

I can say with absolute certainty, I am ready to take a break from marathon training. Three marathons within five months was time consuming. A break from three hour long runs will be welcome. I’m looking forward to running some 5 and 10ks this summer.

What’s a favorite race for you that is not based on PRs?

 

 

Getting Ready for OKC

It’s the final days before the Oklahoma City marathon, and I’m suddenly seeing exactly how much housework needs to be done.

Actually, I look forward to tapering for a race because I need that extra time to catch up on mom things like cooking actual meals for my family, laundry, clearing out some clutter, and sleep. But what I most look forward to is catching up on reading.

Just a sample of the material I will devour in the next two weeks.

Just a sample of the material I will devour in the next two weeks.

This will be my last marathon for a while. I don’t have anything planned until the Dallas Marathon in December. We have been house hunting the past month, and the thought of high mileage training and moving does not sit well.

In preparation for Sunday’s race, I took a look back at my post from last year. With everything that has happened, I expect there will be a few tears this year as well.

On a lighter note, here’s my motto for the rest of the week as I begin to carbo-load for Sunday.

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What do you look forward to when you taper for a race?

 

Finding the Importance of Recovery

As I sit here typing on this Monday morning, I am still feeling wiped out from Saturday’s long run. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this exhausted by a run. I’m still trying to decide if that’s a good thing.

I ran 22 miles on Saturday as my longest run for the Oklahoma City marathon coming up at the end of the month. I felt good while I was running. I took some hills in the later miles, and kept on my targeted pace even through miles 20-22. I didn’t feel my legs lock up like I expected them to at mile 20. My confidence is in place for the marathon.

I stopped for chocolate milk on the way home, and was disappointed to find that I couldn’t get a quick breakfast. Fast food places were serving lunch. So I headed home, where my daughter was waiting on me to take her to a friend’s house. I took a quick shower, and exhaustion set in while I was putting on my shoes.

I asked my 16 year old son to hand me my drink from across the room. He looked at me and laughed, “Are you that lazy?” I shot him daggers, and my drink was in my hand a moment later. He had gotten my point.

While dropping my daughter off, I stopped for a quick lunch of pizza – which sounded really good after a morning off gels and gummies. I know it wasn’t the best food nutritionally, but I have been doing well lately and I needed comfort food. Caffeine, carbs, and grease (because I had to choose the 4-meat pizza). It was good, but I was still craving something.

I think the worst part of a tough run is needing to eat, but finding nothing to satisfy. I usually spend most of the day trying to calm my appetite. It’s a cruel cycle for someone who still wants to drop a few pounds.

I know that I missed my recovery window in those few hours after my run, and that’s why I still feel the way I do today. I’m just dragging. I know better. I know how I should recover, but I let my emotion take hold of me. I know the importance of refueling properly, stretching, and resting. But I didn’t get that on Saturday. I was on the run all day, and didn’t get into bed until after 11 Saturday night. By that point, I was so exhausted I couldn’t fall asleep.

I now know the effect recovery – or lack of it – has on me and I will make sure that doesn’t happen again (as much as I can with my brood  of children).

Lesson learned.