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!

 

 

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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 Рwe 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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

Just a few thoughts from Monday

Two days later, and I would still feel frivolous writing about anything but the Boston Marathon. There’s nothing I feel I can say that hasn’t already been said, but I wanted to put my thoughts into words, if only to remind myself of how I feel.

Qualifying for and running Boston is a dream of mine. Monday morning was my Super Bowl, and I was excited for all who were running. As the events unfolded, my joy turned to pain. My heart ached for runners, spectators, volunteers Рall who were there.

From all that I’ve read, I can say this: I’m proud to be part of the running community. I will not be timid to say that I’m a marathoner. I will continue to strive toward my goal of qualifying for Boston.

I will stand at the start of the Oklahoma City marathon on April 28, and I will run it with my heart. I’m sure it will be a run to remember.

 

 

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.

Thoughts from the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon

¬†I don’t want this post to be interpreted as “You should run a marathon.”¬† Make no mistake about it, I know running a marathon is not for everybody.¬† It has taken me almost two years to get to where I am in my running goals.¬† But I would like¬†to take a few minutes to reflect¬†on last¬†Sunday’s race.¬†¬†I will say that¬†if you’ve never had the chance to¬†cheer on a runner in a race, I hope you will be able¬†to¬†find a time to do that.¬†¬†For every race¬†I have completed (any distance), I am¬†grateful for the spectators who cheer for¬†runners they don’t even know.¬† When¬†the race has your name printed on the bib, and a stranger calls¬†out your name to encourage you, it’s a great feeling.

Here are a few of the random thoughts that popped in my head during and after the marathon in Oklahoma City.  

Mile 1:  I passed the Air Force staff sergeant in full uniform walking up a hill with his pack full of 168 pounds.  There were also two groups of firefighters walking in full gear.  Wow!  

Mile 10:  Rain.  Marathon, we have got to stop meeting this way.

Mile 11:  The 11th mile feels like forever.  I even pass the 12 mile marker, and it takes me a few minutes to realize my Garmin is stopped at 11.3 miles.  No wonder the 11th mile feels so long!  I restart my timer and the rest of the race, I wear myself out mentally trying to figure my lost time.  

Mile 14:  Running next to the lake Рbeautiful.

Mile 16: ¬†Ugh, I feel like I’m going to throw up!

Mile 21:  I think I have my 2nd wind. Nope, it was just a slight breeze.

Mile 23:¬† I’ve decided that the people who say the last 6 miles is just mental – well, they are mental.¬† ¬†I physically can’t move my legs any faster.

Miles 24-25:  I again pass the Air Force staff sergeant and one group of the firefighters (24-25).  Emotional.      

Mile 26:   Almost done. I try to speed up, because I want to be finished.  Every step hurts, hurts, hurts.

Finish line!¬†I¬†hear my name called out (advantage of not running in a pack).¬† Yes, I’m done!¬†¬†

Post race:¬† I’m so glad to see my husband who keeps me upright.¬† Thirty minutes later, I’m finally able to eat a banana¬†and the nauseous feeling¬†since mile 16 is gone. ¬†I am content with my time (4:32:11)considering¬†the temperature and humidity factors.¬† I¬†probably could’ve gone under 4:30, but darn the porta potty stop at mile 12.

It was a great course, and I will put the Oklahoma City National Memorial Marathon on my must do race list for next year.