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?

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BMW Dallas Marathon

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Yes, Christmas, but it’s also that time of year for the Dallas Marathon. While my Facebook feed is full of people sharing Christmas memories, mine pops up with marathon memories.

I’ve been running the Dallas Marathon every year since 2010 (minus the ice storm of 2013) when I ran my first half. My first full marathon was Dallas in 2011 and I’ve registered for the full every year after. The race experience continues to improve, and this year was the best so far.

As I started my taper week, I had all kinds of stuff going on. Let’s just say it wasn’t the most relaxing race week. I didn’t really have the time I wanted to focus on rest, recovery, and preparing my mind for Sunday. But in a way, I wondered if it was beneficial that I didn’t have time to over-think and wonder if I was prepared. Basically I didn’t have a chance to worry.

We planned our trip to the expo on Saturday when the elite ambassadors would be on the speaker stage. I enjoyed this last year, and carried their advice through the race with me. I wanted that again.

I got my bib signed by Desi, Deena, and Ryan Hall. I met Deena and Desi last year, but this was the first time I’ve met Ryan Hall.

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To me, that made the 16 weeks of early mornings and long runs totally worth it. I also knew they would be handing out medals at the finish line, and that became one of my race goals since I was oblivious the last two years. I love that they are so willing to give of their time to the running community!

I snapped a picture of my Dallas Marathon history.

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I ended up missing lunch, but I made an early dinner when we got home. I never really felt bloated from too many carbs, but I felt like I was loaded and ready to run 26.2.

Race day weather was perfect for me. Temps in the 50s with a little wind. My husband and I got there early with time to chill in the convention center, then I met up with my friend in the start corral.

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We ran the first five miles together, and then I moved into race pace. My plan was to run the first 5 miles in the 9:20 range, then bump up to race pace (9:05-9:10). She’s been battling foot pain, so her plan was to finish. I felt good. It was overcast and there was a little bit of a mist to keep us cool.

I felt like I was holding back in the first five miles (which was a good thing) but at mile 10 all of a sudden my legs felt heavy. I took in my fuel about half a mile earlier than planned, and it seemed to help some. Then I was doing okay holding onto my pace, but it felt harder than it should’ve. My hydration was fine, my nutrition was fine, but my legs felt like I had on ankle weights.

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My pace started to fall off when I was running by the lake (miles 16-17). There was a crosswind and I got a little chilled, but it didn’t last long.  At mile 19, I made a quick porta-potty stop. I lost my sub 4:00 goal, and was losing my 2nd goal – to PR. I negotiated a third goal in my head, and then a fourth. I walked, I ran, I walked, and I ran. In the last four miles – straight into the wind – the goal became to finish the best I could and still be proud of my race. My legs were shuffling and so very heavy. The distance on my Garmin was almost a half a mile off from the mile markers. I finally stopped looking at the watch. I ran the entire last mile, and I felt like I was barely moving.

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Positive Splits (you’re doing it wrong)

When I was coming down to finish, I saw one of my Team Chocolate Milk members waving to me. That was encouraging, and so was seeing the announcer at the finish line.

This is my blazing fast finish (10:45 pace) captured by my husband.

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I spotted volunteers handing out medals, and then saw Ryan Hall. I waited behind two people to get my medal from him. Then I saw Leo Manzano handing out medals too. That experience was worth the pain of the race, and gave me a positive outlook for my finish. That was also my final race goal – to get my medal from an elite runner. 🙂

I am so grateful for all the volunteers, police officers, and spectators – and especially seeing those who cheered specifically for me. Thank you Jennifer and your pool noodle! 🙂 It made an unpleasant run much better.

 

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Team Chocolate Milk!

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I am so thankful to Dallas Marathon for a great race experience! It truly was a great weekend. There will be another race, and I’ll get that sub 4!

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Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio Half Marathon

I couldn’t think of a better way to reward four months of marathon training, than to finish up my last long training run with a fun race!

Last weekend, my running buddy and I headed down to San Antonio for a whirlwind trip to run the Rock ‘n Roll half marathon. We left early Saturday morning, and fortunately traffic on I-35 cooperated.  We made good time even with the rain, and at the the expo we weren’t disappointed. I stocked up on more Nuun, and there was a sighting of US Olympian marathoners.

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Jared Ward and Meb!

A high-five from Meb 😉

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After we checked in to the hotel, we headed for a meet up with the other members of Team Chocolate Milk who were in San Antonio. Since the rain dampened (ha!) our plans for a shakeout run, we went to the Tower of the Americas to hang out. All the times I’ve been to San Antonio, this is the first time I’ve been to the tower. I didn’t realize it was a glass elevator that took you up to the observation deck. So I faced the back of the elevator, and tried not to look out until we reached the top. (I have a slight fear of heights.) Once we were on the observation deck, I was fine. But it was nice to chat with other team members and hang out a bit.

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Race morning was cool and breezy, but not too much in the way of rain. The roads were still pretty wet. After all, we were under a flood warning.

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It started sprinkling in the start corral, but once we started running, I began to feel a little warm, and wished I wore my tank. Running through the downtown streets, we would turn into the wind and then I’d cool off some. We ran right in front of the Alamo, which is my favorite part of the course. The two hour pacer was in front of us, and my friend heard a spectator yell, “Way to go, two o’clock!” Ha!

Around mile 6 or 7, it started to rain harder and the rain was dripping off of my visor. The course is mostly flat, with the few climbs past halfway. I remember one tough little hill. Mile 11 maybe? But I was ready for it. I’ve been training on hills, and my legs were ready. There were also a couple of places we made a detour to avoid large puddles in the road, but I was completely soaked when I finished. This would be a great PR race because it’s so flat, and I’d love to try to do that one year.

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One of my favorite things about the Rock ‘n Roll races: I know there will be chocolate milk ready for me at the finish.

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Chocolate milk is my go-to for recovery after a hard and/or long run. Not only does it fit in my budget, but I don’t have to worry about where to get it when I run out. Grocery stores, convenience stores, and even McDonald’s carries low-fat chocolate milk! If you want to know the science behind it, check out this article. I know that it makes my body happy. I feel like I’m doing good for my muscles, and the soreness is less pronounced when I recover right. Try it!

Now that I’ve had my fun race (in the rain), I’m ready to focus on my goal for Dallas this Sunday. I’ve been chasing the sub 4 hour marathon for three years. At this moment, it looks like the weather might actually cooperate this year. I’m not going to hold my breath on that one, but I will focus on the things I can control: nutrition, rest, and following my race day plan. If I survive the taper…

 

 

 

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?

Rock ‘n Roll San Antonio with Team Chocolate Milk

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

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

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

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

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

When in San Antonio...eat Italian?

When in San Antonio…eat Italian?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A successful training run.

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What hills?

Nicely executed negative splits!

Nicely executed negative splits!

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A beautiful medal!

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

Two Long Runs and a 10k (McKinney Believe)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and another block added to my mental building.

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

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

 

 

 

 

Half Marathon Ready

After dealing with setbacks on my speed and mileage due to my plantar fasciitis injury, I finally feel ready for my half marathon this Sunday. My foot was a little inflamed after 12 miles in the rain, dodging puddles, but is better this week.

I kept most of my weekly runs short last week, with one 6 miler and the rest under 4. On Wednesday, for National Running Day, we had a group social run. That was fun because I got to run with some new faces.

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On Saturday it was warm and humid. Even starting at 7 am is starting to feel too late. Our group starts and finishes at a park with a pool, and it’s too bad it’s not open that early because it is certainly inviting after a sweaty long run.

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My 10 miler gave me enough feedback to know I’m probably not in sub-2:00 range yet, with the heat.

This morning I ran a 6 mile progression run. My fastest mile is just over what I was running half marathons at last fall.

Patience.

But I am continually reminding myself of what’s important.

I can run.

I am running for more than a medal. I am running the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon in Irving which benefits Wounded Warrior Project.

I am also running for Medals of Honor and will be donating my medal to the family of a fallen military serviceman.

As the wife of a Navy veteran, I want to do whatever I can to help our military, families, and others who have served.

That’s what is keeping me from getting frustrated with my progress.

So on Sunday, I will do my best, but ultimately I am not running for myself.