Monday, January 31, 2011

Houston Marathon Race Report



There they are, my results.  In black and white. Here is how they came to be.
Jeff and I woke up at 4am, had a little coffee and my normal pre race breakfast of a whole wheat bagel and peanut butter.  Two of my friends were riding down with us.  They got to our place, we snapped some photos and then left the house at 5am.  We got downtown and parked about a mile away from the start. Walked on over to the start, hit the bathroom a couple times, checked our bags, and before I knew it it was time to run!

I had planned on running with Beth, who I trained with and who I ran the San Antonio half with (which to date is my half PR).  I was slotted in the second wave, and she was in the first, so I just jumped up with her.  We came up with a code/plan in case one of us needed to hang back.  Basically we were just going to tell the other one, go ahead.  Then we would stay together for another minute just to check then go ahead if the other one of us was sure.  Jeff said that seemed like too much talking, and we just needed a word like artichoke.  So that was our new code word.

So the gun went off, and we were off.  Our plan was to not go out to fast, and we were doing well with that.  Of course the crowding kind of made thats easy. With the sudden arrival of bronchitis at the beginning of the week I had adjusted my goal and was shooting for a 4:30:00 time.  The first half of the race went well and we were right on track.  At the 13.1 mark I was on track for a 4:20:00!  I might want to mention that around mile 7 my left calf was twinging a little, but I could still deal.  At the halfway point, my calf and hamstring were cramping a bit, so I stopped for a quick stretch.  Right back on track.

Then we hit mile 15, which was a huge hill/overpass.  I mean really, I thought Texas was flat!!  Running up this  hill was just a bit too much for my lungs to handle.  Beth was right in front of me, but I had to slow down a little bit to try to gain control of my breathing again.  I tried to keep for the next couple of miles, but finally at mile 17 I heard myself saying........ARTICHOKE.  Beth double checked with me, I waved her on and she was off.

After that things kind of went down hill for me, as far as my race plan went.  My left calf, hamstring and quad were all cramping.  I feel like my nutrition and hydration were right on track.  It was very humid, and with the bronchitis I am thinking the lack of oxygen played a role.  All this cramping in my left leg lead to my left knee feeling like it was being squeezed by a vice grip.  I wanted to quit.  I stopped at a medical tent for some biofreeze.  I wanted to quit.  I saw my amazing husband at mile 19.5, so I kept on going.  I walked more than I wanted to.  When I ran it hurt unbelievably bad.  But I knew if I walked I would not beat my time from last year.  I had to finish, and I had to beat that time.  So, somehow, I dug deep and kept on running.  The last 4 miles were brutal.  At that point it was really a mental game.

I crossed the finish line 10 minutes past my goal time, and 21 minutes before I finished my first marathon last year.  So I guess I got a PR!

During this race I learned that I need a shorter training time (this plan was 22 weeks).  I am thinking an 18 week plan with more miles will work for me.  I also didn't run with my ipod, which I was unsure about.  However, I think that not having it made me tune into my body more, and is actually what kept me going at the end.  I think having it would have given me an excuse to not focus, and slow down even more.  So, I will use music for training, but no longer for races.

A quick note on the retail I shared, the company I work for went out of business.  My store was suppose to be open until the end of February.  When I was home sick on Tuesday I got a call that the last day we were going to be open was Sunday.  The day of the marathon.  We were expected to stay open, and box up all the clothes that were left to be shipped to another store.  I was racked with guilt for not being there, but  my awesome team told me to go have a great race and not worry about it.  I am so grateful to them for taking on that burden and allowing me to put all my hard work to use!  So now I guess the real hard work begins.  Job hunting...........

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A favoritve quote of mine.....

First a quick thanks to everyone for the advice and well wishes.  I am feeling much better now and am ready to run!  Just thought I would post a quote I found about this crazy thing called running marathons. And then I am going to TRY and get some sleep!

"Listen. Yeah, it's gonna hurt some. That's the marathon business.

But here's the thing. When it starts to get intense, that's not time to panic. This is what you wanted to happen. It means that all the training, all the miles, all the wakeups, all the cold, all the wet, all the sleep-deprived days and all the shit you've done to yourself over the last 6 plus months is finally about to pay off. It means you've put yourself where you wanted to be. You've given yourself an opportunity that very few will ever have. You've given yourself a chance.

Now finish it." -Unknown

Monday, January 24, 2011

What would you do?


This is the word that is hanging over my head  upcoming marathon.  Started getting a little cough a couple of days ago.  It got worse Sunday.  Stayed home from work today and went to the Dr.  Said it sounds like the beginning of bronchitis.  Got a lot of medicine.  People are telling me I shouldn't run.  I WANT to run this race.  I need to run this race.  So, I am just wondering.  For the more seasoned runners out there.  What would you do?  Would you still run?

Monday, January 17, 2011

USA Fit Half Marathon Race Report

I really don't feel like writing this race report.  I don't know why.  One would say I had a good race.  Nothing went wrong.  But let's start from the beginning shall we.

     For a retail runner I had an awesome day before my race.  Meaning I didn't have to work!  There is some sort of sickness going around my staff so I had to cover shifts and go in on my day off last week.  This lead to me being able to be off work on Saturday, so I was able to sit around and rest my legs all day.  Off to a good start already!  Sunday morning the alarm went off at at 4am.  Jeff and I got out of bed, got dressed, had some coffee and a bagel with peanut butter. We walked out to the car and it was slightly drizzling.  Not ideal, but workable for sure.  The race site was about 43 miles from our house, and with each passing the mile the drizzle turned into rain, which turned into a downpour.  Not ideal, at this point I am thinking not workable either.  I really wanted to turn around and go home, but we paid for the race, and as Jeff pointed out, even if we went home we both still needed to get a long run in.  So we decided to stay.  Not to mention the traffic control at this event was horrible!!  It would have taken us twice as long to get out of the place as it would have for us to stay and run.
     We  had about 30 mins to the SCHEDULED start of the race.  I made a quick sprint for the bathrooms, then came back to the car to get Jeff so we could head to the starting line.  We took our pre race nutrition and headed out.  Just about the time we got there an announcement was  that due to the traffic STILL trying to get in the parking lot they were going to be delaying the race 15 mins. UGGG!  There wasn't really any place to get shelter from the rain, so we headed back to the car to wait it out.  We were about to head back to the start, we saw some more people heading back to their cars.  Come to find out the race was being delayed another 30 mins.  What to do now.....  while waiting we watched some videos on my awesome EVO.  If you haven't seen this check it out.  Click HERE
    With, what we think is about 10 mins to the new start time we head over to the bathrooms.  As soon as we walked up to the line we heard the starting gun go off.  WTF???  Most of the people in line sprinted out, but Jeff and I decided to stay.  I really had to pee!  By the time we made it to the start 4.5 minutes have passed.
     So finally the race has begun!  Jeff and I were off and running.  My race plan was to treat this race more of a training run.  I have the Houston Marathon in two weeks (deep breath) and I didn't want to push too hard this race and risk injury.  After weaving in and out of people for about the first mile I felt myself in a pretty good groove.  My Garmin was showing an average pace of 9:22.  I was happy with this and running in the rain wasn't so bad.  At about mile 5 I was feeling pretty good so I decided to pick it up a little bit (Granted, I had Ruth Ann, one of my training partners in my head the whole time telling me to take it easy).  I mean, I was running a race after all.  (I don't have the splits right now as Garmin Connect is down)  At about mile 8 I was still feeling awesome, but had to stop to stretch my left quad, so I decided to take it down a notch again.  Then again at mile 10 I wanted to push some, but my quad was still bothering me, so I kept it slow.  I started running along side a guy who was running the full, and we chatted for the next two miles.  About mile 12 I realized I might not beat my time from this race last year, so I kicked it in for a strong finish, and even chicked a couple guys.  I still missed my time from last year, by two minutes.    Here are the results

Overall time:  2:04:26
Avg Pace:  9:30
Overall: 206/1240
Age grp: 38/302

     So yes, overall I had a good race.  I stuck to my race plan.  My nutrition was spot on.  But I know I could have done better so I am a little frustrated.  Crazy right???  Hopefully this will pay off for me in two weeks!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Plan? What plan?

     So here it is, 14 days before my marathon.  14 days!!!!  I feel like, simultaneously, this time is going to crawl by and fly by.  Tomorrow Jeff and I are running a half marathon that we signed up for ages ago.  At the time it seemed like a good idea.  I am not so sure now, but I am still going to go.  I am not going to race it, but use it as a training run.  I have been toying with the idea of not wearing my hydration belt during the marathon, and I am going to try this strategy out tomorrow.  I have a race belt that I can hold my GU in, so we will see how it goes.

     I have read a lot of blogs where people have outlined their racing plans for 2011.  I have never (ok, in the one year I have really been running) worked that way.  Other than 1 or 2 big races I have just kind of signed up for races when I feel like it.  But this year I wanted to come up with a little bit more of a plan.  So during an extremely painful training run for this marathon Ruth Ann and I (Elizabeth was way ahead of us!) came up with a plan.  In 2011 no more marathon training.  She said she wanted to concentrate on getting past some injuries and having more of a healthy running year.  I wanted to work on speed.  So we came up with the plan to focus on some shorter races, 5k's, 10k's and a few half marathons.  Not to mention I am going to attempt to complete my first sprint triathlon in April.  Not to mention I  just lost my job.  Oh, and not to mention some things I really don't want to mention.  So yesterday, when a friend of mine who lives in Hawaii suggested I sign up for the Honolulu marathon, for a very discounted price, I thought, "hey sure, why not."  Did I mention it is in December, 2011????  So, this plan, really doesn't seem to be along the lines of my plan.  But it is Hawaii, cheap, and I have a free place to stay.  So there it is, my plan.  Who knows what else 2011 will bring!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

22 miles, check!

Looking good after 22!

Yesterday Ruth Ann, Elizabeth and myself had our last long training run before The Houston Marathon, which is only, 20 days 21 hours and 45 minutes away (as of the writing of this post), but whose counting??  We were hosted by a different running club for this run, which I was very psyched about.  It was in a different city than ours, and I was very ready for a new route.  I can only do the same route so many times before it becomes painfully boring.  Yesterday I feel like I had one of the best runs of my training and I feel like it was because it was a new route and we had the PERFECT weather.  An apology in advance to my friends up north......... it was 44 to start, and when we finished it was a beautiful 50 degrees.  I am praying everyday for weather like that on race day.  It could even be a little colder out at the start and I would be thrilled.

Since we had to drive to the location yesterday I used the run as a trial for race day.  Woke up super early, ate my pre race fuel, and had on my race day outfit.  I opted for running capris, and a tank, with arm warmers.  It may seem crazy to some, to wear a tank in 44 degree weather, but I warm up so quickly when I run that it really works well for me.  No chafing anywhere, so the outfit passed the test.

During training runs, or past races for that matter I typically take nutrition every 30 minutes.  Yesterday I was running with a girl who was very chatty, so I kind of lost track of time. It wasn't till almost 50 minutes in that I realized I hadn't taken and GU yet, which my body was definitely telling me I needed.  I took one and was still feeling great.  I decided to just kind of listen to my body at that point instead of being on a nutrition time schedule.  I feel like this worked really well for me.  I hope by doing this during the race I am not depleting all of my nutrition before I refuel, but I felt so good yesterday that I think I will ok.  Around mile 15 there was an aid station where I did have a banana, and around mile 19 I ate a cookie.  It was weird they had them, because I really felt like I needed some sugar at that point.  Or maybe I just wanted a cookie. 

Overall my pace for this run was 9:40/mile.  I finished 21.76 miles in 3:30:10.  I am extremely happy with this pace.  I am sure you can figure out where this will put me to finish the 26.2.  I don't want to write it, as not to jinx myself!!!  This will take a HUGE amount of time off of my finishing time from last year.  I will be so thrilled if this happens.  And I am sure I will be able to push it more during the race as well, being that it will be a race and not a training run.  I think my pace remained pretty consistent, partly because I did take two Tylenol before we started.  The past few runs I have had my hips really start hurting after about 12-13 miles.  They still hurt a bit yesterday, but not nearly as bad. 

  We start a 3 week taper now minus the half marathon that Jeff and I have planned this weekend.  This is the first half I did last year.  I really want to beat my time from last year, as I am a stronger runner now.  However, I went into my marathon injured last year, and I do not want to do that this year.  So I am really going to have to force myself to just use this race as a training run!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Just a quickie

You can never be sure. That's what makes the marathon both fearsome and fascinating. The deeper you go into the unknown, the more uncertain you become. But then you finish. And you wonder later, 'How did I do that?' This question compels you to keep making the journey from the usual to the magical.~Joe Henderson

Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough. -Hal Higdon

Things I will be thinking of during my last and final long (22 mile) training run before the marathon.  I have had friends, strangers, co-workers, and everyone in between ask me why I run.  These two quotes above just begin to scratch the surface of why.  I am not sure it is something I will every be able to fully express in words of my own.  I am hoping for a great training run tomorrow as a preview to January 30th!  Only time will tell.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

More time to train????

Where to start, where to start?  More time to train sounds like a good thing, right?  We all want it.  We all wish for it.  And then when you get it, unexpectedly, it really isn't what you wanted at all.  I found out yesterday that the company I work for is going out of business, so I am going to be out of a job.  I know I wanted the holiday madness to end, but I didn't mean like this!  The worst part is that we haven't been given a final date yet.  A liquidation company is coming in, and I don't know how long that process is going to take.  I am really realizing I do not like this uncertainty.  I guess I will just to take what I have learned through running, HTFU and power through this rough spot!

As far as my running goes, my last two runs were pretty good.  Yesterday my running friend and I did about an hour recovery run.  It felt really good.  I am not sure I am totally on board with the training plan that Kingwood fit has given us, but I am following it, so we will see the results in a few weeks.  I will say, I am faster than I was last year.  But is that because I am more experienced, or because of the program?  I think a little of both.  Today we got back to our speed work outs at the track.  I am really hoping these workouts will help me to maintain a more consistent pace during the marathon this year.

On a positive note, I saw some friends from the tri club today at the track.  As they ran by me (I was on my recovery lap ok!!) she said "the big day is in three week, are you ready?"  Immediately I said and emphatic YES, which I really hadn't realized until that moment! 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I may have made a terrible mistake.

Happy New Year Everyone! Is it just me, or does it already seem like 2010 was a lifetime ago??  I ended the year with an almost 16 mile training run.  The running group that I am training with didn't have our official long run this week.  However, one of the coaches, from a faster group than I am in planned a long run for Friday morning.  My faster training buddy Elizabeth and I headed over to the meeting spot at 5:30 am.  It was already 70 degrees outside.  Yes, I repeat, 70 degrees.  Oh, and humid, did I mention it was humid too.  Now I know some of you are dealing with super cold temps right now, and would probably welcome 70 degrees in December.  But to be honest this is not the kind of weather I want to be running in right now.  I have already had MONTHS of heat and humidity.  I need a break.  I need to be able to breath.  I will take the 70, but please make the humidity go away!  It was a decent run, but about 30 secs slower per mile than my 15 miler last week. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the humidity REALLY has a negative effect on my running.  I almost feel like I have asthma when it is really bad.  I am soooo hoping for a humid free day Jan 30th!

The slower pace may have also had something to do with the fact that the lady I was running with and I got lost a couple of times on the run, and we had to stop and pull out a map.  I am pretty sure I would still be lost on the greenbelts today if it hadn't been for her.  Also, lately, after about 12 miles my hips have been starting to get really sore.  I am not sure what to do about this?  Do I take some Advil before the marathon?  I probably need to incorporate some more cross training into the schedule as well.  Guess I have about 28 days to figure it out!

Now on to my terrible mistake.  I signed up for a sprint triathlon in April.  I mean, it is paid for and everything.  I really don't know what I was thinking.  I know how to swim, in which I mean I don't drown.  A few months ago Jeff bought me a used road bike.  I rode it a couple of times, but am terrified of getting hit by a car.  I used to take spin classes and thought riding a bike outside would be the same thing.  It is not.  I am pretty confident about the run, but can't imagine how I will have the energy to complete it in a decent time after doing  two other activities first.  Not to mention that the bulk of my training time will be during spring break, which is like a second holiday season in retail.  I did an indoor tri in October, but this sprint distance feels like a whole different ballgame!

On the running front, after the marathon, my goal for 2011 is going to be to do a few more half marathons to try to improve on my speed.  With this hip thing happening, and the fact that I am going to be trying out this whole triathlon thing I am not sure full marathon training is going to happen.  Plus, one day, I would like to I really do need to work on my speed.

I have had three very much needed days off of work.  I go back to the grind tomorrow.  Here's to hoping the holiday madness is over!!