2016 as told through running

Ushering in 2017…

As I become more and more of “masters” runner (such a polite term), I realize the most I can hope for in any year is staying healthy.   If I can do that, the year is a good one as far as running goes (and probably in general as well).  I did manage to stay healthy this year.  Sure, I am probably sore at least two days out of every week, but I guess that’s just what happens when you start doing speed work and lifting weights more than twice a year.   So this is a long, drawn out recap of what I did different this year.  It may seem boring but these are the kinds of posts I search for when figuring out my own training and racing.  

The year was early training for the Austin marathon then some downtime with a couple fun races then dedicated Fall marathon training that started in May.   Enough already on the Fall marathon fail, but I felt like I gained a lot this year.  It took months but I think I can finally follow a training plan.   I still get edgy when I get weeks with two off days and I do a lot of dog walking on non running days, but I think I have accepted the lesser mileage.  For one thing, I’ve definitely gotten much faster.  I don’t say this from a bragging point but from a point of declaring that speedwork , works.  And real speedwork.   I did a pretty wimpy version of speedwork before where I kept it in my comfort zone.  The runs now are way, way out of my comfort zone and I actually get nervous for some of them and I don’t really like some of them.  But when I get home from a hard track session I feel pretty darn good.

The other thing is that I think this is a smarter way to run for the long term.  It helps keep up the body systems that allow for fast running, that as we age are not going to stick around if not used.  The lower mileage is better for longevity in this sport.  It has been tough to do what I know is the right thing.  I tossed out any mileage tracking; it really doesn’t mean anything and I never look back at it…..and most importantly NO ONE CARES how much I run.  

I took up body pump classes for strength training this year.   Those, yoga, and lower miles are what I credit for making it all year staying healthy.   I started strength work last year, but I found the class to be much more effective than doing it on my own, and pushing me and working every muscle group. It’s tricky to schedule around speed sessions because both can leave me sore, but sometimes I just get sore and deal.  (I also started doing epson salt baths for sore muscles this year and am a convert on those as a way to take the edge off really sore muscles).  

This year also gave me hope that I can follow a plan.   Plans never worked for me before because I “modified” them so much, I really was just doing my own thing.  If my little training group doesn’t keep going I know I could get a plan from a book and follow exactly and even do the days I don’t like. Plans are smarter than I am as they add in more rest and do things in a purposeful way.   Plans are the way to go….why did I take me so long to get on board?

So the summary, run less, run faster workouts that can be on the sucky side (aka 400s on the track at 5 am), and do strength training in a class where you feel inclined to do all the difficult things that make muscles say ouch.   And buy epson salts in bulk.   They are super cheap and much more pleasant than ice baths.  

Up next:  3M half marathon, two very important birthdays, Austin marathon…


It begins again…

I was going to quit blogging due to chronic lack of time.  Not sure I’ll do much, but here and there I still update once in awhile.   I’ve been posting pics on intsagram, as I much prefer it to facebook.  But it’s not really a good place for race reports, so blogging it is!

After my marathon and some reflection time, I realized I picked a really hard race to get a good time (time trial almost), I was a little under the weather with a chest cold, and the hard fact is even if I had gotten my goal time I probably won’t be able to run Boston 2018 due to a work obligation.  So after a couple weeks, I moved on.  I had some very successful workouts and the full time change in weather meant things felt a little easier ( funny, now that change is too much, 21 degrees this am!).  I ran the Decker half and even though on paper my time isn’t great, it was about 10 minutes faster than last time I ran it, and I managed some hardware, mostly due to a generous awards structure,  it I’ll take it.   

And the biggest news……my credit card was charged $195………because I got into the Chicago marathon!   Whoop , whoop!!    I bucket listed this one awhile ago.  Over the last year or so I’ve several moments of realizing Jaspy isn’t a baby anymore and it’s time to do a couple things on my list.  This made it pretty easy for me to make a 2017 running schedule…3M half, Austin full pacing , the Austin 10/20 10 mile race and then Chicago.  I’ll throw in a couple 5ks but that’s it. I love planning trips and I’ve already been mapping out my Chicago agenda.  Only 10 more months….giggle.  

Next blogging goal is a 2016 wrap up…..hopefully.



Now that a whole week has past, I’m starting to feel better.   The beginning of the week was tough.  I ended up with a migraine that lasted several days, and a big work project where missing work would be a really bad idea, so the combo of not feeling good and some added stress did not help my mental state.  Another factor was when I am bummed out, I run, and I couldn’t.   I tried really hard to stick to my prescribed recovery and did minus one day.   I caved today and did an easy run.  I also just couldn’t decide if if should let this go, or jump back in and try again in a few weeks in Dallas.  After really weighing the pros and cons, I’m 90% sure I won’t run Dallas and just go for a good half marathon season then get in good shape for marathon pacing in Feb.  I really hate inconveniencing my family with a travel race unless it’s a special one, and as of right now, my heart isn’t in it.

It bothered me how bothered I was this week.   It’s just a stupid hobby.  I think it was just a big ego blow though, and post race depression is very real.  But I seem to be back to being able to sleep and feeling less edgy.   Starting up running again has helped.

The positive spin is the race season isn’t over.  It’s really just starting.  And, I decided to throw my name in the lottery for one of the big fall races next year.  I’ve always wanted to do a big one and always hold back citing money, time, family.  But, if I get in, I’ll have almost a whole year to plot it out.  It’s sorta a Boston consolation.  There’s a good chance I won’t make it through the lottery for a big fall race, but between them all maybe I’ll get one. And I’ll still apply for Boston for 2018.  Who knows, maybe popularity will start to wane and my time will get me in.   I can’t say I won’t be disappointed if I miss getting in by just a few seconds, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  

I had to remind myself this week that even though being goal oriented can be a good thing, it can lead to a lot of disappointment and sometimes it’s better to just “be” and enjoy the process.   This isn’t always true in professional situations, but in a lot of life just “being” is ultimately more fulfilling.  Driven, focused people aren’t always the most fun to be around.  

And now I will focus on Netflix and not eating candy….


Post race blues…

Highlight of the weekend was a visit from the tooth fairy.

The buildup for this race was near perfect.  Despite sometimes missing my times during peak heat, most of the workouts I nailed. I spent the last three weeks hitting race pace or faster over and over.  I played the race out in my head with positive but realistic results.  Whenever a friend asked if I was ready I always said “there’s no reason I shouldn’t hit 8:30 pace unless I have a freak illness or have a bad day”.  Well, guess what happened?  Near perfect weather, no illness, but a bad day.  There were tears at the end.  I just classically hit the wall.  At 18 miles, no matter how much I told my legs to move they just kept slowing.

Here’s the silver (ish) lining:

I did get a Boston qualifier.  But not by much.  By 1 minute 36 seconds.  In the last two years, that was not enough to get in.  I probably missed getting in by just a handful of seconds.

Without a doubt, I got faster.  I spent 5 months doing weekly speed sessions.   I aced a 5k and 10k.   I completely trusted my training,  and wouldn’t change a thing.  I am a speedwork convert and am looking forward to hitting the track again soon (as soon as I can walk downstairs without wincing in pain).

I’m writing this on night two of not being able to sleep because my emotions are just running wild, (plus night two of waking up starving).  Failure is tough to accept.

I’m still deciding what to do next but have decided not to make any decisions until my legs quit hurting.  Go for it again in a few weeks in Dallas?  Blow off trying to get into Boston (this is year 5 of this trying nonsense and year five of coming up short)? pick a new goal?  quit marathons? take up Quiddich?

No need for comments.   I appreciate all the people who tell me “you still did great!”  I know they mean it, and I know this is a super, super small, not a real problem kind of problem.  BUT, 5 months of hard work is a long time, and I reserve the right to be sad for a few days.

The Frankenthon is still a fantastic race that I think offers a really good shot at a fast time, and I thank them for that opportunity.  Just wish it had turned out differently.  😟


Fall!   Taper!

Well the cooler weather is finally here!   The days are still pretty warm, but comfortable.  Minus one really hot muggy  morning this week, most mornings were pretty comfortable.  Which means the last two weekends’ 21 mile runs were not misery.  

So yes, taper starts tomorrow.   It’s been a long journey and gone fast all at the same time.  Marathon training kick off was May 1!  This was my longest build up, but I think that was necessary.  Without a doubt I got faster.  Twice a week speedwork, did indeed work.  I spent longer mastering each distance so that by the time I got up to 20, I had plenty of endurance.  I have no doubt that if I stay healthy, don’t do anything stupid, and the weather is favorable, I can make my goal time in two weekends.  This Saturday was a test, 15 miles at a faster than comfort pace then 5 miles at race pace, and it went well.  I’m sure a lot of that was the fact it wasn’t 80 degrees at 5am.  I also started taking salt pills and I think it really leveled out my stomach and gels and water went down great.   I’m a little sore today, but coach said getting sore was fine.  I have almost two weeks to rebuild.  Like all runners, I hate tapering and I’m terrible at it.  But I’m going to do what he tells me, as I’ve  worked way to hard the last few months to screw it up.  I will have to remember all the mornings running on the track in the dark at a horrible hour or ricidulous intervals on the treadmill at an hour that is still considered night.  Bleh.  I love the training, but some mornings are just hard.

And in the rest of life,  the Fall slam continues.  Jaspy had ramped up to activities five times a week and we decided something had to give.  I ended up missing his activity twice in a week  because the traffic for me to get home was so insane, plus he has homework every night now, plus we were pretty much never eating real dinner.  So cub scouts got the ax.  He took it well.  He is currently so infatuated with gymnastics that he was willing to do anything to protect it.  I remained slammed with fall festival.  Once that is over,  I get a lull before Austin marathon.  Yes, despite lots of doubt I decided to pace again.  Because I need extra stress (ha!), but I really decided I’d be really sad if I gave up my spot on the team.  I’ve managed to fool them for this long that I know what I’m doing…

So that’s it until race day.  I hope it works….I plan to recount what I thought worked well and what didn’t.  Hopefully more works well!


Muggy days and 5Ks…

Lost a tooth . Permanent teeth growing behind baby teeth, aka shark teeth, aka braces in the future.
Go team old people!

I guess it’s not as hot as peak summer, but the last two weekends have involved runs in 100% humidity.  Last weekend was 20 miles with the last 20 minutes faster than race pace, I was actually cramping at the end and  spent rest of the day with a horrible headache.  My clothes weighed about 20 pounds after the run, they were so saturated with layers of sweat.  My headache was bad enough I gave in and ordered salt pills after spending most Saturday’s this summer with a headache.  Better late than never?   This weekend was an alleged cold front and a 5k.  Like most marathoners I fear 5ks.  They are way too fast and hurt the whole time.  But I’ve learned that I have to do things like this to get faster.  We had a good workout Thrusday and I felt confident until I woke up to 75 degrees and 100% humidity (that’s a cold front?). The 5k was in my neighborhood which was pretty hard to beat for convenience.  So there was just a short jog to the start and we were off.   It was myself and Maria and George (aka coach).   As expected it hurt and I didn’t quite hit my paces given the humidity but I came out of it wanting to run another.  I really want to get better and these short,  painful races are key.  We all came away with hardware, which was cool.  And  I actually won a gift certificate!  It was to a crossfit gym though, so that was promptly given away.  (Dang)

Today was just a 10 miler which you are allowed to say the last couple weeks of marathon training, even though it sounds obnoxious.  But it was brutal, and discouraging.  It was so muggy I was drenched a mile in and I spent the rest of the day with a massive hangover sensation.  From 10 stupid miles, and I took salt.  I survived much worse runs this summer with much less carnage but I guess my body is just ready for fall.

Halloween decorations are up, humidity be damned.


A test, a pilgrimage, and a 10K…

Last weekend’s attempt at inducing fall….making fall themed cookies.
First night of gymnastics. Of course he loved it and was a natural.
Voo Doo donut love…

Sooooo busy the last couple weeks.  Between hard workouts, activities, fall fest planning, and way too much work, oh yeah and getting sick, there wasn’t much breathing room.

I knew fall would be wild.  There is just so much going on, but I know have one huge thing off my list, a certification exam.   That sucker’s been on my calendar since March and I’ve been studying two night a week for the last 6 weeks or so.   Saturday was my test (250 questions, ouch).  I won’t know results for 4 weeks, but I’m just glad it’s done.   I took Jasper on a Voo Doo donuts pilgrimage later.   I am ashamed it’s been here over a year and I just now went.   I thought it was worth the hype.  The donuts are really good and I am not a donut person.   The atmosphere is super fun.  The donuts are over the top and not really something I’d want for breakfast,but they are so inexpensive it was fun to get a few crazy flavors and sample them. Only gripe….horrible location.  It’s in the middle of a bunch of bars with no where to park.   Jasper and I ended up with almost 4 miles of walking round trip.  I’ll pay to park, no problem, but I had to draw the line at $15 dollar parking for a 30 minute, $5 donut excursion.   I’ll have to figure out something better for next time.

I’ve had a few good workouts the last few weeks.  We had a 19 mile progression run that I got the pacing right for, and I didn’t feel too sore the next day.   We had mile repeats this week that were done at paces I haven’t seen in 5 years.  This morning, coach had us do a 10k race with warm up and cool down.  The race was near by, but didn’t start until 8:30.   It’s really not fall at all, because by then the heat was getting pretty intense and the completely shadeless course was an oven.   Our goal pace was 7:30.  On one hand I bombed that, 7:40s for me.   But, that is the fastest I’ve raced at in 5 years, so I don’t feel completely defeated.  Plus it was a good effort and faster than I would have run on my own.   Also this run had the 10kers plowing right into the 5k walkers on loop two so there was a ton of weaving.  I’d like to think I could have gone faster without that, but who knows?   It was good  to race for the first time in over 5 months and get the cobwebs out, before the marathon.  Plus I had some Voo Doo donuts to race off…🍩🍩🍩

Up this week, Jasper had taekwondo, gymnastics, and cub scouts, Mike has the Melvins and Dinosuar Jr to see.  I have a 20 miler.  We need more weekend time!


Farewell summer…

Cake is watching Usain Bolt…Olympic watching was awesome.  I will miss being able to watch track!

Farewell summer.  It went way to fast.  I already have a better game plan for next year.  More time off (I hope!) and some camps for Jaspy that are more fun.  The kids’ time off really does fly by.  

The last week was crazy.  I did all my runs on the treadmill including a brutal 16 mile.  It was supposed to be 19 but I timed out where I absolutely had to stop and get ready for work.  Meant to do the last three after work but running after work never happens.  Not only a mentally difficult but logistically hard.  Who wants to run at 9pm after being up since 3:30?  Yes, and last week included three 3:30am wake up days.   Like I said, it was a tough week.  I had to drive back and forth to San Antonio for work over the weekend, so I also sat in a car for a huge portion of the week.  It was a week I was happy to check the box it was over.  Now I have a certification exam I’ve been actually having to study for, and once that’s done I can focus full efforts on marathoning and the volunteer position I do with the school (aka second job).  So yes, fall is just as busy as summer!

The training is going well, I think.  Treadmill weeks are hard to tell since I set the pace ahead of time.  I’ve done a good job about embracing the off days more.  It’s been a hard transition to take off when someone else tells me, but I’m trying to follow all the rules and stay in the same schedule as my little group.   There were a couple of really hard days where I thought to myself “I better qualify after all this!”   I can proudly say I’ve been 100 % consistent on doing my track days once a week since May.  If I missed due to childcare I did the workout on the treadmill.   Been consistent with one day of weight lifting and short yoga sessions at home but yoga class has been tough to get to.  We are rejoining the Y and leaving the fancy gym due to the cost, Jasper hating the childcare, and some other reasons,  and I have access now to Mike’s work gym with a decent yoga schedule so maybe I can make it work again.  Even though the fancy gym was awesome, Jasper was much more willing to go to childcare at the Y.  And if he doesn’t want to do childcare most gym time is out.   So I’m hoping this means I can hit it up more than I currently do.

So back to school tomorrow.  I have enjoyed not having to leave the house by 7:15 this summer but the schedule starts back up.   Just a few months until Christmas break, right?


Short update…

Only pic of Six Flags, a few moments in AC playing air hockey.

This will be brief.  Summer has flown by and has been too busy.   We swam a lot, and work got too busy for all those little extra days off I wanted.   Jasper mastered a front flip off the diving board, and I took my 800 down 15 seconds.  In addition to a Disney trip, we went to Six Flags this weekend and it was BRUTAL.   Over 100 degrees with hour plus waits and no real areas to escape the heat and the food situation was a nightmare.  But Jasper and his friend LOVED it and he declared it to have the best rides.  Worth it.

I am loving the training group and am getting more used to hard-easy-hard.   The easy days are super easy and the hard days are much more intense than I was doing in the past.  We have recovery weeks that have me itching to run more and then build weeks with runs everyday.  I am loving doing something so different and really enjoy time with my new running buds.   I’ll detail it more later, but now I am off to work…..


Best Disney park and hard runs…

Hours spent this summer doing this…..

At Disney California Adventure….best Disney park!

The summer continues to fly by, and anytime I go anywhere near this blog I’m interrupted.   But my blogging would consist of “we swam!”, my workout nearly killed me!”, ” where does all the time go!”  

Last week we went on vacation to SoCal to visit family.  Jasper got to spend a lot of time with cousins all in his age range, so that was a lot of fun for him.  We also had TWO days at Disney.  Our first vaycay day everyone was at work and busy and we were on our own, and said its our money, why not do what we want to do and added an extra day at Disney.   We did California  Adventure, and I loved it.   All the best stuff from WDW in Flordia , but not spread amongst three parks, all in one.  Our top three rides were Tower of Terror, grizzly river Rapids and the Cars radiator springs ride.   I could do a huge post on how awesome I thought this park was but I’ll shorten it to just saying if you are in SoCal then do it!   The next day we did Disneyland with family and had a blast.  It was definitely more crowded than DCA though.   

So lots of walking.    It was a recovery week for the running group so that worked out great.  The morning we left I did our one hard session and was really sore on our first Disney day.  The other runs were all pretty easy and easily fit in with being out of town.  My aunt gave me really good directions to a bike path along the ocean, so I did that in 65 degrees.  Coach ordered easy pace, which I did, but I was still a little bummed I wasn’t any faster than easy pace at home despite no humidity and such mild weather.  This weekend was a really hard workout with race pace segments scattered throughout our whole long run, and I had no dinner the night before and had gotten in late.  I was also worried about the heat since I had had the last 5 days in really mild weather.  I got through it, but only due to my training partners.   We worked together with me watching pace and my buddy Rich watching time.   I love being part of this group and was really looking forward to hooking back up with them!

And back to work tomorrow.  Should be another crazy week.   I will be playing catch up and the workouts will be hard.    And there will be endless pool trips thrown in there too.   Gotta love summer…