Monday, January 31, 2011

As Promised...

Race Pic. Smiling. Hooking 'Horns. Having fun!
Despite the big-ass hill I had just come up (& more importantly, come down - pain free! woot!)
Benbrook Half-Marathon Race Report 

NOTE: This was originally posted on Daily Mile, but reposted here For the Bling of It

NOTE 2: Last year, this race was held in arctic conditions (for North Texas at least) and I ran the 5k, winning my AG. 

Good news: I finished. The right knee held up fine. The right calf was angry about the uphills, and the right hamstring was furious about the uphills. I missed the first two mile markers on the ground - silly me was looking for mile signs at the side of the route, not on the concrete! So I ended up not doing mile splits and instead just took one split at the turnaround. I did slow down more than I preferred on the back end, mostly because my hamstring was very very tight and I didn't want to push it too far. Bigger fish to fry and all that.
Overall, the course was nice - out & back route starting near the baseball fields and running along the lake for most of it. It wasn't a flat course by any means, but had enough gradual up & down to keep it interesting. I was glad that my knees held up and I managed to only walk the one "nice hill" at the mile 5/mile 7 mark. Coincidentally I had to take nutrition in at those spots, too, so I didn't feel too bad about walking them while I fiddled with my camelback pockets. =)
I know I went out too fast - I hit the 3 mile mark at just under 30 minutes, which is not the pace I was shooting for, and I know this contributed to me slowing down at the end. But because I'd missed the first two mile markers I had no way to judge and adjust earlier than that. Then right after the 5K mark I got a phone call from my husband about the floors being installed at home that I kinda-sorta had to take, so that slowed me down some, as did the bio-break at mile 4. The out portion ended up being 1:12:57, not too far off my goal pace once you take the phone call, potty stop & walking the hill into account.
By the time we hit the back part, I was really feeling tired and my legs were aching, especially the right one. But I was still feeling pretty strong and actually started passing people after the turn-around. I would zero in on a rabbit in front of me and just power through until I caught them and passed them. I think I caught & passed about 15 people from mile 6.5 to the finish and didn't get passed by anyone, so I have to be happy about that.
I took nutrition (PowerBar Gel Blasts) in at mile 7, 9 and 11, and they settled nicely with the water from my camelback. I had mixed my water/gatorade mix in my water bottle but left it in my fridge this morning, so I was without sports drink for the whole ride. That may have added to my slowdown, but I am not too worried about it. It got way hotter than I expected, especially since I was rocking a black long-sleeved tech shirt. I considered stripping down to my tank top but I would have had to take off the camelback, take of the shirt, put the camelback back on, blah, blah, blah so it was easier to just suck it up and deal.
Definitely need new shoes now - I could feel every pebble and bump in the gravelly road and by about mile 10 it really started to hurt the bottom of my feet. The current shoes I have are at about 350 miles so it is time to replace them before Cowtown. I am still considering the Kinvaras for that little extra cushion but am concerned still about the extra heel that comes with it. I will have to try them and see I guess.
Overall, despite the twinges in my leg and the slow-down on the back end, I am pretty pleased with today. I intended this as a training run from the outset, and I used it as such. I only walked the big monster hill (not really a monster, not compared to what I dealt with at Banderawesome but it wasn't flat!!) and a small section at mile 10. I passed a lot of folks and I finished strong. I saw my friend Suann, finally met Phil IRL and was able to chat with them and a couple of other folks before the start, so that always makes me happy. And, when I saw the photographer on course, I smiled brightly and hooked horns!! What more could you ask for?!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Five

  1. I am overwhelmed by the response to my last post. When my husband asks me why I like Twitter & FB & dailymile and the interwebz so much, all I have to do is point to the comments, emails and twitter DMs in response to that post.  I have never felt so heard and understood and loved by so many people in all of my life. Thanks to you all.
  2. My right knee has been awesome in my short runs this week. My right calf & hamstring? Not so much. What the heck? I am going to try a quick little 3-miler here momentarily with the knee brace & see what's what. Kind of makes me nervous for my half-marathon tomorrow, even if it is just a training run...
  3. I need new shoes.  I've used Saucony Kilkennys for nearly two years now but am considering switching to the Saucony Kinvaras now, because they have a little more cushion in them. But I am concerned about the amount of cushion -after two years in flats I am worried about being so "high up." Plus I have heard people say they are a little too spongy. But the pain in the soles of my feet after 22 miles is pretty intense & I would like to alleviate that somehow. Recommendations welcome, as I am still thinking but need to do something soon because... 
  4. Cowtown is in 30 days.  Yes. 30 days in Operation Sub-Five. I best get this calf/hamstring/knee thing worked out before then, too. Maybe new shoes will help... 
  5. I miss running on trails. But they will be there soon enough.  Grasslands is just a couple of weeks after Cowtown, and then Hells Yeah Hills will require some serious trail training in March. But for now, the focus has to be on hitting a 10:45 for 26 miles. Has to be. 

Happy Friday, y'all!! See you on the flip side of the weekend!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What Do YOU See?

Race pic from last summer's Hottest Half.
One of my favorites ever.
I love to race. Mostly because I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of different and inspiring people across FW-D and usually have a chance to see one or more of them while I'm out & about at different races. The other reason I love to race is because I am kind of a bling ho. We've talked about that. It's an addiction, I know. Admitting it is the first step, right?

Cheering on my buddies at the Hobble Gobble, November 2010

If you've run or raced with me, you know I always insist, nay DEMAND, that we get a pic before, or preferably, after a run or race. It feeds my ego to know that hey, not only do these people know me, but they aren't ashamed to take a picture with me and have proof of it!!  (SIDEBAR: I have a very fragile ego that requires constant stroking.)  So I always have tons of pics of me with other friends and runners. And in those pics, I always try to turn my head just so, and suck in my gut, or turn sideways so that if it is a whole body shot that I look somewhat athletic.  But the thing about races is that they often have photographers out on course. And sometimes you know where they are so you can make sure you're actually running when they take the shot, or you can be certain you're not blowing a snot rocket at that point in time, or you can try to look as cool and effortlessly smooth as possible. But sometimes, you don't know that they are there, or you are so focused on the task at hand that you don't notice them as you run by. So they tend to capture you at your most bare & honest moments during a race. And very often, when I see my race photos, I cringe.

Tyler Rose Marathon, 10-10-10
I cringe, because I still don't look like an athlete.  When I see my race photos, I often focus not on the fact that I'm at mile 25 of a marathon, but damn, look at those thighs. There is a reason I mostly wear running skirts for races - they hide my thighs better than tights or god forbid shorts. When I look at race pictures, I often am drawn straight to my midsection, where I see a roll of fat squishing out over the waist of my skirt, beltpack or spibelt. I see my arms, not toned and strong like I want them to be, but soft and flabby, so that I often wear short-sleeved shirts instead of tanks even in the heat of Texas summers. I am doing things to correct these flaws of mine, the pushups and the situps and the attention on my diet. But still, when I see myself in action shots, where I haven't had time to pose, I am very often horrified.

Gorgeous scenery at Banderawesome...
becomes this, to better hide my body.
And I hate that. I hate cropping my pictures so that just my upper body and my face are showing.  I hate that after weeks of 40+ miles I weigh the same and look the same as I did a year ago, five years after I started running marathons. I hate that despite all of the accomplishments and achievements that I have been able to do with this body, with this soft squishy body, that I am still so very focused on the negative. It bothers me, first that my body is so resistant to change that it takes more than what I am doing (HOW MUCH MORE WILL IT TAKE?!) to see tangible results, and secondly that I still give a damn about it.  I am an ultramarathoner. I have finished 10 marathons, countless half marathons and a ridiculous number of 5 & 10Ks. I am a freaking athlete. I am. I just still don't see it. And I know others don't see it either. And that is maddening in so many ways. And frustrating. And painful.

Wearing my beltpack in front distracts from my mid-section.
Kinda. Sorta. Not really... 
My biggest (ha!!) complaint about my body is my stomach. I have a lot of excess skin and yes, stretch marks, from my two pregnancies with 9+ pound boys. Even at my lowest post-pregnancy weight 6 years ago (the result of a nasty bout w Meniere's disease, not any particular fitness regimen) I still had the stomach flab and the stretch marks that are not just discolored but textured. Hawt, I know. And then, then I read this post. Yvonne of Joy Unexpected, a blog I have been reading for years now, wrote very eloquently about her stretch marks. About how the marks on her belly reminded her of carrying her three children in her womb. About how when she sees them she thinks of a mother's love. I was in tears reading that. Instead of hating them as flaws on a body that wasn't anywhere close to perfect before the pregnancies, I should be embracing them as trophies of my accomplishment as a mother. Trophies... like medals, like bling! Now we're talking my language!!

And Yvonne's post made me think long and hard about my acceptance of my body, flaws and all. I don't know how many situps and pushups and more miles it will take to get me to look on the outside like the athlete I feel like on the inside. I don't know that it will ever happen. I do know that I am going to continue to work out and run and later this summer, cycle and swim, and embrace the athlete inside me, even if she is wearing a body that doesn't quite fit. And the next time I see a race photographer out on course, I will smile and hook 'horns, and worry less about the outer image captured and instead celebrate the spirit of the athlete inside.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday Thirteen

  1. Geez, louise, it's cold again! What the heck? I live in Texas for a reason, people! What is this forecast of lows in the 20s? Make it stop!! 
  2. My eyes are currently rebelling against my contacts. Probably because I am WAYYY overdue for a new pair. So meanwhile I am wearing a pair of glasses from three years ago. Because the 2010 glasses (thank you, awesome eye coverage that allows me to get new glasses & new contacts every year) are AWOL and the 2009 pair are broken. So I look kind of like a librarian now with these blue squarish frames. I don't know what I was thinking when I picked these out. 
  3. It very much sucks to run in cold misty weather with librarian glasses on. But I have no choice, lest I fall right off the sidewalk because I can't see my feet when I run without vision correction. True story. 
  4. I started both 200 situps and 100 pushup programs again this week. Except I'm doing more of a Pilates roll-up than just a little ol' crunch. 'cause I figure I may as well go all out after months, nay, YEARS of doing nothing, right? And except I'm doing the push-ups on my knees, girly-style, because, well, have you seen my arms? It's not good. Like, the iPod laughed at me when I put in my Initial Test number not good. I'm not even going to say what the Initial Test results were here. (OK, it was 2. TWO!!). 
  5. I am sore in places I didn't know existed because of the damn pushups and situps. THIS is why I am squishy, because doing pushups and situps when you are squishy? Kinda sucks. Bah. 
  6. I have my race schedule planned out for the next five months. I am trying really hard to stick with it, but I keep finding things I want to do. Like this: Tell me that doesn't sound like fun. 5 miles. On a trail. With PANCAKES at the end. Cold-weather swag. I'm there. Oh, so there!! 
  7. I slacked on my water drinking after NYC and after the gall-bladder surgery. I have made a focused effort to get back into drinking my full 4 liters of water a day. But, that causes general interruptions in my day about, oh, all the time, from having to unhydrate. It's kinda sorta a pain in the butt. 
  8. Have I talked about the Texas Independence Relay yet?  Because I'm doing it (note to self - send team captain a check... ) and am so excited I can hardly contain myself. It will be my reward to me after Cowtown. 
  9. Cowtown. Oh, yeah. 38 days. Gulp. 
  10. There is a new charm on what started off as a simple charm bracelet but has become my race bracelet, with some other "me" stuff on it. It's a cactus. Not a sotol plant, with the little barbs on it, just a regular cactus. It's still fairly cool. I am still very glad I didn't face-plant into either cactus or sotol out at #Banderawesome. 
  11. My eldest child is going to start driving soon. This has nothing to do with running and everything to do with how my life will change once that starts up. I am excited for it and terrified all at the same time. Right now the plan is for him to inherit the EBV and I get a new car - I can endorse that plan. If that works out, though, the Ultra, 26.2, USAT & El Scorcho stickers will have to come off the back bumper of the EBV. That boy didn't earn those - Mama did!! 
  12. Dread Pirate Dino-Boy (aka Thing 2) has his first gymnastics meet this weekend. When I last asked him about it, he was torn between being very stoked and happy for the chance to show his skills in all the events and being slightly mortified that something might go terribly wrong. Sounds about right and very similar to pre-race anxiety. 
  13. I am in midst of a mind-dump about weight and body image and all sorts of those things. I'm not sure if it will ever be ready for prime time. I vacillate between how I feel about it several times a day, so it's tough to pull my thoughts together. If I ever get that post to be a little more cohesive, I will share. Then again, when is anything on this site ever cohesive? 

Make it a great day, everyone! Thanks for stopping by!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2011 Goals

Post-race funk has come & gone, it seems, leaving behind a wave of "now what" thoughts that flow through my mind at odd hours of the day and night.  So, three weeks into the new year, I figure now is as good a time as any to set out and itemize my goals and lay out the plan for making them happen.

Something to keep in mind, something that has been front & center of my brain since the Epiphany on the hill at Banderawesome, is that I need to continue to push beyond my comfort zone. I need to do new things, even if I'm not very good at them. I need to take the risk of sucking at something, just so that I can know that even if I do suck at something (cough - swimming -cough) that at least I have tried, I have given it my all.  I refuse to live my life being scared to try things. I am making myself FEARLESS this year.

So, what is in store for me in 2011?  I have several things on my list that are carrying over from 2010 because they just didn't come together for me. Some of it was in my control, and some of it wasn't. But I'm OK with how the year wrapped up and now is the time to look to the future and making sure that this is the year that these become a reality. Here we go:
  • Get the body healthy, keep the body healthy - This is key to everything else that follows below. This includes getting the right PT and work done on my knees, proper nutrition and recovery, and active recovery methods like stretching, yoga and core work. If I am going to ask my body to accomplish what is below, I need to take care of it properly, head to toe. And maybe, just maybe, the squishy will fade some as a happy side effect of all of this proper care and feeding. If so, yay, if not, bah, whatever, I am still powering forward, squish & all. 
  • Run a Sub-5:00 Marathon - This is well within my grasp. I have six weeks to go before Cowtown, and every fiber of my being, every workout,  and every bite of food that enters my body will be dedicated to getting me across that line under 5:00. It's going to be more mental than physical, I think, this 11th attempt at 5:00, but I know it can be done. 
  • Run 3 or more 50K Trail Races - I have already completed one of these, and have two more on the schedule for the first half of the year (Hells Yeah Hills and El Scorcho - not really trail, but still counts). I would like to actually, oh, I don't know, RUN the next one a little more than I ran Banderawesome, but  I know that will come with getting the knees healthy. I will likely add a couple of more 50Ks later in the fall (Palo Duro Canyon or Wild Hare). 
  • Complete a 50-Mile Race (November) - I had originally planned to do a couple of 50-milers this spring, but the events of the fall and my need to still qualify for Maniacs (next up in this list) have forced me to adjust these goals and focus on the 50K or full distance for the first half of this year. I will work my way up to the 50-miler distance later in the fall. Is this a scary distance? Hells yes.  Can I do it? Yes, I can. And even if I don't, at least I tried. I gave it my all. But I can guarantee you that I am going to do the work it takes to get there and succeed. And I know already that I have the right mindset for success. 
  • Become A Marathon Maniac - Silver Level - 6 Marathons in 6 consecutive calendar months - Because I didn't get to finish Maniacs at Bronze Level in the fall (dang you, gallbladder!!) I have raised the stakes a little bit and am now looking to earn entry at the Silver Level. So far, the schedule for this is as follows: 
  1. January - Banderawesome 50K- Completed
  2. February - Cowtown Marathon - Registered
  3. March - Grasslands Marathon 
  4. April - Hells Hills 50K
  5. May - Oklahoma City Marathon
  6. June - TBD - suggestions welcome
  • Complete 100 Pushup Challenge - This starts today. I did the initial test yesterday. It was sad. Sad, sad, sad. But, hey, I have nowhere to go but up from here, right? Right? T-Rex arms be gone!! Pushup days will be Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 
  • Complete 200 Situp Challenge - This starts today. I was going to take the initial test yesterday, but the results of the test from the Pushup Challenge made me sad so I decided to wait until today. Situp days will be Wednesday, Friday and Mondays. 
  • Run 1600 miles this year - With the number of races I have scheduled, even including a week of recovery after each full + distance, this is a completely realistic number. I nearly hit 1500 last year, and that was with taking nearly all of March and May off after Cowtown & OKC. Plus, as I ramp up double long runs for the 50-miler in the fall, the mileage will be climbing. WOOT. Bring it!! 
  • Complete two sprint triathlons this summer (August & September) - This has been on the list for the last few years. This is the year it happens.  Having my girl Mel as inspiration and Sarah helping me out in the pool will help with this. I don't care about how I do on the bicycle (don't fall is pretty good as far as I am concerned). I know I can finish a sprint run. I am mostly concerned with forcing myself back into the water and learning to swim well enough to do this again. This is not about the triathlon as a whole, this is about making myself reach and push and stretch my abilities and getting past my fears. 

So, there you go. I will keep you posted on how it goes. And I will fully expect you to keep me accountable to it. Woot. Let's do this!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Banderawesome Race Report, Part II

This is Part II of my Bandera 50K Race Report. Part I is here. 

The Bad
Traffic on the trail. The way the trail was designed, we had three different starts for each of the distances. And we knew we were going to be at the tail end of the 50k group. That was by design. The true goal of this race was to finish upright and smiling. We had an idea of how long it would take us, but we weren't going to fret about it. But what we didn't count on was that the faster 25k runners would soon overtake us, because we shared the same course for much of the beginning of the trail, until the turnoff. So we spent a lot of time either on the "shoulder" of the trail, where it was even dicier picking your way through the rocks, or just moved over on the side while the speedies went by. Not a problem, really, and we certainly wanted to get out of their way. But it did slow us down more than anticipated in the first 10 miles. And those extra minutes would have been nice to have at the end of the day when the sun went down.

Not being able to run. There were many more runnable sections of this trail than I expected. And after mile 15, I couldn't run any of them. Not even a little jog. It KILLED me. There was this whole stretch of jeep road  that was flat and even and perfectly pebbled with little rocks that were soft and welcoming on our feet. And every time I tried to push the pace and move into an actual run, even on the flat, my knee screamed in pain. So I had to back off. That sucked. Especially at the end, after I'd taken a couple of Vitamin I and the pain had subsided some. But it didn't subside enough for me to put the hammer down and make up for lost time. And that just sucked. We could have finished in less than 11:14 if I'd been able to run even part of the last half of this race. Boo.

Seriously, how great is this section?
And power-walking/hiking/moseying was all I could do.  pffft.
Freaking out Julie. We really didn't mean to freak out Julie. We really didn't want an APB put out on us. We *really* didn't mean to freak out half of our Twitter followers. It just took us longer than we expected. But when it got dark and we still weren't in, Julie became concerned. And it says so much about how awesome she is that she was worried and asked for help to track us down. And I'm so sorry that we did. It was all my fault. Me and my stupid knee. And we knew she was worried. We talked about it, but there was nothing we could do. Nothing but solider on and keep making progress toward the end. I have never been so warmly greeted at the finish line as I was when Julie ran up to us when we arrived. Thank you for waiting on us, Julie! Thank you for being worried! I promise it won't ever happen again!!

How cute is she? Once we came in & she could breathe!
And, YAY! on her first 25K finish!
Three Sisters. I don't like downhills. Downhills are no bueno for me after Tyler. So I made sure to wrap the heck outta my left knee, the one with the pinched meniscus, before we got started. So I knew the downhills were going to be dicey because of the knee. I was just hoping I could do OK. But while most people were worried about the uphills and the climbs, I was handling those just fine. I was billy-goating up those hills like it was nothing, and by mile 20, I was praying for uphills for the rest of the way. But, alas, it was not to be.

See the little jags there at mile 24? Those are the Three Sisters, little peaks in the trail that come on the out-part of the loop between the two Crossroads stops. Sarah and I have other names for them. We may have called them the Three Bitches. Not because they are particularly rough to go up. I barely noticed the climbs, even after 24 miles. But the descents? Oh my goodness. Those were BRUTAL. My right knee was screaming by then. I could not bend it at all. No, really. It wasn't that it hurt to bend it, it was more that I could not physically make the joint work. 

This was when Sarah asked me about the pain level and I lied. The lie was more for me than for her, though. If I could convince myself that it didn't hurt so bad, then it wouldn't hurt so bad. This was when an older gentleman, one that we had leapfrogged a couple of times in the day, came up behind us and asked if we wanted him to send help back from the next aid station. Apparently from behind it was pretty obvious that I was not having an easy time of it.  But I said quite vehemently that NO, I was fine. I would be fine. I would finish. I don't think he believed me. But he didn't send help, and we went on, painful step by painful step. I finally got into a groove where I figured out that if I bent my left knee with each step and peg-legged my right knee like a pirate that I could make it down the descents OK. And by OK I mean without tumbling face-first down the hills and as slow as Christmas. But, hey, I got down them all, even though it took us longer than we wanted. 

One of the Three Sisters descents.
Doesn't look steep & it's not really, but it still hurt. A LOT.
Lucky Peak. The very last nasty surprise of the 50K course is this thing called Lucky Peak.  From the race course description: 
This next section is called Lucky, but it is far from Lucky. It sports one of the nastiest climbs on the course. It is a very steep rock covered hill with a descent on the other side loaded with ledges and almost as many rocks.
This description is not a lie. This section is where the epiphany came. The rocks were big. They were nasty. You have been going for more than 28 miles by now, so you are tired and sore and your feet hurt from all the damn rocks. And what do you see? Another big-ass pile of rocks. UGH. But the uphill wasn't the ugly part, oh, no! It was, of course, the downhill.  Sarah went down first, after we got done crying and hugging at the top of Lucky. I stayed behind and studied the options down, trying to choose the least treacherous, and trying to figure out how to get down that monstrosity in one piece. Meanwhile, I hear Sarah yell as she literally goes surfing on a rock below me. She stepped on a big rock and it slid down the hill on all the little sliders underneath it. I really wish I had seen it, because she stayed upright the whole way. It was pretty gnarly. And it would have been ug-leee if she had bitten it there. But again, we know Sarah is bad-ass so she just ended up going for a little ride. And then she yells that she's ducking off the path for a break and will meet me at the bottom. Except that when you get to the bottom, you're not really at the bottom. There is another nasty little step there that was too much of a drop-off to just jump, even with two good knees. It was scary for me because I knew it would hurt, and Sarah knew that, too, so she chose not to tell me about it until I discovered it myself and had no choice but to go down it. And I did go down it, after another little break to study the best way down and to grit my teeth and just do the thing. 

The Ugly

My knee. I went into this race worried about my left knee, the one with the pinched meniscus. I had wrapped it tightly before the New Year's Day half and it hadn't given me any issues, so I did the same here. And it worked like a charm. The left knee held up like a champ. No pain, no soreness, no issues. The right knee, though? Not so much. If you look at the elevation profile, you can see a gradual descent starting at mile 14 or so. That was about the time my knee started to tweak. It was bearable at that point, though, more of a twinge than pain, and I thought our drop bag with extra tape was at the next aid station, so I was just looking forward to reinforcing it then and then I would be fine. But the drop bag wasn't until Mile 20, so as we went into the next section after Nachos, it progressed from an ache to a sharp pain. And it got worse as we went along on each downhill. If the terrain was flat, I could power-walk just fine, and I could actually book quite nicely on the uphills. That's when I started praying for inclines - I was making faster time on them than on the descents. It was murderous. But, after the mental lift at the second Crossroads stop, and the physical lift of taping it and taking some ibuprofen, the pain actually dissipated in the last five miles so that my overall pace improved some (or at least I felt like it did). It wasn't as painful to pick my way down in that last stretch. Or maybe it was just that there were fewer downhills on the last stretch than there were on the Three Sisters. Who knows?  All I know is that by the time I crossed the finish, I was feeling absolutely no pain.

The Aftermath
I finished 11 hours and 14 minutes after I started. In the dark. After we left the last aid station, I told Sarah that I thought we were last, and that she better be damn sure she crossed the mat before me when we got there. I told her if it was going to take me that freakin' long to finish I may as well go all out and get DFL.  But we weren't last. There were three people that came in after me, three people whose races I'm sure are as littered with the same kind of story I have to tell.  And that's what I love most about this crazy twist on my favorite activity. It's not about the finish time for many people in ultras - yes there are crazy-fast runners who handle these beastly rocks and trails like they're mountain goats - it's about having the perseverance and the willpower to stick with it and Get It Done. I may not ever be fast but I know that I have the guts to keep going when it gets hard.

I Made It Happen. I Did the Damn Thing.
I am an Ultramarathoner!
And like I noted the other day, I want to be sure that I grab all that life has to offer, and take risks, and stretch my boundaries, and test my limits. And I want to have as much fun as I can with as many different awesome people out there as I can. Runners are such a special breed, and I look forward to meeting many more, and  having many more epic road trips and trail races with them. I can't wait for the next one!!

Meanwhile, huge props go out to the following:

  • Sarah for sticking with me every step of the way on this inaugural journey, and really for introducing me to the whole trail adventure that first day out in Oak Cliff. 
  • Jeremy for finishing his first 100k on a brutal course in a driving rainstorm. He was grinning ear to ear when he  came into the tent 16+ hours after he started, even though he was drenched and cold. He took only five extra hours to cover twice the ground I did. Dang. 
  • Julie for running the furthest she ever had out there, and for surviving a fall that put a nice punch in her knee. You are so going to rock Cowtown, girl, and I can't wait for Hells Yeah Hills to bring you through your first 50K like Sarah did for me. I promise, promise, promise to bring a lamp!
  • Fawn for winning her age group and hanging with Julie while Sarah and I picked our way down the rocks
  • John (per usual) for letting me go off on a wild hair and do this thing. I know you were worried about me. I knew you were scared for me. I appreciate your love and support, and I miss you like crazy when I am gone but I know you understand why I need to do this. And I love you for that. More than you will ever know
  • Sandro & Ben. I don't think I've ever had my 15 year old comment on my FaceBook status. But on Saturday night, when I posted that I had finished, I got a giant uppercase "GREAT JOB MOM" from him. If that doesn't tell you all you need to know, I don't know what does! And the hug I got when I came home on Sunday, along with the usual "Where's your medal?" from Ben? That was awesome. 

Banderawesome Race Report, Part 1

Typical trail section with sotol & rocks. 
I know I'm going to leave things out of this. I know I cannot even begin to capture everything that was epic, that was awesome, that was "Banderawesome" about this trip, this race, this event. But the longer I wait to write this, the further it gets from my immediate memory and the more likely that I will leave something really important out of it. So, rather than piddle and diddle and overthink this, I think it's time to do what I did on Saturday morning, and in the words of my dear friend and most ardent supporter Marci, just "Do the Damn Thing."

The Prologue: 
I can't remember exactly what triggered me to sign up for this race in the first place, but I'm sure it had something to do with Sarah dragging me out the trails in Oak Cliff back in August. Or Jeremy pushing the feasibility of it on FaceBook, making me believe that 31 miles on rocky hills and paths was something that I really could accomplish. Or something with watching Michelle trek for three days across the Rockies. All of it contributed, I'm sure. All I know is that I was restless, even in the weeks leading up to NYC. I felt like I wanted more. Yeah, yeah, I was doing another marathon. Big deal, I'd done nine. Yeah, yeah, it was in New York City. Big deal, I'd practically lived there for a year. I wanted something MORE. No, after my own mid-life crisis, suburbanite version of a summer of discontent, I NEEDED something more. And this seemed to fit the bill. Boy, howdy, did it ever.

So a bunch of us figured out who all was signed up, and we made arrangements for carpooling down from Dallas, and for lodging a few miles outside Bandera proper with Julie from East Texas (who was going to be doing the 25K, a distance that was longer than her longest run, BTW). We planned to meet Fawn down there, too, if not before the race, definitely at some point on race morning. As the day approached, I got more and more nervous, and as the emails and DMs flew back and forth about what to pack and what to eat and drop bags (WTH is a drop bag? Do I need a drop bag? What do I put in a drop bag?! Ay-eeee!)  and baby wipes, I got more and more nervous. Nervous maybe isn't the right word.  Terrified is more appropriate. What had I gotten myself into?  I knew Sarah wouldn't leave me behind, and I knew I could do the distance, but I had a lot of fears, some of them unfounded, but some of them very real.  Bandera is listed as "A Trail Run of Rugged and Brutal Beauty where everything cuts, stings or bites" and it is also described as very rocky and hilly. I don't historically do well with rocks and hills. But, hey, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? And Jeremy had some very sage words of advice when he said something to the effect of if you think it has you beat, then it does. So I had to get rid of the negative thinking and the fears or I was going to do myself in before I even started.

Race weekend arrived and we piled into Sarah's car for the drive down (thanks, Sarah, for letting us trash your car with mud and such) and settled in for the five-hour ride. We arrived at the hotel but didn't have time to go to the packet pickup that night, and instead settled into a local restaurant for a pasta dinner. I traditionally have mashed potatoes pre-race, but I rationalized in my head that since I'd never done an ultra before so I didn't really have an ultra pre-race meal established. After dinner, we retreated to the hotel to wrangle the extra cot into the room and do all the typical pre-race preparations, then most of us were out by 9:30ish, with alarms set for 4:30 and additional alarms for 4:45 and 5:10, signalling our latest time to leave the hotel and head to the race site. Surprisingly, I slept pretty good, despite the beginnings of an itch in my throat and a slightly stuffy nose. I warned my roommates I might snore and off to dreamland I went.

Race Morning: 
We were all up & ready to roll on time, and after a brief stop for caffeine for Julie & Jeremy, we headed out on the country roads toward Bandera and the park area. Julie had been there the day before so we weren't worried about getting lost. I was bummed that my phone didn't charge properly and I had only 15% battery left, so I wasn't going to be able to bring it out on the trail with me for live tweeting and updates. We got there in plenty of time to hit the porta-potty line, get our bibs and ankle chips, and check in. It was almost go-time! We decided that we would meet Julie at the finish when we got done, head back to the hotel to shower & change, then come back and wait for Jeremy until he got done with his race. About this time, the sun started rising and we could tell we were in for a gorgeous day.

Good Morning, Texas!! I love Texas sunrises!

This would be the last time Sarah & I would see Jeremy until he finished. Julie saw him at halfway point.

Julie, Sarah, Me, Fawn & Lisa. Love these amazing women! 
I didn't really have time to be nervous, as we just kind of stood around and then before I knew it, people started running. And we followed .

And we're off!!
Now, it's time to switch to my standard Good, Bad & Ugly race report format, so I can clearly wrap my head around all that this race involved and break things down in a way that makes the most sense. Here we go! 

The Good: 
My Running Partner.  Sarah is a bad-ass. There's no two ways around it. She is a three-time IM finisher, won her age group in the Grand Tetons 50-miler this summer and is basically about the coolest person I've ever met. And she kept me together on the trail out there. She kept me talking, laughing, nodding and singing (just a little) the whole way. So much so that I lost my voice after about eight hours! But she was encouraging and enthusiastic and I learned so much about trail running and trail races in our time out there that I am stoked for more. Much, much more. I also know that there is no way in the world I would have finished without her by my side. I have no idea how to ever repay that kind of debt to her, except to tell her that I love her and adore her and that I support that plan!! 

Sarah Thomsen, my ultra bad-ass hero. 
The trail. It was gorgeous. Yes, there were sharp pointy things. Yes, there were rocks. and oh, yes, there were hills. I was intimidated by this course before I even got there but really it wasn't insurmountable, even to a rookie trail runner like me. I was out of breath on some of the climbs, and I got tired for sure, but I never looked at any section of this trail and thought, "I can't do this."  I may have thought, "I am crazy for doing this," but that's different. Besides, for every pain the ass/calf/hamstring climb we had, there was usually some amazing payoff vista as a reward.  That was pretty cool.  And there were some runnable sections, too, much more than I had been expecting.

One of our amazing views from the top of a hill.
The Aid Stations. I had heard the aid stations and volunteers were awesome here, and that was true. We heard the first big aid station well before we saw it. In fact, the way the trails twisted and turned, we heard music coming from it (Bare Naked Ladies, for the record) well before we actually stumbled upon it. It gave us a lift at mile 10 when we finally got to the clearing and saw it. I had nibbled on some of my Clif bar by then but took full advantage of the peanut butter sandwiches, Oreos and Heed there. Each aid station we came into was a welcome sight, and it was a serious lift to come into Crossroads for the first time and see that we had covered 21 miles and change. For some reason, we had expected to be under 20 miles at that point, so to see we had covered more ground was really exciting. And the volunteers at Crossroads, at all of the stations, were great. Helpful, cheerful and enthusiastic. One woman actually offered to help me change my shoes at Crossroads - that was a new experience for me!

I got mashed potatoes from this woman! I heart her!
At every station we were offered tasty food, our choice of fluids and, most cheering to my soul, I was given MASHED POTATOES and PANCAKES!!! WOOT! When the woman at Crossroads handed me a little cup of mashed potatoes, my manna that I had missed the night before, my very spirit lifted and I knew I was ready to tackle the next segment. And then, when we staggered into Last Chance in the dark, half a mile from the finish, and the friendly smiling volunteer offered me a pancake? Well, I knew I was going to do this thing, and I knew that my buddy Kris was smiling on me from Dallas!

I am eating a pancake at mile 30.6. Sarah is drinking beer. Oh yeah!
My Nutrition. I had originally planned to do my usual marathon race fuel of Clif bars & Clif bloks for this. I packed them into my camelback pocket and everything. But when we got out there, it somehow seemed sacrilegious to be out in nature like we were and eat little blocks of gel. Plus I wasn't going so fast, even before my knee gave out on me, that I was going to have stomach issues with the more solid food offered. I did have a few bites of my Clif bar once we realized the first aid station was water only (something we knew and forgot after reading the race doc) before we got to the Nachos station. But for the rest of the day, I subsisted on food from the aid stations and really did well. I never was hungry, nor was I overfull, and the combination of drinking water from my camelback while we were out and two small cups of Heed at each aid station worked well for me.  As far as I can remember, this is what I ate while I was out there.

  • Between mile 5-10: Half a Clif Bar - boy that Clif bar smells tasty! 
  • Nachos Aid Station, Mile 10: 2 Oreos, 1/4 peanut butter/jelly sandwich, few pretzels, 1.5  cups of Heed
  • Chapas Aid Station, Mile 15: 2 Oreos, 1/4 waffle with peanut butter, a few M&Ms, 1.5 cups of Heed
  • Crossroads Aid Station, Mile 21: Mashed potatoes, 1 Oreo, 1 cup of Heed
  • Crossroads Aid Station, Mile 26.3: Roasted red potatoes (mashed potatoes were gone - sad face), 1 Oreo, 1 cup of Heed
  • Last Chance Aid Station, Mile 30.6: PANCAKE with syrup, 1/2 cup of Sprite (mistaken for Heed)
  • Post-race: gatorade smoothie with protein powder on drive to hotel, small Wendy's frosty on way back to race site

My Shoes/Clothes. Had to wear the Texas skirt. You knew that. Please. Was there even a question? Yet we had heard weather reports of very cold at the outset, and possible rain later in the afternoon. I knew I wanted something on my legs in case of the cuts and scrapes from the sotol and cactus, too. Just running through high grasses out at Knob Hills tears my legs up for weeks after, so I wanted to avoid that. So the choice was made to put a cheap pair of compression tights ($15, Academy) under the skirt; if they got snagged by cactus or torn in a fall it would be no big whoop.  Turns out neither was a concern. On top I went with my yellow top from NYC, as it was both warm enough for early morning but easy enough to roll sleeves up if it got warmer in the day.  I had stashed a short-sleeved top in my drop bag (yes, Sarah and Jeremy educated me as to what should go in my drop bag!!) in case it got too warm, but by the time we got to it, the clouds had rolled in and we were very comfortable in the long sleeves. Even when the sun went down on us I was still very comfortable and didn't get chilled at all.

For shoes, I used my North Face trail shoes (yes, I wear men's trail shoes - when I bought them, they didn't have the women's model in my Amazon foot size, plus, ORANGE!) but put my road Kilkennys in my drop bag in case for some reason the North Face ones didn't work or I just felt like I needed a change.  Ended up I did change into them for the mile 20-25 loop out of Crossroads, but quickly changed back before heading out for the final five miles. The only two blisters I got were from the Kilkennys rubbing on the back of my heel on the descents during that stretch, so if I had just stuck with the North Face, I would have been blister-free. Oh, well, live & learn.

Chose tights to avoid getting sliced by the razor sotol.
Some of the 100K leaders we saw pass us were cut up badly.
The Running Angel. So, we were out there longer than we expected to be. I had every intention of finishing in around 10 hours at the longest, which would have put us into the finish by 5:30, a good half-hour before dusk. But I also had no intention of having my right knee lock up on my between miles 15 and 25, requiring me to drag it behind me for that whole time. OK, not the whole time, just on downhills. So, it ended up that as it grew darker and darker, we were still a good mile & a half out from the end. And neither of us had a headlamp. We both own headlamps, but we hadn't brought them. Because even walking, we estimated we would be done by nightfall. But we didn't count on me having to carefully pick my way down every downhill after mile 15. EVERY downhill. There was no barreling down the descents for me. To do so would have been absolute disaster because my knee would have buckled and I would have been in so much pain that I could not continue. As it was, I was in pain, but it was tolerable as long as I side-saddled down the hill, or dragged my right leg behind the left.

So that's how we found ourselves in the dark without a light (NOTE: I know this was stupid. I should have been prepared. I should have put a headlamp in our drop bag. It will NOT happen again). Until... after Lucky Peak, two runners came up behind us, headlamps blazing. We had been getting passed by the faster 25K runners all morning and the faster 100K runners all afternoon, so we moved over to let them by. They told us they were just out messing around and we didn't need to move over. Then one of them stopped and asked me if we had a light. We said no.  He gave us his. Just took it off his head and handed it to me. Said to be sure to give it to Thomas or Olga at the finish. That he and his friend would share while they finished out their run. Didn't give us his name. Didn't ask ours. Just  gave us light and hope to make it to the end without falling or twisting an ankle or careening off the side of an embankment. He seriously was a running angel and I owe our finish to him.

I guess I could have taken flash pictures every ten feet...
The Bling. It's simple. It's classy. It says "50k" on it. And it's mine!

More to come....

Monday, January 10, 2011


This is not a full race report - that is still in the works and it will be LONG. But I feel so compelled to share this that it is getting a post of its own. 

Something happens to you when you spend 11 hours scrambling up and down hills, pushing yourself to do something that you've never done before. If you're lucky, you get to do with a fabulous friend, like I did.  It took me about 28 miles to come to this realization, and when I did, it hit me like a ton of bricks (actually, given the landscape, a ton of rocks - big ugly freakin' rocks) and was possibly the most insightful and breathtakingly emotional event of a weekend filled with magic moments.

Back story: I have a steel plate in my left forearm, the remnant of a fall I took on vacation in Aspen, Colorado, 12 years ago. My oldest son was three years old, yet I still carried a lot of extra weight from that pregnancy. I had just been diagnosed with high blood pressure and while I walked with him to and from the park and such, I was not "active" per se. I was not an athlete by anyone's stretch of the imagination. The fall was a freak accident, in the parking lot of the Braille Trail along Independence Pass, where blind people successfully navigate. I dislocated my elbow and broke my radius, requiring a four-day hospital stay. The fall also scarred my psyche; I was not particularly active to begin with, and the fear that something bad might happen that is always in the back of our minds (more front and center with some people than others) grew in my head. It affected the activities I took on, the choices I made, and how I lived.

Back to this weekend: The second-to-last aid station is about 4.7 miles from the finish on the 50k route. When we entered this aid station the second time, my right knee had not been functioning for about 10 miles. I could not bend it on any downhills without it hurting. A lot. At one point Sarah asked me to rate it on a scale  of 1 to 10.  I lied and said it was a 7.  It was closer to a 9.  But I knew that even though it hurt, that it didn't hurt enough to stop me. I was going to be an ultramarathoner this weekend if it killed me, and there are some nasty downhills on that course that made me believe that it just might. When we left that station and I had some food in me, I took some ibuprofen before setting off on the last leg of this journey.  The sign said we had already gone 26.3 miles - further than I had ever traveled on my own energy (long courses notwithstanding!!). That alone gave me a burst of energy and enthusiasm that carried my along the last bit of the course.

We were woefully behind schedule because I had spent the last 10 miles basically dragging my right leg along behind me, or peg-legging like a pirate, and slowly picking my way down the steep embankments so the pain wouldn't be too bad. I couldn't run on flats because of the knee, either, although I could definitely still power-walk them. But it was maddening that we couldn't make up any time on these great flat jeep roads through pasture because not only was it this amazing stretch of runnable terrain, but we were losing daylight fast, and neither of us had headlamps. Neither of us expected to be out there until dark.

As the daylight changed into that gloaming light, where everything is still visible but fading quickly, we came upon what is apparently called the Lucky. It is nasty. It is ugly. It is an incline filled with rocks the size of my head. After 10 & half hours, it was the last thing we wanted to see. But I had been praying for more uphills, because uphills didn't hurt. Yeah, my calves were screaming by then and my glutes had filed for divorce from my body ten miles previous, but uphills were far more preferable to me than downhills. So we scrambled up this hill and for once in the whole day, we didn't talk much. We were both focused on getting to the finish before daylight went away. It was unspoken but there was a sense of urgency to every step.  And about 2/3 of the way up that hill, I started to laugh. And cry.

I had promised I would do no crying during this race. I swore after NYC that I would never cry and be mad/sad/angry during a race again. And I kept to that. This cry, at mile 28 of my first ultra, as I picked my way up this ridiculous incline filled with rocks, was not an angry cry, or a sad cry or a "I can't do this" cry. It was a happy cry. It came with the realization that as I climbed that hill, as I kept on relentlessly moving forward with one good leg and darkness falling, that with every step I took, I was burying that 200-pound woman who fell on the Braille Trail. She no longer exists inside me. The girl who was afraid to take chances is gone.

And while I thought I was living, and I thought I was grabbing life until now - after all, I have done some pretty cool things in my 41 years on this earth - there had always been inside me this fear, this trepidation, that maybe something bad might happen. "You might turn an ankle," people said when I started trail running.  "You fall on the streets," people said when I started trail running. They didn't say these things to discourage me, but because of their sense of caring and worry. Don't do anything too risky, so you don't put yourself in danger. But if you don't do anything too risky, then you never get the rewards.

I took a lot of risks this weekend. And you know what? I got all the rewards. 

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Top 10 Moments from this Weekend's Banderawesome Road Trip, in which I became an Ultramarathoner:

10. "That's a stupid place to put a curb...."
9. Needing a jump start because a dome light was accidentally left on for 11 hours.
8. Sarah & I discussing how the downpour must be awful for Jeremy, still running at 11:30: "It's not that bad, really."  Lightning flash... 
7. Julie sending out an APB because we weren't in yet & it was dark.
6. Eating pancakes & drinking beer at the Last Chance aid station, 1/2 mile from the finish.
5. "There were rocks. And rocks on top of rocks. And monkeys throwing rocks."
4. Running Angel lending us a headlamp two minutes before dark.
3. "Have you run in those before?"
2. "That's what the baby wipes are for!!"
1. Becoming an ultramarathoner. 

Full race report, with many, many pics, to come. After a nap and LONG hot bath. Or a bath and LONG nap. 

Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday Five

Crunched for time, so this will be fast.

  1. I owe you 2011 goals. Not that you care, but if I don't put them out there onto the intertubz, it is less likely that they will become reality. Hell, you see what happens even when I do put them out there, so... yeah. Coming up in next few days. 
  2. I haven't run but once this week. Kinda taking this taper thing to the extreme... 
  3. I may have had a major mental meltdown yesterday related to 1) race anxiety 2) work anxiety 3) interpersonal anxiety 4) all of the above. I also may have self-medicated by eating most of a Taco Bueno tamale platter... That didn't go well and I will be sure that doesn't happen again. 
  4. In about four hours, two of the coolest bad-asses I know will be at my house so we can hit the road to my first ultramarathon, the Bandera 50K, where we're meeting up with some other bad-asses to Run It Out, Texas-Hill-Country style. Possibly in the rain. Squeeeee!!! 
  5. This seems to be a recurring theme around here lately, but it's only because my appreciation for him grows with every day and every crisis and every meltdown and it is the dead-level truth: my husband rocks my world. I could not ask for a more supportive and loving man to share my world. Even when he is scared for me ("please don't get hurt out there" may have been the last words he said when he left this morning) he truly is my biggest fan. I am a lucky girl. 

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

New Year's Day Half-Marathon Race Report

Note:  This was originally posted on DailyMile, but I am reposting it here so it can be counted toward my Run for the Bling of It Challenge. Go check it out - the goal is to run 12 races in 2011, of any distance. I definitely got a head start with the New Year's Day Half, a race I plan to make a yearly tradition. If you already follow me on Daily Mile, it's the same report. If you don't, why not? Come find me & friend me there!

Damn. That one hurt. But it also felt FABULOUS to break through the mental pain at Mile 11 and keep going when it would have been so easy to slow down, to walk it out, to just quit giving 100 percent. And that is all thanks to Suann, my wonderful friend and amazing pacer, who kept me moving when I hurt, when I wanted to walk, when I was whimpering because it was hard.
My PR at this distance is 2:09:35 at Big D back in 2005. I have only run one additional race faster than this, and that was Cowtown, also in 2005. At that time, I had only run one marathon, and was a good 15 pounds lighter (and six years younger) than I am now. My two other halves this year were pacing races, so I really had no concept of what I was capable of at this distance. I had an inkling because of how I did two weeks ago but the knee failing on me at mile 10 kept me from really pushing at the end. So while I thought I was capable of pulling 10:00s all way through, I wasn't sure.
It was cold. Check out Suann's awesome arm panties!! 
It was very cold at the start, colder than my weather widget on my phone said. I wore tights & a long-sleeved shirt, and brought my gloves, knowing that once we got moving it would be fine. I got to see Lesley at the registration table, but didn't really get to see anyone else because it was too cold to stand around and I hid in my car until about 10 minutes before the race start.
I honestly don't remember much about the course, except that it was nice to not have to dodge traffic. It was well-marked, and volunteers were handy at every place there might have been confusion. I was thrilled to see my friends Katie & Kevin at the first water stop, and excited to have Mark pass me at the first little loop-de-loop and give me a high-five. Right about then we caught up to Lesley and her friend, and then Erin came up & introduced herself to us. Then later on, a mystery man ran by us and said "hi, Mama C!" but we didn't catch who it was, despite the names on our bibs. We spent the next half-mile trying to figure out who else we knew was going to be out there!! But honestly, while I was glad to have so many friendly faces, I was really focusing on keeping to my pace. So, sorry, Jim, for not recognizing you out there - so glad we met at the end, though!!!
Those of you who have run with me know that I talk when I run. I talk a LOT. Let me tell you how hard I was running yesterday: I did not talk from about mile 10 to the finish. At all. I whimpered at one particularly rough uphill, at which point Suann turned around and told me I could cry at the finish. I did a patented Mama C under-bridge primal scream. Twice. First time because it was a bridge, but the second time because I was hurting. My knee was taped to kingdom come so it was holding up just fine, but my right glute was screaming after about mile 7, and my PF was flaring just a bit in the last mile or so. I mostly just hurt from going hard for so long. I haven't held a 10:00/mile for more 10 miles, much less 13.1, in the past 6 years. But I did yesterday.
More importantly, with Suann's help I conquered that point in the race where my mind tried to talk my body out of what it was doing. I hit that point after the pancake song at mile 10 where I looked at my watch & do the math in my head and think, "I can still pull a 2:15... 2:15 is ok..." Or, "I can just walk a bit and stretch out that knot in my ass..." But those thoughts didn't win out this time. With Suann's help, I kept going, and actually bore down and WENT FASTER!
Coming up this little incline to the water stop and hearing my name being yelled by Katie & Kevin was so helpful. I don't think I did much more to acknowledge them but grunt, so sorry for that. It was so nice to see Michelle at the last turn before the finish, too. But again, I don't think I did much more than grimace at her. I was just working harder than I have in a LONG time. People, I passed four runners in the last mile of this race. I do not do that. I am the one getting passed. I am the one who gets juked at the end because I am walking and hurting and yesterday, I was the one doing the passing. It was AWESOME.
Twitpic!! @livnstrong, me, @ladysuann & @mlindsley
In the end, I missed a PR by about 2 minutes. And I am totally fine with that. I earned 1st place Athena, and also, had I entered in my AG, I would have had 4th AG. Suann also reminded me that I had surgery six weeks ago. Oh yeah!! So, yeah, I will totally take this 2:11. On the first day of 2011. Yeah.
Many thanks to Libby for putting on a great race on a good course, and with great swag & a beautiful medal. We got TWO shirts, both technical, long-sleeved and short-sleeved. It was a wonderful way to start the year.
Splits, courtesy of Suann's Garmin:
1 0:10:16
2 0:10:09
3 0:09:27
4 0:09:52
5 0:09:57
6 0:09:47
7 0:10:15
8 0:10:12
9 0:09:36
10 0:09:43
11 0:09:32 - DAY-UM!!
12 0:09:56
13 0:09:47
.3 0:02:50 (9:33 pace- again, DAY-UM!!)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Report Card Time

So it's time to review 2010.  Let's see how I did against my goals for this year. I don't think it's going to be pretty, strictly speaking by objective measures. But when I look at this year subjectively, I am pretty dang happy with it. Mostly. Let's get to it, shall we? 

  • 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.  DONE. And over done. I ran a total of 1469 miles, well above the goal for the year. A+ baby!!!  Only four months had less than 100 miles logged, including November, which with the exception of the NYC marathon was kind of a sucky month for me. Here are the hard numbers for 2010, with comparisons from previous three years afterward: 
    • Total miles for 2010:  1469 vs. 901, 894, 1001
    • Average miles/month: 122 vs. 75, 75, 91 (WOW!)
    • Average miles/week: 28.1 vs. 17.3, 17.3, 21
    • Highest weekly mileage: 57 vs. 37, 37, 35  
    • Highest month: September, 192, vs. December 102, Sepember 123 (again, WOW)
    • Lowest month: March & May, both with 71, vs. July 50, May 38 
  • 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. 
    I didn't do this. I did use a more aggressive plan at the end of the year for Tyler and New York, though, which contributed to the vast increase in mileage, and my body tolerated the increase in mileage fairly well. I didn't miss but one or two workouts in 18 weeks of training for NYC, so I know my body can handle this kind of mileage. What I didn't count on was tweaking my knee and dealing with that injury, and having that keep me from hitting this goal twice this fall. It's not an excuse, really, though. It's just what happened. What this means is I get to try again...  For now, this gets an F. Dang.
  • 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. 
    I finished four marathons this year, and it wasn't the knee that kept me from the fifth in December that would have sealed Maniacs, it was the stupid gall bladder. No worries. Just like the sub-5:00 goal, all that not reaching this goal means is that I get to try it again. And there is a plan in place that is going to guarantee this. if I have to freaking crawl 26 miles I will get this in 2011. For now, give me an Incomplete. 
  • 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...
    Yeah, this didn't happen. I focused on the running. And there was the whole I unloaded the Purple People Eater by leaving it on the curb so I didn't have a bicycle. And the whole I needed the stress relief of running it out more than I needed to get in the pool. So give me a big fat Incomplete on this one. 
  • 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!  
    DONE! And it was pretty epic. I was initially disappointed, nay, crushed, by my performance there, but in hindsight, I had an amazing weekend with some great friends and really, it was a pretty cool adventure. And I was as ready for it as I could be. Mark that one off as an A. But don't discount the possibility that I throw my name back into the lottery to do it again some day... 
  • 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.  
    Damn. Another F... Intentions were good, but when push comes to shove, nothing is as mentally rewarding and revitalizing as running.  I know the benefits of yoga, and I know the corework is crucial. and I know, I know, I know... 
  • 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.   
    And another one... Sheesh, I kinda suck... I may also have had to remove these programs from my iPod touch to make room for more Red Hot Chili Peppers songs... OK, fine. I'll put them back on... anyone want to volunteer to do these with me and be my accountability partner for these? Bueller? Bueller? 
  • 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.  
    I did it!!  Thanks to a couple of months working with my nutritionist Eve, I realized that I will never be a skinny-mini or anything close to it.  She helped me understand that the "goal weight" I had in my head for the last five years is not something that I could maintain realistically with my lifestyle as it currently is. I backslid some after my surgery curtailed my workouts some, but I know what I should be eating and when, and I definitely saw an improvement in the quality of my workouts when I was following her plan closely. I am still lumpy and squishy, but I know that I eat well 90% of the time and I don't let my weight keep me from doing the things that I want to do. I know that my new goal weight is completely attainable though, and while I will continue to work toward that goal, i will not obsess over it and I will not give it power over my moods and my happiness. 
How's that for all or nothing?  I either blasted it out of the park with an A+ and extra points, or I failed miserably!! Nice. Glad to see I am at least consistent in my inconsistency.  Also I find it humorous/sad that the goals I still need to work on are things that have been on my list for a few years now. 

But like I said,  when I look at the year subjectively, I am pretty pleased with how things worked out in the end. And as I mentioned in my last post, I am most happy with the people I met this year, and the people touched my life in 2010.  I hope that if I could brighten someone's day with my laugh, or inspire someone with an encouraging word or a high-five, that it would count a lot more toward making 2010 a success than any report card on the numbers goals I had laid out 12 months ago. 

Stay tuned for my 2011 goals. I've already laid out the first few months of my race schedule, but there are more global goals that I still need to formulate and work on the attainment plan for, so that might take a few more days to crystallize.