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Happiness is a well executed long run…

The artist at work.

It’s officially long run time for my little fun run in June at 8000 feet.  Saturday I had 18 on the books, and it was looking like I didn’t have any takers on joining in.  I sometimes struggle with doing an entire long run when it’s solo.  I devised a route from my house with a 9 mile loop, a 5.5 mile loop, and a 3.5 mile loop with stops at my porch in between for water and GUs.  I could have probably coordinated some meet up with someone, but sometimes it’s just easier to get up early, go from home and pace it my way.    It was a good thing too…  I picked up the little boy Friday to find him with a fever of 102.8 and totally listless.  I’d never seem him look that bad, and he almost got a trip to the ER.   He threw up all over the living room, and then I got some tylenol in him, and by his bedtime his “owlness” was back.   He was running up and down the hallway screaming since he is one of those kids who can’t move without screaming at the same time.  It was a relief, but I still felt better knowing I would be running by the house every hour or so.

The run went well.  The first 9 miles were in the dark on a hilly loop.  They flew by and before I knew it, I was home for the next part.  I got a get, grabbed a new water bottle and got Pancake to do the next loop with me.  It flew by too.  I got home and it was a mere cakewalk to the end.  The last chunk wasn’t too bad.  I got home and slammed a chocolate milk and threw on dry clothes and played with Jasper until his nap.  Then I did a cold soak and showered, and ended up feeling good all day.  My feet bothered me some.  My arthritis doesn’t hurt, but my joints will swell and then rub on my shoes some.  This happened on this run, so I was ready to kick those shoes off when I was done, and I hope next week’s 20 isn’t so rough on them.

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Motivation…

Here is a picture from my half marathon.  I pretty much never have photos from races since I usually don’t have anyone I’ve placed along the course.  I am running with Pete, the really nice guy I met, and his very sweet wife got my email and sent me a bunch of photos she took.

It was great following the Boston marathon yesterday.  What a race!  It motivated me to train hard, because I really want to get back there, and hopefully before I make the 70 and older age group.  It also made me really want to go watch  the Olympic trials in January.   They are not far for me (in Houston).  It is going to be a super close race to see who makes the team.

Still haven’t been able to try my new yoga DVD and barely scratched the surface of Kara Goucher’s book.  It’s been a very busy last few days.  Hopefully I can get some inspiration to quit eating a bag of gummy bears every day.

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Zooma Women’s Half Marathon

The little boys sleeps…so I have a couple minutes.  I ran this as a chance to get in a hard hill run….and it was VERY hilly.  I love half marathons, but debated on doing this one because it seemed really expensive ($85).  I justified it as a not getting into Boston consolation prize, and that we don’t really eat out much any more, or see movies…so our entertainment budget has some extra $$.  It was set out at the Lost Pines resort which is about 30 minutes outside of Austin, and just incredibly pretty.  The huge bummer was you had to park waaaaay off site and take a shuttle in, so I left my house at 5:20 for a 7:30 event.  And oh yes, the night before was not perfect.  I had a very busy night.  I got my copy of Kara Goucher’s book (yay!) and stayed up too late reading it, hoping to channel my inner elite runner.  The little boy woke up twice….which he hardly ever does.  So this morning I was tired, and cursing myself for driving to a shuttle lot by the airport, when I could have been running a relaxed run with friends.

Oh, and we got a cold front.  Great running weather, but a shock to the system when we have been at 75 degrees in the morning.  I got to the resort and it was very nice we got to wait in the conference and ballroom area.  Props to them for indoor bathrooms, boo-hiss for charging for water and coffee at the start.  I ran a pitiful warm up and lined up.  This race is more of a “girl power” type thing, than a “go out a run a serious race” kind of thing,  so at the start it was obvious very few women were looking for fast times, but you could tell who was (why do fast runners feel running shorts will hinder them and have to wear hot pants?).  Men could enter, but there were few.  There were a couple at the front looking way too serious.  Suddenly we were off….

I was cold enough that it was easy to move quick.  I ran my last half marathon in 1:36.  If I could better that, it would be incredible on this hilly course, if I tied it, I’d be thrilled, or in the ballpark of it I would be happy.  There were hills right away, and I concentrated on hitting 7:20 pace.  I was totally alone, as a handful of girls took off, but I prefer to run my own race than pace off someone.

I felt good and was zipping along, dipping under pace.  I hit a major hill section and slowed down a little, and by mile 6 a really nice guy caught up to me.  We ended up chatting the rest of the run.  He was a newer runner, and was happy just to have someone to run with.  I was happy to have someone to run with too and help push the pace a little.  We held pretty steady at 7:20s.  I tripped over my shoelace and it came undone at one point, and at the end the course was poorly marked and we ran off course for a little bit (and got passed for the only time), but finished in 1:36:23.  I was satisfied with that.  I also felt like I pushed pretty hard, since there were so many very big hills.

The end was pretty good.  There was decent food, and a really neat coffee bar to make iced or hot coffee with goodies to go in it, but for $85, I think fancy coffee is deserved.  There were tons of awesome retail tables, but I don’t run with a credit card, or big wad of cash, so I couldn’t buy anything.  Major bummer, because I met The Run Like a Mother writers, and they had a great table, and I would have bought a shirt for all my friends.  I was totally starstruck and hugged them and told them how much I love their website, and they probably thought I was a little nuts.

I was heading back to the shuttle buses, and ran into the administrator of my hospital.  Now she doesn’t know me since I am just a worker bee, but I decided to say hello, and we started chatting.  We talked a lot about kids, and running and not work!  I prayed I didn’t have post race boogers, weird race hair, or energy bars stuck in my teeth, and luckily I didn’t wear a shirt that said anything like “F— You, I am a runner” so I seemingly blended into the crowd, and hopefully she won’t be calling HR about me on Monday.    I swear, the only networking I’ve ever done is through running.  I would have never said more than good morning to her in the hospital, but throw in some sweat and tired legs, and suddenly we are just two moms trading stories.  I’ve met more people at races and have made more contacts through running than through any  professional organizations.

By the way, what is up with guys going to women’s races looking for a win?  A guy won today with a commanding lead, and it was obvious he came there looking to win…it’s not like he was running with his wife or girlfriend or something.  Just seems like something you would feel silly bragging about…”I won the women’s half marathon.”  And, this guy was so far ahead it was really just a time trial for him.  Couldn’t he do that on his own without entering a race?

Overall grade is a B-.  The good:  Beautiful venue, beautiful course.  Nice post race stuff.   Waiting indoors at the start is  a treat.  Shuttle buses were a pain, but super well organized.  Challenging course, so a great workout.   Decent women’s specific tech shirt that I will use.  The bad:  expensive.  Extra hidden costs.  Packet pick up only on Thursday, WTF? Course was poorly marked in spots.  Goofy finishers medal (a  necklace of the letter “Z”…don’t think I will wear that).

It’s hard to race and come home and immediately be in Jasper chasing mode.  I was hungry, dirty and in need of serious hydration when I got home, but all that had to wait.  Stretching?  Yeah, right.  But, I love to race and will continue.   Now that he is asleep, I am off to do some serious stretching, so hopefully I can manage an nice, easy run tomorrow.

Up this week:  reviews!  New Kara Goucher book and Sage Rountree’s Yoga for Athlete’s DVD.  Hopefully I’ll be getting into both.

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Training tips!

Ok, I will try to give some tips that work for me.  My disclaimer is I am not a certified coach, or personal trainer, and any information I give is strictly based on personal experience.

The two hardest parts of training for a race for most people are consistency and the long run.  Consistency is important because the day in, day out runs build long term endurance.  They end up being your insurance policy when a long run falls through, or even a little injury layoff happens.  With consistent miles on your legs, you can probably still do your event just fine even if you miss some training.  Many runners struggle with getting  out the door each day.  I will say I am really good at not missing my runs.  Here is what works for me:

I plan an off day each week, based on what else is going on in my life.  I pick the day at the start of the week.  Most weeks, my off day is dictated by a really early meeting at work, and it’s just easier to not run that day.   So if my week starts, and I know Thursday will be my day off running, when Monday hits and I do not want to get out of bed, I talk myself out of turning off that alarm, knowing I have a rest day in just a few days.  If I am really lucky, I don’t have a meeting at work, and I will usually take Friday off and sleep as late as Jasper and my schedule allow…which is about 2 more hours than normal.  Knowing this is on the horizon, pushes me all week to get up when I just don’t feel like it.  I also try to preplan what I am running the night before.  So when I get up, I know I am doing my hill run, or an easy run, or whatever.  Somehow having a plan makes getting going less painful.  I also give myself some time to wake up.   Sometimes all it takes is a few minutes to go from wanting to go back to bed to being ready to head out and run.   When you give yourself an out if you are sleepy and say “I’ll run tomorrow”, then you can find yourself taking more off days then  you planned.  Pick a rest day (or more based on your training plan), and stick to it.   Of course there are days you are sick, or truly exhausted.  Of course take a break if you need it.  But, do you really think are you truly exhausted, or just sleepy?  You can always adjust the intensity of the run if you are sleepy.  I do this all the time….but I try to never let sleepiness keep me from a run.  Chances are you will still be sleepy even if you skip the run, so you might as well do it and enjoy the burst of energy you’ll get immediately following.

The long run is another huge mental challenge.  The very best way to knock one of these out is get a partner.  This may not always be possible.  So then try to get a partner for a chunk of the long run, and run on your own, before, or after.  If I can’t get anyone, or if you only have someone for a very small part, of a very long run, I like to run loops.  I don’t necessarily run the same loop multiple times.  I usually string together a bunch of shorter routes I do to equal the distance I am wanting to get done.   This way I think “3 loops” and not “20 miles”.  Plus, I usually plan loops with bathroom access and places to refill water.  Another long run tip I have is the half GU/ gel.  I always carry more gels than I think I will use.  If I am really having a hard time finishing up a long run, and even though I may only have a few miles left, I will take half a gel, just to get me over the hump.  The other thing I sometimes do is not worry if I do cut it a couple of miles short.  If it truly is a miserable day, sometimes this is just the way it goes.  Long runs are really just about the mental benefit.  I feel more confident going into something if I know I completed some hard runs.  But, chances are most likely if I cut a couple of miles here and there, I will still finish….remember that consistency thing?   If I am all alone for my run, I try to alternate my mind between dissociating and focusing.  Sometimes focusing on staying on a pace, or keeping form helps pass the time.  Sometimes just letting the mind wander to another part of my life helps miles pass.  I generally do not listen to music.  Sometimes I do in a race, but since I usually run on the roads, predawn, I do not feel it is safe to have ear buds in.

So I hope I had some helpful advice.  Anyone is always welcome to email me if they are getting into running and want help.  I am happy to offer my perspective.

In other news, I think it is really cute that Jasper uses the baby sign for “chicken” when he wants something.  No, it’s not the right word but I find myself now saying “What is it Jasper, chicken?  Ok, you want more food”

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Hot running and fancy desserts…

This is possibly the best thing I ever ate.

Mike is out, Jasper is napping, so I get my precious few minutes.  This was a fairly big training weekend, where the real “meat” of my training starts.  The runs get up long enough to take some planning and sometimes the effects of them linger throughout the day.  I had a great run on Saturday.  16 was on the schedule, which is always my “check in” distance.  Even when I ran ultra runs of 30, 50 miles, at mile 16 or so, I had my first check in with myself to see how I was feeling.  Usually this is where I start to feel the effects of running.  At this point it’s been a couple hours, and if it’s a road run I’m trying to keep a decent pace on it’s definitely enough for me to start to feel my legs talking to me.  I had the good fortune of lots of friends on this run.  Mark started with me at my house, we ran into Hyde Park and met Anna and Wesley, and ran our Danish loop.  Then I just had to run home.  It made it go by really fast.   Jodi and McKenna (sister in law and niece) were visiting this weekend, so I just wanted to run from home and keep it as simple as possible so I wasn’t cutting into family time.  I got home feeling good, but it’s been in the 70s and humid in the morning, and without a doubt, it’s time to really take good care of myself after a run, so that the rest of the day isn’t spent feeling like crap.   This means lots of electrolytes, food, and ice baths if possible.  I did my best, but I had to be out the door quickly to a garage and bake sale at Jasper’s daycare for fundraising.  Two hours outside immediately post run left me really hot and starving.

Being starving was good because we got to go out to dinner!!!  Mike’s sister stayed home with Jasper and we got to go eat.  We tried a new place that was great and had the incredible dessert pictured above:  peanut butter mousse, olive oil pound cake, candied peanuts, rosemary cookie brittle and jelly sauce.  It was awesome!!!

This morning I was pretty stiff, but managed a 7 mile recovery run, and then I went to yoga during Jasper’s morning nap.  Yoga really helped work out the stiffness, so I think I should be off to a good start this week.  Last week was pretty weak as far as fast running  goes and this week I hope to get in a couple quick runs before taking it easy a couple days, and then racing a half marathon this weekend.

I’ve got a couple training tip posts I want to work on, so hopefully someone out there will find it interesting….hopefully I’ll get something typed up this week.    Until then, I plan to chill out until the little boy wakes up and refuel with a cupcake from the daycare bakesale.

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Did I really used to eat in restaurants without playscapes?

Jasper with his latest object of desire.

Ok, I am DEFINITELY fighting off a virus.  I am just hoping, hoping, hoping that it is done by tomorrow.  I am so burnt out on being sick and having no energy every other week.  One of these days,  I just have to become immune to every daycare germ, right?

In happier news….it was a good weekend other than feeling run down.  Anna met me this morning for the Danish loop and it was really fun to run with a new friend.  I debated going to yoga, because I just wasn’t feeling 100%, but it turned out to be a pretty good class without a ton of sweat and pain inducing vinyasas.  Lots of twist, and good stretching.   But, not long after getting home from that,  I had to admit my throat was a little sore, and I just felt achey.   We went to Terra Toys in search of a tunnel for the Owl, and they didn’t have one, but they had a little rolling color wheel toy that he completely obsessed over.  I don’t have a lot of experience with very young children so I don’t know how normal it is for these obsessions.  The Owl definitely obsesses on stuff.  So I ended up having to buy it.  We went to Phil’s Ice house for veggie burgers after that,  and I am very well versed in Austin restaurants with playscapes now.  Although, the veggie burgers were quite good there. Owl ignored the playscape and ran around with his little rolling color wheel thing.   We got home and he had to play with it in his cardboard box tunnel, and then moved onto a laundry basket, and he pretty much exhausted himself….after throwing up sour milk in his cardboard tunnel.  After he went to bed, I disposed of this tunnel, sour milk throw up and all.  Looks like a trip to the dreaded Babies R Us is in my future.

Thanks to all for nice blog comments.  I read everyone’s blogs a lot….I check multiple times a day since sitting down with my laptop is about the most exciting thing I do…I am not always good about commenting, but I do appreciate that some other runners actually found this blog, and I really enjoy reading the adventures of other runners, and mamas. Hope everyone has a good week.

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Wasted…

I swear I get more and more pitiful.  It’s 7:45pm and I am in bed.  I put Jasper to sleep and declared my night to be over.  Ever have one of those runs that for no real reason just completely wastes you?  Yeah, me too!

Today’s run was challenging but nothing that should have exhausted me.  I felt fine on the run and enjoyed the company.  The last couple miles the soles of my feet really hurt, and I knew it was time for new shoes, but otherwise it wasn’t a big deal.  Now, I got home and Jasper immediately leaped into my sweaty arms and declined being put down until his nap.  I recognize this goes with getting to do long runs though…no time to come home and stretch, relax, etc.  I hit the door and I am on in full blown mama mode.  Once he was down for a nap I took an ice bath, stretched a little and showered.  By the time Jasper got up I felt horrible.   You know that hang-overy feeling a long run a create?   A big bottle of Nuun helped ( I am just loving that stuff).  We went and ran around at a park and then went to Austin Bakes for Japan (best bake sale ever!!!)

After Nuun, food and baked goods, I felt pretty ok.  I had a massage appt.  I am sure you are thinking that sounds awful frivolous for a mom who complains about having no time on weekends.  Well, I get a sports massage every 4-6 weeks, so it’s not that often, and to me it’s much cheaper than physical therapy for weeks for an injury, and Mike pushes me to go because he does not want to live with me again if I get injured.  Sports massages are good on your sore muscles, because you feel them breaking up knots and adhesions, but they overall kinda hurt.  I left feeling pretty wrecked again.  We took Jasper to Waterloo for dinner and he could play on the playscape, and one delicious Hefeweizen later, I was completely toasted.

So yeah, a not so big training run completely wrecked me.  Not a confidence builder.  In my defense, I feel a little like I am fighting off Owl’s minor virus he had last week that gave him a couple nights of running fever.  But I am hoping to regain some energy come morning.  Going to bed by 830 should help!

In other news, we had a couple large cardboard boxes sitting the the living room waiting for Mike to break them down.  Owl quickly declared them a tunnel, and spent every minute since crawling back and forth in the boxes and giggling.   So I guess they will live in my living room for awhile.  Hopefully I won’t be contacted to be in the Parade of Homes anytime soon.

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Cake after her 6 mile run. I didn't have the heart to move her and make the bed.

I’m on my lunch break.  I have a mandatory 30 minute punch out, which really isn’t long enough to go anywhere and is too long to keep working and not get paid for it, so I stuff my face with overcooked cafeteria veggies and get on my blog.

This weekend things start ramping up for my June marathon.  I think I’ve hit the point where just about every weekend I can say “Crap, I have a hard run tomorrow.”  I also keep wondering how long Mark is going to join me on these long runs since he is not training for a June marathon.  It’s so much easier to start at 530 when someone is meeting you.

Been listening to a ton of running podcasts at work lately.  I learn something new everyday.  It’s interesting how some think you should do your long runs at marathon pace, and some think you should slow it down by a minute per mile or 2.  I’ve been trying to do mine at marathon pace, maybe a little slower, but mainly just to get them done and over with so I can get home to the little boy.  Marathontalk had a really good two part interview with Jeff Galloway.  He did make a pretty convincing argument for short walk breaks thoughout the marathon.   I was almost convinced.  In essence I guess I do this a little bit because I’ll take just a step or two when I grab water to make sure I get it down and not just spill most of it.  I know in June, I will really need to get that water down.  Colorado has no humidity and seems so dry to me since I am used to running in humidity of 80% or more.   Anyhow, you should check it out.   I also learned about the Paelo diet (what a bunch of crap…in my opinion), and I’ve learned a ton about the cult that is barefoot running, but still swear by my Asics and my orthotics.

Ok, I think I need to find some chocolate or something sweet to counteract these veggies, and then it’s back to work.  I am sooooo glad it is Friday.