Out with the injuries, in with my healthiest running ever!

Disclaimer: This is a kind of 2014 recap/2015 goals post all in one.

In debating the format for this post, I decided to go with “the list”, because goals are a version of a list after all.  And, instead of rehashing all the stupid things Jen has done in 2014 in the name of the run, I won’t be detailing my mistakes here…..only lessons learned.  This is, in part, to avoid sounding like a broken record while simultaneously beating a dead horse.  But, for the most part, this is an attempt to spare the 4 people who read my blog the agony of reading, yet again, about my “lapses in judgement”, as I affectionately refer to them.  Let’s just hope that reading my blog is one of your 2015 goals. 🙂

2014 Accomplishments

  • Suffered my first running-related injury and lived through it!  (It was quite the drama at the time.)  Seriously, it was great experience, looking back.  It only served to make me a more seasoned runner.  And now that I’m going through injury for a second time, I feel I’m growing wiser! (And, boy, could I use some wisdom from the gods of running!)

    No caption needed really, but I've covered the stupid part, now on to the wise!
    No caption needed really, but I’ve COMPLETELY covered the stupid part, now on to the wise!
  • PR’d by over 5 min at Cowtown Half in February, in grueling (for me, anyway) conditions of sticky humid and 60s.  I thank my lucky stars that the sun didn’t come out until mile 10.  I would have melted.

    My (former) running partner and I running through the Ft Worth Stockyards.  LOVE Cowtown route!
    My (former) running partner and I running through the Ft Worth Stockyards. LOVE Cowtown route! We were discussing strategy for THAT hill! 🙂
  • After recovering from my injury, felt stronger as a runner than I ever have!  Seriously, my best running to date.  I love that healthy, strong feeling.  I will run strong again soon.
  • Ran with Taylor, one of Taylor’s former club coaches at Plano Balloon HM (confused yet?).  It was his first HM and he didn’t train the way I told him to, but he finished!  So honored that he asked me to do it with him. (May I just say that advising him on training made me realize how stubborn and frustrating I must have been to my friends that helped me through my injury?!? #twopeasinapod #hardheaded #stubborn #wedontlisten)

    So proud of this guy!  He wasn't as excited about the hills as I was. ;)
    So proud of this guy! But I was sad that he wasn’t as excited about the hills as I was. 😉
  • Finished my first marathon, for which I trained twice! (Humor of Mother Nature is all that can explain that!)  Initially I was disappointed with the result, but a little perspective has made this day one of the sweetest of the year!

    Taylor snapped this beauty of a pic through a fence.  Be jealous of her skills.
    Taylor snapped this beauty of a pic through a fence. Be jealous of her skills.

2014 Lessons Learned

  • Rest days are good and necessary.  In fact, I learned that I am able to go on the no-running/no-workout/anything but walking 2-week DL AND still remember how to run/am still able to run when I’m reactivated.  And those first runs after the forced break were ahhhhhhh-mazing!!
  • Cross train, cross train, cross train.  I added cross training/strength training and biking in after my injury, but life and marathon training took over in the fall and I gradually did less and less.  Paid the price for it, too, during my marathon.  But I promised not to go there, so…..  Suffice to say that I believe this is the part of the puzzle that helped me run so well early on in the Fall.
  • I CAN run by myself.  I have become a better, stronger, faster, more confident, mentally stronger runner on my own.  This isn’t a negative reflection on my former partner, rather, running alone required me to develop those skills in order to be successful.  However, I didn’t spend as much time injured when I had a partner…..coincidence??
  • Just because I have “that feeling” in my gut does not mean that I need to run my long run as fast as I possibly can, or run when I should be resting, or do any other stupid thing just because “the feeling in my gut said so”.  (For me, this leads to injury.  EVERY. TIME.)
  • Just because I CAN run a 1,000 mile year doesn’t mean I SHOULD.  (I joined a 1,000 mile challenge early on in 2014.  Injury caused me to miss the goal by 55 miles.  However, I was so focused on that, at times, that I failed to focus properly on my rehab.  For me, this is a distraction that encourages me to run junk miles.)

2015 Goals

  • STAY HEALTHY!!! I am working on making my ITB as happy, happy, happy as it can be and once I achieve that, I want it to stay that way!!
  • I will not focus on mileage in 2015.  I will, instead, focus on quality runs.  My runs will be intentional and planned.
  • Cross train, cross train, cross train.  Enough said.  I will ensure that I get my cross training in, even if it means I have to skip a run.  (Those of you holding me accountable might want to bookmark this one.)  I would rather skip one or two runs than sit out for a few weeks to rehab a preventable injury.
  • Sub-2 Half Marathon.  I KNOW this is achievable, since I ran a 2:04 HM during a marathon training run.  (Let’s not discuss the stupidity in that…the PB during a training run.  Reference 4th bullet under Lessons Learned.)
  • Cowtown Marathon 2016.  Of course I want to run another marathon!  If my body had been ready, I would have run another the very next weekend.  I felt like running the full at Dallas next year might be too soon for me (because I want to build my base back slowly), and I’ve already mentioned how I LOVE that Cowtown course, so this seems like the perfect next-marathon for me!  I list this in my 2015 goals because I will begin formal training for it before 2015 comes to a close.  I am REALLY excited about this one!!!

I hope your 2014 was at least half as amazing as mine was!  I was blessed in so many ways during the year.

Here’s to an even better 2015!

OF COURSE my wine glass has Texas on it!!  What kind of Texan do you think I am?
OF COURSE my wine glass has Texas on it!! What kind of Texan do you think I am?

Thanks for reading!

The Great Christmas Wind-Down

Tuesday morning, my sister, Taylor and I set out to meet my niece for breakfast before seeing the movie “Wild”. (The movie was AMAZING, by the way, and even I cried.  Wiped tears almost the entire movie.  I hope the world isn’t coming to an end.)  We ate at this cute little hippy coffee shop in downtown McKinney, called Snug on the Square.

So cute!  Couldn't wait to go inside!
So cute! Couldn’t wait to go inside!

It was indeed snug inside.  We were able to find a table in the back, under the stairs.  For a moment, I felt like Harry Potter. 🙂

We REALLY wanted to sit at the top of the stairs, where several couches were waiting.  Sadly, the couches were full.
We REALLY wanted to sit at the top of the stairs, where several couches were waiting. Sadly, the couches were full.

It’s important to understand that when people come here, they intend to stay a while.  This was evidenced by the fact that it took over 30 minutes for our order of oatmeal to be delivered (and I THOUGHT ordering oatmeal would be quicker).  Taylor ordered an omelette, and somehow, she had her order within 15 minutes.   I never did get my peach and blackberry oatmeal, because the cook prepared apple cinnamon by mistake (I took the apple cinnamon with a smile on my face, because there was no telling how much longer I would have had to wait!).  It really wouldn’t have been a big deal, except that time was ticking away for us to drive to the movie theater.  Our wait person apologized profusely and we told her all would be forgiven, if only she would take our picture 😉

I didn't crop this photo because you can see the blur of our server's finger at the bottom.  No one was thrilled with how it turned out.
I didn’t crop this photo because you can see the blur of our server’s finger at the bottom. Yes, Laura has dreads 🙂

We put the extra time to good use and filled it with conversation and….gift giving!!  Taylor received this apron from my sister:

Perfect in every way for Taylor!
Perfect in every way for Taylor!

I should probably mention that I have been suffering from some mental short-circuits lately.  I was discussing this with a friend who coined the acronym PMS, standing for Post-Marathon Syndrome.  I think this could actually become a proven disorder!  Besides the fact that I fell asleep at 7 pm EVERY night last week, I FORGOT to put on deodorant Sunday AND Tuesday!  Thank goodness we had mild temps in the 40s or I could have offended someone.  Since getting out for Christmas break on the 19th, I haven’t had a CLUE what day it is.  I’m chalking it up to my body recovering and repairing all the damage I did in the marathon, so I’m doing as little as possible to help along the recovery. 😉

Our plans for Christmas Eve changed last minute.  We were to go to my mom’s for a late lunch, but my brother couldn’t get off work in time.  So we decided to move our Christmas Eve soup lunch to Christmas day soup dinner.  When Bobby found out we would be home for lunch, he was DETERMINED to cook a holiday meal. We loaded up early Wednesday morning to make a grocery run and ended up fixing ham, Brussels sprouts (with cranberries), and garlic-dill potatoes.  I even whipped up a batch of cranberry sauce.  The ham and cranberry sauce were firsts for me and I was quite proud of my efforts.

Our Christmas Eve evening tradition is to attend the Candlelight service at church then head over to my friend Mary’s house for tamales and tortilla soup.  (Mary is Alli’s godmother and one of my oldest friends.)  We look forward to this all year long and our kids would revolt if we made plans to do anything else!

We were just showing off the antlers on our cups.
We were just showing off the antlers on our cups.

Christmas morning was a special treat.  Even when my older kids were young, Bobby and I would have to wake them up EVERY year to see what Santa had brought.  Alli hasn’t been much different, but she does typically wake up on her own and usually by 8.  This year, for some reason, she was especially excited about Santa and woke me at 6:30.  She said she just couldn’t wait another minute!  We woke Bobby, who said, “It’s not even light outside.”  Then Alli went to wake Taylor, who said, “It’s not even light outside.”  And finally, Logan, who said (can you guess?), “It’s not even light outside!”  I thought it was awesome!!  I was reminded of my childhood, when I would stay in bed until 5 am and FINALLY wake my parents.

The rest of the day was spent with family and receiving more gifts that we could ever need or want.  I enjoyed all our family time, but was especially thankful for the time spent with my mom.  She is almost 81 years old and age hasn’t slowed her down much, but it is slowing her down a little.  I think she actually gets more feisty with age, if that is even possible.  At this point, I want to cherish and experience all the “Memo” moments that I can!  She is one of a kind, for sure!

Memo's first (and likely last) selfie with Alli's godmother, Mary.
Memo’s first (and likely last) selfie with Mary.  They ran into each other at Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve.

Hope you all enjoy the last Friday of 2014!

When the winter sun kisses Texas, everything is better!

Yesterday, the sun came out to say hello!!  It was a welcome sight after hiding behind clouds for well over a week.  I took advantage of the mild temps to do some past-due pool maintenance and to spend some time soaking up those wonderful rays!

Don't let the sun fool you....that water is COLD!
Don’t let the sun fool you….that water is COLD!

Let’s hope that the tumbleweeds are all blown away by now.  I’ve been cleaning them out of the skimmers for a couple of months and I’m always on edge because the things are FULL of them.  I have to reach down through the weeds that are packed in to grab the handle of the skimmer basket. (GROSS!!!)  I DO NOT like seeing ANY kind of spider, alive or dead in those skimmers and the thought that one could be lurking (alive or dead) underneath all those weeds just creeps me out!  (Snakes almost as bad!)  And even though I know all those critters are long gone with the warm summer temps, I still get a little nervous every time I pop off the cover.  Yes, I spared you a visual of the nastiness of my pool skimmers. You’re welcome.

Sophie and Izze LOVE to come out in the back yard.  Especially Izze.  She just loves to run.  Sophie is a little more refined and, well, not ADHD, so she simply walks around like royalty (or a nice, slow gallop).  As much as they love the trip outside, they love going back in even more, because it means a treat for using the potty outside! LOL

Izze is quite the photogenic puppy.  Sophie WILL NOT look at the camera.  EVER.
Izze is quite the photogenic puppy. Sophie WILL NOT look at the camera. EVER.

I did something else yesterday.  It was one of those “facing my demons” type of exercise, even if loosely so.  I don’t think it is a surprise to any of my friends in the running community that I was not ecstatic about my marathon time.  Yes, I KNOW I ran it injured and yes, during the race I just wanted to finish and tried not to worry about my time.  But I worried about my time.  Until yesterday I had not even opened that run on RunKeeper.  Usually, I am back on RunKeeper almost immediately to analyze my splits, elevation and cadence.  But not this run.  I could not bring myself to look.  And while I’m still not to the point that I can post the splits here, they weren’t AS bad as I expected.  I actually held my pace fairly consistently through mile 14, which was longer that I remembered from the race.  Even then, I was able to hold it together fairly well until mile 18, which is when I started really slowing down.  I’m glad I finally looked because it made me realize I didn’t suck it up quite as badly as I initially thought.  At the end of the day, I am beginning to accept this first effort for what it was and I can feel the disappointment slipping away.   I’m actually starting to appreciate what I was able to accomplish. Yay!!

I also started the “rehab” component of my recovery.  I walked 15 minutes on the treadmill at a brisk, but manageable pace, then went through a few of my hip exercises – leg lifts and clam shells with the resistance bands and hip thrusts.  I cut the reps down to 20 and used the lighter resistance band.  Thankfully, I have not noticed any new aches or pains so far!!  I will continue walking every day and increase that a bit at a time, but I think I’ll keep the hip exercises to every other day for now.

I stopped by my chiropractor and even though I told him last week I was taking some time off, he was speechless when I told him my decision not to run for 4 weeks.  I thought I saw him swaying back and forth for a moment, so I wonder if he was on the verge of fainting.  In any case, I’m confident that he NEVER expected to hear those words coming from my mouth.  At the end of the visit, he was glowing like a proud parent.  My Christmas present to him: one visit with a non-combative Jen.

Happy Tuesday everyone!!

Long-time friends and Christmas shopping with the ADHD

This weekend was AWESOME!!  Since I work at an elementary school, we were out at noon on Friday for Christmas break.  Christmas break could not have come at a better time.  Marathon training and the race are finally behind me and I did NOTHING last week…I was SO EXHAUSTED (mentally and physically)!

I placed myself on 4-weeks of no running post-marathon to rehab this ITB.  I hope it is enough.  If it isn’t, I’m prepared to go longer.  As I said before, I did NOTHING last week…not even foam rolling!  This week, I am adding in walking and hip exercises, then some indoor cycling (after Bobby opens his Christmas present!). 😉  Next week, I hope to add in some additional strength exercises and will continue that until the 4 weeks is up.  I am COMMITTED to beating this injury and staying injury-free in 2015.

Friday night, we hosted the youth from our church as the appetizer stop on their progressive dinner tour.  In case you are wondering what teenagers like to snack on, homemade ranch dip was a big hit!  I had intended to take pics, but my brain is mush, and I completely forgot until they were gone. One of these days….

This is it.  The ONLY pic I managed to take, and I snapped this before they arrived! #fail
This is it. The ONLY pic I managed to take, and I snapped this before they arrived! #fail

Saturday was a rare, unscheduled day.  Not having any commitments made me realize (AGAIN) how important it is that I free up some time in my schedule in 2015.  I have some ideas, but am still debating how best to work it out…stay tuned.  I drank coffee and messed around the house Saturday morning until Bobby and I ended up going into the Dallas area to finish up Christmas shopping.  I had NO idea what we had left to buy – and yes, I had lists.  Shopping for clothes is overwhelming to me, but Christmas shopping puts me over the edge!  We made a couple of stops and were able to get the bulk out-of-the-way (as far as I could tell).  I literally feel my head start spinning when I try to process what I need to buy….even with lists!

Sunday morning I took time to inventory the Christmas gifts.  While I haven’t a clue what Taylor has wrapped and placed under the tree, I did find a few gifts that I forgot I had purchased!  Now the only things that remain are a couple of small, last-minute gifts that I can get in town.

The great thing about having girls is that they LOVE to wrap gifts (especially Taylor, because she LOVES Christmas!)  They finished wrapping this morning.

Alli has evolved into a great present wrapper!
Alli has evolved into a great present wrapper!

I needed to run to the grocery yesterday, but Taylor had borrowed my debit card to grab the ingredients for dinner on Saturday.  When I realized I would need to get my debit card back, I sent her a text.

This would strike fear in the hearts of the bravest of men, but not me.  I've lived with Taylor for 21 years, after all.
This would strike fear in the hearts of the bravest of men, but not me. I’ve lived with Taylor for 21 years, after all.

No, the debit card was NOT in the orange Under Armour jacket.  No, I didn’t panic.  Taylor “mis-places” something EVERY DAY OF HER LIFE.  I found the debit card in the front seat of my car.  I don’t know why I didn’t think to look in that obvious place first. (Side note: The “It’s over” comment was in reference to the complete and total breakdown of BYU in the 3rd set of the NCAA volleyball finals versus Penn State – now 7-time champions!)

We spent last evening with Logan’s group of friends and their parents.  We have gotten together for years and, honestly, I love the fact that these boys are still together!  Logan doesn’t have the same interests (football and baseball) as the others, but that hasn’t come between their friendships.  Just an awesome group of young men!

These boys have turned into great young men!
These boys have turned into great young men!
This is a pic from one of our first Christmas gatherings.  Santa came!!
This is a pic from one of our first Christmas gatherings. Santa came!! 
New Year's celebrations several years ago.  Hard to believe they are all driving now!
New Year’s celebrations several years ago. Hard to believe they are all driving now!

By the way, Logan has moved out again.  His friend is in town for Christmas and this group of boys have set up their PC’s at a friend’s house.  It’s one big online gaming party!

Happy Monday everyone!

Fantastic Friday (It’s Christmas Break!)

It’s Friday. 5 days post-marathon. Less than a week before Christmas. But most importantly, last day before 2 weeks off for Christmas Break!!!

I feel like I’m recovering well from the race. Still haven’t experienced much muscle soreness and my ITB was only painful one day, but it is soooooo tight. I can tell EVERYTHING is restricted in that area…on both legs! I know that this rehab is going to require a level of patience that I’ve rarely, if ever, been able to muster. So, I’m throwing this out there (for my own accountability): I’m not planning on any running for a month. Yes. I said it. AN. ENTIRE. MONTH.  (And….I’m mentally preparing myself for a longer period of recovery, if it is warranted.)

I must allow my muscles time to heal. I know that running 26.2 miles with an injury (here’s your sign) put extra stress on all my muscle groups so all those little tears need to heal. After I allow some time for that, I will add in some strength training, then ease back into running. I REALLY wanted to run Hot Chocolate Dallas and The Cowtown Half Marathon in February and March, but I realize that would be paving the way to another injury and I am DONE with injury!!

So I added this to my running necklace yesterday. I posted the photo and Taylor immediately commented that they bought me one for Christmas. I’m sure they are frustrated but how was I supposed to know? LOL. I will return mine and exchange for another. :)))

I've been waiting a LONG time to put this little gem on my necklace!
I’ve been waiting a LONG time to put this little gem on my necklace!

For the 95% of the country who has NO clue that the Final Four of Division I Volleyball is in progress: the Final Four of Division I Volleyball is in progress and semi-finals were played last night. I fill out a bracket every year and, this year, was so excited to share in the bracket madness with some of my Twitter friends. As usual, I incorrectly guessed the outcome of many matches. My #1 pick, Washington, didn’t even make it out of Regionals. I only ended up with 2 picks in the Final Four, but I DID correctly predict Texas’ implosion in the semis (YES that was a painful pick, BUT I’m nothing, if not a realist) and that Penn State would advance over Stanford. Another exercise in focusing on the positives…

2 for 4.  *smh At least the Price missed his pick as well, so I don't have to pay off my bet ;)
2 for 4. *smh
At least my friend Price missed his pick as well, so I don’t have to pay off my bet 😉

Working in the office of an elementary school at Christmas time means it is ALWAYS a good idea to burn an extra 3,000 calories in a marathon the Sunday before you get out for break. I wish I would have had the mental presence to take photos of all the homemade goodies that I’ve been given over the past week. (I’ll blame this on post-marathon brain fog, but we know I’m always in a brain fog.) As luck would have it, I received many gifts this morning, so you’ll get the idea.

What you can't see and that I later discovered, is the white chocolate drizzled over the clumps of popcorn.  OH. MY. GOODNESS.
Gift from the cafeteria ladies.  What you can’t see and that I later discovered, is the white chocolate drizzled over the clumps of popcorn. OH. MY. GOODNESS.
THIS!!!  Toffee is my weakness.  After I eat all this, I'm going to punish Shannon for tempting me with it.  She is the devil!
THIS!!! Toffee is my weakness. After I eat all this, I’m going to punish Shannon for tempting me with it. She is the devil!

One gift that especially touched my heart was one from my friend, Christie.  We ‘knew of’ each other in high school as we had mutual friends, but never really ran in the same circles.  She is working at my school this year and, in getting to know her, I feel like I have found a long-lost soul mate!  Imagine my excitement when I also learned that she is a runner and had trained for a marathon.  She was unable to run it due to all sorts of knee injuries just before the race that ended up requiring surgery.  When she saw me after the marathon, she gave me a big hug and I nearly cried!!  The well wishes mean so much, but even more coming from a fellow runner – one who KNOWS what it means to cross the finish line.  AND as we were talking about my recovery plan yesterday, we decided to run a half marathon together…..in the Fall (calm down, Jane!!). This morning I found this hanging on my door.

OK, this brought about some sadness, becuase it wasn't wine, but I laughed at the note.  Do I have THAT big of a reputation as a wine lover??
OK, this brought about some sadness, because it wasn’t wine, but I laughed at the note. Do I have THAT big of a reputation as a wine lover??

When I looked inside, I was blown away.

Christie has me figured out.  She knows that I need *encouragement* to rest and recover :) Plus, she shared her CD with me.  I can't wait to listen to it!
Christie has me figured out. She knows that I need *encouragement* to rest and recover 🙂
Plus, she shared her CD with me. I can’t wait to listen to it!

I’m definitely counting my blessings morning for unexpected friendships!!

Happy Friday everyone!

Marathon miracles and mistakes, and trying to keep my glass half-full.

In all honesty, I’ve been writing this post for weeks.  I figured out most of the mistakes I made BEFORE my race, but AFTER too much time had passed for my body to adjust and heal properly.  Before we dig into the meat of what the universe is attempting to teach me (and, boy, do I hope I FINALLY learn the lesson this time),I feel compelled to share some positives from the race.  There were A LOT of positives and I am trying to keep myself focused on them.  I understand that you may be are asking yourself WHY I made these mistakes if I figured them out before the race?  It is a valid question to which the answer is that I am most likely certifiably insane, not to be confused with certain types of insanity.

Miracles first (if I were Catholic, this could be grounds for sainthood): I DID NOT CHAFE.  Not one bit.  Not at all.  ANYONE who runs long distances realizes that this was probably an Act of God.  (I doubt it had anything to do with the 1/2 jar of Vaseline that I slathered on pre-race in each and every possible chafe zone.)  To further prove my point, the weather was muggy in the 60s, cloudy with misty or rain the entire time, so I was very sweaty and ended up very wet.  I should have been chafed from head to toe.

On a scale of 1-10, my muscle soreness is around 3-4 (muscle soreness, not ITB related soreness).  I kid you not.  It boggles my mind, as well.  I can only think of two possible explanations: either the Sport Legs pills I take hourly during long workouts really work or it was due to the walk breaks I was FORCED to take.  It was probably the walk breaks.  Funny how humbling 26.2 miles can be.  HUMBLING.

A text from one of my volleyball-parent friends.  I had a discussion with her husband this summer when I was able to clear up that 13.1 & 26.2 are not, in fact, non-existent radio station stickers.  (Yes, he is an Aggie)
A text from one of my volleyball-parent friends. I had a discussion with her husband this summer when I was able to clear up that 13.1 & 26.2 are, in fact, running distances and not radio station stickers. (Yes, he is an Aggie)

The next isn’t a positive as much as it is down-right funny.  Parents from Alli’s volleyball team were cheering me on and later saw my Facebook post about my ITB.  Apparently a group discussion ensued because no one had ever heard of an ITB, much less have any knowledge of it.  I’ve been told a couple of moms confused it with IBS and they were not only concerned about me, but the runners behind me. (Although this was never said in so many words.)  Thank goodness they finally consulted Google in the matter.  I assured them that not every runner suffers from ITBS but every runner has gut issues, so IBS could have totally been appropriate…..especially in a marathon and if Mexican food was involved the night before. (If you don’t get the Mexican food reference, you haven’t been running long enough.)

Dinner last night, celebrating the holidays with Alli's team after practice.  This is for those of you who think I don't eat.  Trust me, I had PLENTY of chips and salsa to accompany these tacos and nearly asked someone to roll me to my car.
Speaking of Tex-Mex…. Dinner last night, celebrating the holidays with Alli’s team after practice. This is for those of you who think I don’t eat. Trust me, I had PLENTY of chips and salsa to accompany these tacos and nearly asked someone to roll me to my car.

If you have lived under a rock for the past 6 months, you might not know that I went into this marathon training coming off an ITB injury.  I pushed my body too hard after the injury, experienced a setback and was just able to start the training plan fairly healthy.  Now on to the lessons this journey taught me.

  • My training plan was too aggressive for my stage post-injury.  OK, I knew this before I started.  I added drop back weeks in between long runs to help with recovery, but it was still too aggressive.  Intellectually, I realized this might be a problem, but I have a brain/body disconnect sometimes (OK…ALL the time).  I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted training to look like and was convinced that it would TOTALLY work. BUT I am actually glad I used this plan.  (May I interject that before my body started breaking down, my runs were ahhhhhmazing!!)  It may not have gotten me the best results on race day (the results were actually TERRIBLE), but I now have a better idea of the mileage windows in which I need to run to remain a healthy runner.  I am sitting down this week to roughly outline a new training plan for the next marathon before I put a complete mental block on everything that happened the past 5 weeks.
  • I didn’t have enough time.  Isn’t this always the case?  I had the time, in that I had 16 weeks to train, but time within my day-to-day activities was the problem.  I am over-scheduled.  Training this year has been a catalyst for me to begin thinking about how I can change.  (This is a GOOD thing!)  I worked full-time, drove Alli to volleyball practice (1 hour each way), officiated volleyball twice per week (and some Saturday tournaments) and STILL managed to squeeze in my runs.  I am looking to make some changes in 2015 that will allow me more time to train to hopefully avoid injury.
  • I didn’t foam roll or stretch enough.  This is a constant battle for me, which dovetails back into the time issue.  Even though I get up at 5am every morning to stretch and foam roll, when I was in the meat of training all I wanted to do was sit and wake up with a cup of coffee.  So many times I just sat and drank my coffee.  There were days that I was sooooo tired. (Actually, during the last third, I was ALWAYS tired.)  Plus, when you are feeling healthy you let some things slide…..like foam roll and stretching.
  • I slacked on the strength training.  Once again, a battle of the schedule…..and I just don’t like it.  During training for my next marathon (OF COURSE I’m going to run another!) I am going to try to clear my schedule as much as possible.  Marathon training is a full-time job, if one does it properly.  (I’m nothing, if not proper….but perhaps would be better said, I’m nothing, if not Texan.)
  • When I had a hard time believing in myself, my running friends (all my friends, really) carried me.  This happened all throughout the year, not just during race training.  The amount of support that I received when I was injured and during training was nothing short of AMAZING.  I would put my network of running buddies up against ANYONE.  The messages and well wishes I received in the days leading up to the race was mind-boggling.  I am still in awe of all the people who took the time to reach out.  And, for this tough Texas girl who never sheds a tear, I found myself with eyes-watering each time I read a tweet, Facebook post, email or text.  STILL. IN. AWE.

    This is the banner I spoke of in my last post.  Just looking at this picture warms my heart.
    This is the banner I spoke of in my last post. Just looking at this picture warms my heart.

Usually, I would be so angry and upset with myself for making these rookie mistakes.  (I am a little disappointed.)  However, I am trying to learn the lessons so that I can apply them to my training.  I want to continue running for a long time and there is a delicate balance between training effectively and pushing yourself to the next milestone versus over-training.  Now I know where some of those boundaries are and, hopefully, can apply them successfully to run injury free in the months to come.  My biggest obstacle is myself and the battle that I fight within to do the necessary things I don’t like to do….like strength training.

Try as I might, I am not satisfied with Sunday’s performance.  (I KNOW I ran a marathon and SHOULD just be happy that I finished, but I am not satisfied.)  But, like I said, I am focusing on the positives and I WILL be a better, stronger runner on the other side!

Intellectually I know I didn't "fail", but this spoke to me because I need to train more intelligently.
Intellectually I know I didn’t “fail”, but this spoke to me because I want a better result and I need to train more intelligently.

Happy Hump Day everyone!!

I only have 3 more days of work until a 2-week Christmas break!

Dallas Marathon: Race Recap

I lost my marathon virginity this weekend, and that was a good thing!  (OK I nearly put that as the title to this entry, but thankfully, I thought better of it.)  I’ll also be losing my virginity where race recap blogging is concerned, as I haven’t run any races since I started blogging.  (This is a hint for you to crack open a Corona, so that the post doesn’t seem as bad.)

First, I have to say that the amount of support and well wishes I have received from my friends and the running community has been nothing short of AMAZING.  I wish I could list everyone, but the list is so vast that I would inadvertently leave someone off.  I never doubted my ability to run the race.  I knew that I had the grit, determination and, stubbornness, if you will, to finish.  What I did doubt was my body.  I almost asked more of my body during training that it was able to deliver.  I was REALLY worried about my ITB affecting my ability to finish, and now I know I had every reason to be concerned!  Having said that, the outpouring of love really did carry me through when I thought all was lost.  I may not have believed in my body, but my friends, runners and non-runners alike, did and I truly needed that support.  And, for this tough Texas gal who NEVER sheds a tear, I found myself with A LOT of tears in my eyes EVERY TIME I read a message of support.  It seems trite to say that I couldn’t have run this race without all of you, but it is so very true.  I can’t even put into words how uplifting it was and how full my heart felt when I stepped up to the start line on Sunday morning.

Last week, I barely slept a wink.  Dealing with all the pre-race anxiety (that had been building for well over a year) had caused me to lose my appetite, which just added to my madness!  After all I was supposed to be fueling my body for a race and ended up losing 2 pounds! On Friday, I was able to finally achieve some peace of mind and, in the words of the famous (yet irritating) song, I let it go.  Then I went to see my myofascia guy one last time before the race so that he could give me a treatment and kinesio tape me for race day.  He was so pleased and excited with what he found (or, more accurately, didn’t find) that I was in a purely zen state by the end of the appointment.  Before I left, he gave me a big bear hug and told me how much he believed in me and, again, my eyes filled with tears…a few even fell out of this time!  Friday night, I slept like a baby.  I was soooo exhausted and drained mentally from the week.  I didn’t wake up until after 6 on Saturday morning, which is LATE for this gal, but I felt so rested and refreshed!

Saturday morning, I piddled around the house.  I drank coffee and washed some clothes, but mostly just sat in the recliner. (ONLY because the dogs needed someone to keep them warm!)  We arrived in downtown around 4 pm and went to the expo to collect my race packet and walk around the expo.  While we were there, Taylor & Alli signed the banner.

Taylor & Alli signing the banner.
Taylor & Alli signing the banner.

On our way back to our hotel room after the expo, Taylor & Alli were sidetracked by the S’mores bar in the lobby.

This may have been Alli's favorite part of the weekend!
This may have been Alli’s favorite part of the weekend!

We decided to go eat early, which ended up being a good idea because getting back into our hotel was a madhouse.  It got even crazier as the night went on, as we were watching from our window.  No, I didn’t do any pre-race partying.  I was asleep by 9:30. 😉

Cupcakes from Uptown Dallas at "The Original Cupcakery". All I can say is, DELICIOUS!!
OF COURSE I HAD CUPCAKES!! Cupcakes from Uptown Dallas at “The Original Cupcakery”.
All I can say is, DELICIOUS!!

I actually slept VERY well Saturday night.  I guess I’m somewhat used to Bobby’s snoring, or I was just that tired, because Taylor said she spent two hours in the hall and Logan spent part of the night here:

I was so confused as to why anyone would throw towels in the bathtub, but later found out Logan tried to sleep in there!
When I found this early Sunday morning, I was so confused as to why anyone would throw towels in the bathtub! I later found out that Logan tried to sleep in there!

After I got ready, I tried to eat some breakfast. Every day of my life, I eat an English Muffin, toasted, with peanut butter and honey.  I almost forgot to bring it on Saturday and turned around to go back and get it!

Trust me, day-old toasted is NOT as good as freshly toasted!
Trust me, day-old toasted is NOT as good as freshly toasted!

Finally, it was time to head down to the corrals!  I really wasn’t nervous.  The time for being nervous was past.  I really was looking forward to the experience and crossing the finish line.  To be honest, I didn’t feel my best.  I had nagging soreness in my throat and stuffy sinuses from whatever has been in the air.

Despite the allergies, I felt great through the first 10k.  I felt good about the pace I was maintaining and, aside from the yucky allergy feeling, was doing well.  At around the 10k mark, I could feel my ITB getting tight and started trying to mentally prepare myself for the road that was ahead.  Surprisingly, I didn’t feel any pain until mile 13 or so.  By the way, the famed “Dolly Pardon Hills” were around mile 13.  Can I just say that I was terribly disappointed with them??  Plus, I think it was only one hill.  In any case, it wasn’t much of a hill at all (by my standards, anyway).  The best part about that area of the course was the guys that dressed up with balloon boobs to hand out water. 😉

Miles 13-16 were tough, but manageable.  From mile 16 on, the pain became more intense with each step.  I had to take short walk breaks to lessen the tension on my ITB and I tried stretching it as well.  Then, from mile 20 on, it was basically a battle of stubbornness, because every step was painful.  I was determined that I WOULD finish and was fully prepared to deal with all the consequences of torturing my body the way that I had.

The banner from the expo was hanging up at the end of the Santa Fe Trail (around mile 20, I think), and that gave me a mental boost because I remembered Alli’s message she wrote to me.  I never expected that little message to mean so much!

Alli's message to me :)
Alli’s message to me 🙂

Then, at mile 22, I heard someone say “MOM!!” and there they were – Bobby and the kids.  It was so good to see them!  I told them my ITB was giving me fits and they all assured me that I could finish, and on I limped. 😉  Around mile 24, there was a young lady with a dog on the side of the road.  When we were passing, she said, “Less than a 5k to go!” and I thought – she HAS to be a runner!  I later learned that it was my Twitter friend Aimee (@aimeelanter)!  She was so encouraging, but it would have been so much more encouraging to realize (then) it was someone who I knew!  Also, during those last, tough miles, I kept thinking of all my friends who were cheering me on.  I also thought about another Twitter friend, Brad (@IronmanBradK) and his struggle with Guillain Barre Syndrome and how he competes in marathons and IronMan competitions, fighting through the pain with each and every step.  He was actually pushing a wheelchair bound participant in Dallas.  What an inspiration!!  Focusing on all this helped me push through those last 6 miles.

FINALLY, I crossed the finish line!  Taylor snapped this pic as I passed them down the home stretch.

I didn't see or hear them yelling at me, apparently only feet from me! LOL  I had tunnel vision on that finish line!
I didn’t see or hear them yelling at me, apparently only feet from me! LOL I had tunnel vision on that finish line!

I nearly ugly cried when the medal was hung around my neck, but I managed to choke that back.  A couple of tears may have escaped my eyes, but I’ll never tell!  Then I was herded through the system to be given all the post-race goodies.  I collected my 2013 medal and then was given the “Unique Finisher Item” of which I’m sure Jane (@50statecanuck) would approve!

Last year's medal, this year's BEAUTIFUL medal and the finisher bag!
Last year’s medal, this year’s BEAUTIFUL medal and the finisher bag!

Sadly, post-marathon I was in no mental or physical state to think of how I could make this blog post better.  If I had my wits about me (no snarky comments, @RunningLonely), I would have taken a pic of the Kenyans with whom we rode the elevator on our way to check out of the hotel.  I wondered if it was them, but Taylor removed all doubt when she said, “Wait….are you the WINNERS?? I watched you on TV.  You are awesome!!!”  To which she added, “I feel like I’m in an elevator with celebrities!” They just grinned.  And there I was, the dork with my medal around my neck.  LOL

For now, I am committed to rehabbing my ITB properly before I begin training again.  Having said that, as I write this, I have the itch to run….I have unfinished business on the 26.2 course.  Until then, I have a half marathon goal I would like to achieve and that will best be done if I am healthy!  Anyone who knows me even a little will know how difficult this road is going to be (AGAIN!).  I have a tendency to rush rehab and over-train.  I will be depending on the running community to hold me accountable as I move forward in 2015!

And even though I’ve walked peg-legged almost the entire day because it was so painful to bend my knee, it has been the BEST MONDAY EVER!!!

Hope your Monday was as good as mine!!