Practicing pace…

Here are Ella and Pancake practicing their running.
Tonight after work I went for a couple miles to practice my marathon pace. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not calling it a slow pace, it is just not my usual pace. I figure the only one most of us runners are really running against are ourselves, unless you are one of the few elites, so what does it matter what your pace is…you know when you are challenging yourself. But the 5 hour marathon pace, is a little slower than what I typically run comfortably. I want to get a few practice miles in before the REAL practice run this weekend with runners who are really aiming for the 5 hour marathon goal. Last year the 5 hour pace group won the best pacer award, and I would love to help repeat the title, so I intend to find the pace and nail it. Pancake assisted me this evening. I think I got it…I found a groove which got my just barely under 11 minutes a mile. I have to average 11:27 a mile for the marathon and I figure with walking through the water stops that should do it (I hope!) I am definitely a little nervous for this weekend.


The Sweaty 20….followed by the sweaty 10…

I posted this picture because I think these are the conditions I would have liked to run in…it was freakishly hot and humid yesterday. Mark and Meghan met me for a tough run. We started with Stratford….I haven’t run it in awhile and I think I forgot how hard it is. We went into the traditional Scenic route, and I was feeling pretty good. We had fun chatting and things were flying by, but at 72 degrees and 90% humidity, we were all sucking down the water. On water stop # 2 at UT, I started feeling the fact I was not acclimated to the high humidity, and the rest of the group was feeling the same way. I think we were definitely feeding feelings of fatigue off each other. We got back to the Rock, and Mark called it day, having another long run scheduled the next day. Meghan and I still had 7 more miles to hit 20. We did the town lake loop, and had to really dig deep. I am glad she was with me, because it would have been a tough day solo. While it was not near as hot as summer, and sudden blast of heat like this just wasn’t something we were used to. We sucked it up, finished and were super happy our long run was done on a Friday, and we finished a hard one when we didn’t want to keep going. My clothes were so sweaty, they weighed about 10 pounds. Today another cold front moves in making the temps more seasonal, and I think I am looking forward to it! Today we did 10 miles, which wasn’t quite as bad as yesterday but was for sure another sweatfest. Thanks Mark and Meghan for helping through a tough weekend!

I wish Christmas was on Thursday every year. 4 day weekends are heaven!


The camera is back…

Hope everyone is having a good holiday. Mike and I decided to forgo gifts this year, and instead replaced our stolen camera. Got to test out the newer model today (Nikon D60) at McKinney Falls. Things were pretty gray, but I managed to find a little color. A giftless Christmas was actually really nice. We got to focus on other things.

Lots of running and yoga planned this weekend. The best Christmas gift I got was this long weekend at home. It is such a treat to have some down time with no races and no trips anywhere. I hope everyone is enjoying their time off as much as I am…



Ok, maybe not this cold, but we’ve had some days in the 30s here lately.  I believe today was the first day to dip into the 20s.  This summer was so long, and so brutal, I decided I would learn to embrace winter this year.  I historically have not done well in the cold.  This year I decided to make things a little more bearable, I would pile on the layers.    In the past I tried to wear the least amount of layers for the conditions…like most runners.  This year, I am piling on the layers and not worrying about looking silly.  Once I get out the door in the morning (the biggest challenge), it has actually been kinda nice.  This morning was a balmy 28 degrees, and I got my usual morning treat of seeing the egrets and herons at Lake Mueller.  They just don’t seem like they should be in the middle of the city, but they seem to like Lake Mueller.  When it is cold, there is steam coming off the lake and no one in Austin seems to be out at 530am.   Anyhow, I hope I can keep up my improved attitude towards the cold mornings.   It is nice to come into work knowing the run is done!

Had a good weekend of training with Town Lake on Saturday and the greenbelt on Sunday.  Actually really started things Friday with a yoga class after work that left me sore for 2 days, as I suspected it would.  After this weekend, between scheduled runs and the practice runs for the 5 hour marathon group, the time until Rocky Raccoon is booked.  Mark and I were commenting this weekend how fast the time has gone since we started our training.  One thing I have definitely learned over the process is being more flexible.  It seemed like I had a lot of stuff come up for this race, and had to adjust a lot.  I can’t believe it is the final stretch pretty soon.
Anyhow, not much else going on.  Saw Slumdog Millionaire this weekend.  It’s a great movie….see it if you haven’t.     I am counting down the days until Christmas…Can’t wait for the break!

New job…

I have a new job…just for a day. I am one of the Austin marathon pacers for the 5 hour group. It should be a blast. I went tonight and got my (free!) Nikes to run in, and got a big order taken for all kinds of clothing. The folks in charge of the pacer groups were really nice….it should be a great experience to help folks finish their first marathon or achieve a goal.

So, I guess I am running the marathon. 1 week after the 50 miler. That will involve some serious rest. So if anyone wants to run the marathon in around 5 hours…please join me.

Ink ! part II

Got the second (and last…don’t worry!) tattoo cover up started.  It will be a 2 session deal, so every uncolored spot on my very sore arm, will be colored in another 3 weeks or so.  You can kinda see the faded old tattoo peaking out.  It was about 4 hours yesterday and I hit my limit!

I am trying to take my own advice and be happy with my running and not want more, but my lungs are pissing me off.  They are misbehaving in a big way this weekend, that has caused me to write off having any kind of good run.  Steve and Stephanie are good friends to run (or more like trot) at the only pace I could manage and listen to me gasp the F- word every other step as every breath or lack there of made me a little more irritable.  Oh well, at least it didn’t happen last weekend for the race.
Gotta go…off to a holiday party.  Maybe this afternoon, I’ll manage to start my shopping…

The holiday spirit…

This photo is from national geographic of the northern lights. I am sure it is enhanced some, but I thought it was a beautiful holiday photo.

I spent the week in recovery mode. I started feeling like I was getting another asthma bout again, and went into recovery overdrive. Monday night I did yoga after the weekend’s hard races and it was a great recovery. The class had a good holiday theme and was all about learning to free yourself from “want”. It was not only about freeing yourself from material want, but also learning not to want people to change, being content where you are, not “wanting” for more at work, not being upset when you can’t do all the yoga poses (which is always the case with me)…anyhow, a great message, and one to translate to running. Be happy where you are in your running. Just be content you are out there. Meghan said it well at Sunmart: You can’t really complain when you are out running on a beautiful day in a beautiful place. I agree. In all the stress that most of our lives are, it is nice to have a hobby that allows for occasional moments of bliss.

Along that note, another cool zen-like phenomena happens with our dogs. Dogs are content just being dogs. They never really want more than to just be a dog. Meredith had to put her best friend down this week and Mike now has PTSD after coming upon our neighbor’s border collie right after a hit and run. He took her to the vet, but it was too late she died in his car on the way there. So, all this dog sadness this week, led me to sleep in yesterday , and instead take Pancake for a nice sunset Mueller run. It was nice to watch her just “be”, with the pink clouds in the distance, and as it got dark we ran by a beautiful huge live oak, completely engulfed in Christmas lights. I never run in the evenings, so it was a nice change, although I learned just because it is 60 degrees when you start, doesn’t mean it will be 60 degrees when you finish. I was cold!



I will add some pictures as soon as Stephanie emails me some (hint-hint, Steph).  

Deckmart (Sunmart 50K Saturday and Decker 1/2 marathon Sunday) was a blast.    Things started Friday around 230.   Stephanie, Meghan and I had a fun ( but long) drive down to Huntsville.  We got in right around dinnertime, and met Meredith for our packets that she was nice enough to get for us, saving us what would have been a very hellish drive to Houston first.  
Next we were off to a great dinner at The Homestead, and it ran a little long, but we had the best time catching up, and enjoying a really good meal.  Another bonus was an overbooked hotel giving us the suite, so we had a huge beautiful (by Huntsville standards at least) toasty warm room.  Great for a 30 degree night.  We fell asleep pretty quick.
I was excited for Sunmart mainly because Meghan was running every step of the way with me for her first 50K.  Meghan is a super strong, fast runner, and I knew she would have no problems at all with the added distance.  I never really got too nervous, as I think I was just so excited to have a race after a long void without one.  Stephanie was along just for fun, so she could drop us at the start pretty late, and we didn’t wait in the cold too much.  We quickly found Kathleen who was also spectating, like Steph, and her friend John saved my butt with an extra pair of gloves.  It was so cold at only 31 degrees.  
Things got started pretty quick.  I won’t go on about the course, as most of you who read this have done Sunmart.  We had a great time from the start.  It was fun to do the 50K instead of the 50 mile.  There was a quick 10K loop and then the 2 12.5 mile loops.  The 10K goes so quick we kinda forgot we even had done it.  The trail was beautiful as always, the aid stations were awesome.  The only negative was very sandy trails due to our dry weather.  We went through the race running into old friends and making a lot of new ones.  Both of us felt great, but I think Meghan felt a little better than me.  I still feel like I have a little post asthma attack from hell struggle, but nothing that prevents me from running…I just notice I huff and puff a little more than I used to on hills.
Meghan and I had so much fun chatting, joking, and getting to know other runners.  Our last loop came pretty quick and before we both knew it, we had 5 miles left.  I am so happy Meghan was having fun, because now I have a new “victim” to drag along to other races.  We both were still feeling well, but my butt, lower back and hips were getting tight from 25+ miles of a sandy trail.   Meghan’s toes were her achilles heel, so to speak.  While we both had little ailments, there was never any negativity.  We did great keeping it together and crossed the finish in 5:21.  I was thrilled today to find out we both got 3rd in age group and won bronze horses.  But, bummed we didn’t figure it out yesterday and get our awards.   I normally don’t care about picking up some little trinket, but a bronze horse is a super cool award.  
The ride home was painful fun…I love trips like this that really are not about the running, but about creating memories with friends.
All day Saturday, I hunted for excuses not to run Decker the next day.  I really started earlier that week, trying to get Wesley to take my entry, but he declined.    I had a sore achilles during Sunmart and declared Decker null and void.  Mark gave me some guilt, and later Steve did via email, but I insisted to all the Decker was a wasted entry fee.  
Last night, the little guilt trips added up and I decided to run it.  I knew if I woke up in the morning to decide I would say no way, so I had to commit the night before.  Sure enough, after a pretty restless night, this am the Decker 1/2 marathon sounded horrible.
Steve had guilted me by saying he would pick me up.  I warned him I would finish an hour after him, but he insisted.   So, bright and early at 615, I started another cold morning.  I had left Mark several psycho text messages saying I was now running and “please run slow with me!!”.  We got to the Expo center, and I found Mark, who I think was surprised to see me.  He agreed to run my wimpy pace.  I really didn’t feel too bad.  Just a little sore and tired.  
We were off after a cold start, but it was warming up quick.  Mark and I had a great time chatting, and while we ran much faster than I was planning, I know he slowed his normal pace to wait on me and was patient as I did bathroom stops, water stops, and gel stops.  With his encouragement, we finished much faster than planned, and Steve didn’t have an hour + wait for me to finish.  I was glad to get home though, and start a day where I plan to very little.  I got a display cabinet for my grandmother’s mineral collection and finally set them up.   The Christmas decorations will come out later, but first I am taking a little nap.
Thanks to all my friends who helped make my first races in a while so much fun.