Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Slowing down

Schedule for this morning was 1 easy, 4 race pace, 1 easy, and I fell behind the group.  Just wasn't feeling it today.  I'm still getting used to running in the cold.  But I've also gained some weight in the last couple weeks, nearly erasing my year-to-date progress.  And not having a time goal for the marathon this weekend makes me feel even more unmotivated.  It's all adding up to some slow runs.  I'm feeling achy and tired and very ready for a break. 

My to-do list for the weekend is growing uncontrollably, particularly since I'm writing off the day on Sunday.  Saturday is some Christmas shopping and hopefully doing all our cards, and then having our neighbors ovver for dinner I hope, and also possibly taking our godchildren to an Italian Club Christmas event.  Then Sunday will be a complete wash.  The marathon in the morning, then cleaning up at home, then out for a celebration pizza and beer lunch with hubby (celebrating his fourth half ever, and hopefully a new PR!), then we're going to see a movie.  Inception, finally.  I think we might be the very last people to see it.  We wanted to see it this summer, but there never seemed to be time.

We're supposed to go see Black Swan (with Natalie Portman and from the director of The Wrestler) tonight, already have our tickets, but I think I'm going out of town for work this afternoon, which will mean no movie.  At my old job, I used to have to travel a lot.  I was on a deposition rotation of Portland, NY and Houston, but mostly Houston.  After I got off that rotation, I got on one that was Madison, Chicago, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Indianapolis.  It really burnt me out.  Hard to have much of a life when you're gone so much.  I know some people thrive on it, but it didn't work for me.  I love to travel, and I'm okay with mixing some work into travel, but I don't like it much if there's lots of work and I'm not with my husband. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another Marathon!

It's official, I registered to run White Rock next weekend!  Ugh.  What am I thinking?  After this one, no more until Boston 2011 though.  No way I am going to do New Orleans, which had been in the back of my mind. 

Since my Turkey Trot 8 mile race went so well, I think I'll be fine to do a full.  And I could use 2600 calories of leeway for the next week!  I registered yesterday b/c there was no leg pain after the Turkey Trot, but of course this morning on an easy 9-10, it hurt again.  Oh well, at least I'm not doing it for time. 

Not sure what my goal is going to be.  Certainly to drink all beer that is offered to me along the course.  Possibly to run very easy through 20 and then run hard the last 10k?  Maybe try to find a friend who's going for a reasonable PR, like breaking 4 hours or 4:20 or something?  Or just run at whatever pace feels good?  Will have to talk to some friends this week and see what others are thinking. 

Also running on Sunday, my sweet husband is doing the half!  It is going to be his fourth half and he is going for a PR.  And of course Stephanie, of 50 states fame, is running what I believe is her first Rock.  Hopefully my weekday buddy David will run with me.  He also just qualified for Boston, running a 3:18 I think in St. George.  Joy is definitely doing it, but she's going to be fast too, so we won't get to run together.  She's going for a BQ I think.  And Grant, another boot camp bud, is undertaking the Rock for the second time and is probably going to run strong. 

Wow.  Part of me was thinking maybe 2010 would be a single marathon year.  I can't remember the last time I only did a single fall marathon.  Maybe 2005 after I was injured right before running NY?  Then 2006 was zero marathons for me, just snuggling up and packing on the pounds with my husband, we'd just moved in together.  07 was a couple, 08 was a couple, 09 was maybe three? 

2011 I think is probably going to be Boston in the spring, then maybe Steamtown in the fall?  Then maybe I'll do White Sands and Beijing in 2012, then I'll switch back to only doing fall marathons.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Trot

It's been a few wonderful days.  First, a photo of Jack after his surgery.  They operated on Wednesday morning and as of Thursday afternoon, they were taking him off the ventilator and he was breathing on his own.  Amazing.  He's doing great.

Then, there was the Turkey Trot.  The weather was not great.  It was mid-60s when we left the house, but mid-50s when the race started, and mid-40s when the race ended.  The wind was insane.  There were a few drops of rain while we waited to start, but it never really rained.  Fortunately for me, it was overcast.  I think sun is one of my biggest running nemeses. 

I got to see several friends at the start and it was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately, I never found Kiran, my weekday buddy who I was hoping to run with.  In the end, it was just as well -- he cranked out an amazingly fast time, and I ran with a weekend buddy and we had fun together. 

This is one of the worst race starts of any race I've ever run.  The last few years, there's been an extra charge if you want to be timed and the theory is that all timed runners start ahead of the untimed, meaning ahead of most walkers and strollers.  But it's always chaos and untimed people go way up to the front.  I was with Joy and my friend Rich and we were near the 6 min per mile sign.  Knowing full well there was no way we'd go that fast, but also knowing we were too far back.  We moved up a bit more before the race started, yet just as the gun was about to go off, we realized there was a woman in jeans directly in front of us.  Nice.  So our first mile was more weaving than I've ever done in a race (except of course this race in years past). 

Anyway, mile 1 was the slowest of the day.  2 and 3 were too fast.  Slowed down for 4 (hills), picked it back up for 5, then slowed it down to hit 6 (hills again).  Climbed the last hill and hit 7 on the downhill and Rich and I decided to split up, he was going to push for it.  I tried very briefly to keep up with him, but there was no hope.  I focused instead on passing a woman pushing a stroller who had passed us around 4.5.  I knew I had a PR in the bag, and I caught her and had mile 8 as my fastest mile of the morning (2-3 secs ahead of miles 2 and 3). 

Not sure if I actually had a negative split or not, haven't done the math, but my slowest mile was mile 1 and my fastest mile was mile 8, and that's a win in my book.  I found Rich at the finish line and the topic of the stroller woman came up.  He said she was his first target when we split, but unfortunately he overheard her in conversation after we all finished and it sounded like she'd just done an Ironman.  Ugh.  What a machine! 

It was a great running morning, my hubby also had a PR and is on track for a strong race at the White Rock half next weekend. 

I need to decide today if I'm going to sign up or not since, out of principle, I don't want to pay the higher price that goes into effect tomorrow.  I think I probably will...

Anyway, got home and started cooking.  We were pretty much on track to be ready around 2:30 or 3:00, but my cousin and his family were running late.  Very late as it turned out.  My cousin and his father-in-law and his three girls came around 3:45, then his wife and mother-in-law came around 4:45.  So we kind of had to reheat everything, but it worked out well.  The girls did some coloring crafts while we waited and we hung around drinking and talking. 

Dinner was good.  Lots of food and wine.  And because they were running late, we had a chance to run the dishwasher during the two hour delay, so it was empty after the meal, making clean-up much easier. 

Today is a bit of cleaning and hopefully getting the tree up in a couple hours, then a lunch of leftovers!  Hoping to go for a jog this afternoon.  As much as I don't like being really cold when I run, it's nice to be able to run in the afternoon sometimes!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Plans

Baby Jack's surgery is today (started at 7:15 this morning), so in all likelihood we will now only have 6 people joining us for Thanksgiving since my cousin thinks his wife will want to stay with him during his recovery.  More for my own benefit, here's my list of what we're making and when:

Meat -- husband handling, picking up something already cooked I think
Gravy -- heating mushroom organic gravy that we bought
Mashed potatoes -- after the run, we'll be peeling potatoes and this will take a while but can be kept warm
Sweet potato souffle -- new recipe, requested by cousin's family, not sure how long it will take, second priority after the run
Green Bean Casserole -- simple recipe, all from cans (ugh), but easy enough and quick
Corn Casserole -- new recipe to me, something cousin's family has made before, seems easy
Rolls -- from a can (ugh), but quick and easy
Stuffing -- probably pretty easy after I finish all the chopping
Squash and peas -- fairly easy, just takes a while to roast the squash, need to find good serving platter for this
Cranberry sauce -- canned and just the way I like it, sadly enough
Olives -- only have one kind so far, will get the others tomorrow
Dessert -- cousin is handling I think, pecan pie and pumpkin pie maybe?  Not sure.  Have a great recipe that my mom makes fairly regularly, but I think we'll skip it this year, but need to confirm they're still doing dessert given that the surgery is now set. 
Drinks -- red, white, and making some kind of a juice/selzer cocktail (or sparkling cider) for the kids

Sounds like it will all be easy.  Just need to focus on getting the leaf in the table, getting the table and chairs moved and set-up, setting the table, and making sure I pick out all the serving dishes (and maybe even planning pots and pans a bit).

I think I'll probably regret going the simple route, since I really enjoy cooking and generally enjoy eating something not ready-made, but with the surgery and everything this year, simple it is.  Next year I'll go back to something more ambitious.

UPDATE (3:30):  Baby Jack is out of surgery!  They had to patch his aorta and put a band on the pulmonary artery, but he's doing well.  He was taken off the bypass machine and his heart is beating on its own.  He's still on a breathing machine and will be sedated for the next day or two.  This guy has had quite the crazy time in the 4.5 days he's been alive! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Pain is Game Changer for White Rock?

I officially have a new pain I think.  It's kind of been a little tight behind my left knee for the last week or so.  It actually hurt for the first few miles this morning and then seemed to go away but hurt again as soon as I stopped.  I think it's the biceps femoris and it seems most painful when my knee is locked straight. 

I don't know what this means.  Realistically, an injury now isn't a big deal.  I have the big Turkey Trot on Thursday.  Originally, my plan was to race it (all 8 miles).  The start is very crowded (total race is about 35k people), but the last couple years I've had pretty good luck getting up front and the crowds thin quickly because there are tons of joggers and walkers. 

Last year I beat my goal by a little over 10 seconds and I was pretty psyched.  Well, comparing my pace for those 8 miles last year, I actually went slightly faster during the 13.1 miles I raced a few weeks ago.  So a PR should be in the bag. 

But there are two factors working against a PR.  First, it's looking like the weather might be crap.  Last year was almost ideal.  This year, they are predicting warm at the start with a front coming through basically just before or during the race, with rain during the race.  That does not sound like fun.  Second, this pain behinnd my knee.  I could run it easy instead, I could start out hard and see how it goes.  I don't know. 

The bigger question looming for me is whether I'll do White Rock.  I'd been thinking about it.  The price goes up again on the day after Thanksgiving, so I'm for sure waiting until after the Turkey Trot. 

Reasons to run the Rock:  I love the idea of getting another marathon out of the training this season.  I have a bunch of friends running it.  I'll run it easy, stopping to talk to friends along the way, drinking all beer offered along the course, meeting new people, etc.  It could be the day I hit my 2010 miles goal.  I was excited about meeting Stephanie, who is running it.  No travel required, like having lots of experience with the local marathon.  New course this year (largely similar to before, but some changes) and I'd love to see/experience it first-hand. 

Reasons not to run the Rock:  Hubby is running the half and I could go cheer for him (maybe with my neighbor who will be in town).  A bunch of friends are running and I could cheer for them.  I like cheering.  I wouldn't have to run 26.2 miles.  I could possibly prevent this knee pain from getting any worse.  I could still meet Stephanie and just cheer for her.  I could link up with other friends who are meeting someone at mile 20 and attempting to pace her the last 10k to a BQ. 

Bottom line is that Boston training will start on Jan. 2 and I need to be injury-free by then.  I could probably get through the marathon and even if the knee pain got a little worse, it would be very easy to take it easy most of the rest of the month and be all healed up by Jan. 2.  But from a fitness standpoint, it might make more sense to cut the mileage back some now and just try to maintain at a lower level straight through Jan. 2.  Hmm... what to do? 

Smart me says if there's any pain after the race on Thurs (and I know I'll aim to go hard), I should skip the Rock.  Stubborn me knows maybe I'll try to do anyway.  What to do?  Which side will win -- smart or stubborn? 

Oh, I wish this knee pain would just magically go away!

As for the baby update, it sounds like the surgery will be tomorrow!  His aorta is better than expected, so it's really just dealing with the missing ventricle. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Baby and Half with pics

As I mentioned, the baby is here.  For an unrelated reason a couple weeks ago, my husband and I looked up the difference between a first cousin once removed and a second cousin, and now that we've got that down, I know the baby is my first cousin once removed.  Anyway, they took him off the ventilator yesterday and he's now breathing on his own.  He still has a feeding tube and a bunch of sensors, but at least he's breathing well!  And his mom is doing really well too. 

Last night when I was in the room and his mom and I were looking at him and holding his hands, he actually stopped breathing, but that happens.  A bunch of alarms went off but she kind of tickled his feet and he started again.  Today is the big meeting with the whole medical team and we'll get a lot more info.  They are going to stop a medicine and see what happens with some blood flow around his aorta.  If it's as hoped/expected, then maybe the surgery will be on Wed b/c what they'll do with the aorta will be more minor.  But if it's as originally thought, the surgery will be more complicated because they'll have to stop his heart for about half an hour to work on it, and then the surgery may be delayed until early next week.

It seems like the doctors are great and there's so much prayer support for my them, it's wonderful.  And my cousin's wife already looks insanely wonderful!  I was showing baby pics to my co-workers this morning and one of them asked where the mother was, I said, that's her, standing by his little case, and they were shocked. 

Anyway, yesterday was a fun day.  I ran a very, very small half marathon in the morning.  Very cheap and the medals are small and not fancy, and there's no shirt, but for that price, seems completely fair.  I was running with a friend for 4 miles, but then she wasn't feeling great and insisted that I go without her.  I felt pretty good through the u-turn and then tried to pick up the pace a bit.  I succeeded for miles 8, 9 and 10, but I was barely moving in mile 11 for some reason.  It was really windy, so maybe that affected my pace.  But I managed to have a strong last mile and passed a bunch of people, which was kind of fun.  My friend finished less than 5 minutes behind me and we hung out for a while, then went out for brunch. 

Then I spent the afternoon cooking and shopping, then went to the NICU to visit!

Saturday, November 20, 2010


The baby (Jack) came very, very early this morning.  8 pounds, 1 ounce.  I haven't gotten to go to the hospital yet to see him, but I will soon and will share some photos.  Heard he's a real cutie though.  He's doing well but stopped breathing after he was born and had to be intubated, which was not unexpected, but now that the machine is breathing for him, it's a lot easier. 

My cousin's wife really wants to get out of the hospital apparently.  They got to the hospital at 11:30 last night, had the baby just before 1:00 this morning and as of about 9 a.m., she was waiting for a lactation consultant and then was hoping she'd be able to check out.  Crazy!  Seems like all my friends have stayed in the hospital at least overnight, usually for more than one night.  But I don't really like hospitals either, so I can kind of understand how she feels. 

So far life as a first cousin once removed is really exciting for me!  Haha.  I'll update later!

Update:  8:30 p.m., the docs convinced her to stay in the hospital overnight.  And the ventilator is slowly being turned down so Jack does more breathing on his own and the ventilator does like every fourth breath for him.  All the decisions about when his surgeries will be are being made on Monday.  His condition is called tricuspid artesia, which means he lacks the right ventricle of his heart. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Baby Watch

Still no baby!  My cousin came over to the house at 5:10 this morning to go to boot camp with us and told me all kinds of things I kind of wish I could "unhear" about membranes and stretching and stuff (my fault for asking!).  She's apparently at 4 cm right now.  I'm guessing cm -- maybe it's measured in mm or inches?  I don't know and I don't want to know...  Either way, I really hope she has the baby soon, but preferably after they come over for dinner tomorrow and go to the Cowboys game on Sunday. 

My cousin asked me what time they should come tomorrow and I said dinner would be at about 6:30, but if they wanted to come early maybe we could play a game or something.  Woot!  Hubby doesn't like playing games anywhere near as much as I do, so it will work out well since he will be working until about 6.  I could (and do) play for hours if it's something I like.  I love most board games, puzzles, cards and dominoes. 

One of my favorite things to do when we go visit his parents in Pennsylvania is to play a dominoes game called Mexican Trains with his mom and his aunt.  We sometimes play until really late at night.  I don't understand how my husband doesn't get hooked as easily as I do -- especially since he's good at games! 

Anyway, I think I am going to make a cauliflower mash topped with a mushroom ragout for dinner tomorrow, with a side of green beans or asparagus, and a strawberry cake for dessert.  The cauliflower mash topped with mushrooms was an idea I read on Newly Wed, Newly Veg's blog, but then I realized that the mushroom recipe contained tempeh (which they might not like) and more beer than I realized (which she might not want while pregnant), so I picked a different mushroom ragout recipe.  The dessert is going to be my first attempt at creating something a friend made for book club and it ended up being one of my favorite cakes ever.  Unfortunately, she changed jobs and it took a couple months before she emailed me the recipe, so it's not really strawberry season, but you know, sometimes you just have to go with it!  Since I live somewhere that I can find almost any produce I want any time of the year, I'll take advantage for tomorrow, though I really do try to eat more seasonally most of the time. 

Not much running this morning, maybe 2-2.5 at camp, but I think that's good since I'm running a half marathon on Sunday with a couple friends.  My schedule calls for 15 miles on Sunday, so I'll either have to get in an early 2 or do a couple after the race.  Oh, it will be nice to take a big break in December! 

Perhaps one of the best parts about the upcoming break from running is that I found out that our neighbors will be back in less than 2 weeks!  They're among my favorite people in the entire world, and she (Anna) is my favorite person to walk with, so that will be wonderful. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Living in Calabria?

Woke up at 2:50 this morning to use the restroom (couldn't limit myself to 16 oz of water after 6 p.m., which is usually my goal).  Flushed the toilet and could tell something wasn't normal.  It was too quiet.  Went to the sink and no water. 

They've been doing some street work on our block and our street was down to one lane last night when I came home from work, so I guessed that was the problem.

I woke up my husband to ask what he thought we should do.  His first thought:  it's like we're living in Calabria! 

When we go visit his family in Southern Italy, there is no water during certain hours at night.  I think it's from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. There is a bucket of water if you need it for anything, but no running water.  It's so bizarre.  We'd like to move there some day but life will be full of adjustments like that. 

Hubby's father's friend moved back to Calabria after he retired and then moved back to the US a few months later because he was so frustrated he'd not been able to get his phone set up in Italy yet.  He ended up staying in the US the rest of his life.  Sometimes I wonder if we'd be able to handle things like that.  As I've said before, I'm not very patient.  But I read a few blogs of Americans living in Calabria, usually Bleeding Espresso and My Bella Vita, and no one seems to think those difficulties outweigh the benefits.  But obviously those blogs just represent the people who stay in Calabria and don't reflect someone who might have moved there intending to stay but was dissuaded.  Anyway, last night was my little taste of life in Calabria.  As hubby and I were trying to go back to sleep, we heard a strange noise and then heard the toilet tank refilling.  Water was back on, so no excuse not to run (alarm was set for 4:52 and I was thinking maybe I'd skip the run if I wasn't going to be able to shower when I got back home).  But there went that excuse...

This morning we had mile repeats at the track.  It was cold but not as cold as I thought.  I think it was low 40s, maybe upper 30s with wind chill, I wore capris (which I hate wearing in general, seriously, who makes pants that cut off at the widest part of your lower leg?) and a heavier long sleeve shirt, plus gloves and an ear-band.  I was definitely overdressed.  Took off the ear-band before I finished the warm-up, and would have been more comfortable in shorts.  It's just so hard when you see numbers on the computer or tv, or even step outside, when your prior stop was a warm and cozy bed! 

I ran with David and Craig and we ran fairly easy.  First repeat was slower than I expected.  Second one 2 seconds slower than the first.  Third one was 5 seconds slower than the first.  Ugh!  But then the fourth one was solid -- 14 seconds faster than the first.  Love the negative split, even if it's on repeats!

Hubby has his last long run today (11 miles) before the White Rock half.  I checked White Rock full prices and the next price increase isn't until the day after Thanksgiving, so I may defer my decision until then.  That's probably a good idea since I seem to be having a bit of pain behind my left knee (biceps femoris in all likelihood) and the Turkey Trot 8 miles (hopefully at a hard pace) will be a good gauge.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Toenail Going, Going...

So distance runners understand that toenails come and go, but I've been incredibly blessed in 2010.  My big toenails each seemed to have a small crack in the top at the beginning of this year, but that's gone now.  And I managed not to lose any toenails after 3 fall marathons last year. 

I followed my MTCM training plan and cranked up the mileage.  I did my one really long run (about 22), and my toes were looking good.  10 of 10.  Then I ran a hard (for me) 5k and got a PR, but at the apparent cost of half a toenail.  Middle toe on right foot. 

I didn't get it -- how could I pound out 22 miles with no ill effects, but then get that trademark blue-black color under part of one after just a 5k? 

But it was only half that toe, which was strange for me.  But I just ignored, it didn't hurt or anything.  Well, that toenail held on through the marathon and didn't seem to change at all. Still a little blue-ish under half of it, but toenail itself seemed okay.  Bizarre.  That 5k was in mid-September (157.4 miles total that month), and then it was intact and unchanged through all of October (133.9 miles), and more than a week into November. 

Then last week I wore heels for a mediation and they were fairly uncomfortable.  By the next day, the entire toenail had turned black, and now it seems inevitable that it will go completely one of these days.  Oh well.  I've never had particularly pretty feet or anything, and as long as it doesn't hurt, I don't really care.

So there's still no baby for my cousin and his wife (she had contractions last night about 6 minutes apart for about an hour, but they stopped, her official due date is Sunday).  He came to camp with us this morning as a guest, and then hubby went to work and he and I ran home, with Joy for half of it.  Having him there this morning for the workouts was a good influence.  Both hubby and I seemed to be working extra-hard at camp, and the mile times we logged with Joy and after she u-turned were 30-60 seconds faster than last week, but the effort felt roughtly equal. 

Logged my miles today and I've officially topped 1200 miles for the year!  That means I'm likely to hit my NY Resolution of 1300 fairly easily.  If I can run 18 miles per week for each week this year except when I'm home for Christmas, I'll do it.  Actually, if I had to predict, I would guess my odometer will roll over 1300 during the White Rock Marathon on Dec. 5.  Which I still haven't committed to doing, but am probably going to sign up for in the next week or so.  Then any and all running I do after that will be gravy! 

That will mean I've met both my running resolutions for the year (marathon under 3:50 and 1300 miles).  Wow.  But I can't say that for sure until I get there, who knows what will happen in the next 91 miles?! 

As for the two semi-related ones, weight loss and posture, it seemed like I'd almost lost my goal number of pounds as of a few days ago, but now I'm up a couple pounds again.  I didn't set a big weight loss goal because I knew I was going to focus primarily on running.  So it will be kind of a bummer if I end up where I am now, or worse yet, get even closer back to where I was 1/1/10.  We'll see I guess... 

As for posture, what a crappy resolution.  It's impossible to measure!  Like if I sit straight up at work for an hour each day, I still haven't met it.  It's a vague standard and hard to regularly improve for me.  I forget it's a resolution all the time.  But one sub-part in my mind was to stop crossing my legs.  I've gotten pretty good about that, though that creepy vein behind my left knee is still there -- not any darker or lighter or longer or shorter.  Hopefully I've nipped it in the bud. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Broken Heart

I can't write this on facebook, but part of me, sadly, feels like my heart is breaking today.  Don't get me wrong, I'm married (almost 19 months now!) and it's good.  I feel insanely lucky most of the time (though it's not always easy sharing your life and your priorities).  My husband is wonderful, sweeter than I deserve.  And I'm so happy.  And I don't have any reason to think we won't be together as long as we live (or that that won't be for a very long time). 

But on some level, part of me always took comfort in knowing that if things didn't work out, there was always William.  When hubby and I got engaged, I knew it meant my chances of becoming the princess went down.  And when we got married, I realized on some level it wasn't going to happen.  But I liked thinking the option was there for me.  My safety.  Hubby is my first choice, but it was nice to know that Wills was out there as a back-up. 

There has been so much speculation in the media over the last 5 or so years as to when and whether William and Kate would get engaged.  And I knew they wouldn't.  He was waiting for me.  Trying to arrange for the perfect circumstances to meet me, when I was emotionally available.  But then I met my husband and he had to wait to see how dating him would go.  Then Wills was waiting to see if I'd get married to him.  Then waiting to see if it would stick. 

When I came home from my run today and turned on the TV to watch the Today Show over breakfast, I felt shocked to my core to hear they were engaged.  And worse yet, that they've apparently been engaged for a month already. 

It's so selfish to think that Wills should just wait for me, particularly since I love my husband so much and don't see this ever ending.  But at the same time, it was somewhat comforting to think he was just pining away for me.

But now, it's official.  I'll never be the princess. 

Wait, it's not official until they get married.  So there's still a chance.  But it's looking less and less likely.  Sigh. 

Really, I should be happy for him.  It's hard.  Oh, this is going to be a long day. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fort Worth Marathon Race Review

Well, not so much a marathon review as a review of the 20 mile course.  But I think most of it is applicable to the full as well.  I ran the 20 miler as a training run for White Rock and I had a fair-to-poor run. 

First, Elizabeth went to pick up our packets Friday at lunch time.  So sweet of her, so extra sad that it was such a waste of her time.  They didn't have any shirts and said we could just come back later to get them, or we could get them at the race when we picked up our chips.  She was like, say what??!!  What's the point of having advance packet pick-up if you can't get shirts or chips?  Just so we have a couple extra days to read over the flyers about other races or get a jump on using a few random coupons?  Packet pick-up sucked.  For a race of this size (small), if you aren't going to give out everything we need, just don't offer anything prior to race morning. 

So we decided we'd have to leave extra early race morning, since now we'd have to park, get shirts and chips, put the shirts back in the car and get back to the starting line.  We had very poor directions to the start and kind of got lost in downtown Fort Worth, but that was definitely our fault and not the race's.  We found cops on bikes to give us directions, so we made it there without too much trouble. 

One of the best parts of the race is the size -- it's small, which means lots of primo parking available.  We had to walk about 200 meters to the start.  Maybe not even that far. 

And it has a staggered start, so the full starts at 7:30, the 20 miler at 8:00, and the half at 8:30.  That means for the marathon, if say you run a 4 hour marathon (9:09 pace), you're finishing right next to people who are running a 3:30 20 miler (10:30 pace), and a 3 hour half (13:43 pace).  That can be very tough mentally, at least for me.  It's one of my least favorite things about the original Rock and Roll San Antonio course, though in 09 it was better since there was a divider between the slower half marathoners and those doing the full.  In 08, it seemed like everyone around you was walking and made it very hard to finish strong. 

Anyway, a good and bad part to the race -- the shirts.  Only one size available when we got there -- unisex XS.  Lovely.  But it's actually bigger than I expected since it's unisex.  So assuming they can figure out how to get the right size shirts for everyone, the shirts are great.  One of the best I've gotten in a while.  Short sleeve, light blue, technical. 

So, on to the race report.  It's an out and back along the Trinity River Levee until about mile 9.  Very flat overall.  A couple hills in the first (and last mile), each less than 30 seconds of running up.  And then one steeper one near mile 9 (and 11) (and a steep down too), but also less than a minute up.  Almost the entire route is on a concrete sidewalk, but maybe 1-2 miles total are on a gravel path.  Not much shade and it got warm today. 

The absolute worst part of the race, and why I'd not recommend it to anyone next year (it may be fixed next year, but I don't want anyone I know to suffer if it isn't!), is the water stops.  The first two were fine.  Gatorade and water.  Then for all the rest of the stops until the u-turn, just water and NO CUPS!  Many of the volunteers apologized, but there were just big gallons of water and you had to stop and drink out of a used one if you wanted any water.  For a race that cost $85 (and keep in mind, I paid $85 for the 20 miler, full marathoners paid more and were on the course ahead of us, so they had the same problem for at least as long as we did), I expect water stops that have both water and Gatorade (or something similar, at at least every other stop) and I want the water to be in cups (or tell me to carry my own). 

After the u-turn, cups had been distributed to the water stops, but still many of the stops had only water.  And I was still grossed out to know that I was drinking water from cups that had been poured from gallons that runners (often snotty runners, it was cold at the start) had chugged from just a little while earlier. 

Elizabeth wasn't feeling great and we slowed considerably on the second half, walking at some points, but it was fine with me.  I wasn't doing this race for time, I was doing it to see if I could go the full 20 miles.  Another notable thing about the race was that there were little yellow signs to delineate each mile.  However, the mark for the half u-turn was just some spray painting on the course.  The 20 mile u-turn was a very small sign right next to mile marker 10.  We'd been warned to look for it by several runners coming back at us, but could have been very tricky. 

We finally got to mile marker 18 and ran the last 2 miles.  It was fun to pick off slower runners ahead of us, many who were just out for a leisurely half. 

The finish line was decent.  Another pet-peeve:  there were massages available at the finish, but it was a single line.  I absolutely think full marathoners should have had at least half the benches just for them.  It's fine to put 20 and 13.1 in the same line, but it seems unfair to the marathoners.  But as I've said before, I tend to prefer races that have a full marathon only.  When you mix a full with a shorter distance, it can be disheartening.  People going out fast all around you, while you have to pace for 26.2.  Then you get to the finish line and the half runners have eaten all the food.

That wasn't an issue at this one, at least not for me, but it's a frequent issue at other races (and possibly was for the back of the pack at this one).  We didn't need massages, but we got some recovery drink, Muscle Milk (don't love it, but it's okay) and sat around with a friend from speed class that we'd found who also ran the 20 miles.  We figured out there was a line for food and beer, I got a small bowl of pasta with red sauce with a piece of bread, and half a beer (had to drive 40ish miles home and was a little worried about being too dehydrated from the water fock-up). 

The medal was interesting.  I hate the ribbon (full of sponsor logo), and the medal is the same for all 3 races -- marathon, 20 mile and half.  It's interesting because it's actually a belt buckle.  How cute and typcially Texan!  And even better planning -- the ribbon (ugly as it was) has a little spot of velcro, so you can take the medal/belt buckle off it without cutting it. 

So, for the Fort Worth Marathon 20 mile course on 11/14/10, I would say: 
  • pre-race logistics were okay (just shouldn't offer advance packet pick-up);
  • shirts were okay (great shirt, need adequate numbers of all sizes);
  • parking was great (ample and free and very close);
  • course was good;
  • elevation profile was completely awesome;
  • course support was poor, poor, poor (inexcusable in my mind);
  • crowd support was minimal (very enthusiastic, but very rare);
  • finish line was pretty good (separate massage line for marathoners would be good, but otherwise pretty nice);
  • medals were okay (ribbon was poor but inventive, medal was decent but gets major points for being so unique).
I would say this could be a great race for someone who wanted to qualify or PR.  The lack of any real elevation changes and the lack of congestion at the water stops could really work in your favor.  But you would have to be prepared to bring your own electrolytes largely, and at least for 2011, bring your own cup -- and brace yourself to pour someone's potential backwash into that cup...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Impatient Dreams

I think one of my biggest character flaws is my lack of patience.  I try to tell my husband to think of it as an attribute because it's one of the primary reasons I don't want kids -- I don't think I'd be a good parent.  But now for two nights in a row, I've been frustrated and impatient in my dreams.

Thursday night I dreamt hubby and I were at the opera with another couple.  It was before the show and we were all going to meet there to get the tickets and go to our seats.  There was a bank in the lobby and I decided I'd get a money order I needed while I was waiting.  Though of course in real life I can't remember the last time I got a money order, certainly not within the last 5 years, no idea where this came from.  Anyway, I waited and asked if I could pay with my credit card (in real life and in my dreams I don't usually have much cash on me).  They said no, so I gave them a $20.  They said there was a $2 fee, so the money order would be for $18.  That was fine.  But I waited and waited, then someone else working at the bank told me that it was going to take 24 hours to get the money order.  I was really irritated and I couldn't wait that long.  I thought they should have told me that up front.  So I said I wanted my money back.  They wadded up the money order and gave me $15.xx back, because there were more fees.  I was really mad and said I wanted my whole $20 back.  I was arguing with people at the bank when I woke up.

Last night I dreamt that I had taken my car in to have the state inspection.  They told me it would take about 30 minutes, so somehow I went to work (I don't remember how I got there or how I got back to the car place).  Anyway, I got back there 45 minutes later and it was like they hadn't started the inspection on my car.  I was so mad and I was in a hurry to get back to work.  I was arguing with people in the store about why it was taking so long and what the problem was with them or my car when I woke up. 

What does all that mean?  I know I'm impatient.  But I'm not very stressed about anything.  My car was inspected a couple months ago and won't need it again until next year. 

Maybe I need to focus more on being patient.  Sigh, count to ten.  I really don't feel like I've been particularly impatient lately though.  Maybe they're just random meaningless dreams. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

20 miler number 4 ahead

So all my wishy-washiness about whether I'll do a second marathon this season will be resolved in a few days.  I am committed to doing a 20 mile (maybe 22 if we feel good) training run on Sunday at the Fort Worth Marathon with Elizabeth.

It's hard to take it seriously this time around.  While I didn't have a perfect stretch of training for MTCM, I was pretty good.  But it's hard to buckle down right now.  I know I'll be running the Rock for fun if I do it, so it's easy to kind of blow off the training. 

Even if I really don't care about the 20-22 miler this weekend, if I'm not careful tomorrow especially, it has the potential to be downright miserable!  So, in the interests of attempting not to ruin it, I'm making my own list of reminders for what I need to do before anything over 20 miles.  Even if it's just a training run and my time doesn't matter. 

Water:  drink tons today and tomorrow.  Less critical since it's only low 70s here today, and is supposed to drop into the 40s for overnight lows on the morning of the run.  But still essential for me.  I'm not doing well today, and I need to buckle down.  I drink tons of water normally, but need to make it more of a priority today. 

No Alcohol:  I try to stop drinking at least a week before a marathon where I'm running for time (and really, I should do it regardless of whether I'm racing the marathon or not).  For a 20+ training run, I usually like to allow 3 days w/o alcohol before the run.  That will be a success if I can hold off starting now.  I drank on Mon and Wed nights this week, but was running too late last night to make it to happy hour as I'd hoped before we went to our Italian conversation group.  Tonight will be tough, I'll likely want a glass of wine but I will try to resist, but I'll definitely have enough willpower to forego on Sat night, since we'll be eating at home.

Diet:  Extra carbs the day before, and nothing funky.  Dinner the night before for me has to be very limited dairy (like a dusting of cheese over pasta), very limited fruits and veggies (tough for me, maybe a small salad or a side of green beans or something), limited protein, and an overwhelming emphasis on bland carbs.  Pasta with red sauce has been my stand-by for the last couple years, though a few years ago I was into a routine of making something that was a mix of sweet potatoes, brown rice, black beans, and mild salsa.  Occasionally I've added some asparagus to that, but not much.  I should try that again one of these days, had almost forgotten about it. 

Planning:  Decide what time I have to leave the house, and what time I have to get up.  Know the weather forecast and pick out outfit accordingly, and preferably set it out in the closet or on the bathroom counter.  And set out all the other stuff I'll need, like fuel for during the run, disposable warm-ups, clothes to wear over my running clothes for the drive home, directions to the start, pins, recovery drink for the drive home, etc. 

This is a little different since it's not a marathon.  Argh.  I typed that sentence and then I reminded myself that I'm making this list b/c all that stuff still matters if I don't want to be miserable on a 20+ training run!  I need to lose the "just a training run" attitude, stat!  20 miles is a long time to be miserable if I forget to wear Glide, or if I eat a big yogurt the night before, or if I don't have enough water in my system...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Celebration dinner

Last night we had our official end-of-season group dinner.  My weekend group this year (as well as last year) was less cohesive than prior years, but my weekday running buddies were all there and sitting together, so I sat with them (hubby worked last night).  It was great to hear about their NY experiences.  One person finished right on target, one was on BQ pace through mile 23 but then had major issues with his quads and slowed down a lot but still had a PR, and one person finished in what would have been a disappointing time for her under normal circumstances, but given her injuries this year, starting and finishing were small miracles by themselves!  And she broke 4 hours, which is something that took me years! 

It was a lot of fun and reminded me again how lucky I am to have such an awesome bunch of running buddies.  Well, reminded might not be the right word -- I never really forget how lucky I am! 

I think I mentioned before that two close running buddies have abandoned me over the years.  Incidentally, both for California.  One moved there for his girlfriend's (now wife, as of a few days ago) job.  And one just moved this summer for his own job. 

Anyway, I just had a weird dream on Monday night about the one who had moved away this summer.  He was in my closet (not my real closet, just a closet that was mine in the dream) and he was either nailing something up or installing shelving or something like that.  I had mentioned it to my weekday buds on Tuesday morning (trying to change the topic on a sports-discussion-heavy morning) and we were all wondering how this guy was doing.  So I sent him a short email Tues night to say hi and see how life in LA and with his new job was going.

He replied to my email and said that when people ask him about how he liked living in Dallas (they were here for just over a year), he says the first thing that he mentions is how much he liked being in our running group.  It was his favorite thing about living here, which is cool to hear. 

It's certainly rare, unique, etc.  This group is probably why I like running as much as I do.  Such great people, great conversations, great friendships, etc.  It's hard to remember what life was like before I ran.  I was kind of new to the city here, so of course I didn't have as many friends as I do now, but it just seems like the local friends I know the best are all people with whom I run (or ran, a couple close friends are out right now for injury or people-making (to use Carrie's term!)). 

I wonder if I'd have the same dedication to running if I ran solo all the time.  Or even most of the time.  Now, there's just no question in my life about whether I'll get up at 4:50 and meet those guys at 5:15 to crank out some miles.  It's a given.  And even on days that I'm really tired or I'd rather just stay in bed, being out there with them makes it better. 

Lucky girl!  Guess this is a good month for being thankful in general, but my running buddies are among the best things in my life. 

That said, this morning's run sucked.  I hate when our group has all finished our races and we kind of float around without as much of a schedule for a couple months.  We usually hook up with one of the White Rock groups, and that's usually great.  But this morning one of the people who I don't particularly enjoy as a coach was leading the Rock group.  And we went with them, assuming we'd still head to the track and be able to do our own thing there.  But she had a different plan, and it wasn't as much fun.  But it will be back to normal on Tuesday fortunately!  My splits felt sloooow this morning.  And they were!  It was kind of warm and humid.  Slower pace didn't bother me though, just waiting to see how the long run this weekend goes.  No sense in being more tired than necessary for it. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Racing Hours, Statistics Fun

If you've ever been to athlinks, you know it's a website that compiles race results.  I've never registered with them, so a few races are missing under my name, several have an incorrect age, and there are a few results that don't belong to me, but that's beside the point.  One of the guys I run with during the week emailed the link to me and commented that I've been running for a long time.

Just for kicks, I decided to tally up my race results from my spreadsheet (I've kept a racing log (separate from my training logs) since very early on).  Since I started running, I have spent 142 hours and 41 minutes racing.  Admittedly, several races were run for fun (I think about a 5k with a co-worker's daughter once, a first post-baby 5k with another friend, etc.).  But that's still 142 hours where I've been running on a race clock.  Wow!  And that doesn't include one of my very first races, a 3.5 mile corporate race challenge where I didn't keep track of time.  But I could safely say I'm over 143.25 hours. 

And I have run 97 races -- 97 times I've paid some kind of entry fee, pinned a bib to my shirt, and toed the line.  Just over 894 miles raced (again, counting races where I was running just for fun, and this time counting the 3.5 mile no-time-recorded race).  894 miles!!  That means I could have run all the way from Dallas to Milwaukee, and then some! 

Perhaps the coolest thing about all these statistics -- I just realized that this weekend's race will be no. 98, next weekend will be no. 99, and my 100th race will be on Thanksgiving -- at the same race that was my first about 7 years ago! 

Kind of makes me feel old... but happy all the same!

The end is near

It's been a couple busy days at work, all-day mediation (fruitless) yesterday.  Had a nice run yesterday but actually had to make a pit-stop at a porta-potty along the way -- perhaps my first mid-run stop of the year?  It was in a very convenient place so I was able to cut under a bridge and catch back up with the guys a minute or two later.  There were some very interesting conversations, made me really miss Tami -- running with all guys is sometimes just too crude.  But I was a bit disappointed to hear what our overall pace was, since it had felt so much faster.

Today I went to camp (with hubby, celebrating USMC's 235th!) and then ran home with Joy.  We realized the end is near.  Only two more Wednesday post-camp runs together this year probably! 

I've almost committed to running the full marathon here on Dec. 5.  I've decided I'm going to do the 20 mile race at the Fort Worth Marathon on Sunday.  Not racing, just running (guaranteed PR!).  And assuming that is okay, I'll sign up for the full on Monday. 

But that means Joy and I will run next Wed., and then I'll do a half next weekend, then we'll take off the following Wed. to be ready for the big 8 mile Thanksgiving race here, then we'll do the following Wed., then it will be time for White Rock! 

This year is really slipping by quickly.  I need to get a few more Xmas gifts (still waiting on lists from some people).  I'm getting excited about the holidays coming up.  We're going to have my cousin and his family over on Thanksgiving, so I'm starting to do some menu-planning and hope to make most the decisions this weekend.  Then the next day we can put up the tree -- we put our tree up right after Thanksgiving since we go home for Xmas (and I go EARLY), we don't really get to enjoy the tree for that long.  When I lived alone, I used to always spend the first night with the tree up sleeping on the couch.  I love looking at the lights so much. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Marge Simpson: My quads! My quads!

I'm not seriously hurting from yesterday's half, but I felt it this morning at boot camp.  Adam and I spent most of yesterday afternoon post-brunch lounging.  Reading, napping, playing on the computer.  When hubby got home from work, we decided take-out would be best for dinner, and I was excited about having reserved my last 2 caramel brownies for Adam and me to celebrate our great half-marathons. 

Adam clearly lacks the discipline I have to plow through a large piece of chocolate goodness in front of him.  He was all "oh, that's too much," "oh I could never eat such a big brownie," "it's just so rich," "I think I've had enough," etc.  While I'm chowing down on mine!  It was thick and about the size of my hand but all ended up happily in my belly!  I was appalled he couldn't finish his, but I was polite enough not to scrape it off his plate...

I've had some time now to go back and look at my half splits.  If I exclude mile 1 and mile 13 from my calculations, miles 2-12 were all within 15 seconds of each other.  If I throw mile 1 into the mix, they were all within 31 seconds of each other. 

I really don't count mile 13 because, loving the negative split as I do, I'm always happy to throw out a crazy fast mile at the end.  Though if I had a real running coach right now, I'm sure he or she would say that if my last mile could be about 45-50 seconds faster than my average and slowest miles, that meant I was holding back too much and should have expended more energy in miles 11 and 12 to pick up the pace of those a bit. 

But I'm someone who has crashed and burned multiple times in races when I try to hit the gas too hard in the later stages, so now I'm exceedingly cautious.  At mile marker 12, Adam was probably 1 minute in front of me, and I narrowed that to 8 seconds over the next 1.1 miles.  So even if I could have pushed a bit harder a bit sooner, I'm still happy with my effort. 

I felt like I was flying past people in the last mile.  There was one guy who stayed with me for much of it, but no one actually passed me. 

McMillan, my favorite pace predictor, says that my new half PR predicts a marathon time about 6.5 minutes faster than my current PR, and even deeper into BQ territory.  I love it! 

Unfortunately, this now makes it appear that I'm underperforming at pretty much every other distance I've raced except 5k (I seriously don't know how I busted out my unexpected 5k PR in September, particularly on a sunny and warm day with some serious (albeit Dallas) hills).

But I love the confidence I get now in knowing that I should be able to beat down my current PRs at the mile, 4m, 5m, 10k, and 15k.  I have an 8k PR but it's actually my longest-standing PR because I have raced exactly one 8k in my entire running career and it was a few years ago, before I started to seriously improve at my running.  And actually, I still like my 8k PR -- it was the very first race where I'd moved into a new minute for pace per mile, and I wasn't on the cusp either.  That was such an exciting day for me (and it was in July in Dallas, so a feat there as well). 

Speaking of improving at my running, I have run the same half that I did yesterday 4 times now.  Though the course has changed slightly over the years, much of it is the same (including the hills in the middle while you're in the neighborhood, as opposed to on the lake).  I have PRed at this race on every single occasion. 

I'm shocked at how I've improved.  Year 2 beat Year 1 by about 31 minutes.  Year 3 beat Year 2 by about 13 minutes.  And this Year 4 beat Year 3 by about 9 minutes.  That means I have now run basically the same course and have improved by 53 minutes over the 13.1 miles.  My pace has improved by almost exactly 4 minutes per mile. 

Wow.  I'm actually proud of myself!  I still have a long way to go before I'm running with people like my cousin (by the way, I added his age group photo to yesterday's post this morning).  But realistically, my cousin is only going a couple minutes per mile faster than I am right now.  I know that the faster you get, the harder it is to chip away at your time, and I don't think it's even conceivable I'd ever get that fast, but it's fun to see how much I've improved and I'm curious to see what more I can do.

At yesterday's race, my most recent speed coach set his first post-collegiate half PR.  Very exciting for him, but his mom also set a PR.  And she was way in front of me (30 secs per mile or so) and only about 30 seconds per mile behind her son.  She's smoking fast and she's 54!!!  

Wonder how she felt this morning.  My quads were surprisingly sore, but not killer.  Makes me think of that Simpsons where Marge has to run but doesn't have time to stretch before she starts, then she starts going and she's yelling "My quads!  My quads!  Each stride is a nightmare!"  I guess it could be worse!  Adam and I went to boot camp and he did NOT love it.  He thought he would have been better served taking a rest day, but I was happy to have him there with me.  Tons of cherry pickers, which was bad, but not much running, which was good. 

Anyway, here's my bling from yesterday (not sure how to rotate that bottom pic):

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shiny New Half PR!

It was a great morning to run today!  According to the weather forecast, it was supposed to be about 47 at 8:00, and 55 by 10:00.  Very sunny and bright.  Standing at the starting line, I realized I was overdressed.  I was wearing shorts, a singlet, gloves, arm warmers, an ear band, and a cap. 

I was back to the arm warmers issue I had a month ago.  I like my current arm warmers so much, I really don't want to ever pitch them in a race.  I had no idea what to do at the start.  I thought about leaving them in a tree, but the finish line was about a quarter mile away and I didn't know how easy it would be to get back there.  Plus, I didn't want someone to pee on them. 

I tied my arm warmers and ear band together and asked a woman on the sidelines (who wasn't runnning based on what she was wearing) if she would be so kind as to take the little bundle to the Run On/New Balance red tent over near the start anytime in the next couple hours.  She said she would (and she did!). 

So that left me in shorts, a singlet, gloves and a cap.  And it was just right.  I lined up with Adam and several weekday training buddies. 

Back to yesterday for a second.  Adam and I spent a lot of the day relaxing, sleeping in, working on a puzzle, etc.  But we spent a chunk of the afternoon at the Arboretum, a Dallas flower park on the lake, along with my cousin, his wife and her mother and the 3 kids.  My cousin was planning to sign up for the race, but when we called the running store at about 4:15, there were apparently only a handful of bibs left.  So he and I left everyone else at the arboretum and flew to the store as fast as we could.  He got registered, then we went back to find them.

Anyway, this morning I realized just how fast my cousin is.  He went out with the speediest of the runners.  Adam and I didn't even line up with him.  Our first mile was too fast, and the pattern continued, but we were feeling pretty good. 

By about mile 7, Adam started to pull ahead of me, but I still felt like I was doing pretty well.  I ran 7-12 all within a 10 second window for each mile.  But then I ran as hard as I could for the last 1.1 miles, trying to catch up to Adam, who had never really been out of sight. 

8 seconds.  He beat me by 8 lousy seconds!  Oh well, no complaints really.  I was happy he felt good since he hasn't run much since MTCM. 

Joy was a couple minutes in front of us, other friends were even futher ahead.  My cousin John placed 12th or so overall, with a crazy fast time of 1:17 and change.  We all met up and walked around a little (NOT ENOUGH).  We waited for his age group award (he decided he'd rather put his arm around a cheerleader than hold half his award, haha):

Then we went to brunch at Cafe Brazil, where we met up with his wife and about 10 other good running friends of mine.  Pretty much everyone had enjoyed a great race, and while we were sitting there and my french toast was put in front of me, I had the clear thought that it was one of the happiest moments of my life. 

I wouldn't say it rivals my wedding day or my bridal shower day, or perhaps several other wonderful days, but it's the best in recent memory, and the first time in quite some time that I recognized a perfect moment while I was in it.  Happy! 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Back to Plan errr C

We're in the clear.  First, she hasn't gone into labor yet, so my cousin and his wife are still primary childcare for the other three kids.  Second, her mother is here, so she is now Plan B.  Thus, we are relegated, fortunately to Plan C. 

We hung out with them a bit last night and wow, 37 weeks appears very pregnant and very uncomfortable!  She looks great, but wow, I just can't imagine!  Anyway, we got my cousin to join us at boot camp this morning, which was a lot of fun.  He's in the military right now so he's in great shape and the instructor just couldn't shake him.  I asked Grant to run with him on the 1.5 miles, b/c Grant is usually first and that was the best I could do.  But then we ran in the parking lot, he even left Grant behind. 

I think I've talked him into doing the half this weekend as well, which will be fun.  Hubby picked up packets yesterday for me and Adam.  The shirts are really cool.

Adam and I talked a bit of race strategy at lunch today.  He's not sure about racing it, which is kind of disappointing for me.  But I also know what he says and what he does might not be the same thing.  I was envisioning us flying through the course together.  Or him in front of me and my graciously accepting the loss and being ecstatic for his new PR.  I just know if we run together for 10 miles easy and then decide to run hard, he'll smoke me.  I need to run steady, and aim for a slight negative split.  A big one if possible, but I can't go out too fast or too slow. 

I know I can run my own race.  I have a time goal in my head (beating Adam's current PR) and I can go for that alone.  But it just seems like it would be more fun to go it together.  We'll see.  At least we get to do tons of other cool stuff together this weekend.  Tonight after my sweet hubby has to go home (he has to work early tomorrow), we're going to an improv show, which will be cool.  Tomorrow we're going to picnic with cousin/family at the Arboretum.  Tomorrow night I think we're going out for pizza after the AC gets off work.  Sunday the race, then brunch.  Yeah! 

Fun, fun weekend ahead!!!  Fingers crossed hard for a solid race on Sunday.  Trying to start hydrating now, though it's harder to do when it's cold out!! 

PR or bust?  Breaking Adam's PR or bust?  13.1 injury-free fun miles?  We shall see on Sunday at the finish line! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Plan B

We're officially plan A for childcare for a few more hours.  My cousin and his wife live several hours away in Oklahoma City.  She is very pregnant -- 37 weeks and some days -- and the baby is okay in utero, but will need medical attention when he's born and there aren't sufficient resources to treat him in OKC.  So they were left with the options of having the baby there and then being life-flighted to Dallas, or coming here early to have the baby.  They opted for the latter and yesterday she started feeling badly and is ready to go according to her doc, so they came down last night.  Her mom is flying into Dallas today, but if she has the baby before her mom gets here, we are responsible for the three other children.  Scary for us!  Our house is anything but kid-friendly, especially since the oldest of the 3 is in first grade and we live in a 3-story house with stairs, glass tables, outlets, etc. everywhere. 

I'm sure we could handle the responsibility for a day, especially if we could borrow their car with carseats, because then maybe we could take them to a park or something.  But it will be a big sigh of relief when their grandmother gets here so we're moved to plan B. 

I'm volunteering tonight at the running store to help with packet pick-up for the half this weekend, then we have our Italian conversation group, then I'm hoping we can go visit my cousin and his wife at their hotel (or the hospital). 

I'm excited about getting to spend more time with them in the next few weeks.  My husband has never met them -- he was supposed to come to their wedding in Oregon with me in August 2006, but his grandmother in Pittsburgh died a few days before the wedding and her funeral was on the day of their wedding, so there was just no way he could be on both coasts for both events, so we parted ways.  And then with all their kids, they weren't able to come to Italy for our wedding, so he's actually never met them.  So assuming she can hold off on going into labor for a couple more weeks, it will be great to get to spend time with them (and even if she doesn't, as much as we hate hospitals, it will be fun to see them there too). 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fort Worth Running?

I'm getting ahead of myself, but I'm trying to figure out what I'll be doing a week from now.

I promised myself I wouldn't make a decision about whether or not to run our local full (White Rock) on Dec. 5 until after this weekend's race.  And I'm not committing.  But part of me is trying to figure out how I'll train for it if I decide to do it.

Basically, the plan will be 13.1 hard this weekend, then a long run of about 20 miles, then about 15, then about 10.  Hmmm.  The easy option is to roll into a Rock training group with the program I currently run with.  But it's not as much fun to join a group already in progress.  But it's what I did last year and is likely what I'll do again.

But there's a Fort Worth racing option.  I could do the half this weekend, do a 20 mile race in FTW next weekend (guaranteed PR), then a half in FTW the following wknd (and I could add on a couple for 15 if I wanted), then the Dallas Turkey Trot for 8 miles, and then an optional 10 a couple days later.

Typically, I do a race in FTW about once or twice a year.  Their big marathon is in Feb.  I've never done it, but I've done the half and the 10k there, and maybe the 5k, I can't remember off the top of my head.  And then I've done the half there that is coming up in a couple weeks.  That's an odd race.  Very small, but a very fast field.  The time I did it, I ran with a friend as a recovery run from the San Antonio marathon the weekend before.  We ran easy, but it was still a decent finish time, one that would have been a PR for me a couple years earlier.  Yet we were among the last 30 runners to finish.  It was crazy! 

So now I might run in FTW two of the four wknds in November.  Hmm... could be fun!  May have to see if I can convince a running buddy to do both with me.  Just a thought milling about in my head today. 

Not much to report from this morning, it was raining so I didn't run home from camp.  Did lots of exercises with the ankle bands, so I'm bracing myself for sore glutes and legs tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All around steady, the beauty of the negative split

I had a lovely 6 mile run today.  Kind of speedy, but felt pretty good.  Still slower than what I'll ideally run on Sunday during the half, so bottom line is that I'm probably going to have to adjust my goals -- a PR should be possible, but maybe I won't be smashing it quite as I hoped.  Adam also hasn't been running much lately, so maybe we'll be able to hang together for a while.  He's also been taking it easy since the marathon.  He's logged fewer miles than I have, but he's naturally significantly faster, so it might balance out. 

The other nice thing about today was that my husband had a good run.  We always share our splits after we run, and he's come to realize that I much prefer to hear about his steady splits (or a negative split) to something all over the board or to be slowing down.  Sometimes on a normal run (no fartleks or hills or anything), he'll have mile times that are more than a minute apart! 

In a race where I'm planning to run steady, my goal is that each mile be +/- 5 seconds from my goal time.  Of course I'll widen that gap to about +/- 10 seconds if there are notable hills or something.  And of course I'm always thrilled to be picking it up faster and faster toward the end of the race.  But I've had a few amazing running coaches and have been taught to be a very steady runner.  AND I have found much more success with it, so I'm trying to get my hubby there as well.

It's crazy to hear or read about others' races and see that they'll start out with miles a minute faster than their goal pace, and then the final miles will be a minute slower than their goal or average pace.  Even if they don't feel like they're crashing and burning, I wonder if they know how good it feels to start conservatively and either hold that pace the whole time or, even better, to feel like they can pick it up toward the end. 

Instead, to use my favorite running analogy these days, they're going out like shirtless drunks on Cops (not my analogy, read online). 

A negative split in a long race is tough.  I've done it in many shorter races (and I've attempted it tons of times and failed), but I've only successfully done it in two marathons -- NY (through some kind of miracle), and St. George (where it's almost impossible NOT to negative split).  But I think MTCM was maybe the first marathon ever where a negative split was not my goal (and mostly b/c of the course, I knew it would be particularly tough there; when I added in the pace group options, I decided the best bet was to plan on a big positive split). 

But in a shorter race, there's really no excuse for me not to have a negative split.  It will be my goal for sure on Sunday.  We'll see how it goes...

If it goes well, I'm contemplating running long the following weekend, then another half, then the 8 mile Turkey Trot and maybe another run that weekend, then the local marathon here (White Rock) on Dec. 5.  But no decisions until Sunday at the earliest! 

Monday, November 1, 2010


We didn't do much running at camp today, which was fine with me.  I'm not exactly sure what my running schedule is this week to be ready for the half on Sunday, but fewer miles are probably better. 

Lots of women use 5 pound weights at camp, but officially women are supposed to use 8s (which I do).  Joy uses 10s and I'm in awe.  And sometimes I think maybe I should make the leap as well.  But then we have a day like today, where we actually use the weights a lot and work our arms.  And these women with the 5s are kicking my butt all over!  It was a beating, but I survived.  I just wish I could bring 5 or 6 pound weights with me as well, but then I'm lugging more than 25 pounds of weights with me, which just seems like more trouble than it's worth.

We had a really good weekend.  Fun wedding and then had a great time last night trick-or-treating with my godson and his sister and their mom.  Our hubbies stayed at their house and watched the baseball game (Rangers lost again, looking like there's not much chance, but good they made it this far) and passed out candy. 

We got home and the kids tore into their candy.  I got hooked on those Now&Later soft taffy pieces.  I probably ate about 15 pieces -- enough that my jaw and teeth actually hurt this morning!  I also had some chocolate, and cosmos, but I was more into the fruity candy (and drinks).