Moving On (How I Manage Post-Race Blues)

Last week the post-race blues set in…

marathon meme

…, along with my aching quads that kept me from getting out of a chair in a normal manner. I honestly thought the Houston Marathon would be my PR race for the year, so even though there are other events on the horizon, I feel like I’m working on next year. But that’s ok too.

Fortunately, after two days of active recovery on the stationary bike followed by a rest day, I was ready for a short run on the treadmill by Thursday. My energy level was good and my motivation was back. I didn’t push the pace, but ran an easy pace for three miles after a warmup walk. Recovery was priority as I focused on nutrition. Again. I’m happy to report that I made it through the entire week on track. I could stand to lose the few extra pounds I was carrying for 26.2 miles. I also spent some time formulating my goals for the coming year, trying to decide how to handle training for the next few weeks specifically.

You see, I have another marathon coming up on March 1st.

cowtown

To some, it may not look like I have the best approach to marathons, but I have found what works for me so far. I don’t run well in warm weather. I don’t run well in humid weather. I live in Texas. The weather changes all the time. In winter, we wear tank tops one day and long sleeves with tights the next. The chances of me running a marathon (in Texas) in humid or warm weather is pretty high. Last week in Houston was the best race day weather I’ve had.

I say all this to justify my marathon season. I like to have contingent races in case of bad weather, an off day, and just because I like to support the races that are close. I did decide against going to Oklahoma City this year though. The past three years the weather has not been kind to me. I’m going to take a break from marathons after March 1st, until it’s time to start training again in the fall.

Maybe Cowtown won’t be a PR race. It may even be slower than the last two, but I’m going to go have fun with it anyway. My running friend is doing the half so we’re going to run together until the split. Also, my dad’s running his first half marathon then. At age 65! I’m a little excited.

So while I continue to work on my plan to reach big goals for next year, I’m going to take the pressure off of myself and relax a bit. This Sunday I’m running a half marathon in Dallas. I don’t know if I’ll try to race or just take it easy. Only time will tell.

Have a great week!

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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. 🙂

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!

 

 

 

Something Old, Something New

I knew it would get busy this fall with work, kids in school, marching band and Friday night football, and marathon training. Oh, and the puppies. Boy, sometimes they wear me out. Just when I think we have made progress, I find them chewing on the floor trim, or a shoe, or my toes… More reminders of why I said no to a new puppy for the last four years.



Don't let these innocent faces fool you!

Don’t let these innocent faces fool you!

 

Anyway, my training has been moving along.The humidity has killed my pace on almost all speed work and tempo workouts. Thankfully, cooler temperatures are coming. I’m hoping tomorrow’s run will be a breeze. As I’m settling into training – I’m on week 5 – I’ve  noticed my body craving old food habits I formed a year ago. That’s a good thing.

Lots of eggs, spinach, peanut butter, and guacamole avocado.

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This is a totally normal amount of eggs to have on hand, right?

My appetite hasn’t gone crazy like I thought it would, but my stomach has been rumbling with hunger twice a day: the middle of the night and the middle of my run. I decided to make some more filling snacks to have around to see if it would help. I’ve made the no bake energy bites several times before, but I tried this recipe with the pretzels for the first time. I’ll be making more of these, especially since other family members discovered them.

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I need to buy more peanut butter.

We did some shopping a couple of weeks ago, and I got these shorts for $12.00 at the Adidas outlet. I can look at the logo during a run for a reminder of one of the reasons I’m training hard. I also grabbed a tee for $7.00 which is just my shopping style.

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Chasing the unicorn…

On Amazon, I snagged a deal on a pair of compression shorts with ice inserts. These take my post-run recovery to another level.

 

Today, I used my headlamp for the first time. I needed to branch out to reduce some hills, and it helped. I didn’t try it before, because I was afraid it would bounce. It didn’t. The only trouble I had was when I was running into the wind. But I did feel pretty hard-core running with a headlamp.

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Yes, my face is that red. 80 degrees, 74% humidity, 9 miles with 6 at marathon pace. Whew!

 

Bring on fall weather already, I’m so done running in tanks!

I’m glad to be back in the familiarity of marathon training, but new recipes and gear certainly help keep my motivation up.

How do you find motivation?

Eating to Run

I’ve put off writing this post for a few weeks. Like a disappointing race recap, I don’t want to talk about it. At the same time I want to be real here – as sad as it may be at times. It’s been easy for me to find other things to write about, as I pushed this post off for another week – races, running in the heat, strength training – but now I’m confessing my disappointment.

I wrote about a few major changes I wanted to work on this summer in order to prepare for my winter marathons. Losing the marathon weight gain from the first part of the year (along with the Christmas, two birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and Easter weight gain) was a priority. I set a goal after OKC to lose a pound a week which would take me where I want to be when my training plan officially starts in August. I even had a few extra weeks in there for a plateau. Let me preface the rest of my post with this statement: For the last two years (post OKC marathon) I have lost all the weight I gained while marathon training – and then some.

Eight weeks ago, I started my plan to get ready for fall training. I read this book which helped me set an initial goal for weight & body fat percentage. It’s a doable goal.

Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald

Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald

I started my strength training at the same time. My result so far with six more weeks to go? I haven’t lost a single pound. Not one. In fact, I’ve gained two.

What the heck???

Every week, several times a week, I have weighed in the hopes of seeing the numbers drop. I even considered cutting my hair short in hopes of losing a pound. 😉 And yes, I know strength training changes things. So before you say “muscle weighs more than fat” know that I’ve been tracking body fat every four weeks. The percentage hasn’t dropped.

To say I’m frustrated is an understatement. I’ve gone from someone who once rewarded 5 mile runs with an apple fritter to I don’t remember the last time I ate a donut. What has changed so that I’m not dropping weight? Other than working an extra 2 1/2 hours a day and snacking less, I’ve continued doing what I need to do to lose weight by following a higher quality diet. I eat whole grains, healthy fats (almonds, avocados), fruits and veggies. I keep my calories within the daily limits, and I’m training consistently. I even started a running streak on Memorial Day to see if that would help. My husband can sneeze and lose a pound, but my metabolism has always been slow. Thanks to genetics, yo-yo dieting in my 20s, and don’t mention what having four babies does to a body. For those who say losing weight gets harder at 40 – it looks like I got a jump start.

As my husband smartly pointed out, “What’s more important? The number on the scale or running fast?” Well, of course it’s getting faster. I just can’t help thinking I’ll be faster if I’m lighter.

I know I drive him crazy.

The positive notes about the past eight weeks:  I feel stronger and more flexible. I can feel my core strength propel me forward when I’m sprinting or doing hill repeats. A pair of jeans that stayed in my closet for six months is back in rotation again.

I’ve also been blessed with several opportunities this fall/winter that I never imagined – Houston Marathon ambassador, part of Team Chocolate Milk, and now my first pacing job.

TheShowdown_2014_d4

I know it’s not the stupid number that determines whether I’ll meet my big goal or not. I’m eating to run, not the other way around. I’m working hard to lay a foundation on strength and speed, and I don’t feel any slower (other than the heat and humidity factor). Overall, what matters most is not what the scale shows, but that I hang on to my joy of running.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing what I’ve been doing. But maybe I’ll throw in some extra time on the bike.

 

What’s Next?

Recovery weeks are good for me. Once the soreness from the race has faded, I start to get excited about my plans with running. I enjoy taking the time to rest, and once my appetite has settled down from the marathon, I’m not constantly thinking about food.

Before Oklahoma City, I started formulating my general plan for summer – my marathon off-season. I have a pretty big goal that I want to accomplish this fall/winter. It’s going to require some changes  and hard work.

I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

I know this is going to take a lot of work and I’m not scared to work hard. I mean, come on, I have four kids. But I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about putting all this effort into something and failing. So I’m just going to put that fear out there. Now it’s time for action.

I started last week by taking recovery seriously. I let my legs rest with three days of running and low mileage. I also started to work on my nutrition. That’s been my downfall and I think it’s the key to my succeeding in this goal. I’ll focus more on the specifics later, but right now I’m trying to get rid of the marathon weight gain. I feel like a salad bowl because I’ve eaten so many vegetables.

I will focus on strength and speed to get my training paces down some more. I started an eight week strength routine, so when marathon training officially starts, I’ll be ready.

Speaking of marathons, don’t forget you can early register for the Houston Marathon beginning at midnight tonight if you meet certain time qualifications. Here’s the link with all the info. If you’re wondering what the big deal is, you can revisit my post about it from January. It was a great race that I’m excited to go back to. Since I’m one of the race ambassadors, you will definitely be hearing more about it in the coming months.

For another piece of good news, if you voted for me for Team CHOCOLATE MILK, thank you! I received enough votes to become part of the team. Last week I submitted my eligibility paperwork and now I’m just waiting on my gear.

Team Chocolate Milk Finalist!

I wanted to send out a quick note to let you guys know something I’m so excited about!

I found out today that I am a finalist for Team CHOCOLATE MILK and I need your help.

Please Vote For Me! (Did that sound desperate enough?)

I stepped outside of my introverted comfort zone to submit a video showing how I use low fat chocolate milk for recovery after a work out. Since I was chosen as a finalist I have a chance to get sponsored by Team CHOCOLATE MILK with gear and race entries. My frugal brain is spinning with the opportunity.  🙂

Here is the link for voting: http://gotchocolatemilk.com/team-chocolate-milk/vote

You can vote once a day, every day until April 18th, and for every vote a dollar is donated to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

 

Last Week’s Training

Some weeks, my training seems to be on autopilot. The alarm goes off, I pop out of bed, get dressed, and get the run done before the kids get up. Then some weeks I struggle because of the time change or spring break or family obligations. Or all of the above.

I thought having spring break directly after time change would be great. The kids would sleep in and I would get my planned mileage. Win-win.

Wrong.

Monday started way too early because of my husband’s schedule and my sleep was disrupted enough that I felt exhausted all day. Plus I worked an 8 hour day instead of my usual 5 and a half. I know, rough right?

Tuesday, I drug myself out of bed and drove to the track I use on occasion – only to find it locked. A last minute workout change had me switching from 400m repeats to a tempo run back in my hilly neighborhood.  I then drug my achy legs to work for another 8 hour day. By Tuesday night I was exhausted, but due to my increased caffeine intake, I was wide awake at 10 pm. Again.

Wednesday’s Texas weather brought wind gusts up to 30 mph. Thankfully, cross training was on the schedule. Stationary bike, jump rope, core work, and some arm weights. Then it was off to the oral surgeon for the 16 year old. Wisdom teeth be gone. The rest of the day I alternated roles of mom and nurse. Spring break fun.

I still had trouble getting out of bed Thursday and Friday. My mileage was a little short, but I was holding strong with my nutrition. Temptations were everywhere with ice cream, cookies, and Little Debbie cakes. I hope I’m at the point where my drive for speed outweighs my desire for junk food.

By Saturday morning, I was wide awake by 5:45. Finally. I was the only female there for the group run along with several faster guys. I thanked them for “slowing down” for me. I imagine the paces were in the 8:15-8:30s for the 3.5 miles I ran with them. That was a good push for me to be ready for this Sunday’s half marathon. I ended up with 12 miles total and I kind of tanked toward the end thanks to a lost gel packet that fell out of the elastic on my belt. Probably because I was running so fast for those three plus miles. 🙂

This week I’m going to taper down a bit. I’d like to see how fast I can run on Sunday. My last good solid half marathon was a year ago at this same race.

If you’d like to follow along with my training progress – you can check it out on my Daily Mile link on this page. How is your training going?

Have a great week!