Monday, June 27, 2011

No Plans for 2012... Yet

Between lotteries and extremely early sellouts, there is much activity in the running world surrounding 2012 races. We're not even halfway through 2011!

It's easy to feel a little left out and lost as people announced they got into the Houston Marathon today after lottery picks were sent out this morning. But I think I'm being smart to not commit to anything yet for 2012.

I'm running my first marathon in just 5 weeks and have a few more goals through the end of 2011. But I want to see how I feel about my running the next several months before I start putting together a plan for the next year. Because right now, I have no clue what my goals will be for 2012, short distance or long distance, focus on speed or miles on legs, etc.

Until then though, I feel a little left behind as people start making future plans. Gotta stay focused on the now!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Because You Don't Need a Reason to Raise Money for a Good Cause

I'm setting out on a two week mission to change lives and just need 5 minutes of your time plus $20 from your pocket, less than a week's worth of Starbucks coffee for most of us. DONATE NOW


I'm fundraising donations for a wonderful organization, the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, whose critical, nationwide mission is to eliminate pediatric cancer and provide hope and support to those who are touched by it. DONATE NOW


Why not? No, I'm not tying this to any sort of 6-month fundraising project with a goal race at the end of the timeline. Instead, I'm dedicating until the end of June to raising money for this amazing cause - just because! DONATE NOW

One of Bear Necessities' programs is BEAR HUGs.
Ella, age 5, is battling Leukemia but spent time w/ friends
& family at Build-A-Bear and Rainforest Cafe for her Bear Hug!

Before June 30th?

The timeline is purposely short to keep you from procrastinating, and I'm not going to email 40 followup donor request over multiple months - I'm asking you to click the link immediately and just go ahead and please DONATE NOW.

Thank you for your time and for your donation!

If the links above don't work for you, use this link instead:

Thanks everyone! It's always good to take a moment to think of someone else!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Criticism is an Often Feared Reaction to Action

Today's Quote:

While action exposes you to criticism, inaction exposes you to a life only half-lived.

I had a lightbulb moment yesterday for a new race idea. I was really excited and even put thoughts and research to paper and put together a 3 page outline with all kinds of details. I don't really need to be taking on a new race right now though. I mentioned on Twitter that this had occurred and asked "why can't I just lay low?" It led to a fun little conversation with Twitter friend Leslie where I don't know how to lay low. I'm about following my passion. Yes, I'm not the best at race production, but I enjoy it, feel like it has helped others, and think that I do it well enough to benefit the running community. However, even if you do great things, any action exposes you to criticism. But that's no reason to avoid living and following your passion!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New High Score, if Running was like a Video Game

If running miles were a video game, in 2011 I hit a new high score. And with the fact that my husband makes video games for a living, it shouldn't be considered odd that I occasionally find myself thinking in those terms. Further helped my the fact that last night was the Launch Party for their newest game, "Duke Nukem Forever".
From Saturday's North Texas Runners monthly club run
at the beautiful Oak Point Nature Preserve

LEVEL 1 - still learning the moves on the video game controller: In 2009, healthy and strong, I ran 8 half marathons and ran a high at that time of 457.2 miles over the whole year.

LEVEL 2 - persistence, despite the poison that continues to eat away at my HP (health points): In 2010, I spent most of the year pregnant or recovering from a C-section. I had an incredibly strong January and February as I knew I planned to have my second child; then I recovered from exhaustion in the first trimester to come back and spend another few months running as many miles as my pregnant booty could muster. I finished 2010 with 426.4 miles actually run, but 471.6 miles if I included elliptical miles since I would use that at times while pregnant in place of runs.

2011 Is Going Strong
LEVEL 3 - The princess may not be in this castle, but I'm defeating boss monster after boss monster to get to those end credits: 5 1/2 months into 2011, and my "new high score" has been reached with 476.9 running miles for year-to-date!

With marathon training, it's definitely easier to have a higher mileage total for the year. But I'm still always in awe of the miles I've seen some friends attain. 1500 miles in a year... 2000... a few people with routine 80-100 miles run in a WEEK. Those people are amazing in their commitment to the sport.

Goal for 2011
I don't know how many levels are in this game, but I'm collecting 1-UPs like a madman, and I have infinite lives! Do I have a goal number of miles for 2011? No, not really. I do have races planned for after my first marathon at the San Francisco Marathon July 31, so I'm guessing it's very likely I could be one of those people who hits 1000 miles in a year. Even two years ago, I would have thought that was such a crazy high number. But now, even with my time constraints of how long a mile takes at my pace and having two small children, it feels realistic... and that makes me catch my breath for a second, with a smile on my lips!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Is This What Overtraining Looks Like?

So I hit my first 40 mile week, and did 31 miles over the last weekend. I was tired Monday and took a needed rest day. Tuesday, I ran speedwork with the North Texas Runners group. I ran half-mile repeats at the pace I would have chosen based on my half marathon PR, with no consideration for the fact that I'm postpartum or that it was 90 degrees outside. I was drained on Wednesday and wanted to spend family time so I didn't run Wednesday.

So yesterday, Thursday, I'm just in an awful funk. I'm tired, I'm trying to eat a little more consistently and make slightly better food choices, I feel behind on my miles for the week, I've gained a pound total. I want the marathon to be only a week away and not SEVEN MORE WEEKS. I'm not excited about training in the heat anymore.

I had a few mini-pep talks and comments from Twitter friends throughout the day but couldn't shake it. I had a strength training session with my trainer that night. I ran 3 miles right before the session.  We sat down for 10 minutes, and playing part-therapist, went through all my feelings about running and my body at this moment.

He decided I'd been so perfectly on my training plan for the last 4 weeks and it was a very stressful plan I was putting myself through with the high mileage gain, long runs, and addition now of strength training, that I was on that edge of overtraining.  So he originally wanted me to not run anymore for 72 hours. I said no way because I have the North Texas Runners monthly run on Saturday. So I can run Saturday, but I have another rest day Friday and Sunday.

But it's not like I'm just taking 72 hours off. I'm going to start cataloguing my food, and we're going to start making small steps to get a handle on that. Plus, I need to get more sleep. I've been way deficient this past week.

My brain spins out of control because all I can think about is that low weekly mileage total in the middle of my training plan. But one major stepback week won't cause me to lose fitness. The marathon is still 7 weeks out, and I've already down 2 20-milers and several 16-17 mile runs. I really appreciate the compliment last night from @Tricia Running, that she was impressed with my dedication to my training. I said I've been on it, but now I feel like THIS, I'm on the edge of overtraining and must recover. But she replied "even that is dedication :) great job listening to your body & doing what's best for YOU". Thanks, Tricia, I needed to hear that!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Birthday Run Challenge Complete

Well, it took a lot out of me, but I will never ever forget the weekend I was turning 31 years old! Early last week, I set up a Birthday Run Challenge, where I would run 31 miles the weekend (June 4 and 5) of my 31st birthday - my actual birthday is today, June 6. That link has a nice write-up on the motivation and purpose of doing this as a run. But basically, I hadn't done more than 19.75 in a day before this weekend, and I'd never more than 32.6 miles in a week (this challenge would put my week at 40!).

I invited friends to please come run with me Saturday or Sunday to help me celebrate. I even created a Facebook event for each day with directions to the run locations and the route. I felt so loved all week as people RSVPed for this crazy plan.

The plan was 22 miles split into two 11-mile loops through gorgeous Allen, Texas. I'd run it before and love this route... this very unshaded route.

For the first loop, I had Amanda, Cruz, Dana, Fiona, Marcie, Robin, and Shannon there to help me out. Dana came from Justin, Cruz from Kennedale, Shannon from Lewisville - I so appreciate the extra effort and time it took to come all the way to Allen!

Snickers Marathon Ambassadors (and friends), Amanda and Marcie - we looked so excited before the run! ;-)
I got up at 3:30 am (ugh), and we started at 5:30 am to try to beat the heat, but it was already 71 degrees when we started... AND HUMID.

About 9.5 miles into the run. It's starting to get HOT already!
By the end of the first 11 miles, everyone was a little less chatty as it got hotter and hotter. It was now about 80 degrees at 8:15 am.

First loop, 11.25 miles, done, with great friends!
I bid farewell to most of the group and luckily Trish had arrived to run the second loop with us with her fresh legs. Trish drove all the way from Roanoke - so again, all my friends need to move closer! So this loop was Cruz, Shannon, and Trish. 3 miles in and the heat and lack of shade were starting to really affect me. I know I had hydrated well all week, but when we stopped for water 3 miles in at my make-shift aid station, I was a little dizzy. So we turned around and headed back. At this point, I started adding nausea to my list of symptoms. It would not have been smart for me to try to complete that kind of distance without shade in the heat that early June day presented. I wasn't thinking through it too hard about whether that meant I had failed the self-imposed challenge or not.

A moment of trying to look like strong runners. 16 miles into the run.
So finished with 17.3 miles completed. As I'd so been looking forward to, a group of us enjoyed some In-n-Out burger immediately afterward (planned it out to be right by the start/finish location). Cruz, Shannon, Fiona, Erin, Greg, Gretchen, and Jon all made it and we enjoyed our well-earned food on the patio while we watched the hour long drive-thru line (walking inside, the line only took 5 minutes). Fiona had a good idea that I could extend the challenge a day to my actual birthday to give me another day to make up the 4.7 miles I hadn't gotten in.

I got home, did ice bath #1 (30 lbs of ice used), and sat and reassessed. I thought I'd give it a try to make up at least some of the missing miles on the treadmill at home. I hopped on and did 1.2 miles. Later that day, I was able to do another 2.0 miles. So Saturday's total was 20.5 miles. I ended the day with ice bath #2.

5 am wakeup for a 6:30 am 9-mile run. Corina (drove all the way from Arlington) and Mike (drove from Richardson) met me at my community pool for another beautiful route in a different section of Allen that I'd mapped out. It utilized a few different pieces of Allen's trails and went through 9 neighborhoods!

Near the beginning of the run!
I was dragging a little but was amazed the first few miles went by quickly, and on pace. It fell apart around mile 6 when I started to feel a little sick to my stomach and just overall hot. Those two dear friends helped me through it, and we finished in the heat of a Texas June with 8.9 miles. I only needed 1.6 more miles to hit 31 for the weekend!

8.9 miles, and 29.4 miles for the weekend, DONE!
What happened next was Ice Bath #3, some breakfast, 1 mile on the treadmill, a 3 hour nap, then 0.7 miles on the treadmill. Challenge Complete! 31.1 miles for my 31st birthday weekend.

The day ended with Ice Bath #4. I'm a huge believer in the power of the ice bath for recovery!

I Feel So Loved

I feel so thankful for all of my friends. This was so much more fun than a party. I will never forget this wonderful weekend! And I really appreciate all the other friends who piped up that they would have been there except for a list of things that were very very legitimate reasons why they couldn't - it's summer and we all have busy lives - I totally understand and value you all!

Examples of The Actual Cost Of Our Running

I have been on a bit of a rant lately about the actual time cost of running. I was talking about it in a magazine article I wrote and in my last guest blog post for the San Francisco Marathon. I asked for feedback and promised an example in more detail of my own "time investment" in total for being a runner.

My Example

I'll cite an average week right now in my marathon training.

I run 30-40 miles a week right now. At my back-of-the-pack pace, that's 6.5 to 8.5 hours running.

I have put in an intense strength training program with the impact my body went through of lack of tone from having a baby 6 months ago, so that's 3 hours a week.

Getting ready for a run (pulling out clothes, getting changed, assembling gear, etc.) is easily 15 minutes each run x 6 run days a week = 1.5 hours

I often will run with someone on the weekend and can spend anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 hours in commute. All other runs I do from my front door basically.

I routinely during this marathon training epsom salt bath about 4 times a week, 20-30 minute soak, so about 1.5 hours.

Stretching = 1 hour a week. With a history of plantar fasciitis and Achilles tightness, I keep injury at bay with about 10 minutes of stretching EVERY morning when I wake up before a foot ever leaves the bed and touches the ground.

I have very thick hair that would normally only get washed and dried 3 times a week, but with running 6 days a week, that's 6 days of hair washing with the heavy sweating in the Texas heat. So for those 3 extra days of washing, drying, and occasional non-ponytail days that need some styling help, it adds up to easily 1 hour.

I see the sports chiropractor once a week during major running season and/or training cycles. Unfortunately, he's 45 minutes each way from my house. Between actual chiro work and commute, it's 3 hours a week.

I additionally will spend 0.5 hours a week in icing.

Therefore, my totals in hours:
Running - 6.5 to 8.5
Strength Training - 3
Cross-training (bike, swim, walk) - 0
Commutes for runs - 0.5 to 1.5
Run prep - 1.5
Recovery(epsom salt bath, icing, chiro, massage, stretching) - 6.0
Additional grooming - 1.0

TOTAL = 18.5 to 21.5 hours a week. That's over 2 nights of sleep! That's about 2.5 to 3 hours a day!

Of this, only 40% of the time is actual running.

Other Runners Give Feedback

What I'm finding from the feedback is that a lot of runners don't spend much time at all in recovery activities. Maybe I'm unusual - I have fibromyalgia so I value recovery work so much more because I've seen the positive results. But maybe I'm not just being super conservative in my time spent in that area because for the last 5 years, I've done 24 half marathons, had 2 babies and ran through one pregnancy, ran 2 25Ks, ran 2 trail races, and haven't had a sidelining injury during that whole time. Derek's one of those runners who spends a minimum 4-5 hours when NOT in race season on his running (8+ hours in training season) and zero recovery activities aside from pointing out he's good about getting the sleep his body needs (something I need to be better about).

Kevin is a great example of what a difference pace can make on the total time commitment. He's also right now at 30 miles a week, but this is at about an 8 minute per mile pace average, so it's 4 hours a week, to my 7.5 hours a week for 30 miles! The couple minutes per mile add up quick!

Michelle was smart to point out what a big time commitment races can be! Race day commute, commute to packet pickup or an expo, getting to the race really early to get reasonable parking, even reading all the details on the race website to be prepared, they all take time!

Some, like Kristin T., are very active people and not just in running. She runs about 8 hours a week right now, and spends another 9 hours a week in cross-training and yoga (not counting 2 hours total commute per week for yoga!). While she said housework and other things get moved to the back burner during training season, I can't imagine that cross-training doesn't make her such a stronger runner!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

This Ain't No Skate Party - Birthdays are Only Getting Better

I am writing this the night before the start of my Birthday Challenge Weekend! I'm running 31 miles (22 Saturday & 9 Sunday) on my birthday weekend where I turn 31 (actual birthday is Monday).

I was so excited for this idea but once I put it out there, it brought to the surface some different unexpected feelings all week.

In 3rd grade I believe, after being a shy kid who didn't have many friends, I made a play for popularity by declaring that I was going to have a skate party and invite all the kids in my class for my birthday that year. Everyone was so into roller skating at that time. Well, of course everyone came. I was thrilled. Until I realized I was the only one who couldn't skate! I hadn't really thought that one through! It was my party and I did cry because I wanted to. All of a sudden, I was the odd one out... again.

This is a big challenge for me. My first ever 22 miler, my biggest week of mileage ever (should finish with 40), and trying to do 9 the day after my first ever 22 miler! And it wouldn't be a challenge if there wasn't a chance I could fail.

So I keep fighting this fear that everyone will be these joyously strong runners and THIS will be the weekend that my body is made of sludge. Or even worse, one of those haphazard runs where my stomach becomes my worst enemy with GI problems.

Then I reflect to the fact that the fear comes from this skate party. And I smile at the difference. These people coming to run with me this weekend ARE MY FRIENDS. They will support me whether I complete it or not, whether I finish strongly or begging for my momma, whether I'm fast or slow. They're happy to celebrate my birthday and enjoy the sport we love with me this weekend.

So I banish the fear! And welcome celebrating these friendships I've created. Because honey, this ain't no skate party!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Shattered, in a Good Way

Today my precious baby Sophie turned 6 months. And I totalled up my running miles for May and shattered my previous pre- and post-baby mileage totals for monthly mileage! A fact that strikes me so much more when I hold this itty-bitty baby as I write this.

In May, I ran 123.4 miles! For me, that's a lot of miles. I know for some marathon training it's not. Again, with two small kids and a busy life, tons of miles.

So since Sophie was born, and the 5-inch incision in my abdomen to get her here, I've run:
January: 50.1
February: 57.8
March: 100.5
April: 102.5
May: 123.4

TOTAL: 434.2 miles. And we still have 7 months left in the year! So excited to see what I can get this body to do!