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Cedar Park 5 Miler

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Photo courtesy of PhotoWolfe

No, I am not crying.  Just realizing short races are painful and wet wood bridges are potential hip breakers.  Note to self….relax your facial muscles.

Did the Cedar Park 5 miler today.  5 miles is a pretty cool distance.  With a warm up and cool down, it’s a decent amount of running.  It’s tricky pacing.  Faster than a half marathon, but not 5K pace.  I am still learning how to pace these shorter races.  Today I did better than last time, but still need some work.

It was a little sad, but this race seems to be going the way of a lot of smaller races…on the way out.  I did this a few years ago when Jasper was a toddler, and it was nice tech shirts, gift card prizes, activities for kids, good food, in other words, worth the time and money to come out and do it.  It’s gotten really small and no frills.  Sometimes that’s nice, but I think it’s how races die.  You don’t need bands on every corner, but there’s got to be more than a timed course and an ugly T-shirt.  I hope this race can find a way to survive.  5 miles is a great distance and there isn’t much in Cedar Park, and it’s a pretty area with a lot of potential for race courses.

I behaved and did very little running the day before to be rested.  It was muggy and misty but not too hot.  I felt like I ran fairly well but would still like to see my pace closer to 7:00 than the 7:24 average I ran.  It was fun to meet up with friends, but really this wasn’t much more than a time trial.   The course was pretty and in my happy place, Brushy Creek Park.  It looked like fall and that was nice.  Of note, I was very tight and sore after the race.  I took Jasper and we met a friend at a new indoor mini golf place.  Got home late in the afternoon and took Davinci on a short shakeout 2 miler.  Maybe I need to do that more.  Felt so much better afterwards.  Blood flow to muscles=good.

Cake is still in our thoughts all the time.  I’m glad…I don’t want to forget her.  But we are trying our new normal of life without her.  Keeping busy helps.  Sad things in life  help us appreciate the good things.  A run with friend and then a doggy buddy and being healthy enough to do so is a good thing.  Life is good, despite the expression on my face during the race.

A quick point.  Looking over my Pancake pictures I was really happy I had this blog.  There are a lot of memories here.  I was sorta drifting into stopping it, as sometimes I just feel I have nothing exciting to write about.  I realized the importance of keeping it up.  Memories are invaluable things and you never know when you’ll want to look back.

 

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Since Chicago…

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Life post Chicago was a blur.  I usually get the post marathon blues really bad, but I was too busy this time.  I immediately had to focus on my volunteer Coordinator job for Jasper’s school fall festival where I had 300 volunteer positions and 3 shifts to schedule.  It was like running a small company for a couple weeks.  I slowly eased back into easy running and just last week did my first workouts where I was all in.   Fall Festival was a whirlwind and a marathon in it’s own right.  Every year I swear never again, and next thing I know I’m recommitting.

In the middle of fall festival weekend, something we knew was coming but we were dreading happened.  We had to put Pancake to sleep.  We had 17 years with her.  Some parts of this whole process were easier then I thought, and some parts were harder.  The grief of losing a pet is very real.  For 17 years, I greeted her first thing in the morning, petted her when I needed comforting, and loved her like a family member.  Sometimes more, you don’t get in arguements with your dog.  She covered 100s of miles with me.   Mike and I have constantly been looking at old pictures and it has made me realize how old and frail she had become in the end.  She was my running buddy for about 14 years, then became Mike’s running bud for a mile here and there, and in the last couple years just walked.  Her last walk was about a month ago.  My only regret is on her last day, I wish I had known it was going to be her last day.  Each day since, the sadness comes in waves, but I am slowly transitioning to happy memories.  Having Davinci here has been a lifesaver.  His company eases the pain and we are super happy to have him.

There have been a lot of memories of her on my runs the last week and a half.  Running has been my therapy, as it always is.  I’m excited for upcoming races and also the quiet mornings where I can imagine my little running bud is still with me.

 

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Chicago Marathon 2017 Race report…

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Background:  I’d been trying to qualify for Boston since 2012.  I ran the 2012 race but had failed to get a qualifier.  I was always within 5-15 minutes of my time.  I had a couple races where the training was so far off the paces I needed, I scraped the idea of even trying.  My frustration peaked last year when I gave it all I had, qualified but not by enough to get in.  I examined why I wanted to do it and it was really the big city marathon atmosphere, not so much the prestige.  So I picked another big city.  Enter Chicago.  I got in on the lottery back in December, so this race does require planning your life out a year in advance.

After getting in, we booked a hotel right away, and most stuff was already booked, 10 months in advance, so a pro tip here, if you go, do book lodging immediately.  And book downtown where all hotels are walking distance from the start/ finish.

Training went well.  Long runs were hot and difficult, but I got through them.  Working with Team Apex still, we did lots of speed work which I think made my race.  My schedule was track work/ tempo run/ long run/ easy days, rest day.  I lifted weights at Body Pump once a week and started pilates once a week (love it)  I had to give up my favorite yoga class as there are only so many hours in a week, but the Pilates is a miracle for keeping the body injury free.

Tapered and ready, I forgot one thing:  to taper the rest of my life.  Two weeks prior to the race were really hectic for me with 3 days in a row of 3:30 wake ups for work.  I was a little cooked and got sick the week of my race.  I was pretty bummed.  It was just a hard cold but I really had wanted to go into this 100%.

Fun part:  My family came with me, which was really nice.  We went Fri-Mon.  Friday was the peak day of my head cold, so by the time we got there, I was feeling rough.  We checked into our hotel early and went to Maggie Daley park (which we found by accident).  It was the best playground I’ve ever been to.  Jasper agreed.  Our hotel also had a nice indoor pool, so Mike and Jasper headed to that while I headed to the Expo.

My cold peaked here.  I was running a slight fever and felt terrible.  Maybe this was good, as I just didn’t have it in me to wait in the lines for the super cool merchandise.  The expo had shuttle buses to get you there and this was the first hint of the fantastic organization.  It was a flawless operation.  The expo had a lot less of the trinkety, junk booths, and the big running gear vendors were all there with really nice mini- shops with lots of custom gear.  Nike basically created a village.  It was more like a Tokyo night club.  There was a Dj, a gazillion super cool selfie stations, and so much custom gear, all lovely with big price tags.  But the line.  OMG, it was huge.  I would have passed out waiting in it, so now I’m stalking the Nike website for a sale, but the custom gear (Chicago skyline leggings!) sadly won’t be on it.  The bib and shirt pick up was another flawless operation, and all runners got really nice Nike shirts and a race poster.

Back at the hotel, I remained in the fetal position, after getting winded walking a flight of stairs.  Not good.  Pizza and beer sounded awful so we found a healthy noodle place near the hotel, and Mike went to watch a Cubs play offs game at a bar and I slept 10 hours.

Saturday was much better.  I was stuffy as heck but had my energy back.  We tackled the Field Museum.  Swoon.  I need more places in my life with both expansive collections of South Pacific masks and stuffed Narwhals.  And, Sue the famous T Rex has her own craft beer.

Pre race dinner at the Berghoff.  I now will require hand made spatzle in an old German restaurant for all my races. It was the perfect carb loading meal.  Spatzle, a little pork, and a giant pretzel.  A second pretzel came back to the hotel for a pre race breakfast.  It was the perfect meal.  Apparently the Berghoff is a Chicago institution and I cannot recommend it enough.  Such a cool atmosphere.

Ok, race morning is here!  I was the first corral of wave 2 and an 8:00 start.  Here is one of the huge selling points of Chicago.  If you stay downtown, and there are a gazillion hotel options there, you have no race day logistics.  There is a short walk to the start and a short, but painful walk back.  No buses, no getting there 5 hours before your race, it’s very simple.  It was recommended in the race booklet I arrive at 6:00.  I left my hotel then and got to the start in no time.  There are security checkpoints to enter the start, but once again, the organization is flawless.  You are assigned a gate to enter and I sped through.  It felt like Disneyland with a recording explaining where to proceed, and the quick moving lines.

When I registered I splurged on $100 for the hospitality tent.  This is an add on where the funds raised go to local charities and you get a heated tent, your own portapotties and hand washing stations, a full breakfast and lunch buffet, your own gear check and the biggie for me, a post race massage.  I am not a huge eater pre-race, so there was no food for me, and the weather was mild, so I wondered if I had wasted money on this.  The race was so well done that gear check and bathroom lines looked pretty smooth.  But after the race, I can say this was money well spent.  I had zero lines for bathrooms, I had a post race massage with zero wait, by two therapists, and I was escorted to and from the start/ finish.  If I had been with a group of friends, I would have stayed for the post race buffet too.

We had to get to our corrals 300 minutes prior to the start.  That part kinda sucked as you were stuck there.  I small talked with a couple runners to pass the time, but everyone was just itching to go.  Once we started, I was only a minute or so back from the front since I was the beginning of wave 2 (perfect spot), it was pretty quiet and we exited Grant park and headed into a tunnel under Lake Shore drive.  As I had been told, my watch went nuts with the long tunnel and said my first mile was 6:48.  My goal pace was 8:30ish, but with no gps for a bit, I ran the opening bit on feel

We emerge from the tunnel and that’s when you hit a wall of sound and people.  The crowds what make this race.  I was really congested with a ton of pressure in my ears, but my body felt ok.  My watch was still all over, giving me a 6:50 pace.  From here we weave through downtown and insane amount of spectators.  There are a lot of bridge crossings in this race, and the bridges are grated, but they laid carpeting down over them for smooth footing.  The attention to details is just out of control.  The water stops were so easy.  They went on for so long and were all water first then gatorade either side of the street.  I never had an issue grabbing water and never had to stop.

The course runs in and out of different neighborhoods.  I didn’t always know which one I was in, but there were some highlights.  Boystown was around mile 8 and huge crowds with two stages of drag queens.   One thing I really loved about Chicago was the race itself doesn’t put out one bit of course entertainment.  Every single thing going on are people from the neighborhoods getting together and doing something.  I have no idea how the marathon convinced the city to buy into it so much.  It closes a ton of streets and locks up the whole day with runners coming through, but the residents seem to completely embrace and celebrate it like crazy.

The Willis tower was always a landmark on the course for me.  It sticks out above the other buildings and its at mile 13.  Apparently Mike and Jasper saw me and I missed them, as I was on the other side of the street scanning the crowds.  Dang.  My body check in at 13 miles was ears need to pop, but my body is ok.  My watch had normalized and I was cranking consistent 8:30ish miles.   Quads were feeling tight.

I sorta don’t remember what we went through until we hit Pilsen.  This is the Little Mexico neighborhood and was the best crowds in my opinion.  It was endless Mexican flags, DJs everywhere,  and absolute insane crowds.  I was totally lifted up here.  I think it was around mile 18ish and maybe my ears finally popped here.  Quads are definitely tight.

It started to hurt about this point.  As it should.  I was keeping pace though.  At mile 20 my watch died.  Maybe this was good, as I couldn’t stress about pace.  Mile 22-23 is Chinatown and it’s about as crowded as Pilsen.  I remember a spectator screaming “you’re going to turn that corner and hit the most fans on the whole course, all cheering for you, use that energy!”  He was right.  It was nuts.  There were a bunch of lion dancers but they were on a break when I came through.  A huge Korean drum troupe blasting “Gangam Style” and drumming along made up for it.  After Chinatown it was just a couple more miles.  I guess I have failed to mention to was up to about 75 degrees, not brutal, but too hot for a marathon, and people were cramping or walking everywhere.  “Keep it together” was what I told myself over and over.

Mile freakin’ 25!  Here’s where I told myself take it all in.  With my dead watch, I was taking off about half an hour of what was on the clocks (I started 30 minutes after gun time) and if guesstimated if I kept it together I’d qualify for Boston.  After FIVE years of failed attempts.  Also, I had this race on my calendar for 10 months, I had lots of 3:30 am workouts in those months to get it in before a 6:00 work day, I had lots of track workouts in 90% humidity.  I needed to soak in every minute.

There is a wonderful count down of signs starting at 800 meters to go.  When I hit 400, I thought just a 400 repeat left.  Run this like a repeat (we did those suckers all summer).  The finish was in sight sprinting towards it,my quads totally seized.  I crossed the line completely spent, as I should be.

There were hospitality tent volunteers that help me over to it and right away ushered me in for the massage.  I don’t think I could have walked back to my room otherwise.  My quads were totally locked up. I still wasn’t 100% sure if got my BQ.  The volunteers looked up my results for me, and there it was, FINALLY!!!   in by 8 minutes.  that should do it.

This was the best of all my marathons.  It’s really a toss up between this and Boston.  Chicago’s course is better, logistics are waaaaaaay better, and travel is better.  This race totally won me over, and I will do it again.  I almost cried when we had to leave.

The pain the last two days was pretty intense.  We did an architecture river tour post race (I got to sit and sip a coke and see beautiful buildings, it was a perfect activity) and I attempted to eat deep dish pizza but the combo of having a cold and destroying my body made food consumption a challenge.

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Chicago marathon tidbits:

Best sign:  Life size cutout of the Night King with him holding a sign that said “Run fast, winter is coming.”

Best neighborhood:  Pilsen.  The crowds were unreal.

Best food:  pre race giant home made soft pretzel.  I’ll never eat a bagel again

Best Expo item purchased:  insulated Goose Island Brewery marathon pint glass

Best body part post race:  feet.  No blisters

Worst Body part post race and for the next few days:  Quads.  Painful to even touch.

Best feeling:  getting that stupid Boston Qualifier.  Finally putting it all together on one day for a 3:47.

Signing off, feeling tired (still) and thankful.  My heart is full.

 

 

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A few short summer races…

I ran several short races this summer and I meant to blog about every single one, but time got the better of me, and I failed to get a single picture.   First off…summer training.  It was all about Chi-town, my fall goal race.  And the usual heat and humidity.  There are not longer races in central Texas for good reason.  It’s just too hot.  While I like longer runs better, these short races are a true test of fitness and I have a bone to pick with the 5K….

First off in August was Vern’s no Frills 5K.  These are in Georgetown once a month and cost $1 and kids are free.  The only real con is it’s a bit of a drive, but a lot of competition actually shows up and lots of high school kids.  The course is pretty and the park is a little oasis.  I ran the 100th race, which was more of a celebratory affair.  There was an elite division in which women needed to be able to run a 17 minute 5K to enter.  Seriously.  The men’s winner was a 14 minute 5K.  Not sure on the women’s but pretty close to the 17 minute mark.  The people’s race was super crowded since it was the anniversary race, so it was more of a tempo than a true race effort for me.  The verdict:  it’s nice there are people in the world who do things like this.  A nice way to test your fitness.

Next up was Zilker Relays.  Teams for 4 runners doing 2.5 mile loops for a 10 mile relay race.  This was crazy fun.  Expensive (most your money is going to a full taco dinner with local craft beer), kinda a difficult time (Friday at 6:30 pm).  So I had never done it.  But it was a blast.  Totally worth it to put together a team.  We had a freak cold front which made the early September date doable.  I don’t remember what I ran here either, but our team was 2nd overall masters women’s.

Next Jasper did the Casa Super Hero 5k.  We’ve done this every year since he was 2.  This was his first year to do the 5K instead of the kids run.  We ran/ walked and had a blast.  It was miserably hot and he thought it was awesome I told him he could dump water over his head at the aid stations.  I think we did this in around 45 minutes.  Jasper claimed exhaustion and then did the bounce houses and obstacle course for the next one hour until I threatened him with my own passing out due to heat and hunger…

Finally, my new favorite 5K, the Ranger Run.  This is our middle school’s main fundraiser and right in my neighborhood.  I had 20 miles to do the next day, so it was a huge running weekend.  I did a 4 mile warm up through my hood then went down to the start.  This one I really wanted to race.  It was miserably hot….again.  I did low 22: something, don’t remember exactly (dipping into 21:xx was my goal).  I took off way too fast and got my masters mile PR, and ran a big positive split.  A fire was lit inside me to get better at the 5K, so you will see more on my schedule.  It’s fun to have your neighborhood out cheering you on for sure.

And that’s it for the summer shorties…now onto the big one…Chi-town!!

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Fit Foodie 5k…

Today Jasper ran his first 5k.  About 2 months ago a running bud sent me a text her favorite runner was coming to Austin.  Desi Linden and Ryan Hall were coming as part of a small 5k series.   It was a mystery to me why this race got such little promotion.   Anyways, I told her I would definitely do it.   It was more of an event than a race with cooking demos, lots of restuarants vendor booths, and snacks at each water stop.  I don’t think either of us intended to race it but rather we wanted to get autographs and celebrity watch.  When Jasper said he wanted to try a full 5k, it seemed like a good one, with it not being competitive.

After a long work day and tons of traffic, I picked Jasper up from school and we endured even more traffic to get out to the far ends of Round Rock to get our packets and get autographs.  Jasper brought his yearbook in hopes they would sign it.  With the food theme, the packet pick up was at a restaurant, but it was really small, and in a dull strip mall waaaaaaay out.  We pulled up and right away saw Desi and Ryan sitting in 90 degree heat with 98% humidity in a sorta sad strip mall.   It was a little embarrassing for Austin’s sake,  not a good representation of the city.  We got our autographs stat.   I will say Ryan Hall was extremely nice and relatable.  Desi indulged us, but was definitely all business and was either very shy or just not as into these sorta events, which like I said, seems hard to get jazzed up about sitting in the sun at a strip mall, so I couldn’t really blame her.     Also, no one really seemed to know who they were since  the race wasn’t promoted that heavily.    Desi was super tiny and thin in person and Ryan Hall was quite tall.   I went in the restaurant, got Jasper and I food and waited for some runner friends to have a beer with.   When they arrived there was no one really noticing Ryan and Desi at all.   We wanted to ask them to join us but we didn’t want to seem like stalkers.   I even avoided going to the restroom when I saw Desi go in because she would probably think I was stalking her since I asked her for 3  autographs.   Beer with friends is always good though, and Jasper was really good and got his yearbook signed.  

It poured race morning.  I got up early and ran on the treadmill but the rain let up, so we went.  The park that hosted the race was a sloppy mess.  Which was a bummer because there were so many great food tents, and a sunny day would have been better but at least it was still happening.  Jasper wanted to start right in front.   Since this was so casual, I thought it was fine.  Desi as Ryan were running which I didn’t expect (although it was clear this was a run with the people sorta thing for them).  Jasper took off like a wild banshee and was in the very front.  I suspected he’d do the classsic kid racing style of sprint like mad,the walk,then  repeat,  and I was right.  But sprint number one lasted a while, and we ended up by Ryan Hall.  We chatted for about a half mile.  Once again, he seemed so normal….we talked podcasts (he’s a serial fan!) and kids in running.  Jasper did great, doing walk/ sprint and finishing in around 30 minutes.   Pineapple shaped medals were a touch.  

The food tents were fun, and I was grabbing bites, but then the sky opened and it poured, so we rushed out.   

This was a fun event.   It was expensive….$50 each.   But the food really was worth it and if we had stayed we would have gotten more.   The packet pickup also had food, and I missed it but there was also a tent with beer and wine tasting.  The celeb element was really cool.  I felt sorta bad for them spending their weekend in round rock, tx, but part of me also say certainly they’re appreciative that there are actual fans of American marathoning out there.   I’d do this one again if the celebs were back, hope for better weather, and not not really think of it as a race but more of an event.   

And best of all was later at a birthday party, hearing Jaspy telling his friends he ran 3 miles and it was awesome. 😁

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A Noble Run 5K…

Swag….
Enjoying the best prize ever…..food.

If you want to experience community running and how racing used to be, run a neighborhood 5K.  Marathoners can tend to poo-poo them, saying not worth the effort, but it really is a very tough distance when going race pace.  With warm up and cool down it ends up being a pretty good amount of running.  But the spirit of doing something for a good cause, getting kids to participate and the all comers welcome vibe is something you don’t get out of the big races that really is running at its best.  What it’s all about.  A sport anyone can do…you don’t even need to be able to use your legs, even wheelchairs are welcome.   

I did the Noble 5K this morning.   It raises money for a great organization and couldn’t be easier logistically for me, heading right through the neighborhoods I do a lot of training runs in.  Originally I was going to just take Jasp to do the kids obstacle course but made a day before decision to run, and Mike generously offered to bring Jasp so I could race.   (Side note….I sorta hate asking to him to get up early on a Sunday for a small, quickie race).  

I did an inverse taper, running 12.5 miles the day before in 1:59 as an unplanned ode to the Nike Breaking 2 project occurring the day before.  I was with my group at Brushy Creek and the weather was stellar, so it happened.  Although you can note that my Breaking 2 was an easy pace. 

I really want to get under 22:00 for a 5K.  My PR is 19 something and that ship has sailed with a time like that, but sub 22:00 isn’t unreasonable.  Today was perfect weather on a flat course so I thought I had a chance for a good time.  5Ks go by so fast.  Before I knew it I was back at the high school start, rounding the track and crossing the line in 22:01.   Doh!   So close,   Next time….

I did manage to get some loot though, and now own a tiki mug and got a gift certificate to take the fam out for dinner.  These small races aren’t a bad deal.  

 The best part of the morning is Jasper wants to run a 5k now.   He regularly does 1-2 miles at school and will do things like swim or trampoline for hours, so I think it would be pretty easy for him.  So next race looks like I’ll have a partner…

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Austin 10/20 race report….and Boston thoughts…

I have no pictures.   This further solidifies me as a crappy blogger.  How do people get race selfies and still run fast?  I can’t do either.  Anyhow, a shame this race had its final running.  It’s such a treat to have an easy logistics race and although the course isn’t scenic, it’s a good, fast course.  The race is so well done and fills and void in the spring race schedule for something a little longer.  Plus 10 miles is such a nice distance.  

So how can it hurt so much when it is so nice,  I really wanted 7:30 pace for this race and ended up with 7:38 average pace.  The last two miles had a brutal headwind and the only hills of the race so that’s what got me.  But overall, a good effort.  The proximity of this race to Boston kept some of Austin’s top runners out so I fisnished 4th old lady.  Which turned out to not be a good spot.  It look me out of the age groups and out of the top 3 masters, so I won….nothing.  Except personal satisfaction, says she of the never ending best try-er and good sportsmanship awards.  

The best part of this race was going with friends and having brunch after.  I miss the days when running buddies had more time and when I did too.    Running friends are the most fun.

I felt pretty good about my effort of the race until the race photos came in.  I should know better than to open these.  So. Bad.  Horrible running form and I either picked a super unflattering outfit, or I’ve gained some weight.  Moral of the story, delete any emails that come post race.   Who needs that kind of self esteem blow?  I’d rather have the completely false imagine in my head of me running like Shalane, than deal with the reality of what those photos consist of….

And onto Boston thoughts…

-so excited to watch and routing for Desi!  And Meb….doubt he’ll win but will be incredible to see.  

-so over everyone’s social media postings of all their Boston marathon prep and testing of race outfits…yes, I’m jealous.  

-eyes on the prize.  I am registered for a race many have told me is their all time favorite.  Hello, Chicago 2017.

-two friends running,   Will be fun to track them.

-a little sad.  Worked so hard last year to qualify and still come up short.   But big picture,  running has been good to me.  I appreciate what it’s given me, it’s given me a lot.  

Bedtime calls.  Happy Easter and marathon Monday.  

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Please running blog, don’t die…

My morning view, and calves that turn skinny jeans into tourniquets. Sigh….runner problems.

 This little guy loves to go on a morning run.   But he’s not such a good distance runner.   He’s a true sprinter,and does better chasing a ball or laser pointer until he passes out.   But this is often my view in the morning.  I’ll oblige him for a mile then drop him off inside the house where he sits and waits by the door for me to come back.  

The real guilt sets in when I meet my group to run, 2-3 times a week.   I try to make it up to him by throwing the ball in the evening, but it’s hard to tell that face “you’re not coming with me”.   It seems like all is forgiven when a treat gets given post run.

Anyhow, I’m trying to revive this dying blog.   After the Austin marathon, I’ve been running without any real focus, doing some workouts here and there and awaiting the next training cycle.  As much as I think it’s good for the soul not to have 20 mile runs every weekend, I admit to missing marathon training a bit when it’s over.  The post marathon blues were not as bad as they could have been, since I had Chicago on my schedule even if months away.   And, can I also say Chicago is helping my Boston blues.  Damn you, Instagram, with your endless pictures of runners posting Boston training runs.   So I follow Chicago Marathon’s instagram to remind me that great things are on the horizon!!!   

And speaking of great things, life goes on.  Lots of busy time with family and work, but plenty of time for fun.  Just nothing really blogable….that changes next weekend,  got a little 10 miler to report on.  I am most excited about brunch with friends after.  It has been way to long since I’ve done that.  I am in a period where I have to remind myself I don’t have a baby/ little kid anymore. Many of the things I put on hold for a few years can happen again,  like time with friends, and it’s —gasp—-not a big deal.   Does this mean run guilt goes away?   Not entirely, see the above picture.   🐶.  And I also still have a very early waker who requests treadmill time to get some mom time.  Not a big deal, I’ve hit a point where I know those days are numbered.   Time to enjoy them.  

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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. 🍕🌭🏙💨

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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….