Posts Tagged With: qualifying for boston

Houston Marathon Race Recap

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The Houston Marathon is a great race. It’s well planned and executed, and I was able to plan my race knowing what was going to be on the course. Plenty of water and Gatorade was offered every 1.5 miles after mile 2, mile markers and clocks every mile, an energy zone at mile 21ish, port-a-jons, a pretty course with lots of spectators that took us all over the city and back downtown to a fun finish line and a good post-race set up.

With the rampant cheating going on, I was happy to see timing mats every 5k and one at an out-and-back section where the half marathon was. This would help catch any cheaters but also provide fairly quick updates to those tracking me.

When I crossed the start line mat, I wondered if my family (ok, just my husband as I knew my two kids would still be sleeping) would get a notification that I started the race. It was game time.

I deliberately ran the first mile slow, and my Garmin beeped right on the mile marker at 8:25. I kept slowing myself down, because one of my main goals was to run a negative split. It always feels good the first mile, right? “Don’t screw it up” and “be smart” rang through my head, as I settled in and concentrated on “just” running. My breath was easy, my legs felt good, and I was basically the perfect temperature. I only had a throw-away shirt over my tank and arm sleeves. It was a perfect decision on what to wear.

My music played loudly in my ears, and because the roads are sloped, I tried to stay in the middle where the surface was more even. The sky was clear, the sun was creating a beautiful sun rise, and I was chugging away at my miles, staying just over 8-minutes per mile. I felt good. I kept taking small sips of my Base Rocket Fuel (Hydro plus Amino but I forgot to add the salt – oops!) from my collapsible hand-held bottle.

8:06, 8:00, 8:04, 7:59, 8:05

I kept finding myself going sub 8, so I was sure to slow a little each time. Marathons can chew you up and spit you out, that’s for sure. “Don’t ruin it, don’t blow your engine early.” I had my first nutrition at mile 5, and I felt like I dug around in my Coeur bra storage compartment like someone looking for their registration after getting pulled over. Where was the damn thing? I had four of them in there, and I was finally able to fish one of the non-caffeine variety out. I had also unsuccessfully tried the “tequila shot” method on my hand to take my Base salt, which resulted in me losing over half of it on my glove and somewhere on the streets of Houston. Damn damn.

I started to get a little warm, so I decided to throw my shirt off at the 10k point, where one of my friends from the old hood would be spectating from. Brrrr. My arm sleeves were wet with sweat, and met with the 30-something degree air, and cooled me right off. I can’t believe I saw her in the crowd, but I was happy to see one familiar face out there. “HI KRISTA!!!!”

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Twenty miles to go. Just a long run. I saw a woman who was going pretty much my exact pace, so I stayed on her tail, which gave me something to pay attention to, because I was so lost and couldn’t figure out where we were in the city. I had my next nutrition just under ten miles, and by that time, I had refilled my hand-held bottle, spilling the cold Gatorade all over my glove in the process. Because it was cold, I didn’t take in as much hydration as I had originally planned. Not a very good idea. The half marathon split between miles 7 and 8, then we ran through Rice University and toward the only boring part of the course.

8:06, 8:05, 8:02, 8:04, 7:59. I felt better than I had at this point in Boston, but I didn’t feel as good as I did the marathon before that. Granted, I was running a bit faster, but I wondered if I could hold my pace. My favorite running songs played in my ear, and I stuck with the one girl at my pace. It’s funny, because I don’t really remember a lot of details when and where they occurred, but I was aware of a lot going on around me, if that makes any sense. The potholes, the turning (RUN THE TANGENTS!), the water stations and volunteers, Superman, the police officers standing in the intersections, the people in cars who obviously didn’t know they were going to be stuck a while because there were TONS of people behind me, the spectators standing out in their hats and gloves and blankets, and COW BELL. I love this race. This flat race. Haha.

**Please don’t go Captain Watermark on me because I’m posting these pictures. I bought these, old school style, but they’re not here yet.  **

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Between miles 12 and 13, during the boring part filled with lots and lots of power lines, there was the first real hill. A bridge. I tried to maintain my pace as I charged up, and sped up as I came back down. The “girl with the same pace” and I went back and forth.

8:10, 7:53

We hit the half mark, and at that point, I was pacing to get my PR. With wiggle room.

13.1 – 1:46:18, an 8:07 overall pace

Because Garmins can be Garmins (UNRELIABLE), I was wearing a pace bracelet with the goal time of 3:35. This made it easy to see where I was, to be sure I was pacing myself correctly. At almost every mile marker, I looked at my overall time and compared it to what the pace bracelet said I should be at. As long as I stayed under the time on my bracelet, I was fine. But the more under I was, the better.

I got really confused, as I knew we were going by the Galleria area, but it sort of looked like downtown where the start and finish were, and I knew we were only around mile 14. What the what? And I lost track of my hydration somewhere along here. I knew I was re-filling my 6 oz hand-held with Gatorade and sipped from it a lot, plus I was taking water from the aid stations, perfecting the “spill all over one’s face, hands, and legs” in the process. But I wasn’t paying attention to the totals as I had planned.

The miles ticked by, and I was maintaining my pace, slowly increasing the time between my 3:35 pace bracelet and my actual time. At mile 16, I thought “just a ten mile run to go”, anything to keep me going. The playlist I created for The Boston Marathon was playing the “hill” music, and I loved it. My legs were doing ok, my breathing was still fairly even, and I knew I could finish my race and get a big BQ..IF I didn’t mess it up.

8:02, 8:02, 8:00, 7:58, 7:57

I needed salt. I grabbed my tube of Base salt, and it was empty. Oh crap. I spilled most of it on my hand, and I REALLY needed it now. Well, what’s done was done, carry on. Still behind “girl with the same pace”.

Near the 18 mile mark, we turned, and you could see the tall buildings, where the finish was, eight miles away. One of the spectators said, “You’re headed home”, and I choked up. Eight miles to go, just a run I can do with my eyes closed, but it was still a long way. I replayed Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” and Eminem’s “Til I Collapse” somewhere in here, luckily able to take my thumb out of my glove and hit the back button on my old iPod.

It was a pretty part of the course, but we had a head wind and it felt like it was all sloping up. Ugh. Then more bridges to go under. You go down first, then you go up. They’re not long, but they’re steep. More and more stupid friggin’ bridges (to go under). I thought this course was FLAT. This sure isn’t the mountains, but it sure wasn’t as flat as I remembered. I started taking my nutrition more often, and I know I was hydrating, slowing a little along the hydration stations so I wouldn’t spill all over the place.

We passed through Memorial Park as the buildings began to get larger. “Oh my, just hang on. Don’t back down, don’t back down, don’t back down, don’t give up, you gotta fight for it, don’t eff up what you worked so hard for, for God’s sake just finish what you started and DO NOT GIVE UP.”

8:00, 8:12, 7:57, 8:09,

At mile 21, I grabbed my 5th nutrition at the aid station, and nursed it for probably a mile. It was good. My initial plan was to start a small acceleration at mile 20. When I reached mile 20, I knew that wasn’t going to happen, so I rearranged it to mile 23. But I started to struggle. “The girl with the same pace” took off. I felt like I was going faster than I actually was, and I was afraid to look at my per mile split. I FELT like I was going at the speed of light, and I remember thinking to keep lifting my knees up, just keep going, don’t slouch, don’t lean back, keep moving, keep breathing. Just. Friggin. Go.

Between mile 23 and 24, I felt like my wheels fell off. We had to go under another steep bridge, and I felt like I was in quick sand. I knew I was going to get my BQ by a large margin, but I wanted that PR, I wanted it more than anything. And I knew I had missed some hydration, as my breathing and heart rate increased a lot, which is something I’ve experienced many times before. But I just pushed as much as I could at that time. I grunted. I moaned. I said some eff words and some words that started with “bull”.

Mile 23: 8:07

Mile 24: 8:13

Mile 25: 8:26

Oh Lord, please give me wings and let me fly.

The road finally flattened out (yes, I am still aware this race is not technically hilly, but it certainly is not pancake flat as I incorrectly remembered), and I was headed home. We were downtown again.

My legs churned, and I sped back up. Puke or pass out, just GO! I saw the “1/2 mile to go” banner, which really made me very angry at the time because I was ready for the damn finish line.

Then “1/4 mile to go”.

Mile 26: 8:02

The crowds increased, the sound of cheering increased, the voice in my head wondering where the HELL the finish line increased, and my speed increased. I heard it, finally. I was home. I ran over the mat that registered my name to the announcer, and I heard my name as I crossed the finish line. I was done. I pumped my arm, Shalane-style, and I said “Fuck yeah”.

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I finished my 12th marathon, and at the age of 44, I ran the fastest marathon to date, with a 3:33:00.

Fuck. Yeah.

I wobbled my way to get some water, and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I leaned on the fence, and I cried. I did it. I fought, and I won. I told the volunteers trying to help me, “It’s ok, it’s a happy cry.” Everything, all the million little pieces came together on this day, all the hard work and “learning experiences”, the frustration, the pain, it all paid off.

3:33:00 ; 8:08 overall pace

kelli houston marathon

And FYI, my husband’s cousin got his BQ with a time of 3:06. Congratulations, Craig! “The girl with the same pace” ended up with a 3:31 I found out as I talked to her walking towards our medals. And I missed my negative split by 24 seconds. Ha, I’ll get over it. Oh wait, I already did.

Next Up: Post Race and my “extra time” in Houston…..

Categories: anything is possible, being epic, Boston Marathon, follow your dreams, fueled by base, go for your dreams, learning from failure, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, race with base, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Charleston Marathon Recap – No BQ For Me :(

There’s a theme going on here with my last several marathons. Bonk. It’s a weird sort of bonk and I can’t quite figure it out, but I have my suspicions, now that I’ve had a day to think about it. Yeah, I figured it out. So here’s my race report…

My husband and I drove to Charleston the morning before the race. It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive from our house, and I have had a really sick cat who needed to go to the vet for fluids, so we got a late start. We headed down and chatted, ate, and had a nice, relaxing trip. We went to packet pickup, which was busy and really easy to access. I think the expo would have been significantly better had a band not been performing in the school gym where expo was located. It was so loud. And loud music when you’re trying to wander around booths and get your race stuff and chat with people is just stressful. Basically, all people were doing was signaling, “WHAT?!??”.

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I hope they nix the band in the future – no one liked it, and this doesn’t mean we wouldn’t have enjoyed the band at the finish line, OUTSIDE.

I got my stuff, saw some fellow Wilmington peeps, and we headed to the hotel to hang out. My sister kept the kids, so it was nice to watch tv, and go to dinner when we felt like it. I had my traditional burger, and honestly I had no nerves. I was determined, I was scared (to face the pain), but I was more determined than scared. I was worried about how warm and humid it might be, but I figured I would take my Base Rocket Fuel and salt, and I would be fine.  It’s all about dealing with the obstacles, not letting them deal with you. That was my attitude going into the race. I was ready to tear it up.

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My goal times and some other “inspiring” words of encouragement.

On race morning, I did my traditional thing, ate peanut butter on bread, a banana, drank some OJ, and we headed to the race start about 90 minutes prior. I had some nerves, but it was more determination than fear. No traffic, plenty of parking, we were there. A friend of mine needed a Garmin charge cord, so I took that to her, tried to exchange my medium shirt for a large, which is highly annoying since I’m not a large person, so I didn’t think I needed to order a large shirt. I found a few friends from Wilmington at the start, got a kiss from my hubby who was running the half, and soon, we were on our way. They got the race started right at 8. Awesome.

I was warm. It was over 50 degrees when we started, which means tank and shorts for me. I had gloves because of the waiting, plus I tucked one of my gu’s in one. I was trying something completely different for this race, and I knew it was going to be warmer and more humid than I feel I race well in, so I carried Base Rocket Fuel with me. This stuff boosted me big time during Ironman, and I’ve been using it, the salts, and the Base Energy for almost a month while training. I had two small containers, one in my hand, one in a “holster” hooked on my shorts. I was leery of carrying, but I was willing to throw the containers when empty or if they got annoying.

The first mile was pretty crowded, but it thinned out enough where I didn’t have to weave in and out around the 9+ minute mile people. By mile three, I was pretty sweaty. The temps were fairly cool and we had a breeze/wind, so that was good, but the sun was out in full force, and I was warming up quickly. “Adjust to it, Kelli. You just need to adjust.” I was keeping at a fairly even pace at 8:15’s, and I slowly built up some time over the miles. I enjoyed the course as we weaved through the battery and beautiful historic homes on the water front, then along the southern part of the Charleston peninsula. And then the course dried up. It went from a pretty downtown area with spectators to industrial with no one. I knew there were a lot of turns, and that was ok, I just needed to watch my tangents so I didn’t end up running 27 miles!

The full and half split the first time at mile 9, and we fullers headed into the abyss of the naval yard and Cooper River Marina. There was a push on the way out, and looking back, this was where I realized the day was unwinding. I was optimistic though – just push, keep going, don’t give up, don’t be a p****, how bad do you want it, you’re doing it, you’re on pace, don’t fuck it up, so many people believe in you, you believe in you – these were the thoughts in my head. I was keeping pace, but it seemed harder, and I didn’t know why. At mile 12, we went onto a concrete dock and turned around and headed back into the most boring course ever. Ugh. The good thing is that I saw two people I knew along the way, so just seeing them made me happy.

At that point, I was racing. I thought I was hydrating. By then, I had drank my 7ish oz of Rocket Fuel, a few licks of Base salt, and had two of my gu’s. I was super sweaty, or rather, I was salty. I felt like I was doing the right thing. At mile 14, I was only maybe 20 seconds off my goal pace, but I felt like I was losing time. I felt like it was getting harder and harder to just keep at an 8:30 pace.

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Mile 16

I wasn’t going to give up. But soon, I knew I lost my goal. I knew it was not going to work. I didn’t understand what happened though. No, I don’t like warm weather, and it doesn’t like me, but I was FIGHTING! Isn’t that supposed to work? Isn’t that enough? Willing yourself to fight, to push, to work harder than you feel you can, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do to race your best? Well, it simply wasn’t enough for me that day.

I cried. I hyperventilated. I felt like I let everyone down, my coach, my family, my teammates. I let the haters win – yes, I know there’s people out there happy I didn’t meet my goal. I’m a laughing stock. Kelli failed yet again. Can’t she get it right? Was my one BQ a fluke? All that time. All that money. All the hopes and dreams and faith it would work this time. Gone. I failed before I crossed the finish line, and I was angry. Frustrated. Tired of failing. Did I not want it badly enough? So many other people can do this, what the hell am I doing wrong? Did I already reach my peak? Am I just not a BQ marathon runner anymore?

But around mile 18, I still had some fight. I knew I could still run a good time, so go for it. I wouldn’t let myself quit, as I desperately wanted to walk off the course, make up some story about a sprained ankle, but I was there to fight. So I fought. It was a battle where I was prepared to duke it out to the end, but I had no ammunition. That’s the best way I can describe it. It was like so many other marathons – I could no make my body do what I knew it could do. It wasn’t muscular. THAT is something I can push through. This was something else, something else that bogged me down. I allowed myself one tantrum. 20 seconds. That was it. Carry on.

As I went through cycles of good running, some walking, and some shuffling, I dreaded the finish line. And then I didn’t. And as I turned about a hundred thousand times on the course to that line, I knew I had to keep going, keep fighting, and finish with a smile. It was a marathon for goodness sake, and I was going to finish in under four hours. Time goals aside, finishing a marathon is something to be proud of, no matter how long it takes. So I had a feeling of pride as I ran the last few miles. I guess I let go of what other people thought about me, and let myself feel the true feelings that I had – disappointment mixed with pride. One of my favorite songs came on, and I turned up the volume, then hit rewind and listened to it again. I should have been finishing at that point. Damn.

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A race picture with BOTH feet off the ground. Keeper!!

I enjoyed the last .2 miles of this marathon. The crowd was good, you could hear the finish line announcer, and then I saw my husband and friend, Wendy, cheering me on. I choked up, as I knew he knew how much I wanted this race. And he’s always there for me, always cheering me on, supporting me through my races, my crazy ideas, and he always calls me amazing. He is my rock.  And I finished my race in 3:54:06. No, I did not meet my goal, but I ran a marathon. And for that, I am super proud.

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Marathon 9 in the books!

The after party was pretty awesome. They had shrimp and grits (I just had the grits but they hit the spot), beer, mimosas, an amazing band, and just a fun atmosphere in the North Charleston downtown area. I found my fellow blogger, Running Wild and his other pacer, and we chatted a bit and hung out as we rested up. Cool peeps.

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Paul, another cool pacer guy, and me

Because we needed to head home, I went to the school just next to the finish, showered, and we took a shuttle back to the start to get our car and head home.

So now that I’ve had a few days to digest the race, what went wrong? Again. Well, after I thought about it, boggled over it for hours, I realized I wasn’t doing the one thing that I knew I needed to do. Drink. I had the perfect drink. I had it with me. I was literally holding the key in my hand. And as I tell you how much I had to drink the first half, I’m going to hear tons of you face-palm yourselves because how can a person, a smart person, a COACH herself, be so clueless? Each race is a lesson learned, whether it be of what to do or what NOT to do. So I learned that drinking 7 oz in the first 13-14 miles of a marathon isn’t enough. Here, I’ll do it for you.

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I heard my coach do this over the phone.

So now what? What am I going to do? Well, I’m going to read a lot about hydration and recover. I’m not sure if I’m going to go ahead with my other race plans or adjust based on the fact that I was really dumb about hydration when I knew I needed to drink more. Why didn’t I drink more? Well, honestly, I thought I was. I had Rocket Fuel. I had salt. I was going to ADJUST. I’ve never drank much during races before and that worked for me, right? Hah, no, that’s why I’ve bonked the last three. I never did before and it worked when it was cold out. It wasn’t cold the last three marathons, and I didn’t adjust. You always learn something when you race. Yeah, I learned how not to be a dumbass.

Categories: go for your dreams, marathon, marathon training, qualifying for boston marathon, running, running with friends, temper tantrum, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Sometimes It’s Good To Not Have A Choice

I guess I had a choice, but I wasn’t giving myself a choice on whether or not I ran on Sunday. And after looking at so many other posts about the polar flavored air up north, I feel a little bit whiney. But Sunday was cold. And I had 20 miles to run.  And I didn’t have a choice to do it or not. I HAD to run.

So let’s back up to Saturday. I felt like I had been fighting off a cold since Thursday. Seems many people are getting something, a cold, the flu, something. I was extremely and unusually tired on Thursday evening, so I knew my body was trying to fight off some sort of bug and I had been exposed to about a zillion different viruses at the airports and planes full of sick people on Monday coming back from Vegas. I felt ok on Friday, but again, felt pretty tired for no apparent reason. I set my alarm for Saturday morning at 6:30 so I could get my 10 mile pace run in, and when the alarm went off, I threw my phone on the floor turned the alarm off and went back to sleep. For TWO MORE HOURS. Holy cow, when I woke up at 8:30, I was sort of pissed, sort of happy. Happy because I got the sleep I evidently needed. Pissed because I was just getting my lazy ass out of bed at 8:30 and had 90 minutes of running to do.

Saturday morning was cold, but the sun was out and it quickly warmed up. I started my run and immediately knew I was overdressed, so came by the house and changed. Another mile later, I swung by the house again and changed again, into shorts and t-shirt. It was almost hot. Several f-bombs later (I should have effing started effing earlier then I’d be effing done with this effing workout), I was ready to finish my effing 10 miler. I had a shitty attitude, and I didn’t want to run, I just wanted to make heart-shaped pancakes for my boys and drink coffee. I know myself and I’m not one to skip workouts, so I effing got out there and got it done. My stupid watch pace was all over the place, so I quit looking at it and tried to dial in race pace on my own. Two costume changes and 85 minutes later, I was done. Whew, race pace dialed in at 8:22. THAT is why I do my workouts, even when I don’t want to. They always feel good when they’re done.

The weather was pretty nice on Saturday, but the cold was coming. I had tried to change the long run to Saturday, but my friend couldn’t so I knew I had to get it done Sunday. It was going to be super windy and cold. Yes, all you northerners, cold is a relative term. Many of you would probably LOVE 20-something temps, so I apologize for my whining. Honestly, I don’t mind the cold. It’s the freaking wind that I hate. I HATE WIND.  I had my pre-long run and pre-race burger on Saturday night (delish) and got in bed all hydrated and ready to brace for what was coming the next day – 20 miles in the cold wind.

Wasn't too crazy about the cheese on the pasta, but the burger was goooood.

Wasn’t too crazy about the cheese on the pasta, but the burger was goooood. Goldie is in the background.

I woke up and it was just crap out. I felt fine, so I was happy about that, and I was meeting other people, so I knew I couldn’t get out of it, delay it, anything. I knew I had to just get out there and run. It was almost a relief to not give myself a choice. I had asked a friend/coach to run with us too, and she is the one who always seems to push my pace on long runs. She’s my dangling carrot, so to speak. I didn’t know if I could keep up or if she would care about pace on a crappy day, but I knew it would be good to have a group to run with. I brought all my clothes, got my fuel ready, and headed towards the beach. I don’t think I even pushed the gas pedal beyond a tap the entire way there. Wind. When the group of ladies was all there, we headed right into the 25 degree, 25 mph wind. We knew it was better to head into it first, but man, it was effing cold. My face, hands, and toes were cold. A few miles later, we headed into an area that’s more sheltered, so for the rest of the 12 mile loop, it really wasn’t bad. The last few miles getting pushed was pretty awesome. Some of the ladies were done, so three of us headed out for a 6 mile loop. It was so nice to talk and chat and keep our minds off tired legs and how many miles we had done/had left.  It wasn’t “conversation pace” but maybe “labored conversation pace”, but I never checked. Soon, 18 miles were done and the two ladies remaining were done. I had two to go solo. I ran towards the beach and felt pretty good. Wow, 8:05 minute miles at the end of a 20 mile run? Hmmmm, fishy. Yup, I was getting pushed by the wind, but I was also happy to be feeling good. Until I turned around. Yikes. “One more mile” and “I can do anything for just one mile” kept going through my head and some other thoughts like “this is bullshit” and “FUCK” were sprinkled in. Mom would be so proud (sorry mom, it’s dad’s fault). But I got my run done. When I met with Amanda, who waited for me to finish, she told me we were rocking our paces. Holy cow. I didn’t give one thought to pace because of the weather, and it turned out to be one of the fastest 20 milers….ever. And I was so worried.

20 miles, DONE. And you can see my cat's tail back there too.

20 miles, DONE. And you can see my cat’s tail back there too.

20 miles at 8:35 pace? Pretty damned awesome if I do say so myself. I was thrilled and it boosted my confidence for the race.

Me and Amanda - evidently my face froze into a strange look during my last mile.

Me and Amanda – evidently my face froze into a strange look during my last mile.

After hugging Amanda, I passed up stretching and immediately got in my car, turned up the heat, turned on the heated seats, and headed home. I did NOT want to get cold, as I knew it would take me several hours to warm back up if I did, and I was afraid I would be more susceptible to that little bug I’d been fighting. I have a few friends who swear by Ultragen recovery drink, so I drank a bottle on my way home.  I didn’t get sore the day of my last 20 miler and this time, I didn’t get sore either. I blame it on Ultragen, so that’s my plug – drink it and you won’t be sore when you run 20 miles. Really though, I like the way I feel after I drink it and it really does seem to curb the soreness that’s been normal for me.

I had five easy miles on Monday for a recovery run and decided to, again, ignore any pace on my watch and just run. It ended up being a sub-9:00 mile, so I guess that’s good.

Today, I was planning to do three 2 mile repeats but again, the weather was just not looking good. The cold that was trying to overtake me was not overtaking me, but was trying to settle in my chest/lungs. It was cold, windy, and wet out.

My back deck. Yuck.

My back deck. Yuck.

I asked some peeps on my Facebook page if it would be pansy or smart for me to stay in and have a tempo ride on my bike, and the response was overwhelming to ride my bike indoors.  So that is exactly what I did, and it was a good ride. I warmed up 10 minutes, then had four 7 minute repeats at Z4 with a 3 minute recovery (the 4th was a full 10 minutes at Z4), ending with a 10 minute easy recovery. I did run a little with the kids as they had their running practice after school since the rain ended and it dried up for the most part.

Tomorrow is an easy 5 miles and then Thursday, bum bum BUMMMMM, the 2 mile repeats. And the high is going to be 29 (really, super cold for us here). I’ve already planned to meet Amanda and get these cranked out, so there’s no excuses.

It’s been a good week of workouts, the marathon is in LESS THAN 5 weeks now, and I’m feeling good. Of course I’m nervous, but I’m ready to get my work in and see it pay off. I haven’t been able to get to the pool (that’s a story in itself so I won’t even start but I really wish it was warm enough to open water swim), and my swim clinic is this weekend. Exciting!

Anyway, if you haven’t already, check out my Running Boston and Beyond Facebook page (and hopefully LIKE it) HERE.

Categories: hal higdon training plan, marathon, running, running with friends, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Why Do You Run?

This week, Hal Higdon’s Marathon Facebook page asked a simple question. Why do you run? It took me just a few minutes to figure out what I wanted to say to one of my absolute favorite celebrities, but this was my answer:

“It is something that makes me truly happy and is my own. I think, I vent, I laugh, I cry when I run. I come back home happier, healthier, and refreshed, even after Advanced II training :)”

This is a VERY simplified answer to a question that could take me weeks to answer. My husband nods his head in agreement that I could take weeks to explain/talk about running, how much I love it, and why I do it.  I love to run. It’s a part of me, it’s part of who I am. I do it for so many reasons, but the first and foremost reason is that I love to run and that being so, it makes me happy.

If anyone read my Boston Marathon post about the expo, you’d know that I stalked Hal’s booth for over an hour and never got to see or meet him. What’s so great about Hal? Well, let me tell you. When I first started running for time, I read his books. All of them. Like in the Pixar film Ratatouille, Remy learned from a chef who believed that “everyone can cook”. I believe HaI teaches running to everyone and believes “everyone can run”. His plans are for everyone, the slower runner, the faster runner, the beginner, the experienced. I learned from him (a LOT), I did what he said, I learned more, and I got fast. I tried, I failed, but it wasn’t because of his plan, that’s for sure. I REALLY wanted to meet him in person and thank him for all the advice to me. I took his advice personally, so it was personal to me to thank him. I’m following his Advanced II Marathon plan right now, and it’s a very good, solid training program. I have full confidence I will be able to qualify for Boston again using this plan.

So suffice to say, when I got a message FROM HAL in my Facebook inbox, I freaked out. HAL HIGDON MESSAGED ME.

hal's message

OMG. It was almost like meeting Shalane Flanagan four days after Boston last year. I might have yelled, but I don’t remember. I might have peed a little too. But I was jumping up and down and twirling around like a 2 year old little girl who just met Elsa, so really, can you blame me? Me? In a book??????? Holy crap. More on that below.

ANYWAY.  This week has been pretty good as far as training goes. Monday was 4 easy miles, Tuesday was a tempo workout that would have been ok had I run it with someone else. It was just tough and I actually stopped for about ten seconds in the middle of the hard tempo part. I’m thinking I was still tired from the race, but I tried to suck it up, Buttercup. Wednesday’s easy 5 miler felt A-Mazing and ended up turning into a pace run at 8:13 average, so I was happy about that. It was cold (I know, I know, all you northerners and rolling your eyes when I say cold), but my pup wanted to run when I got home, so I took her out. She was so cute and bouncy as she played with the leash. She just loves the “cold”.

Scarlett and me. What a good girl.

Scarlett and me. What a good girl.

I switched up my workout for Thursday and ended up doing 7 x 800’s.

Pretty good pace, but why am I slightly disappointed?

Pretty good pace, but why am I slightly disappointed?

All of the 800’s were between 3:30 and 3:34.  I honestly don’t know if I should be more tired when I’m done. I was tired, but I wasn’t TIRED. Should I be stepping up? Should I be pushing harder to finish? I know I need to keep them consistent and not slow down as I go, but how hard should I push? Food for thought, time to bring out Hal’s book, isn’t it?

Friday is my day off, and I have to admit that I’m slightly anxious for the thirty miles to run this weekend (nothing new), ten on Saturday and twenty on Sunday, 30-90 seconds slower than race pace. My reward will be eating some good food without guilt on Super Bowl Sunday! Ha! I’m looking forward to the challenge though.

Anyway, I’m going to email the information Hal asked me for 🙂 and if I end up winning an autographed book THAT I’M QUOTED IN (he didn’t say he would send me one or that I would actually be quoted but I’m fantasizing about it), I’ll be sure to aim myself towards the yard, so when I pass out finding it in the mailbox, I will fall into the grass and not the street and get run over. Imagine the headline on that one. Then once I recover and explain to all my retired  neighbors that I wasn’t drinking and then explain WHO Hal Higdon is and that I’m not cheating on my husband, I’ll go inside and see my name printed in a Hal Higdon book and then pass out in the safety of my own home. Wonder if I should cover all the sharp edges?

So in keeping with that theme, tell me, why do YOU run? And should I fall-proof my house?

Categories: Boston Marathon, hal higdon training plan, marathon, qualifying for boston marathon, running, training for marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Tempo Tuesday

After pretty much not getting anything productive done (except running of course) for almost three weeks, yesterday was the first day back, as it was for many people. My to-do list is longer than Lindsey Lohan’s rap sheet, but I got a good chunk out of it done yesterday. Well, now that I look at the list, it’s still really super long. I guess it probably doesn’t help that I keep adding things to it, huh?

The good thing is that I’m running again and I decided on what to do with training/coaching for my Ironman. I counted the weeks. It’s in 42 weeks from Saturday. I’m not sure if I’m happy about that or terrified….

Over the holiday, I asked a general question on the Facebook page Tri Talk regarding good books for IM training since I couldn’t afford a coach. I got several responses, but one happened to be from one of the coaches from the local group I belong to on and off, Without Limits. Sami is the Ironman Queen and happened to reply to talk to her about coaching and that we could work something out. I don’t know her well, but I do know she is the bees knees when it comes to Ironman. I didn’t want to pay for the coaching since I’ve spent so much on IM already plus all the coaching I’ve had for the running events, yadda yadda, money money, typical feeling guilty things for me spending money on my stuff. Sami and I chatted back and forth about trying to work something out, but one morning, I woke up at 5 am and all I could think about was the Ironman and coaching. I guess maybe it was a moment of clarity, because I suddenly realized that it would be absolutely stupid of me to pass up the opportunity to be coached by Sami, especially when she has so much experience and passion for the Ironman herself. And by the way, she has done TWELVE IM’s and qualified for Kona in November. So why in the world would I rely on books and the internet for information when I could have a personal coach for the biggest, most complex event in my life? I could have someone to work with, to ask questions to, to help me through something that is foreign to me.  So this late spring/early summer, I’ll be starting a plan with Sami to get me to the finish line at Ironman Florida in November. Clarity.

Gorgeous way to start 2015!

Gorgeous way to start 2015!

My marathon is March 22nd.  I haven’t been doing much, if any, speed or tempo or hill work, because I don’t want to aggravate the grumpy old man, otherwise known as my shin splints. I feel very behind, but I am healing. Slowly. Thank God!

New Year’s Day started with a good 6.5 mile run with friends at Wrightsville Beach, followed up with a soak in the freezing cold waterway. I certainly didn’t want to put my legs into 50 degree water, but I knew it was the right thing to do considering my mileage that I did during the week and what was coming for the weekend. Let’s say that I wasn’t as brave as some other runners who put their lady bits into that cold water. I think I would have died.

The little ripples are from my shivering.

The little ripples are from my shivering.

Saturday I was lucky enough to have company for my 8 mile pace run. It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely doable, and we got it done in average 8:20-something pace, honestly I don’t really know. My Garmin does not like trees or clouds, and since we ran in trees AND clouds, it said we were going 9:00 plus pace part of the time, which I know was not accurate. So I’m not EXACTLY sure what the pace was, and that irritates the crap out of me. I just estimate the best I can on Garmin’s fussy days. I think it’s related to my shin splints. Moody and grumpy.

I was a little nervous for Sunday’s 16 mile run because it was going to be warm and it was supposed to rain. Luckily, the rain held off, but it was just gross outside, like the air of a man’s dirty beard. Ugh. 72 with almost 100% humidity after not running in that for a few months was just difficult. I made it through, but I don’t have any idea of what pace I was going. Garmin had another funky day with the clouds, but mostly, it got turned back on somehow so was ticking away as I was driving home. I got home and the feast started. First, it was a berry smoothie. Then it was a 4-egg (1 1/2 yolks to 4 egg whites) scramble, plus about half a pound of spinach, ham, and cheddar. It was goooooood. I drank a Zip Fizz recovery drink, had an endurolyte pill, and several cups of water, some almond milk, and then some coffee. When the feast was over, I was happy to report that my legs felt just tired, I had no pain, and my belleh was full. Score.

Ohhhh, good.

Ohhhh, good.

On Monday, I had an easy 3 mile run, but because there’s an Ironman in the picture and I took on the slacker role over break, I knew I needed to get to the pool. I headed there first thing in the morning and was met with zero ability to swim. It was like I hadn’t been to the pool in months. Can you say “doggy paddle”? Oy. I made myself finish a mile and work on form – a.k.a. finding my form. After I got home, I headed out for a nice easy 3 mile run. My legs were slightly achy from the weekend running, but no pain. Could I be healed? Dare to dream! After my run, I got to working on my “Lindsey Lohan Rap Sheet” to-do list. I worked all day on the crap I should have done the last few weeks of December, and I felt good about what I got done.

As for today, ah today, today is one of those days that I will never quite forget, but I certainly do not want to repeat. I’ll call it the “Helga situation”, and was the final event wrapping up the accident that happened in August. I’m planning to write about that later this week assuming my to-do list becomes shorter as the days go by. Bonus was we walked by where they film “Sleepy Hollow” and I have proof.

When I got home from lunch with my sister to celebrate the ending of the “Helga Situation”, I decided to go ahead and knock out my run. I didn’t feel mentally ready for a tempo run because of everything and I was depressed from everything, so I thought I would figure it out as I went. Much to my surprise, I started out a race pace and quickly moved into my tempo pace, where I stayed for three miles, finishing 3.1 in 23 minutes. Not too shabby, especially with a belly full of Diet Coke and Bun Thit Nuong. I finished with 5 miles in 40 minutes, and I am so thrilled to 1) complete this tempo run in the first place and 2) report there’s no pain and 3) not throw up lunch. Faster-than-race-pace has been the big trigger with my grumpy old shins, so I was worried about this run, especially since I did bring it down to 7:00 pace and a little below for a while in the 3 faster miles. So far, so good!

Today was another reminder for me to always give it my best shot, even when I may not be feeling mentally or physically up to a certain challenge or workout. The rest of the week’s running is pretty easy, but this weekend will be an 8 miler on Saturday followed by 17 on Sunday. The weather looks cool and dry, so at least we won’t have “dirty beard” conditions to get through. I’m going to give this marathon my all, and next week starts more speed and hill training. I’m ready.

Have you ever been to court before? What do you do when you’re mentally DONE but have a pace workout?

Categories: coaching, go for your dreams, iron distance, ironman, marathon, open water swimming, quintiles wrightsville beach marathon, running, running buddies, running with friends, swimming, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, wrightsville beach marathon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Taking A Look Back Before I Go Forward

A year ago, I couldn’t imagine sitting at my kitchen table, writing my first half iron race report. Sometimes, when things are that far away and you don’t have the skills or equipment to do something, it seems impossible. But it was always my goal, to finish the B2B 70.3 with a smile on my face.

Off the subject, but speaking of smiles, I got my race pictures back this weekend. Oy. Can you say GOOBER?

Ok, back to it. I remember last year, when I ran the half marathon for the B2B relay, and I knew I wanted to do the 70.3. I knew I wasn’t interested in doing sprint triathlons, but endurance events. I didn’t want to make a “thing” of it and do them all the time, and I still don’t, but I knew I wanted to give it a try. If it all went well, I was planning to do a full iron distance, and I still am. But as I did do the race report, I thought back to events over the year that led me to a pretty good finish for my race.

I made my goal and I focused on it. I started swimming as marathon cross-training. I figured out what bike I could piece together, got it adjusted, greased up, and started riding it. My time at the pool was long and tedious. I swallowed a lot of old-lady aerobics water. I became friends with Endurolytes the hard way at the Boston Marathon. I ran the BOSTON MARATHON. I learned how to change a tire on my bike. I drew a cat on my PT bruise. I got a half marathon PR. I figured out how to unclip my shoes so I wouldn’t fall over at a stop light. I learned how to hydrate with EFS. I ate while riding my bike. I got a trainer so I could do bike workouts inside. I cried. I deferred a marathon. I ran. I ran more. I got a wetsuit. I swam in open water to practice. I got a swimming lesson. I met a lot of people along the way. I worked pretty hard along the way. I did the 10×10 challenge. I laughed a lot. I sweated a lot. I swore a lot. I ate a lot. But I had fun. It was an adventure. It was something new and an experience I was enjoying, beyond my expectations.

Here’s two pictures. The top one is of me running the B2B relay last year.  The bottom one is of me running B2B this year. I’ve come a long way. But I’ve got a long way yet to travel on this journey of mine!

Running the relay October 2013

Running the relay October 2013

Doing the full 70.3

Doing the full 70.3

During the year between those two pictures, I ran 1,339 miles. I biked 1,025 miles. I swam 55 miles. That’s freakin’ 2,419 miles!!! Not every mile was good (i.e. the last 6 of the Boston Marathon and most of them in August). But they all add up and provide a block in the foundation of meeting a goal.

If I could go back and tell my 2013 self something, it would be to just give it a go. Don’t be afraid. Read the tattoo on your foot, for crying out loud! Just do your work, trust your training, and have fun. Maybe that’s a little unrealistic, to have no fear? Well, ok, we all have some fear.  The key is to face it and don’t let it stop you from following your heart and going for your goals. Never stop dreaming. Never stop GOING AFTER your dreams. Chase ’em down with a baseball bat if you have to! Just go get ’em!

I can tell my current day self the same thing, as I gear up to train for the Houston Marathon that’s only 11 weeks away. I need to focus on my goal and stop overthinking everything, stop worrying so much about things I cannot control.  (It’s best to email coach when not high on caffeine too considering I have ALL THE FEELINGS.) My husband is rolling his eyes at this right now. You are, aren’t you, Andy??? Yeah, I can dream big, right? I know I’ll worry, I know there’ll be hard days, but I won’t give up. Hmmm, I wonder where I will travel in the next 12 months. How many miles will I run, bike and swim? Chances are, it’s going to be a lot, but most of all, I’m looking forward to the journey.

 

This is the tattoo I have on my foot as a constant reminder.

This is the tattoo I have on my foot as a constant reminder.

 

 

Categories: 10x10 challenge, beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, running, running challenge, running with friends, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

I Don’t Even Know Where To Start So I’ll Just Start

Ok, yes I do know where to start. I have to give a HUGE congratulations to Kecia from Push My Limits on her completion of Ironman Wisconsin. Is it cyber stalking if you yell at your computer because it won’t refresh and update the “live” status of the athlete you are following?! Because I didn’t do that.  You are an inspiration, lady!!!! You truly are!

As for me, I really do not know where to start. I’ve been trying to get some sort of routine in order for my days as a “stay at home” mom. Yeah, I’m certainly not home as much as I would think I would be, and if I wasn’t biking on the trainer, I would be home much less than I am now. I have so many projects to complete (one of which is getting my photo albums updated since I haven’t done that in over THREE YEARS), ones I couldn’t muster up the mental strength for last year.  I feel so much better about being settled here, and getting to my projects with a fresh attitude is a welcome feeling for me. I really didn’t think it would take over a year to get settled and let that crazy-stressed feeling diminish. Enough about that, let’s get to the goods, so I’ll start with my training.

Biking – I “biked” when I was in high school and college and enjoy it now. I didn’t think I would like the cadence/heart rate workouts that I’m doing now, but I really do. It’s a challenge for me, which is one reason why I like it, but I feel a difference in how I’m running, so I’m pretty pumped about how all the biking will improve my running. I’m really focused on one goal: The Houston Marathon. I think I’m biking at least three times per week, and none of them are marked as “just go ride your bike”. They are “you’re so gonna sweat on this ride” sort of workouts. I’m loving it. But shhhhhhh, don’t tell my coach!

Ahhh, coach. I’m back with my coach at Without Limits, who will melt away that summer feeling of “I can do whatever I want whenever I want” sort of laissez faire attitude. Sure, I’ve run and biked A LOT this summer, but it wasn’t the actual training that I’m needing right now. I have more accountability, which helps too, since my schedule is a lot different than it was with two kids in elementary.  Some days, I work out right after my oldest son goes to school and I’m just getting done and showered at 11 am. It’s kind of ridiculous.

Swimming – I didn’t go on the one swim where it was super wavy and I would have felt like I was in the washing machine on the “jeans” setting. On Labor Day, I went for an open water swim with a friend while my sister supported in her kayak. As we dropped vehicles and got all situated to start, my sister swatted at some bugs and totally dumped her kayak over. Did you know that some kayak paddles do not float? Yeah, epic design fail, eh? At least they could have had a warning on them that said DO NOT BUY AS THEY WILL SINK AS FAST AS YOU SAY PADDLE  Warning: “This paddle does not float”. Really, how ridiculous. My sister said she was fine and was going to get to the finish point to meet us, so my friend and I took off, but not before we saw some dolphins in the waterway. It was glassy perfect for a swim. Ahhhh….

week3

Perfect!

I thought the swim would be about 1.2 miles or something like that, but when I got to the usual starting point, I was already at .8. I knew I had .9 or a little more to go. Ugh.  I was tired from finishing the 5k challenge from the 10×10 challenge peeps and putting in some good runs before, so I told my compadre that I didn’t know if I could make it all the way to the finish. She simply said, “You can do it.”  I was on my way to complete the longest swim EVER, let alone an open water swim without stopping (except to talk and avoid the trolls as we crossed under the bridge), something that I could’ve never imagined doing. An hour and twelve minutes later, I had swam 1.72 miles. I was tired, but I felt great about it.  The comment from my friend was priceless. It always pays to be positive!!!

I freaking did it.

I freaking did it.

The swim this week was cancelled due to weather, plus there’s usually a bacteria warning after heavy rain, so I’ll get one in once or twice this week. If anything, I’ll head to the pool.

Running – Ahhhh, my one true love. I started back with a tempo run and speed work at the track last week. I tried not to go crazy, as it was super hot and humid, and I do NOT want to end up injured like I was last year. I’m trying to keep my paces that are given to me, but sometimes, it’s hard when you know you can go faster. I just have to keep in mind that yes, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so just take it easy. I have 17 weeks until the marathon.  That means I’ll have plenty of time for speedy speed work in the future. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway.

With the extreme high humidity and the fact I wasn’t able to go run early (because I was on the bike), I tried not to look at my pace. Last week, I didn’t look at distance or pace ONE TIME during the run, just the elapsed time. For any of you out there like me, and I know there’s a LOT of us out there, I am still slightly annoyed at what my watch read after my run.

Raise your hand if this is annoying.

Raise your hand if this is annoying.

I didn’t even look at distance (and I don’t know why pace said 6:19, maybe because I moved my arm fast or something, but I certainly wasn’t going at that pace!) until I got inside and cooled off. D’oh!!!!

So for my training, I’m getting in some good miles, speed work, tough bike rides, and long swims. I’m still not concerned with my pace for the half iron  triathlon that is in less than six weeks! I’ve got my eye on the prize, what will hopefully be my second BQ, my marathon.  I’m almost giddy thinking about training for it, getting into the harder workouts, the strength, more biking, and everything else. Call me crazy, but I just love training!

I’m also going to be training a bunch of 6th graders for their first 5k.  It’s the Stride program, which to anyone who is familiar with Girls on the Run, it’s that but for boys. I’m super excited and just hope we get enough registrants to have the program at all! So if ANYONE has any advice on dealing with middle school kids (boys in particular), I’d love to hear it. I have my own 6th grader, but we all know dealing with your own kid is different than multiple kids who aren’t yours! Ha!

That’s it for now, as it’s back-to-the-fridge day. I cannot eat enough!!!!!

 

 

Categories: beach 2 battleship triathlon, Boston Marathon, half iron distance, marathon, open water swimming, running, running challenge, swimming, training for half iron distance, training for marathon, training for triathlon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Rainy Day and a Dream

The Houston Marathon is on Sunday.  I would be tapering in preparation for this race right now if I hadn’t developed and then ignored my severe shin splints.  It still pisses me off, but I’m also thankful that I’ve had more time to learn swimming, to become stronger, just in a slower fashion.

In celebration of the anniversary of a race that changed my life, I thought I would share the recap I wrote after the marathon last year.  It is still so vivid to me, the very interesting revelation I made after the race was over, and I look back on this with such fondness.  It brings me to tears. Please enjoy, enjoy the way I made the huge discovery on the rainy day I ran my sixth marathon.

A RAINY DAY AND A DREAM – (originally posted January 2013 on a different blog)

I ran the Chevron Houston Marathon on Sunday. After training for six months and doing my pre-race taper and eating routines, I knew I was going to do whatever it took to run and complete the race in the best time I could.  I gathered my things the night before, and hoped the forecast for rain and wind was wrong.

It takes a lot to get ready for a race!

It takes a lot to get ready for a race!

Because of the cold, rainy, and especially windy conditions I woke up to, my hopes of a PR (any time under 3:56:30) or even better, a goal time of 3:45 fizzled.  (The time of 3:45 would prove to myself that I could qualify for Boston at the next Houston Marathon after I turned 40.)  I ended up hoping to finish the race altogether.  I was emotionally charged, nervous, and overwhelmed.

As we were driving towards downtown Houston at 4:30 am, it was raining and very windy with temps in the upper 40’s.  I was dreading the race. I was disappointed. I felt bad for the first time runners, the spectators, for my husband, and I was literally scared to know how hard it was going to be.  All the calm that I had felt coming into the race slowly seeped away as the anxiety crept in. I knew this race was going to be a huge test in mental strength.

You can see the rain coming down.

You can see the rain coming down.

I was supposed to be in my corral by 6:40 for the 7:00 am start. My group was just leaving the convention center at 6:30, and I needed a bathroom. It was raining, and I started to panic.  I HAD to go to the bathroom before we started. Where were the port-a-jons? Why was it raining? Was I going to make it into my corral before they closed it? Was I going to be totally soaked before the thing even started? Would I be able to finish it? Tears. My poor husband just told me that I would be fine, that I had plenty of time, that it would all be ok. He remained the calm in that storm of mine. As I entered the corral in plenty of time (people were streaming in until the race was starting so I really don’t know if they closed the gates to the corral at all), I found the LONG line to the bathrooms. It started pouring. I realized that it didn’t matter if the race started when I was in the bathroom because my time would start when I crossed the start line, not when the cannon went off. I would have rather started later than stop along the way.  Thankfully, I made it to the center of the pack for the start two short minutes before the race started, and five minutes after the cannon went off, I actually crossed the start line. Here I was, after six months of preparation, finally running my sixth marathon.

Let's get this thing started!

Let’s get this thing started!

Because it wasn’t too cold by temperature, but because of the rain, I decided to wear gloves, biker type shorts that wouldn’t slosh when wet, a tank top, a shedable shell waterproof, very light coat with tear-away sleeves that I bought at the expo, a long sleeve throwaway shirt, then a poncho. I was so thankful for the decisions I made regarding what to wear (especially the shedable shell), because it turned out to be perfect. After three or four miles, I was making good time while dodging puddles, and I completed the 5k in about 26 minutes.  I got pretty warm after that so I managed to take off the long sleeved shirt while keeping the poncho on since it was raining. Skills, baby, skills.  Haha!

As the mile markers went by, I noticed that my pace was steady and averaging around 8:25 minutes a mile, a miracle in my mind.  My breathing felt good, and my legs were strong.  One thing I read in the paper about the marathon kept ringing through my mind.  Ryan Hall, an elite marathon runner, said that rain should not be a factor in marathon performance. Wind is, not rain. That piece of advice kept me going, and I knew I had no excuse to give up or slow down simply because it was raining.  The good thing is that I didn’t feel the wind was as big as an issue as what I thought it would be, plus, the five or so miles going with the wind was a gift that I was very happy to unwrap, as my pace increased to about 8:10 minute miles. Once it stopped raining so hard and the darkness lifted, I saw so many wonderful, supportive spectators, a river of runners in front of and behind me, and I was running a race that I had been excited to run for months. I saw Superman running, I saw ponchos flowing as their owners ran mile after mile, I saw hundreds of articles of clothes abandoned on the side of the road, I saw plenty of people cut in front of me, I saw beer stands, and I cringed when I saw a man with a fanny pack flopping on his back. I loved the cheering people on their porches, the church members loudly celebrating us, the people hanging out of their cars to yell at us to keep going, the blue-lipped volunteers handing out Gatorade and water.

I honestly don’t remember when it stopped raining. Mile 7? Mile 10? I just don’t recall. That’s the beauty of being in “the zone” – I don’t remember a lot, including the pain!  I warmed up, threw my gloves onto the side of the road, and I ripped the sleeves off my jacket. I realized later that I should have kept my gloves, even though they were wet. My. Hands. Froze.

I was going to meet my husband between miles 15 and 16, and I really wanted to change into my dry shoes he had for me. While grabbing the cups of Gatorade before that, I realized that my arms and hands were so cold, I had no dexterity to tie my shoelaces if I changed into dry shoes.  I decided to save the minutes and kept going in wet shoes.

The miles flew by. I saw belly dancers, I saw more beer stands with people stopping for a cup, I avoided big puddles like the plague, and I saw downtown Houston on the horizon. I grabbed my necklace for strength for the second time at that point. It was my grandmother’s necklace, one that she wore every day, probably even when she taught my sister and I how to run around the shed in her back yard. I thought of my favorite Bible verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I thought of my husband, my kids, my family, and I wanted to make them proud. I almost teared up when “The Fighter” came into my ears, and I knew I was running as best as I could. I did not want to hit THE WALL.  Then my right thigh and knee started to ache. When I passed mile 22, it started to hurt. With every step, it hurt. I regretted not taking more ibuprofen at mile 16 like I planned to, but it wasn’t bad enough to stop me.  I was still going as fast as I could go, but it was a little slower pace. I gritted my teeth and kept running.

It. Was. Windy.

It. Was. Windy.

As downtown got bigger and bigger, I knew I was headed for a PR, and I was as thrilled as a person surviving on adrenaline could be. I couldn’t comprehend much, but I knew I was doing well. I thought that it was amazing that I started a race with very low expectations of finishing at all, but ended up running the best race of my life.  I got mad (I don’t have an explanation for that, I was just mad) as I saw the “1.5 MILES TO GO”. I passed the 25.2 mark and threw my coat off so the photographers could see my race number. ½ mile to go. ¼ mile to go. Then I passed the 26 mile mark. Kick it. So I started going faster. I turned the corner, saw the people in the stands and along the sidelines, and I crossed the finish line with my arms up. 3 hours. 43 minutes. 18 seconds. I was done.

I'm near the left in a pink tank top.

I’m near the left in a pink tank top.

As I dodged the guy throwing up Gatorade at the finish line, and I made my way to the photo area, got my picture taken, and found my husband.  I was so happy, surprised, thrilled, cold, and exhausted. I met my goal time by 2 minutes and unfortunately missed qualifying for Boston by 3 minutes. I knew I couldn’t have gone 3 minutes faster, so I was very satisfied with my time, especially since the conditions were unfavorable.  I ran the race well, and that’s all I wanted in the first place.

race

The Dream

The runners were pointed inside the convention center and were met with chocolate milk, water, Gatorade, bananas, ice cream sandwiches, a hot breakfast, and fruit cups. Wow. It was nuts.  Houston does a marathon well, that’s for sure.  I didn’t know where to go first so I sort of wandered in circles and settled on picking up my bag so I could put my finisher shirt and mug in it. That one decision changed the course of my day.

I really can’t remember the details of how the conversation started with a fellow 39 year old runner. It could have started with me trying to bend down, lightly crying (I cry after marathons and this was a happy cry), moaning as my knees bent, and us sharing a “yeah, this hurts but we both know it’s worth it” glance. I know that I told him that I met my goal by a few minutes but missed Boston by only 3, and I would be back to tackle that goal next year after I turned 40. He said he qualified by just a few minutes and he was ecstatic.  He then told me that he was 39 too, but I was mistaken.  Qualification is based on the age you are AT the Boston Marathon, not the age you are when you run to qualify. I think there was some babbling in there somewhere, then I asked him if he was 100% sure to which he replied “YES, I AM 100% SURE”.  I shook his hand (I almost hugged him but we all smelled too bad for that) and he said, “Maybe I’ll see ya in Boston” and went on his way. I was stunned. I freaking qualified for the Boston Marathon. I think. I had tried two times before, only to find disappointment. Could this be true? Could I have done it on the day I least expected it?

I found a fellow Gotta Run runner and told him (I was crying so I figured I might as well tell him what my deal was) that I thought I qualified for Boston and he agreed about the rules. I texted my husband.  He texted me back and confirmed.  I put my face in my hands and really cried, like a BOO HOO cry. I swirled with disbelief, happiness, and feelings that I still can’t quite describe. Thankfulness? Pride? Confidence? It was and actually still is a combination of those feelings. I found my way to the reunion area and cried into my husband’s shoulder. Hey, I cry after marathons anyway, I realized a dream I had for several years, and my emotions were just fizzled out.   I hugged my parents and whispered that I qualified for Boston, and then cried a little more.  I told my Gotta Run coach, the one who kept telling me, “You got this”.  We celebrated our marathon finishes and kept getting updates on our fellow teammates. Everyone did it. We were all winners.

I went home truly truly happy with my marathon for the first time. I was so proud of all the other runners I knew, many of which were experiencing their first half or full marathon. I was very impressed with the Chevron Houston Marathon, and I look forward to running it in the future.

I followed a path to a dream, and I caught the rainbow. I think the best part about the entire race, including the Boston Qualification, is that I didn’t know. I didn’t put these boundaries and expectations on myself that morning. I did my best, and I knew I did my best, and I was happy with the result. The reward was that in itself. The BQ was the topping, the ultimate surprise, the gift that I honestly never knew I could or would be able to earn. I did it.   Who knew that rainy day would be the day my dream would come true?

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I’m so lucky to know the people from Gotta Run Katy. And thank you, Alain, for always believing in me.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Oktoberfest 15k

For the first time in several months, I raced yesterday. I think I’ve only ever done one 15k race before and it was on a rain-filled trail in Iowa.

Yesterday’s race in Brunswick Forest was much easier. The weather was beautiful, although I’m beginning to realize that it will always be humid here. I was a little nervous because my 3 mile jog on Saturday was terrible due to my never-ending shin splints. I looked like Forrest Gump did when he was a kid and had leg braces on. I have been getting physical therapy for three weeks and finally zero’d in on the source of the problem last week, which is good, but it did not immediately solve said problem, and that frustrates me.  What, can’t I expect that two physical therapy sessions would make all my leg pain go “Poof” and disappear? After that terrible, gimpy run Saturday, I decided that I needed to take two full weeks off running after the 15k, which is like saying I won’t eat or drink for two weeks. That is not to say I will not be training, I just won’t be running. Breathe. Breathe.

Then I ran on Sunday.  It was clear and cool.  My coach told me to start off at a nice 8:30 pace and each three miles, move the pace up 15 seconds to end on an 8 minute mile pace. Because I’m a rebel fighter a bad student, I decided to start on a 7:50 pace, while forgetting that it was not 45 degrees nor a 5k.  I guess after you run in 80-degree temps for so many months, when it hits 60-something, we all go nuts.  I don’t know about you, but this is how I feel when we go run on that first cool morning in the fall. The picture is compliments of Hyperbole and a Half.

run all the miles

In my defense of my theory to RUNALLTHEMILESASFASTASICAN, it really was a test for me, mentally. I have a half marathon at the end of October that I planned on getting a PR in.  It’s not only for me, but I’ll be the runner leg of the Hells Belle’s relay team for the Beach 2 Battleship 1/2 iron distance.  I knew that if I could run an 8 minute mile pace for the 15k, there’d be hope for an 8 minute mile in the 1/2 marathon. Each pre-marathon race is also a learning experience for me, too. This time, it was a reminder to back off the gas pedal in the beginning, which I already knew, but had evidently forgotten.  It was also a reminder to fuel properly. I ran out of gas around 6 miles so the last three miles weren’t as fast as if I’d eaten more that morning.  Grrrr.  I hate that.  Isn’t it funny when you’re going fast and think “Hey, I’m a rock star!” and then when you THINK you’re going fast and look at your watch only to find you you’re not, then you automatically assume your Garmin isn’t working right?  That was me the last few miles.  And it’s not actually funny.

Anyway, it got pretty warm and a little breezy at the end, but I finished my 9.3 miles in 1:15, an 8:04 pace. I was happy. I was even more happy when, as I approached the finish line, I saw my husband and kids waiting for me. Ahhhh, so sweet.

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I collected my medal, got my two free beers, chatted with my family, and entertained myself while waiting for two friends to cross the finish line.

One of my favorite medals.

It was a little dry.

Finally, a dual purpose medal.

Finally, a dual purpose medal.

The race was well organized, great volunteers, a clear course, nice race shirt, and some beer/food at the end. I didn’t place in my age group, which sort of disappointed me considering I would have won or placed in many of the other age groups, but I told my husband before they started, that I got my prize on Wednesday in my email inbox. Now it’s on to elliptical training, swimming, and biking for a week. I’m ready for this, I have my eye on the prize and I’ll do what I need to do to make my dreams a reality.

Did any of you have races this weekend? Did you pace yourself right? Fuel properly?

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

10 Things to do While Waiting to See if I Get Into Boston

This week is the longest week EVER and it feels like Friday (and beyond) will NEVER EVER EVER get here.  YES, it’s anoooother post about Boston and I swear it will be one of the last (for a while).  I registered for Boston on Monday and people can register until Friday.  We still won’t find out until they verify everyone’s race, which will be sometime next week.  Hopefully.  There’s many more registrants than spaces available so it makes the entire thing really difficult.  More waiting. Sheesh, so what’s a person to do while waiting for news? I just want to know. Now. I read Mark Remy’s article in Runner’s World titled “6 Ways to Pass the Time While Waiting for Boston Confirmation” and I decided to steal his idea.  Here’s my list of “10 Things to Do While Waiting to See if I Get Into Boston”. Thanks Mark!  At least it gave me something else to do!

1) Math – I have dusted off my calculator and freshened up my math skills this week.  I’ve twisted all the Boston numbers around so many times, it’s kind of crazy/bordering OCD. There’s 5,000 spaces available. Based on equal spacing in finish times with the people who have registered (I was using a lower number at first which made me happy but it’s now at 7,900 which makes me unhappy) I have a faster time than 34% of the finishers who, theoretically speaking, finished less than five minutes of their qualification time. Blah blah blah blah, at this particular time, I would miss making the cutoff registration by 214 runners. Of 22,000 runners. Now that’s a punch in the gut!!! Then, I had to figure out that I would miss it by less than 1%. So it’s kind of a big reminder next time to be sure to kick that last few miles in the ass and just haul it til you cross the finish line. Or throw up.

2) Learn to Knit.  Read a good book. It’s fascinating how blankets and clothes are made by some yarn/spun stuff but I really have no interest. I wanted to, but I just don’t. So reading a good book is a great way to pass the time.

3) De-clutter a room.  I moved 1,200 miles in July/August. I’m tired. But I have one “catch-all” room that is desperately needing a de-clutter.  It’s called a bonus room because once you clean the entire regular house, you get to clean another room – A BONUS!!! Yeah! So it took me a few days, but I cleaned out my room. See?

before-after

Ok, this is totally not my room and I found this picture on the Internets, but that’s how I feel.

4) Practice spelling and vocabulary. My son’s school in Texas stopped spelling tests just into his 3rd grade year and never had vocabulary. And from what his papers show, it’s quit quite obvious. Since we moved to NC, he now has spelling and vocabulary (thank you, NC!!!) so might as well brush up on that stuff yourself, so when you’re kid asks you what “exquisite” means, you know the real answer without distracting him while checking Google.  Mmmhmmm, I’ve never done that.

5) DVR and watch the new fall TV shows. I watched the new Brooklyn Nine-Nine with Andy Samberg. It’s hilarious. Dr. Phil’s new episodes. Am I the only one who feels really good about themselves and their parenting skills after watching his show?  Duck Dynasty.  Makes me want to drink tea.  Food network.  How do they make such good meals in 20 minutes using Spam, vegetables I’ve never heard of, and a can of icing?  House Hunters.  Ahhhh, to be able to just pick up and move to the islands.  Many more shows are starting next week, so if I feel the need to distract myself further, there will be plenty to see.  Sleepy Hollow. It’s fantastically evil but I have a little crush on Ichabod Crane. I like the other characters too.  Well, not the headless guy trying to kill everyone in order to find his head and start the end of the world. And that leads me to….

6) Watch Hollywood.  They shoot a lot of movies and TV shows here in little ole’ Wilmington.  Sleepy Hollow is shooting downtown today, so guess what I am going to do? Try and see Ichabod Crane, played by Tom Mison.  I watched the show and realized that I need to only watch it during daylight hours and when I know I won’t be home alone at night.  For me, the creep factor is pretty high up there, but it’s really good and I’m still going to watch it.  Especially if I can see them filming it.

crane

Tom Mison plays Ichabod Crane

7)  Be depressed and plan pity party.  I tried depression on for size and it really doesn’t fit. I know I’ll be upset if I don’t make it in, especially since I found out (using my wonderfully toned math skills) that the timed entries were only increased by 400, not the thousands that the BAA had announced.  THOSE spaces were for the people who were not able to cross the finish line last year due to the bombing (kudos to the BAA on that one) and for charity runners (totally missed the boat on this one BAA, totally missed it). It’s not fair, but really, there’s just things in life that aren’t fair, so get over it and move on.  I’ve sort of moved on in my head already since once I realized that my chances of getting in are basically impossible, I have already done a lot of grieving this week.  And if I had a pity party, we would have chips. Lots of chips AND dip. And beer.

8) Cook.  And eat.  I am almost two months into my training and the longest run I’ve been on is 9 miles and the most mileage I’ve done in one week is just about 30.  That isn’t very much YET, but when you add the cross training I’ve done with swimming and biking, plus the strength training, I’m burnin’ up some serious calories. I. Love. This.  On Monday, I was so hungry all I wanted to do was eat. I knew I had to be careful so I didn’t get that “oh sh*t, I just ate an entire chicken and now I feel like one of those big huge Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons” feeling, but I ate as much or more than a huge man would eat. My husband runs and my kids are in football, so this family goes through some serious food. What better to do than to cook something good and then get the pleasure of eating it? A lot of it, too. I love the way my body changes to be stronger, leaner, and faster all while I’m shoveling down hundreds of calories. Snacking? It’s a must.  And I get bored with the same old things, so finding healthy and hearty recipes is always something to do while distracting oneself. Chicken Ole anyone?

9)  Write or call someone.  Write a letter to your grandma. Write your long-lost friend where the only communication you’ve had is “Liking”  their pictures on Facebook. Talk to people.  Call someone. It doesn’t always take much for me to be able to hit the RESET button on my day and one nice person in Harris Teeter startled me into realizing that I probably looked like the Wicked Witch of the West when I was standing there getting my fresh fruit and veggies scanned with a frowny wistful look on my face.  Oh poor me, I can’t get into a race that I spent three years training for and attempting.  Well, that’s a first world problem if I’ve ever heard of one, so get the hell over it. (You know as much as I do that I won’t totally get over it, but just get over it at that moment.)  Then I felt guilty for being all grinchy and always resort to gratefulness, because I really am lucky to be standing there buying fresh fruits and veggies. Then I smiled and decided to get the hell over it (at that moment).  The moral of this thing-to-do is to reach out to someone because maybe that contact can be what they need to hit their RESET button.  Hmmmm, I wonder if I could install a RESET button on my grumpy cat. He’s always going around biting people and whining about how he doesn’t want the food in the dish, he wants CANNED food and that the water in the bowl is stale, he wants it as soon as it comes out of the faucet and will stand there looking at me until I turn the faucet on and then he takes two licks and is done. Hmph.

This cat does not want to have a RESET button.

This cat does not want to have a RESET button.

I got him a really nice RESET button and installed it but he immediately de-installed it. We went round and round until he ate the RESET button, which I had to remove from his mouth because everyone should know that you just don’t eat RESET buttons. The good thing is that there were about 300 seconds that I didn’t even think of “that” marathon. Success.

10)  This is kind of obvious, but necessary: Go out and run!  I’m not one of those people who hates to run but does it for the exercise or to be a triathlete. I really truly love to run and it’s a part of who I am. It also allows me to drink more beer without gaining weight, but that’s not the point.  I think I’ve only had about five times EVER when I went out for a run and then regretted it. One time, it was because my leg was really hurting so I shouldn’t have done it. Another time I got over heated and yacked. I kind of laugh about that one because it was when I was living in Iowa and I wouldn’t run if the temps were over 70 because it was “too hot”.  How ironic that a year later, I would live in southern Texas and it wouldn’t get BELOW 70 for five months in a row.   Then two years after that, I would move to the jungle where the humidity is always 1,000,000% (and some days it feels like more).  I digress.  I know I can improve on my marathon time, so besides continuing my training, I’m reading about nutrition and how I can fuel better for those longer training runs and races.  It’s time to put my game face on and get this thing done.  Again.

So anyway, it’s never fun to be stuck in what seems like the time stopping abyss of ???????  but there could be worse things to deal with. Just look at it all with a sense of humor, distract yourself, and the time will come when all the questions are answered. Is it freaking Friday yet?

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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