Suburbia…

One of these lives in my backyard and leaves us little crawfish piles...

Jasper is napping and I feel too lazy to do anymore house work.  This weekend we FINALLY finished with our old house.  It feels like we’ve been at this for months.  Now we can focus on getting this house a little more spiffy looking.  We are enjoying it though.    You know the saying “you don’t miss what you never had?”  Well, now I realize some things we never had that are so wonderful now that we do have them.  One is a grocery store close by.  Who knew it was so easy to run to the store when we run out of bananas like we do at least two times a week?  And street lights.  Wow, so this is what it’s like to not run in complete darkness!  And parks close enough to walk to and not have to walk on a busy street.  How cool is it to hit the park for a few minutes before dinner?  How about mature trees that are not the much hated cedar, aka mountain juniper, aka not a real tree?  Shade in our yard, who knew?  (this does also include the joy of raking leaves, something I’ve never done…8, yes 8 bags of leaves raked yesterday).  There is also the north Austin pizza phenomenon.  For some reason all the NY/ NJ style mom and pop pizza places are in far north, suburban Austin.  So, we have several of the best pizza places in town right by us.   So yes, a lot of nice things.

And here’s one of the best:  it took me 10 minutes to get to town lake.  I live much further than I used to, but due to easy highway access I can shoot right down there.  Then there is another 10 minutes to brushy creek.  Mark and I ran there is morning.  One drawback, it is dark, dark, dark out there.  But such a nice run, and a super runnable gravel trail.   Oh and I am so much closer to yoga now.  I had missed for a couple of weeks due to Boston, moving and Mike being out of town.  I went to Ashtanga today, and I will be suffering tomorrow for sure.  I was already a little behind the 8 ball after falling twice on a run this week.  It was well lit, but twice I managed to zone out and catch my toe on uneven concrete and go flying….twice.    Since I work in trauma, I convinced myself I at least managed to break a bone in my hand, but I find the older I get these things feel a lot worse than they look.  It was embarrassing to admit the fat on the back of my arms hurt the most.  Yeah, who gets fat pain?  That would be me.

Well, I really should make myself useful, there is plenty to do here.   Tonight we have a baby sitter to go see Neutral Milk Hotel at Austin City Limits.  I’ve never been, and Mike really, really wanted to go.  I’ll have to stay up past my bedtime, but we’ve got a Starbucks in our suburban ‘hood.  And, we get to go to La Condessa.  My friend Kitty turned me onto this place.   So yummy.  I’m wearing yoga shorts to the show and dinner since they have an elastic waistband….classy, I know. Ok…laundry calls.  Gotta find a shirt that will hide the fact I’m wearing yoga clothes to a hipster show.

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What’s next…

photo

Now that Boston is over it’s time to come up with the next goal.  Unfortunately, there are no races in Texas in the summer.  Things don’t start up here until about October, so that will be the soonest I can really do anything.  There are a couple short races during the summer, but no marathons.  I’ll be doing the very small, but well done Frankenthon again in October with the goal for making it my “fast” race.  My new house is only 10 minutes from the start!  This means I’ll have all summer to try and improve.  Since Jasper was born, I’ve done pretty low mileage out of necessity.    His sleep has always been unpredictable and I did my best to be home when he wakes up (minus the long run day).  I am hoping the next 6 months really start to become more predictable, and that sleep deprivation ends.  All things point in that direction.  After a couple bad nights in our new house, he’s been doing pretty good.  If I can get to where I am getting sleep most nights, I think I can finally start doing a couple mid-week 10+ milers.   It’s been hard to add anything extra in the morning if I am operating on 3-4 hours sleep, and sometimes for several days.  This has kept me at bare minimum level for the last couple years.  And, no complaints….I manage to get out most days that I want to , and manage my long runs, I just would like to take a few extra steps to try and a little quicker.

So lots of base miles this summer.  I figure I have all summer to try and slowly increase my mid weeks runs a bit.  The month’s Runner’s World has a little article about a mom of 12 (yes, 12!!!), who does 75 miles a week, and works part time, and has some special needs kids as well.  Oh, and she is pretty fast too, running marathons in the 3:20s.Wow, is all I can say.  I figure if someone with those kinds of demands can  do what she is doing, I should be able to up my mileage a little bit with my one kid, part time work, and only speech therapy on our schedule.

So I’ll give myself a couple easy weeks, and work out a fall marathon schedule and start my next round of marathon training.  One big bummer is I’ve lost pretty much all my running partners.   It just sorta worked out that one by one the little group I once ran with has vanished.  Mark is taking a little marathon hiatus, and I totally respect him for that.  It does mean I need to make peace with running most my runs alone all summer, and with the nice trail system by my house, and running podcasts, I hope to do that.

So not a super exciting summer of running, but I hope to see some improvement and map out lots of new routes….and maybe find some new partners!

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Busy, busy, moving, new house, and 26.2 miles of smiling in Boston!

Total nerd at the pre-race athlete's village
Total dork in the athlete's village. I know...nice knee socks.
On the starting line in our corral full of soccer moms.
Pre-race seafood feast

Warning…..LONG POST

Life has been turned upside down lately.  We are in our new house.  I won’t write out all the gory details, except to say it was waaaaaay more time and work than we gave it credit for.  There is still a little crap in the old house, but we see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Are you planning on moving anytime soon with a toddler and a tight schedule?  Well, email me and I can give you some tips on what NOT to do.  But the main thing is we are in, and glad most of the work is done.

And, yes, in the middle of it all, I had a trip to Boston.  This was probably the year I enjoyed it the most.

This was my 4th Boston marathon.  My first was 2004, when Stephanie very generously treated me to most of the trip.  We loved it and said we had to do it again.   We had record heat that year (although this year was hotter, more on that later), so we took it easy.  I returned in 2005 and ran a little faster, and then again in 2008, taking it easy, thinking it was my last one.

I busted my butt to run a qualifier as my first post baby marathon.  I barely did it, but felt very proud of the effort in the midst of about 2 hours of sleep a night while nursing an infant.  Mike encouraged me to register for Boston, and when Mark got in too we decided it was a must.

Somewhere in our training we decided to not try to knock it out of the park, but to run a good honest effort.  For me that meant hitting another qualifier, but not a PR.  This turned out to be a good decision and neither one of us was devastated when the weather reporting started predicting temps over 85 degrees on race day.

We arrived to Boston late Saturday night and woke up early Sunday to hit the expo and be tourists for a day.  Our hotel turned out the be the best location I’ve had there yet….we were not near the marathon hubbub at all, but in Cambridge, right near a subway station, so getting downtown was easy.   We were also next door to a Whole Foods, so we ate very healthy most of the trip.  We also were next to a movie theater and pledged we’d see The Hunger Games as our post race celebration.

The Expo was fun….we both spent too much money.  We were disappointed there were not kids’ shirts and decided to hunt for them when we did the Freedom Trail, a 2 mile or so walk throughout downtown that hits multiple historical colonial sites.  We also hit the Bill Rodgers Running Center who were the nicest people I’ve ever encountered in a running store.  They were not allowed to make a kids’ shirt this year due the races’ affiliation with Addidas.  But, they did sell us last year’s kids’ shirt for only $5.  Such nice people.  We broke a pre-race rule and walked all day long, and then into the evening back in the Harvard area, where we ate dinner.  We said good night early, and settled in for Boston marathon eve.

We headed to our buses race morning via the subway.  We splurged and bought seats for $35 on a running club from Michigan’s bus.  Another smart move.  The seats were comfy, we got to leave about an hour later, and we had our own bathroom…..a big deal when you are in a race with 25000 runners.  We could come and go off the bus as we pleased, so we got to soak in the athlete’s village atmosphere without 45 minute portapotty lines.  We also had shade on the bus, as it was already in the low 80s.

We got to line up in our corral at the last minute.  Mark was in the first wave, but started back with me so we could have to option to run together.  I barely qualified for the women 35-39 age group, and when we got to our corral, it was obvious, as Mark was surrounded by soccer moms.

Ok, about the heat.  It was an 89 degree day.  I know that doesn’t sound hot if you live in Texas, but running a marathon in full midday sun at the temp is just hard.    There were lots of warnings to please slow your pace and toss out any ideas of a fast day.   I thought I could maybe run about a 3:45 in the heat.  We started off and right away I knew that wouldn’t happen.  I was dripping sweat within a mile, so I slowed and let Mark race ahead.  I knew if I dialed it back, I could hold the same pace all day.  It was hard to watch a literally a few thousand runners go ahead of me, but I was confident I would be running the last few miles and a lot of the runners racing ahead of me would be walking.

Of all my Bostons this was the one I really savored.  I ran alone the whole way with so much gratitude that my family was behind me being here.  I smiled, high fived the crowd, got soaked by all the hoses on course, and even called Mike from mile 7.  I had a little mental low about miles 7-11 and I realized just how hot the day was and wondered if I could even hold my very gentle 9:20 pace ( I was planning on running 8:20s).  Wellesley picked me up, and from there on I just enjoyed every minute of the party.  As I predicted, as I ran up the Newton hills, I watched masses of runners halt to a slow walk.  At this point if you were smiling, the crowd went nuts, and I felt every bit of energy.  I took as much ice as I could, took popsicles instead of gatorade, and knew if I could hold on just a little longer, I could finish smiling.  I watched runners going down left and right.  It was 88 degrees at this point with no shade, and no wind.  The last 10K is the best part of this race.  Once again, if you show that you have any gas in the tank at all, the crowd goes crazy.  I high fived, I hugged the college students who were requesting “sweating hugs”, and I loved every minute of it.  I quit drinking water and went just to ice as I felt a little queasy, but there was no way I was  going to let myself get sick at this race.  The last couple miles were so much fun, and I crossed the finish with a huge smile, in 4:07.   I ran about as hard as I could for those conditions.  I don’t like that I feel like I have to explain why my time is so slow, but there was no way I was going to let myself crash and burn.

Now I’m back home and already dreaming of a fall marathon.  I am itching to run faster, but would not trade one minute of this year’s Boston.  Met a ton of really nice runners, am super thankful Mark was willing to go and enjoy the run, even though I know how much he doesn’t love running in the heat, and just feel happy in general I was able to run it.

Now time to regroup, form some new goals, and plan out what’s next!

Marathon training for real runners Part 5…Putting it all together

Yes, I need to take some new photos. It may not happen anytime soon though...

Ok, so you know you want to do a marathon, you know you are going to have to mix in some weekly runs with some long runs on the weekends, so now what?  If you haven’t already, pick your race.  The best choice for a first time race is whatever is local…in my opinion.  You eliminate all the travel logistics this way.   I guess there are arguments on both sides for doing a big or small race.  My favorite races I’ve done have been small, but then you get no crowd support.  It doesn’t matter too much though, but I wouldn’t do the really big ones like Chicago or New York for a first timer.    This is a great time of the year to select something to do in the fall.  You have the next 4 weeks or so to make your plan and then starting in May or June your training will start.  I think fall races are great because it will keep you motivated during the hot summer and you won’t be tempted to cut runs short.

Ok, so once you’ve got your race, start on your plan.  There are a million plans online and in books.  I always piece together parts of a few different plans.    Chances are just about everything is pretty similar, so look at a few and piece together what you think will work for you in your life.  An example:  Most plans for experienced marathoners call for a midweek run of 12-15 miles.  I don’t do this.  I just don’t have that kind of time.  I can do up to about 10 miles before work and that’s it.  So I take that out of the plan I make for myself.  Another example:  my main training partner, Mark, wrote me a schedule once based on the RRCA coaching class he had just taken.  It called for a lot of 4 mile runs.  I ended up taking them out because I would rather run a little longer.  That’s just what I prefer.   Plan about 16-20 weeks of training, and count backwards from your marathon date.  Plan on 3 20 + milers as a minimum.  I do this assuming at least one won’t happen due to life getting in the way at some point.  That way you have at least 2.  Your last 20+ miler is about 2-3 weeks out from your goal race.  I also will typically have a couple of weekends where I drop the mileage back a bit to recover some.  I have tried to just wing it and throw a couple 20 milers in, but I found I am much better with a schedule.  I am not super strict, but the long runs at least are laid out for the entire duration of the training cycle.  I do not keep any type of running log, but that’s just me.  I just make a list of the long run dates and how much mileage to do.  I find that being too rigid with schedules just leads me into frustration when I am not able to keep on the schedule…but once again, that’s just me.  Some things to think about as you plan your schedule:  is your goal race hilly?  You might schedule some long hill runs.  Are you someone who does run/ walk to get your miles in?  You might plan a day of just power walking to really work on the pace.  And don’t ever plan a long run when you are out of town.  Just move your schedule around.  You are pretty unlikely to get in a long run if you are on a vacation or work trip.

So once you’ve got a flexible schedule you are ready.   At first, it should seem pretty doable.  A good schedule will have you hardly noticing you are increasing and getting better at running long.  That’s why I say to give yourself plenty of time.

Ok, here are my don’ts:  Don’t pay for a plan.  There are a ton of free plans online, and I see no reason to pay a “coach” just to email you a pre made, cookie cutter plan.  If you pay for someone to give you feedback, run in their group, etc, that’s different.  But I really  think it’s a rip off for someone to email you something you can get for free.    Don’t freak out if right now you are saying something like “10 miles just about killed me today, how will I ever run 26?”  You will…believe in your training and don’t take short cuts and it will work.  Don’t fall victim to feeling insecure because you know other people are doing more.  I am a low mileage runner.  It works for me.  I have friends who do over 100 miles a week.  It works for them but it wouldn’t for me.  Just work with what you have time wise  and don’t come up with an unrealistic plan for you.  Also, sometime others may schedule a lot more than you in the beginning and either burn out or get injured.  If you plan something realistic for you life you are much more likely to see it through.

Oh and a big “do”…Do read about other’s race successes.  Example:  when I ran my one and only 100 miler, I looked up a ton of race reports online where the runner had success.  If someone’s report was full of gloom about being miserable while running, I quit reading it.  I was so scared of the distance I needed positive stories only.  My brain was good enough at thinking up bad scenarios, and I needed to counter that by reading lots of stories of regular people who did it, and finished smiling.

Ok…once again, please let me know if any of this is helpful or if I need to expand on anything.  I am curious if anyone will find a single thing I said useful…

Ok…speech therapy is about over.  Then off to work, and then Operation Move with a 26.2 mile grand finale commences.

Taking a breather…

A rare shot of Jasper using sun protection.

I am taking a breather from packing and cleaning hell.  I am quickly hitting a point where I cannot pack much more unless we want to wear the same outfits for the next few days.

Let’s see, where to begin.  I worked last weekend and checked the box of getting our big review thing done at work.  I will spare you any details, since it would bore anyone, but the gist of it is my dept exists to pass this review every 3 years, so it meant more hours and no vacation time for awhile now, and I am glad it is done!  It was the first of the April trifecta of things that stress me out.  Now onto # 2…moving.

Yeah, it probably seems like I’ve been writing about it forever, but we bought our new house over a month ago, but just couldn’t move in until this week.  We slowly have been trying to pack bits and pieces and now crunch time is here and it MUST get done.  I am ready not to live in a disarray, but we have a lot we need for the new house, so it will probably be a summer long project to get it looking nice.  But right now, I would just ask for a couple functional bedrooms.  By this time next week, we will be full time residents of our new casa.

Finally, I am leaving in a week, and hate leaving Jasp.  I really, really want to run Boston, but I hate that he won’t be with me.   I am completely ready, while still wishing I had done more.  Isn’t that how all training goes?  I mainly want to just enjoy it, and run strong and fast, but finish smiling and not cursing with cramping legs.

Well, back to packing.  I realize that is a pretty boring post, but it’s kinda all I’ve been focused on for awhile.  I hope to get out another Marathon Training post before I head to Boston.  Well see, I have all our Hoarder crap to deal with still, so it may not happen!

Remind me…

…not to move, sell my house, have a major deadline at work, and run the Boston marathon within  a 2 weeks time frame ever again!!!!