Sunday, January 31, 2010

Benbrook 5K Race Report

So, like I mentioned before, I went out to the Benbrook 5K and Half Marathon yesterday to pace my friend Jason.  We had hoped to get a few more of our friends out there to run it, too, including my husband, sons and a few of the kids from the hockey team.  But, when it became clear that it was going to be cold, very cold, in fact so cold it was the opposite of Africa-hot, we knew it was going to be just us.  My younger son doesn't have the right kind of clothing to run in 23 degree weather, and while the older one does, he was spending the morning on a 7-mile hike with his Boy Scout troop, and my husband wasn't going to make it to the race start in time once he dropped off the older one.  So, it was just me and Jason (Actually, in a twitter/text conversation earlier in the day on Friday, the question of whether it was even going to be us was in up for discussion. But, it was decided that the work had been done, the registration fees had been paid, and it was time to belly up to the bar and make it happen).

Race morning was very, very cold, but really not any colder than the run I did a few weeks ago when it was 17 degrees at the outset. The difference yesterday is that it was kinda moist out, with very light flurries threatening, and the skies were very gray.  Plus, at the lake where the race was, the wind was picking up pretty nicely, making it seem much colder than it was.  Once I got up and dressed in my layers I'd laid out the night before, I fueled up with my usual PB & honey on toast, grabbed the water bottle and headed out.

Right before I got to the start area, Jason called and let me know he was there and had picked up his bib and shirt.  I came into the lot a few minutes later and headed over to register.  The race benefitted the local baseball and softball organizations, so they were lucky enough to have the race volunteers in the concession stands at the ballpark, out of the weather, and the line just formed at the counters, just like on a warm summer evening at the baseball games.  Except not.  'Cause it was COLD!  I signed up, called Jason and headed out to his car to get bibbed and chipped up, and get out of the cold.  He hadn't gotten a chip, so I sent him back to get it and we spent as long as possible in the car, because it really was just too cold to stand around outside.  With about 15 minutes to spare, we started to head back to the start line, but made time for a pit stop; of course, with the usual gender inequality, Jason was in and out way faster than I was, but I have to say standing in line for a real facility with running water, soap at the sinks and hand dryers is a hella lot better than standing in line for a porta potty!  With about five minutes left, we headed over to the start and found a spot to the back and right of the pack.  I took a pre-race photo of Jason, then we found a couple of folks to take a picture of the two of us (the first lady ended up taking a very blurry photo of herself - it was pretty funny, actually, but we had to move to the other side of the pack and ask someone else to retake it!).  Then, it was go-time. We had agreed that I would run the race at my pace, then double back and find Jason to run him in at the end.  With his pace averaging about a 17:00 minute mile on the treadmill, we figured I could catch up to him for the last half-mile or so, maybe more.

The course was a Y-shaped out and back - we headed up for about half a mile before splitting with the half-marathoners, and heading out to the left.  About a quarter-mile past the split, there was standing water and ice on the path, and a volunteer was directing us off the path into the grass on the side.  Except the grass on the side was in standing water, too, so my feet got a little squishy when we ran through it.  After that patch, a couple of people went out onto the concrete too soon and didn't notice the thin layer of ice on it, and I saw one person go down hard when they slipped and a a few more recover nicely from an almost-fall. I stayed clear of it because even though I've had my fall this year, I didn't really want another one.  After that, there was a little turn onto another road, with the water stop at the corner.  I stopped and took a quick sip even though it was well before the one-mile mark and I didn't really need it.  Then, it was straight out to the turnaround right back to where we split off.   Right past the turnaround we passed the one-mile marker and I hit my lap counter, then glanced down at it, amazed to see 9:15!  Wow.  And I thought I was working because of the hills.

A little further on, I passed Jason, and he was looking strong.  I passed the water stop again and actually walked with it for a few steps before moving on. Then I came to the icy spot on the road and went through the grass again.  But this time, I guess from all the people before and after me stepping on it, the grass was saturated even more, and when I stepped on what I thought was a drier spot, my foot was soaked through.  And of course it was too late because the other foot went down right when it registered on my brain so both shoes were soaked and I really felt the cold!  Argh!  But, whattyagonnado?  Move on, girl!  Before I knew it, the two-mile marker was up ahead and I hit the lap counter again.  Time for mile 2 was 9:37 - hmm, still faster than I felt!  Good deal, especially since the icy spot did slow me down a little more the second time through.

The last mile went really quickly, mentally, if not physically. I really felt the wind and the rolling course on this one, and distinctly remember thinking "uphill AND into the wind - NICE!! NOT!" a few times.  But I knew it was almost done, so I just kept moving.  Soon the finish and three-mile marker were in sight, and I crossed the mile marker at 9:36.  Time to bring it in.  I had been running neck and neck with another lady for about the last quarter-mile, and at the last minute, she turned on the jets and I couldn't keep up, so she passed me right within sight of the finish. But then I heard someone else coming next to me, and I couldn't let him pass me, so I turned on the jets and juked him right at the timing mats.  I didn't really pay attention to the time, since I was really mostly concerned about heading back out and finding Jason.  I let the volunteers take my chip and then headed back out onto the course.

I got to the split right when I had expected Jason to come by, at about 33 minutes in.  But I saw no sign of him.  I lingered for a little, and ran back to the first part of the course for a bit, but then realized he wasn't back there, and if he was, he was in trouble.  I turned back around and headed to the last out and back, and sure enough, here he was, moving along quite nicely, holding his outer shell.  I met him and took his stuff from him so he could focus on running and we chatted briefly about how he was feeling.  I asked him if he wanted me to run in front and get him going a little faster or get to the side or behind him and let him set the pace.  He said behind, so I took the opportunity to let him be my windshield, because by now, we were headed right back into the wind toward the finish!  As we passed the three-mile marker, I sprinted out in front to get a photo, but missed him on the approach since I couldn't operate the touch-screen on my camera with my gloves on - doofus!  I did snap one of him crossing the line, a full five minutes ahead of his expected pace! Way to go, Jason!

After a few post-race-glow photos and catching our breath, we got in line for hot chocolate and cookies.  We stopped so I could admire the age group medals, then we were on our way to the parking lot when we happened to walk by the results.  I stopped to check them out and was stunned to see my name at the top of the 40-44 women!  What?!  I won?  I have never won an age group!  Cool!  And to think, I was only going as fast as I was because I wanted to get back to Jason when I got done!  heh.  Of course, I think it was rigged because most of the other runners that would have normally wiped the floor with me were on the half course, but I will take it!  That meant that we had to stick around for awards, naturally.  That was exciting, but also a little painful, as my feet were still wet and starting to go numb.  I found myself thinking about Bear Grylls on Man vs. Wild and how long you have before you start to get frostbite!!  While we were waiting, the first two half-finishers came in, just a little more than an hour after the start of the race - those guys were speedy!  And wearing just shorts and a singlet, too - brrr.  Hardcore, I tell you!

Anyway, so that's the story of my first age group win!  I owe it all to Jason, because if not for him, I'd have been out there the half course, being cold and hating life!  Instead, I had hardware that I may or may not have worn to the grocery store on the way home!

By the numbers:

Mile 1 - 9:15
Mile 2 - 9:37
Mile 3 - 9:36
.1 - don't know because I forgot to stop my watch!

Official finish time: 29:34
Pace: 9:30/mile
1st place out of 16 AG
78/244 overall

Friday, January 29, 2010

What to Wear

So I'm pacing my buddy Jason tomorrow in his first 5K.  He's been talking smack about doing Couch to 5K for a few months, so I finally called him on it about four weeks ago and set up a plan to get him to the start line.  He is actually my son's hockey coach, too, so we had to fit in his weekly running schedule with hockey practices, game schedules, a tournament over MLK day, not to mention his job, adult league games and oh, yeah, that family thing he's got going on (Exhibit A, my fist-bumping buddy, Jason's adorable little boy).

He's had a few issues along the journey to his first 5K, as we all do, mostly with some bad knees and trying to make up missed workouts.  But, he's come a long way, and he's ready and raring to go.  So, of course, the greatness that is North Texas weather has thrown us for a loop this weekend, with temperatures forecast in the mid-to-low 20s.  Fun!

Actually, I love that temperature for running, especially for long runs.  But for folks not quite as experienced as I am (and, as I had to explain to homeboy in the last post, I *AM* fairly experienced with this stuff by now, even if you can't tell by looking at me), it might be tough to figure out how to dress.  So, here I am to share with you what I usually wear when it dips below freezing.  Luckily, unlike Steve in a Speedo, I live where that happens only a few times a year, but it does help keep me off the treadmill for those occasions if I can get geared up properly.

I will likely wear tomorrow what I wore on my long run a few weeks ago, since it worked really well, and the temps were well below freezing for the entire time I was out, even though the sun was shining.  Here goes:

1) long tank jogbra - I like the extra layer on my core for cold weather (Jason can skip this layer...)  I've tried a couple of brands but honestly for me, the Champion ones from Target work just fine, and for $10-$15 bucks on sale, I have a drawer full.
2) base layer - spandex UnderArmour-type tech shirt.  My current favorite is my white one with a Longhorn logo.  I have a couple of other more woven ones that I'll use if it's not cold-cold.  My favorite tech shirt of all time is my Marine Corps Marathon one. It just fits perfectly and is the perfect weight.
3) fleece/polartec layer - I have been using this great Cloudveil fleece my brother gave me last winter. It was intended as ski-wear, I believe, but it does a great job for temps in the teens and 20s.  It's lightweight and very moisture-wicking.  I can't ever tell how much I've sweat until I take it off and it plops on the ground in a soggy pile. And it's a pretty teal color that matches my current shoes....
4A) wind-breaking outer layer - I have a great lightweight New Balance jacket that I got as swag for last year's Love the Half Challenge.  It's got zipped pockets for my ID/cash/nutrition/phone/camera/iPod and it's lightweight enough that when I warm up I can tie it around my waist and it doesn't bug me.
4B)  if it's not going to be particularly windy, I sometimes opt for my Nike vest instead of the jacket.  It has pockets galore - seems like everytime I wear it I discover a new one! - and they mostly zip or are deep enough you don't worry about dropping keys or IDs anywhere.  Plus, it's bright white with a few reflective stripes, so I can wear it early in the morning and it gives me a little more visibility.  If I just need extra warmth on my core, I'll choose this option.
5) for bottoms, I have a great pair of running tights I found at Kohl's on the discount rack.  They have back ankle zips so they're easy off and they are great in general. Last time, I was a little chilled on my quads, so if it's really windy, I might wear a pair of regular tights underneath those.
6) For socks, I have my injinjini socks for anything more than 15 miles, and I have a good pair of wool socks (again, ski socks from my brother) for when it's really cold.  But it doesn't really get cold enough in FW-D to get too worried about socks.  For me, it's more important that they go with my shoes and don't give me blisters or hot spots of any kind.

The last thing to consider is gloves and a hat, of course.  I usually run with a visor (OK, I nearly ALWAYS run with my Longhorn visor, esp for a race), but when it's cold, I'll pull out the Longhorn headband .  For days when it's serious cold, I'll go hog-wild and take the wool beanie (burnt orange, of course!!).  Tomorrow, I'll probably take the headband, but have the wool hat stashed in one of the pockets in case it's colder than I expect.  I had a fantastic pair of thin moisture-wicking gloves I picked up at the Cowtown expo a few years ago, but I lost one at the half-marathon in Temple back in December (insert sad clown face here...).  The problem is that no matter the temperature, I get overheated really quickly and start stripping and tying things around my waist and stashing hats and gloves in pockets.  So I lose things pretty easily, and for tomorrow, that means I'll have to use the cheap gimme gloves they hand out at the FW Turkey Trot.  I'll be a total Moritz  whore, but they gotta get something for their sponsorship, right?  And those gloves are actually pretty nice for the first few miles of a run.

So, that's how I'll be dressed for tomorrow.  I don't know if this will work for you in your cold weather, but it works for me in North Texas for the four weeks a year that we are colder than usual.  Anything it takes to stay off the treadmill works for me!!


so I'm out the other day, doing a quick interval workout in the half-hour between work and TDP DinoBoy's gymnastics class.  It's just after dark, and as I'm heading down the last few long blocks back to my house (my favorite slightly downhill section of my neighborhood, BTW, the place where I can always kick it up pace-wise at the end of my workouts), this guy comes from the opposite cross-street and ends up going in my direction, about ten yards in front of me.  He's in his late teens or early twenties, but definitely not older.  He's moving quickly, but I barely saw him seeing as he was wearing a dark grey cotton t-shirt, black shorts, and nothing with any reflective anything on him.  As he moved in front of me, he heard me coming behind him, mostly because I was pounding it hard on a sprint interval, but also because I breathe heavy and it always sounds like I'm much closer than I really am.  In any case, he didn't see me initially, because he turned around suddenly like I startled him.

At this point, I decided not to go all Mom-ish on him and chide him for not wearing a safer outfit and instead re-assured him that he was in no danger of getting chicked.  He laughed a little and we both kept on.  He had a really nice effortless form, and you could tell he was just out getting his run on.  I meanwhile, was at the end of a set of sprint intervals that had me working really hard.  So I said during my next recovery, "Seems like I'm working a LOT harder than you are here."  And his response?  "Yeah, well it's hard when you first start up, but once you get used to it, it's not bad..."  WHAT?  Once you get used to it?   Argh!

I really thought about letting it go.  I did.  And then I didn't.  I said, "Um, well, considering that I'm training for my SEVENTH! marathon, I think I'm pretty used to it by now..."  And just then, my watch beeped, and I accelerated and left him behind me.*  Punk.

*Granted, the end of the block was about twenty feet in front of me and he turned and I kept straight, but still.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Long Run

This weekend was taken up by a hockey tournament, as are most long weekends since we started playing travel hockey in our family.  We've got four games over the three days of the weekend, and as soon as the schedule came out, I was trying to figure out how to fit in my 18-mile run into all the activity.  When we found out that today's game was right after noon at a rink in the town just north of us, I pulled up gmaps-pedometer and starting plotting out a route, with the idea that I would run to the ice rink in time to be ready for the puck drop.  I woke up at 7:30, had some oatmeal, and since I had almost everything laid out from the night before, was out the door by 8:10, well before the boys woke up.

The problem is that the rink is less than 18 miles away, even taking a fairly circuitous route.  So to make the mileage, I had to actually head toward the rink, then circle around my big block before getting going in the right direction.  Mentally, that was really tough to do, especially was I wasn't really feeling the love this morning, and I was so, so tempted to just turn toward home after three miles and say, "nope, it wasn't my day, didn't feel it."  But then I remembered that I had not only posted my intention on infernal Facebook, but also told the other parents from the team that I was running to the rink.  So, they were all expecting it, and if I bailed, I'd have to fess up, and that wasn't going to happen.  I had no choice but to dig in and run.

For the most part, the run was uneventful.  I stopped a few times along the route to take in part of a PowerBar, and I had my double-barreled water bottle belt with my water/Gatorade mix for my fluids.  Energy-wise, I felt great for the whole thing, and even though I slowed down in the second half of the run, it was more from soreness and discomfort than from energy issues.  The route I chose through the middle part of town had more elevation changes than I expected, and that caused a lot of muscle pounding by the time I hit the highway overpass on the north side of town. The last three or so miles were also along a road that had no sidewalk, so I spent a lot of time jumping between the shoulder and the grass on the edge of the curb.  I thought the grass would be a softer surface, but it ended up being pretty uneven and caused some soreness along the insides of my ankles; I ran along the street as much as possible, but by then, it was nearly noon and the traffic had picked up enough that I really couldn't safely run on the shoulder.  The result was that I slowed down a lot, and ended up doing all I could to just finish.  It also got pretty warm out, and the long-sleeved shirt that was perfectly suited for most of the morning was getting to be kind of unbearable.  I drank all of one of my 20 oz bottles and more than half of the other, then followed it up with another 20 oz during the hockey game, and still felt like I was dehydrated for most of the day.

It ended up that the route I took, even with the roundabout early on, put me at the front door of the skating rink at exactly mile 17.  I should have probably done a lap around the ball fields next door, and that would have put me at mile 18, but I just couldn't do it. So, 17 it is.  Next week is scheduled for 20, followed by a half-marathon the week after, then another 20 miles before taper.  I feel like I"m stronger than I've been in the past, and if I can work in some more hill workouts during the week, as well as at least one speed workout a week, I'll be in good shape for Cowtown.

Splits with notes for posterity are below.  I thought my Garmin was dead earlier this week when it shut down on me after two miles when it said it had 8 hours of battery left  It's definitely on it's last legs, so I've got to start looking around for a replacement.

Mile 1 - 10:19
Mile 2 - 10:29
Mile 3 - 10:38 (about the time I started thinking about bailing)
Mile 4 - 13:06 (stopped to call home about making arrangements for the boy during the game)
Mile 5 - 11:25 (had to stop for lights and navigate across I-20)
Mile 6 - 10:34
Mile 7 - 13:48 (waited FOREVER at a light, before changing direction to get moving again)
Mile 8 - 10:58
Mile 9 - 10:49
Mile 10 - 11:53 (lots of stoplights around this section, also way rolling)
Mile 11 - 15:41 (stopped to fix sock, fuel up, update FB, stretch)
Mile 12 - 13:53 (sent a text, took photos of the bridge)
Mile 13 - 11:37
Mile 14 - 11:27 (lots of downhill in this section - little faster, but I paid for it later)
Mile 15 - 13:59 (first section along the grassy median - bleargh)
Mile 16 - 15:03 (stopped to take a phone call, place order for a S'bucks smoothie)
Mile 17 - 12:59

Running time: 3:28:46
Average Pace: 12:17/mile
Total Calories burned:  2175

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


so I said earlier that my goals for this year included working in sprints and hills, in addition to the regular long runs and general "getting the miles in" running that I usually do.  Today was to be the first of the sprint workouts, so I parked the car at gymnastics, walked TDP DinoBoy in for the start of his class, queued up my iTrain sprint workout, and then headed out the door.

The workout called for six sprints of between 2 minutes and four and a half minutes.  I was rocking them, even though I didn't have my Garmin, I did cover a lot of ground during each of the intervals. Until the last one, which was on the sidewalk along a major street by my house.  I was just getting into it when, bam, out of nowhere, I went down.  Hard.  I kind of bounced back on my hands, and took this cobra-like pose while I tried to recover, of course, looking around to be sure that nobody actually saw me go down.  'cause if nobody saw it, you didn't fall, right?

So I dusted myself off, and continued running.  The sprints were over by then, so I had a little bit of a cooldown and then resumed a normal-paced jog back to the gym.  Only when I stopped did I realize that my knee had a good silver-dollar sized scrape on it, and it was oozing quite nicely.  And burning by then, too.  Ouch.  Once I got home, I cleaned and bandaged it, and it doesn't seem to be hurting so much any more, so it could have been worse.

Ah, well, I was overdue for a fall.  I usually have at least one good fall a year, and I don't think I had one in 2009, so I was kind of glad to get it over with.  And now I can go on with the rest of the year and not wonder when it's going to happen.

ORN:  4 miles, 39:38

Saturday, January 09, 2010


So, the training plan called for 16 miles this weekend.  What the training plan did not call for is a cold front that has lingered all week long in North Texas.  The "Arctic Blast" (dah-dah-dah!!) brought temps into the teens and windchills in the single digits.  That is not normal for here.  I live in Texas so I don't have to deal with this schtuff. All due respect to all my friends in Canada, but that's just crazy.

Anyhoo, I knew that if I didn't blab my mouth on Facebook about needing to run 16 miles that I wouldn't get it done.  It's one of those tricks that I do - shame works wonders as a motivator!  One of my cousins had brought this 5K at the local university to my attention a few weeks ago, and said that she would be doing it with some of my aunts.  I thought it sounded like fun, so I committed to doing it and built my long run around it.  Turns out that my house is exactly 6.5 miles away from the start line, which meant that if I ran there, ran the 5K and ran back, I'd exceed my 16 mile scheduled run by exactly .1 mile.  Sweet!  I didn't have a chance to get to the running store to register during the week, but my hubby volunteered to go by and get me signed up and pick up my packet and all.  All I had to do is get to the start line.

Of course, as the "Artic Blast" (dah-dah-dah!!) made it's way into town, it seemed that none of my family could make it. harumph.  It was too late.  I'd made the plan, I'd made it my status on FB, and I really wanted to avoid rushing around for the noon hockey game on Sunday.  So, "Arctic Blast" or no, it was time to get it done. No matter.

I had a later night than I intended, finishing up a presentation for my boss, so I didn't get to bed before 11:30. Not what I looking to do, but no matter. I set the clock for 6:20, thinking that if I left by 7:30 or so, I'd get to the athletic center (indoor! with real restrooms for pre-race potty stops!!) with time to warm up.  I woke up on my own at 6:17 and ready to get dressed with everything that I'd laid out the night before.  The only thing I had trouble with is finding my socks.  I've slacked on the laundry lately - not getting it done, just putting it away.  Each of the boys have about 20 pairs of socks each, so we can go a while before I have to do the dreaded sock sorting.  As a result, there are mountains of socks in and on top of the dryer, and I had to find my Injinjis since I try to use those for anything more than 15 miles. But I could only find one.  Wah!  No matter.

Then, I went to the kitchen to fix my usual pre-long run meal - peanut butter and honey on whole wheat toast.  Except... someone in my house ate the last slice of bread (and, ahem, left the empty wrapper on the counter like it had something left in it - grrr).  So, I panicked, but looked in the pantry and instead mixed up a bowl of instant oatmeal as a backup.  Preferred fuel or not, I still had to make this run happen.  While I ate, I obsessively checked and Weather Underground to see how bad it was going to be.  Weather underground had the temp as 13, so I went with at 16 degrees, but neither of them had high winds, so that was better.  I got my layers on (tank, nylon tech shirt, fleece, and thin windbreaker), cued up the iPod, found the satellite with the Garmin and headed out.

The first six miles went pretty uneventfully.  I stopped a few times to take some photos but overall I was feeling good.  My toes and fingers were a little chilly, but I had some good tune-age and was in a groove.  We drive the route nearly every day since it's the way to my son's school, so I had it broken up in my mind and that made it pretty easy mentally.  It was a little hillier than I remember from driving it, but nothing extraordinary.  Before I knew it, I was turning the corner to the campus and approaching the athletic center.  I had enough time to wash my face and hands to warm them up and get the feeling back in my legs and rear - those were the only parts that were still chilly.

Considering how cold it was, there were quite a few runners out, all women.  I tried to get a timing chip, but it turns out that my husband did not pay for a chip, so I would have had to pay for one.  Also, there was someone offering chair massages for $5, and that would have been really nice, but alas I didn't have any cash on me.  So I ended up not getting chip-timed, but no matter.  I wasn't running this competitively, not after a 10K warmup!

The race itself was uneventful - nice course winding through the neighborhoods around campus.  There were a lot of people walking that I had to wind around at the start. At one point, I was completely turned around and had no idea where I was or how to get to the main streets, even though I'm fairly familiar with the area.  It was a little hillier than I expected, but again, I was feeling strong and had no issues.  They gave out water bottles instead of cups at the halfway point, which was a little odd, and it was sad to see so many nearly full bottles thrown on the ground a few yards away.  I kept mine and carried it - I didn't have any water in the first 10K and I was feeling like I needed the hydration.  I crossed the line at 34:00 flat, which was pretty good considering that I didn't cross the start for at least half a minute after the gun went off.  That works out to roughly 11:20/mile, which is right where i want to be.

After coming in after the race, I had half a banana and a sample of some shake mix from a vendor.  It was yummy, but the more interesting I saw at the table was a powdered peanut butter.  Who knew that even existed?  I can see lots of applications of that, especially in my smoothies.  Anyhow, before I knew it, it was time to hit the pit stop one more time and head for home. By then, it had warmed up considerably (easily in the 20s by now!!) and I was ready for the final stretch.

The run home was uneventful, except that traffic had picked up considerably and I had to stop at the lights for a lot longer than the first time. I was starting to get tired now, and the hills were a little more present than they were on the way out.  But again, the familiarity with the route paid off, as I was able to mentally check off landmarks and cross-streets as I passed them.  I stopped about two miles into the last leg to adjust my sock on my left foot, and also to have about half a trial-sized Luna Bar for fuel.  At this point, I was just cruising along, not really paying much attention to the time, just putting one foot in front of the other and jamming out to my music.  The route had nice even sidewalks the whole way, and the cross-streets all had good crossings, so I felt very safe even though it is easily on some of the busiest streets in the city.  Even crossing the highway overpass felt secure with a wide walkway and a walk/don't walk sign for me - not all of the highway crossings I've encountered are so friendly.

All in all, once I added up the running time for the full 16 miles, I ended up running for 2:57, which is about 90 seconds faster than last weekend's 16-miler.  The difference, besides the time, is that I felt significantly stronger at the end this time around. I had to walk quite a bit at the end last week, and I didn't walk at all today.  My feet were kind of beat up last time, and didn't suffer at all today.  So I am pretty happy with the results, and very glad that I did it, "Arctic Blast" or not!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Looking backward... and forward to 2010 Goals

So, last year, I kind of forgot to post my goals.  And since I don't want that to happen again, I guess I better just post them all here and make them real.  Which means I have to make them happen.  Or do my damned-level best to make them happen.

Let me just preface this by stating, in a very vague, probably irritatingly non-specific way, that the larger plan for 2010 involves another series of life changes happening sometime this year.  Whether "sometime" is two weeks from now, February or May, I can't tell, because there are some things that have to happen first.  Suffice it to say that I'll post more on those as they develop, and that when these happen, all of these goals should become even more attainable.  It's all good stuff, no worries, but I just can't really talk much about them, because until some other things fall into place, these changes are still in the developmental stage.

I thought I would start by revisiting the goals I set for 2008, and seeing how many of them are still things I need to work on - I'm kind of afeared to do this actually.  That whole "the more things change" thing, you know?
  • Run two spring halves and a full.  Ha! Not aiming very high that year, was I?  And yet I missed the mark on it in 2008.  I did hit the full marathon part for 2009, though, so there is something to it.
  • Finish five sprint tris throughout the summer and early fall. HA!!!  OK, so this stays on the list... 
  • Run another fall marathon. Well, that didn't work out in 2008 or 2009! But I did get a half done in December, so it wasn't exactly like I was laying around *all* year...
  • Lose the weight, for once and for good. HA! HA!! This is so going to come off this list - more below. 
  • Do what it takes to stay healthy and uninjured. This actually happened in 2008 and 2009. Go me.  I didn't do the stretching and yoga I should have, though, so I guess I was just lucky - more below. 
  • Never let the training get in the way of my life. I think I got this one covered. Except I went too far the other way, and let my life really interfere with my training.  To the point that once I got past Cowtown and didn't get into NYC, I very much let my life dictate my training and therefore didn't do a whole lot beyond maintaining a semi-decent base.  There's got to be a way to balance this more.  
All righty. Now that all that navel-gazing is done, it's time to get down to business.  Here we go, in 2010, I will:
  • Run 1200 miles.  That's 100 miles a month.  25 a week.  Totally do-able. I did 900 in 2009, and that was with some significant slacking in the non-June summer months.  
  • Lose the monkey.  The 5:00 marathon monkey.  I *know* I can finish a marathon in less than five hours.  This is the year it happens.  How?  By ditching the "beginner" marathon training plan I've used for the last six races (yeah, I know!!) and using an intermediate plan that calls for more mileage, speedwork and hills.  It's gonna hurt, and some days, it's going to suck, but, not as much as finishing another 5:00+ marathon will. 
  • Qualify for Marathon Maniacs.  Yep, you heard me.  At the Bronze level, with three in 90 days.  Which three?  Cowtown in February, Oklahoma City in April, and somewhere else in March. Haven't figured that one out yet.  There is a Texas race, but I'd rather go somewhere else and get another state.  Having three on the schedule early in the year ups my chances of finishing under 5:00, too, btw. 
  • Go back to that triathlon thang.  Yep, TxTRISkatemom is on a comeback.  After a spring with three marathons, I'll switch gears and hit at least two sprint triathlons in June and July.  At least one will be in open water.  I have to get better at swimming, I just have to.  There is no alternative. I am leaving the door open for more as the summer goes on, but the two sprint are the goal right now. I'd say two sprint and an Oly, if I didn't have to switch back to marathon training by August, to be ready to...
  • Run the New York City marathon.  November 7, baby!  Three years of no luck on the lottery means I am in this year.  And I just have to be ready for it.  And I will be, oh, yes, I will be!  
  • Cross-train at least once a week.  It's not much, but it's more than I've been doing for the last three years.  Yoga, weights, upper-body, core, something other than my old standby running.  
  • Finish 100 situps and 100 pushups.  Not necessarily at the same time.  Situps are easier for me to do than pushups.  But I will get back on these programs and work through all six weeks of them. And if I falter, then I will start over again, and again, and again, as many times as I need to until it is habit and it is done.   
  • Get over the weight, already!  I'm 40 years old, dammit, and if I don't want to count calories, or fat grams, or whatever, then I'm not going to. Yes, I am still heavier than I should be.  Yes, I still fret over it more than I should. I am going to run, bike, swim, stretch, play as often as I can. I am going to eat healthy, nutritious whole foods more than I eat processed, sugary, junk foods.  And then I'm going to just let it go and let my weight be what my weight will be.  As long as my blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. all check out (and they do right now), I'm not going to obsess.  
So... there you go.  It's out there on the internet now, so I better get busy.

What are your goals for 2010?

Friday, January 01, 2010


Um, so I went into my archives for January of 2009 to see my goals for the year and do the comparison... and realized that I never actually posted them.  There is a scanty reference to them coming up "later this week" in a post in the first week of January, but they never materialized.  Hmm. That 'splains a LOT about this year!!

I guess rather than bemoan the fact that obviously life intervened and made me forget to post my goals, it is probably better to go ahead and quantify my goals for 2010 right here, right now, so that I'm not in the same boat a year from now.  Thinking back, I recall that there were a lot of things in flux in my life then, and that probably had a lot to do with not setting the goals at that time. that, or I just forgot...

In any case, I can still reflect fairly fully on my year without having the goals as a reference point.  I think it says a lot about me as a runner, as an athlete, that I continued to run and to race without a formal plan, just because it's such an ingrained part of who I am now.  Someone pretty close to me told me this summer that I didn't need to make a statement about who I am at every turn; however, I am sure that I do that with my running because even after more than five years of distance running, six marathons, a score of half marathons and countless shorter races, I still feel compelled to label myself a runner. I don't yet look the part, because people are still surprised when they find out that I run marathons.  So maybe this year, I quit worrying about that so much and just let it be a part of who I am, and stop having to broadcast it, just to prove something to others.

In terms of races, I did a 5K with my younger son, barely finished the Cowtown Marathon, and I placed in the 5K at my son's school.  I had a blast running in one of the largest 10Ks in the country and then walked back to the hotel in the rain at the Bolder Boulder (um, yeah, I forgot to do that race report, too...).  After a summer of turmoil, I picked up the races again with the Turkey Trot and the Arlington Winter Run 10K (yeah, no race report there, either - it was cold, I know that!), then re-committed to longer distances with the Chasing Lions Half Marathon.  My times were slower than I'd wished, but for the most part, I was happy that I was able to be out there and running.

In terms of overall fitness and health, I had a couple of ups and downs throughout the year.  I put on more weight than I was happy with throughout the summer, even on the heels of a 100-mile month in June. I tried, and sadly abandoned both kettlebells and Insanity workouts (both of which I intend to pick up very soon, btw), and had varying level of success with the 100-pushup challenge and 100-situps.  I finally got my health issues mostly resolved in October, and since then, my body is finally cooperating with me, in that I have dropped some weight pretty effortlessly and am finally seeing some better results of the exercise and eating choices (when I make them, that is...). So I'm hopeful that this continues into the new year.

Personally, this year has been wracked by life intervening in a big, bad way.  Our entire existence was turned inside out and it has had a ripple effect on every aspect of our day-to-day activities. I've got a new job that I wasn't expecting, a new routine that I haven't worked out quite yet, and new challenges that we didn't anticipate having to deal with. The upside is that our family has grown stronger, and closer, and we have herded together to combat them together. We're still finding our way, though, and we do expect more to change.  There are some constants, though, and we are even more appreciative of those now than we were in the past.

So, all that is to say that 2009 kind of happened to me.  I know I had planned to run 1200 miles this year, as evidenced by my set-up page in my running log.  But when I decided not to do Oklahoma City, and then didn't get into the NYC marathon, my motivation flew away, and that went by the wayside.  I pumped up my numbers with the June streak, but the overall drive to get 100 miles a month was pretty much done in by my crappy showing at Cowtown.  Instead of bucking up and getting it done, I instead retreated into the shorter distances and the quick runs.  Well, that didn't work out so well.  This year, I'm taking an alternative strategy from the get-go.  More on that later (this time, I PROMISE!!).

For now, we'll look at the numbers for 2009, with comparisons from 2008/2007 in parentheses: 

Total miles for 2008: 901 (894; 1001)
Average miles/month: 75 (75; 91)
Average miles/week: 17.3  (17.1; 21)
Highest weekly mileage:  37 (37; 35)
Highest month: January 110  (December, 102; Sept, 123)
Lowest month: September, 44 (July, 50; May, 38)

2009 in Review, Pt I

I'll do my achievements against training goals for 2009 in a bit, but for now, I saw this on Funnymoods and thought it was a good format to get me thinking about the year in general.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?  Traveled across the ocean to Scotland. It was a short trip, but it was so amazing.  I can't wait to get to do it again and take my family on a new adventure.
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Not really.  I set training goals and plans, but in terms of real resolutions, I don't really do that.  
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Not in my inner circle, although my BFF of 20+ years is expecting, so that's exciting and will be fun to have a vicarious baby!
4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes, my mother-in-law very unexpectedly passed away this summer.
5. What places did you visit? Started out the year in Aspen, Colorado, kept working in Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs.  Went to Austin, San Antonio, McAllen, Harlingen with the family.  Went to Glasgow, Scotland and Orlando for work. Went to McKinney, Plano, Frisco and Louisiana for hockey.
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? Stability - we have weathered a lot of uncertainty this year, and a lot things that ended up being out of our control.  I really would love to come to terms with that.   
7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? July 9 - that was the day my mother-in-law died and all of our lives were changed in ways that we are still working through
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Re-establishing our priorities and focusing on our family.  
9. What was your biggest failure? Failure is such a negative concept.  I prefer to think that there are things that I could have handled better.  There were a lot of things like that.  Most notable is my inability to complete a marathon in less than five hours. 
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Nope, but my son's mono and broken collarbone affected me a lot because the after-effects were felt by all of us in the family
11. What was the best thing you bought? I don't remember buying anything significant this year.  Maybe my new flat running shoes?  lame, I know.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?  My Benjamin - in a year of turmoil beyond his control and comprehension (not really - that kid is worlds more in tune than we think) he has been amazing, flexibile, compliant and a real trooper.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?  I'm saddened by the continuation of some people in my life who don't appreciate what they have and instead make up their minds to be angry and bitter.  That makes me very frustrated.
14. Where did most of your money go?  Hockey and gymnastics.  As it should be.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Celebrating my birthday with my best friends.
16. What song will always remind you of 2009? I Got a Feeling by the Black-Eyed Peas.  
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Ugh. I hate to say that I'm sadder, because I'm really not.  But we thought the year had taken a nasty turn in the fall and we really expected that we'd have an upswing early in 2009.  That didn't happen.  But the things we've been through have made  our family stronger and more focused, so I can't really be sad about that.  But am I happier?  I can't really say that yet.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner.  I took care of some lingering issues that have helped, but I also am more focused on eating right.  Not having to eat out four days a week on the road has helped, too.
c) richer or poorer? Financially, our income was cut in half due to some conscious choices that we made and circumstances that followed.  But going back to what I said above, we have grown in ways we never imagined because of it.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of? More trips to the park with the boy.  More bicycle rides with the older one.  More swimming, for fun and for fitness.  More triathlon.  I'm not going to get better at swimming unless I actually, oh, I don't know... get in the pool!
19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Commuting by plane. Nagging.
20. How did you spend Christmas in 2009? At the Gaylord in Grapevine with my boys and my husband's side of the family.  It was what we needed to do this year.  I miss my side of the family, though, especially since we'd wanted to go skiing with the snow cousins again.
21. Did you fall in love in 2009? I rediscovered the people in my life that I love by spending more time with them.
22. What was your favorite TV program? Top Chef, Big Bang Theory, Biggest Loser, Dexter
23. What did you do for your birthday in 2009? To celebrate the occasion, I went to a resort/spa in the Hill Country with my three best girlfriends.  It was an awesomely relaxing and rejuvenating experience, and we cannot wait to go again. On my actual birthday, I took my two boys to dinner and the movies.
24. What was the best book you read? Angela's Ashes.  I didn't read as much as I'd like once I got off the road, though. It's a trade-off that I'll take, though.
25. What did you want and get? A healthy, mostly happy family
26. What did you want and not get? A new house.  But my home is good enough for us, and I need to remember that more.
27. What was your favorite film of this year? Where the Wild Things Are - there is so much in that movie about boys and raising boys.  
28. Did you make some new friends this year? Yes!  New hockey peeps, new blogging/FB friends, and more work friends.
29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Not having to go through the life changes we faced. 
30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Comfortably fashionable.  I actually shopped for clothes more than I have in the past and tried to break out of my yoga pant/hoodie mode more.  You can decide whether I was successful at that or not...
31. What kept you sane? My family.
32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? George Clooney.  Just in general. :)
33. What political issue stirred you the most? Health care reform
34. Who did you miss? My mother-in-law.  I realize how integral a part of our lives she was, and I am glad I had the chance to tell her that before she was gone.
35. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009. Treasure what you have in front of you, because your whole life can change in ways you never expected when you least anticipate it.