Build a Better Runner

Consistency. Patience. Strengthen. Give Back.

This sums up what I’ve been working on since RnR Dallas.

I had a little chat with myself after that Dallas race. I was blunt and to the point. You could also call it a “come to Jesus meeting.” I know no one cares about my finish time (except me), but I also know I can get more out of myself. I have tried to figure out why I didn’t “bounce back” after Cowtown like I have in the past. Most of my PR races were run in 2014, and then I dealt with plantar fasciitis and haven’t seen those speeds. It was exactly two years ago when I contacted Airrosti and cautiously came back to running 5 days a week. Then last year at this time I started training for my first half-Ironman, and was only running 3 days a week. My average weekly mileage is lower and my workouts feel blah.

In short: I’ve been giving myself a pass. I know that I’m a runner who needs to run to run faster. I also know that I run better when I weigh less than I do right now.

Enter phase one of Build a Better Runner: Lose the weight, do more strengthening, keep the mileage consistent. Which is hard as my body adjusts to eating less carbs and more muscular soreness. It makes the running feel harder. So when I go do speed work at the track and run 800s at my half marathon PR pace, my first instinct is to throw in the towel. This is where patience comes in.

…and foam rolling with Chloe.

I have a renewed vision of my goals and what I want to accomplish. Now I need to take the steps to get there.

My next race is a half marathon on the 29th. I won a free entry back in December, so I don’t know much about the course. I’d like to see my time back under two hours, but realistically I’m shooting for under 2:05. This is how my long run went on Saturday:

But it was great helping another runner get to 13 miles in preparation for her first half at Oklahoma City. She was so excited, and I was so proud of her!

On the non-running side, I’m wanting to give back to the running community where I can. My friend and I served as volunteers at the Big D Marathon earlier this month. It wasn’t the best weather, but it was out at White Rock Lake and it’s so pretty there.

I’m volunteering at Texasman (triathlon) at the end of the month. This allows me to still be a part of races while my husband and I are working toward our financial goals.

Also, congratulations to all the Boston Marathoners! I seriously admire all of you. I’ve kept it no secret that it’s my goal to qualify and run it. My motto right now: Don’t wish for it. Work for it.”

 

 

 

 

Rock ‘n Roll Dallas 2017

On Sunday, I ran the Dallas Rock ‘n Roll half marathon. It was my 5th time running this race, and third time as a part of Team Chocolate Milk. I look forward to it every year. Coming off of fall/winter marathon training, the energy and excitement of this race (not to mention that it’s a HALF) can’t be beat. 🙂

I went to the expo on Saturday, picked up my bib, and over to the We Run Social meet up. I saw several others from Team Chocolate Milk so that was fun.

It did seem like the expo has gotten smaller to me though. Some of the things we were needing to get weren’t there, but I did get a few Larabar samples.

I drove in with my daughter on race morning, after making a wrong turn and parking 15 minutes later than planned, then made my way to the VIP lounge to grab a snack and check my bag. I drank my UCAN, and had a few minutes to meet some other teammates as well.

Then I met up with my friends from my running group. I think this was the biggest group we’ve had go, and for some of them it was their first Rock ‘n Roll race.

 

We made our way to our different corrals, and I was so ready to run 13 miles (and not 26)!

Notice the tank. Yeah, it wasn’t cold.  Like at all.

I had no idea what to expect to run, but I had set two loose goals earlier in the week:

1. Under 2 hours. (realistic goal)

2. 1:55 (stretch goal)

I thought these were manageable because a) it wasn’t a marathon, b) I ran 2:01 last year the day after a 2 hour trainer ride, and c) it wasn’t a marathon. 😉

But I forgot to account for the warm weather. Temps were high 60s at the start. And I truly forgot about the hilly second half.

I cruised along the first several miles not really looking at my pace, just glancing down at the mile splits when my Garmin buzzed.

Miles 1-5: 8:57, 8:38, 8:50, 8:31, 8:42

I was definitely on track for sub 2.

Then the hill (on-ramp) to get to the bridge hit.

Mile 6: 9:24

The bridge is long and straight though once you get up there, but there are several hills over the next few miles. I never really recovered my pace from the initial climb.

Miles 7-9: 9:05, 9:41, 10:37

Mile 9 really got me and I walked up that little mountain for a minute to catch my breath. All the hills in Cowtown were still in my legs.

I took a couple more short walk breaks in the last few miles, a few cups of water dumped over my head at aid stations. The sun was bright and I lost the 2 hour goal. I focused on finishing and smiling. I was hot, but I knew there was a nice finish and cold chocolate milk waiting for me.

Miles 10-13: 10:04, 9:56, 10:53, 10:22

Then a downhill tunnel finish cheered on by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

My official finish time was 2:06:37.

The chocolate milk was refreshing as always. Here’s why I always recover with chocolate milk – it’s science.

For the first time ever I opted for a post-race massage, where I discovered I had a knot on the side of each calf muscle. Ow! I need to work on rolling those out.

I found my daughter and we spent some time on the lawn watching the concert before I took her back to school.

It may not have been the time on the clock I wanted, but it was a great race and a lot of fun.

 

 

Cowtown Marathon 2017

Normally I like to write up my race recaps the week immediately following the race, but to be honest early bedtimes won out last week. I’ve noticed that I tend to get a headache the day after a marathon. So last Monday (with my head pounding) I told the kids they were on their own to get into bed on time, and my light was out before 8:30 p.m. That kind of went along with how the previous week went. After my post about Cowtown, I focused on sleep and nutrition. I went to bed early as much as I could, ran slowly without looking at my watch, and ate all the healthy stuff. I received encouragement and supportive comments from several who read that post, and it all made a difference.

As race week continued, I began to get excited. My husband and I went to the expo Saturday morning – and so I could see my dad after he finished the 10k.

I was happy to get 3 new tubes of chap-stick (which works great for preventing chafing) a Kind bar, and a free tank from the Dallas Athletes booth. If you didn’t know, I love free stuff! Especially right now since we have some financial goals we’re trying to reach. Free is good.

I had decided not to do a traditional carbo-load this time because I had gained enough weight, and it wasn’t like I was going to PR, so I ate a couple of Clif bars and some Swedish Fish and called it good on excess carbs. Then I set about getting everything ready for the race. I pretty much knew what I was going to wear, as did my running buddy who sent this text:

She knows me well.

I added arm warmers just in case the wind made it too cold for me.

I rode in to the race with friends who were running the half. My husband had planned to go to work before I got back, and even though I enjoy him being there, I’m in a lot better shape after a race than I was five years ago. Riding in with my friends helped build my excitement for the race. Neither one of them had ever run Cowtown. For one, it was her 2nd half, so we talked about the course, the hills, and the size of the race. Then we met up with my other friend when we got there. She and I were both doing the full marathon. We also had others from our group we saw beforehand who were doing the ultra.

Ready to Run! Am I in a different climate?

The race start didn’t disappoint. Cowtown’s corrals are organized and efficient. I never felt bunched up. I had decided beforehand to run on effort and just do whatever – probably not an advisable plan, but I was there to have a fun race. I glanced down at my Garmin occassionally when the splits beeped, but didn’t let that determine my speed.

I felt good. Really good. Light on my feet like I hadn’t felt in weeks. Looking back at my splits, the first several miles surprised me. Then I made a quick dart into a porta-potty in the 8th mile. I didn’t get my last minute trip out of the way before the race. But since I was running for fun it didn’t matter.

 

In the second half of the race, I was still running. One of the runners I knew doing the ultra blew by me around mile 10. I briefly thought about trying to keep up with her for a bit, but decided I was good. I started slowing down, but I was still running. There was one small walk break near mile 19 when I was on the lookout for a porta-potty. Again. I continued running. Feeling ok, not great, but not anywhere near how I felt in Dallas after mile 16. Because I was still running – albeit slower, but it was still running! About mile 22, the marathon pain set in. I was hurting, but continued running, even up every hill! I continued thanking officers, volunteers, and smiled at spectators. Oh, and I scored 3 Gu Energy gels along the course. My ROI was getting better. Ha!

Somewhere near the final miles a spectator told me, “Team Chocolate Milk, I’ve seen you at several races and you always inspire me.” That meant so much to me!

I ran out of Nuun near mile 20, so I walked through some water stops in the final miles. Other than that, I was still running. I made a decision to stop at another porta-potty with a mile to go. My stomach wasn’t as happy as my heart was. :0

When I came into the finish area, I started searching for my friends. Then I spotted my husband! I was so surprised, and happy, to see him.

 

 

My official time for marathon number 15 was 4:40:50. It was one of my slower marathons, but the fact that I approached it with a different attitude changed everything about it. I was hurting, yes, but I was happy. I’m pleased with the fact that I ran all the hills. The strength and mobility work is paying off.

Oh, and I did PR in porta-potty stops!

It’s a great race and of course I’ll do it again next year. I have to get the next two medals in the series. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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?

Training Update: Getting ready for Cowtown

The past few weeks have been hectic with life and training. It seems like my weeknights have been more chaotic than they were in the fall. Typically, the blog lands at the bottom of the to do list. Apparently these other people in my house like to eat dinner and such. Now that my oldest daughter is back at college, and my husband has started his new job, maybe I can get back into my routine.

Training for Cowtown has been going strong the past few weeks. I’ve been working on some strength and mobility work, because I plan to follow the Simple Marathon Training this fall. I’ve been doing the SAM work after every run for at least four weeks, and I can tell the difference – at least when I’m running up my hills.

I had some trouble getting back to my usual paces after Dallas, but all of a sudden it clicked one day and running felt good again. It’s been difficult for me to get my mileage up with everything else going on, and running twice a day won’t work right now. So to up my training game, I started swimming again.

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It had been two months since I’d been to the pool, but once I got back in the water I remembered why I enjoyed it. I am slow, and swimming without the concern of a time cutoff had a different effect on me. When I get out of the pool my legs aren’t mad at me, and my glutes don’t whine. Now my arms are another thing. But for now I’m supplementing my running, and working my way back to the strength I felt during half Ironman training. I don’t have any triathlon races planned so far this year, but I believe the swimming can only help me for the marathon.

My running buddy and I haven’t been able to get together for a long run in a few weeks, so this past Saturday I had to tackle a 20 miler almost solo. I did meet up with the group for a few miles, but everyone was going different directions and paces, so I stuck to my plan. It was nice to see some of them out in different areas though as I checked off the miles. I was pleased with my time.

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The plan was to just do the distance, and not worry about the pace. I missed an 18 miler the weekend before, so I didn’t want to shock my body too much. The first and the last mile were the only two miles over 10:00 pace (and the last one had a steep uphill). I discovered a great new gel flavor!

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Tastes just like Nutella!

 

 

This weekend I’m going to do 22 miles, and then I’ll start tapering. My running buddy and several from our group are running the Hot Chocolate 15k in Dallas on Saturday. I hate to miss it, but I’ve got a lot going on and I wanted to make sure my Cowtown training included one more long run of 20 plus.

In other news, I am happy to report that I’m returning as a Nuun ambassador for another year.

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I bought my first tube of Nuun at the Dallas Marathon expo in 2012. I almost DNFd the race the next day due to dehydration. You know, nothing new on race day. After that painfully slow race, I tried Nuun on a long run. I haven’t had any issues since then. It’s easier on my stomach than other sports drinks and without the sugar. Right now, my favorite flavor is Grape.

Finally, have you been following along the World Marathon Challenge this past week? I heard Ryan Hall talk about it at the Dallas Marathon Expo stage, and it was inspiring to follow this journey. Then Mike Wardian made history as he ran all 7 under 3 hours. I can’t even imagine covering that kind of distance! This is a pretty good article about it. And if you check out Ryan Hall’s social media accounts, he did videos along the way. It was interesting to see how he went through some of the same stages in a marathon. “I told myself I wouldn’t go out too fast. I went out too fast.”

He also talked about how he admires the everyday runners who get out and run marathons in 4, 5, and 6 hours.

Again, that’s one of the things I love about this sport. There’s a connection and a community, no matter what pace you run. 🙂

 

Wrapping up 2016

Once the dust from last Sunday’s race settled, I went through a bit of a period of disappointment. Trying to examine what I could’ve changed, yet trying to still be proud that I did something big. Dallas was my 14th marathon, and even though I didn’t reach my time goal, that’s still kind of a big deal. So I decided to do some reflecting on my year as a whole to help myself move on past the post-race funk.

2016 was a big year for tri-ing new things and facing fears. (See what I did there.)

I conquered my first open water swim. In a group. Of strangers. Very fit triathletes. I didn’t die from embarrassment.

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I did my first Olympic triathlon – which coincidentally was the first time I swam a mile.

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I rode in my first bike rally. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I survived. I also learned not to grip the handlebars too tightly.

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I completed my first half Ironman. Now that was a hard day, and I didn’t even know I could do it.

Until I did.

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I set a new PR at the Hot Chocolate 15k back in February. And I took a “shot” of M&Ms in that race too. That was a first, and not recommended. At least not at a fast pace.

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I also drank a whole lot of chocolate milk this year! 🙂

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The triathlon adventures brought renewed passion to my running. I have decided to continue to pursue my running goals while keeping up my fitness in the pool and on the bike. I learned that I can continue to improve in many ways and continue to find new goals to challenge myself.

It’s been a pretty busy year, and I’m looking forward to 2017!

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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