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.

 

 

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The Crazies – Cowtown Race Week

So this is how my race week started:

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Let me introduce you to our version of a “snow day” in North Texas, which consisted of just enough freezing rain and sleet (and no snow) to make the roads a mess and close all schools in the vicinity. For two days.

This is the current forecast for Fort Worth, which is a little better. I was starting to have 2013 Dallas Marathon flashbacks. Although, it would be nice for the rain part to move out.

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Of course Sunday would say “warmer”

 

On one hand, I’ve enjoyed the extra time at home. I’ve been able to catch up on some sleep which was soooooooo needed! For the past couple of months I have been so tired. Without going too much in detail, my 18 year old son (who moved out in August) moved back home right before Christmas. With that change, my early bedtimes disappeared and multiple sleep interruptions began. I wake up every single time he comes up the stairs and goes into the kitchen. He wants to stay up all night and eat. Of course, with two teenagers in the house, sleep is a precious commodity anyway. Just in case you thought once they sleep through the night it gets better. I hope we’re just going through a phase.  Anyway, the past two days at home changed my tired, worn out mood as quickly as the weather changes in Texas. I have been staying in bed until 7, relaxing and taking my time to start the day. It’s a pleasant change from jumping out of bed at 5 and dashing out the door to run before time to get the kids up for school.

The combination of tapering and snow days have me full of energy. My kids are probably ready to go back to school so they won’t have to do any more house work. I even emptied the laundry basket – which meant I actually folded the sheets that have been in there since November. Yay me! Little known fact: I hate folding sheets so much that we wash the ones on the bed and put them back on. The sheets in the basket were replaced with flannel sheets back in November. Folded just in time to put back on the bed next month. We also hung a few things on the wall, rearranged and uncluttered our bedroom and I helped a 12 year old make replacement pom-poms for a hat.

On the downside, I hope I’m not depleting my energy too much for race day with the stir-crazies. I’ve done two short runs on the treadmill and tomorrow will be a rest day. At this moment, it looks like school will be in session and I’ll be back to work on Wednesday. I’ll run short again on Thursday, and hopefully it will be outside.

Whether taper crazy or stir crazy, I am happy to report I am going into race week for Cowtown feeling rested, healthy, and ready to run a marathon.

The plan for Sunday is to run with my friend, who’s running the half, until the split which is between miles 10 and 11. I’m looking forward to this because we usually run most of our long runs together. I would like to shoot for a four-hour marathon again, but my main goals are to have fun and smile. My husband will be darting around on his bike, so hopefully that will pull me along in the latter miles. Also, my dad will be running his first half marathon on Sunday at Cowtown. I can’t wait to hear about his race!

 

 

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

It’s Race Week!

Exactly one year ago today, I ran a half marathon up and down my alley.

My Icy Half Marathon

My Icy Half Marathon

This year, as I prepare for the Dallas Marathon on Sunday, I have a lot of thoughts swirling around my brain.

This will be my fourth year to run Dallas (half 2010, full 2011 and 2012). I will set three finishing goals (A, B, and C) and I will enjoy the race.

This training cycle has been hard. It has tested my mental strength more than anything. I find myself wondering exactly what I was thinking with a maximum 16 mile long run. I also wonder what it feels like to run on “fresh legs.”

This is the plan!

This is the plan!

Although my time goal has changed throughout my training, my heart hasn’t. So on Sunday, I will push myself to run a faster marathon than I have before. I will remind myself that “every finish is a win.”

Let the taper crazies begin!

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.

 

 

 

 

Highs and Lows

Wow, my last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of activity! The day after I posted my big news about being a finalist for Team Chocolate Milk, (don’t forget you can still vote once a day until Friday the 18th) I got an email notifying me of this news.

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I cannot even begin to explain how elated I was to find out I was one of the 10 chosen to be a race ambassador for the 2015 Houston Marathon. I am honored, humbled, and overwhelmed with joy. As I told my husband, “I am not fast, I don’t look like a runner, and I’m not popular. I am humbled that I’ve been given this opportunity.” His response was “I think you’re all the above.” Yes, he’s a keeper.

You’ll be hearing more about the Houston Marathon in upcoming posts. I highly recommend checking out the registration information which will open up soon.

With this whirlwind of activity, I still needed to focus on my training for Oklahoma City – less than two weeks to go. I want to be ready to break four hours if the weather is right. Spring has officially arrived in North Texas, and for a few days last week I trained in heat and mad south winds.  The first few runs in the heat are the toughest, and even nailing marathon pace was a struggle. Some of that struggle may have been recovering from the stomach bug though. Saturday’s long run was tough. My stomach was out of sorts, and it was humid. I ran with a couple of Texoma Runners (our running group), and it was nice to chat and have the distraction from pushing my pace. My time wasn’t great, but I know that marathon training has its highs and lows. Neither will be a predictor of finish time on race day. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles (or 26.45 by my Garmin).

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening working in my yard planting shrubs and flowers. My daughter made dinner and my husband bought me a treat because I was working so hard.

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I told you he was a keeper.

This week, we’re having a little blast of winter with a freeze warning in effect for tomorrow morning.

Texas weather.

Who knows what race day will be like for Oklahoma City.

To everyone running the Boston Marathon next week, have a great race and enjoy the experience! It’s so exciting seeing all the activity on social media. I hope to be running it in 2016 – so I should probably lay off the Blue Bell some.

 

 

The Race that Wasn’t

So, I’ve been training since August for the Dallas Marathon. I have made some great accomplishments personally with this training cycle. For the first time ever, I had fifty mile weeks over six days of running, every long run was below the 10:00 pace (my marathon PR is exactly at the 10:00 pace), and I didn’t even gain weight this time around. The taper had me a little anxious – but I think that’s perfectly normal, and I was ready for race day.

When I wrote my last post, the forecast was looking pretty good. Maybe a little cold for some, but I was feeling good about it.

Then it went south. Or north. With an arctic force storm.

On Wednesday, our temperatures were in the 70s, but they were forecast a wintry mix, ice, sleet, etc. So I filled my car up and was at the grocery store along with everyone else in town. I was mostly stocking up on my carbs: bananas, chocolate milk, pretzels…

On Thursday, the schools let out early when it started to sleet. By Thursday night, I was beginning to worry about the race. How would I be able to get my packet on Saturday? Would my husband make it home to drive us to the expo, or the race?

Friday morning was worse. Everything was solid ice. I couldn’t get out of my driveway if I wanted to.

View from my front door  Pretty, but it needs to go away.

View from my front door
Pretty, but it needs to go away.

The opening of the expo was delayed until 2:00, then sometime after noon the announcement was made that the race was canceled.  Even though I had a gut feeling since Thursday night, I still felt the punch and had my cry. I broke goal #2. Over the next few days, I went through the seven stages of grief. Denial and anger – aimed not at the marathon but the weather – arrived pretty quickly. Then I started the bargaining stage in the form of scrambling for another race somewhere in the next few weeks. Something, anything – a 10k, half marathon. There was a New Year’s double race that sold out with a wait list in no time because others were doing the same thing. My motivation was fading fast. I even burned out 26.2 miles on the stationary bike. Yes, it all makes sense in my head.

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Saturday I fed my depression with the batch of Snickerdoodle cookies I made and another hour on the bike.

One is the loneliest number...

One is the loneliest number…

Sunday we moved above freezing and I decided I was going to run up and down the alley. The roads were still terrible and I didn’t want to chance a fall too far from home. Highways were shut down in Sherman on Saturday because of the ice and the roads were terrible. I went out after I saw the icicles on the house dripping water, but it was still too slick. I waited a few hours and went out again. I started with the plan to run 3 miles if I could. That 3 became 6.2 which turned into shooting for double digits, which in turn became run a half marathon. Yes, I ran up and down my alley the entire time. Yes, my neighbors probably think I’m crazy and no, I don’t care. I was desperate to burn off some energy after a three week taper and not being able to run since Thursday morning. It was slow going, but when I finished my mood was 100 times better. Today my hips are a little sore from the turning and trail-like running, and my toes hurt. On a positive note, my new gloves are great at blocking the cold wind.

Go time!

Go time!

My Icy Half Marathon

My Icy Half Marathon

Plan B is now in force. I have six weeks until the Houston Marathon. I’m no longer searching for a race, I have accepted my situation. I will repeat the last six weeks of my Dallas training with a few variations. My motivation may suffer, but I’ll go for broke trying to get a sub 4:00:00 in Houston on January 19th.

A few other notes:

Cars and trucks were stranded on highways for hours in the surrounding metroplex and the storm was an anomaly for our area. In no way could any of this be helped. I am content with how the Dallas Marathon handled the communication and making the decision when they did. They will be mailing out participant shirts and later will communicate a special deal for runners for next year’s registration along with double medals when you finish your race in 2014 if you were registered for 2013. That’s more than I would have expected and I appreciate what they are doing.

Thankfully the sun is shining today, and even though the kids are out of school again I might be able to get out. Good thing, because supplies are getting low.

How would you cope with a race cancellation?