Monday, November 7, 2011

"There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"

I wanted you all to know that for some reason, blogger isn't allowing me to post comments to my own blog (??) Not sure what's going on here, but I appreciate all the comments that you have made, I just can't respond to them (trying to figure this out...)

It's been a while since I've been able to update my blog. So much has happened! For those that haven't read my previous post, my mother has been very sick with terminal cancer, & we actually lost her on October 10th. Taking care of her in those final months, & her eventual death, have been the hardest things I've ever had to go through in my life so far, & I'm still dealing with it every single day in my own quiet way. It's very hard for me to talk about, but I seem to be working through everything on my own & talking to my husband a little bit as I need to. For some reason I've been quite content to just sit & quietly mull it over. So unlike me to be quiet!!! ;-)

Life will never be the same...

As far as my training goes, you can imagine that it was quite hard to be consistent. Last year, I ran the St. Louis Track Club half marathon in 1:42, so this year I wanted to try for 1:40 (which is a 7:38 average pace). I didn't realize that grief would have such a profound physical impact on my body. I was crying all the time & had a constant lump in my throat, & my blood pressure was sky high, even before she died. Running, or exercise was very difficult to nearly impossible for me. I was the only family member living here in town, so was doing all that I could for my mom, & was still maintaining the fact that I need to also take care of myself in all of this or I wouldn't survive it. I did the best I could, being that taking care of my mom & my kids were my top priority. I was still following my training plan, & things were really looking good, but there wasn't enough time for me to get to the gym to do my strength circuits (& let's face it: I really didn't want to fool with it). I wound up going 1:45:40 yesterday, & that's all there is to it.

I went ahead & ran the Rock n Roll St. Louis half, with the 1st 3 miles being warm up & the final 10.1 at tempo pace, two weeks ago & wound up at 1:47:54. It felt great & was pretty easy. The following weekend I raced the Gumbo Flats 5K, & was determined to come in first! I could not, for the life of me, catch up to the 14 year old girl who came in first, & I wound up second, the same as last year, but came out with a one second PR of 21:51. I'll take it ;-)

There I am in the middle (new hair!) with Jamie (The Original Running Buddy), & Chris, my official pacer (he is running a marathon next month & needed to go slower than his normal half marathon race pace, so figured why not!). He did a great job setting the pace, but unfortunately my legs didn't rise to the occasion.

We had a whole team running with us at the beginning, but somewhere around mile 6 the wheels just fell off completely. Katie, who we started with & who I ran with last year, did wind up making it in 1:40ish!! I couldn't hang, that was for sure. The whole thing was so weird, because usually I'm a total head case, & it winds up being my brain that hinders me from doing my best, so I really thought if I had Chris & Katie I couldn't go wrong. Not the case here. I couldn't make my quads go until adrenaline (& a nice downhill finish) set in at the end, along with Chris shouting encouragement. The course was the same as last year. It starts pretty much downhill for about 3 miles, then does 2 hilly loops through Forest Park, & the final 3 miles back to Shaw Park are practically uphill, with a nice downhill finish. Here are my splits:

Mile 1 - 7:34
Mile 2 - 7:33
Mile 3 - 7:25
Mile 4 - 7:31
Mile 5 - 7:41
Mile 6 - 8:08
Mile 7 - 7:37
Mile 8 - 8:12
Mile 9 - 8:23
Mile 10 - 8:25
Mile 11 - 8:50
Mile 12 - 8:50
Mile 13 - 8:24
.18 - 1:11

That's an average of 8 minute miles (ouch!), & was officially very hilly, windy, & difficult for me this year.

That photo pretty much sums it up :-) Me chasing Chris with my eyes shut. lol

The difference? Last year I had just done a century ride the month before, so my legs were plenty strong. This year I had a lot going on, & maybe should have gone a more conservative route, but there is no failure in trying :-) I had a ton of heart rate to play around with, & I took 2 HammerGel's, so the only explanation I have is that my legs just weren't strong enough for these hills. I plan to get myself back to the gym, effective immediately, so I can get myself ready for the Frostbite Series, which starts December 10th with a 12K, & features a half marathon in January. Last year, I didn't run the whole series but did the 10 miler, & my husband did the 4 miler. I love the course & am really looking forward to it!

I've already starting knitting a very festive hat for the Frostbite Series to be revealed at a later date ;-)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August Races

My husband & I had a great time at the Flat Five in St. Charles two weekends ago. It's an annual event in which each finisher receives a trophy with their finishing place on it. Sweet! Being early in August, it was really hot already & I remember the news said humidity was 92% that morning when I was getting ready for the race. I haven't been keeping up with speed work, but have been continuing my long runs, along with weekly base miles, so I wasn't expecting miracles here, again. We were just out to have a good time, & get our trophies!

No surprises on the course, there is a short hill about a quarter mile in, just as there is every year, but the rest of the course is flat & finishes up on the Katy Trail right in front of the river in downtown St. Charles. The heat & humidity were hard to push through near the end, & there was a guy who nearly passed out with a quarter to go. I ran back & brought him some water, but there were already 2 guys doing the same thing so I let them handle it. Poor guy was out of it. We suffered no ill effects from the heat, & crossed the line to receive our trophies.

I finished in 37:14, & have no mile splits to give you because I have become the Anti-Garmin. I think I'm doing a great job just feeling it out as I go, & results have been pretty consistent with what I'm capable of. I'm taking the pressure off myself & having fun. :-) There's a time & a place for the Garmin as a training tool, but I'm done using it for every run or ride.  

I was 5th last year, so even though I was slower by 13 seconds this year I went 4th overall! That's what I call raising the bar. Next year I will really have to work on it to get 3rd.

I was also asked to join a women's tri team, since they lost their runner, so I headed to O'Fallon to race the Alligator's Creek sprint tri with Alyssa & Amy last Sunday. Even though I was just doing the run, I wore my tri shorts & top so I could blend in.

I felt sort of silly standing there by the pool, & here's a shot of me trying to see my teammate Alyssa in the pool.

It was a serpentine pool swim, & she had to swim 300 yards, I believe, then run up to the transition area to tag Amy who would ride her bike through a hilly 18 miles. This was a tough course.

The run course was just as tough. Hilly, windy roads so you had to be careful to run a straight line. My dumb shoe came untied (which never happens) before I was even a quarter mile in. No way was I going to stop to tie it, so I got on with it, hoping I wouldn't sit & dwell on it the whole time. I soon forgot about it, so all was well.

I didn't wear the Garmin to this either, so I have no splits, but I can say that I did my best to not redline on the uphill & just plowed down the downhills not really giving any recovery time. It was just not an easy course. The weather was perfect, & there was beer at the end :-) I finished the 3.1 mile run in 22:54, for an average of 7:23 minute miles. Ouch. I'm not too broken up about that, & I did tell them I would probably be in the 22 minute range with the hills. Cutting it close.

We took first for women's relay teams & each got a trophy.

These aren't the official results, but it shows our splits. Well done, girls!!

Apparently, I will be doing a little mini tri this weekend. a tri-snack, if you will. It will be interesting to see what happens here, as I only have 8 laps in the pool (200 meters), 3 miles on the bike, & a one mile run. I may throw up. lol


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Luck in the Land of Lincoln

My husband & I were able to get away for the weekend (thanks mom, uncle Tom, & aunt Paula!), so we headed to Springfield, IL to the Springfield Tri Fest. We needed a break from life, more than anything, & neither of us had really trained specifically for this, so we were just looking to have some fun. 

I knew I could cover the distance, with my recent bike ride of 40ish mile (plus weekly riding base), last weekend's long run of 10 miles (plus weekly running base), and I had also recently covered the 1500 meter swim distance in the pool (as well as 2 recent 1000 meter open water swims). Not perfect, but I figured I would make it through OK, so I decided on the Olympic distance (appropriately named "Iron Abe" - swim 1500 meters, bike 24.8 miles, run 6.2 miles).

My husband is in the middle of marathon training, but has had some bike miles recently, & figured he could get through the swim, so he went with "Stone Man", the sprint distance (swim 500 meters, bike 12 miles, run 3.1 miles). We both had pretty good races, all things considering.

I was registered as a male for some reason, so was given a pink swim cap (for men ages 39 & under). I didn't realize until I was standing in the water getting ready to go that all the women had green caps. It makes for a good photo opp though, so there I am above in the pink cap amongst the other women in green. I didn't hear what the water temp was at the pre-race meeting, but I woudn't run my bath water that warm. About half-way through the swim I could feel my face starting to get really HOT.

I didn't take into account that in the pool I get to push off from the wall every 25 yards, so the swim felt REALLY long. I had some soreness in my right arm as a result that has lasted all week, but I made it through in 43:00.8, with the 2nd to last swim time in my age group. Ouch! I'm a slow swimmer for sure, but I just don't like it well enough to work on it. I've tried, but I just can't get in to it. Talk about endurance sport: about mid-way through the swim I started to wonder when this torture was going to be over, & I just simply endured it. I blocked my mind & started singing songs in my head like "All out of Love" by Air Supply. Don't ask me how I come up with these gems. It's a gift ;-)

Anyway, I made it, & my transition 1 went smoothly with a T1 time of 1:27.5 so I could put on my helmet, sunglasses, cycling shoes, & race bib. This is definitely improving, though I would love to get that time under a minute. Maybe I will skip the socks next time since they are always just soaking wet anyway.

The bike went pretty well for me, though my arms were very sore from the swim & I just couldn't get comfortable. I changed positions a lot, & spent a lot of time thinking about it. 1:20:26.1 was my bike split for 24.8 miles, at 18.54 mph that's a little slower than I know I can ride on a fairly flat course. Just a few weeks ago I rode 20ish miles & held just over a 20 mph average speed. I'm not too broken up about it though. Every experience is a learning experience.

I think I need to do some lifting for my arms, because something just wasn't right. I had started a lifting program, but I'm not at the gym often so I wasn't consistent with it. Next week I will start though, & just make it a point to go.

I did another good transition, as T2 was 1:09.3 so I could put the bike back on the rack, get the helmet off, & change into running shoes.

I raced in my Waterloo Flying Dogs tri suit, which a good friend gave me. In this area, they probably thought it was a cycling club from Waterloo, IL, but they are actually from Canada!

Weather was absolutely perfect. It was barely 80 degrees, with overcast skies, & it started to rain a little toward the end of the run. I feel like it was wasted on me though...

The run was the sort of devestating part for me. Usually, in a tri, my run split is in the top 3 overall for women. This just wasn't the case. I don't think it was a fuel thing, since I hydrated on the bike & took a HammerGel but my legs just wouldn't turn over. Usually, when running off the bike, it takes a little bit of time for your legs to realize what's going on, but for me that day it just never clicked. I think I've only done a handful of brick workouts the whole summer, so it's no surprise. Just a bummer. I was hoping to really do well on the run, but finished in 53:45.8 with an 8:39 average pace. :( That's pretty harsh, considering that, according to race results predictors, I am in shape to run 45:47 for a 7:23 average pace. I mean, I carried a 7:49 pace for a half marathon... It just wasn't my day... I was really surprised it wasn't slower than it was, actually, since I was sure I was running 10 minute miles.
I need to find a 10K to run on its own before giving the olympic distance another tri, so I can get more comfortable with this distance. Afterall, this was my first ever 10K!! I'm not counting though, since it sucked ;-)

I finished the whole thing in 2:59:49.5 (not bad for my first olympic distance, & fourth triathlon ever!) & was very surprised to finish 2nd in my age group! I was lucky, really, because this was not an outstanding performance.

I also learned, by looking at results, that if I had registered as Athena (which I qualify for) I would have won by quite a bit. I feel like I've come a long way, with weight loss, & discovering that I can compete athletically & I somehow just don't want to put myself in that category, not that there's anything wrong with it. It makes sense, really, that at 5'8" & 153 pounds I'm just not the same size a your average female triathlete. I feel like I'm at a very healthy weight for my body, so I'm not complaining, just at this stage I'd rather try to get age group awards.

Abe Lincoln himself presented the awards :)

It's a really cool iron rendering, & the finisher's medal is similar & doubles as a keychain! Pretty cool, since none of my other medals can actually be used.

My husband & I both did the Stone Man distance last year, & I was thrilled to get to come back since this was such a well-run event with great food, lots of volunteers, awesome race timing with immediate results scrolling on a flat screen monitor, a great course (with the swim in Lake Springfield), & a dri-fit shirt. I also love that they keep consistant with the theme (giant chocolate pennies, iron/stone awards/medals, etc). A very cool event that I hope to do again next year!

We are running the Flat Five in St. Charles, MO this Sunday, so hopefully with cooler temps (& while not being preceded by a swim & a bike ride) my legs will get a chance to redeem themselves :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Fun?

Living in the midwest, people constantly ask me, "How do you run in this HEAT?" or "How do you run in the cold like that?" The cold, to me, is actually a lot easier to deal with. It's very easy to add clothes, a balaclava, hat, Yak Trax, etc, but to take clothes away? Not so much.

When this is the weekly forecast, what do you do when you have a training schedule to try to work in (around kids, work, social things, etc) Run early? Run late? This morning it was 86 with a heat index of 94... If you've been running for a long time, I'm sure you already have some tricks & times of the day that work for you, but here are some things that work for me.

After I do my cool down, I always lay on the porch & elevate my legs. This is a trick my husband taught me (he coaches boys track & XC) & it helps to get the lactic acid moving. It doesn't help with the heat, but will you look at that nasty sweaty imprint?! Not surprisingly, my back sweat made the shape of a heart :)

Anyway, I never run in the middle of the day when the temps are this hot. It's just not smart. Forget about all those superhumans who run Badwater, they do all kinds of heat training & who knows what else to get ready for that. One thing we can learn from them is to wear white, technical clothing. It reflects the sun's rays & really does help. I always wear a white running hat & I swear it works. It also keeps the sweat from running in to my eyes since I have no dry fabric on my body to wipe them with. If I'm starting a run, & it's already 90 degrees, I will speed the process of my clothes getting wet from my sweat, thus cooling my body, & I will get my clothes, hair, & hat wet in tap water prior to running. Sometimes I drink ice cold water, or eat a popsicle, in attempts to bring my core temp down, at least 30 mins prior to running. I generally don't take water with me on training runs, I just got to places that have drinking fountains for long runs, & for runs shorter than 6 miles I don't drink any water, but when it's hot I always carry water. It's good to dump some under the hat too.

I read somewhere that one ounce of water takes 15 minutes for the body to absorb, so think about that & don't overdo it with the water. Avoid getting sloshed by taking some electrolyte tabs or salt with the water, or drinking a gaterade/water mix. I use Endurolyte caps from Hammer Nutrition since I tend to get a stomach ache if I drink gaterade/powerade type drinks.

Listen, I know that most all of us have body image issues (myself included) but I have finally gotten over that & have discovered the joy of shirtless running. Generally, I only run shirtless when I run alone, but this was a 92 degree day & we had a track workout. I needed all the help I could get. I would highly recommend it if you haven't tried it. I certainly don't look like the people in Runner's World, etc, & I don't care. You can all glare at my imperfect midsection, & I will no doubt benefit from the effects of nice cool air swirling around my body. Who. Cares.

When all else fails, we must resort to the treadmill. I know there are different schools of thought here, but I really feel like treadmill running is not realistic. I'm no expert, that's for sure, but that belt assists your leg during the pushoff phase of the gait cycle & there is nothing we can do about it. It feels better to me to have an incline, but my experience has been that it does not prepare my body for running on the roads/trails. Nothing can replace running on solid ground, for me. (If you are a treadmill runner, then, by all means, carry on!! Just my opinion).

With a heat index of 113 yesterday, I ran on the indoor track at my gym last night, & it wasn't half-bad, though I don't want to make a habit of it. While closer to the real thing, it offers nothing but a pancake-flat surface. I did some strengthening exercises afterwards to make up for the lack of terrain.

Run early, run late, split your long runs up into 2, managable runs so you don't get over-heated, cross-train indoors when you normally would have a shorter, easier run. Get 'er done & stay cool!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mildly Amusing Mile

I haven't exactly stuck to that lovely schedule I had all laid out for myself this year. It's kind of bugging me, since if I say I'm doing something it's as good as done, but I am still going to leave it up over there. I'm not sure why, but I am leaving it up nonetheless. Neither the Innsbrook nor the New Town Triathlons were raced, BUT I did run the Komen for the Cure 5K in June, & the Macklind Mile on Monday, July 4th. Both were pretty darn good by my standards & I had a great time at both!

I don't have any photos of me running the Komen race, but I ran it with my husband & we each had this sign on our backs (this was after, so it's a lit.tle bit sweaty). My dad's mom died of  breast cancer several years ago, my mom is currently undergoing treatment for it, & our dear friend (& next-door grandma) Shirley is a breast cancer survivor. Although I prefer smaller, neighborhood 5K's, this was an important one, & we were happy to go down & be part of it. It was a very HOT morning, & with this hilly course I was happy with my finishing time of 22:31. I'll take it. Meanwhile, I have been doing speed work with Fleet Feet to try to get faster at the 5K. Time will tell...

Not sure if it was the speed work, or just the fact that I had run this race last year, but I did manage to run the Macklind Mile 14 seconds faster this year with a time of 5 minutes 53.8 seconds!! Sub 6!! Nice... If you look closely, you can see my award for 2nd in my age group (the girl who was first in my age group also won the race in 5:04!), which is a little wire sculpture of a runner girl. Pretty cute :) Since it was on the 4th of July, we brought the whole family. My oldest daughter doesn't like running, but is quite a fine photographer (some of her work was chosen for the district-wide art fair at her school) & she took the photos for the day & had a great time. My 2 younger kids ran the Kid's Quarter, & my husband & I each carried a suicide pace for a solid mile.

"You see, the actual thing itself is so competitive and serious, I don't think anybody really has a good time right while they are competing. Oh, they like it all right, they like going to the meets, and they like being on a team and the general hullaballoo of being a jock. But when you get right down to it, right while you're doing the thing itself, it ain't much fun. I can't remember a mile in my life that was even mildly amusing."
-Once A Runner, by John Parker


I have to say this is the coolest thing I've gotten from a race in a while. It is totally on the back of my car, under the 26.2 sticker. :) I used to think that even a 5K was a waste of a beautiful morning... you know, all that getting ready & getting up early to just go & run 3 miles. If you haven't raced a timed mile I'm telling you it's the best! This year I feel like I did it almost all-out, which isn't as easy as it sounds. When things start hurting, you just have to keep pushing & that's not easy for a headcase like me :)

(I'm up there in the white hat & pink shoelaces)

The race went in waves, so they had friends & family go first (it's a point-to-point race, so the people have to get to the finish somehow), then the men, the women, elite men, elite women, & finally the kids. I lined up about 3 rows back, & I finished 20th overall so that was about right. The first quarter was a breeze & it felt pretty good to be hanging with a big pack of girls. We worked together to get the first 800 meters out of the way, & this is when I kept it steady when I should have pushed a little bit more. That's the only mistake I made, looking back. That's when I started feeling the burning in my lungs & I knew I was at my max. After I finished, I realized that I could have pushed it a little harder there, but we will try again next year! Anyway, I came to the "one lap to go" bell, & that's when the adrenaline took over & I just gave it all I had. I kind of yo-yo'd back & forth with a couple of girls, & it got sort of scrappy there at the end. So fun! My lungs were really burning & I could taste iron in my mouth. I can honestly say that I've never run that hard in my life, & it felt good!

One really smart decision I made was to go without a watch. Not even the Timex. Last year I wore the Garmin & spent the whole time staring down at the thing trying to "pace". Ummmmmm... it's a mile. You just go like hell. That. Is. All. Once I ran an all-out mile on the track, just after a speed work session, in 5:42. All by myself, & we all know that it doesn't count. I keep thinking of that time, like it's my ideal. But I wonder what would happen if I really trained for a mile... I really think I can do better. It reminds me of the book Once A Runner, that I quoted up top. Quentin Cassidy, the miler, ran a super-fast mile on the track while his coach timed him (it didn't count either). He had a lot of roadblocks, & after his coach had him run a ridiculously long track workout (with no watch!) he ran the mile even faster than his so-called "ideal" time when the race finally came.

Do I think I'm going to win a prize for running a (let's face it) mediocre mile? No... I just really like it. I have come to get some satisfaction out of the 5K & Mile distances. It's nice to see how far you can really push yourself... when you don't have to go too far :)

Next year I want to train specifically for the mile & see what my results are. This is a great "little" neighborhood race, with over 1000 participants, cool awards, a fun atmosphere, & a good elite field with runners coming from out of state. It's really fun to watch them come flying down Macklind Ave, & the winner among the men ran it in 4:05! While there is a slight incline on the course, it's mostly a downhill mile with 180 feet in elevation loss from start to finish. I hope to really have a fast mile next year!

It started to rain just before the kid's wave, & my kids were real troopers! Yep, my son is wearing Chuck's, & my daughter has on a Super Girl cape. :) This was the kickoff to my husband's marathon training, so I'd say he started it off with a bang. :)

This about sums up our day :)
Hope you are all having daily adventures as well.

Monday, May 16, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons...

There's a lot going on in my personal life right now, so I wasn't able to ride the Vino Fondo, like I had hoped, last weekend. It was a hard decision for me, after putting in all that training for 5 months, but we had a lot of extended family in town & it was the right decision. It would have been very selfish of me to be out riding the bike half the day with everyone here to get together. I had a great weekend with my family, & really enjoyed Mother's Day with my mom. (apart from smashing in to her back driver's side door after dropping her off after church... fail)

She was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer just after Christmas, & it has been a hard road for her, & for us, so far. It's hard to watch her go through this, & I so wish that it wasn't happening. I've been helping her as much as I can, & with the help of family she's doing really well right now. She has everything that she needs & is in a good spot for the time being. I don't mean to drop a bomb like that & just move on, but it's hard to talk about, or type, & so that's all I'm going to say about that. I love you, mom :)

I haven't been myself lately. I have been running & riding my bike, but neither has brought me much joy. I use these activities to have a good cry most of the time lately instead of focusing on training. I'm perfectly fine with that. I'm glad I hesitantly typed the word "tentative" under my racing schedule, because I'm not sure I'll be following it at all. That is completely not like me in the least. When I say I'm doing something, it's as good as done. It's just not the case right now. We've had a lot of family coming & going also, so I've had a lot more socializing & meals than I've had training lately. I've gained 6 pounds, & this former fat girl is terrified of going back "there". I've managed to refocus & get some discipline back into my diet, so even if I can't work out I feel like I have my diet back under control. It's been a big juggling act.


I also didn't run my first 10K ever that was supposedly this morning. Teresa reminded me of Big Shark's open water swim that just started in New Town & I decided that sounded like a better time :) Plus, I've been ignoring the swim for the last couple of months. It's a lot of work for me, & I'm just barely getting by with basically junk miles on the run & bike these days, so swimming just hasn't been appealing. I'm really glad I got out there & got in the water this morning! It was drizzling, & a cold 52 degrees, but the water temp seemed warm at around 70 degrees. We struggled to get those wetsuits on, so that served as a nice warm up :) The swim course was 1000 meters, & originally our plan was to swim 2 loops & then get on our bikes for 15-20 miles. It was just sooooooo cold! We settled for one loop of the swim, bagged the bikes & headed to go get a coffee. Looking VERY attractive, I might add ;)


Much better :) Instead of the bike I went out for a short 3 mile run later that afternoon in the rain.

Teresa was going to be running the Girls on the Run 5K the next morning, & her friend wasn't going to run it after all, so she had an extra bib. It didn't take much to talk me in to that. I really enjoy the 5K distance, & since my mom has been feeling OK & had her cousin in town, they took my kids for the weekend. I decided to take advantage of that & go run.


It was sprinkling, again, & in the low 50's. I love this weather for running! Absolutely perfect. I put myself in corral 1, even though it said "competitive runners finishing in 21 minutes or faster". I knew I didn't have a shot at that, but corral 2 was the general public & that meant 3,000 + little girls & their parents/teachers. I thought I would at least look cool for a few minutes while we were getting warmed up, then I would be quickly left in the dust ;)

I decided that since I have had no joy in running these days, that I would get back to the old me & see how that felt. For one thing, my hair stylist had started to get on me about running with my hair down. She was right, it was damaging my hair. I think for shorter races it will be OK, as long as I don't train like that all the time. I know it's weird, but I just really love my hair down & the pony tail holder gives me a headache. So... I did things like the old me:

     1) hair down!
     2) booty shorts (they don't look good on me, so I stopped wearing them, but they are so darn comfortable!)
     3) no Garmin or watch (I didn't have one for a long time until my dad got it for me after the first marathon)


These were all great decisions & I wound up having an awesome race. Just me. Free :) I did a great job not flying out front from the start with those much faster people, & just focused on how the effort felt. I wound up running it in 21:58, just 6 seconds away from the PR, & taking first in my age group. Not too shabby. It wound up being a great weekend! None of it was on the training schedule, but it was just what I needed.

Tonight I wound up riding my bike for 40 miles in the hills of Wildwood, to make up for the lack of bike riding this past weekend, & had a great ride out there all by myself.

Endurance sport is how I keep my sanity, fitness, & overall cheerful disposition (be quiet, Bryan). I'm glad to have it even if my training, & attitude, haven't been perfect. I think what I need is a goal to shoot for so I can start to feel like myself again, but it's hard when I need to be here for my mom & I'm not sure what the future will hold. So I've decided that what's important is that I spend time with my mom, & just do my best to keep it all balanced (work, family, training, etc). That's the only thing you can do when life gives you lemons. Make the best of it, don't get down on yourself for not being perfect, & just try to find happiness no matter what situation you may find yourself in. I'll be sure to post the recipe for the perfect lemonade once I get it all figured out ;)

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Home Run in Nashville!

(The photos all look like they were taken in 1972, but they were, in fact, not)
Special thanks again to Josh Cox & CEP Socks for the opportunity to run Rock n Roll's Country Music Half Marathon on 4/30. What a great party all the way to the finish line! I had a great time despite the heat & enjoyed the city for the brief time that I was there.

I drove from St. Louis, & on the way I just happened to stop at a gas station in Metropolis, IL. It was apparently also a Superman museum of sorts, & I had to get my picture taken as Wonder Woman. You know, for my kids ;) It was a good trip, & I drove straight to the expo since I still had no clue where my friend Molly lived, & was waiting for her call.

When I arrived, I was thrilled to find that I would be starting in corral 2!! I know!! So excited that I had to take a photo. In talking to some of the girls at the start, since they projected right around the same time, it appears that it was due to my projected finish time & not Josh Cox's awesomeness! Even cooler, since there were something like 32 corrals. I chose what I thought was a conservative time, but it ended up being my actual finish time of 1:45. I was not too broken up about that because I know I did what I could with the fitness I had.

After getting my packet, I turned the corner to see Kara Goucher on the stage for a Q & A. I knew I would regret it if I didn't ask her a question, so here's what I said: "First of all, I am one of the 25 people to win a bracelet from your blog & I just wanted to say thank you. I love it!" So, she's all "That's great! Thank you for participating!" & she seemed genuinely excited to know that :) Then I asked her how she rebounds mentally after not reaching a goal. Like Boston. Her goal was to win, just a few weeks prior to her being in Nashville, & it didn't happen. She just said that her mother always told her that it's OK to be sad, & to cry, when you don't meet your goal. She said that she has her little cry & then she moves on, focusing on what she's going to do next to improve. Good to know that she is human & goes through the same struggles.

Here's a picture of baby Colt & Adam Goucher, who is on his way to a comeback it sounds like. You can hardly see a darn thing in this shot, but what a cute little baby!

My allergies were acting up big time, so I stopped at a drugstore right in front of Centennial Park, which is where the race would start, & is also right across the street from Vanderbilt. What a beautiful park, area, & campus. Stay in school, kids! ;)

Finally I made my way to Molly!! So nice to see her after a few years, & so happy to see that she is still the same. What a gracious host & amazing person. She insisted that I sleep in her bed while she was on the couch. I did nothing to deserve any of this. A free race entry, place to crash, & a day to spare. What a great weekend!

We went to a restaurant called Bricktops & had a great meal. I tried a local brew, Yazoo Dos Perros, since they had no Guinness (as is my pre-race tradition). Delicious!

Race morning was nice & relaxing as well. Molly had coffee brewed, so I had some of that while I read one of the books on her coffee table "And She Sparkled" by Joan Steffend. Perfect thing to read to set my mind on the task at hand. We headed to the park, me doing a warm-up jog & Molly as my bicycle escort. I still can't believe she actually woke up & went down there. I would have totally stayed in bed ;) I made my way to Corral 2 (I know, right?!) & did some drills, stretched, & talked to some of the girls. One girl forgot her hair tie & was freaking out, so I gave her mine since I had a hat on. My hair would stay off my neck & I would have felt bad about her the whole time. Crisis averted. Phew!

Aaaaaaand, we're off!

Knowing the elevation ahead of time, I decided to go out a little fast. My effort level was not hard, by any means, but my pace was a little fast because I knew I would need those seconds later in the race. I did not know, however, that what sort of looks like a fairly flat course would turn out to be a course filled with loooooong steady inclines. I have been doing my long runs on a trail with rolling hills so I though I would be prepared. I didn't really have the endurance for these long hills. Plus, it seemed like they had all the aid stations in the middle of hills so I had no choice but to walk through each of them. I had a "dump one cup over the head, drink the other" method that I used from the very beginning since I knew it would be a hot day & that really saved me I think.

I also NEVER race longer races without my Nathan handheld water bottle. Historically, I don't do well with the aid station cups (they make me nervous. what if I spill it? etc. ugh) & I don't like to slow down, or have the option to stop. In the future, as annoying as it is to cart that thing around, I will be bringing the water bottle. Without all the walk breaks through water stations (every single one!) I may have very well gotten close to that 1:42 in this race. Also, I had to use the inside back pocket of my running shorts for my gels since I usually put them in the zipper pocket of the handheld, & I had never tried that before. I had to deal with those things poking & stinging me in the butt as I developed a bad chafing. It is still there & bothering me more than a week later! Lesson learned.

Here are my mile splits:

Mile 1 - 7:33
Mile 2 - 7:24 (was downhill)
Mile 3 - 8:09 (starting hilly section)
Mile 4 - 8:08
Mile 5 - 8:07
Mile 6 - 7:47
Mile 7 - 8:18
Mile 8 - 8:42
Mile 9 - 7:52
Mile 10 - 7:46
Mile 11 - 7:46
Mile 12 - 8:08
Mile 13 - 8:35
.23 - 1:25 (6:15 avg pace)

For a total of 1:45:39 per Garmin & 1:45:35 official (7:59 avg pace)

After mile 8, I was fading. The hills were making me nuts, as it seemed like the whole darn thing was uphill, & it was getting rather hot. I noticed the 1:45 pace team & decided to stay with them & let that guy do the work, pulling me along. Smart decision. I needed to stop thinking so much & complaining to myself about the long hills. I stayed on his shoulder until the last aid station, which I walked through, & finished just behind them. Good enough for me :) I would have loved to get under 1:42, but I really wasn't worried about it. I was just looking to have some fun & see the sights.

The race finished at LP field, which, not being a huge sports fan & not really researching anything before heading to the race, I thought was a baseball field... ... ... Yes. So I'm hot & ready to get this thing over with, & I can see the finish line. I'm telling myself (in my head, thank goodness) "OK, we're gonna slide into home! Just a few more steps!"  I get to where the stadium actually is, after getting salt from the medic tent & helping a girl who is about to pass out, & I see "Tennessee Titans" on the side of the building. ... ... ... FAIL. :)

I met up with Molly & her boyfriend B & we went back to her place where she made this amazing meal! Delicious :)

She also had these beautiful flowers for me. So sweet! I put my medal in front of the flowers, which you can hardly see, & it is the coolest medal I've gotten! Super-bling :)

 I had an amazing time, & felt like I had the best race possible. Seriously, those hills... I mean, it reminded me of this 5 mile out & back that I do from my house all the time. I don't like that route. It makes me want to walk. & it's only 5 miles. I never actually walk, but I contemplate it every time. Maybe it helped me in Nashville, or maybe I just need to go a different way from now on for my 5 milers ;) Either way, I had a great time at this race & would love to do it again!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Winning... Duh

Fitness just wasn't quite up to par yet, so I didn't end up running the U-City 10 miler or the Go! St. Louis half. I didn't go out at all for the 10 miler, & I think I rode my bike that day, but I did go out for the half to run some friends in to the finish. It was VERY hot that day, so I'm sort of glad I didn't wind up running. They even wound up black flagging the course, due to heat, if participants didn't make it to the turn-around for the half by a certain time. I was almost ready, but not quite... However, my efforts will not be completely lost!! I wound up winning a contest on twitter, & courtesy of CEP Socks through Josh Cox, I will be running Rock n Roll's Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville on April 30! Cool huh? :)

I still need to figure out how I will get down there since I hate to drive by myself with gas prices the way they are. I hope to find someone that's going & tag along, chipping in for the gas. We'll see... An old friend, Molly, has agreed to let me crash at her place the night before the race & she lives right across the street from where the race starts! Very awesome stuff, & I'm looking forward to seeing her. It's been a while... She is quite a good songwriter/singer/musician & you can check her out here:


Not sure what my goals are yet for this race... have yet to decide on a game plan. Looks to be fairly flat, with a mostly downhill finish, so I don't expect anything crazy there. Running has been going very well lately, & I have zero problems with the legs right now, so we will have to see. I'm thinking I will start out conservatively & just work my way into a comfortably fast pace, & race those final miles. I typically lock into an effort & hold it for the duration of the race, but I don't want to risk bonking as I'm not quite sure yet on fitness & have switched gears now to 5K training. Either way, this is a great opportunity, & though I don't really like country music this race should be a lot of fun & I intend on having LOTS of it! :) Post-race I'm hoping Dear Molly will let me take an ice bath before I head home so I can put on my Zensah compression sleeves for some active recovery for the drive home. It just so happens that I have the Run for Sight 5K in the morning &, while I don't know what to expect there either, I want to be ready! If you live in the area & want to run, or can donate, it is a great cause. You can read more about it on my post titled "Eye Heart Avery & Baby Bee"


I also just won a really cool bracelet with the message "I am not afraid" & "I was born to do this" from Kara Goucher's blog. It's a silicone bracelet, but because it's much thicker than a regular silicone bracelet it looks like a really nice piece of jewelry. Very cool :) This is the same message that's on a necklace that Kara wears from designer Tina Steinberg & I still may win the exact necklace that she has if my story is chosen! Check out her blog & submit a story if you are interested. I think it's going on through the end of April, so hurry!!

I really hope everything goes well next weekend. I'll be well-rested, that's for sure! I'm not sure what I did to myself, but I'm thinking it was over-training. I rode 73 hilly miles last Saturday (in preparation for a hilly 84 mile timed ride May 7th) & decided to really drop the hammer. I rode by myself, & was able to ride the 73 miles, with over 4000 ft of elevation gain, in just under 4 hours. For me, that is really moving with all that climbing! I felt incredible the whole time & even felt like I could have continued for at least another 30-40 miles. It was awesome. Did an ice bath & the legs felt great in the morning.

On Sunday I planned to run the final 6.2 miles with my friend Chris, who was running the marathon, & then run back to meet my friend Megan & run her in the last little bit of her marathon. They were both struggling in the heat, as everyone was, & I wound up getting in just over 10 miles on the day.

Monday, I felt great, so decided to do an easy 45 minute spin on the trainer followed by a 3 mile easy run.

Feeling even better on Tuesday, I decided on a short track workout. Ran a 2 mile warm up, then did 3 x mile repeats (400 @ 6:45 pace, then 1200 @ 7:03 pace - compound sets, 3 minute standing rest between sets). Not a terribly tough session, though I did do another ice bath that night.

Legs felt great, but I was feeling a little tired on Wednesday. I went out on the bike anyway, since my legs were fine, & rode 38 miles of hills. I'm pretty sure that was the straw that broke the camel's back. Looking back, I should have just run an easy 3 mile recovery run, & gotten some extra sleep.

I was not able to work out at all on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, due to exhaustion, & just felt like laying around & eating everything in sight. Major training error there, but that's what happens when we are self-coached & trying to fit a lot off stuff into the program. Lesson learned :)

I went to the Trek ride then on Sunday, because it doesn't have any big hills or steep inclines & a lot of people use it for recovery, & got in 30 miles with those guys. It was a nice easy-going ride & I needed that! This week has been pretty much business as usual, though I am watching my effort levels & nutrition. Don't want to wind up like that again!

I am planning to get in an easy 12 mile run this coming Saturday morning, & then will go easy all next week, with the exception of a short tempo run on probably Tuesday, in preparation for my races next weekend. I'm not sure what will happen there, but it will be an adventure & something interesting for you all to read :)

Either way, since I'm sure you're not at all sick of this expression, I am --------------------------->
Winning... Duh ;)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Perfect Balance

Supposedly I was going to run a 10 mile race this coming weekend in preparation for the Go St. Louis half marathon. While I feel good now, I took almost a solid month off running to rehab an injury, & I am still not up to speed. This past weekend I ran 12 hilly miles for my long run. It went pretty well, but I still don't think I'm ready. I will probably wait until race day to register, if I do, so I guess we will all find out what I decided to do on Sunday, myself included. If I run the 10 miler, then I will run 13.1 for sure. I also got in a very good hilly 50 mile bike ride yesterday, which has been my main focus lately anyway, since I had the running injury, & I have that killer ride coming up in May.

It was a truly epic ride in that I maintained a steady effort level despite the hills & felt pretty good at the end of it all. Beautiful day for it, with temps in the mid 70's, & I was so happy to wear just shorts & a jersey! Pretty cool that I was out on the bike on a day of perfect balance. The spring equinox is the day that you can stand an egg on it's end & it will stay balanced. Don't believe me? Below is a YouTube link:

I also got some bitchin new pink sunglasses that my husband will (probably) not borrow. Last season's are broken, so I got these in hopes that I can keep them to myself, but I can report that he has worn my pink goggles in the pool on a number of occasions. Maybe these should be bedazzled or something ;)

I'm sad about the running, but right now I'm just so happy to run without pain and I don't want to lose that because of a race. I'd rather have running on a regular basis if it means not racing for a while. So that's it... I will definitely maybe run the 10 miler this Sunday. :)

There are those of you that can just run... without many problems, injuries, etc. I am not one of those people. For whatever reason, no matter what I do, I am always injured. Not just those little calve cramp things that you can run through for a couple of weeks & it sorts itself out. I get the kind of annoying injuries that leave you limping & wondering if there is such a thing as pain-free running. I have no idea why I can't just do the thing that I really love to do, but I can't. This is why I'm really thankful to have triathlon. I was never a swimmer beyond just playing around in the pool... In fact, I learned the freestyle stroke after a running injury by reading about it on the internet. And the bike, well... (see my post "Evolution" for more on that). This was all my husband's idea, as a matter of fact. I thought he was crazy & that I would hate it. I'm really glad I listened to him for once in my life. He was right in so many ways. By doing all three sports I have a better chance of staying injury-free from running, & I also get to feel mega-awesome :) Each sport uses different muscles, & so really... it's the perfect balance. I'm really happy that spring is here. Longer, warmer days... & triathlon season... Bring it!!