Monday, November 23, 2015

Family Fun at the Krispy Kreme Challenge, 2 Pi K, Autumn Chase, and Monte Sano 5 and 10 K

Running is a sport for our entire family.  We don't push our kids to participate in runs, but the older 2 (9 and 8 years old) are beginning to really enjoy it and ask to run races!  The baby is doing great just tagging along too.  Here are some of the things we've all been up to lately.

Krispy Kreme Challenge

My family participated in the UCP Krispy Kreme Challenge on Saturday, November 21.  This was our first year to go as a team.  Our challenge was to run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, together finish a dozen donuts, and run back 2 miles to the finish.  

Since my daughter is only 8, she hadn't run 4 miles in a race yet.  This was her first time.  She told me she wanted to try it, so I went ahead and signed her up.  She was so cute and was coming up with a time goal before the race (by multiplying her 1 mile time by 4, which I told her is not how it works!).  We were not concerned about our times today, but she seems very goal-driven.  She doesn't like to eat and run, so for fun we called the baby her "sub" for the eating part of the challenge.  

My son who's 9 has run this race the last 2 years with me.  After carefully reading about the prohibited items and not seeing anything about a jogging stroller, my husband and I agreed that the baby could come and be pushed by Rick during the race.

The kids sprinted ahead of us at the start.  We were in the back with the stroller.

My son and I finished the first 2 mile run and waited for Rick and the girls to come to the KK parking lot .  We had our box of doughnuts waiting.  

We ate all the doughnuts!  What an fun way to bond as a family!
Our doughnut totals:
Rick: 5, Our son: 4, me: almost 3, the baby: 4 bites of mine  

Then we ran back to the finish line.  All of us ran the entire race!  The baby doesn't look fazed at all about the run.  She loves the stroller!  We received green finisher's shirts and were happy to accept another couple of boxes of doughnuts to take home as the race ended (if you do this race, they give away lots of boxes of doughnuts after the Doughnut Eating Contest, so stay and claim some if you haven't had your fill yet!).

2 Pi K Race

Here is a picture from back on October 7 at the 2 Pi K Race.  This is a small race on the Redstone Arsenal one day after work.  My son and I ran this race together while the rest of our family watched.  He did great and ran the entire thing (2 Pi K is 6.3 K which is just about 4 miles).  I finished first place female and then put the baby (who was missing her Mommy) on my back.  She and I came up to receive my award.  

Autumn Chase

This is a family picture from the Autumn Chase races.  We always have fun at these races.  My kids run, and Rick and I volunteer.  They chose to use this picture as the cover of the HTC newsletter for this quarter.  It was such a special surprise for all of us!

Monte Sano 5 and 10 K

We all volunteered at the Monte Sano 5 and 10 K back on September 5.  
I love the picture of all of us!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Soldier Marathon 2015 Race Report

Friday, November 6, 2015

My family left Madison, AL and headed to Columbus, GA at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, November 6, 2015.  The drive was about 4 hours (but we lost an hour on the way).  We arrived at the packet pickup at the National Infantry Museum right around 5:00 p.m. their time.  The museum was closed, but we were able to look around outside and to see the Avenue of Flags and their Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall.  We watched a kids' marathon there that looked like a lot of fun.  We headed to our hotel (about 15 minutes away) and grabbed Panda Express for dinner on the way.

 I am standing in the Avenue of Flags.  The start/finish area is behind me.  
The Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall is to the far left in this picture.

Saturday, November 7

We woke up early (I was up at 5:45 a.m., which felt like 4:45 our time).  Well, I was actually up most of the night.  Our baby was in a pack and play for the first time ever (she's 16.5 months and this is her first overnight trip).  She did well until 4 a.m. when she woke up crying.  I was already up tossing and turning, so I nursed her and kept her in our bed.  At 5:45, I was relieved to be able to finally get up, shower, and prepare for the race.  We woke up the kids at 6:15 and were in the car around 6:35 a.m.

Traffic to get to the marathon was heavy and at an almost standstill.  The race started at 7:30, and at 7:15 I was still in the car a 1/2 mile away and not moving!  Finally, we pulled into a parking lot and I raced to the start.  Rick ran up behind me with the kids as I was walking and trying to scarf down a Honey Stringer waffle.  He served as my "gear check," so no need for a checked bag!  When I think of Rick, I am reminded of this quote by Daniel Bennett from the Soldier Marathon FB page:  "I encourage you to play an active role in enhancing someone else's participatory experience."  Rick, who is usually at my side as a fellow runner, was injured and unable to run today, so instead he was my biggest fan and supporter.  For someone who's used to not having any support on my marathons, knowing that Rick and the kids were there meant so much to me.

I tucked in with the runners at the 8:00 pace sign and waited about 10 minutes until the race began.  It was a close call, but I'd made it!  As I waited for the start, I looked down and noticed a mosquito bite on my leg.  The conditions here today were humid and warm (70's).  The area was swamp-like, with Spanish moss on the trees and even an alligator habitat along the course near the river!  With a cannon's loud "BOOM!," the race began.

First Half: Right on Pace

7:36, 7:42, 8:04, 7:52, 8:04, 8:10, 8:06, 7:54, 8:06, 8:14, 8:14, 8:03, 8:08

I saw the 3:25 pacer ahead of me as the race began, and our first couple of miles were a tad fast.  No congestion at the start was nice (The marathon had around 500 finishers, but the half started with us with almost 1,000 finishers.  There was also a 5K which started right after our start).  I was running with only a stopwatch and no Garmin, so I had trouble judging my pace at the beginning but was aiming to stay at 8:00 the entire race.  Mile 2 held Drill Hill, complete with a drill sergeant barking at us to go faster up the hill!  

This part of the course led us around Fort Benning, so we saw lots of the army housing and soldiers stationed at frequent intervals.  I felt pretty warm, but I was still feeling like the running was easy.  I had a chocolate Gu offered in Mile 6 and a salted caramel one at Mile 10, and I poured water on my head at every water station, hoping to cool off a bit.  I made it through the first half perfectly paced for a 3:30 (half split was 1:45).

Photo courtesy of FB Soldier Marathon site
Second Half: Let the Excuses Begin

8:45, 8:49, 9:33, 9;04, 9:12, 10:33, 17:51 (OUCH!), 10:14, 9:07, 12:15, 9:17, 9:33, 10:49 (1+.2)

We ran a lot of miles on the Riverwalk by the Chattahoochee River.  It was so pretty with all of the water and the changing leaves.  It was such a relief to not have rain (they'd predicted thunderstorms and even posted a severe weather policy on their FB site in case a delay or cancellation was needed).  I told myself to enjoy this day and the opportunity I had to run.  It was a little lonely for the early teens and I began to wish I had brought music (something I never use in marathons).  

I began to know that I would not be able to get the 3:30 right after I finished Mile 13.  I just knew I didn't have it in me today.  It was easy to list the odds stacked up against me in this race: stomach bug over the last 2 weeks and no appetite or energy, Rick being on travel while I cared for all of the kids while they were sick, not well hydrated since my stomach had still not been taking liquids well, more frequent nursing from my sick baby, lack of sleep the night before the race, endless chaffing along my bra seams that I cannot seem to stop, and warm conditions.  I'd also gotten this weird feeling in my right ear, just like what you get when you swim and water gets in your ear.  I've had this happen only once before, on a hot long run.  This wasn't good.  But this was my chance!  Couldn't I push through all of this?  Wasn't I tougher?

Seeing Rick and the kids at Mile 15 was a highlight of my race, but it also made me want to stop and quit.  I wanted Rick to drive me back to the hotel and just call it a day.  

Here I am when Rick and kids saw me at Mile 15.

What Rick didn't see was me crouching down on the grass near the street shortly after I'd left him.  I knew I could not hold my pace anymore, and I looked back at them longingly, wanting to go back to them and drop out.  When I finally made it to Mile 16, I was surprised that even with my stop that mile was only 9:33.  

We passed some type of barbecue festival to our right as we ran near the city, and we ran through a marching band at one point!  I'm not sure why they were on our course?  I also remember running through lots of parking lots with uneven footing and feeling a little confused about where to go for some of the course.  I was struggling to maintain 9:00 miles.  

When I saw Rick at Mile 20, it was another surprise for me!  I didn't except to see him at either place along the course.  How I wanted to just stop!  I shouted, "Expect me in 3:45 or slower!"  He knew what this meant.  I was now just running to finish.  I had officially tossed my goal out of the window.

After I left my cheering crew, I just gave up.  I stopped, crouched to relieve some of my legs' soreness, and began to walk.  Mile 20 was 17:51--one of my slowest marathon miles ever.  I texted Rick, "Talk me out of the DNF," to which he wrote back a flurry of inspiration and also started tracking me with my phone.  He wrote, "You aren't a quitter.  That is not who you are.  You are tough!  You finish what you start.  Finish this thing!"  

Shortly after that, I came to an aid station that some man had set up (I don't think it was an official one).  He had all sorts of stuff, and I stopped to fill up my water bottle (which I carried because of the warm conditions).  I asked if he had Advil, and he did!  So I took 2.  I told him my legs were really tight, so he offered me some pretzels to give me the salt I would need to hopefully avoid cramping.  I continued on, thankful for that wonderful stop.  I ate some caffeinated Sportsbeans and did some walking over the next few miles, knowing that now even the 3:45 time was gone.  Then the 3:50.  When I got to Mile 23, I knew I had 32 minutes left to get a sub 4, so I ran as much as I could for those 3 miles, and they were all sub 10 which felt like a victory for me.

Finally, we were on the last mile, a long, straight stretch on Lumpkin Road (the same road we drove in on that morning in the standstill traffic).  So I knew I had a long way to go as I chugged along.  Then, I got to turn the corner and could see the finish!  I knew I was almost done.  I heard a guy shouting about finishing sub 4, and I sprinted to the finish line.  I saw my family cheering for me!  I finished in 3:59:26 (chip time), 81/523.

I grabbed food and immediately went to lay down in the field behind the finish line.  The Planet Pop they gave me was delicious!  I also had water and a Diet Coke!  After cleaning up a little, I walked through the National Infantry Museum (seemed odd that they were letting us walk through it all sweaty, but this was our chance so we took it).

From a news article I found online, which validated my thoughts that the warm conditions played a part in the way my race turned out today:

More than 2,000 runners participated in the Sixth Annual Soldier Marathon on Saturday.  Race director Cecil Cheves said this marathon is an opportunity for the community to give back to the military community.
This year, the humidity was the highest it has ever been during a Soldier Marathon, which experts said added 10 to 15 minutes to a runner’s time.  
My feet were so water-logged when I got back to the hotel, so I had one of the kids snap this picture.

And where do you put smelly, wet shoes when your toddler wants to wear everyone's shoes?  Why, on the lamp way up high over her head, of course.

We headed back to the Chattahoochee River to see the urban whitewater rapids at this place called the Island, shopped at a mall briefly, ate Firehouse subs for a late lunch/early dinner, watched lots of cable t.v. (luxury to us non-cable people!), and grabbed more popsicles at Planet Pop that night.  The next day, we headed to Auburn to tour my alma mater.  The rain they had forecasted for race day came a day late, and we all ended up wet.

Final Thoughts

Even though I did not get my time at this race, it still marked the return of something I love to do: traveling the country and running marathons.  As I do more and more of these and get older and older, I am sure I will have many more races that don't go my way---and hopefully a few that do.  It is the hope of these "mountain-top" marathon moments that keeps us coming back for more.  I am so thankful to be able to race, and I have to take the good with the bad.  No, it was not my day out there, but I pray that there will be other opportunities.  

I plan to pace the 4:00 group at the Rocket City Marathon next month.  I will hopefully be able to get within seconds of the time I got in the Soldier Marathon, with a much differently paced race, of course.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Soldier Marathon Quick Update

So this is not the time I wanted, but I am still pretty happy with the finish.  I had a lot of negative self-talk in this race and honestly almost dropped out several times.  It's why I love the marathon so much---it takes you to your highest highs in some races and your lowest lows in others.  It's such a roller coaster and you never know what you will find when you start the race.  I'm done with Marathon #32 and still have much to learn about me AND this distance.  More later!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tapering--Marathon this Saturday!

Well, as they say, the hay's in the barn.  I finished Hal Higdon's Advanced 1 Marathon Training Program for this Saturday's marathon!  I only have 2 rest days and a Friday 2 miler to go!  I guess I'd give myself a grade of a B for this training.  I dug deep for dark solo long runs starting at 3:30 a.m., and I ran 10 mile pace runs with the stroller.  But I got to where I could not do the middle of the week "hard" run (either hills, tempo, or speedwork), so I started to skip it.  I did that at least 4 times for various reasons (isn't it easy to find an excuse when you really don't want to do something?).  I did finish the last speedwork today and nailed it (4x400s), but the thoughts of doubt still loom in my head from the missed workouts.

Then this past week my whole family has had the stomach bug!  I was planning on doing some core work with Jillian Michael's DVDs, but when the bug hit me a week ago I lost my appetite for days and had no energy.  I played around with some of the mileage for the first week of the taper, fitting in short runs when I felt well enough to do them, skipping them when I did not.  I could not even look at the healthy food I had bought to eat and instead ate Saltines and drank Gatorade.  Now with only 4 days to go, I am trying to hydrate and resume eating.

Then there's the weather report--lots of rain forecast for Columbus, GA the morning of the marathon.  Time for me to start mentally preparing for running in the rain.  I remain hopeful that I can meet my goal, but I also know that there are a lot of things I can't control, and this is one of them.

More after the race!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Taper Time is Here!

Picture from the Autumn Chase Run (free one mile races for elementary kids).  Our team paces these races each year.

Today was my last 20 miler in this marathon training cycle.  It went very well (best of the 3 I've done--8:40ish pace and was aiming for 9:00s) and yesterday's 10 mile pace run did also.  I will be running in the Soldier Marathon in 3 weeks.  Starting at 3:30 a.m. is really not fun but I kept telling myself that I get to reap the benefits when it's over.  And no more long runs now! 

I used today's run to think about a big test I will take tomorrow for elementary teaching (reinstating my certificate).  I broke the run into 5 mile segments and kind of "pep talked" myself for each of the four segments of the test (English, Math, Science, Social Studies).  It gave me something to do and reminded me that visualization is good for testing but especially for marathoning.  Now I plan to do the same thing to get myself ready for the marathon.  I'll picture myself being successful race day, go back and reread previous blog entries, and remind myself of all of the training I've done to get here.  Back to some last minute studying now!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Marathon Training Update

I'm on Week 12 of training, and it's still going okay.  Yesterday I ran the 6 pace miles (8:00 pace) while pushing the single stroller with my baby.  It felt hard, but I expected it to since I'm not used to pushing her.  Today was a 12 mile run, and I ran it with some friends.  Next week is another high mileage week, one of the toughest in the plan.  My last 20 miler was sub-9:00, but it felt super hard for me and I was so tired afterwards.  I can tell that I am getting stronger, but each run is still hard and tiring.  The early morning runs are getting to me too; for the last 20 miler a friend met me at 3:20 a.m. to start running.  It's peaceful at that hour and okay with a headlamp, but it's also so crazy!

I don't have a marathon anymore though!  My husband and running partner is injured.  I feel NO motivation without him training side by side with me (We don't actually train together, but I always like knowing he is doing nearly identical training to me)!  I keep training, but now I am second-guessing doing a marathon in November.  We had not actually registered for the one we wanted to do in IN.  I may do one in Columbus, GA since it is closer than IN.  Or I may just hold off training and then resume training for Rocket City in mid-December.  

Later this afternoon, my kids will run the annual fun run here in town that is free for all elementary students.  I grew up going and love taking them to it too.  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hal Higdon Advanced 1 Training Weeks 1-6

I am training for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon on November 6, 2015, and I am 6 weeks into the program.  It feels wonderful to be pushing myself for the first time since becoming pregnant with the baby (who is now almost 14 months).  I picked Hal Higdon's Advanced 1 training program since I've used it before with good results.

I found it hard to select a time goal.  I paced a 4:10 group last December for the Rocket City Marathon which felt very hard at the time.  Before that, I had run the 2013 Monumental Marathon at 7.5 weeks pregnant in 3:32.  It seemed more logical to go with that time even though the 4:10 was more recent.  So based on my time in this race 2 years ago, I plan to train for a 3:30 time this year.  This time is still nearly 20 minutes off of my PR, but I feel that it will be a realistic time goal given my current physical state.

I finished Week 6 this week with a few challenges.  Fitting in the early morning runs before getting my shower, nursing the baby, and now walking the big kids to school at 7:20 a.m. (they started back on August 5--so early!) is tricky.  Plus my husband, Rick, is also training, so I have to fit my runs around his.  Some days I have only exactly enough time to run my distance, so we pass each other at our garage door, he heading in and me heading out.  Some days when he's out running, I run laps around the front of my house (these are usually my 3-4 mile runs).  I've also started waking up much earlier (as early as 3:30 a.m.), but I anticipate I may have to get up even earlier as the weeks go on in order to fit in the long runs.  I'm sure these things aren't really anything new to most of you too.  It's just an adjustment for me to be taking training more seriously now.

Another challenge is trying to fit in group long runs (which I enjoy) with my solo pace runs.  Hal frequently calls for a pace run before the long run. The purpose of the pace runs is to get used to running the pace you will be maintaining race day--holding the pace consistently through a series of miles.  These runs start at 5 miles and go up to 10 miles.  The long run follows the next day so that you are running on somewhat fatigued legs.  The long run is 30-90 seconds off of your goal pace time.  It starts at 10 miles and builds to 3 20-mile runs during the 18 weeks of training.  I normally complete these on Thursday (pace) and Friday (long).

This week it worked best for me to do my long run with my group on Thursday, meaning Friday (today) was left for a pace run.  The group did 13 miles yesterday.  My plan only called for 10 miles, but I ran the whole distance with them at just under a 9:00 pace.  Today I had to run 7 miles at an 8:00 pace (my goal pace for a 3:30 marathon).  I struggled through these miles and saw the reason for the order of these 2 runs!  Trying to hold the challenging 8:00 pace was much harder with my tired legs from yesterday's long run!  Remember, I am still getting back from pregnancy.  I feel much weaker where I once felt strength.  Today's run reminded me that I am not back yet.

Something that helped me today was the Apollo 13 quote, "Failure is not an option."  I don't know why I thought of it today, but thankfully I did.  I had started my run with an 8:26 mile, feeling so tired and needing a warm up (but not having left time in my morning for a proper one).  I played a mental game of trying to "make back" the extra 26 seconds over the next 6 miles.  I don't have my data in front of me, but I think the rest of the miles were 8:00, 7:58, 7:59, 7:48, 8:00, and 7:34, so I easily made up for the slower first mile to finish under 8:00 for the entire run.  Thinking that "failure is not an option" pushed me to keep each mile on pace even though I was so tired.  You might think that one run in an 18 week plan doesn't matter, but I beg to differ.  Once you start letting yourself "cheat," you are only really cheating yourself!  I also learned this week to really trust the training plan.  There is a reason for the specific order of each run.  Do your best to stick with that order if possible.