Finding my balance again…

January 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Before todays long run, I only had 30 miles under my belt since my marathon on Dec. 4th. This was due to my 2 week recovery where we ran less, me missing runs, and a 9-day period where I didn’t run at all because I was sick.  After being sick in November, I didn’t want to chance it this time so I took it easy.  I ran last Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, and cross-trained on Thursday this week so I’m getting back into the swing of things.  The Austin half-marathon is on 2/19 and I need to jump back into it with both feet to be ready.

I sure missed running.  I gained a few pounds over the holidays, which was to be expected with what I ate and the minimal running I was doing.  Now I’ll need to shave those pounds off before the Austin half.  I can do it.

But even more than the physical ways I missed running, my brain/psyche/heart missed it the most.  The majority of my holidays were filled with great times with family but unfortunately, there was one event that happened and it tore me up inside.  It was out of the blue, nothing I could’ve predicted, and nothing I expected.  It really worked me emotionally, big time.  I decided pretty quick that I wouldn’t let it shape this whole holiday for me so I focused on my family and made the best of it.  I had no control over this situation, all I could do is react and hope I was choosing right.  I was so fortunate to be surrounded by so many great family members though so it was easy to get distracted and wrapped up in what was going on around me.  But I was counting the days to when I would feel good enough to go run again because I knew I needed to press “reset” in my heart and a good run can always do that for me.

When I first started running, I cried almost every time I was out there.  I ran by myself, even after I started running with Rogue, because I had a lot of feelings and insecurities I had to work through first.  It touched me to my core that I was believing in myself, pushing myself far beyond my preconceived “limits”, and seeing success after success.  The tears just flowed and flowed.  I felt like running was an emotional and spiritual cleansing of sorts and once I worked through so much, I was able to join in with my teammates and open up more.  I’M SO GLAD I REACHED THAT POINT!  My Rogue ladies mean so, so, so very much to me.  I always love to see their smiling faces and hear about their successes on the road.  We have a true sisterhood and I know they’ve got my back.

But today, after everything that happened over the holidays, I had to go back to running by myself, turning up my iPod, and working things through in my head.  Over the first couple of miles, I chatted with Denise and Whitney and it was great!  But then I could feel I needed to peel off and just be by myself.  I also decided today that “easy pace” wouldn’t be my goal for this entire run.  This Coach’s Special route was TOUGH, lots of hills.  I ascended 2267 ft and descended 2397 ft, all in a SEVEN MILE span of distance.  But I still pushed past my easy pace because I needed to feel myself pushing hard those last handful of miles.  It felt SO GOOD, too.  I ended up running 7 in 1:22:45 and my overall pace was 11:49.  I’m leaving my Garmin on the whole time, no auto-pause or turning it off at lights/water stops.  Here were my splits:

12:33, 12:37, 12:04, 11:26, 12:27, 11:42, 9:52

This included two brief water stops and several lights, one that seemed to last forever.  I loved how I felt out there today.  I’m so grateful to have this outlet to help me celebrate the joys in my life and also to work through the tough times.

I did foot drills when I got back to Rogue and bought my Mac Attack shirt (it’s AWESOME and proceeds of this shirt go towards Rogues’ own Scotty Mac and Alison Mac, who are attempting to qualify at the Olympic trials soon – WOW!)  I think it’s double-cool that my last name happens to be MacAllister, by the way.  I’m wearing this shirt with pride.  Riding on the coattails, baby!  I sped home, took a 5 minute shower, and zipped Dylan over to his archery class by 9:35am.  Yes, I’m wearing my Super Mom cape today but I’m happy to be finding my balance again, spending time taking care of myself – body, mind, and soul.   Happy Running to you all!


Biggest lesson confirmed by my 1st marathon experience…

December 5, 2011 2 comments

I had a big ol’ lesson confirmed for me yesterday during my first marathon – the Dallas White Rock Marathon – experience.  You’ll have to read on to find out the details, but it was a beautiful thing!

As many of you know, 2 of the last 3 weeks before my marathon were not quite as I planned in terms of training.  My cold turned sinus infection turned worse sinus infection had me running less than I had hoped in the weeks leading up to my race.  I would be lying if I said it didn’t concern me at all because it did.  My coach said my fitness level should be fine given that I ran at least once each week, but I didn’t feel as confident and it worked on my mental game.  In the week leading up to the race, as I obsessively watched the weather forecast, I was sweating bullets watching the temps fall lower and the rain chances increase.  It was hard to think of anything other than the weather conditions we would be facing on Sunday.

Friday night I packed all of my gear.  I took with me: 1 suitcase, 1 running bag, 1 bag filled with my rolling/stretching gear, 1 laptop bag, 1 food bag, 1 cooler, 1 dog crate stuffed with assorted dog gear, 1 purse, 1 body pillow, and 1 regular pillow.  It looked like I’d be staying for a week!  I was more than embarrassed when I pulled up at the Omni and the bellman had trouble figuring out where to put all of my stuff on one luggage cart =)

We met at Campisi’s for our Saturday night dinner and the wind, cold, and rain we faced running to the restaurant from the car felt like a preview to what we would be experiencing on Sunday.  Denise and I would look at each other with a “are we nuts?” look and we’d just laugh and shrug it off.  It was so great having dinner with so many of my Northside Runaway teammates!  It was just the ambiance and conversation I needed the night before my big race.  One of my friends noted how relaxed I was and I admitted I felt kind of loopy.  You could call it relaxed or you could call it cracked out, minus the crack.  I’m not sure, but I did feel a little strange.  I only checked the weather forecast maybe 3 times at dinner =)  Forecast called for temps @ 45 degrees at start and dropping to lower 40s by 2pm.  Rain chances were 70-90% every hour and the wind forecast was 11-15mph north winds the entire time.  Not exactly confidence building.

I got back to my room and my feet were hurting and tingling.  I had been on them so much Friday and Saturday and I started to worry about how they’d feel during the race.  So this is what they mean when they talk about staying off your feet prior to the race!  Not sure what I could’ve done differently (packed on Thursday?) but it’s something I’ll keep in mind the next time I run a marathon.  More on that later.

I had my pup with me at the hotel and I’m SO HAPPY I made that decision to bring her with me!  It was nice having her companionship Saturday night.  I showered her with lots of love and we talked race strategy, too.  She supported whatever I said =)

I had a few interruptions when trying to fall asleep Saturday night, but I think I was finally out @ 10:45-10:55.  There was a group of girls hanging out by the elevators, cackling like chickens, @ 10:40 and I was thisclose to taking them all on in my fit of anxiety over getting enough sleep, but I decided to open my door and yell “Be Quiet!” instead.  They didn’t miss a beat because I don’t think they could even hear me! Ugh.  They were back @ 1:30pm and I just prayed they’d leave quickly.  They either did or I fell back asleep.  Peanut started to bark one other time and it woke me up, but she stopped.  When I was actually asleep, I slept great.

I woke up @ 4:45am to rain hitting the window.  Gulp.  Six hours of sleep is par for the course with me so I knew it was enough to get me through the race.  I pulled out my toaster (yes, you read that right) and toasted my 1st thin bagel and started to get ready.  I dusted the insides of my shoes with my blister prevention powder and slathered on a glop of Aquaphor or Glide in just about every possible area I thought might chafe.  My feet were covered in both.  I knew my feet would get wet eventually, but for last weekend’s long run, I sprayed my shoes with a water repellant spray and they stayed relatively dry until mile 7 so I hopeful it would help again this time.  Ha.  I watched the advent service from last Sunday’s service at Grace United Methodist Church on the in-mirror TV in my hotel’s bathroom.  It’s the same name of the church in Austin that my Grandpa and Grandma served decades ago.  As many of you know, I my Grandma passed away in August and I was so touched to watch this service while I was getting ready for my race.  It made me think of all of my grandparents, how much I miss them all, and how I knew that would be with me in spirit throughout the day.

I went downstairs to meet my teammates @ 6am and it was good to see all of their sweet faces!  I can’t say how much our group means to me.  Their support, humor, determination, grace, friendship….ahhhh….I just love the Northside Runaways!  We walked outside to catch the bus and the wind and cold hit us.  Brrrr!  Mix that with some rain and I was a little more than nervous.  We took a shuttle bus to the start and the positive energy on the bus was good.  Once we got to Fair Park, we walked past a tent that was giving out free parkas and throwaway gloves.  I was good on gloves, but I took the parka to replace my trashbag.  I really liked the parka!  You could use your hands (unlike my trashbag concoction) and it was purple – my favorite color.  I had one more Rogue sticker so I slapped it on the front of my parka.

We found the building for the bag drop and sat down to wait out our start in a dry, semi-warm place.  It was nice to use a regular restroom, too.  We went outside later, waited in line FOREVER for the port-o-potties for one last time, and finally made it over to the start line.  Our corral was D1 but we decided to enter in @ B1 because we just didn’t know what to expect further down the pathway and it was already getting close to start time.  When we were maybe 50 feet from the start line, it started raining harder.  Ooh, not good for the mental game.  We crossed the start line and Denise and I did a good job of keeping it easy at the beginning.

I wore a headband w/ ear warmers, my white cap, gloves, short-sleeved tech T under a long-sleeved tech T, and capri pants (plus the parka.)  I wanted layers so I had options.  Around mile 1-2, I took off my gloves, tied two fingers together, and tucked them into my spibelt in case I needed them later.  I never wore them again.  Around mile 2, I took off my parka because the rain slowed down and I was getting hot, but I wasn’t ready to throw it away just yet.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with all of the forecasted rain and I knew the wind would pick up around the lake.  We saw all sorts of people ditching layers and parkas those first couple of miles.  (I can almost guarantee the majority of those people running the marathon were kicking themselves @ mile 11.)  I tucked my parka into the back of my spibelt for a bustle look.  Talk about running in style =)  (Right!)  I was a little concerned about my two layers of tech Ts because I felt so warm so quickly and considered taking off the long-sleeved shirt and tying it around my waist, but good thing I didn’t go to the trouble of doing that because the temps dropped as time wore on and I was so glad to have both layers and the parka on hand.  My choice of clothing was spot on.  One thing I didn’t have to worry about!

Around mile 2 we ran past the Grace United Methodist Church.  No lie.  That was so cool.

Around mile 2.5-3, we saw a guy run past us who was on artificial legs and had no arms.  I was floored.  Denise said we needed to give him a name and remember him later on in the race when it got hard so we named him “No Excuses”.  I was so touched to see him.  What a MAN.  What a shining example of what we can do when we put our minds to it.  I’m seeing example after example of how we are really only limited in our own minds.  I wish I could’ve met him because he was inspirational.

Even after seeing our No Excuses guy, my mental game started to shift in a downward direction @ mile 3.5.  I think it was after I stepped in a big puddle and felt the water gush through my right shoe.  I was squishing around in my shoe and it was only mile 3!  I knew it would happen later down the road, but I was hoping it would happen later on down the road.  I started hyperfocusing on everything that was hard and bad about the race and not surprisingly, my mental game suffered quickly.  Here’s a snippet of thoughts playing like CD stuck on repeat…

  • My right foot is already wet and I’m only at mile 3.  I have over 23 miles to go!  I’ve only run 22 miles before so I’m not even at that point yet.  OMG.
  • How am I going to run with my feet drenching wet?  I’m going to get blisters and it’s going to be excruciatingly painful.  Why didn’t I do more to avoid that puddle? That was so stupid.
  • Why am I freaking out?  I thought I was really tough?  My mental game is the strongest thing I have going for me.  I’m already starting to crack?  Do I really have this in me? There’s no way.  I can’t do this.
  • Why IN THE HELL did I decide to close the ziplock bag with my kleenex in it?  How am I supposed to get to anything in my spibelt when it’s under my parka?  It’s so full I can’t do anything.  I’m incompetent.  I NEED A KLEENEX.
  • You’re at mile 4 and you’re already second guessing whether or not you can do this.  You have more than 22 miles left. You’ll be out here for at least 4.5 more hours.  You’re toast.
  • Maybe it’ll get better. OH DEAR GOD, IT’S RAINING HARDER.  There goes my other foot in a huge puddle.  You can’t avoid the water in the road!  It’s going to just get harder from here so you better figure this out quickly.
  • Why did you think you could ever do this?  Why didn’t you just stick with half marathons?  Everyone’s going to be so disappointed in you if you don’t finish. How are you going to live with yourself?  Is this the best you can do?

Sad, huh?  I was so sad.  So demoralized.  I tried to think about the No Excuses guy but I was (almost literally) swimming in a sea of negative thoughts and I wouldn’t let anything positive in for a couple of miles.  Around mile 5, after feeling mentally pummeled, I remembered my good friend Monika telling me on Friday that I needed to get out of my head and into my heart.  She said I was physically ready and knew everything I needed to know, now I just needed to trust in that and get into my heart because my heart is what would help me get through the race.  SO TRUE!  Excellent advice!  I started turning those negative thoughts into positive ones.

  • My right foot is already wet and I’m only at mile 3.  I have over 23 miles to go!  I’ve only run 22 miles before so I’m not even at that point yet.  OMG. You knew it was going to rain almost the entire time.  You knew this was the longest you’ve ever run before.  All things you already knew.
  • How am I going to run with my feet drenching wet?  I’m going to get blisters and it’s going to be excruciatingly painful.  Why didn’t I do more to avoid that puddle? That was so stupid. Why are you trying to predict blisters right now? You’ve run in wet shoes before and you had blisters on the tips of your toes, but nothing so bad you couldn’t run.  Deal with it when you get there.  You don’t eat the soup as hot as it’s cooked! (Thanks, Popo!)
  • Why am I freaking out?  I thought I was really tough?  My mental game is the strongest thing I have going for me.  I’m already starting to crack?  Do I really have this in me? There’s no way.  I can’t do this. These conditions are horrible!  Are you really surprised that it’s tough out here on you mentally? Nope. Expect the unexpected, sister!  You’re mentally freaking out and you’re not expecting it.  Don’t let it sabotage you!  You’ve run so many long runs. YOU CAN DO THIS!
  • Why IN THE HELL did I decide to close the ziplock bag with my kleenex in it?  How am I supposed to get to anything in my spibelt when it’s under my parka?  It’s so full I can’t do anything.  I’m incompetent.  I NEED A KLEENEX. You closed the bag because you didn’t want to risk them getting wet. That’s a logical thing to do. If you really need one, you’ll figure it out. (Shortly afterward, there was a line on the left of people under umbrellas holding kleenex boxes upside down so they would stay dry for the runners.  SCORE! After I grabbed one and blew with sweet glory,  I made a mental note that there will be unexpected GOOD surprises, too!)
  • You’re at mile 4 and you’re already second guessing whether or not you can do this.  You have more than 22 miles left. You’ll be out here for at least 4.5 more hours.  You’re toast. Think about how you struggled on a handful of other races and long runs but you made yourself stop focusing on the negative and finally turned things around.  You did it those times, you can do it again.
  • Maybe it’ll get better. OH DEAR GOD, IT’S RAINING HARDER.  There goes my other foot in a huge puddle.  You can’t avoid the water in the road!  It’s going to just get harder from here so you better figure this out quickly. Rain might suck in these temps but this rain is helping the drought.  In the whole scheme of things, that’s way more important. See this rain as a blessing.  It IS a blessing!
  • Why did you think you could ever do this?  Why didn’t you just stick with half marathons?  Everyone’s going to be so disappointed in you if you don’t finish. How are you going to live with yourself?  Is this the best you can do? You signed up for this because you knew you could do it!  You have it in you!  You’re running this race for YOU and YOU alone.  More important than disappointing anyone else in this world is the possibility of disappointing yourself. Ain’t gonna happen!  You believe in yourself!  You stopped beating yourself up a long time ago and you aren’t going to start up again at the beginning of your marathon.  You deserve better! You can do better!

After I started turning my negative thoughts around, I realized one HUGE thing missing from this race was ENJOYMENT.  The key to a positive running experience for me is joy.  You have to find joy SOMEWHERE.  I realized I’d been looking down at the road, missing the beautiful neighborhoods we were running through and there were some truly magnificent homes to look at once I lifted my head up and looked around!  I realized I hadn’t listened to my music in over a mile and I needed to enjoy the music playing on my iPod. I realized I had a choice to stay as positive as possible or drown in sea of negativity.  I decided to focus on the positive.

Life got a lot better once I turned my mental game around!  I’m glad I pulled it together when I did because it was around mile 6 when we started on the gradual incline that lasted a few miles.  Denise was still with me, like I expected, and we started strategizing when we would take a bathroom break.  I have to admit feeling very envious of the men lined up by the bushes near the creek on our left and also have to confess that I did eye some of the heavier brush, wondering if I could pull off peeing on the side of the road if worse came to worse.  I also quickly realized that the last time I peed on the side of the road, I was living in Weimar, it was very dark, I had a friend watching for cars, and there might’ve been a few drinks involved.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to rationalize this possibility until at least mile 18. <wink!> Thankfully for all involved, the lines to the port-0-potties shrank considerably once the half-marathoners split off at mile 9.  We stopped at the first set afterwards and were so happy to finally go!  We took off running but Denise realized she left her water bottle so she ran back to get it.  We knew this potty break added a few minutes to our race, but when you gotta go, you gotta go.

I was really enjoying my run at this point.  I felt reenergized, renewed, and dedicated to doing my best to see this race to the finish.  I knew I wouldn’t throw in the towel, no matter what I faced as the race went on.  Something had clicked over in my head and I was determined like nobodys business!

Around mile 11, we started approaching the lake.  I untucked my parka from my spibelt and put it back on as the rain started falling harder.  We ran up a hill and the wind hit us.  Wow.  They weren’t kidding when they said the wind would be stronger coming off of the lake.  The temps had dropped a couple of degrees and I was so grateful to still have my parka!  We walked for a short time to get a gu out, stretch our calves, and get our gear all in check.  My parka didn’t come off again until I was less than 2/10 of a mile from the finish line.

I had been so fearful about the lake that when I was faced with the reality of the lake, it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.  When we were running into the north wind, I’d look further ahead to see where the path would turn so we would be protected with the trees again.  We had some fun banter with a few people here and there and that was great.  Connecting with people running and spectators along the way really helped!  We saw Denise’s family at some point and her cute little girl had tears in her eyes.  She was so proud of her mama!  It was so sweet that I teared up too!  Denise was crying as we left them and I put my arm around her and we just basked in the love of her family.  That was one of my favorite moments of the whole race =)

Around mile 16, I noticed my lower back was starting to hurt.  We stopped at one point and stretched some and it helped for awhile.  We used the port-o-potties one more time @ mile 18 and we had to stand in line for 0 minutes, 0 seconds.  We were in and out pretty quick.  I stretched my back again a little bit by bending over.  That was the only thing I could think of to stretch it.  Denise offered to massage it for me and it hurt like a mother but I felt some relief afterwards.  I’ve had back pain a handful of times in the last almost 2 years of running but never anything that lasted for miles and miles so I was hopeful it would go away sooner or later.  I was hoping for sooner.  Little did I know…

Around mile 20 it thundered pretty loud and the rain was POURING down.  I’m going to be conservative when I say it rained 90% of the time.  Sometimes the rain was light, sometimes moderate, and a few times very heavy.  By mile 9, I was completely okay with having wet feet.  No big deal.  Except for at mile 3 when my first drenched foot set my mental game spiraling downward, having wet feet never factored into my performance during the race.  After thinking back, BIG LESSON LEARNED.  I was so worried, so freaked out, by something that ended up being NOTHING to me at the end.  Focus on the positive.  Roll with the punches.

The “Dolly Parton” hills were coming up @ mile 22 and they were deep in my head.  I still hadn’t seen my parents and kids and was starting to wonder if they had made it on to the course at some point.  We talked about them being around mile 21 but when we saw my coach, Carolyn, and another Rogue coach, Ruth, around mile 21, Carolyn said my mom should be a little later down the road.  I was cautiously optimistic but something was telling me maybe they wouldn’t be there.  I was hoping to eat some of the peanut butter crackers I’d put in my bag for Katie to carry but realized that might not happen and I need to be okay if I didn’t get any.  I was feeling okay but a little anxious about the hills and sad that I hadn’t seen my family yet.  It was great to see our coaches and it helped me feel mentally stronger, but my back was starting to hurt more often than not and all of the bending down to stretch and anything I could think of was not providing relief for very long and I didn’t know how I could still run for another hour plus with my back hurting this bad and virtually no relief.  We ran into the next water station and I slowed to a walk, skipping the water, and put my arms up near my head to block my face from the water stop volunteers because I started crying from the pain.  I felt like I might throw up.  It hurt that bad.  But I also figured out something during that water stop and it was the BIGGEST LESSON I learned from the race.  By putting my arms up to shield people from my tears, I realized that putting my arms up over my head brought my back some relief.  If I had not cried, being 100% authentic to how I felt at that moment, I would’ve never realized how this motion of my arms above my head helped me tremendously.  I now had something I could do to provide me some momentary relief from the pain and it was something I could do while I was walking so I wouldn’t stop our forward motion completely.  It confirmed that YOU CAN FIND SOMETHING GOOD, EVEN IN REALLY BAD TIMES.  It can happen.  You just have to look at the situation differently to find it.  What a blessing!

The Dolly Parton hills were kind of a joke and not because there were grown men dressed as women with bad blonde wigs and huge ass fake boobs (at least I hope they were fake!)  One even complemented his beer gut by showing it off with his fake boobs resting on it.  I was kind of over the humor of that situation but I took water from one of the guys.  They were also handing out beer which I gladly passed over.  That was one of a handful of places offering beer.  Beer.  No thanks.  Once you run the hills in Austin, nothing like the Dolly Parton hills will intimidate you.  So although our pace slowed some, this was nothing like I expected.

Around mile 23 we saw a FANTASTIC SITE and that was the beautiful, smiling faces of Saira and Ade!  That told us they would hop in on the course with us, AFTER FINISHING THEIR HALF MARATHONS, and run with us for awhile.  I wasn’t sure what I would think about this, to be honest.  I knew without a doubt I would want to see them, hug them, and hear their words of encouragement, but I didn’t know if that would translate into needing them to run with us.  Well, let me say that having them run with us was JUST what both me and Denise needed.  We needed to hear about how they did, how the other Northside Runaways were fairing on the course, and we needed to have their support.  I can’t think of a better time when they could’ve joined us, either.  We talked with them, shared our struggles, and just ran with them supporting our hearts and minds.  They stayed with us for about 2 miles I think and then they hopped back off the course.  As soon as they left us, Denise started crying.  It meant so much to her and so much to me to have them with us.  So sweet.  Definitely in the top 3 of my favorite points in the race.

Being so close the finish, we both knew we could do this.  I still had to stop on occasion to stretch my hands over my head and get some relief from the pain and @ mile 25, I started getting a headache.  I know that can be a sign of dehydation so I made sure I kept drinking water and took advantage of the next water stop.  Once we saw the mile 26 marker, we knew the end was near and Denise asked me if I had anything left in my tank to run it in fast.  I said “Yup!” and off we went.  We were powering through those last 2/10ths of a mile and I head “Shelley Gwynn!  Shelley Gwynn!” from the left side of the course and I knew my mom was in the spectator stands cheering me on.  It was the final push I needed to cross the finish line going 9mph, according to my Garmin.  Not bad for the end of my first marathon in 40 degree weather with rain for 24+ miles and north winds.  Not bad at all.

We ended up running 26.2 miles in 5:38:38.  That included two port-o-potty stops, retrieving Denise’s water bottle, my mental breakdown @ mile 22, and weather almost from hell.  There were 25K people signed up for the half/full marathon and marathon relay but only just over 15K finishers.  I was one of the finishers.  Here are some of my results:

1686 total first time marathoners – I placed 1415.

700 female first time marthoners – I placed 550.

Out of the 1686 total first timers, I placed:

1487 in the first 5K.

1613 in the first 10K.

1584 in the first half.

1473 in the first 20 miles.

1415 in the final 10K.

That means after my first 6.2 miles, I improved at every point all the way until the end.  This makes me very proud.

We walked from the finish line, hugging really hard once, and I saw my son and Dad on along the fence line.  It was so good to see their faces!  We walked into the Centennial Building and I made a beeline to the medical services section for some Tylenol for my headache.  Then I walked over to get my medal.  It’s beautiful!  Denise and I stopped to take a race photo together and then we picked up our finisher tech tees.  We heard there had been chicken noodle soup and at this point, it was after 2pm and I hadn’t had anything substantial to eat since 7am.  I was HUNGRY!  I grabbed a half of a bagel and we saw the soup.  It tasted sooooo good!  We left the Centennial Building and headed over to the Automobile Building to reunite with our families.  We found Denise’s first and they were so happy to see her!  They were beaming with pride and I was too.  Denise doesn’t always realize how strong she is but she showed it out there on race day.  She was our rock that day and I really appreciate everything she did for us out there.  I’ve made a lifelong friend.  Her daughter is 9 and my daughter is 10 and they hit it off on Saturday when they saw each other for a brief period of time.  We plan on getting  the four of us together sometimes and I think that is an excellent idea!

I finally saw my son and then I heard how they drove all over the area trying to figure out how to get to the race course with so many streets blocked or closed and how they finally gave up after an hour and decided to just go to the finish line because they were worried they’d miss me all together.  When Kate saw me she ran to me so fast and hugged me so tight.  It felt so good!

So that’s my race report.  I can tell you I’m hurting today!  My joints seem to hurt a little more every time I get up from a sitting position.  My back is still super tight and my calves, quads, and hammies talk to me on a regular basis.  I hope to get a massage later this week.  We’re having a Rogue Northside Runaways group 3 mile run on Wednesday night for all of us marathoners.  Gulp.  Here we go again!

And here is how I’ll end this super long, can’t-believe-you’re-still-reading-this, blog.  I will run another marathon!  I’m not sure when, I’m not sure where, and it won’t be anytime soon.  Maybe another winter marathon next year or the Spring of 2013, but I will be running another marathon again.  Mark my words =)

Categories: Uncategorized

Eight days until the Big Race!

November 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Only 8 days until race day!  All of the training runs, many of which were in 100+ degree temps, helped get me to where I am today and I can’t believe I’m so close!  I’ve been rolling with the punches these last 2 weeks, trying to work with instead of against my body and managing this cold-turned-sinus-infection-turned-sinus-infection-from-hell.  I’ve learned that I can’t get 6 – 6.5 hours of sleep each night for nights on end and expect to stay healthy while running 30+ miles per week. Just doesn’t cut it. I’m grateful the week I started feeling bad I was sleeping a little bit more because it probably helped me to be able to run that 22 miler, even with a cold.  Unfortunately, that run, in those windy conditions, probably contributed to my cold turning into a sinus infection, but I can’t imagine how I’d be feeling right now if I had skipped that run or cut it way short.  My confidence would not be where it is right now.  If I can run 22 miles on a hilly route w/ a cold and against 20 mph winds with higher gusts, I can do just about anything!

We’re in the final week of tapering so todays run was a 10 miler, but we got off route once and it added some distance so it turned into an 11 miler instead.  I was fine with that though, given I hadn’t run since Monday.  It was low 60s at start with light- to no-rain until @ mile 3-4 when the rain turned a little heavier at times.  It pretty much rained the rest of the time.  I wore a cap which kept the rain out of my eyes so except for puddle dodging (some successful, some not) the rain wasn’t that big of a deal.  I actually enjoy running the rain because it’s a different challenge and it just feels kind of good on your skin.  The winds started picking up a little more at the end, but we were warmed up enough by then that it wasn’t a big deal.

I ran 11.08 miles in 2:17:57. We had 3 water stops and probably 5 stops to look at the (disintegrating) map because our route was kind of wonky today.  I loved the scenery and it all turned out okay, but I hated having to stop to peel the map apart and turn it front and back to figure out where we should be.  My overall pace was 12:26 and these were our splits:

12:14, 13:18 (longest time spent trying to figure out where we were b/c we turned wrong), 12:52 (water stop), 12:18, 13:40 (water stop and map reading), 13:04 (map reading), 12:22, 12:37 (water stop), 11:21, 11:56, 11:19

As you can see, when we weren’t reading maps or stopping for water, our pace was pretty good!  I especially loved our push at the end.  I love running faster at the end!  I feel so confident and ready after this run today.

Let me back track and talk about what happened to me earlier this week.  We had a quality workout on Monday and at that point, I had been on my antibiotic for 4 days for my sinus infection. My doc told me if I wasn’t better my Monday morning, he’d put me on an oral steroid. Monday AM rolled around and I felt pretty good so I thought I was on my way back to being healthy.  Ran the quality workout with no problems, although it was foggy because the humidity was so high and then it rained on us at the end.  I was so psyched at the end of my run!  I knew we had 2 weeks until Dallas and the momentum was building. I was planning how I was going to stay motivated, motivate my sweet teammates, and be as prepared as possible for the race.

I’m sure the conditions Monday night weren’t the best to run in when I’m fighting a sinus infection but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  Came home, no problems, and (like an idiot) got about 5.5 hours of sleep Monday night.  On Tuesday, I was running an errand and all of a sudden, my right sinus was completely blocked.  I thought it was strange, but knew that’s the side of my infection so I just figured it was par for the course. By the time I got home, I started feeling colder and colder so I wrapped a scarf around my neck, put on my super warm fuzzy robe over my capris and t-shirt, and socks.  That didn’t cut it so I grabbed a blanket and was trying to work like this before I realized I better lay down immediately.  I was supposed to have a dinner party that night so I thought if I took a nap, I’d be okay.  Once I was horizontal though, I knew I was in trouble.  I started shaking with chills, very intensely.  It’d start at my knees and work it’s way up to my shoulders and my whole body would rock and shake.  I pulled three blankets on top of me, with everything else, and it didn’t matter – I was freezing.  My arms, back, and legs were hurting and I immediately thought – FLU!  NOOOO….  I sent a few texts to cancel my dinner plans and started sobbing.  I could not believe I might have the flu.  After running 22 miles with a cold that first Saturday, 13 miles with a sinus infection the next Saturday, now I’m facing the flu?  Because of the way my right sinus felt though, I still held out hope that it was just my sinus infection fighting back.  I cried, prayed out loud to God, begging Him to please help me. Please don’t let me have the flu. I called on my Memaw and Grandma, Popo and Grandpa, anyone up there who might be able to help me.  Maybe that’s kind of silly now, but at the time, I prayed with every part of me because I knew if this was the flu, it might be enough to take me out of the race on Dec. 4th.

I finally fell asleep and woke up @ 1:30pm and felt hungry.  Hungry?  That’s a good sign!  My temp had risen to 101.1 at some point but when I took it again, it was down to 100.6 and I wasn’t shivering anymore so that was good.  I got up and made some lunch and drank some water and felt better as time wore on.  Heard back from the doc who thought it was my sinus infection and started me on an oral steroid. Later that evening I started running a fever again and at one point it was back up to 101 in the middle of the night, but I woke up on Wednesday and felt relatively good.  Very tired, but okay.  I kept feeling better on Wednesday and never ran fever all day so I cleared myself to cook for the family for Thanksgiving on Thursday and continued to improve. I didn’t push it by running, although I wanted to SO BAD because I hated not getting out there.  After seeing what can happen when I don’t take good care of myself though, I thought it was stupid to push it.  Friday was a good day, still not 100% but feeling almost normal.  I’m feeling similarly today.  Not 100%, but over 80% so I’ll take it!  I’ve been on my antibiotic for 8 days now and my predisone for 4.  I’ve gained 4-5 pounds in two days from the steroids but that’s normal when taking this type of med.  I expect it to go away tomorrow or Monday.

My coach reminded me recently that even though these last 2 weeks have not been ideal for me, I have the solid foundation of fitness I’ve built over the past 4 months. I’ve run 1-2 times each week I was sick so my fitness level is still there.  I feel confident I’ll be able to get all of my runs in this last week so I should be ready to go on December 4th!

I’m sure I’ll do this a few more times, but I want to thank all of you who’ve followed my journey on this blog, dailymile, and Facebook.  The comments, emails, and sweet words of encouragement along the way have made such a huge difference and I really appreciate all of it.  Stay warm and dry the rest of the weekend and have a great one!


Lessons learned today:

– Ipod shuffles can only take the rain for so long until they stop working. Note to self.

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Long run w/ sinus infection…check!

November 19, 2011 2 comments

Hello my Facebook and friends!  I thought today would be brutal, but it wasn’t so bad.  I still am not 100%, but I’m encouraged by how I ran today.

Let me share with you the last week of my life. After last weeks 22 miler on Saturday, I was spent. I just came down with a cold the day before so I knew it would be hard, but it was much harder than I expected.  I came home and had 15 mom errands/tasks to do and didn’t end up laying down and really resting until after 6pm that day.  At that point, I was toast. I spent all of Sunday in bed. It doesn’t feel good to run 22 miles on Saturday and lay in bed all day on Sunday.  I attempted to roll out Sunday night because I was so stiff everywhere, but I gave up shortly and crawled back into bed. It was bad.  On Monday, I had to do the usual mom stuff to get my kids up and to school that morning but then I came home and went back to sleep.  I should’ve just stayed in bed again until Kate got home from school but we have some stuff going on at my work and had a big, nationwide call that day @ noon so I woke up and got online.  That pretty much stuck a fork in me for the rest of the afternoon because I worked the whole time.  No running for me on Sunday on Monday.  On Tuesday, I woke up and thought I was feeling better.  No more constant drainage in the back of my throat, the burning in my throat was getting better, my nose was somewhat under control.  I woke up on Wednesday and felt a little worse though.  As the day wore on, I felt even crummier and finally accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be running Wednesday night either. DAMN.  This was not good for my mental game.  I was hopeful on Thursday I might feel a little better so I could run that evening but nope.  Felt the same.  Can’t I just add that it really sucks to have a sore throat for 7 days in a row? Really. Sucks. A lot.  No running for me on Thursday.  That night, I made sure I went to sleep a little earlier than usual and ended up waking up on Friday feeling better.  I had an appointment w/ my hematologist that morning so when I got back, I went to sleep.  THAT WAS A GOOD CALL.  When I woke up from my nap, I felt a little better.  I had an appointment w/ my allergy/asthma doc that afternoon and he diagnosed me with a sinus infection that probably started Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, hence why I started feeling worse after showing some improvement.  I’m now on an antibiotic, taking my asthma meds religiously, and if I don’t feel better, he’ll start me on an oral steroid on Monday.  Works for me!

I was glad to be feeling better on Friday, but I knew I had a 3 hour run waiting for me on Saturday and a 4:45am wake up.  I was sooo anxious.  I hate not feeling 100%.  I went to bed around 10:30 (I know, too late) and slept great all night.

We were instructed to run out 1.5 hours and then turn back around.  My fabulous Coach Carolyn, who knows me way too well, instructed me to RUN OUT 1.5 HOURS AND TURN AROUND.   She didn’t need me pushing farther or doing more than that.  I assured her I didn’t think I’d have anymore than that in me today so I should be good.

We started out on Waller (ugh. I hate running back on Waller.) and made our way to the south side of Lady Bird Lake trail.  I really enjoy seeing so many people out there running and walking in the mornings.  I had a load of kleenex with me and made the plan to blow at every water stop.  We were supposed to take it easy and we did most of the time, except for miles 7-8.  We clicked into our MGP and just ran.  It felt SO GLORIOUS.  No water stops, no traffic lights (mostly), no disruptions, just running.  I left my Garmin on the entire time except for part way through our bathroom break.  We had 4 water stops and 1 bathroom break.   I’m very pleased with how we managed the water stops this time around.  Besides a little bit of stretching, we just drank the water we needed, topped off our bottles, and walked while we took our Gu’s, ate our pretzels, etc…  I’m reassured to know that on race day, I won’t have to worry about traffic lights or people running the opposite direction of me.  I’ll just be focused on the race course.  That saves a lot of mental space and I need all of the mental space I can get!

Can I mention it was warm outside?  I wore shorts and a singlet.  On November 19th.  It’s fall right now, right?  When does “winter” start?  Ha.  The humidity was pretty thick, too.  Is it wrong to include in the prayer chain at church my request for cooler weather in Dallas on Dec. 4th?  I just need 40s-low 50s, low wind, low humidity.  C’mon.

It was awesome as always to see my beautiful Rogue ladies again!  I’ve missed them so much. It’s kind of ridiculous, seeing that I saw them one week ago.  But when I’m used to seeing them 3 times a week, I have withdrawals when that doesn’t happen.  Heard some super scary stories about the San Antonio half marathon from last weekend.  My best running buddy saw the guy that died drop to the ground 2 steps after he crossed the finish line. He was 32!  She said she saw lots of people throwing up and being carried off on stretchers. Fit-looking people.  Good grief.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I’m really not worried about that stuff.  Rogue has trained us to keep up on our hydration, fuel, listening to our bodies, etc… I did hear they were out of water at water stops which is ASSININE given they announced a heat advisory for runners before the race!  How do you run out of water for those poor runners in those conditions?  Really sad.  And confirmation that I was right to not run San Antonio this year.  It’s just not that great of a race.

So 2 weeks and one day until my first marathon.  Besides this sinus infection, I feel ready.  I’ve got to follow the training plan perfectly as we taper down.  I cannot wait until the race!  The excitement is slowly starting to build, along with my nervous anticipation.  I can’t believe I’ll be running a marathon.  Wow.

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November 12, 2011 Leave a comment

Both of my kids are fighting colds right now and on Friday, I finally joined them. I was in denial for awhile but there was no denying it that afternoon.  I felt horrible and it only got worse as the day went on.  I drank a lot of water, took my multivitamin, took some Emergen-C, took a warm espom salt/lavender bath, and I still felt lousy.  I had a hard time sleeping, even though I was in bed with lights out by 9:15pm.  That’s super early for me, but I thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to sleep so I wanted to make sure at least I rested as much as possible.  I tossed and turned for hours and then @ 1am, I took a nasal decongestant spray and slept a good 3 hours before my 4:15am wake up.  I knew the run was going to be hard – I was right.

Let me just say I prepared myself as much as possible with my gear. I brought 4 Gu, a bag of sports beans, some pretzels, and about 25 kleenex. Seriously. I was so worried I would run out of kleenex and that would be bad!  My throat had a small fire in it and I knew this was just going to suck, no way around it.  I thought for sure I’d get worse as time went on, but I really didn’t.  Even the mucous wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, but it sure was annoying.  I was worried my asthma might flair up but it never did. Let’s see if that will still hold true later today.

This course was just mean.  We ran over to Riverside, up Travis Heights, west on Monroe, over to Hether, left on Bluebonnet, right on Arpdale, left on Rae Dell, right on Barton Skyway, left on Barton Hills, left on Robert E. Lee, left on Barton Springs, under Mopac to the water stop, left on Veterans, out Lake Austin Blvd, through Tarrytown, right on Exposition, and back over the the water stop under Mopac.  Then we headed back the same way we came.  IT WAS SO HARD.  It didn’t help that the wind was blowing at a decent clip with higher gusts (just checked the weather and they are saying 30 mph gusts!  I believe it!)  Truly lovely on some of those hills.

We ended up running 21.7 miles in 5:07:38 (14:10 pace.)  I never stopped my Garmin through any of the water stops, the bathroom break, talking to our friend who was injured, etc… but I’m glad we’re doing this because it’s setting a more realistic expectation for the marathon. We ended up leaving the water stops pretty quickly but walking while we fueled at times (pretzels and sports beans, most Gu’s we did at water stops.)  And I’ll confess, we walked up some of those tough hills after mile 15. I just didn’t have it in me.  After feeling like the cold wasn’t taking as much out of me as I thought it was, I realized later on in the run that I just didn’t have my usual stamina.   I also kept feeling a pain in the inside of my right ankle, which I think was related to my tight calf muscles, and we’d have to stop so I could stretch it out at times.

This run was soooo hard.  Not the confidence booster as I was hoping for as we start our taper next week.  We have a 16 mile long run next Saturday, a 10 mile the next Saturday, and then it’s race weekend.  Hard to believe it’s so close.  Normally I’d say I’m pretty prepared, but I need to just let this all settle in to me and adjust my expectations.  I do think the course we ran this morning will be way harder than the White Rock course, we’ll have lots of people cheering us on (I’m getting my name put on my shirt so people can yell out my name – I need all of the personalized help I can get!), and hopefully, I won’t have a cold and the wind won’t be blowing so hard.  The temp felt pretty good throughout and the sun stayed behind the clouds most of the time so we were good on those fronts.  We were grateful.

We got back to Rogue and I jumped into the puffy pants after foot drills. Not sure how much it helped, but couldn’t hurt. Then I rolled out and stretched while Denise was in the puffy pants and we hobbled to our cars.

Not what I wanted to accomplish out there today, but given the circumstances, it’s okay.  Just okay.  Wanted more than just okay, but guess this just sets up next weekend’s 16 miler to be a kick ass run!  That’s what I’ll hope for anyway!

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Insert expletives here.

October 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, I did it. Ran 20 miles. Okay, I “ran” 19.62 miles and walked about 9/10ths of a mile. I turned my Garmin off at water stops, Jester Dorm, and Seton Hospital (bathroom break) plus I turned it off when we were lost.  Yes, we were lost.  It sucked.  In fact, this whole run pretty much sucked.  It was HARD.  I thought it would be a relatively “flat” course but it was not.  When I looked down at my Garmin and it read 9.82 and I realized we weren’t even half-way through yet, I felt so defeated.  I spent most of the 3 miles up and 3 miles down Shoal Creek at MGP talking myself out of allowing myself to think it would be okay to walk at some point in the future.

Let’s see – here come the excuses – I probably averaged 6 to 6.5 hours of sleep most nights this week but Thursday it was more like 5.5 and last night it was closer to 5.  Lots of different reasons I won’t go into, but to sum it up, training for a marathon and being a (single) mom with a full-time job is REALLY EFFIN HARD.  Like, really hard.  Really. Hard.  Just training for a marathon is hard.  Just training for a marathon while working a full-time job is hard.  Just training for a marathon while working a full-time job and being a mom is hard.  It’s challenging.  I will say I like a challenge (always have – that’s why I don’t mind hills) but this is taking every ounce of patience, humor, energy, and mental space I have.

I ran 19.64 miles at 4:00:56.  My running buddy hurt her knee @ mile 18 and I walked with her for a little bit but when I realized she probably wasn’t able to run anymore, I took off.  Unfortunately, I read the map wrong so I had us coming back on the 18-mile route, not the 20, so I tried to add on some mileage at the end but it still didn’t get me to 20 miles running.  Damn!  I wanted to see that 20 on my Garmin.

Here were my splits:

13:17, 12:40, 12:15, 12:56, 13:21, 12:12, 12:22, 11:22, 11:39, 11:49, 11:32, 11:25, 11:23, 12:43, 12:03, 12:02, 12:23, 13:18, 12:46, 11:32

The six miles in the middle where we hit 11:something paces was 3 miles up Shoal Creek and 3 miles down Shoal Creek. It was so hard to get started this morning and you can tell it by our first mile pace!  The only other 13:something pace was when I was walking with Denise.  I felt so sorry for her!  I debated just walking it in with her but after going that far, I had to run and I had to tack on some additional mileage to get me closer to 20.

Today was a mental challenge more than physical.  I felt all sorts of twinges, pains, aches, pulls, etc… but my mental game just wasn’t quite where it usually is and that was the worst part.  I am very happy to know I got to (almost) 20 and I can see that going 6.2 additional miles is possible.  Man, it’s going to be hard, but it’s possible.  The weather (mid-60s at start!) didn’t help and I’ve got to think that the White Rock course won’t hold a candle to running anywhere in Austin in terms of hills so I’m hopeful the conditions will be easier.

Happy to be done!  I inhaled an Engineer sub from Firehouse and now I’m about to take an ice bath.  I have some gnarly chafed areas. Really ouch.  And Kate keeps asking me when I’m taking her to the Cowan Carnival today.  Ugh.  This is really when I wish there was two of me!  Think I’ll bring a chair and find a shaded place so I can just sit down and not move.  That might work. Have a great weekend and thanks for reading this far =)

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Mt. Bonnell? Check. 18 miles? Check.

October 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Longest distance yet!  We ran 18 miles in 4:07 which averaged a 13:47 pace. We realized last week that our chips won’t be stopping at the marathon so if we really want to see how long it’s taking us out there, we should keep our watches going the entire time.  Well, Denise kept her watch going b/c I pulled mine out of my bag and it was dead. I was so irritated!  My first 18 miler with no Garmin. Even had worn my heart rate monitor and everything. Ugh. So I took off the Garmin and monitor and we used Denise’s.

Although our pace doesn’t look that great, we figured we had 7 water stops plus one bathroom break on Exposition.  If we spent 2-3 minutes at each water stop plus 7 minutes at the bathroom break, that would’ve put our time somewhere between 3:39 and 3:46 which would’ve put us between 12-12:30 pace which is right on target for our long runs.  This was such a hard route!  I wish I had my Garmin data to show the hills we climbed.  It was something like this…

east on 4th from I-35, right on Rio Grande, cross over and head up north @ Windsor/Northwood, cross MoPac, right on Exposition, left on 35th, up to Mt. Bonnell, then we winded around and ended up turning around @ Balcones/Hancock. It wasn’t an out and back though.  Once we went back to Mt. Bonnell, we headed south on Exposition, right on Bonnie (close to Enfield), and it spit us out just west of Hula Hut.  Then we ended with a few miles on the trail, north on Congress, east on 4th, back to Rogue. This was a very hilly course and we did it!

We are going to be more mindful of our water stops in the future.  The bathroom break was tough b/c there was only one stall so we had to wait for each other.

I had a weird pop/something happen just above my knee when we started running after the first water stop at mile 2. EEK! I was so scared. I’d have some pain in my knee, calve, ankle, hamstring from time to time and didn’t know what was going to happen farther into our run.  The sharper occasional pain started to dull and spread out a bit and by the end, I was fine. We’ll see if I feel the same way later today!

This run instilled so much confidence in me.  I’ve got this. We’ve (Denise and me!) got this. I will be able to run a marthon without stopping. If I can run 18 on the course we just did today, I can run 26.2 in a race.  I can do this.  It’s surreal, but I can do this.  I’m sooo in love with running.  I’m so in love w/ my Rogue ladies.  I thank God often for running.  The peace I feel out there is just what I need for my life.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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