When you need to beat the course

Running is 99% mental

For those of you who don’t know – the Dallas Marathon course is my rival, of sorts.  I trained for it but didn’t get to run it in 2013 because of an unbelievable ice storm (aka Ice-mageddon) that caused cancellation of the race.  Then in 2014, I trained really stupidly and ended up with massive IT issues which put a cramp in my race….literally.  So this year is kind-of like a redemption – 3rd time is a charm.  I hope.IMG_6393

However, wanting something too badly can cause problems, mentally.  I’ve seen it time and time again on the volleyball court.  Those rivalries…sometimes the rivalries are between teams and sometimes can be between individual players.  In any case, when one team or individual is trying to “prove” themselves, it ALWAYS ends badly because they usually end up playing to impress instead of playing their game.  Even Alli is looking forward to facing some former teammates – a former coach, really – and I have already started cautioning her that if we do face them at some point in the season – she needs to just PLAY her game, without concern about who is on the other side of the net.

How does this all relate to me?  I REALLY want to beat that Dallas Marathon course.  I NEED to beat that course.  But I know that focusing on beating the course rather than actually racing this Sunday will spell disaster.  I’ve been using this taper as a time to get my mind right so that I am mentally prepared for the race.  Right now, two days before the race, I think I am in a good place.  Of course, an onset of taper madness could happen at a moment’s notice and I could have a mental breakdown! LOL

As I write this, I have an overwhelming sense of peace.  (Race jitters would have prevented me saying that two days ago!)  Maybe some of the pressure is taken off, because I finished last year under TERRIBLE and PAINFUL conditions.  I now know I have the resolve to make it to the finish line.  (I’ve joked that I could crawl and finish better than last year, which, sadly, isn’t much of a joke.)  I have an amazing coach, who, despite the weaknesses I have coming back from recent injuries, has delivered me to the start line stronger than I could ever have hoped.  I feel like I am in a good position to come close to my goal.  But if I miss my goal, I miss my goal.  Things will happen on race day that are out of my control and I am ready to adjust to handle whatever comes my way.  I will be satisfied (I hope) by running a strong race and finding a way to overcome the challenges of the day.

My only wish is that I owned a time-turner, so that I could fast-forward to race day already!

Supportive friends make all the difference

It means SO MUCH when friends take the time to wish you well on your race.  The support of my running community is overwhelming.  And they are the ones that understand my type of  crazy and the challenges that race day can bring….heck, even the challenges that training brought to get me to the start line!

But then there are my non-running friends.  The ones who just shake their heads at me when I get so excited about a track workout or the fact that I get to run 20 miles on my long run this weekend.  These are ones who don’t understand my type of crazy but choose to love me anyway.  I can’t even describe the wonderful feeling I get every time they wish me good luck, because they do it even though they don’t understand why I do it.

One of my dear friends, Carmen, ALWAYS sends me inspirational memes leading up to my races.  It boggles my mind that she can even remember to do this every time!

Who could be nervous about their race with support like this??IMG_6398

IMG_6397

IMG_6396

TWO.  MORE.  DAYS.

But now, I need to go get ready for my Taylor’s college graduation this afternoon!

Happy Friday!

Jen

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!

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 advice is confusing and so are your friends.

I attempted my last long run of marathon training on Monday.  I say attempted, because my ITB flared up and I cut the run short – 11 miles instead of the 20 I had planned.  My reaction to this setback was surprising to me on many levels.

  • I didn’t panic or immediately sink into a pit of despair – during or after the run.  This is a biggie.  I’m at a critical point in marathon training.  Not getting this last long run in means that, on race day, 5 weeks will have passed since my last long run.  That’s enough to cause any aspiring marathoner to shake in their Asics.  Believe me when I say that I am shaking in my Asics.
  • I decided to cut the run short.  This is also a biggie, considering I finished my long run the last time this happened and ended up running limping the last 8 miles.  I also ended up tweaking my calf, which is just now healed properly.  Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks.
  • I used the setback to my advantage and tried out some strategies for race day, in case myITB rears its ugly head again.  I stopped and stretched myITB and tried walk breaks, both of which provided relief for a window of time.  It’s always good to have a Plan B.  I hope I don’t have to use Plan B.

    Plus, who could be upset when your run began with this beautiful view?
    WHO could be upset when your run began with this beautiful view?

I appreciate all the support and advice that I’ve received from my running friends, my chiropractor and my myofascia guy.  And even though the nuts and bolts of the advice may differ from person to person, there is a common thread shared by all – listen to your body.  This seems like a simple task.  I’m sure it is a simple task for normal people.  But for me, it is THE biggest challenge in training.  To explain this, I must offer a confession: I am an addict – a running addict(try finding a 12-step program for that).  As an addict, I am proficient in justifying my actions.  In fact, I can justify any ache or pain, convince myself I should still go for a run AND that I should push my pace or add hills to the route.  So, listening to my body causes great confusion and dialogue within me (not unlike Gollum/Smeagol in LOTR).  I’m trying to quiet that uber-competitive part of me that wants to push through regardless of the consequences.  I also get distracted by my goals.  For example, I feel very strongly that I need to work that long run in somehow.  And while I know this isn’t a good idea, I can’t shake it from my mind no matter how hard I try.  Even though I have given voice to letting that run go, I catch myself thinking of ways to “make up for it” in my upcoming lower mileage training runs.  But I have come a long way, Baby, so I’ll take whatever progress I can get.

My stubbornness has, however, served me well in the past and earned me quite a reputation.  A friend asked yesterday how training was going and when I gave her the Cliff Notes version, replied, “You’re going to run this race held together with spit and baling wire!” (spoken like a TRUE Texan….she is a transplant!) and then, “You’ll do it, if only from sheer will.”  That, my friends, made me smile, because I know she is right and I know that I can do this! 🙂

This also makes me smile.  A wonderful new addition to my back window: :)
This also makes me smile. A wonderful new addition to my back window: 🙂

I went for my weekly myofascia appointment yesterday.  When he asked me how things were going, Debbie Downer I replied, “I’m falling apart!  My ITB is so mad at me! I don’t even know if I will be able to race!”  I proceeded to tell him about the long run and why it didn’t happen and he replied (this is why I LOVE him!), “You aren’t falling apart, this is just a speed bump.” Basically my ITB was GLUED from my hip to my knee – it wouldn’t move at all when I first got there.  My guy works with his wife but her client didn’t show yesterday, so she came in to help with my session.  At one point, I felt like I was on “The Rack”.  She was pulling my arm in one direction and he was pulling my leg in the opposite direction.  They did lots of other things, but at the end of the session I felt like a new runner!  I’m really very thankful she was able to help out, because I wonder if he could have made that much progress alone within an hour.  When I asked him how to approach the remainder of my training – you guessed it – he said “Just listen to your body.” Clear. As. Mud.  (I wonder if anyone ever notices my eyes glaze over when they say this to me??)

This morning, I had plans to have coffee with a friend who moved to the Dallas area a couple of years ago.  We try to get together in the summer and holiday seasons to keep in touch.  We always meet at her house – she is the one who lives in civilization, after all, so I left my house to head her way around 8:30.  At 8:45, I got a text from her confirming what I already knew; that she was running about 15 minutes late.  But that sounded odd, since I was going to her house!  I contacted her and realized that we were each going to the other’s home!  I had not understood that she was in town visiting her parents for Thanksgiving.  Typical, for this relationship! I turned around and headed back home to meet her.  As always, the visit was WONDERFUL, but reminded me how much I miss our little Ya-Ya Sisterhood.  And in Cindy fashion, she brought her own coffee mug!

Happy Hump Day & Turkey Eve!