Saturday, February 27, 2010


it was a spectacular blow-up (AGAIN) and a new PW. But I finished. More to come.  Gotta get up at 5:00 am for a drive to SA for a conference through Wednesday.  I'm freakin' exhausted.

Official time was 06:19:26, and I came in DFL in the "Big Person" division.  If I had, by some miracle, been able to pull out the expected 5:00 finish, i'd have won third Athena. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mile Markers

In past marathons, when I've run with a pace group, we usually try to dedicate each mile of the course to someone, to give us something to think about and someone to run for. After all, you don't want a mile that you've dedicated to your parents, or to the cops guarding the route, or to your SO, to be the mile that you fall apart and hit the wall. So the idea is that you power through it, and then rinse, repeat to the end.

On today's run, a rare chance to get out on an afternoon while the sun was still shining, I started thinking about my mile dedications for this weekend, and who I wanted to think about on my 26.2 mile journey. Some of these mile assignments have special meaning, and some are slotted in as I thought about them. I will print these and carry them with me; if I can get a real 5:00 pace band at the expo Friday, I'll add the names to it.

Mile 1 - I start out each race thanking God and acknowledging how blessed I am to be able to do this
Mile 2 - for the race volunteers, who spend their day handing us water, directing us, and feeding us
Mile 3 - for the police officers who voluntarily protect us on the route
Mile 4 -for Denise, my pace group buddy who ran the half at Cowtown last year while pregnant!
Mile 5 - for Jason, my most recent protege, who finished his first 5K last month
Mile 6 - for my Oracle buddies who I've run with over the years (Randy, John O, Dan, Heart, Janet, Fotta)
Mile 7 - for @Libbyruns and @mlindsley and all my new Twitter buddies
Mile 8 - for Ellie, Juls, Jon and all my bloggy runner friends
Mile 9 - for my Been-Jammin', my "non-traditional" 9 year-old athlete, who inspires me every day
Mile 10 - for the SMU Ops Commies, my original marathon cheering squad
Mile 11 - for my parents, who have celebrated only 11 anniversaries but have been married since 2-29-64!
Mile 12 - for my Dinner Club peeps, among my dearest of friends and my core social group - if I had to be stuck on a desert island, I hope you are all with me! we'll always have good meals and good times!
Mile 13 - for Jenn, who has become a greater friend than I ever expected or deserve and who is starting a journey of her own
Mile 14 - for my DSS U14 family , a great bunch of wonderfully supportive friends & hockey parents
Mile 15 - for my cousin Melina, who is training for her first 5K in March
Mile 16 - for GI Jan, our group leader last year who continues to motivate me despite her own challenges
Mile 17 - for the other runners in the race, that we are all safe and strong at the finish
Mile 18 - for my Sandro. This is the mile where I have historically blown up, crashed and burned, hit the big bad wall. The things that can be most difficult also are most rewarding.
Mile 19 - for XT4, who inspires me to be more than I am, who is the athlete I want to be when I grow up
Mile 20 - for my SWAT BFFs, who always keep me going when the going gets tough
Mile 21 - for my family members who have served and are serving in the armed forces
Mile 22 - for John, who's been supporting me in all I do for the past 22 years
Mile 23 - for my family members not already in this list
Mile 24 - for Carmen & David, two of my most supportive cheerleaders ever
Mile 25 - for my father-in-law, who carries on valiantly, for us and for my boys  
Mile 26 - in memory of Connie, who is missed more than we ever thought possible
Last .2 - for ME!!!

Who do you think about during your races?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's Almost Time...

About this time last year, I was freaking out a little.  OK, I was freaking out a lot. And besides the usual obsessive-compulsive checking of the weather forecast, I'm not freaking out too much this time.  Of course, we're still 4 days out.  Check back with me in 48 hours, and it might be a different story.

So, for now at least, what's the difference?  If anything, I'm probably less prepared physically to hit 5:00 this time than I was last year, for a couple of reasons.  My last long run had to be cut short, and it was slower than last year's last LSD. I've missed more runs in the past three weeks because of the trip to Colorado.  My weight is still higher than I'm comfortable with for this distance, although it is back to about where I was last year.  My old shoes don't have another mile left in them, and yet my new ones barely arrived this afternoon, so I won't have a chance to do more than 2-3 miles in them at a stretch. With all this, why am I calmer? More collected?

My calmness might have something to do with the Marathon Maniacs thing I've got planned.  I know that I'll have another chance to hit 5:00 in the next two months if I don't get it this time.  Does that mean I don't want it bad enough for Saturday? Not at all.  I just know it's not my only chance.

But, really, I think it has to do with all the changes that have gone on in my life in the past 12 months since I last toed the line at a marathon. We've faced such major life changes and life challenges in our family that something like whether I cross the finish line at an arbitrarily-set time isn't really all that important to me anymore.  Again, do I want it?  Will it be a huge accomplishment if I break 5:00 and lose that monkey?  Oh, hell yeah.  But, will anything change if I don't? Will my friends and family respect me less?  Will my sons be disappointed in me?  No, not really.  OK, the kids might harass me a bit, but they also respect the distance and realize the effort that I've put in to even complete the race. So, to put in terms from my work-life for a moment, the under-5:00 finish is less of a critical business requirement and more of a nice-to-have. I'll be beyond thrilled when it finally happens, either Saturday, or at Big D, or in Oklahoma City, or hell, even in NYC, but if it doesn't happen, my life will go on.  Nothing fundamental about ME and who I am will change, either way. I know that I will reap the reward of my work one day, and that in time it will happen.

That's where I am right now.  All I can hope for is good weather (please, please, please, NO WIND!!), a healthy body, a positive attitude, and faith that all the work I've done so far will carry me to the finish, upright and smiling.

Monday, February 22, 2010

almost go time

I've got lots of thoughts leading up to the marathon this weekend, starting with "PLEASE, NO WIND!!" but I haven't had two seconds to rub together and put them into a coherent paragraph.  So, suffice it for now to say that OH MY GOD, I am frakkin' FREAKING OUT!

And my new shoes haven't arrived yet.  I'm going to have to break my rule about never wearing my running shoes for anything but running so they get somewhat broken int, in order to avoid breaking my other rule about not wearing new shoes for long runs.  Do you see now a little about why I'm frakkin' FREAKING OUT?!

Um, I probably better go to bed now....

Friday, February 19, 2010

Funky chicken

So, I'm in a funk this week. That whole real life thing is intruding on my training and harshing my mellow, so to speak.  I'm sure it doesn't help that my running is down significantly this week and I'm missing all the good endorphins.  Work is stressful (there's a reason they call it work, after all), and there's just too much going on.  I need a break and I'm not sure where it fits into the schedule. Even sleeping in on a weekend holds much appeal right now, but looking at the calendar, I might have a chance to sleep in (past 6:00 am) Sunday after next... maybe.  I need a haircut and a pedicure, and I will for sure need a massage after the full next weekend,but there's just no time. Yes, much of it is self-imposed, but a lot of it is just trying to survive as a working married mother of two in the suburbs - there's not a lot of wiggle room in there.

Deep sigh.  Deep breath.  I will get through this.  I can get through this. Ain't got much choice.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Eeep! Hard to Write about Running...

when you haven't been doing much of it!  We had a great and wonderful hockey trip to Colorado that thoroughly derailed all training.  I did manage to eke out at least 2.5 miles each day, except for Monday, which had the perfect storm of insomnia, packing the hotel after four days, a somewhat early hockey game (they WON!  Third place in their division!) and 10.5 hour drive home.  That day, I counted myself lucky to get out of the state in one piece.  I also had a nasty sinus flareup over the weekend, triggered by a combination of the dry air up there and new allergens. So, net-net (oh, gawd, did I really say that?  am I hijacked by corporate-speak now?  Kill me now) is that I took the taper thing a bit too seriously!

And now, I find myself 10 days out from marathon #1 of the year.  Am I ready? I think so.  I meant to order new shoes in the early part of last week so that I could break them in on my 14-miler, but considering I didn't do the 14-miler anyway... yeah.  I still need to get the shoes, though.  I will definitely crash and burn if I try to do another 26 on these.

So that's what's what.  For now, I'll leave you with this amazing photo of me and my shadow from my Saturday run in Colorado!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Biggest Loser 5K & PR!!

Yesterday, I found out through Twitter that the Biggest Loser was going to be having a 5K run at the Cotton Bowl today.  My son, who is a huge fan of the show, wanted to come out and run, and maybe get a chance to meet Bob and Ali (Jillian is at the Super Bowl in Miami). It was going to be early, but we thought it might be fun.

We left the house at right around 7:15 for the drive to Dallas (we hardly ever go "into town" anymore!) and very easily got to the fairgrounds and found the right building where the signups were. We walked in and signed up, but were disappointed right away when they told us you had to be 18 to participate, which meant my son couldn't run. Bummer!  His immediate reaction was, "Mom! It's only a 5K!  I can do that easy!"  and he didn't really understand why he'd get left out.  So even though I turned in my paperwork, I decided not to run and instead hang out in the stands with him cheering.  But I was bummed, too, because I really was looking forward to running it with him.  Isn't that kind of the point of the show, to live healthy and get the kids involved in a healthy lifestyle, too?   But I didn't necessarily want to leave him unattended there, either, so it was best for me to  stay with him.  

A little later, I got a text from Twitter telling me that one of my electronic friends was there, too.  We found each other and I got to have my very first TweetUp!  How fun!  Mark was a doll, and it was fun to meet in person, plus I got to meet Felix, another friend of his from the Dallas Runners Club. 

Apparently, if you signed up with one of the radio stations doing promotions for the show, you automatically got a t-shirt when you got there that corresponded to one of the remaining contestants.  If you didn't have your name on the list, you got a number on your wrist (except I missed that part somehow, but didn't worry about it because, you know, I wasn't going to run after all).  After all the radio people got there, they started calling the people with numbers in order.  By then, it was starting to get exciting, and I reconsidered whether I would run so the boy and I decided that I would run and he that he would be just fine in the stands waiting for me.  But I had no number!  I went up to one of the producers and asked about it, and luckily the girl organizing the people by number remembered me and let me cut in line (I don't feel bad about it, I didn't mean to cut - they just brought me in! and everyone who wanted to got to participate, so that made it OK).  They gave me a shirt and I was set. 

The group I was in was huge, about twice the size of the other groups there (spoiler alert - can't say much more, though, lest the wrath of NBC fall upon my blog!), and we eventually made it to the field of the Cotton Bowl for warmups.  Trainers from 24 Hour Fitness led us in some calisthenics, and then we got to see Ali and the contestants come into the stadium.  Can I just say how adorable Ali Sweeney is?  She is so outgoing and chipper and was really friendly to everyone.  Right before we were ready to start, they split us up into groups and we circled around our contestants for "motivation" from them and just had a chance to talk to them and ask them questions. It was great to see how our contestant has done so far. 

Finally, it was time to get running!  But not before we did the start three times!  The first time, the cameras were in the midst of us as we crossed the line.  The second time, we ran up to the swing crane as they got an overhead shot, and the final time we actually were off and running.  We left the field and immediately hit the ramp up out of the stadium, a serious incline that made me hurt just a little!  But I powered up it after my contestant encouraged us to run our own race and just set a pace that I thought I could manage.  That wasn't until after one of the contestants just charged by me and took a commanding lead over the whole field (won't tell you who, you'll have to watch!).  There were golf carts with cameras assigned to each contestant, and as they came by the spot right outside the Cotton Bowl, the carts took off to follow them

Around the first part of the stadium, I could hear people chattering behind me, carrying on a pretty animated conversation.  I thought, wow, I'm killing myself at this pace and they're all chatty Cathy back there. So I turned around to see them and lo and behold, it was Ali Sweeney herself! Cool!  She is tiny, tiny, tiny, and she was FAST!  I asked her how she manages to train when she's got two jobs, kids, and is writing a book, and she was so genuine.  I kept asking her questions to keep her talking so I could keep up!  Right after the 2K marker (or right before, I forget), we hit a water stop, and I slowed down to grab a bottle, but she kept on trucking and soon she was out of sight!  Dang!

So then I just kept on running, and I knew I was working hard.  I hadn't passed anyone, but nobody had passed me either.  I had no idea what my time was - the "false" starts confused me enough that I forgot to set my watch.  I just knew that I wanted to come in ahead of as many contestants as I could!  I know that's probably not cool since it wasn't technically a race, but c'mon, my competitive juices got flowing and I just couldn't help it!  Plus, I was feeling pretty good after yesterday's 19, and the knee was doing great.  It was very strange to be at the fairgrounds without the State Fair actually going on!  We're usually only there during Texas-ou weekend, when there are millions of people packed in.

Right before the 4K mark, I heard someone coming up behind me on the right, and it was a couple with a baby stroller. I chatted with them for a bit and found out they are training for their first marathon in the summer, in Anchorage of all places! and are following it up with an Alaskan cruise!  WTG!  I can't think of anything more awesome!  Pretty soon I was starting to get fatigued, so I dropped back from them and let them pass me.  One other person caught up to me, and he told me he had run 15 yesterday. I let him pass me, but I decided that nobody else was going to pass me from then to the finish.  Just then, we were turning the corner to the stadium and got to go down the ramp again.  My only thought was "control!" as I really didn't want to blow out my quads on the downhill, but I wanted to maintain my speed.  Right then, I realized I was being tailed by two folks and they were gaining on me quick!  Of course, it ended up being my Twitter friend Mark and his friend Felix!  So we all ran in together from the ramp across the big Biggest Loser emblem on the field and across the line.  Right when we got under the finish line, I looked up and saw it said 26:40!  What?  My 5K PR is 29:36!!  SHUT UP!

As soon as we crossed, I had to walk around some and compose myself, as I really suddenly felt like I was going to puke.  I've only felt like that once before, and that was after my 10K PR at Turkey Trot a few years ago.  I knew I'd be OK, but I just had to walk around some and get my breath back.  Under 27?? Wow. I found Mark and Felix and his Garmin said 26:52 (it may also have read short for a 5K, but I am NOT going to pay attention to that... too much).  Still!  that's a two-minute PR!  Way cool!  No wonder I was feeling like I was dying!

By then, my son had come around from the spectators to find me. I went back into the tent to get my swag (we got to choose from a DVD, book, or Brita water pitcher, plus a food bag and protein sample) and find Mark and Felix for one last photo. I was riding high by then, but also realized I had to skedaddle - my FIL's birthday/super bowl celebration was today, and I was supposed to be home cooking King Ranch casserole.   It was already quarter to noon!  Oops!  So even though one runner from each team was going to be picked to go to the Biggest Loser ranch for a week, I had to bolt and didn't get to see the other contestants finish.  I did have time to go over and tell Ali that I PRed, and to thank her for motivating me.

It was a great day, and I got an amazing workout.  And, look for the episode on NBC in late April - you might see me in the crowd!  

Saturday, February 06, 2010

It's Taper Time!!

Apparently, this is what I like to title my posts the day of my last long runs before marathons (see here and here), but it's true!  Today was the last long run before Cowtown, and probably the last long run of the spring.  Doing this Marathon Maniac thing, I'll have Cowtown on 2/28, then a March race (TBD - right now, it's either LA or Seaside, but it's on the third week in March), then OKC at the end of April.  So, I won't have time for a true long run after today - I'll essentially go from race immediately into taper for the next one.  It's a little unnerving to think what the next three months will bring for me, but I'm as ready as I'll ever be, except maybe weight-wise.

My big wish as far as that goes is that I won't qualify for the Athena category by the time the first one rolls around - I'm down 10 pounds since October, but still about 6-7 pounds away - but if I do, I sure as heck am going to sign up for it.  It takes me a whole lot more energy to haul this sizeable bod around than the smaller girls, so I will totally take the weight class.  It definitely will be an easier go if I can drop some more weight, so I will be conscientious about what I eat in the next three weeks, but I'm not going to obsess over it.

As to how today's run went, I was pretty pleased with it overall until what ended up being the last mile.  I entered my neighborhood with two miles to go, and the plan at that time was to run the remaining mile to home, dump the water belt and iPod, and try to crank the last one as quickly as I could.  But right then, my left knee twinged slightly and on the next step completely gave out on me.  Whoa! Not sure what brought that on.  I took a few more tentative steps but it felt like it was going to do it again, so I walked about a third of a mile until it felt better.  At that point, I made the executive decision to cut the run short and keep anything from happening with that knee. Not exactly what I wanted to do, but I think it was the best choice.

Looking back at those old posts, I think I want to put today's run in the Good/Bad/Ugly format from a few years ago.  So, without further adieu:

The Good: 
Nutrition and hydration - for the last few races and long runs, I've done my tried-and-true strategy of mixing water and gatorade in my belt packs and drinking every two miles. For nutrition, I did my usual PB/honey on wheat prior to the run, with bites of a powerbar smoothie every two miles on the run.
Clothing choices - went with the outfit I outlined the other day in this post, and for the most part, it was fine. I did get a little hot after about three miles, so I ended up tying my fleece around my waist but it was good otherwise. I had no chafing anywhere, thankfully, and I didn't even do body glide this time.
My music - I think I finally found the right mix of classic oldies (Stones, Who, etc.) and newer songs (I Gotta Feeling, Sexy Back) to keep me moving.  Never had a bad one pop up in the whole 4 hours I was out there.

The Bad: 
My start time - I was extremely lazy this morning. Just couldn't get out of bed until nearly 7:00.  And I hadn't prepped like I usually do to lay everything out, so I did a lot of scrambling to find my tights in the dryer, locate my gloves, and hope that the Garmin was properly charged.  It was nearly 8:45 by the time I got started - that was kind of late and it made it warmer than I'd like toward the end.
The route - I had mapped out a couple of choices last night and ended up changing my mind this morning.  Ended up the one I chose had a few long stretches without any sidewalks, so I ran on the shoulder or in the grass for longer than I liked.  Plus there was a lot more traffic by the time I actually got started, so it was dicey. Would have been better to have sidewalks or grass paths for more of it.

The Ugly: 
My knee - That it gave out on me was something I could have done without.  Didn't really give me any trouble afterward, so I'm hoping it was an isolated incident.  But it did throw a damper on that last mile.
The wind - The wind sucked the soul from my body last year at Cowtown.  And I needed to be mentally tough to deal with it today.  It wasn't as bad as it was during the race, but it was stronger than I like. But I didn't let it bother me, so I hope I've made some progress psychologically.  I do need to remember not to hunker down too much and throw my form off, though.
My socks - I blew a hole in my Injinji tetrasocks!  Wah!  I've had these since 2005 and I save them exclusively for half races and anything longer than 15 miles.  Guess I need to go shopping!
My time - I slowed down way too much at the end.  At this pace, I would have 80 minutes left to cover another 7.2 miles - not undoable, but certainly tough to crank it up at the tail end of the race.

There are my splits:
Mile 1 - 10:53
Mile 2 - 10:25
Mile 3 - 9:50
Mile 4 - 10:40
Mile 5 - 10:38
Mile 6 - 10:49
Mile 7 - 11:06
Mile 8 - 11:29
Mile 9 - 11:23
Mile 10 - 11:35
Mile 11 - 12:15
Mile 12 - 11:36
Mile 13 - 10:47
Mile 14 - 11:45
Mile 15 - 12:35
Mile 16 - 11:28
Mile 17 - 13:38
Mile 18 - 13:38
Mile 19 - 14:11

Total time: 3:40:39
Total Distance: 19.00
Avg Pace: 11:37
Calories: 2687

By comparison, last year, I was about 20 seconds/mile faster, and I did the full 20 miles. I also fell apart spectacularly at about mile 13 last year during the race, too, so I'm trying not to read too much into this.  

2009 Last Long run: 
Total time: 3:44:40
Total Distance: 20.0 miles
Avg Pace: 11:14/mile
Calories: 2786

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

What gives?!

remember the other day, when the dude in my neighborhood reassured me that once I "got used" to running that it wouldn't be so hard?  It happened again!  Tonight I was at the gym, picking up TDP DinoBoy after my 5-mile workout, still dripping like I just stepped out of the shower, making small talk with the girl at the Kid's Club.  I mentioned how tired I was, and that I didn't feel like running at all, but because of The Streak* I really had no choice.  I said I was really glad that I'd actually driven to the gym (sad to miss the hockey game going on across town, though) and forced myself to do more than 2 miles.  That's when she nodded sympathetically to me and said, "Well. what's that they say?  It takes 21 days or so for something to be a habit?  You'll get there..."

ARGH!  Lady!  I've been running pretty much 4-5 or more times a week for the last SIX YEARS!  Yeah, it's kind of a habit by now!  grumble, grumble, grumble.

I *know* that I need to get over it, and not worry so much about what people think (when have I ever cared about what people think, anyway?).  But it's maddening that I've been busting my a$$ for the last month (and even though I came in short of my January mileage goal because of the week from hell last week) and booked 120 miles, but apparently, I look like someone who still needs to "develop the habit."  I'm about to undertake three full marathons in three months, and yet, "once I get used to it" it will be easier.  WTF?!

Is this just me that this happens to?  Am I overly sensitive to it?  Do I need to just build a bridge and get over it?  Not sure what to do about it, since it does really affect me mentally when it happens.  It's almost as if it feeds all the insecurities I have about whether I have any right to be out there on the road or in races.  bleargh.  I can't think too much about it today, I'm physically tired right now and really don't need to be mentally exhausted, too.

*The Streak is some inane idea I had in a fit of delusion on Monday wherein I challenged some of the hockey parents to a Run-Every-Day-in-February Streak.  It's Libby's fault.  Of course I did this (and they agreed!)  before realizing that at the end of next week, we have a five-day road trip to Colorado for a hockey tournament.   Yikes!  What did we just do?!  No matter, it's ON!!