Whidbey Island Marathon, the good, the bad and the ugly…

   

I don’t have race photos, but I can assure you this picture of Jasp is much better than a picture of me.

The good:   I try to always celebrate running a marathon.  It means I am blessed with good health, and good people in my life to allow me to such things.  So I don’t want to be too negative, but spoiler, I wasn’t happy with my race.  The course was knock out gorgeous.  Views of mountains, ocean, and forests.  Running through pine tunnels and along a beach all in the same race.  The volunteers were gracious local folks who were extremely kind.  The main purpose of the trip is a family visit and my parents were beyond generous to drive my butt to the start at 5:30 and watch my hyper little child while I ran.  Anytime you are running on a beach with family supporting you ,  you really shouldn’t complain.

The bad:  I had a short training cycle, but I really felt like I put in some work, but I don’t feel like my result reflects that.  I knew the course was challenging.  All the reviews I read said so, and the course profile indicated it was hard.  I guess I was being stupid that I had convinced myself it wasn’t going to be that bad and that maybe I’d slow on a couple hills but not that much.  Stupid, stupid me.  There were three hills that were a mile and a half in length plus some smaller ones.  The first long hill wasn’t that bad, but it did make me realize this course really was a difficult one.   It came early and I realized this would not be the course to run a BQ on, which would be my fastest time in five years.  I quickly turned my goal into my first sub 4:00 in two years.  I really wanted to see my finish time start with the number “3”.  And I was on track, consistent 8:45-8:50 miles.  The second long hill came and I had two 10 minute miles in a row and still thought I could recover and lock back into 8:45s.  I felt good other than a headache I woke up with.

The ugly:  mile 17 hill is best described as WTF.  It went until mile 18.5 and was extremely steep and brought me over 11:00 min mile.  Walking may have been a better way to get up this thing.  I made it up and never got my legs back.  My headache was a full blown “I’d feel better with an eye patch” type of headache and I spent the next few miles desperately trying to get back to 8:45 but running 8:59, 9:02, 9:05 and doing horrible mental math in my head about how I could still break 4 hours.  If nothing else slowed me down, I had it.  Then a shorter, maybe half mile hill hit at mile 23, this one ruined any chance I had.  My legs were hitting 9:25-9:30 now.  I could still get 3:58-3:59 but a beautiful stretch on the beach kept me in the 9:00s as it was rough unused asphalt road and then some boardwalk.  I ran as hard as could and did some half marathon walker dodging at the end and sadly saw my watch click past 4:00, and crossed in 4:03.  Bummer.

I felt happy at first since I worked hard and other than the hills had some very good miles in there, but overnight disappointment seeped in.  Yes, the course was really tough, but I really thought I could manage a sub 4:00 even with hills.  I liked my training plan and thought it was the right thing for me, but maybe I should have done more big hills.  I actually passed people on the hills but then never got my legs back coming off them.  I’m not sure what I need to do differently to be honest.  I realize this is just a hobby and I’m always just happy to run, but this is sorta my one part of life where I set big goals.  One plus is I’m very motivated to keep trying to improve.  Another good thing is I know on a flat course I would have had a race in the 3:50-3:55 range.   I’m thankful I got to run and happy to tag it onto a nice family trip, but I’m just a little disappointed.  

I aimed high and came up pretty short, but there will be another day and another race and that makes me happy and fills me with gratitude.

A big thanks for my friends and family for encouraging me.  A extra big thanks to my angel for being just that.  

Cheers.  ­čŹ║

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Butterscotch ripple and other inspiration…

┬áLost a fight with the hose…Dang it, kids make you do things you otherwise would not do. ┬áJaspy is really good at all things athletic but doesn’t always have the self confidence factor. ┬áHe’s a “rock star” in taekwondo (his teacher’s words), and I am gently encouraging him to do the black belt track. ┬áHe could have it by age 7-8. ┬áIt’s a gentle push though, without forcing and just lots of encouragement….”you can do anything you want! ┬á I believe in you!”

So when I tell myself I’m too old and slow to qualify for Boston again, what kind of example am I? ┬áDang it….I’ve put in some work over the last few weeks. ┬áI’ve done hills, tempo runs, and some total pain in the ass crap on the treadmill. ┬áMy long runs weren’t always optimal, but a couple test sessions showed me the work did kick my pace up a notch. ┬á I’m still old and slow, but I’m attempting as close as I can to that stupid 3:45 time next weekend. ┬á I did a test of sorts this morning, and I can run in the high 8 min. miles in comfort. ┬áThat’s not what I need , but I’ll just see what the day gives me. The rules of marathoning are: ┬á1. ┬áYou get the day the marathon gods give you, and 2. ┬áYou get the day the marathon gods give you and 3. ┬áYou get the day the marathon gods give you . ┬á You get the idea. ┬áSometimes everything falls into place and your run is effortless until about 23 miles and who gives a crap if you suffer through 3 more miles. ┬áSometimes you suffer from 10 miles on for no good reason. ┬á Sometimes the weather is crap and your stomach is crap but you still have a good race. ┬á To quote Willy Wonka : ┬áMarathoning is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation , and 2% butterscotch ripple.” ( or salted caramel GU). ┬á So I’ll go with what the marathon gods give me, if it’s good, I I intend to believe in myself and aim high, and do that whole “my very best” thing, and maybe the marathon gods will give me my 3:45. ┬á ┬áDang parental example!

In other news, we tried a new restaurant this weekend and I had my first lobster roll. Swoon…. ┬áAnd new season of Game of Thrones on tonight. ┬áDouble swoon!!!!!

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Final push and it’s Easter!

 

coloring eggs inbetween breathing treatments

  

the end product

      

This post is brought to you by peanut butter M & M s.   Mmmmmmm.

This was the last hard week for marathon prep!   Next week there are a handful of 10 milers and then it’s pretty easy.  The week was slightly screwed up by illness.  Jaspy had a terrible reactive airway episode (the pediatrician term du jour for asthma) and missed some school.  I guess it must have been triggered by a mild virus because I ended up getting sick and today actually spent some time in bed.  Nothing serious, and this would be the time to get sick versus marathon week….but it slowed the final hard training week a bit.  Yesterday I had a lovely 15 miler in bluebonnet country with Steve and afterwards I could tell I was cooked.  Today was already scheduled as rest so it worked out well.  It’s too early for me to say if basing my training on the Hansons book worked this go round, but I have enjoyed beefing up my weekday runs and toning down my weekend runs.  I’ll summarize when all is said and done, but let’s just say only one 20 miler was quite nice.

As has been the theme in Austin for as long as I can remember, it was a cold dreary Easter.  It seems like every year it’s sunny and 80 all week and Easter Day is 50 and raining.  As it was today.  Since I didn’t feel good it wasn’t that big a deal to have a down day.  Feeling bad also helped me avoid pigging out on candy.  I guess I’ll know I’m better when the appetite for chocolate returns.  In addition to candy, the Easter bunny brought Jaspy a new Mickey tsum tsum and some kinetic sand.  He and I had an 8:30 am date for a special Easter event at the children’s museum and he declared it the best Easter ever…..success.   We are grilling tonight but no Easter feast for Jaspy since he doesn’t really eat .  Sigh…. But I’m doing yet another recipe from Runners World.   I cannot say enough about how good everything has been I’ve tried.  Their recipes are healthy without being over the top “health foodie”, they tend to be very easy, and they incorporate a lot of veggies so it’s sorta a one pot meal.  Tonight is a yogurt marinated chicken over a homemade slaw with sugar peas that has a yogurt based dressing.  Yum.   Too bad I can’t really taste. ­čś░

My fingers are crossed that tomorrow I’m feeling better.  Running this time of year is heavenly.  I like things in the 60-70 degree range and we are right there in the mornings.  Everything looks really green and the super humidity hasn’t hit yet.   And the sucky cold winter was good for something……lots of wildflowers.  Happy spring!

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Austin 10 miler race report….

 

yes, that is glitter on the medal

Seriously, the Austin 10 miler is my new favorite race.  Why aren’t there more races this distance?  It’s long enough to call it a long run, but short enough to run “fast”.  I did this race because it was very close to my house, I had a discount coupon, and I realized I missed shorter races….plus I wanted to test if my attempt at some faster workouts was doing me any good. 

This run started at a large outdoor high end mall.  There was tons of parking and it was effortless to get to the start.  Yay.  Another plus the mall restrooms were open with no lines and real toilets and sinks, aka no porta potties.  The weather was perfect.  A little chilly at the start, but within half a mile I was comfortable.  The corrals for this race actually worked.  Your bib number indicated your corral it would be a bit of challenge to jump up so most peopled were seeded accurately.   The course wasn’t super exciting….an outdoor mall, a industrial/ office complex area, and the IBM campus.  The bluebonnets are out of control in this part of town so it made the dull scenery really pretty.   You could actually smell them.  The IBM campus part was by far my favorite.   They win for the most bluebonnets and there were some pretty cypress trees.  The gimmick of this race was a band every half mile.  I’m not really a fan of gimmicky races, but this one worked.  The bands were on small stages and most of them were very young kids with lots of enthusiasm.  It was a nice opportunity for them to play, and it gave it a local, Austin-y, rather than gimmicky feel.   I liked it.  It really passed the time since about every half mile you knew something new was coming.   The finish was super organized and while I don’t really need a finisher medal for 10 miles, the race did have a medal on par with a large marathon’s…..it’s very nice.  The shirts are really nice too and the expo was a breeze as well.  So yeah, I was blown away by the organization and how “easy” this run was.

As for the running part, I’ve morphed into a 9-10 minute pace person.  I’m sorta unhappy about this and have been working to ultimately qualify for Boston again.  It will take awhile, if it even happens, but I’m on the right path.  I seeded myself at a 9min/ mile pace.  I ended up with 8:22 average and a negative split.  I don’t say any of this to pat myself on the back but rather to remind myself I can run a race smartly, despite my attempts at self sabotage.   My only flub was keeping my sunglasses in the car.  Why would someone leave their really nice Oakley sunglasses in the car for a run with early morning sun rising right into your eyes, you ask?  Well, I’m pretty much an idiot as I’ve proven time and time again.  I was also pleased to have a decent day after a night of total crap sleep.   Jaspy is in a sleep black hole, and I won’t bore anyone with a kid with a sleep disorder post, but let’s just say I could write a novel at this point.

But running is all about focusing on the good things, right?  It was a beautiful day and I’m so lucky to do things like this.  The day also included a movie with my favorite little non-sleeping movie date, and a kick ass pot of homemade tortilla soup….made by me.  I think I ate three bowls. 

And now relaxation calls…..another bonus of 10 miles is not being totally fried afterwards, but I’ll still use it as an excuse to wrap myself in a blanket and watch a movie.

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Ready for a new week…

Rainy day playdoh

Today’s 20 miler was blissful for many reasons.  The weather was perfect.  60 degrees with slight humidity.  Other than the last two miles where I’d finally bonked a bit after weathering some shut off water fountains, I ran strong and felt effortless the whole way.  I had company for about an hour and I really needed time to chat with a friend.    I’d run on the treadmill all week, and just really needed some outside time.  It was a challenging week, and I was desperately needing some “me” time.   Finally, I realized it’s my last 20 miler for a few months at least.  That was serious motivation to get it done.   

So yes, the week had some ups and downs.  Jaspy went to spring break camp by our house.  It was simply amazing to cut his daycare out of my commute and have him close to home.  I went home first everyday and took the dogs for a quick little 1 mile or so run, then went and got him.  His mood was sooooo much better without another 45 minutes of traffic.  I am really, really looking forward to the fall when his school is by our house.  Having a few minutes to make the doggies happy, made me much more relaxed in the evenings.    But we had our challenges.  Changes in routine and schedules always cause behavior jags and bad sleep so there were times I was really looking forward to my outdoor runs returning for my mental health.  My treat to myself was renting Gone Girl for a run and then finishing it that same night.  Total disappointment.   Am I the only one who hated it?  Bleh.  I watched about 5 episodes of season 3 of House of Cards, and can’t decide if I should keep going.  It’s just not that good, but I’m pretty invested at this point.   At least I have Vikings.   This is spring break when you’re forty something…..Netflix and a glass of wine.  

My therapy of choice to cope with a stressful week?  Retail of course.  I am anxiously awaiting some items from the Oiselle outlet sale.   Yeah, even on sale the stuff is freakin’ expensive but nothing cheers up a slightly stressed out runner like new gear.   

So onward….a new week, new gear (hopefully) and new attitude.  Spring is here!

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Back to reality…

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Too cute not to post…

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And, good ‘ole reality again….After a couple days to ease back into life post vacation we were back up full speed.  I got mostly back on track with marathon prep.  The weather was pretty grim when we got home and I had a window of dry, pre day light savings time last Saturday morning.  I had a great 16 miler, all hills, all solo, and kept my head in the game the whole time.  I was too slow though, but I tried not to think about that.  Sunday I did 8 in pouring rain.  Monday I could not get my ass up in time and had to cut my treadmill run short a couple miles.  Tuesday went well and I saw the first number of my mile splits start with an “8” as they should!  Wednesday I forgot to set my alarm and had to cut another run short.  Thursday I did 8 fast for me miles and felt like I was back on track.  Even with cutting some runs short I still added some bulk to the weekday runs, a la my new plan.  Next week will be a challenge…..Mike is out of town and I’m doing all my runs on the treadmill.  Which likely means my little partner will get up too early, which means I may cut some runs short.  Jasper has day camp by our house and I am really hoping not having to go to his daycare which is out of my way helps cut my commute time and I can sneak in a couple miles with the dogs in the evenings.   But it is SXSW aka, add an extra 100,000 people into downtown Austin, aka some ugly traffic.   So we’ll see.   I’ll just hope for the best.

My issue of the week was I strained a deep back muscle and did not notice it Tuesday on my run, but when I got home I really noticed it and it was sore for about three days.  Running was ok once I warmed it up, but other movements were not.  The irony is I did it doing core work to help strengthen weak muscles to avoid things like back injuries.  Yes, it’s almost laughable how pathetic I am….I get hurt doing exercises to not get hurt.  It seems better now, so I’m hoping it was just something to irritate me for a few days.  As every runner knows, little twinges can cause great worry….

Jaspy’s had some ups and downs getting back into school after vacation.   I fell back into the swing of things pretty quick but after reflecting on vacay for a few days I realized I really want to go back now that I have some idea of the lay of the land at Disney and what we like to do……and that I really missed out on all their really good eats.   A do over is in my future somewhere.  In the meantime I am planning out Washington trip in about 5 weeks.  I think one of the keys to happiness is to always have a vacation on the horizon. 

Time for me to start shutting it down.  I’m aiming for 16-18 miles with a 5:30 start tomorrow and a full day including tackling yard work.  3 weeks of wet weather makes for some serious weed-age.  There are few things I dislike more than yardwork, but I suppose one of them is being the house that’s bringing down the property values for the neighborhood, so yardwork it is. 

 Plan for the night….finish reading Gone Girl so I can rent it next week as my treadmill treat.  You know you’re a runner when you think things like “ohhh!  That will make a good treadmill movie!”

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Disney done…

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Slightly posed by Jasp, but one of my favorite pics.´╗┐´╗┐

Hula hooping on Main Street.´╗┐

You don’t even want to know how much face painting at Disney costs…..

Tomorrow we head home. Whew!  Jasper is passed out next to me right now, so I figure now is as good a time as any to recap.

We planned to go to disney about a year ago.  I wanted to go before Jasper started school,  when that would lock us into only going at peak times.   I did a lot of research via podcasts.  I can listen while I work, so it was no extra time for me to do a lot of trip planning.  I listened to bits and pieces of several, and kinda take it all with a grain of salt.  The podcasters are all disney fanatics, so their suggestions may not work for an average family, but I still got a lot of good tips.  I picked our hotel based on podcast reviews and was happy with what I got.  I went off the theory “why spend $300 a night for a room you are never in”.  We stayed at a budget place on disney property (art of animation hotel) It still wasn’t cheap, and it was a modest level of amenities, but it was new, clean, and very, very fun for kids.   Staying on property was a great choice I thought.  We spent very little time getting in and out of the parks.

We did animal kingdom for just a few hours when we got here, magic kingdom for two days and Epcot for one.  In hindsight,  I may have skipped Epcot and done another magic kingdom day.  Epcot had one really great ride, Test Track, but I thought the rest seemed dated and slightly sad.  Animal Kingdom was very well done for what we saw, but very few rides.   Jasper had no interest in seeing animals or shows so there wasn’t much there.  Expedition Everest was super awesome though, and it would be hard to come here and pass that roller coaster up.

I guess I’m a classic disney ride kinda girl.  I had the most fun at Magic kingdom.  So did Jasp.  I LOVED the new Seven Dwarfs mine train ride.  The waiting area, the ride, all like classic disney and a completely fresh idea for a ride all at once.    And while Dumbo is strictly a kids ride the new circus themed area around it and the super cool system for waiting made it one of my faves.  The kids get to play in a circus tent inside playground that is amazing and you get buzzer.  When it goes off, you get to ride.  Genius.   Jasp rode Pirates of the Caribbean three times and I love that he loved one of my favorites.  We picked a great time to go too….the weather was mid 80s, and the crowds were quite low.  Other than the really new and popular rides at midday, most stuff we got on in under 20 minutes and some stuff no wait at all.

What I didn’t get:   All the people who say the food is really good.  It was passable.  There are plenty of treats unique to the park like Mickey ice cream bars and the orange citrus swirl vanilla cones that have a nostalgic quality  that are fun, but I’m definitely looking forward to eating my own food again.   I also hate/ don’t get the whole character thing.  When I was a kid they just wandered the park.  Now they are in designated spots with long, long waits.  And all the podcasts said a breakfast with disney characters was a must do.  I thought it was a massive waste of money.  And yes, you gotta accept money will slip through your fingers like never before, but that’s part of what you sign up for.  

And finally the running. Turns out you really can’t run on the roads between parks and resorts.  It’s like a Disney superhighway with no shoulder.    There was a nice running path around the hotel.  There was pretty landscaping and cute things to see.  It was great….for the first loop. And seeing as how it was just over a mile, I ran lots of loops and by the 6th one the path became less cute.  I was determined to stay on my training plan and failed.  I ran 6-6.5 each day and will just have to consider that a victory.  I had a nine miler scheduled but that’s 9 loops, plus it was so hard to stay out there for long knowing the fam was up and eager to start the day…so that became a six miler. We walked for at least eight hours a day, so I guess I have to count that plus the running I did do as good enough.  And Jaspy ‘s energy level totally played to our advantage.  He never gets tired.  He walked every step, every day and never complained he was tired. Then he’d swim back at the hotel and jump on the beds until I would drug him with melatonin. 

Would I do it again?  Probably.  Just stick to Magic Kingdom/ Disneyland though.   I’m not planning it anytime soon,  though….I got my fix.  

Looking forward to seeing my doggies, sleeping in my own bed, eating vegetables again, and running on a real road.  

I’m happy my angel had fun and I’m happy in his own little five year old way  told me he appreciated the trip.

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