Up next…

The Estes Park marathon has been one on my bucket list.  We first went to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) a couple of years ago, and last summer it was Jasper’s first mountain trip.  I decided doing a marathon here was a must do, as every direction has incredible mountain views.   Now a real Coloradan probably poo-poos Estes Park, as it is a little tourist town outside the National Park.  I like that is hasn’t gotten too big over the years, and while a little junky in places, it totally lacks pretension like Santa Fe, or Lake Tahoe.  It is also a very easy place to get to with a child.  Flying to Denver is a 2 hour direct flight and then another hour drive or so and you’re there.  Jasper also flies free just a little longer, so we knew this summer we needed to do the trip again.  Mike was gracious enough to agree to plan it around the marathon.

I started planning my training today.  Kind of ambitious for someone with a hacking cough and a big toenail with a giant blood blister under it.  But, in marathon terms, June is not far off.  So check out this elevation chart!!!   I looked up past results, and last year’s women’s winner came in right at 4 hours.  I am guessing that it may take me 4:30, but I really have no idea.  The men’s winner barely broke 3 hours.  This tells me this race is really a mini-ultra and I will need to treat it as such.  There will be no crowd support, so I may take an ipod on this on.  It will be a conservative first half for sure, because do you see that hill!?!

I pulled up my plan I used for the Frankenthon.  While I am intrigued by the Hanson’s plan I mention several posts back, that has shorter long runs and longer mid-week runs, I think traditional long runs will be the way to go for this one for a couple of reasons.  First off, I tried the Hanson plan  a little and it is very difficult for me to run longer runs before work.  I already get up at 430 most days, and 400 on the day I meet Mark.  Getting up at 400 everyday is just too much.   The other reason is that this run is going to take me a whole hour longer than a regular marathon (I am guessing).  I think time on my feet is beneficial.  Now I limit my long runs to 3 hours and will still do so, but I can cover a lot of distance in 3 hours.

I will also need more hill work than I currently do.  Austin is actually quite hilly, but all the hills are in west Austin and I live in east Austin.   I’ve got a  couple short but steep hills nearby that I will just have to repeat to death.

So I mapped out the schedule and it actually started last weekend.  Yikes!  I guess running a marathon to kick off your marathon training is not the worst idea ever.   Due to the fact I am recovering, plus getting over being sick, I pushed my start back a couple of weeks.

The best part about this race?  Mike and Jasper will get to be at the finish!!  I am sure I will have lots of posts about the training.  After this one the next goal is to break my ancient PR.  I better get some rest….sounds like I will be busy.

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Feeling better and worse…

Here is how the little boy spent most of last week.  Clinging to me.   He is so much better now and got to go back to school today and had a blast there.   This picture also gives a glimpse of Jasper’s cute bathroom we redid at Christmas time.

Physically I felt much better Monday.  I was prepared for total carnage, and was pleasantly surprised.  Once you do enough of these things recovery does go much quicker.  I have a tender calf that was cramping a little at the end, and I will definitely lose one of my big toenails.  Gross, I know.  But I wasn’t limping around Monday like I was Sunday afternoon.   Tuesday I did a little more walking, and today (Wednesday) I did an easy paced run.    The part that is worse, is that as it goes with most colds for me, they migrate into bronchitis…which makes running really sucky.   The good news is I didn’t plan on much serious running this week, so I guess it is a good week to be down a notch or 2. 

Some of you have asked me about trying yoga that would be beneficial for a runner.  I found a nice way to try it for free.  YogaToday has free 20 minute classes on itunes.   Mike is my guinea pig, as he is interested in combating the tight hips and back we all get from sitting at a desk job, but he is not really interested in becoming a yoga devotee.  The same muscles that tighten from sitting all day also take a hit in runners, so we really get tight.  Last night Mike and I started with the “Yoga for Novices” class, and it actually seemed pretty good to me in regards to explaining good alignment.  My discalimer is I am not a certified yoga instructor, so take my recommendations with a grain of salt.   I find that longer DVDs are hard to do at home, but most of us can do 20 minutes later in the evening.   So give it a try.  You might find yourself like I did the first time I tried yoga, with a realization that if I wanted to keep running my whole life I needed to do something to combat how tight it makes you.

Ok….back to work.  Hope everyone is having a good week.

Marathon pacing, aka ouch!

Last year I had just had Jasper and missed another chance to lead a pace group at the Austin marathon.  I was so happy when I got invited back this year.  It’s really fun, you get to relive your first marathon all over again through others, and you get loaded with super nice gear!  I do the 5 hour group.   All the pacers run times slower than what they typically would race at.  This way there are no worries about making the pace…it should be easy.  The challenging thing about running the pace group is the pace remains the same…there are no surges, no easy miles.  It’s unending, rhythmic shuffling.

I did not go into this 100%.  It was a very tough week, with a little boy who had one illness after another.  I was worried I would get his respiratory infection, but his pediatrician assured me that at worst all I could get as an adult was a very mild cold.  Well, guess what I got starting Friday night?  A mild cold.  Not too bad, but you really want to be 100% on marathon day.

I slept terrible last night too.  I was nervous, and I am a light sleeper anyways, so everything woke me up, and then I could never go back to sleep.  This morning, I thought “Why do I do these things!”

A really good thing about pacing was I had my same partner, Korrie.  We work really well  together and communicate well about time to speed up a little or slow down a little, and there is absolutely no bickering between us.

The marathon experience starts for us the day before at the Expo.  I met Korrie for a run at 900 to fine tune our plan and at 1000 hit the Expo to work in the pacer booth and answer runners’ questions.  I was wiped out at 100, after talking for nearly 3 hours straight and feeling a little run down from my little cold.  It is really fun though, to reassure a lot of first time jitters, and remember what that was like 21 marathons ago!

Race morning came and we all met at a really nice hotel in downtown Austin where the pacers get VIP passes!  We walked to the start as a group and Korrie and I assumed our spot towards the back of the pack.  It took us 22 minutes to reach the start after the gun went off due to crowds.  We quickly dialed into our pace, and things were pretty uneventful for several miles.  It is fairly congested until the half marathon leaves us at mile 11.  Korrie and I were hitting the pace spot on, chatting, and meeting runners who wanted to run with us.  About mile 13 we both confessed some aches and pains.  This worried me.  I normally do not hurt at this point.  It was mainly my feet.  We got Nike shoes since they are the sponsor and I had worn this model in the past with no trouble.  I did a few shorter runs in them with my orthotics and I thought all was well.  I guess I was wrong.  I could feel my toes bruising, which for runners means black toenails that you end up losing and they hurt!  I had no choice but to just tough it out.

That was the theme from the halfway point…just toughing it out and holding our pace.   We did have fun, and I was thankful to be doing this since a year ago on marathon day I could barely do 4 miles.  Sometimes you just have a hard day.  I was a little sleep deprived, a little sick, a little sore in my feet, all added up to making a 5 hour marathon a little challenge.

At mile 23 Mike and Owl were waiting to cheer me on and it was a huge uplift for me.  I had time to run up ahead to Owl and give him a big kiss.   From here on out it was just hold on to the finish.

We nailed the pace though at 5:00:02.  Just about perfect.  We got our finisher’s goodies and hobbled to the hotel.  My feet were wrecked!  Arthritis joints weren’t to bad, but the toes attached to the joints were so sore and bruised.  I guess Nikes do not work with my orthotics and I swear to remain an Asics girl….it’s too painful otherwise.  The food at the hotel was pretty picked over and I honestly just wanted to get home.  So I made the painful 1 mile walk back to where I had parked my car.

Ok, the aftermath.  This one just wore me out.  I think it is multifactorial.  I’ve been feeling strong and running great for weeks, but maybe 5 hours was just longer than my feet really wanted to hold me up.  That is a heck of a long time to be out there.  It was 75 and muggy when we got  done, so I am sure I lost enough electrolytes in my sweat to give me the slight hangover sensation I have now.  And my feet are sore!!!!  I should have known better with the orthotics there was just no wiggle room on my shoes, but I have learned the hard way.  I am currently a marathon invalid.  I just put Jasper to bed, so now my feet at up, and I am in bed with lots of pillows.

I’ve had runs before where I felt horrible right after and fine the next day, so that is what I am hoping for.  With Jasper there is truly very little rest time, so I hope I don’t hurt too much.

I learned from this that 5 hours is just a long time to run no matter what.  Never underestimate the marathon.    At one point I swore off ultra running since I don’t want to run for 5 hours until next year’s marathon pacing!

Undeniable Owlness…

Here is the Owl infecting a playground….kidding.  I realize it may seem like he’s sick all the time.  He’s really not.  The pediatrician today commented that he has been very healthy. He was over a year old before his first ear infection.  It’s just that he goes to daycare.  Kids in daycare get a lot of bugs passed around.  I have been reassured by his doctor it’s now or later….as in he would be getting them when he started school if he never got them in daycare.  It mainly just terribly inconvienent to miss work and put everything on hold when you weren’t planning to.  Not to mention it’s just hard not to see the Owl being 100% Owl.  Mike and I call it his “Owlness”….a constant smile and endless energy.

Since I couldn’t take Jasper anywhere with other kids, I thought he might allow me just a few minutes of shopping.   My wardrobe is just plain embarrassing, but I’ve yet to find time to shop.  I went to Nordstrom Rack to get some shirts or anything I didn’t have to try on since the Owl would not allow for that much time.  If you really want to feel completely frumpy and you really want your self esteem to drop a few notches…wander into a Nordstrom, assuming you do not do it regularly.    Everything is part of a trend I don’t even recognize…because I am so far behind on trends.   And just when I thought I had some stylish, night on the town jeans, I realize…I might as well be wearing a pair of Lees….my jeans look nothing like the Nordstrom jeans.    I got a couple tee-shirts.  One of them started at $76 and was marked down to $24, but seriously a $76 tee-shirt?  Maybe that is just the norm, and I’ve become so clueless I just don’t know any better.  All I know is, I gotta plan another trip to scope out those jeans some more.  I really don’t want Jasper to feel humiliated when I pick him up from daycare in baggy, frumpy jeans, that I used to think were skinny jeans.

Boston Blues…

Just a quick update, because I have just a little time and I need to capitalize on it.

The Owl was feeling great Tuesday, and yesterday became a little fussy in the evening.  At 4 am this morning he was awake and I went to check on him and he was having trouble breathing.  We went to the doctor this morning and he has RSV, and had low oxygen.  He’s on breathing treatments and no daycare…so no work for me.   The good thing is adults typically do not get RSV….if they do it is a very mild cold.  But non-breathing Owls are not good.   Not working is not good, but it’s how we roll here.

You can read all about the new Boston qualifying times at RunnersWorld, or RunningTimes, or the Boston marathon website.  I don’t think it is a fair system.  Mainly because of the rolling registration based on time.  It really means if you qualify, you don’t really qualify.   Only the fastest of the fast will get in, and if that is all there is room for then just call it that.  Don’t say there is a qualifying time when if you hit the time you still have no chance of getting in.   I think I will run a much faster time next time I do a marathon, but I don’t think I’ll run 20-30 minutes faster than my age’s qualifying standard, so I may just move on and accept I was lucky to do it when they let us slow folks in.  Mike said he would do whatever it took to get me a faster time, so another option is to  keep trying.  We’ll see.  Right now I am just worried about how I can run 5 hours on Sunday in the Austin marathon and only take one bathroom break.

Surprise, surprise, the Owl is sick…

I am home from work right now.  I just got home to trade off Owl duty with Mike, who has jury duty, which I think you can out of if you have a sick child, but I am sure it is a nightmare.  Yes, to back up, the Owl has an ear infection and pink eye.  It was a fun weekend with Owl temps up to 102.9, and then eyes gumming themselves shut.  To further complicate things, Mike is going out of town starting tomorrow morning for most of the week.  Such is life, but now since I am off today, all my work flexibility is gone for the rest of the week.  Note to self….I need to find back up childcare for these situations.    Anyone know someone without their own kids who has their days entirely free?

One nice thing this weekend was I took advantage of the marathon this week, and scratched long runs.  I did a couple quick paced runs, but I did not give into the temptation to just run through this marathon.  It’s a tricky thing, this 5 hour pace group.  It’s a pretty gentle pace for me, but it’s still 26.2 miles on my feet, so I hesitate to take it too lightly.    But, the weekends are rare in which a long run isn’t the main event, so it is nice to be completely done with my run by 7am.    I am getting excited for marathon race day.   Once again the pace group is working at the expo, and I really enjoyed this last time.  It’s great to soothe a lot of first time jitters.  And, oh, yeah, we got our awesome gear on Friday.  It must be how a sponsored runner feels.  All this stuff for moi?   Our pace team jackets are super nice this year.

So the main running news this week, is Mark has dangled a carrot in front of me and I think I’ve taken hold of it.  He proposed going for a 3:10 marathon.  My initial reaction, without hesitation, was “No way.”  But I thought about a bit……3:10 may be a little ambitious but I think a 3:20 or maybe even 3:15 is within reach.  My best time ever is a 3:25.  Now I was a much faster runner when I ran that, but even so it wasn’t the greatest time.  I was running a 40 minute 10K and under 1:30 for the half then, so based on that I should have run faster.  Part of my problem was I had no clue how to eat during a run.  I would eat one gel at the very end back then.  Now I probably eat 3-4, and I drink a lot more.  In my early marathons I think I would get low blood sugar since I just didn’t eat much at all and then suffer the last few miles.    So, I do think running under 3:25 is doable with some hard work.    I am glad that Mark is into the challenge as well.  We probably will not be attempting until the fall, but I am super motivated to hit my goal.  BTW, I only have 2 friends on DailyMile, so I hope more of you will do it.  It’s a lot of fun so far.

So yeah, I am looking forward to the weekend.  Just gotta survive the week.   This photo really has nothing to do with anything I’ve written.  It’s really old….probably at least 10 years.  It’s a sunrise in Montana.  It somehow was randomly generated when I opened iphoto, and it just seemed nice, so I thought I’d share it.

Time to get serious…

Ok friends…warning a running post.   After next week’s marathon pacing, I plan to start my next phase of post partum return to running.  Yeah, it’s been a whole year, so I can’t even really call it that anymore, hence why it’s a new phase.  Here’s the plan:  I really want to improve.  I mean seriously improve.    I know I have it in me….I just need to really focus my workouts.  I don’t have time for super long runs, but I can make the most out the time I have.   I spent the last year getting back into a schedule, back into shape, and I feel like I am there.  My sleep is fairly regular, my schedule is nailed down, and I seem to have quit getting sick every other week.  One year ago I struggled to make a 10 minute mile and now I am down to 7:30s on tempo runs.  I don’t say any of this so anyone thinks that I think I am super awesome…I don’t.  And, like Mark’s last post where he admits that times don’t really matter when your family is number one priority, I do agree.  But it’s awfully fun to see what I can do.   This is a good time to start.  When summer hits, I don’t want to be trying to pick up my pace, because most of us slow down a little in the high humidity.  I know I am really, really good at sucking it up and getting out the door.  Yes, I am patting myself on the back!    I’ve got this part mastered….now I just need to turn up the intensity.  I’d like to challenge my friends to join me.  I know a couple of you have been thinking about trying to get faster.   This is the time to start the hill workouts, the intervals.  One nice thing is it makes your run go by really quick.   As for long term goals….I am not entirely sure.    We have tickets to Colorado this summer and if all goes well with that which is the Owl, I will be running the Estes Park marathon in June.   It’s super hilly at 8000 feet…so it won’t be fast by nature, but I’d like to see what I can do.  I also have a spring half planned.  Beyond that I don’t know.  With $400 orthotics in my shoes, I feel trail running is a little risky.  Austin needs a road 50K.    So anyone who’s interested…let’s encourage each other.  I’m going to give Daily Mile a try.    It’s like Facebook for runners.  I don’t know how long I’ll last….I’ve never lasted at keeping a log and have always seen it as yet another task in my life.  But I thought maybe if some friends were interested in doing it with me, we could encourage each other, post workouts, etc.  Kind of a virtual training group since my real training partners are dwindling.  Let me know if you want to try it out!

Here we are at Pioneer farms.  I try to do some type of outing with Jasper when I am off that isn’t just going to Target for the 10th time in a week.   

I’m on my lunch break, so this will be a little short.  I tried to practice my marathon pace last night with Jasper and Pancake.  I need to run 11:27 miles.  It’s so hard to change up what is your “Comfort” go to type pace.   I was way off….doing about a 10 minute mile.  I am officially nervous.  It seems like the last time I did it, by this point I had things fine tuned.  My partner doesn’t get into town until a couple of days before the race, so I need to figure this out on my own.   I guess I just need to practice, practice, practice.

Ok, back to work….I can’t believe the marathon is less than 2 weeks away!

Jasper at a year old!!!

We just finished putting away all the fallout from Jasper’s first birthday party.  Here we are last year at this time and this year.  While Jasper only aged a year, I apparently aged about 10 (note to self….fix hair more often and schedule a coloring appt!!)

I spent much of yesterday tracking Rocky Raccoon online in between handing over my iphone to Jasper.  Is doing a long run, a tempo run, a yoga class, a trip to a farm with a one year old, and hosting a one year old’s birthday all in one weekend the equivalent of running a hundred miler?….no it’s probably harder  🙂    Actually, I enjoyed following the race online and was quite content doing my own runs this weekend.

I am looking forward to Jasper walking.  He is close.  Everyone says it’s harder when your kid starts walking.  He’s in a “mama must carry me at all times” kinda phase.  At least if he was walking if I set him down he wouldn’t just be crawling around in dirt…like at the farm trip yesterday.  Ever carry 22 pounds for 48 hours with a big bag slung over your shoulder?  It gets old fast.  Jasper doesn’t really like a stroller unless I am running with it.  I may have to break out the Ergo carrier again.   In yoga today I realized my arms were sore from carrying a now toddler.  Sad, but true.

Ok, I am alone in the house with half a birthday cake and a sleeping Owl.   I think I may end up with a sugar high tonight….

Back to our Texas winter…

Well, it doesn’t look like this here anymore, but it was very chilly this morning.  However, it is rapidly warming and we are back to our mild Texas winter.  Hey, we deserve it.  We have 9 months of summer with 95% humidity.  I see no reason why we need the other 3 months of the year to be 20 degrees.

Jasper is napping,  so that is why I am on the computer.  I ran 18 miles this morning and cleaned the house, so life is good.

Today is the Rocky Raccoon 100 and 50 mile runs.  I’ve run the 50 there twice.  It’s a really good run.  My kind of trail…not very hard and lots of pine trees.  Initially I was a little sad I wasn’t doing it this year.  At this point I know I could…I am back in shape from pregnancy, about as much as I could be.  I can pop off a 20 mile run without much fuss at this point, so the gentle pace that is my 50 mile run would be doable.  But, it’s a 3 hour drive, it would mean Mike not having help with Jasper all weekend and me being away.  Maybe next year.  Mark and blogger friend Derek are there tearing up the 100.  When it was 20 degrees this morning for my run, I thought of how NOT fun it would be to be in a race today and then again tonight when it drops to the 20s again.   Despite my earlier post about not getting too starstruck over these things, I did tell Mark if he got me Scott Jurek’s autograph, he would be my hero.  I doubt getting autographs was very high on his to do list last night as he prepped to run 100 miles.  Hey, it involves a lot of stuff when you are out there all day and the temperature ranges from 20 to 60 degrees.

Otherwise a busy weekend.  Jasper’s birthday party is tomorrow.  Hopefully I thought of everything and people won’t end up eating gooey cake with their fingers or something like that.  As soon as the Owl wakes, we are off for some outside time…without handwarmers for the first time in a few days….