Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Favorite Finish Line Pic This Week

at the McKinney Halloween Hustle 5k. That's one of my best friends from high school next to me. Hadn't seen him in 20+ years but we'd caught up on FaceBook for nearly two years now. Finally decided to see each other in person at this race. He married my best friend from fourth grade - I had a wonderful time reconnecting with both of them. It was a great morning! 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

Many thanks to my girl Mel for reminding me about Thursday Thirteen. Here goes!

  1. 10 days. 
  2. I have some amazing friends. I don't think I knew the depths of their friendship until very recently. I guessed, but damn. I am a lucky, lucky, lucky woman. 
  3. I hate tapering. I feel fat and slow. I am hungry but cannot eat as much as I'm used to, lest I gain the four pounds I lost working with the nutritionist and need my own damn ferry to get to Staten Island on race day. 
  4. I found a perfect long-sleeved yellow shirt for the race. I think it will be fine even into the 60s, so I'm excited that my wardrobe choice is finalized. 
  5. My Texas skirt had to go back and get exchanged for a different size. I don't want to talk about it, mostly because I had to get a larger size than originally ordered (I blame the Spandex in it) and because my awesome, cool Texas skirt came from OKLAHOMA!! WTF?!
  6. Said skirt better be back from OKLAHOMA before next Thursday. It arrived in two days after it was ordered, so it should be here well before then.
  7. My shoes look like crap, after only 150 miles or so. I need to wash them before next week or they won't be welcome on the plane, either. blick. 
  8. We've been finalizing plans for the weekend, including meetups with Twitter folks and dinner reservations. It's getting so close! 
  9. I get to run with an old high school friend on Sunday. He is recovering from knee surgery so he can only do about 13-minute miles - he's worried about slowing me down. I think that's perfect - I can talk easily at that pace!! 
  10. The Sunday run will be at a Halloween race. I will not be wearing a costume, but I will be bringing out the tutu!! That's about as "dressed up" as I'll get. 
  11. I have the day off tomorrow. Parent-teacher conferences are at 9:30 for Ben-jammin' & then we have the day free until his bowling party at 4:30. Should be a fun day for us. 
  12. I've stayed up way too late all week long. I'm not doing the "rest" part of the taper well. At all. 
  13. Did I mention there are 10 days?  EEEEP!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy Birthday to Us!

One of the things I love about my life is that I share my birthday with my baby boy. Growing up, I hated having a fall birthday - the weather was always hideous and I could never have a big outside party like my brother and sister. I always had an orange & black cake and Halloween decorations instead of regular birthday colors. I swore up and down I would NEVER have a child with a late October birthday....

And then, given the choice of dates for a required c-section, I was able to pick my son's birthday. There was no choice. It had to be. He is my favorite birthday present ever. I haven't had a "real" birthday celebration of my own since that day ten years ago when our family went from three to four. I haven't needed to. It's not about me at all, it's about him. It's about us.

This summer's art camp project. Yeah, he's pretty good.
My Ben-jammin' is the light of our life - he is bright, imaginative and creative. He's the artist, perpetually drawing, writing, dancing. He eschews traditional sports preferred by the "sports kids" at his school and prefers instead gymnastics, skating, and the occasional 5K with mom.

Just joined Boys' team gymnastics this year - will start competing in January

He still sleeps with his stuffed blue bunny, and he demands that I tuck him in at night, even though he stays awake for another half-hour reading juvenile historical fiction, Tolkien and knock-knock joke books. He plays video games as much as we allow but is also just as content to spin around the living room acting out parts of old monster movies. He adores his grandfather; they've gotten so much closer since my mother-in-law's death and have really helped each other through the past year. He is simultaneously intrigued and terrified of things like the giant Humboldt squid, extra-terrestrials, the Yeti and 2012. Not unlike his mother, he prefers to wear a race tee and gym shorts, preferably with no shoes, to "dress" clothes with buttons and zippers and collars.
On the morning of his 10th birthday
Happy 10th Birthday, Ben! You made our family complete and your smile brightens my life in ways you will never know! I love you, baby boy!

On our way to our birthday dinner. Note we're both wearing t-shirts!
Sharing our birthday dessert. I get the cobbler, he gets the ice cream!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My First DNF

So, as I mentioned a few posts ago, my boys had campouts over the weekend a couple of weeks ago, so they left me to my own devices for about 24 hours, which is more than enough time for me to get into trouble on my own. I did have a good day sketched out, and started it off with a nice little trail run, meant only as about a little shakeout to enjoy the trails at River Legacy. Except that I got lost. On a looped trail. Because I'm just like that.

What happened is that I got turned around and found a little dirt road leading off the path. I wasn't sure where it led, to I decided to follow it and find out. So in a way, my detour was kinda-sorta planned. Sure it was... In any case, what ended up happening is that it actually led me out of the park and back to the major road that runs south of the park, only about a mile and half west of there... It was a nice little adventure, except that I ended up having to run about two and a half miles on concrete sidewalks in my trail shoes, which are really not all that comfortable for non-trail running. Plus, I hadn't left the house until after 9:30, since I had to try to locate AWOL sleeping bags and camping supplies for certain Scouts were not, ahem, prepared... So while it was cool enough in the trails under cover of the trees, on the sidewalks it was close to hot. But, the extra mileage was fine because I made up some of the miles I had missed earlier in the week.

After Tyler, I took a day off on Monday, then got back out on Tuesday for a little 4+ mile run around the park near my house, just to test my left knee and make sure that all the tweakiness was gone. It was, so I felt good about that, but when Wednesday's run came around, I was still very physically tired from the weekend's efforts. I planned to run later in the evening, after my husband and son came home from hockey, but when they returned, the desire to sit and actually talk to my husband and veg on the couch was pretty strong. And for the first time in my 15 weeks of training so far, I willingly and intentionally skipped a training run (I did miss on a couple of weeks ago because of work, but that was out of my control and I made up mileage that week). I was just tired. And I was OK with it, especially considering the knee probably could use the rest, and that if not for that issue and the hills in Tyler that will not be as much of a challenge in NYC,  i really feel that I am well-prepared thus far.  But, skipping that run on Wednesday meant that my total miles for the week were down by the time the weekend rolled around. And that kinda freaked me out. I really want to be sure I don't shortchange my training this cycle, so I did have some concerns about losing miles this week, even though intellectually and emotionally I knew I was doing the right thing by cutting that one workout. So I was OK with going out longer than I expected on Saturday morning.

I puttered around the rest of the day, until it was time to meet up friends for the Chupacabra 10K out at Lake Grapevine. We had planned to meet for dinner first, then head out for the run. We had a lovely time and chatted about Chicago (Suann and Marci had just finished the week before) and Tyler, and got Greg & Fiona all excited for their first full in December at White Rock.

Marci caught a chupa!! 
Before we knew it, it was time to head out to the race start. By now, it was very dark. There were about 100 or so people milling around, all with headlamps on and waiting for instructions.  We may have laughed a little bit during the pre-race speech, as we were greeted by the ambulance and warnings about how the trail might be slightly uneven.  I believe the tweet that was sent out at that time was something like "We are so screwed." A couple of minutes later, after a very dark group shot of us, we were off.  We knew Greg was going to take off fast, because he's a beast like that, but Marci and Suann had said they were going to just walk. Well, they lied!! Once we got past the first dirt road section into the single-track, they took off pretty quickly, too. But I knew that I had to be careful. There was just too much at stake for me to fall or turn an ankle or do anything to jeopardize my big race which was just three weeks out.  So I literally moved to the side of the trail and let everyone pass me. EVERYONE. I didn't care if I was DFL, I just didn't want to get hurt.

Pretty soon, everyone was way in front of me and the little bobbing headlights drew far enough away that I was out there completely on my own. In a few minutes (about 15 by my watch), I saw the Mile 1 marker, and was pretty impressed with my time, considering I was doing not much more than a quick hike. By now, I really had to pay attention to the little glow sticks hanging from the trees and make sure that I was on the right track. It was very quiet and spooky in a Blair Witch kind of way.  I could still hear runners ahead of me (or maybe next to me -hard to tell the way the trail loops and turns) laughing and talking, and now and then I'd hear "Rock!" or "Root!" or "Drop!" as runners warned each other about the hazards on the track. Soon enough I came to a road and the first water stop.  At this point, I was pretty sure I was the last one out there, as I hadn't heard anyone behind me for a while. My second mile was about 17 minutes and change, a little longer than the first since it was entirely on the trail and didn't have that first fast dirt road section.

Somewhere about halfway through mile 3, my headlamp started to fade on me. I had stopped to get fresh batteries on the way to dinner, knowing that I hadn't used the headlamp but once or twice since El Scorcho
back in July. But, being me, I grabbed the wrong size and didn't realize it until right before start time. So I had to make do. If I'd been able to keep up with Marci & Suann, I think I might have been OK, but they were moving too fast for my comfort out there - I fall regularly on the trails in the daylight!  As the batteries died a slow & painful death, my light got dimmer & dimmer, to where it made it tough on my depth perception. It was bright enough to see that there was a rock, or a root, or a hole or a drop, but not bright enough to see how high up off the ground it was, or how steep the descent was.  So I found myself slowing down more and more just to be sure I had good footing.  About this time, i came across a couple of girls who had slowed to a walk in front of me.  Turns out they had signed up for this as their first 10K!  They didn't know at the time it was a trail run, so not only were they not very experienced runners, but they had never been on a trail before! Wow - what an introduction!!  They let me tag along with them for a bit and share their light as we worked our way to the next water stop.

By the time we reached it, a little bit past mile 3, I had decided that I was done. The lamp was all but dead, and it was just too dark to continue without it. Add to that the fact that I had a 22-mile long run schedule the next day and I was ready to give it up for the greater good. There were Marines (in full dress blues - swoon!) manning the water stop, so I was able to chat with them and hang out until everyone was through that part of the course. Turned out that I was not the last one through - there were another two groups of abut 5-6 runners each that came by about 20-25 minutes after I did. As much as I would have loved to keep going, it just didn't make any sense to, and it was just too risky. Besides, I already had my prize for the night - the BEST race shirt ever! Who could resist this piece of awesomeness?

BEST race shirt ever!
So, there you go. My first DNF. I didn't feel bad about it. I had signed up for this run knowing that it would be a crazy thing to do so close to NYC. But I couldn't resist the Chupa. And I ended up having a great time with some very cool people at dinner before and I had a great experience on the trail in the dark.  I know for sure that I am looking forward to going out there again, during the day time!!

Big-time congrats to Suann, Greg and Marci, who completely rocked this race.  Marci & Suann were a week removed from Chicago and turned in times that would be enviable on pavement, and Greg, well, Greg is just one degree removed from being Chupa-beastly himself, so you know he did awesome (I think he ended up coming in 12th overall for men). Definitely this is a race I'll do again, and next time, I'll be sure to not have an "A" race scheduled so soon afterward and will be sure to get the right size batteries!!

Hunting Chupacabra!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Well, dang... OK, then Friday Five...

So apparently, I missed Thursday and posting another Thursday Thirteen. Well, phooey. So, how 'bout this? We'll go with Friday Five. I do have a draft started of a recap of last weekend's Chupacabra run and my last long run for NYCM, but it's not done yet. And because it's already Friday morning, I obviously haven't made the time to finish it yet... but I'll work on it this weekend, for sure. There are pictures!

So, here you go, five random things for your Friday:
  1. In exactly 14 days, I will be headed to DFW with three of my friends for our trip to New York City. It will be my first time back since July 2008. I am beyond pumped. We are meeting on Saturday morning to plan out the weekend's activities. and have brunch. because anytime you can have brunch with your girlfriends? It's a good thing. 
  2. I had to re-arrange the schedule this week because I took time to do some massage therapy on my knee Tuesday evening. I could have gone out when I got home afterward, but I felt it was better to give it another rest day. I think I was right. That meant I went two days in a row without a run. That hasn't happened since the end of May. I was VERY ready to run on Wednesday. 
  3. I am up really, really early because I'm supposed to be finishing up a proposal response for work... We all see how that's working out for me... 
  4. I've had to really focus on nutrition the last week. I took a few more days of relaxed eating after Tyler than I intended to, so I've made an effort to get back on plan as completely as possible, especially given my reduced mileage this week and next (and next...).  The good news is that even though I wasn't sticking to my nutrition plan as well as I should have been in that Tyler recovery week, I was still eating cleaner than I was before I started working with my nutritionist. And as of yesterday morning, I'm down another pound. Not that I pay attention to the scale... really... as much as I used to...
  5. My son turns 10 next week. I haven't yet planned his party (scheduled for next Friday afternoon) because he hadn't made up his mind where he wanted to have it until last night. And because I haven't pushed him on it because then it would be my bad. I'm going to be spending time on the phone calling his peeps' parentals tomorrow, I think, and hoping that at least some of them can make it!! 
That's five! Five is easier than 13, that's for sure. I should get back to that proposal now. Have a great day!

oooh, ooooh! I forgot to include this, so you get a bonus! I WANT this skirt. It may or may not be on its way to me as we speak, actually! It says it's 90% cotton, which worries me a bit for 26 miles, but I'll just slather on the BodyGlide and go with it. How could I not?!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday Thirteen

I always kind of like these Thursday Thirteen posts when I read them on other people's blogs, so I thought I'd see what I came up with today. Just so you're warned, it's going to be random. Welcome to my brain!

  1. 23 days 'til New York. Eeep.
  2. I really, really like my new Heels & Hills long-sleeved tech shirt. It's a groovy blue color and has these black panels down the side that are slimming in a very flattering way. I may wear it all the time, as "real" clothes, it's just that nice. 
  3. I don't feel like I just ran a marathon. Probably because I didn't. I ran 2/3 of a marathon and walked the rest. And I'm really OK with that, I am. I'm looking at the upside, that the pain in my knee is gone and I feel strong enough to do another 22-miler this weekend.
  4. Yeah, that... anyone want to do part or all of a 22-miler with me this weekend? at about an 11:15-11:30 pace? Have shoes, will travel. I hate running long alone... 
  5. I got that awesome little miniature rose plant at the race last weekend, right? But I've not the slightest idea how in the world to take care of it so that it doesn't die and become a sad little pot with sticks coming out of it. I'm pretty sure it's not a good idea to let the damn cats nibble on the leaves... 
  6. A bunch of us who ran (ran/walked, finished, whateva!) marathons last weekend are doing a fun little night trail run this Saturday called El Chupacabra de DFW. 10K of trails. In the dark. I can't think of a worse, more awesome idea for me three weeks before the "A" race of my lifetime!! Don't worry, we're walking (so we say now..) and I'll have my headlamp. It'll be awesome, I promise. My girls won't let anything happen to me. 
  7. All three of my boys are going camping this weekend. The big one leaves with his troop per usual on Friday night, and hubby takes the little one for Cub Scout overnight trip on Saturday morning. That leaves me with about 24 hours ALONE, all by myself!! To do whatever I want!! So what will I be doing? See #4 and #6 above. There is also a very high probability of a nap there somewhere. 
  8. Geez, it's harder than I thought to come up with thirteen things... 
  9. I started looking at the photo tour of the Bandera 50K trail route. And someone on Twitter told me that it's pretty much considered the most difficult trail in Texas, with all the rocks and inclines and sh!t.  I really wish someone would have told me that before I opened my trap and decided to make it my first ultra... 
  10. I get my quarterly bonus tomorrow. First thing in the morning, I'm going to sign up for Bandera before I change my mind and make myself a liar. I will then spend the next 2.5 months alternately freaking out and throwing up. 
  11. I updated all my races and claimed some results on the other day. Dang, I'm slow. And I'm not talking about just the races where I've paced new runners - I don't worry about pace for those. I'm talking about my marathon PR being a 5:13 and my half being a 2:09, but both of those were YEARS ago... Recent times are way, way, slower... My 5K time is picking up speed, though... 
  12. I've lost enough inches that I'm wearing clothes that have a single digit on the tag. Haven't done that in a LONG time. But sadly, most of the weight has come off my chest and my a$$.  I didn't have any to lose in the chestal area to begin with, and my backside has long been considered my finest feature, so I'm kinda-sorta torn about that. I mean, I'm glad I'm smaller overall and schtuff, but give me a break! 
  13. Despite all that, I still am not sure if I'm going to fit into my Texas flag shorts well enough to wear them for NYC. I'd rather not wear them at all than have 45,000 people say, "dude, did you see the fat chick in the Texas shorts?" I'm at a loss for what to wear if I don't go with those, though... 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reviewing Marathon Times

Before we start, LOOK UP! Yes, I have a new banner pic. I went through my phone & FaceBook albums and downloaded all my pics of me and my running peeps and added them to my marathon and other race snapshots to make my new banner for this page. I love that I now I have pics of nearly everyone that I've run or raced with on my blog! I may or may not be printing a version of this for my office, too! But I have to wait until after NYC, since I know I have a lot more peeps to meet up with before then, like Heather and Erica, and some that I'm missing pix of (that would be Sarah, Sergio, Julie and Greg T). But, still, you get the idea:  I LOVE MY RUNNER FRIENDS!!

As I reflected on the latest 26.2 trek, I wondered how it ranked with my other marathon finishes. It certainly didn't feel as hard as Miracle Match, which I maintain to this day is the hardest race I've ever completed (the hills in Cameron Park KILLED me, and it was HOT and I wanted to DNF but I couldn't find anyone to give me a ride so I kept going). And I know it wasn't as hard as Cowtown 2009 which i had in essence blocked out of my consciousness since I really spent most of this year thinking I had only done seven  marathons. And I know it wasn't as hideous as Cowtown 2010, the infamous Crying-on-the-Curb Marathon. But how did it rank, really? Inquiring data-crunching nerds want to know.

So I dug through my old logs and verified with online sources and discovered that indeed, Tyler was a pretty decent showing for me. My worst finish times were indeed Cowtown 2010, Oklahoma City, Cowtown 2009 and Miracle Match. But what is surprising is that I remember Miracle Match as the absolute worst that I've ever felt and my time was a sub-six by a good 14 minutes, where Cowtown this year was a pitiful 6:19.

Conversely, I remember Marine Corps as the most amazing experience and I felt great beginning to end on that one (we won't talk about the fact that I nearly passed out waiting for the train back to Rebecca's house...). But my time there was only a few minutes faster than Tyler. I did stop and take an awful lot of pictures along the way (no, really, I took a LOT of pics!! sad that my blog from those days is gone, though, the race report was awesome, too!).  Turning the corner at Hain's Point and seeing these massive hands coming out of the ground was an absolutely stunning sight. I remember the waves of people at the bridge, and the absolute wall of sound of their cheering as we beat the cutoff.  I got to the finish and saw a Marine yelling at a wheelchair athlete straining to get up the hill to the finish line, telling him that he had come 26.1 miles and he was NOT going to let him stop now, while placing his foot behind the wheel so he wouldn't slide back down. I found Rebecca and Christi chatting at the finish like old pals, Rebecca in her bright pink wig, waiting to take care of me at the end.

And my PR race at White Rock in 2006? I remember that as probably the most miserable I've ever been, and I ran as fast I did in the last six miles because it was raining and cold and I just wanted to be done already.  I remember we were in the middle of an upgrade at work, and I spent the last two hours wondering if things were going well and my testers had shown up, and hoping they'd be done before I got there so I wouldn't have to stay at the office too long after the race. I remember hating that stupid lake and realizing that downtown Dallas looks an awful long way away from the Dolly Parton hills. I remember changing my socks in the car when I got to the office and thinking there were fewer things more glorious in the world than dry socks.

So it's striking to me that what makes a marathon memorable is not the time that it takes to travel the 26.2 miles but the experiences and the thoughts that go through your mind during that time.  As I said yesterday, the course was fairly sparse when it came to crowd support, so I had a lot of time to think out there. I thought about my training this year, about my family and how awesomely supportive they've been, about my training partners who were cranking out their first marathon in Chicago at the same exact time (fun weird psychic fact: Marci and I finished with 5:37 times -hundreds of miles apart. SPOOKY!), and about all the people in the banner above and how they've touched my life in ways they cannot imagine just by sharing this running thing with me at some point this year. Mostly, I thought about what lies ahead for me, on the streets of New York and beyond. And when I take all that into account, I have to say, this was a pretty good show, regardless of the time on the clock. And I can't wait for the next one.

My marathon times, from fastest to slowest, because I went through the trouble of gathering them in one spot, so I may as well share:
  1. 2006 Dallas White Rock Marathon - 5:13:57
  2. 2005 Dallas White Rock Marathon - 5:20:47
  3. 2004 Dallas White Rock Marathon - 5:29:42
  4. 2005 Marine Corps Marathon - 5:33
  5. 2010 Tyler Marathon - 5:37:53
  6. 2006 Miracle Match Marathon - 5:45:55
  7. 2009 Cowtown Marathon  - 5:57:34
  8. 2010 Oklahoma City Marathon - 6:06:26
  9. 2010 Cowtown Marathon  - 6:19:26

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tyler Rose Marathon Re-Cap

One of my favorite ways to debrief a race is by using my "good, bad & ugly" format. It helps me organize my very-random thoughts and make sure that I look at the ups & downs of any race experience so I get a good perspective and don't let a couple of things overshadow the overall race if my results weren't what I was expecting.

Pretty, pretty yellow rose!
Bottom line, I finished. 5:37:53 was my official time, a far cry from the 5:00 I was shooting for, but still better than my last three finishes.  And I have a bee-yooo-tee-ful yellow gold medal, as well as a loverly miniature yellow rose plant on my desk to show for my efforts. I got to meet up with several Twitter friends at the start, and I got to run through some fairly scenic sections of Tyler, Texas. I had a chance to test my NYCM higher-mileage training thus far (FOUR weeks to go!! EEP!!) and I finished, upright & smiling. So it was a good day overall. 

Squeeee! My favorite baby roses!

 So, let's do this, shall we?

The Good:

  • I met my primary goal (Goal A) of finishing strong and smiling. I got my roses (they're SO FLUFFY I'M GONNA DIE!!) and my medal (among my top two favorite pieces of hardware ever). 
  • I got to meet Greg (BQer Greg, BTW!!WOOT!) and Julie, and chat with Jeremy and his RP Josh, and see Sergio on the course. I LOVE meeting my Twitter running friends at races! 
  • Temps were not bad. The course was mostly shaded. There were some long stretches without cover but the temps were fairly low and humidity non-existent during those times that I don't feel the heat was a factor at all. 
  • Nutrition was spot-on. I did my usual PB, banana & honey, starting at 6:00 AM while I was still on the road to Tyler, then supplemented starting 50 minutes in with bites of Clif Bar (chocolate brownie) and PowerBar energy blasts (raspberry & strawberry! yummy) every 25 minutes afterward. Never felt tired, never hit the wall in terms of running out of energy. 
  • Hydration likewise was good. I had my double-belt pack with two 20-oz bottles of half-powerade, half water with a sprinkle of salt in each. I sipped at every mile until about 6, then switched to drinking from water stations when I saw them (~4 oz of each at each station). I supplemented with my bottle when I needed it along the way between stations, usually at the mile markers. Had two 20-oz waters immediately afterward and another 40 oz on the drive home. 
  • Pacing. My pacing, for all my worries about it earlier in the week, when I couldn't run an 11:00 mile to save my life (I was bringing 10:00s with no effort whatsoever), I did a decent job of holding the pace I was looking for. The hills helped with that for sure. There were a couple of really fast miles in there, even as late as Mile 10, but considering that I had some serious elevation to contend with, I really did end up right where I wanted to be for the first 2/3 of this race. 
  • Shoes, clothes, equipment.  Despite the new kicks having only about 20 miles on them prior to race day, I had no issues with hot spots, blisters or rubbing on them. I wore my NYCM training shirt to remind me of the grand prize I'm chasing and to make me easier to spot at the start, and long black shorts to minimize ride-up & chafing issues, and all that worked fine. I used the double-belt pack and while I did have to spin it to the back for the middle miles when my bib was rubbing against it and making me crazy for a bit, it didn't feel heavy or in the way at all. I've used it enough over the summer out of sheer necessity that it felt natural to have it. 
  • Course support/water stations. The water stations were mostly well-spaced - toward the end we went a bit longer than I would have preferred between them - and very well-manned. Mostly volunteer groups, as far as I could tell, but the water, gatorade (proper dilution ratio, thank goodness) and cups were all in plentiful supply. This was a huge relief after the last race I ran by this same company. May have restored my faith in them... 
  • The shower truck.  I always bring a change of clothes with me on a long run so I can get out of wet stinky running clothes. Especially with a two-hour drive in front of me afterward, i wanted to be sure I'd have a chance to change and get out of my race clothes. Luckily, the organizers and a local church had provided a shower truck for us to use afterward. They even had big fluffy white towels and shampoo/soap in there. Three minutes in the shower made a world of difference, washing all the salt and grime off me and really getting me refreshed before I drove back to FW-D. It was doubly great when I realized I'd have to go straight to hockey from the road, too!! I'm sure the other hockey parents on the team appreciated the shower truck as much as I did!! 
  • Virtual support. Tweeting and FBing my decision to walk it in at 18 gave me a chance to let people know how I was doing, but it also gave me a huge perk to get all the encouraging messages from everyone at that time. Jennifer said that she kept going during an awful hot run in Chicago yesterday because she didn't want to have Tweet that she'd quit. I got the reverse of that - I got an outpouring of encouragement and virtual hugs and high-fives that I really can't express my gratitude for enough. It was awesome, and it did indeed keep me moving (running, walking, crawling) toward the finish. And of course, I have to give a shout to all my CM10 & Portland friends running yesterday, too. Their updates and thinking of them running it out at the same time as me helped keep me motivated, too!
The Bad:

  • The hills. Did we mention there were hills on this coures?  Race director and website promised "rolling hills." Rolling hills, my sore ass!  Do these look like rollers to you? 

Rolling hills? Pffft! 

  • Yeah, I didn't think so. Bastards. And, yes, I realize that this elevation may not be that bad for other states, but this is Texas - and I trained in "Prairies and Lakes" FW-D. Where the only elevation we usually get is going up the freeway overpasses. So this was a surprise to me. I didn't have any trouble on the uphill, though, but the downhills, well... let's wait on that, shall we?
  • The turns. OMG, could we have a few twists and turns on this route? it was crazy-go-nuts how many times we turned, especially toward the end as we intersected and met up with the half-marathon route. There weren't volunteers at every corner, so luckily there were mostly enough signs, but there were some stretches there toward the end where I wasn't absolutely sure that I was still going the right direction. 
  • The crowds.  I hesitate to put this in the Bad category. It's not that the crowds that were out there were bad... it's just that except for the start, finish, and at one church along the airport road, I didn't really see a lot of them. Yes, there were small cluster of folks cheering on their families along the water stops here and there, but in terms of what I'm used to at White Rock, where people set up their morning brunches on their front lawns and gather in big crowds on the corners, this just wasn't there. And that's OK. I knew it wouldn't be terribly crowd-heavy, so I decided to run with my iPod for this one. It was a good decision because otherwise, there were long stretches where we didn't see a soul clapping for us and it was kinda-sorta depressing...

The Ugly:

  • My knee. No, not the bad one. Not the one that always creaks and croaks when I stand up, the one that aches whenever the barometric pressure rises or drops. That one was a champ. My LEFT knee. WTF?!  I think a couple of things happened to make this tweaky enough by mile 17.5 that I made the decision to walk it it in. First, I tripped and nearly fell at about mile 15.5-16. I caught my right foot on something and started careening forward, but was able to catch myself (thank you, trail running!!) but not before landing somewhat awkwardly on the left foot. Then, when you add in the constant descents on this route and the fact that I ran in the curb with some pretty serious canting for much of miles 8-14 to avoid the big-ass gravel on the road, you get a tight IT band on the left side and associated knee pain there. Just out of nowhere, with the leg muscles still feeling strong, Tom Petty cranking on the playlist and me set to just groove for the next four miles, my knee twinged. Then with the next step it went from twinge to ouch. Then from ouch to HELL! I slowed to walk and it felt fine. Started to run again - no go. Crap. I tried to run the flats as I could, but realized that there weren't many flats by this point. And I really, really, really wanted to run. I felt like I could have gone on for another three hours, except for that knee. So I called it a day. I knew this was not my "A" race - this was a supported training run, to give me a preview of what I might be able to do in NYC. And I'd gotten a glimpse of that. And I like it. No use giving it up when I knew I would be able to finish by walking the last eight miles. 
  • Medical support. Never saw a medical tent or any kind of medical support on the course. At about mile 22, I asked a cop what I should do if I needed medical help. He said he could call the EMS. I didn't need EMS, I just wanted some tape for my knee. At OKC, the medical tents were every few miles - not at every water stop, but close enough together that you could get some basic care and feeding for things like blisters, taping, etc. Here, nothing. And while the heat didn't bother me, it could have been a factor for some people. It just seems irresponsible that medical help is not more clearly visible  and available, or that your choices are suck it up and deal or call EMS. There are plenty of situations during a marathon where a well-placed, well-staffed and well-supplied medical tent can make a difference in a runner's day and overall health.  The cop ended up opening up the back of his SUV, digging around and handing me a roll of clear packing tape. Odd, but it did the trick for and gave me some much-needed stability until it got sweaty and fell off around mile 25. But I wonder if I could have run a little more than I did if I'd had a proper tape job from a qualified trainer like I had in OKC. 
  • Being passed.  Being passed sucked. Especially since I knew I had miles left in my legs, that my feet felt great, that my breathing and my nutrition and hydration and the temps and everything else were great. But I had to keep reminding myself that the people passing me  (probably) do not have tickets and hotel reservations for New York City in 28 days. I had to remember that i wasn't going to win any AG awards anyway, so just smile when they pass and remember the bigger prize in store. Mentally, that was tougher on me than the physical breakdown of the knee. 
  • The walking. Did you know that walking 9 miles is a hella lot harder than running 18? I felt every rock and cobblestone (OMG - the FREAKIN' BRICKS!!) on this course when I was walking the last part of this, much more than when I was running it. It hurt to walk and I kept trying to do little pickups just because I knew I could finish and have it done with if I could just freaking run already. But I knew better so I held back, even as I watched the 5:00 goal tick slowly away. The walking sucked. Big time. But, whatchyagonnado?  If nothing else, it reinforced to me that I can do this.  I knew that, I KNOW that in my head, but that self-doubt just always creeps in, doesn't it? And even with the walking yesterday, I still finished and I did OK. But, still? It sucked. Especially since until the knee gave out on me, I hadn't walked a step, hadn't walked a hill, nothing. I ran solid for 18 miles, so to have to walk the last nine? It sucked. Just so we're clear:  Walking sucked. 
Sergio took this about mile 2. I was still smiling!! 
So, there is tale of Marathon #9.  Step one toward Gold level of Marathon Maniacs. I iced the knee & put my electrodes on it last night (was kinda groovy to see the muscles twitching on their own) and it feels 100% better today. Will rest it tonight and take a test run tomorrow to see how it feels. If it's still tweaky, I'll go in to see my PT doc and get treatment and recommendations. I would love to do a final 22-mile run on Sunday, just to make sure it's good before the taper, but I am totally willing to play it by ear right now. I'm not going to do anything stupid that is going to jeopardize what I've been waiting for so long.  

Final splits are below a few pics from the course. 

The finish line. Nothing too spectacular, although food  & water was plentiful even for slow-pokes like me...

Great little road around mile 6. Cool shade & no traffic. Very tranquil & more uphill than it looks. 

Cool horse farm over near the airport. Just struck me as very Texas! 

Nearly there. You can see the downhill slope ahead of us, along with the cobblestones. Goodbye, toenails! 

Final results: 
Half split = 2:20:59, Half pace = 10:46
Final time = 5:37:53, Overall pace = 12:54 

Splits by mile (where I could - I missed a couple of mile markers in there):
Mile 1 - 10:16
Mile 2 - 10:46
Mile 3 - 10:53
Mile 4 - 10:31
Mile 5 - 10:52
Mile 6 - missed this marker
Mile 7 - 22:06 - close to 11:00 average for both very hilly miles
Mile 8 - 10:59
Mile 9 - 10:40
Mile 10 - missed this marker - took a pic but forgot to hit watch!!
Mile 11 - 20:46 - average of 10:XX on flat & downhills 
**1:57 after 11 miles and feeling STRONG! Stupidly started doing math in my head...***
Mile 12 - 11:00
Mile 13 - 10:55
Mile 14 - 10:30
Mile 15 - missed it again 
Mile 16 - 23:50 - included near-trip that may have aggravated knee, also, LOTS of climbing
Mile 17 - 12:34 - starting to feel discomfort on downhill here
**3:08 cumulative time at this point. Sub-5:00 was very much still in reach**
Mile 18 - 15:04 - we're walking, we're walking
Mile 19 - 13:07 - tried to run some on flats & uphill
Mile 20 - 14:35
** 3:52 with 6 miles to go... bye-bye 5:00 finish**
Mile 21 - 15:26
Mile 22 - 17:07 -stopped to tape up knee
Mile 23 - 15:14
Mile 24 - 19:15 - I may or may not have sat on the curb to rest... I didn't cry, though! promise!!
Mile 25 - missed it - again took a pic but didn't hit watch! 
Mile 26 - 35:14 - was chatting with first-timer who was having stomach issues for a bit here 
Last .2 - 3:20 - WTH?! we could see finish line but they routed us around the block first - TEASES!!

Saturday, October 09, 2010


Less than 12 hours before I'll be toeing the line at Marathon #9. As much as I'd like to say it's just a long training run, or that I'm really just using it to prep for NYC, the fact remains that this is the real deal. This is a marathon. 26.2 miles. Go long or go home. So I do have some thoughts before I tuck in for the night and embark on the highway east to Tyler for this adventure.

First off, the goals.  Yes, I have goals for this, even if I primarily am viewing it as a "training run."

  • Goal A, of course, as always, is finish upright and smiling, grab my medal and my rose plant and skedaddle on home. 
  • Goal B is a little more ambitious, and involves me hitting the first 22 miles of this at NYC race pace, then letting the chips fall where they may for the last 4.2 miles, even if that means walking it in and scoring another 6+ hour effort. 
  • Goal C is that big one. My ever-elusive white whale (gawd, I hated that stupid book and still haven't read it all the way through): the 5:00 finish. 
My training paces the last two months indicate that if I could string together 26 consecutive miles at my fastest times tracked that I could finish anywhere between 4:30 and 5:05.  I know the 4:30 isn't necessarily realistic, especially not given the elevation of this route.  But the 5:05 is certainly attainable. I know it's been attainable the last few go-rounds. And I can talk all day about this being a supported training run, but you know that if when I hit mile 22 and I am anywhere near pace to hit that 5:00 mark, I am going to drop the gloves and go for it. I have to. If I'm not close, then I'm going to hold back and save the legs for the streets of New York.  But I'm not going to count it out entirely. We just shall have to see what happens between the start and mile 22.

Meanwhile, I definitely want to give a shout out to all the people who have been supporting me throughout this journey, starting with my family. They've put up with me being absent on Sunday mornings while I meet up with friends for long runs, with me commandeering the last slices of wheat bread for my PB& honey sandwiches, with me being grumpy because I'm missing a run. Bottom line, I just couldn't do this without your love and patience and understanding - I couldn't.

I also want to thank all my friends who have walked or run with me in the last six months. I have gained so much energy and strength from each of you, and I really want to thank you for sharing the road, sidewalk and trails with me.  And to my virtual friends, who have supported me and eased my doubts and shared my highs and lows, many, many thanks to all of you as well, especially for those of you who will be out on your own races tomorrow.  Let's do this thing, shall we?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Last Long Run...

Not really. Not for me. But I've been training and running long with my Chicago girls Marci, Mel and Kris, and they had their last long run today. And I was able to meet Marci & Kris out at Grapevine for 8 miles (EIGHT!? Slackers! WTH?) because by this time next week, they'll be basking in their post-marathon glory. So it felt like a last long run for me, too.

Marci & Kris at the turnaround of our 8-miler. 
But it's not. Not really.  I have two more long runs before I get to start the taper. One of them is going to be done next week in Tyler, at the Tyler Rose Marathon. My plan is to go out at marathon pace for the first 22 miles and then evaluate and see where I am and how I'm feeling. If I'm still on pace for a sub-5:00 finish, then I'll crank it up and run it in to the finish. If for whatever reason (hills, anyone?) the wheels have fallen off, then I'll walk it in for the last four miles, gather my hardware and my rose plant and come on home. The girls were harassing/lauding me this morning, asking who in the world runs a marathon as training for a marathon?  Well, I do... mostly because I love the hardware.  But also because I wanted to be in solidarity with them as they run their race in Chicago that day. And also because I kinda-sorta want NYC to be #10 for me. And I really want to see where I am in a race situation. And because I *really* love the hardware...

The following week, I have my true last long run, a 22-miler. Again, I'm going to go out at race pace and see if I can hold it for the full time, without the noticeable slow-downs that have plagued me the last four fulls.  Will I be able to do it? I think so. I need to continue to eat cleanly, for fueling purposes, not for recreation and reward. I need to keep up the weekday runs (hit 100% again this week, total of 44 miles from Monday-Sunday) and keep the intensity while watching out for burnout. But I think I can do it. I feel stronger than I ever have before. I feel leaner than I have ever been as a runner. I know I am faster than I have ever been, as demonstrated by my unofficial 10K PR mid-week.

But can I put it all together and string together 26 consecutive 11:15 miles to get me to my ever-elusive goal time?  That is what I am trying to get a preview of next week in Tyler. I know the hills and elevation there will make it tough. But, if I can hang even close on that course, then I will have that much more confidence going into NYC. And if I can't then I'll still have one more long run to try to dial it in.

Five weeks. Getting there...