Race Goals: Dallas Edition

To be honest, I am hesitant to put these goals out there for the world to see, because everyone will know if I fail.  (I have a difficult enough time dealing with failure when only I know about it!  Yes, I KNOW it’s my first marathon and I KNOW I should only want to finish, but that just isn’t me.)  I figured I would muster the courage to post, inspired my friend @RunningLonely, who has been very open and candid about his 24 hour race goals.  Plus, it’s an ongoing exercise to get myself out of my comfort zone and doing this certainly causes me discomfort.  Finally, since the race is now 3 days away and I can’t think of anything BUT the race, it would be a futile effort to attempt blogging a different subject.  Here goes nothing:

  1. Finish.  Call me Captain Obvious, but, seriously, who wants to enter a race and not finish?  The race shirt we (my then running partner and I) had made last year had the phrase “Death before DNF”, and I meant it.  I expect this goal will be almost completely determined by how well my ITB behaves on race day.  As long as that sucker will allow me to bend my leg, if only a little, I’ll suck up the pain and charge on (hence my mantra; my slogan, “Suck it up, Buttercup”).   Side note: Last year ALL I wanted was the finisher shirt.  And just the other day I noticed on the Dallas Marathon website listed under Runner Benefits, “Unique Finisher Item”. <insert angry face here>
  2. Run the race without issues.  OK….I realize this is a pie in the sky goal.  I mean, WHO runs their first marathon (or any distance race, really) without any issues?  More specifically, I want to run the race without ITB issues.  But also without GI distress, an abnormal amount of chafing, blisters or muscle cramps.
  3. Hold back my pace in the first half. If I can do this, then hopefully, I’ll have energy to finish reasonably strong.  Another goal brought to you by Captain Obvious.  (I realize this should be a race strategy, not a goal.  Those who know me will completely understand it being a goal.)
  4. Time goal: 4:30.  THAT was hard to put out there, because this little dream train could be derailed so easily and quickly come race day.  Last year our goal was anything under 5:00, but secretly I yearned for a 4:30 finish.  There was a point in training this year when I began to realize this could actually happen, and I started to get VERY excited.  Of course (broken record alert), this ALL depends on….you guessed it, my ITB.
  5. Kick ass on the Dolly Pardon hills.  Let’s HOPE that I can accomplish this.  Marathoners get to experience these hills going at mile 13 and coming back at mile 18.  I’ve been practicing my mantra, “maintain effort”, to hopefully keep me from using ALL my energy on them.  I typically attack hills and I pray that this won’t be my “downfall”.
  6. Have fun!  After all, I run because I LOVE RUNNING!  Otherwise, how in the world could I be SO EXCITED about running 26.2 miles!

I have yet to pick the race day outfit.  I don’t understand why some people obsess over this so much.  Weather, by the way, is predicted to be rain and scattered thunderstorms.  This changes at least twice per day, but right now looks like the bulk of the rain may hold off until later in the race.  Until the rains begin, I’ll have to deal with some muggy heat, as the low is a projected 58 and high in 60s.  But, I’ll take that over ice any day!

Pete Delkus is my FAVORITE weather guy of all time.  He is AWESOME and is posting weather updates at least twice per day until race day!
Pete Delkus is my FAVORITE weather guy of all time. He is AWESOME and is posting weather updates at least twice per day until race day!

I am still debating what to carry.  Originally I planned to carry 2 bottles chia water and 2 bottles regular water on my belt.  Honestly, it weighs a ton, and that drags me down, quite literally.  On the other hand, 4 extra pounds on my hips would help me keep my pace down at the start.  Plus, if the rain holds off, I’ll need the water!  On the third hand, I considered ditching the chia water and just carrying gels in a Flip Belt, but didn’t train that way so that really isn’t an option, for all intents and purposes.  It’s probably a good thing that I don’t have a third hand.

Since my last run was AMAZING and I had no issues whatsoever, I am hopeful about my ITB.  Having said that, I think my biggest challenge will be not blowing my wad during the first half.  (Sorry to be so crude, but sometimes the Texas comes out.)  Anyone who knows me even a little understands that I have no self-control where this is concerned. (Refer to Goal #3)  I can almost guarantee that I will get caught up in racing people.  I considered blinders, but do they come in human size?  Maybe a pair sized for miniature horses would work?

I was also considering cutting out the music and my app feedback to eliminate me obsessing over distance and pace.  Thankfully, I have a seasoned marathoner friend who is willing to listen to my constant whining and cautioned me against this, if only to keep my eye (or ear, in this case) on my pace.  I think it best to just leave things “as is” and quit considering changing my norms.  I’m jittery and nervous ALL THE TIME, which is causing me to be more indecisive than usual.  (I had NO idea it was  possible for me to be MORE indecisive.)

I started packing my race day bag last night.  I packed an assortment of bottoms, tops and socks as well as my shoes.  I was genuinely concerned about forgetting the Vaseline, but rest easy because it is in there.  I even packed my visor for the rain.  The visor/rain situation will cause some issues with my sunglasses and that is stressing me out, because I don’t like to run without sunglasses (mainly because the race pics turn out terrible).  Mine are photochromic, which is why I can wear them when it is cloudy or at dawn/dusk.  (See? I knew you were asking that question in your head.)

I was pretty excited when I came home last night and Bobby had this waiting for me….

Just what I needed to help calm my nerves.
Just what I needed to help calm my nerves.

And then, after dinner, I opened the box of Maple Syrup Candies that @50StateCanuck gave me.  They were delicious!!  Reminded me of brown sugar, and I think we all know how much I love brown sugar! (If you can’t remember,here is the caramel crack story)

Incredibly cute AND tasty! The Canadians love their Maple leaf ALMOST as much as Texans love the Texas flag.
Incredibly cute AND tasty! And I think it is awesome that Canadians love their Maple leaf ALMOST as much as Texans love the Texas flag.

Happy Thursday, all!!

Diagnosis: Taper Madness

I’m sure that I experienced Taper Madness last year, but I honestly don’t remember. I spent so much time and energy reassuring my running partner that she would be able to run the race that the taper seems a blur. I remember our last run before our would-be-cancelled never-to-be-run marathon.  I remember that sick feeling when it started sleeting several days before the race.  I remember the tears that came when the inevitable was confirmed. And I remember my partner cautioning me not to rush into a decision regarding future races, already knowing that I would train for Dallas 2014. It was NEVER a question for me.

Instead of coasting off a 16-week training plan, in reality I’m coming off a year and 16-week roller coaster of emotion.  From training last year to having the race slip right out from under me (literally), then becoming injured and not knowing if my body would even be healthy enough to train for this marathon. But I was able to train, and training went really well…up to a point.

Now, some of this could have been avoided. I could have gone down to College Station to run their marathon after they added slots to accommodate the Dallas participants, but, honestly, I would never willingly participate in anything related to the Aggies, and certainly NOT for my first. I could have avoided the recent ITB problems by doing A LOT of things differently. But those things didn’t happen, and as a result I am in my current state of mental illness.

So here’s Taper Madness: Jeff Foxworthy version…..

You might be tapering if:
You are so nervous that you constantly wonder when, not if, you are going to puke
Your family, coworkers and friends are secretly wondering if you may be bi-polar
You cry during Hallmark commercials, even though you haven’t shed a tear in years
You can’t make even the simplest of decisions and when you finally do, you change your mind. (Wait…..that’s me all the time.)
You aren’t rungry anymore
You usually can’t focus on anything, yet now you can’t divert that race day laser beam focus
You think you’ve lost all your fitness and your muscles have withered away
Your body has soooo much energy, yet you are mentally exhausted
You are ecstatic and terrified that your race is now 4 days away!


Travel: Texas (and Canadian) Style

This weekend, I had the special privilege of meeting the one and only 50StateCanuck who came to Texas to run Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio.  In the early planning stages, my daughters were both going to go with me but their schedules didn’t work out.  So I embarked alone on the 6 hour drive South last Friday morning, determined to show Jane the best of Texas.  I have no doubt that she will chronicle our time together in San Antonio and it will be more interesting to hear it told through her Canadian lens. For that reason, I won’t be going into great detail of our shenanigans,  but instead will give you non-Texas folks a lesson in travel for my great state.  (By the way, you will want to check out her blog full of professional-looking photos and a great rehash of the trip at 50statecanuck.com – be patient, as she travels back to Canada today 🙂 )

First, I will give you the Cliff Notes version of our weekend.  I arrived in San Antonio around 3:30 and met Jane on the Riverwalk for a drink.  I usually have a lot of anxiety over meeting new people, but was different with her.  She is so easy to talk to and it’s quite fun listening to her accent.  (Although, I think most people would say my accent is thicker than hers.)  I felt we hit it off right away.  (Let’s hope she says the same! LOL)  We made our plans for the evening: basically dinner and the River boat tour.  Thankfully our main goal on the tour was to see Christmas lights on the Riverwalk, because our tour guide……struggled.  That evening when we got back to the hotel, we exchanged gifts (who knew we would BOTH have gifts?!?)  I received, what I expect to be delicious, maple syrup and maple syrup candies.  If you want to see what I got Jane, you’ll have to read her blog. 😉

I don't think I've ever had REAL maple syrup.  I KNOW I've never had maple syrup candy!!  I can't wait to try it!
I don’t think I’ve ever had REAL maple syrup. I KNOW I’ve never had maple syrup candy!! I can’t wait to try it!

I know that Jane is interested in history wherever she goes, so I suggested early on that we tour the missions.  The missions are my favorite part of San Antonio, hands down, and the reason that San Antonio exists today.  The tour was amazing, and even I learned some new things this time around. 🙂   One thing that saddened me, however, was the renovations done to Mission San Jose.  Since it is an active congregation, the parish keeps up the inside of the church and the parks department maintains everything outside the church walls.  I personally felt it didn’t keep with the mission traditions, but it is still a beautiful building.

On the left: Mission San Jose sanctuary while I worshiped there in 2009. On the right: the updated sanctuary.  It is so ornate that it doesn't fit in with the simplicity of mission life.
On the left: Mission San Jose sanctuary when I worshiped there in 2009. (Shhhh -I took communion and I’m not even Catholic!)
On the right: the updated sanctuary. It is so ornate not that it doesn’t fit in with the simplicity of mission life.

Saturday evening concluded our time together with a trip out to Gruene (pronounced Green), Texas.  If you are a country music fan, chances are  you have heard of Gruene Hall, the oldest dance hall in Texas.  Many up-and-coming artists play there regularly, as well as established artists.  Somehow, successful country singers make their way onto the Gruene Hall stage at some point in their career.  If you’ve been to Gruene, I’m sure you have eaten at the Grist Mill, as we did!

Sunday morning I got up and ready to send Jane off to her race.  It was such a fun weekend, but too short, in my opinion, and it was difficult to say goodbye.  I was on the road by 7:45 to make the trek back to Big B and made great time because hardly anyone travels that early on Sunday morning!

Now, on to my Texas Travel Tips:

  •  If you are going to travel in Texas, DO NOT drive in the left lane unless and until you are prepared to drive AT LEAST an average of 20 miles over the speed limit.  On Texas freeways, speed limits are guidelines, really, open to interpretation and our interpretation is that the posted speed limit is much too slow.  (Hint: If someone is riding your bumper, you should probably move over.  If you don’t feel like moving over, just remember that we all have guns.)
  • You MUST stop in West at Czech Stop, going AND coming.  It’s the law. (If you don’t agree, we can’t be friends.)  By the way, West was famous in Texas long before the fertilizer plant explosion, which was just days after the Boston Marathon bombing.  But now, it seems even more special when I’m able to stop.
    The BEST bakery in Texas!
    The BEST bakery in Texas!
    I had some difficulty choosing the kolaches. Let's just say I bought "a few".
    I had some difficulty choosing the kolaches. Let’s just say I bought “a few”.
    OK, I didn't have trouble here.  These have meat.  And I didn't even photograph all the breads.
    OK, I didn’t have trouble choosing here. These have meat.  AND I didn’t even photograph the breads.

    I brought Jane a pecan (puh-cahn NOT pee-can) pie.
    I brought Jane a pecan (puh-cahn NOT pee-can) pie.
  • If you stop in Georgetown for lunch, you might stumble upon a cupcake shop by accident!  Thankfully, I found this or my whole trip might have been a waste.  Jane clearly doesn’t understand the importance of eating cupcakes in every city you visit.

    Seriously was soooo delicious.  Oh, and the salted caramel I saved for later was TO DIE FOR.
    Seriously was soooo delicious. Oh, and the salted caramel I saved for later was TO DIE FOR.
  • DO NOT drive through Austin; take the toll road!  I have to admit that I made this mistake on Friday.  Set me back at least 30 minutes.  Austin traffic is terrible…..ALWAYS.
  • Do not stop at any Shell station in Round Rock.  I pulled up to the pump, got out, and all the pumps turned off.  I know I was 4 hours into my trip at that point, but I didn’t realize I looked that road weary.
  • Not even Texans know what those caterpillar/worm buildings are between Waxahachie and Italy.  It’s just best not to spend much time thinking about it.  The most likely explanation is alien activity, but you can’t talk about aliens in Texas.

    Pic courtesy of:
    Pic courtesy of: Roadside America
  • No matter what your destination, you must ensure that your route takes you past a Buc-ee’s.  If you don’t know what Buc-ee’s (pronounced Buck-ee’s) is; I am sorry and I hope that you actually live life one day and stop at one.  It is a rest stop/gas station/convenience store/clothing store/kind-of grocery store with more bathroomsthan you’ll ever find in one place AND they are all clean!  (HOW do they keep them so clean???)  Half the store is dedicated to every kind of trail mix/snack food currently available to modern man. Seriously, amazing.
    That's 120 gas pumps and the building is as big as a grocery store.
    That’s 120 gas pumps and the building is as big as a grocery store AND usually so busy that you have to wait for a gas pump.

    Your convenience store doesn't have a beaver statue in the center of a Texas star??
    Your convenience store doesn’t have a beaver statue in the center of a Texas star??


Seriously, though, this trip was exactly what I needed.  Of course, the BEST part was meeting Jane!  She is just as amazing, fun, kind and sweet as she comes across on Twitter.  But I needed a reprieve from life.  It’s hard to explain, but I have had a mental disconnect with my upcoming race yet at the same time I am a ball of nerves.  I was much more confident before I started having these ITB problems.  I worry (pretty much all the time) that my ITB is going to REALLY affect the race.  So I try not to think about it because it is unpleasant (that’s how I deal sometimes), but I’m usually unsuccessful.   However….I didn’t think about the race or my ITB all weekend, thanks to Jane!!

Spending time with her got me to thinking about my friends, though, because she really is loads of fun.  I am blessed with some very good face-to-face friends as well as friendships that have developed via Twitter through a common love of running. I am even more thankful for these friends now, because I have been struggling of late about what my friendship means with some of my friends.  There is one friendship in particular that I have been mourning: my running partner.  And while I know and understand that she is the type that moves from friend to friend, I have still been very hurt by the fact that she won’t even discuss with me how my training is going – yet she still calls to talk about anything BUT running.  Thinking about that on the drive home caused me a bit of sadness.  When I got home, however, I had a package waiting from my friend RunCarli.  She mailed me a note of encouragement for my upcoming marathon AND included some of her favorite gels.  The timing was perfect to remind me that it is natural to have people leave your life after a season, but new, sometimes more special ones, enter your life at just the right time!

Blessed by kindness!
Blessed by kindness!

I want to close with a BIG thank you to my husband, Bobby.  I am so blessed because he is so supportive of my running, and anything I want to do, really.  This weekend wouldn’t have been possible without his support.  He kept things going at home and put on the hat of Taxi Mom for all of Alli’s activities.  I appreciate all he does for our family very, very much!!

6 days until Dallas!!

Later, y’all!

When black isn’t your color

I am certain that my ninja friend 50StateCanuck is shuddering at my title, but sometimes black isn’t the color I want to see.  A couple of months ago, when marathon training was getting into full swing, I was stricken with Black Death Toe.  One evening, a couple of days after my long run, I noticed a monstrous tiny bruised spot at the base of my toenail.  <Insert IMMEDIATE and IRRATIONAL panic here>  I know that many runners take great pride in their black toes, but I took great pride in never having one.  I seriously fretted about this for DAYS (maybe even weeks).  I even took pics every day for two weeks because I wanted to see if it was getting worse. (NO, I will NOT be posting a pic here today.)  Trust me when I say that I overreacted, but if you’ve seen those horror pictures of black toenails, I know you completely understand!

I could not fathom why in the world I would be having this problem at that point in my training.  I had really not changed anything except mileage.  (OK, I know mileage can do it, but I’ve run this much before without incident.)  Since I am an introvert by nature and quite obsessive, I gave this A LOT of thought (and worry!).  But it was in my next long run that I actually formulated a theory.  During that run, I could feel that gravel in the highway pavement through my shoes.  I was getting close to my mileage threshold for them, but had not quite reached it, so they should not have broken down that easily and quickly.  I came to the conclusion that I was not giving my shoes enough recovery time.  I ordered 2 new pairs right away and began to rotate them.

I generally use one pair for the long run and the other pair for my shorter midweek runs, to give them ample recovery time.  I think my diagnosis must have been spot on, because my shoes are comfy and I’m happy to report that I have had no further Black Toe issues.

Why am I posting about this today?  I just removed my toe nail polish that I put on to keep me from looking at (and thinking about) the black spot.  I ended up scrubbing and scrubbing this one place on my toe….then I remembered it was the black spot! LOL  It really isn’t that black anymore and it isn’t big at all; no larger than a pencil eraser.

Obligatory Blog Photo The shoe on the left was my FAVORITE shoe of all time.  The one on the right was my then 8 year old's volleyball shoe, which was 1/2 size smaller than mine.
Obligatory Blog Photo
The shoe on the left was my FAVORITE shoe of all time. The one on the right was my then 8 year old’s volleyball shoe, which was 1/2 size smaller than mine.

And now I can add “Surviving black toe” to my list of accomplishments.  #winning

Happy Tuesday everyone!


War rooms and battle of the bracket

My son, Logan, is a gamer.  Last week, one of his friends was in town visiting family.  So Logan’s group of friends did what anyone would do: they moved in together.  And when I say moved in, I mean MOVED IN.  I would have laughed if I hadn’t been in such shock watching him carry the contents of his room to his truck.  He literally took his computer and 2 of his 3 monitors.

This is the "war room", as I affectionately call it.
The “war room”, as it is affectionately called.

The picture really doesn’t do it justice.  That computer is HUGE.  The fan alone is larger than my PC.  And, Logan scrimped and saved to buy all this on his own.  I should have included his chair in the pic, but I was trying to hurry before he came back in.  LOL. It literally looks like a pilot seat, and, according to Logan, is VERY comfortable.  (By the way, this may seem messy, but was post-cleaning.)

Most people know that, in addition to being obsessed about running, I am also obsessed with volleyball.  And while 99% of the country fills out Final Four brackets for Men’s collegiate basketball, I fill out Final Four brackets for Women’s collegiate volleyball.  I pour a lot of blood, sweat and tears into my bracket picks, but in the end ALWAYS end up picking with my emotions.  This usually means that half my bracket is trashed in the second round, although my final four picks are usually correct.  The hardest part is predicting the upsets, because the only guarantee is that there WILL be several of those!  I’ll do my best not to belly ache over my misses over the next 3 weeks, but I can not make any promises.

I ran yesterday.  Just a short 5 miles to burn off the crazy and see how much fitness I have lost (kidding, but not really).  My ITB was very well-behaved and didn’t gripe at me at all!  And while I am encouraged by that run, I am more encouraged by what I am feeling in my body.  First, much of the tightness around my hip and lower back is beginning to release.  This tells me that my ITB isn’t as tight as it was.  (Good sign.)  I have been foam rolling more effectively and I am having trouble finding the knot in the middle of my ITB.  (Another good sign.)  And finally, I really want to run.  It is becoming hard to stay inside.  (Maybe the best sign of all!)  The challenge has begun to shift from rehabbing my ITB to maintaining my fitness level without re-injury.  We all know my track record in that arena!

Seen on my run: beautiful Texas sunset
Seen on my run: beautiful Texas sunset

One things that is great about living in a small town is that you know basically everyone.  When one of those everyones happens to own a gift shop, for example, they can call you to say they have cute, reflective headbands for running.  I’m kind of excited to run in the dark again. 😉

Isn't this the cutest headband??
It even matches my reflective harness!

13 days until Dallas, but who is counting??

Happy Monday all!  Good luck getting in the post-Thanksgiving groove!