Austin marathon 2017…


Another one in the books….but this was was rough.  This was my 17th year running Austin with 16 of those being the full marathon.  8th year pacing.   Marathon number 38.   I trained for a fast 3M half and added in my long runs and had done some serious work. I felt ready.  

What I wasn’t ready for was my partner texting me at 4:30 am the day of that she woke up sick.  Shit happens, but you don’t want it on marathon morning.  I panicked.    I justed had checked the weather, 70 degrees and 90% humidity already. It was going to be a tough day.  Getting ready was a series of phone calls and texts and we came up with the plan she would start and drop around mile 9.   I felt better with a plan.  Not ideal but at least I could start to wrap my head around running solo.

Running solo isn’t a big deal normally but when you pace, you cannot fall apart, fall off pace or have a bad day.  There are two pacers so if the worst happens there is still someone to carry the group.  That just means the remaining pacer cannot fall apart in any way.  Given the weather, I was concerned.   I was well trained and not sick in anyway myself so there was that.  

As we headed to the start, I relaxed a little,  and quickly panicked again when one mile in I was drenched in sweat.  Only 25 more miles is dripping out every ounce of fluid in my body, every electrolyte, and not slowing down. CRAP. 

Meredith and I worked together for her miles.  They went fast.  I was secretly panicking more and more as it got hotter and more humid.  Humidity kills you on a long run.  Once she turned off, I struggled to breathe, as I was freaking out.  By this point we had a pretty good group, all depending on me and I was completely soaked in sweat.  

I started talking to the group, practically for my benefit.  We were about to hit a series of hills and I decided we’d slow on the hills, and pick up on the flats.  10 miles in and I felt a little cramped in my quads.  Only 10 miles in!   CRAP.

I relaxed when the half marathon turned off.  I had a plan and the miles were ticking off. This section of the course is really tough, so talking the group through it gave me something to focus on.

About mile 16 I hit a huge low.  I couldn’t deny the humidity was starting to sink its claws into me.  The splits were hanging in there, but I had doubts that I could hold on for 10 more miles.   I knew Mike and Jasper were at mile 19 and  decided I just had to blow kisses and keep on keeping on.  If I talked to them for a second, I’d start bawling about how nervous I was about finishing.

They were a huge lift.  I started to feel confident it would work out and by now I was down to 3 runners determined to break 4 hours (this is a huge barrier in marathoning).  My plan was take it a little slow through each water station to get a full drink and dump a full cup over my head.  I passed this onto my remaining runners and they liked it.  The soaked feet caused some wicked blistering, but so worth it.

Holy crap, 21 miles.  I was now stronger than my peeps. They were starting to really suffer, and I was focused enough on them to not completely focus on me.  Splits getting hit like clockwork.  Giving out salt pills to my peeps like candy.

Mile 23.5, watch dies. Back up watch (I wore two!) won’t connect to saltellite.  No GPS.  I’ve got a clock still, so two and a half miles of doing guesswork and praying I am getting it right.  CRAP.

Mile 24.  Feeling hot but knowing I’ll  make it at least within a couple minutes.  There’s that whole no watch thing, and mass carnage. Runners dropping left and right.  It would appear extreme humidity bothers everyone.   I pass two Aggies where one is holding up the other on wobbly legs.  I give them my last gel and tell the sturdier one to feed it to his buddy. Medical is about a quarter mile away but I hope the don’t need it. Praying my gel picks him up.  Anyone who made it this far needs to finish.

Mile 25.  The huge ass hill.  It gets everyone.  I slow to shuffle and pray I am guessing my time correctly on my no timing watch.   I have two runners with me who ran each step of the the way as the pace group.  Please stay with me!

Finish.  Nothing like hugging two sweaty strangers.  They both got massive PRs.  All the nerves were worth it.  I staggered to our hotel meeting  spot and I’m embarrassed that I actually cried because I was so relieved I didn’t screw this up, and I noticed my under the toenail blisters for the first time.  3:58.  My remaining two got under 4 hours.  

Glad it’s done.  I’m super satisfied.  It didn’t go 100% how I wanted or planned but it worked out.  What a freaking metaphor for life.  Now a week or so of rest and a couple months of fun running before the next one.   Chicago 2017. 🍕🌭🏙💨

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

3M half marathon report…

The medal was pretty sweet this year, best one I’ve ever gotten from this race.

Coldest long run I’ve ever done a couple weeks ago….19 degrees with a wind chill of 10 degrees.

The 3 M half is really Austin’s premiere running event.  It’s a better course than the Austin marathon and extremely well organized.  I hadn’t done it in four years mostly due to cost….it gets expensive if you don’t register early.  This year after a disappointing marathon in the fall, I decided to make it my goal race.  Training for a goal half and marathon pacing is a little complicated.  I need those long runs and the speed workouts.  I love my little running group, and we’ve had some killer track sessions and tempos to bring the speed along.  As for character building,  my 19 mile run on the record cold day with 6 miles of that alone in the dark, took care of that.   People in places with real winter feel free to laugh but in Texas sub 20 degrees in no joke.   Plus I has the usual treadmill days and ridicously early wake ups and it all adds up to putting in some work.

But I love the training.  I love that I have people to meet for the hard stuff now and I love getting coached workouts.  There are many moments of wanting more sleep, but overall I look forward to the training days and don’t love my off days on the schedule. 

My only complaint about the race this year was packet pick up.  You couldn’t pick up someone else’s packet, no exceptions.  But packet pickup was at the downtown convention center during a massive event (just a little thing called the women’s march)  and was a major cluster.  Luckily I walked down during work on Friday and got it on about a 2.5 mile round trip walk.  But I felt sorry for my running buddies who had to eat up a bunch of their Saturday.  Rant over, but I just didn’t get it…

wind gusts up to 50 mph was the forecast…..and it really did happen.   The start areas was a wind tunnel.   Pre race went flawless with no hassle parking and meeting up with all friends easily.  The day before was an epic eating fail with a sour candy challenge and a totally screwed up dinner out which resulted in way too much French fry nibbling to prevent from eating my arm off for food during an hour and a half wait for pub food.  Grrr.  Pleasantly surprised my belly was intact this am (healthy eating resumes tomorrow….if I type it, it will happen).  Sooooo…the course was windy.  Sometime a tailwind, sometimes a head wind.   Some sometimes I was flying, sometimes struggling.  I just wanted a time that reflected all my hard work, and the 1:41 I got feels fairly like it does.   I’m bummed I used to run so, so much faster on this course and I’ll never get that back, but big picture, is you can’t really complain about running healthy.  

My friend/ coach, George paced me, which was great.  I wanted to stay comfortable until 10 then drop the pace.  I did that and I was happy that 7:40ish pace was comfortable.  Last year I raced a half in March and 8:15s was my best.   So pretty happy that this year was 30 sec a mile faster.   The wind knocked my packing down pretty good at the end.   I think I was running faster, but it was into a headwind.   Ended up maybe a few seconds short of what I’d wanted, but again, I think the race went well.  And now for the old timers:

-I miss the cotton long sleeve shirts so much.   I’m over cheap tech shirts. 

-I guess the super fancy medal makes up for the cheap tech shirt.   It is seriously  one of the best medals I’ve ever gotten. 

-this course is still pretty awesome.  I want the marathon back on this course!  It was so much better then.

-barefoot running must be over.    I didn’t see anyone barefoot.  Thank God,   Worst running trend ever.  

-I’m really tired.  Even racing a shorter distance wears me out.   Bed and Netflix calls….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2016 as told through running

Ushering in 2017…

As I become more and more of “masters” runner (such a polite term), I realize the most I can hope for in any year is staying healthy.   If I can do that, the year is a good one as far as running goes (and probably in general as well).  I did manage to stay healthy this year.  Sure, I am probably sore at least two days out of every week, but I guess that’s just what happens when you start doing speed work and lifting weights more than twice a year.   So this is a long, drawn out recap of what I did different this year.  It may seem boring but these are the kinds of posts I search for when figuring out my own training and racing.  

The year was early training for the Austin marathon then some downtime with a couple fun races then dedicated Fall marathon training that started in May.   Enough already on the Fall marathon fail, but I felt like I gained a lot this year.  It took months but I think I can finally follow a training plan.   I still get edgy when I get weeks with two off days and I do a lot of dog walking on non running days, but I think I have accepted the lesser mileage.  For one thing, I’ve definitely gotten much faster.  I don’t say this from a bragging point but from a point of declaring that speedwork , works.  And real speedwork.   I did a pretty wimpy version of speedwork before where I kept it in my comfort zone.  The runs now are way, way out of my comfort zone and I actually get nervous for some of them and I don’t really like some of them.  But when I get home from a hard track session I feel pretty darn good.

The other thing is that I think this is a smarter way to run for the long term.  It helps keep up the body systems that allow for fast running, that as we age are not going to stick around if not used.  The lower mileage is better for longevity in this sport.  It has been tough to do what I know is the right thing.  I tossed out any mileage tracking; it really doesn’t mean anything and I never look back at it…..and most importantly NO ONE CARES how much I run.  

I took up body pump classes for strength training this year.   Those, yoga, and lower miles are what I credit for making it all year staying healthy.   I started strength work last year, but I found the class to be much more effective than doing it on my own, and pushing me and working every muscle group. It’s tricky to schedule around speed sessions because both can leave me sore, but sometimes I just get sore and deal.  (I also started doing epson salt baths for sore muscles this year and am a convert on those as a way to take the edge off really sore muscles).  

This year also gave me hope that I can follow a plan.   Plans never worked for me before because I “modified” them so much, I really was just doing my own thing.  If my little training group doesn’t keep going I know I could get a plan from a book and follow exactly and even do the days I don’t like. Plans are smarter than I am as they add in more rest and do things in a purposeful way.   Plans are the way to go….why did I take me so long to get on board?

So the summary, run less, run faster workouts that can be on the sucky side (aka 400s on the track at 5 am), and do strength training in a class where you feel inclined to do all the difficult things that make muscles say ouch.   And buy epson salts in bulk.   They are super cheap and much more pleasant than ice baths.  

Up next:  3M half marathon, two very important birthdays, Austin marathon…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It begins again…

I was going to quit blogging due to chronic lack of time.  Not sure I’ll do much, but here and there I still update once in awhile.   I’ve been posting pics on intsagram, as I much prefer it to facebook.  But it’s not really a good place for race reports, so blogging it is!

After my marathon and some reflection time, I realized I picked a really hard race to get a good time (time trial almost), I was a little under the weather with a chest cold, and the hard fact is even if I had gotten my goal time I probably won’t be able to run Boston 2018 due to a work obligation.  So after a couple weeks, I moved on.  I had some very successful workouts and the full time change in weather meant things felt a little easier ( funny, now that change is too much, 21 degrees this am!).  I ran the Decker half and even though on paper my time isn’t great, it was about 10 minutes faster than last time I ran it, and I managed some hardware, mostly due to a generous awards structure,  it I’ll take it.   


And the biggest news……my credit card was charged $195………because I got into the Chicago marathon!   Whoop , whoop!!    I bucket listed this one awhile ago.  Over the last year or so I’ve several moments of realizing Jaspy isn’t a baby anymore and it’s time to do a couple things on my list.  This made it pretty easy for me to make a 2017 running schedule…3M half, Austin full pacing , the Austin 10/20 10 mile race and then Chicago.  I’ll throw in a couple 5ks but that’s it. I love planning trips and I’ve already been mapping out my Chicago agenda.  Only 10 more months….giggle.  

Next blogging goal is a 2016 wrap up…..hopefully.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Better-ish

Now that a whole week has past, I’m starting to feel better.   The beginning of the week was tough.  I ended up with a migraine that lasted several days, and a big work project where missing work would be a really bad idea, so the combo of not feeling good and some added stress did not help my mental state.  Another factor was when I am bummed out, I run, and I couldn’t.   I tried really hard to stick to my prescribed recovery and did minus one day.   I caved today and did an easy run.  I also just couldn’t decide if if should let this go, or jump back in and try again in a few weeks in Dallas.  After really weighing the pros and cons, I’m 90% sure I won’t run Dallas and just go for a good half marathon season then get in good shape for marathon pacing in Feb.  I really hate inconveniencing my family with a travel race unless it’s a special one, and as of right now, my heart isn’t in it.

It bothered me how bothered I was this week.   It’s just a stupid hobby.  I think it was just a big ego blow though, and post race depression is very real.  But I seem to be back to being able to sleep and feeling less edgy.   Starting up running again has helped.

The positive spin is the race season isn’t over.  It’s really just starting.  And, I decided to throw my name in the lottery for one of the big fall races next year.  I’ve always wanted to do a big one and always hold back citing money, time, family.  But, if I get in, I’ll have almost a whole year to plot it out.  It’s sorta a Boston consolation.  There’s a good chance I won’t make it through the lottery for a big fall race, but between them all maybe I’ll get one. And I’ll still apply for Boston for 2018.  Who knows, maybe popularity will start to wane and my time will get me in.   I can’t say I won’t be disappointed if I miss getting in by just a few seconds, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  

I had to remind myself this week that even though being goal oriented can be a good thing, it can lead to a lot of disappointment and sometimes it’s better to just “be” and enjoy the process.   This isn’t always true in professional situations, but in a lot of life just “being” is ultimately more fulfilling.  Driven, focused people aren’t always the most fun to be around.  

And now I will focus on Netflix and not eating candy….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post race blues…

Highlight of the weekend was a visit from the tooth fairy.

The buildup for this race was near perfect.  Despite sometimes missing my times during peak heat, most of the workouts I nailed. I spent the last three weeks hitting race pace or faster over and over.  I played the race out in my head with positive but realistic results.  Whenever a friend asked if I was ready I always said “there’s no reason I shouldn’t hit 8:30 pace unless I have a freak illness or have a bad day”.  Well, guess what happened?  Near perfect weather, no illness, but a bad day.  There were tears at the end.  I just classically hit the wall.  At 18 miles, no matter how much I told my legs to move they just kept slowing.

Here’s the silver (ish) lining:

I did get a Boston qualifier.  But not by much.  By 1 minute 36 seconds.  In the last two years, that was not enough to get in.  I probably missed getting in by just a handful of seconds.

Without a doubt, I got faster.  I spent 5 months doing weekly speed sessions.   I aced a 5k and 10k.   I completely trusted my training,  and wouldn’t change a thing.  I am a speedwork convert and am looking forward to hitting the track again soon (as soon as I can walk downstairs without wincing in pain).

I’m writing this on night two of not being able to sleep because my emotions are just running wild, (plus night two of waking up starving).  Failure is tough to accept.

I’m still deciding what to do next but have decided not to make any decisions until my legs quit hurting.  Go for it again in a few weeks in Dallas?  Blow off trying to get into Boston (this is year 5 of this trying nonsense and year five of coming up short)? pick a new goal?  quit marathons? take up Quiddich?

No need for comments.   I appreciate all the people who tell me “you still did great!”  I know they mean it, and I know this is a super, super small, not a real problem kind of problem.  BUT, 5 months of hard work is a long time, and I reserve the right to be sad for a few days.

The Frankenthon is still a fantastic race that I think offers a really good shot at a fast time, and I thank them for that opportunity.  Just wish it had turned out differently.  😟

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Fall!   Taper!

Well the cooler weather is finally here!   The days are still pretty warm, but comfortable.  Minus one really hot muggy  morning this week, most mornings were pretty comfortable.  Which means the last two weekends’ 21 mile runs were not misery.  

So yes, taper starts tomorrow.   It’s been a long journey and gone fast all at the same time.  Marathon training kick off was May 1!  This was my longest build up, but I think that was necessary.  Without a doubt I got faster.  Twice a week speedwork, did indeed work.  I spent longer mastering each distance so that by the time I got up to 20, I had plenty of endurance.  I have no doubt that if I stay healthy, don’t do anything stupid, and the weather is favorable, I can make my goal time in two weekends.  This Saturday was a test, 15 miles at a faster than comfort pace then 5 miles at race pace, and it went well.  I’m sure a lot of that was the fact it wasn’t 80 degrees at 5am.  I also started taking salt pills and I think it really leveled out my stomach and gels and water went down great.   I’m a little sore today, but coach said getting sore was fine.  I have almost two weeks to rebuild.  Like all runners, I hate tapering and I’m terrible at it.  But I’m going to do what he tells me, as I’ve  worked way to hard the last few months to screw it up.  I will have to remember all the mornings running on the track in the dark at a horrible hour or ricidulous intervals on the treadmill at an hour that is still considered night.  Bleh.  I love the training, but some mornings are just hard.

And in the rest of life,  the Fall slam continues.  Jaspy had ramped up to activities five times a week and we decided something had to give.  I ended up missing his activity twice in a week  because the traffic for me to get home was so insane, plus he has homework every night now, plus we were pretty much never eating real dinner.  So cub scouts got the ax.  He took it well.  He is currently so infatuated with gymnastics that he was willing to do anything to protect it.  I remained slammed with fall festival.  Once that is over,  I get a lull before Austin marathon.  Yes, despite lots of doubt I decided to pace again.  Because I need extra stress (ha!), but I really decided I’d be really sad if I gave up my spot on the team.  I’ve managed to fool them for this long that I know what I’m doing…

So that’s it until race day.  I hope it works….I plan to recount what I thought worked well and what didn’t.  Hopefully more works well!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment