Saturday, June 24, 2017

Girls Just Wanna Have Run

Do you remember that time I told you that my long lost college roommate offhandedly suggested we run together sometime and I took her seriously and made her agree to fly to Texas from Iowa to come run a half marathon with me?  Does this story make you want to be friends with me?  No??  Yeah, it probably makes Melissa wish she wasn't friends with me either.
 
When you haven't seen someone in at least twelve years, you wonder how running 13.1 miles together might go.  Well, I figured out pretty quickly how it was going to go when the day before our race, Melissa turns to me in the car and says, "Sooooo....do you ever drink before your races?"  Of course, the truth is that no, I really don't drink before races.  The other truth is that my arm is very easily twisted, especially when it comes to wine.  After seconds and seconds of trying to convince me, off to the store we went to stock up on meats and cheeses and wine....lots of wine, like lots.
 
Melissa saving our wine, meats, and cheese from our friend's dog/horse.
 
I think it was somewhere between bottle number one and bottle number two when we decided that the next morning's race was going to be less race and more fun run.  We promised each other there would be no worrying about pace or time or anything.  We decided that after 12+ years, we had to have enough to talk about to cover 13.1 miles.  It was going to be all about fun for us.  I even agreed to run Garmin-less.  So, if you are reading this in anticipation of hearing about my latest pace/record, you'll be disappointed, I still have no idea how I ended up running.
 
And, nothing says fun like waking up at 5:00 in the morning and driving an hour in the dark, cold rain for a race.  The closer we got, the more we started hearing words like, "flooding" and "tornado" on the radio.  Convinced it was my hangover talking and not actual weathermen, on to the race we went.  We arrived only to find that we were all stuck in a holding pen waiting to find out if we could run.  Apparently, the building next to us was struck by lightening.  How weird are runners that we hear about lightening striking next to us and our reaction is, "Come on, man.  Let us run?"  Weird.  Runners are weird.
 
I told you.  We are weird.  Also, we are a little bit hungover. 
Eventually, after about an hour and a half delay, the told us we could run.  The full marathon was cancelled (on a serious note, my heart breaks for those runners who trained for a full marathon and then had the race taken away from them.  I cannot imagine how disappointed I would have been if I were them), but our race/fun run was on. 
 
As we waited at the starting gate, it looked like the weather had cleared and we were excited to get on with our run.  Well, excited maybe wasn't the word, but Melissa had flown in all the way from Iowa for this race, so we figured it might as well happen.
 
You can tell she was excited to run....or hungry. Maybe she was really hungry.
 
Off we went.  The first few miles seemed to live up to our expectations...nothing but fun.  We ran and chit-chatted and caught up on the life that had happened since we last saw each other.  And then, the skies opened up.  When I tell you it rained on us, there is no way for you to understand what I mean.  I mean it poured!!  It rained cold, fat, wet drops all over us for at least 9 miles.  You know how us runners always talk about how bad ass we feel when we run in the rain?  Yeah, we mean like a mile in the rain.  There is nothing bad ass about running a half marathon in wet, heavy, squeaky shoes.  There is nothing bad ass about shivering with chattering teeth while you run.  We were anything but bad asses.  Especially when the lightening started striking all around us.  No, bad ass is not how I would describe us.  Although, at that point, we did seem to pick up the pace.
 
I'm not sure why she seems so happy after 10 miles in the rain.  I'm guessing it's because I convinced her to buy a visor to keep rain off her face while I left mine in the car.  Also, this picture does not do us justice.  Apparently, there is no good way to capture soaked to the bone.
 

I don't have a good race recap for you or any good details about how I ran or any lessons learned.  What I can tell you is that, even though I've never been more cold or more wet while I ran, I've also never had more fun.  I don't regret for a second that I awkwardly convinced my long-lost college roommate to come running with me.  Now, I can't speak for her....
 
 
A couple race photos:
 

 
Oh, here's one long run lesson I've got for you:  If there is a chance of rain in your race day forecast, think very carefully about your race attire.  If you don't, well.....let's just say, you won't be posting any post-rain pictures to your long run lessons blog...unless your long run lessons blog is x-rated.  Oops!
 


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Birthday Fun Run

How do normal people celebrate their birthday?  Something tells me that it's not by waking up at 5:00 a.m., strapping on a headlamp, and logging 10.37 (I miscalculated my route -old age!) miles.  Well, we all know I can't claim normalcy...
Doesn't this photo scream, "out of my mind thrilled for my birthday?"  Or, maybe more like just, "out of my mind."
Of course, normal people also don't eat a giant piece of homemade cake at 9:00 a.m.  And if that's not reason enough to avoid being normal, I don't know what is.

Here's to the wisdom that comes with the years.  I have to say, that's been the best thing about getting older, realizing that life is short and meant to be enjoyed.  It's getting comfortable in your own skin and giving up that idea of perfection.   In the end, no one is going to ask you, "Did you avoid all sugar?  Were you skinny?"  No, the question in the end is going to be, "Did you liveWere you happy?"
This is my birthday wish for you.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Rugly

Y'all.  This is my actual, no-posing, couldn't smile if I'd tried, face after attempting a 10 mile run in the 84 degree weather.  It was hot, I mean really, really hot.  And it was plain ol' rugly.

No filter here.  It was really that bad.

I say attempting because I didn't make it.  I ended up only running 9.1 miles and walking the rest.  Not exactly the confidence boosting run I was hoping for only two weeks out from my next half marathon.  But, I had to consider my safety and health and towards the end, the only option was to walk.  I literally thought I was hallucinating bunnies in trees.  Luckily though, that one turned out to be real.


What can I say?  Ugly runs just happen.  You never know when they will strike (although, checking the weather probably would have clued me in on this one).  Ugly runs are part of running.  They are even part of training.  As crazy as it sounds, this horrible, hot, failed long run will actually help me out in the long run.  Even though I couldn't finish the planned run, I am still stronger for having tried it.  That's the thing about each and every run we set out on, no matter how they turn out, we turn out for the better.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Long Run Randomness - 9.1

When you live and run in the fourth largest city in America, you never know what you are going to come across on your run.

A flock of ducks:
 
Or a flock of flamingos:

 
Also, I ran 9.1 miles, which felt like I did exactly this:
 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Race Day Recap - Missions Heritage Half Marathon

I know that I am really late getting this post up, but it's time to recap my race day at the San Antonio Missions Heritage Half Marathon.  Spoiler alert: I ran 13.1 miles and it was hard and it hurt and while I was running I swore I wouldn't do another one anytime soon.

This post title could easily be "What Not To Do."  I didn't follow any of my own rules leading up to this race. 

Broken Rule #1:  Don't drink alcohol.
Okay, but I couldn't really help this one.  Packet pickup was at a brewery.  I pretty much had to drink.  Side note: Alamo Beer Brewery is super cute and the beer is good.  I definitely recommend swinging by if you are in San Antonio.

Broken Rule #2: Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 
This was probably the biggest mistake I made leading up to the race.  I just did not drink enough water.  Which is weird because I'm normally great at hydrating.  I think I was just off my game the night before.  Traveling with a little one isn't easy and I found myself too busy mommy-ing to take care of myself or even think about what I needed to be doing (isn't this the story of our lives, moms?).  Race day was pretty warm and extremely humid.  When you aren't well hydrated, running in the humidity is exhausting.  This was pretty much me by mile six.

Broken Rule #3: Pre-run Fuel
This one is supposed to be a no-brainer.  We all know we are supposed to eat and eat a lot before a run.  HELLO - it's called carb-loading!!  It's what we live for.  And yet, I failed miserably.  No spaghetti dinner for me the night before.  No big delicious bagel for breakfast.  Nothing.  We did go to dinner at a cute little restaurant in Boerne the night before and the food looked delicious.  And what I did manage to eat was delicious.  It's just that I had a fourteen month old baby girl who was up waaaaay past her bedtime and wanted nothing to do with her high chair and everything to do with crawling all over her mom...or running around to all of the other tables to "talk" to the other patrons.  So, as all moms do, I left the restaurant with a mostly untouched plate....well, except for the fried pecan pie and ice cream dessert we ordered.  No mom can leave that untouched!  The real problem came in the morning before the race.  We were staying in a house about a half hour away from the start line, which meant we had to be out the door by 6:45 a.m.  Please see previous comments regarding traveling with a fourteen month old.  After getting myself ready and helping the hubs get the baby all ready and packed for the afternoon (how can someone so small need SO much???), I threw my bagel in the toaster and quickly realized that I had forgotten to pack butter or any other bagel spread.  Sorry, but a dry plain bagel just isn't appetizing.  Instead, I grabbed a couple of handfuls of cheerios and a banana and out the door we ran.  Now, a banana and a little cereal might get me through a short run, but not so much for 13.1 miles.  After about an hour and a half of running, my tank was on empty.  The rest of the run was on fumes.

All of that said, I did finish the race and in an okay time.  I was just three seconds off of my goal pace.  Of course, my goal pace wasn't all that fast.  Like I said in an earlier post though, my real goal was just to complete 13.1 miles as a mom.  And I did.  And, I had the greatest, sweetest face waiting for me when I finished.

A few other race day facts:
 
The owners of the house we rented were so sweet!  Check out the note waiting for us when we arrived:


The race started at the Mission Concepcion, which is a really pretty, still functioning church in San Antonio and then we ran through several other missions.  One of which met runners with ringing church bells and a shower of rose petals.  I have to say, that was a first!

Speaking of food (were we speaking of food?), the post race bites were pretty darn good!  Black beans, rice, and chicken at 10:00 a.m.?  Yes, I will!

It's a good thing she's so cute.  Stealing a runner's post-race food can be very dangerous.


I want to take a second here to shout out my amazing hubster.   I know I don't give him enough credit on this blog, but if it weren't for him I would never have been able to run this race.  From the time I told him that I was ready to start running again until the time I finished these 13.1 miles, he was nothing but supportive.  Three times a week, he would quit working early and take care of our little one while I went running.  Every weekend I would leave for a couple of hours to get in my long runs and he never complained.  I'm so lucky to be married to such an awesome guy.  You think running is an individual sport, but no, we are a team and this team is only successful because of him. 
 
Speaking of what a lucky lady I am, my dad also made the very long drive across Texas to watch me run.  There are no words for that kind of dad.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Definition

Don't they say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting  different results?

Well, here we go again....
 
I must be insane!  Didn't I just run one of these?!?  Wasn't it super hard and painful?  Didn't I swear I was done with training for a while?  Well, turns out, when your college roommate who you haven't seen in over ten years offers to fly down and run with you, you don't say no.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Dough-Not Ignore Fate

This morning as I finished my nine mile run, this little fate-on-wheels was waiting for me just as I exited the trails and headed to my car.




When faced with a doughnut-filled, slice of heaven on wheels, must be fate truck, dough-not ignore it!


Yes.  That is fried chicken.  And yes, it was delicious.

And Just Like That

This weekend I ran eleven miles.  And just like that....the longest run was done!




It feels like I just committed to running this race and now I'm already tapering and preparing for the run.  Finishing my last longest run before the race has me looking back on my training and also looking forward to the race.  I think I'll tell you a little about both.


Training:
I used a Hal Higdon training program this go-round.  I've used several of his programs before, so I figured why fix what isn't broken?  I reviewed several and went with the program that required the least amount of running.  And then I proceeded to spend the first half of my training time actually running less than the recommended amount (don't ask - I apparently have trouble reading and writing).  In looking back, I think that if this were going to be my first race, I would be really nervous right now.  I tend to be the kind of person who really believes in and relies on preparation.  Luckily, this is not my first race and I'm not that concerned about my preparation.  I know I can run 13.1 miles.  I've done it many, many times before.  And that knowledge has me more confident than my not-so-stellar training would normally allow.  It's true.  My training has been anything but inspiring.  I just haven't found "it" this go-round.  I haven't fallen into that easy running habit where running feels natural and your body craves the release of a good run.  Nope, none of that this time.  I feel like every single run has been muscled through by an act of sheer will.  And, I plan on calling on the last reserves of that sheer will to run this race.


The Race:
Like I said, I'm not really worried about the race.  I know I can do it.  I know I will finish.  But, with that said, my goals this time around are so much different than they were in my pre-baby racing days.  For this race my goal is honestly, just to finish.  I just want to run 13.1 miles without stopping.  That's it.  Just finish.  It's a little hard for me admit that my goal is just to finish.  I've been used to having specific and somewhat aggressive goals for each race.  But, things are different now.  I'm a different person and a different racer and that means different goals.  And, I have to be okay with that.  Expecting the same results without the same preparation is just crazy.  This time around I'm focused on simply doing it.  I'm focused on and excited about my first mom-medal!


I'm also excited for a nice, long running rest after the race!



Monday, January 30, 2017

Nine-spiration

Last week my long run was planned for nine miles.  Let me tell you a little something about the weather I faced during the entire nine miles.... IT WAS WINDY!!!  Both coming and going, it was windy!  I'm talking limbs down everywhere, leaves and dirt flying in my face, and a literal wind-wall at times that felt like it was pushing me backwards.  In other words, it was a real sh$tty run.




Running into the wind can be extremely discouraging.  All of your momentum is heading forward, you are working with all of your might to push on, and yet this force you cannot control is holding you back.  The temptation to quit can be so strong. 


When the temptation to quit creeps in, you have to find inspiration to keep going.

And my inspiration came from watching and marching with an amazing group of 50,000 men and women and children all coming together to demand equal rights and equal protection for all (including things like paid family leave; anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans; access to affordable reproductive health care; an end to the use of military-style weapons and tactics by the police in minority communities; a living minimum wage; immigration reform, with a path to citizenship; and protection of the environment and public lands). 


Now, I know not everyone was as inspired by the marches around the world as I was, but I have to tell you, being in a crowd of 50,000 all of whom were kind, and compassionate, and creative, and bright, and bold, and determined, and concerned for the well-being of everyone, not just people who look like and think like them, well it just makes you want to be a better person.  And, frankly, it made me not want to give up the next day.  When that wind-wall would slap into me and stop me in my tracks, I would think of all those amazing women from the day before, some of whom were in their 70's, none of whom complained about the crowds, or the heat, or the hours and hours of standing.  I knew those ladies wouldn't let a little wind stop them, and I knew I couldn't either.




Monday, January 16, 2017

What Lies Ahead

When you're on your long run and these are the footprints you come across, it makes you wonder, what lies ahead?!?!




Seriously, you guys, what makes that print??



Thursday, January 12, 2017

It's Official!



I am officially running 13.1 miles in less than one month.  Errr... scratch that...I am officially attempting to run 13.1 miles in less than one month.
If you've been reading my blog lately you've probably noticed that I've been training for this race for a couple months, but I just wasn't ready to make it official until now.  I kept waiting to feel like I was ready.  I'm not sure I actually feel ready yet, but I at least feel really committed.  I mean, after nearly two months of training, I kind of have to go through with it, right?







Saturday, January 7, 2017

This Never Happens

You guys... it's freezing in Houston!  This never happens. 




It was literally below freezing (with a feels like temperature of 11!) this morning and I was scheduled for a long run.  I really, really considered pushing it to Sunday when it was supposed to be at least forty degrees, but I had already spent Friday night sober in preparation for today's run, so I had to run.  Nobody's trying to spend the whole weekend without wine.


Running when it feels like eleven degrees can be described, at best,  as shocking.  More accurately, it should be described as....ummm...leaky.  Why don't more people talk about the leakage?!?!  Seriously, a hot body and freezing temperatures do not make for a pretty runner. 


See?  Not a pretty runner.
The run itself was pretty good.  I was happy with my pace and nothing hurt (other than my lungs and fingers - those were frozen).  It's been weird, this training cycle I've found that my weekday short runs have been rather brutal, but my weekend long runs have been really encouraging.  The good news is my next race is a weekend long run.  Hopefully a warmer run too.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Seven and Sayonara '16

This week's run had me up to seven miles.  There's not a lot to report on the run.  I would say it was good in that it was uneventful.  Uneventful, when running, is always good.  I had a decent pace and it didn't hurt (well, it mostly didn't hurt).  It was nice to hit over half of the way on the training program and feel confident and comfortable. 
Don't I look confident and comfortable? 

This is how I choose to celebrate my long runs these days.  A beer and a foot massage.  I would say both were well deserved.


I also celebrated the end of 2016 similarly. 


Normally, this is the time I would take to reflect on my year of running and evaluate what I had and hadn't achieved, to see how far I had come and how far I had left to go.  Normally, this is a time of reflection.  Well, there's not much to look back on.  I've been consistently running only for a number of weeks now.  This year it feels like there is no looking back.  All eyes focused on 2017.