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. ūüėČ

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. ūüôā

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!

 

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Changes That Stick

I admire those who can post updates on their blog on a regular basis. I have every intention of posting weekly – on Monday or Tuesday. That should be doable, right? But sometimes, life gets away from me and before I know it, it’s Friday night and I’m ready to go to bed at 7:30.

So here is the post I wanted to write¬†last week, but it was a tough week. I can report that I’m back on track now.

After the Houston Marathon, I started to second guess myself. Why was I running slower? What was I doing different? Had I reached my full potential and started a steady decline in speed?¬†I also noticed while I was running the marathon¬†I felt different with my body composition – heavier. Sure, it was probably due to a few Christmas goodies¬†here and there, but I didn’t like it. It motivated me in a good way, and the day after the race, I made some changes to my diet. These are changes that I want to be permanent, but I also know how I can get sloppy after a while. I need my changes to stick.

In the past four weeks, I have been tracking all my food, eating more fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and I have felt much better. My energy level has been up even though I’m not getting ideal sleep. My easy run pace has dropped to what I consider normal for me and I have started to see some speed come back. I haven’t been able to get¬†a mile near 8:00 range yet, but it’s getting closer. I don’t want to push the speed too hard since I’m still training for the Cowtown Marathon.

I’ve lost a pound or two, depending on which week it is. I’m trying not to focus on the scale too much. As long as I stay within a specific range, I’m not going to worry about it.¬†¬†I have picked back up on regular core work¬†(planks, bridges, pushups)¬†and after Cowtown I will expand my strength training to replace¬†some of the running miles.

The last two Saturdays, my long runs have given my self confidence the boost it needed. A week ago, I ran an 18 miler with 12 miles around a 9:15 pace. It was nice to know I could push and do what I set out to do.

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This past Saturday, I pushed again by running with a faster runner for 10.5 miles of my 16 total. Overall we averaged 9:09 pace for that segment, but I know there were some fast miles in there because the first 3-4 were 9:30s. Negative splits are a great confidence builder. I was wiped out at the end, but it felt great!

Now I’m ready to taper for Cowtown. I plan to¬†take this Saturday run a little easier to rest the stress I’ve built in my legs the past few weeks. I will also focus on keeping my nutrition in check so that’s not slowing me down.

Have a great week!

 

 

 

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).

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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!).

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The elusive sub 4:00 goal

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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.

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My beautiful daughter…

 

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All smiles at the finish line!

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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.)

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

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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 Рstarting 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!

 

 

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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. ūüôā

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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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.

Marathon Training and Warnings

Wednesday¬†morning, dark and early, I will take the first run of my training plan for the Dallas Marathon. Because of my big goal, I’ve been working [mostly] all summer to lose weight, build strength, and gain speed.

Last week I took a break.

I cut back on my mileage, logging some slower paced 3 & 4 milers. I¬†finally finished painting the laundry room and the workout room, and I didn’t worry about my eating habits. I indulged in some escapism first by watching an entire season of Downton Abbey, then reading Divergent. A note about me: I believe a good writer is a reader, and I must read the book before I watch the movie. I also like to read Young Adult fiction.

Then I celebrated a milestone.

 

Best Carrot Cake Ever!

Best Carrot Cake Ever!

I am now in a new age group. Hey there, 40.

The mental break was nice, but now I’m ready for structure.

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My plan will be challenging. For sure.

I will follow this for the Dallas Marathon, and see how I progress. If it’s not a great day, Houston will be my shot to BQ.

Just so I don’t alienate those around me, I made a list of what to expect from me over the next several months.

1. Early bedtime. I do not plan to answer calls, email, or texts after 9 pm.¬†¬†Getting enough sleep is a problem for me, so this is an accountability statement. If you see me post on social media, call me out. ūüôā

2. I will eat. All the time. Please don’t give me funny looks when I go for seconds at dinner – especially dessert.

3. Meal plan and shop for groceries once a week.  My kids will be okay eating grilled cheese once in a while Рor once a week.

4. I will not check out books from the library, because I will forget to turn them in on time.

5. I will undoubtedly forget something I was asked to do, bring, or make.

Please forgive my training brain.¬†There will be weeks¬†when I have it together, and times I’m dropping balls all over the place.

So, gulp – it’s time to get started.