Monday, April 19, 2010

Missin' My Baby During the Half Marathon

Since my daughter was born 2 1/2 years ago, I believe I've run 18 half marathons (3 in '08, 8 in '09, and 7 in '10 so far).  I love the half marathon distance - it's easier to recover from than a marathon, easier to go run on a whim with a strong running base on your legs, and it's hard enough to be a serious challenge!  Half marathons are 13.1 miles of hard work that is long enough to be draining - mentally, physically, and emotionally.

I love my little girl, Marissa, and have been blessed to be able to stay at home with her since she was born.  The days are long, don't get me wrong, but rewarding.  Through this, my running "hobby" (okay okay, call it an obsession) has kept me a sane stay-at-home mom.  And it's all this that means that I never miss my toddler too much when I'm away because I get to spend a lot of time through the week with her.

But in a half marathon with good spectator support, I've noticed a pattern in the miles 7+.  Just where you are starting to tire.  I see small children on the sides of the course, cheering, waiting eagerly to see their mommy or daddy go running by, and my heart aches terribly for my daughter.  I miss her in those moments far more than when I'm out of town for a few days.  A pull of the heartstrings like that around mile 10 and I just want to be beamed up and transported home to hug and cuddle my Marissa, even on a great race day.  And sometimes you would catch me tearing up a little in those moments too.  Half marathons are a draining distance to race, and those emotions just come pouring out.

I thought it might be a nice thing to share with all of you today, as you embark on your next run.  You never know where that next run will take you physically, mentally, or emotionally!  Happy Running!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Big D Half Marathon Race Report - I Thought Taking It Easy was Supposed to Feel Easier

Let me start with how I feel about Big D, because I'm already biased.  Big D was the first half marathon I completed in 2005.  I walked the whole thing during my Komen 3-Day training and finished in 3:33.  I then ran it as my first half marathon "back" after my daughter was born.  Marissa was only 5 1/2 months old when I came back on the running-half-marathons scene in 2008 and finished in 3:07.  I then ran it again in 2009 and came home with a new PR of 2:42.  So that race has been good to me in my running history.  Plus the race director of Big D was involved with the Dallas Running Club years ago and was the race director of the Dallas Running Club Half Marathon ("The Half") for several years and took that race from 2000 to 3000 people.  He then mentored my friend Paula as a race director who then mentored me (we're both past DRC Half race directors), so I have a lot of respect for him as a race director.

I had been off on my training in recent weeks. A vacation then super sick toddler then being pretty sick myself with a bad sinus infection meant only about 5 workouts in the last month, and I wouldn't say they all went that well.  Then I supervised packet pickup for three days at Big D Marathon at the Run On! Dallas store - that's 26 hours of bending, twisting, alternating standing/sitting.  And worse, it's thinking about smoothly providing packets with little to no line to thousands of runners for three straight days.  So in addition to minor tweaks, I went to bed with a brain that didn't want to shut off and I have a tendency to sleepwalk & sleeptalk when stressed.  So I spent the entire night before the race filling race packets for invisible groups of runners. :-) I'd wake up every half hour or so sitting up, hands in the air handing off a race packet. :-) Needless to say, I was exhausted when I got up at 5:50 am!

I made it down to the race site with little to no problems and time to spare.  I was gearing up and prepping at my car after I arrived and a gal walked over and asked me how to affix the Chronotrack D-tag timing tag. So that's how I met Crystal who was running her first half marathon, so I told her if she waited a second I'd walk to the start with her, and she looked relieved. :-) We've all been there.  Along the walk, ran into Veronica, Heels and Hills Run Team member - always a good person to see before a race because of her infectious positive attitude.  Then, I heard my name called and there was Lesley J. who I had just met during packet pickup but she's read my blog here for a while - always nice to meet another running mom.  Everyone scattered when we arrived at the start.  I just happened upon a small tweetup of runner friends that was going on.  A great ten minutes of chatting with Caleb, Eric, Kris, and AaronKristin, another running tweep, came out of nowhere and said hi - I guess my picture makes me recognizable enough, which is really nice to know.  So wonderful to make new friends at the start line!!!

I planned to take it easy for this race, so I was glad I kept myself casual, hanging out with friends, at the start and not focusing on where I wanted to line up.  The race started on time, I had to do some dodging early on, but fell into a good rhythm.  About a mile in, Lesley J. found me again.  Her group of friends had gone out a little fast to hang with a faster runner and she was being smart and holding back a little to reserve that energy for later in the race.  We're a similar pace and it was her second half so I think we were both stoked for the company.  I will say I think I was nervous about holding Lesley back, even though slow was my goal for the day, and I went just a little too fast mile after mile.  Add to it the high humidity and cloud cover - I hate humidity - it zaps my energy!

At mile 6, I felt like I really needed to pull it back and declared I needed a big recovery walk break and told Lesley to go ahead.  I didn't feel awful but I definitely felt like I was easily getting worn out when I'd pick up the pace.  I tried to keep the "take it easy" mentality and would take nice big relaxing walk breaks.

I finished in 2:39:41.  While not a PR, and I wasn't going for a PR, it was still a course record for my 4th time to tackle this race (down from 2:42 last year). The whole race never felt as "easy" as I wish it would have.  And two days later, I'm finding I was a lot more exhausted and sore after this race than I expected.  But I'm excited to recover and tackle more runs!

Review of the Race:
This is a solid, affordable race.  Manage your expectations - this is not a huge profit-making conglomerate like Rock N Roll.  There are no pace leaders, lower levels of spectator support, no energy gels on course.  That doesn't bother me at all but I'm meeting more and more runners with high expectations.  About 4000 in this race, spread about 800 in full, 2400 in half, 800 in 5K. Pretty course. Good amount of hills but nothing unreasonable - nice rolling ones.

Mile Splits:
Mile 1: 11:01
Mile 2: 11:32
Mile 3: 11:41
Mile 4: 11:13
Mile 5: 11:41
Mile 6: 12:00
Mile 7: 12:30
Mile 8: 12:18
Mile 9: 11:57
Mile 10: 12:42
Mile 11: 12:36
Mile 12: 13:11
Mile 13: 13:16
Last 0.1: 10:45

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

If This is What Getting Back on the Horse Feels Like...

Then I'm not sure horseback riding is for me.

Of course, I'm kidding. I do love running.  But a couple weeks off of it, and my heart and lungs are struggling to get whipped into shape, and my muscles are sore.  I went back and checked - last time I took 13 days off running was in May 2009.  I'm pretty proud of myself because June 2009 was when I decided for the first time in my running career to finally take running regularly seriously, and, looking back, I've fulfilled that if I've run that consistently for 9 months. 

I ran 3 miles yesterday with my friend Sarah.  And then 3 this morning alone.  Purposeful pace on both runs to tell my heart and lungs "This is the pace I want you to LIKE, gosh darnit!", so I had to throw in a bunch of walk breaks. With my training partner Sarah yesterday, I cursed running most of the way and said I must have been wrong - I don't like this sport after all. :-)

Sadly, the weather has not helped.  When I was running everyday up until a month ago, temps topped out at maybe 50 degrees.  I must have missed the nice inbetween weather, because last two runs were in high-60s with humidity.  Grrrr.... Bad time to take a break from running.

This morning was further marred by anxiety.  Drove a mile away from my house to a nice trail - tired of running in my neighborhood.  Went 1 1/2 miles out, almost to turning around, AND.... I realize I left the house without my house key.  I've locked myself out of the house.  With no energy to sprint 1 1/2 miles back to the car, I just had to deal with it.  I got back and had to go to my husband's office and pick up his key.  Sigh.

I know I'm also putting pressure on myself because Half Marathon #7 of 2010, Big D, is coming up on Sunday.  I'm not going to go try to PR, I'm not delusional, but I didn't want to totally explode on course with a particularly bad showing.  I need to work on the mental game this week of just going out and enjoying that race.  I'll get there.

I'll get to love running again, but this is my first "recovery" from time off in about a year, and it's going to take a little bit.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Miserable Running Month of March - Cleaning the Slate for a Better Running Month in April

This post is my moment to sum up the month of March so I can go into the rest of April's running with a clean slate.  And I definitely need to clean the slate.  My mileage was miserable in the month of March, but I kinda think I needed the break.  I started March 1 with 55 days into an all-outdoor running streak (at least a mile a day).  I had also done 6 half marathons in January and February and accrued my first two months of 100+ miles!  On March 9, after 63 straight days of running, I purposefully chose to let the running streak die.

Mid-March I spent 5 days on vacation in Napa and enjoyed the break from running.  I came back from this trip to find a very sick toddler, and we went through two weeks of fighting ear infections and strep throat until we could finally get her healthy enough to have tubes put in her ears March 25.  Refocusing, I ran off to Tyler, 2 hours away from Dallas, that weekend to chip time the Tyler Azalea 10K, whose race director is a friend.  I came back from that weekend and immediately came down with a sinus infection.

So, ugh.  Funny part is that on reflection, I had no clue what the month held for me when I chose to end my running streak.  And everything happens for a reason - fighting to keep the streak alive through that awful month would have undoubtedly left me stressed, demoralized, and probably pretty unhappy about running.

I ended March with 39.50 miles.  A low month, but I'm still a higher mileage runner than I was in 2009 - and that's improvement.

Now that the sinus infection appears to be ending, I'm interested to see what the rest of April will hold.  I know I'm running a half marathon in 6 days (Big D Half Marathon on April 11) after three days on my feet managing packet pickup for the event at the main packet pickup location (note: 4,000 entrants, and a majority come to the location I'll be at).  I know I have a 5 day Road Runners Club of America annual national convention to attend later in the month, and did I mention I'm a seminar speaker there? Oh, and then the biggest thing : The next race I'm directing is coming - May 2 is the Heels and Hills Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K in Irving, Texas.  And those are just the things I know about.  It going to be an interesting next few weeks!