Racing tomorrow!

Ok, I am about to be off to bed, but the art of compromise has allowed me to race the half marathon tomorrow.  Well, really it was just very nice of Mike to watch Jasper despite plans the night before.  The weather looks good, and I have a goal, but I’m not telling.  I haven’t raced since the Frankenthon.  I did the Decker half, but more as a fun run, so this is the first time in awhile I am going all out.

The 3M half marathon is funny though, in that people seem to come out of the woodwork for it.  The top 10 in my age group are always well under 1:30.  So, I don’t think I’ll be getting any age group awards.  I am just racing the clock.

Ok off to bed.  I’m tired!  The day included early morning packet  pick up, hatha flow yoga (I hope I don’t regret that in the morning), transitioning the Owl to one nap, and then Owl splitting his lip in the evening.  Whew, time to sleep!!

Fame…

Minor Threat, one of my faves to listen to when I need to be pumped up

There is a lot of talk in the Texas trail running circles about the upcoming  Rocky Raccoon 100 mile run.  Several ultra running “celebrities” have entered, making our little local 100 miler a big, sought after event.  With the internet and blogging, lots of runners now become “famous” via their blogs (I am not one of them….as all five of you who read this know).   Some of these  famous runners aren’t even the ones who win everything.   They just are at every race, and seemingly must have endless funds to travel and the ability to spend every weekend running races.  Now, I mean no disrespect.  I enjoy several blogs of such runners, but am also fascinated by this lifestyle of endless races.

Where I am I going with this?  Well, there are so many parallels of ultra running and another world I used to be in, the late 80s/ early 90s punk rock scene.   I chuckle because in both these worlds the famous people are famous in their super small communities while being involved in something fairly obscure.   In the 90s, going to see a show in someone’s basement or a VFW hall I recall being with friends as we were on pins and needles to see a band that was famous to us.  We would trade stories of who we met, who crashed at our homes when they came through town, who was wearing some hip new Vans sneakers that we all wanted a pair just like, and who we thought was just super nice, when in fact they probably had just acted like any normal person would, but because they were famous to us their actions were somehow elevated.  Starting to see some similarities?  We didn’t have blogs, we had ‘zines.    There were people just famous for their ‘zines about the music scene.   I met lots of really nice people.  Some I am still friends with today.

I have witnessed cockiness and bravado in both worlds.  I have also witnessed true humbleness….which I much prefer.    When I was really into going to punk rock shows, I was so embarrassed about my running.  I would never tell anyone I was getting up in a few hours to go run 6 miles.  It would be seen as very uncool.  There are plenty of things that are “uncool” in the ultra running world.   I’ve probably done most of them by now.  In fact, I really am not in the ultra running world, as I haven’t done one in 2 years.  But, as I grew in both worlds, I ‘ve learned just to try and be myself and not worry about fitting in.  I quit going to see shows years ago.  Mostly when I started getting up at 430 to go to work.  I still listen to all my old music as does Mike, so we have a lot of fun on road trips and sometimes surf the net to see who’s CDs or vinyl we can still buy.   I guess the same is true in the ultrarunning world….I enjoy reading the blogs, and following the results, but I try not to get too starstruck.   I’ve always been a fan of the runners who really seem just like regular folks with other things going on in their lives.

A couple of years ago these worlds collided as I was prepping for some big race and was telling Mike how I loved a certain Avail song for running, but it was long out of print.  He somehow found it online and put it on my ipod.  It was a great running moment!

Anyone else out there see a show in a VFW hall then go run 7 miles the next morning?

 

It’s tough being a baby…

I’m home from work today since Jasper is still sick.  It’s not too big of a deal since I cut my work schedule down to four days.  It seems like once a week I had to take him to get an immunization, a sick dr appt, or a sick day from school, so it really seemed logical to just go ahead and have a day off.   It must really suck at times to be a baby.  Jasper is getting 4 teeth in various stages of breaking his gums, getting over a cold, and still has his terrible GI bug.    I guess it is a small miracle he sleeps at all and hasn’t imploded.

I don’t feel quite as grouchy about the situation as I did yesterday.   I woke up feeling like I was hit by a truck…as I feared I might.  We did some of the hardest core work I’ve ever done in my life in yoga yesterday.   So today any twisting , coughing, or general movement hurts.  My arms and shoulders hurt too.   I guess the yoga is doing it’s thing…working my wimpy little muscles.  Today is my tempo run day, but I questioned how tempo-y it would be when I am this sore, and I had a couple wake ups last night.  I took off half asleep to see what I could do.  About 3 miles in I realized I left Pancake outside.  It was cold, she is not an outdoor dog, and Mike would not be up for awhile.  So I ran home as fast as I could to let her back in.   Tempo run accomplished, Pancake enjoyed an extra treat for sitting on a cold patio for an hour.

Ok, house work calls.  Gotta take advantage of my 1 hour or so of time I am not chasing the Owl and removing him from Pancake’s food and water bowls.

Not the best weekend…

Ok, time for being negative.   We didn’t go out of town.  Jasper was super sick all weekend.   I would pretty much take any form of torture over a sick child.  Not  only was he inconsolable, but being sick also means he doesn’t sleep.  This has many unpleasant implications, as I am sure you can figure out.

Having a baby with an bad GI bug, also meant being homebound all weekend.  Now, I am super thankful I got to run early and escape a little bit to go to a yoga class.  Both were fantastic and the highlight of my weekend.

I am also bummed I won’t be running the 3M half marathon next weekend.  It just wasn’t going to work with other stuff we have going on and having to watch Jasper.  I probably need to learn not to sign up for races in advance.  This is my second entry fee down the toilet.  Oh well, maybe I’ll get up early and run my own 13 mile time trial.

The other highlight of my weekend was a carrot cake from Upper Crust bakery.  The best cake in the universe.  We got it for Mike’s birthday.   I am just happy he shared.  Sometimes it’s the little things…

Intervals, schmintervals…

Here is the Owl in his beautiful new hat a co-worker knitted for him.  He thinks it goes well with his new teeth.

More running talk….you’ve been warned:

Pick-ups, indian runs, ladders, intervals, repeats.  If you know what all these mean, you probably ran in high school.    If you did these a lot in your youth, you are probably like me and swore you would never do this stuff again.   When I first started racing again after high school (in about 1998), I threw in pick-ups into my morning runs.  I also met a group of folks a couple of years later who were faster than me and I had to work really hard to keep up on runs.  I also raced a ton, and used races to get faster.  Somehow, I morphed into a marathon and longer runner and stopped doing anything that had the word fast in it.   When pregnancy slowed me down to about 11 minute miles, I decided part of my comeback goal would be get faster.  Stage 1 was tempo runs.  These are just runs are your race goal pace.  Pretty simple.  Hurts a little, but doable.  The previously mentioned terms all refer to running faster than you would race, and they all hurt a lot!  Stage 2 of me getting faster was to add in intervals.

I have to say my interval run is becoming one of my favorite workouts.  Now I cheat a little and do long intervals.   A little over 2 miles.  Mile intervals are the worst I think, and I haven’t been able to bring myself to do those yet.   My current workout is about 7 miles.   I run a warm up, and start my interval.  The goal is to get it under 7 minute miles.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes not.   On days it doesn’t, I usually have had a night waking with the Owl, or something going on that I know is making me tired.  On these days I do the best I can, and accept that sometimes having an 11 month old just wears you out.  Anyhow, I finish one interval and cool down for about 30 seconds.  Then I start the next.  Once again, I try to keep it under 7 minute miles.  Then I finish and run a cool down home.  The cool thing is I focus the whole time.  My mind stays on pushing the pace and running.  I don’t daydream or make mental lists like I normally do.  Before I know it, I am done.  And because I ran faster than I normally do, I have a little extra time when I get home to stretch and do the dreaded core work.  Or sometimes I just get have a cup of coffee before the Owl wakes.

I recommend you give something like this a try if you are a busy person trying to get your workouts in.  It makes it go by so fast, and you are getting fitter while it happens.  You’ll feel like a real runner.  You ‘ll fly past other folks out running and feel really , really fast, even though, for me, I am just a mid pack runner.  But I get a little glimpse of feeling speedy.  The longer intervals make it a little less boring.  My future goals are to start those one mile intervals at some point to really speed it up, and increase my current workout to add an extra interval (this involves getting up earlier, so this is a very big challenge).

Ok, long run early tomorrow and then off for Mansfield, TX.  Gonna be a cold one.

Suck it up pacing…

Jasper took this self portrait with the photo booth app for macs.   It was taken just a couple of hours ago…but now he sleeps.  Well, hopefully.  For about 2 weeks he’s been sleeping less and less.  He has 4 teeth coming in, and I would like to think I can blame them and once they are in he will return to sleeping.  To think we may go back to frequent wakings is really more than I can bear…we had about 6 weeks of him sleeping where we got our evening and night back for the first time in 10 months.  I hope the recent bad nights are all a product of the new chompers and nothing more.

This weekend was the marathon pace team run.  It means anyone who would like to do a practice long run at their marathon goal pace can run with a pacer.  I do the 5 hour group.  It’s probably a good 3 minutes slower per mile than I normally run, so I really depend on my garmin to watch the pace and make constant little micro adjustments to not get too fast or too slow.  It is an 11:27 miles, but I run it just a little faster for the pace group to account for water stops.  Well, this weekend was horrible weather in Texas.  I know most the country is suffering with lots of snow and cold, but the 40 and rainy we got is not prime running weather either.  The 5 hour goal pace meant I would be out for close to 4 hours.  I prayed no one would show up.

Well, I did get some takers.  I had about 6 people.  About half had never run a marathon before.  The instructions were to run about a 4 mile warm up, then lock into pace.  We ran the warm up pretty slow.  I was already getting wet and cold.  It’s tricky to “lead” a group.  I want to convey that I am very experienced and know what I am doing and that they can rely on me to get them to the finish, but I don’t want to come off as a pompous horse’s ass.    Once we hit the landmark to start marathon pace I took off at about 11:15 miles and promptly lost most the group.  Then I have a dilemma.  Do I circle back and try and push them?  Or do I keep on, as I am not a coach….my job is just to run a set pace.  Luckily traffic lights allowed them to catch up and most let me know I was running too fast.   I stressed that it was exactly what would happen on race day and that they could do it!!  No one seemed too fatigued at this point.   They did keep up.  But now it was pouring.  I was quickly getting miserable, but as the pacer I couldn’t really complain.  I had a migraine-y headache from shivering and we were at about 8 miles.  I had 12 more miles of this.  uggg….

The group said they were only doing 8 miles at the marathon goal pace.  I was somewhat relieved when they hit that point and wanted to slow down.   They were going to walk and I think they were happy to have me leave.  A couple really nice folks in the group actually wanted to run a little quicker, about a 10 minute mile, so I offered to join them.  This made getting back a lot quicker.  It was still just plain nasty out.  By the time we finished I had blue lips.  There is a coffee shop right when we finished, and I skipped the water went right for a latte.  I was soaked!  There are some perks to being a pacer.  You get a comped marathon entry, you get some really nice gear and shoes, and you get lots of pre and post race food.  Saturday was so tough, I feel like I earned those perks.  I also felt like I could have run forever at that pace.   No fatigue at all.

Saturday afternoon it hit me that I was soooo tired.  I think it was from shivering for the entire run.  Catnip baby showed no mercy and was full of energy.  We hit Black Star Co-op again and that helped!  I LOVE that place.   Nothing like really good hearty pub food and microbrew after a long, cold run.

Today I did my first run in my new orthotics.  I got them last week, but spent a few days just walking in them, as they definitely take some adjusting too.  Not sure if I was more tired than I thought or if the orthotics made things that much awkward, but I was really slow.  I even questioned if my garmin was working.  Yep…it was, I just couldn’t get up to my goal pace today.

No big deal….I’ve become a regular at a 9am hatha flow yoga class on Sundays, and today it kicked my ass. The teacher I’ve been going to is really good with a heavy focus on hips and shoulders.  As I type this I can already tell tomorrow lifting a pen will be challenging I am going to be so sore.   I seem to spend every Monday morning at work very sore lately.  All the more reason to keep it up…obviously I have a lot of muscle that need some work!

The rest of the weekend was nice despite dismal weather.  We took Jasper to the Children’s Museum again.   He LOVES it so much.  I joked that I could probably leave him in the infant area and go run town lake for an hour and come back and no one including him would ever know I was gone.

Ok, laundry calls.  We have a lot coming up.   Trip to auntie’s in Mansfield, Mike’s birthday ( and we are glad he is home after a hectic week that included dumping Pancake’s water all over the kitchen and taking a poop in the tub…Jasper, not me), oh and I have a race coming up very soon that I am hoping to put my recent hard work on interval sessions to the test.  Hope everyone has a great week.

Busy mom running tips…

Mike is out of town, I had the catnip baby all to myself.  It was not a good nap day, Pancake just had two massive piles of throw up, so after getting Jasper to bed I put my pajamas on at 645 and got a glass of wine.  Yes, one of those days….

I’ve had a couple requests for some tips on getting back into running after having a baby.     My disclaimer is I am not a certified coach and I’ve had one child, so I can’t fairly address the challenges of having more than one child to schedule around.   And, this is what worked for me.  So here goes:

1.  I still work on this tip for myself:  Don’t feel guilty about taking some time out for you to go run.  It really isn’t unreasonable to ask for an hour or less.   Once I convinced myself that doing this for me helps me be a better mom, I felt less guilt.  After my run I feel I can take on anything, because I just blew every bit of frustration out of my body.   Also, whoever helps you with your baby (husband, family etc), make sure they understand that you need that release.

2.  At first,  just work back up to what was your easy, standard run, and don’t worry about pace.  For me this is about 6 miles.   I worked back up to this and stayed here for a while.  Once it got doable with my schedule, I expanded what I was doing.

3.  Pick the time least likely to interfere with family time and stick with that time for your run.  For me, it’s predawn.  I would suspect for most moms it’s either predawn or after bedtime.  This means running in the dark.  No, it’s not ideal, but this way your time is not likely to rob your family needing you.  Now, I do my very best to finish every run before Jasper wakes up, but sometimes he just wakes up early.  This is where tip #1 comes into play.  Mike generously agreed that predawn is my time and if Jasper wakes early, he handles it until I get home.   When I get home I try to relieve Mike.  This sometimes means no stretching, no post run food for a while and sitting around in sweaty clothes, which brings me to the next tip.

4.  Accept your runs will not be like the used to.  This is probably true for a lot of things.  You can do, but it may not be the same.   I can’t come home and shower right away, or go walk a couple of cool down miles, or go grab a smoothie.  Sometimes I can, and then I just revel in the process.  But most the time I finish and it’s game on….catnip baby strikes.

5.  My number one tip:  get a plan.  Even if you have no aspirations to race get an online plan.  Runner’s world has tons, Hal higdon.com has tons.   Print out the plan and know ahead of time what you have to do for the week.  Shuffle around what you have to, and then stick to it.  When you are sleep deprived and you really don’t want to run, it is so helpful to know “Today I just have to tough out an interval session, but then tomorrow is a recovery day..”, or something like that.  For me, I was less likely to skip a run when I was tired, and I didn’t do too much too soon.   I always wake up knowing what I am going to do that day and where.  Sure there are times when you have to get flexible, but for the most part that plan will start to become like a job, and you’ll soon feel the need to check off what you are supposed to do each day.  It’s so hard to have structure to anything you do when you have an infant and having your printed out plan, at your nightstand will help you stay accountable.

6.  Map out routes.  It’s so much easier to just run out your front door when time is limited, instead of driving somewhere to run.  Map out as many routes as you can from your house.  I have loops of all lengths.  When I first started back run/ walking, I just did a million little 1/3 mile loops so I could get home quickly if Mike needed me.  Was it boring?  Yeah, sorta, but I had some time to myself, so it was worth it.

7.  Find ways to entertain yourself since you will run alone…a lot.   I’m very good a daydreaming and making lists in my head.   But, if you prefer a little more noise, consider downloading podcasts.  I have some links to some great running podcasts.  NPR also has some fantastic podcasts.

Ok, so to sum it up, what worked for me was picking a run time that did not affect my family and sticking with it.  I didn’t worry about pace at first (I’ll write more later about trying to get back to a certain level), I just went out and ran.  I learned to savor my alone time, and kept my routes simple, by finding ways I could run right out my front door and save time.  I accepted that I just couldn’t do all the things I used to do for my runs,  so I didn’t get too frustrated with having to forego stretching until my lunch break at work, or eating puff with Jasper since I was starving post run but wouldn’t be able to get something made for a while.  And, I loved, loved, loved my Runner’s World plan.   It kept me on track when I really wanted just to sleep!

 

Nothing like a 20 degree run at 5am…

Well I will have to take my own advice tomorrow and suck it up to run in 20 something degrees.  I know that’s nothing for pretty much the rest of the country, but in Texas that is COLD.   I also grossly underestimated the yoga class I went to Sunday and every muscle in my body hurts today, and I am guessing it will still hurt tomorrow, to make running in 20 degrees even more fun.  I am going to make Pancake go with me since she never complains and then I feel like I can’t complain when she is running around having the time of her life.

This weekend was the premier ultra running/ trail event in Texas, the Bandera races.  There is a 100K, 50K and 25K.  I’ve done all 3.   Last year I didn’t run there because rocky hilly terrain for 62 miles is a bad idea at 8 months pregnant.  This year I didn’t run because long trail runs just aren’t in my repertoire anymore.  Ryan wrote about once you start ultrarunning you feel like you’ve defined and labeled yourself.  I very much relate to that.  I sometimes feel like I should be working my way back to the longer distances.  Especially when I run with Mark, and 30 miles is an easy morning out for him  🙂   Maybe when Jasper is a little older I’ll give it another go.  For now though I am just thankful for what I ‘ve got going.  I still depend on Mike to watch Jasper for long runs.  Jasper’s up by 630, and even leaving as early as 430 he’s still up before I get home (I know, I know…run faster then…believe me, I’m working on it).   Let’s face it, I wasn’t the best ultra runner..more of a hiker who eats a lot at aid stations and jogs a little in between.  All in all, I’m cool with calling myself a marathoner again…but sometimes I can’t help to look at those ultra race results and think “Hey, I did that once.” (only much slower…when did everyone get so freakin’ fast!)

Ok, enough of  me yet again musing on the changes motherhood involves.  I guess it sounds pretty silly to say “now I only have time to run 20 miles and not 30”.  At what point in my life did anything over 20 miles seem reasonable?!?

BTW, does anyone else think the backdrop in this picture of Jasper looks like it came from the set of PeeWee’s playhouse?

Ok, vegan cookies call.   Mike and Pancake want me to curl up with them and watch Weeds (this season is really funny).  Got some psyching up to do for tomorrow’s 20 degree fun run.  Good luck to all of you getting through  winter running.  Hang in there!

Suck it up…

Another busy weekend over and done.  Saturday started with a long run, and for some reason this one really wore me out.  I was tired all day.   The only thing that could save me was good food.  We went to Black Star Co-op.  Wow!   Two big thumbs up.  It is a brewery and they have a full menu.  The inhouse IPA was incredible and the food really exceeded my expectations for pub food.  I got a veggie pot pie, and it was filled with roasted winter veggies and a really good crust that was like flatbread and not pie crust.  Mike got fish and chips and they had the best fries I’ve had in a long time.  Super fresh and just enough seasoning.  Jasper is not a huge eater of solid foods, so any solid he is willing to do we let him go for it.  He chowed down on the fries in a big way.  Turned out the be a mistake, as he woke up about 1100pm and exploded with vomit.  Poor Owl.   Right back to sleep after that though.  That would be the only bad thing about Black Star.  We are now members of the co-op and plan to go a lot!

Today was a total suck it up morning.  Every runner’s least favorite weather.  Cold and wet.  40 and pouring rain.  And, to top it off, right as I got up the power went out.  5am on a Sunday, and I was getting dressed using my phone as a light.  I did not want to go.    I am a big believer in the suck it up run.  Or at least that is what I tell myself.  Now if you are sick, or injured that is different, but unpleasant conditions can’t be an excuse, because it’s always a slippery slope once you start skipping runs.  At least I think so.  And, this is what I usually think happens:  I force myself out only to end up saying “this isn’t that bad”.   As was the case today.  I was dressed for the conditions, so it seemed doable.  It was also kinda eerie in a cool way to have every light out.  No street lights, no traffic lights (no power remember).  I’d hit little pockets of electricity and then suddenly there was none.  By the time I got home the power was on though (yay).    Suck it up runs are also my number one tip for running as a new mom/ busy mom.  Or at least that is what worked for me.   Crazy early hours, and sleep deprivation ruled my world, and occasionally both still rear their ugly heads, and telling myself to just suck it up is what got me out the door many times.

I’ve also become a regular for a 900am Sunday hatha flow class.  Jasper is going down for his nap then, so I feel no guilt going to yoga while he is asleep.  While I just loved the Ashtanga class I tried a while back, this one fits into my current schedule perfectly and no time is sacrificed from my family.  It hard enough that Monday and Tuesday I am pretty sore, but not to the point it hurts to cough or laugh (that has happened to me a lot in other classes…I know, I am a big wimp).  But the main thing is, after almost a year, I think I have finally hit a schedule that runs pretty smoothly.  And just as I got here it will probably change.  Jasper is getting a lot of new teeth.  New teeth make babies not sleep.  Jasper is really not a baby anymore.  He is a toddler.  Toddlers take one nap.  So I anticipate we will change things up, but at least for now I will enjoy the calm before the storm.

Ok, vegan cookies in the oven, Weeds queued up on Apple tv, a tennis ball ready to mash onto my sore hamstrings and a big basket of laundry to fold all are calling me.  Yeah, it’s an exciting life I have.  Have a good week.

I swear I really do own pants that don’t have a drawstring and aren’t made of flannel…

Today was one of those days I ended up putting pajamas on at 630.  I was just plain tired and I wanted to be comfortable.   It was just a very full day.  I started at 445  hitting snooze a couple times, not because I was tired, but because I knew it was about 30 degrees this morning and I didn’t want to go out in it.  I left at the very late hour of 545, and within a mile I could deal.   I bought some hand warmers that helped as my last few cold morning runs have ended with me having to put on gloves to pick up the Owl so I don’t freeze him.  Ever change a diaper with thick winter gloves on?  Anyhow, the hand warmers at least maintained some circulation in my fingers.  I was glad I was just doing a recovery pace run, as I didn’t look at my Garmin anyways because that would expose my wrist to the 30 degrees.

After my run and usual Owl stuff, I headed off to yoga as he was going down for his morning nap.  It was a good class…not too hard, but hard enough I will still be sore in my arms.  Once I got home and the Owl was up, we headed out to McKinney Falls to “hike”.

Hiking isn’t what it used to be.  Really we just go to parks and walk some and enjoy the fresh air.  Sometimes Jasper lets us do more than other times.  Today we couldn’t go very far and it was really my fault.  He wanted to be carried and I had not brought the carrier.  Hiking with 22 pounds on one hip isn’t that comfortable.  I left his milk and snacks in the car thinking he could have them on the way home, but he probably would have chilled in the jogging stroller if I had brought them.  So it really turned into more of an Owl photo shoot, but fresh air is always nice and I think it’s good to expose kids to outdoor things as much as possible.

The afternoon was dominated by making perogis.  Perogis are a type of dumpling.  They are a lot of work because I have to make a filling, the dough, roll it all out, make little dumplings, boil them, then saute them.  The Owl was fascinated by the process.  They really are super yummy, but any food that involves me having to dump flour all over my countertops, probably won’t get made that often.

So after perogis and clean up it was non-stop Owl time, who lately acts like a cat on catnip.    So I guess I should not be surprised when I was in pajamas at 630.

Ok, time for another episode of Treme.  I just love that show….hope everyone has a good Monday.