Brazos Bend 100 Half Marathon: Race Recap

I had the BEST.  WEEKEND.  EVER!!  I went to the Houston area for Brazos Bend 100 – but I only ran the half marathon.  So many Renegades were running it that I couldn’t resist the opportunity to hang out with my awesome teammates!  Seven of us were running the half, one was running the full marathon and four brave souls were attempting the 50 miler. Side note: I was originally signed up to run Big Cedar with this group and I dropped that race to attempt to qualify for Boston.  Even though I know it was the right decision, seeing them attempting the 50 really made me want to be out there with them – and made me a wee bit jealous!

Fellow Renegade Jeri and I made the trek down to Houston on Friday afternoon.  We met the crew for dinner, then brought Renegade Melinda back with us as the three of us were all staying at the same hotel.  (Somehow, we didn’t take ANY pics of the group at dinner!!)

We got up before the ass-crack of dawn and started the trek to Brazos Bend.  Thankfully, we had an uneventful trip and arrived right on time.  The parking gods were smiling down on us (probably because Melinda is SO NICE) and a park ranger waved us onto the grass to park (we had heard that the grass might be off-limits).  We were LITERALLY as close to our Renegade camp as we could get.  Sweeeeeeeet!!img_3070

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I went to pick up my bib and then started going through my pre-race routine.  I stopped to go cheer the 50 milers on as they started on their long journey.  I spent a little more time getting ready then went to see Ashley off on her 26.2 mile stroll (which was actually closer to 28).  Before I knew it, it was time to head to the start line for the half!

The 50 mile runners
The 50 mile runners
Our lone marathon runner
Our lone marathon runner
Some of the half marathoners. :)
Some of the half marathoners. 🙂

The Half

I really had no specific goals for this race.  Even though this was technically a *trail* race, the *trails* were gravel and smooth, for the most part.  And even though these trails were to be easy and non-technical, I didn’t expect to run as well as I do on asphalt.  I decided to run the best I could but play it smart and hold back, if needed.  With Houston only 5 weeks away, I had no wiggle room for nursing an injury – especially if it was a result of my stupidity.

I started out a little bit fast  and decided to ease up a tad around mile 3 and let myself get into a groove.  Still, I managed to somehow get away from the pack and found myself alone when I came back around Elm Lake – the wind coming off the lake was frigid and I wanted SO BADLY to have someone in front of me to block it.  As luck would have it, there were a couple of guys not too far ahead of me.  I caught up to them and they were running a pace I could live with so I decided to draft them for a while.  I hung with them for a couple of miles until it seemed like they were slowing down (or maybe I was finally warmed up) so I broke up with them and went on my way.

At this point, I was running 8:15-8:20 miles and it felt like such an easy pace. (Add THAT to the list of things that I NEVER thought would come out of my mouth….seriously.)  I figured I would rock along and start kicking it up as I got deeper into the race.  I didn’t account for the swamp section of the course, where the road was rutted and muddy and I had to run around the puddles in the grass.  I felt like this was slowing me down, but the gospel according to Garmin says that these miles were 8:05-8:10 range, so I suppose that was all in my head.  I passed Brent and Tim as they were coming back down this stretch – they were nearing the end of their first loop and they looked strong and seemed in good spirits.

I rocked along until mile 10 and decided I should probably try to get myself into the pain zone some, so I tried to kick it up a little bit.  I’m not sure if my quads were tired from the surface – it definitely was an easy trail but it wasn’t asphalt – or if it was from the flat course.  In any case, I felt a little fatigue in them.  I still managed sub-8 on miles 11 & 12.  I slowed some on mile 13, but was able to finish strong.

My time: 1:52:37 (the course was actually 13.78 miles).  I finished 35th overall, 9th in women and 1st in my age group (40-49).  I was VERY pleased with the results!!  Garmin clocked my time at the 13.1 mark as 1:46:31 – only about 1 minute off my road PR.  Something worth mentioning is that my heart rate on the 1:45 road race was in zone 5 for most of the race.  My heart rate was in zone 3 for the majority of this race and the temps and conditions were similar, so YAY for improving fitness!img_3083

After the Half

After I cleaned up, there wasn’t much to do but wait.  And eat.  And wait some more.  Ashley came in from her first loop looking strong and under her time goal and headed out again.  Then the other half marathoners started coming in.  Brent came through to start his 3rd loop.  Tim came in not too long after Brent.  He was dealing with some plantar and tight calf issues, so I stretched him out and massaged his calves while he grabbed some food.  We got Tim on his way again and then Ryan came rolling through.  We took care of him and he was off in no time.

Before Brent went back out, he mentioned one of us coming pace him on the back side of the course.  Some time passed and Karon mentioned that it was about time to go find him and that I would probably be the best one to run him in.  I went to put on my wet, stinky, cold running clothes back on and headed out to find him.  I was pretty sure I knew where he was, but ran into Ashley as I was headed that way.  I asked if she had seen Brent, but she didn’t remember seeing him – this was on the section of the course that was out and back, so I knew she would have passed him.  I should have kept going but I was afraid that he was back up the course in the opposite direction, so I ran in a bit with her until we ran into Karon.  Luckily Brent called Karon right as I walked up.  He was actually on the part of the trail I had been headed down, after all.  I felt TERRIBLE because of all that time I had just wasted.  So I headed BACK to find him….. I also felt horrible skipping by all these 50 and 100 mile runners. They had been out there so long and I had eaten, cleaned up and taken a nap in my warm car.  I had only run 14 miles, so my legs were relatively fresh. I kept telling them I wasn’t racing – just headed to pace someone. Seriously, it’s such a defeating feeling when people whiz by you like that – it has happened to me during marathons with people running the relay.  I knew Brent had 7 miles to go when I left Karon and I expected to run into him by the time I got to mile 4, but nope. When I started coming up on the last aid station where the course turned around I started to get worried because…..WHERE WAS HE?!? As I got closer, I saw him over at the aid station just snacking and talking.  Off we went to run in these last few miles.  As soon as we got within sight of the finish line, he took off in a sprint…..and met his goal of coming in under 9 hours! I felt so honored to be able to be a part of that!img_3107

Unfortunately, Jeri and I had to head back home and I wasn’t able to see Tim, Ryan or Melinda finish. I really hated to miss it but I also didn’t want to be driving up I-45 after midnight!  But in February….when these guys run the 100 miler…I WILL be there!! Plus I get the honor of pacing Melinda on her last lap. I’m beyond excited!  It is so much fun being able to cheer on your teammates and see them crush their goals!!

Until then, I have my eyes set on Houston. It’s not going to be easy but I am starting to believe that I can do it!!  Less than 5 weeks to go!!

Happy Tuesday 🙂

RnR Dallas Race Recap: Finding the Sweet Spot

First, I want to apologize for this post being so lengthy.  I try to keep my posts short and sweet, but I just couldn’t condense this much – plus I mostly write these for myself so when it shows up on TimeHop next year I will be able to relive the day in its full glory.  I’m not quite sure why I am attempting to write this now, so soon after the race.  I’m still trying to process the whole amazing experience.

Last week as the weather forecast became more and more favorable, I started gaining confidence that I would be able to hit my goal of 1:50.  Still, I tend to doubt myself and my abilities and I just didn’t know if I would be able to run as hard as I needed to without having my teammates drag me along during the race.  Running with them at Cowtown was instrumental to my success in that race, but I learned a lot, too, and hoped I could capitalize on that at RnR.

Crazy Jen always finds a way to escape

People laugh when I talk about Crazy Jen, but she is a real part of my personality, on the running side anyway.  I can’t actually say that I have done anything spectacular to keep her at bay – when I just stick to the plan and do the workouts my coach gives me, she stays hidden.

But taper…..taper is a time when the craziness emerges and even the most sensible people do un-sensible things (I am NOT sensible, even when I am not tapering).  I was so proud of myself earlier in the week when I made the wise decision NOT to try Bulgarian Squats.  I have tried new exercises during taper before and, to no one’s surprise except mine, it did not turn out well.  So I was batting 1.000 for Smart Jen. <smiley face>

It takes a lot of energy to resist all the taper temptations, however, and I was completely exhausted by Saturday evening.  All of a sudden, I felt anxious about not having hydrated enough during the day and went straight to work to try to remedy that situation.  (Hint: the breakdown had begun.)  I decided to try this “new” drink mix (called ZipFizz) that I bought at the expo.  It was supposedly full of electrolytes, and of course I needed electrolytes!!  At the expo, I had tried a “cocktail” of Blueberry/Raspberry and Citrus.  It was sooooo tasty!!  I decided this was what I should drink.  Each tube is one-16 oz serving, so I made a 32 oz bottle in order to mix both of them in.  When I had downed, oh, about 24 oz of this fizzy goodness – just as I was getting ready to crawl into bed,  I remembered that it was also touted as an energy drink and was FULL of B12!  I yelled at myself – WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?!?  I was hoping that it wouldn’t affect me, and I can’t say for certain that it did, but I was awake for about 1 1/2 hours between 11:00-12:30.  I wasn’t stressed at all about the fact that I was to get up at 4:00AM!  LOLimg_7879

Sadly, the madness didn’t stop there.  I didn’t have a hard and fast race plan, so naturally I started stressing about that around 8:30.  I had a gut feeling that I was going to be able to hit 1:50, but hadn’t really set out about mentally preparing for what that would look like during the race.  I pulled up the splits for a 1:49 half marathon (because what’s the use unless you can get under 1:50?) and then…..I PANICKED.  Like literally panicked to the point that I had to tell myself to STOP THINKING.  This probably contributed to my middle-of-the-night insomnia.  I did revise my race strategy, though, by deciding to go out a little faster in the beginning than I had planned.

Race day jitters

In spite of the difficulty finding sleep early on, I managed to get some quality winks in before my alarm went off.  I got up easily enough with plenty of time to meet my friends Erica and Dara in McKinney for my car pool ride to the race.  I was increasingly nervous the closer we got to the race.  I seriously thought I was going to throw up from nerves by the time we parked!   Luckily, the feeling subsided after I got out of the car….kind of.

Erica talked me into paying for VIP, which I thought was ridiculous and stupid and never imagined I would be confessing that purchase to anyone.  I’m so glad she did because parking was close and more importantly, we were able to wait inside until time to head to the corrals AND….bathrooms.  Not port-o-pottys.  REAL bathrooms.

Finding that “sweet spot”

It seemed like no time had passed before it was time to head to the corrals.  I wanted to meet up with Lauren, a Renegade Endurance teammate of mine, then head to find my friend Rebecca in our corral.

Lauren, my fellow Renegade!!
Lauren, my fellow Renegade!!
Rebecca has turned out to be a good friend and an inspiration! Love being at all these races with her!!
Rebecca has turned out to be a good friend and an inspiration! Love being at all these races with her!!

Before I could blink, the National Anthem was being sung and the gun was off for corral 1.  Rebecca and I were in corral 2, and luckily there was only 1 minute between each corral.  This would prove helpful later in the race, because I knew I wasn’t much over 1:00 off the gun clock – I ended up using the clocks to see how close I really was to my goal.

I didn’t have much choice in starting out fast at Cowtown because I was running with my speedy teammates, but that experience taught me a lot about my heart rate.  I was able to realize that I have been starting out too slow, waiting on my heart rate to get settled.  I now know that I can run a faster pace and my heart will settle down after the first couple miles.

Originally, I planned to run the first mile at 8:40, then decide where to go from there.  After looking up the splits on a 1:49, I knew there was NO WAY I could do that and hope to make it up.  I revised my plan to run 8:30 the first couple of miles, then settle in and run with my heart rate around 160.

Mile 1 came in at 8:33 while mile 2 came in a bit faster at 8:19 – I am pretty sure there were some downhills involved there!  My heart settled into a steady pace in the high 150s and mile 3 came in at 8:23.  I was feeling really good, the weather was AMAZING, but I knew that I still had A LOT of race to go.  Mile 4 came in at 7:55 because it was ALL downhill through downtown.  My left calf got a little crampy about halfway through – kind of ticked me off because I was going DOWNHILL, but I decided not to give it any mental energy, told it to stop and luckily it settled down.  I kept rocking right along with mile 5 at 8:06, but running up the on-ramp to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge slowed my mile 6 pace to 8:27.

At the 10k mark, I was right on track to run 1:49.  I knew this because I had written the times I needed to hit for 6, 9, 10, 11, & 12 miles.   I did this, because I never really know what to expect as far as finishing time and it just takes too much mental effort to try to figure mid-race (and I never figure it correctly anyway).  But I was afraid to get too excited and too ahead of myself, because the mile 9 hill was still looming ahead.  There was still so much left to race.

My VIP bracelet, which doubled as a homemade "Pace Band"
My VIP bracelet, which doubled as a homemade “Pace Band”

I decided to go ahead and take a gel just before the mile 7 aid station.  After getting through the station, I realized that I was starting to get hot.  The sun was up and I was in an area that didn’t allow for much wind to pass through.  After I cleared the water stop, I peeled off my arm sleeves – I considered peeling off my shirt as well, but then I wouldn’t have been reppin’ my club! LOL  Miles 7 & 8 came in at 8:05 and 8:16.

Then….I hit the MILE 9 HILL.  Can I say that by this point I was SO OVER THE HILLS?!?!  I made it up the hill, mentally and physically drained and then THERE WAS ANOTHER HILL.  I was so tired.  And I was getting so hot.  Luckily, the aid station was right there and I poured a few cups of water on myself to try to cool down.  Mile 9 came in at 8:38 – the hill really slowed me down.  Honestly, at this point, I was starting to get very tired.  Even so, I still managed to maintain my pace somewhat with mile 10 clocking in at 8:31. Mile 11 – ahhhhhh – downhill.  Wheeeeeeeee!!  This was my second and last sub-8 mile of the race AND the fastest at 7:51.  Boy, did I ever need that mental break!  Mile 12 evened back out at 8:11 before I SLAMMED into mile 13.

MILE 13.  I can’t even think about it now without curling into the fetal position.  IT. WAS. SOOOOO. BAD.  It was over a bridge that *seemed* flat, but was NOT flat.  It was a gentle, LONG, incline.  I may have hallucinated or seen mirages.  It was seriously like being stuck out in a desert.  Every time I thought it looked like I was getting close to the end, MORE BRIDGE would come into view.  To make things worse, I was so close to the finish line at this point, I could hear the finish line announcer and music.  Torture.  PURE TORTURE.  To add to my despair, I was EXHAUSTED.  I was starting to get side stitches (I rarely get side stitches) and I think I would have felt better if I could have puked on the side of the road.  I wanted to stop right there and walk it in.  I questioned my sanity and wondered WHY I voluntarily put myself into this situation.  I even considered canceling all my upcoming races.  And the thought that propelled me to the next phase – WHY do you think you have a chance at a 3:45 marathon??

I got PISSED.  I was mad at myself for allowing that negative talk in my head.  I was mad that I wanted to quit.  I reminded myself that these few moments of pain were NOTHING compared to the regret and disappointment I would feel if I ended up missing this sub-1:50 goal because I quit on myself.  I reminded myself that I have bigger goals than a sub-1:50, and this is just one more step in the ladder on my way to those goals.  I started repeating the quote: Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.  I was in pain, but I DIDN’T have to suffer – suffering is mental.  Thank goodness this was enough to pull me out of my funk.  I was elated when I finally reached the end of that bridge!!  Now it would be downhill to the finish line, and the finish line was not much more that .10 away!!

Errrrrr….that’s what I thought anyway.  I had a nice little downhill happy rush only to round a corner and realize that I had to not only go UP to the finish, but I had to turn a corner AND go UP an even steeper incline as well!!  I WAS SO MAD because I WAS IN PAIN and race finishes should be DOWNHILL.  But when I rounded that corner, I caught a glimpse of the clock and knew that I still had a shot at my time goal, so I ran as hard as I could for those last yards.

I stopped my Garmin and was so tired and happy to be finished that I didn’t even think to look at it.  As I walked to pick up my medal, I was so overcome with emotion that I started sobbing and I nearly shed a tear…nearly.  I had just gotten my phone out when I got a text from one of my best friends.  The first text was, “Oh my so close!”  My heart sank.  I had been so sure that I made it under 1:50.  THEN the next ones came through…I was still so emotional – I was still sobbing.  I ran that race with my heart and soul and the end was SO HARD.  I sat down on the curb just trying to process the last hour and 50 minutes of my life.  I was overwhemed with emotion.img_7891

After the race, I stumbled around aimlessly, freezing, looking for beer (which was terrible, by the way) until I remembered that I BOUGHT VIP!!!img_7867

It was quite the obstacle course getting over there, but it was sooooo warm and there was food! The food didn’t really matter because I tried to eat and it made me sick to my stomach.  Having a seat at a table in warm space was well worth the extra money I paid.  I waited there, still trying to process my accomplishment, while I waited on Erica and Dara to finish.

I realized later that the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were performing at the finish line.  In my state of extreme pain, I developed tunnel vision for the finish line and had NO idea they were there!

Here I sit, one day later, so proud of my performance.  I think I finally found that sweet spot of pushing just hard enough to finish my best.  I have some pretty lofty goals, and meeting those goals will require me managing the pain of races and I think I did that pretty well, too.  For the first time EVER, I am satisfied….for now 🙂

The Never-Ending Ankle Saga

Sometimes I feel like my ankle injury and recovery has more installments than the Star Wars Saga.  If not for the injury, though, WHAT would I blog about?!?

Gut Check

Last week was tough.  I didn’t recover as quickly as I had planned from last Sunday’s half marathon.  I’m not sure what I expected, but I know that I didn’t expect my ankle to take almost the entirety of a week to settle down.  Sometimes I think I live with my head in the clouds.  Or the sand.  But most likely clouds because I generally have a “glass is half-full” mentality.  Sometimes this leads to my discouragement because always focusing on the positives kind-of pulls me away from the reality of the situation.  The reality of this situation is that, as much as it pains me to admit it, I still have a loooooooong way to go to be fully recovered.

Had I realized that Plano would be this hard on me, I would have scrapped the race.  I wanted St. Louis to be the stronger of my 2 half marathons this Fall and I’m pretty sure that I killed that chance last Sunday.  I spent a lot of time last week fretting and worrying about how I will get myself ready for St. Louis, how I can race it semi-competitively and manage avoid another setback like the one I experienced this past week.  After running a mere 2 easy miles yesterday, I know I was right to be concerned.  Then my good friend, Jenn, sent me the race elevation….

All I know is.... #aintTexas
All I know is…. #aintTexas

Race elevation actually did cross my mind yesterday.  I didn’t look it up because I know I can’t train for hills right now, and ignorance is bliss, right?  Thanks, Jenn, for covering me on this one…..

Step Aside, Ego

Let’s face it.  Every time I get myself into this kind of trouble, my ego has had A LOT to do with it.  OK….maybe my ego has had EVERYTHING to do with it.  My ego wants me to go run St. Louis as hard and fast as I possibly can (which, at this point couldn’t be either hard or fast).  After Dallas last year, I swore to myself that I would keep that ego in check.  Yet, I find myself at a similar crossroads again.  Running (and life) is a series of trade-offs in which you balance the risk with the reward.  Of course, when I signed up for this race I fully expected to be healthy and strong, but I’m not right now.  And the ONLY reason I signed up for THIS race was because a group of my running friends from all over the country (and Canada – can’t forget that Canadian!) would be there.  I need to stay focused on the reason I decided to go to St. Louis…..friends! Last night, while I was bellyaching to my friend Jenn, she suggested I run the race “REALLLLY easy” and enjoy the course (and bands) with her.

I’m most likely going to take the reward of running the race easy with Jenn instead of the risky choice of actually racing the race.  (Oh, running, how you humble me….over and over and over again.)  I’m actually really happy with this decision at this point – I am looking forward to running for the fun of it and enjoying the bands along the course.  The best part will be running with my Sole Sister!  Plus this decision relieves me of some anxiety – mainly how do I get myself ready to really compete in less than 18 days when I’m less able than I was before Plano.  I do have races on the horizon that I want to run as hard and as fast as I possibly can – Dallas Marathon, mainly, because I do have something to prove to myself on December 13.  If I can rehab myself and come back strong for Dallas, all this mess during these Fall races will have been totally worth it!

My current mantra:  I am more than my performance as a runner.

Cinnamon & Sophie

Alli finally settled on a name for the “store-bought cat” (as Bobby likes to call it): Cinnamon.  Cinnamon is a much better choice (IMO) than the others that were tossed out there: Meowington and Kitty Cent to name a couple.  Cinnamon made himself at home from the moment we brought him through the door.  He sleeps right next to me, often under the covers…..just like a dog! LOL (Sophie IS NOT going to like this when she comes out of that crate.)IMG_5579

Sophie has been crated for 2 weeks now and she is starting to make progress daily.  The first week was touch and go, and I began to wonder if she would ever get any mobility back in her legs.  Thank goodness I was wrong in that assumption.  She is still weak and wobbly, but is so much stronger and steadier on her feet than she was even 3 days ago.

Cinnamon LOVES to play with Sophie when I have her out of the crate sitting with me in the chair.  The cat is relentless.  Sometimes we have to lock him in a room just so Sophie can have some peace and quiet! IMG_5539

 

AND…..it’s National Coffee Day!!! For me, however, EVERY day is National Coffee Day 🙂

Happy Tuesday!

Jen

 

Skyline Half: Race Goals and Confessions

My first race of the year is coming up this Sunday.  It will also be my first race since my marathon and the loooooooong recovery from injury.  To say that I am excited would be a gross understatement.  (I’m skydiving for the first time on Saturday, and I think I’m almost more excited about this race.)  To be honest, I really didn’t believe I would ever recover from that ITB injury and thought that even if I did, I wouldn’t be running any races.  I tried to quiet that negative voice during my rehab and recovery, but it was very, very difficult not to listen to it.  And that makes the fact that I’m even able to attempt this race all the more sweet.  It’s ironic (to me, at least), that this is the first running of the Skyline Half Marathon and this is my first race since of the year/since injury.  For me it is symbolic of my “rebirth” and return to running.  I’m not the same runner that ran the Dallas Marathon in December.  I *think* I’m wiser and more mature, but that could just be my partner.

So this race that is coming up on Sunday…..

When my partner and I started running together in March, he felt that I could be ready to run this distance (6 weeks…..that was all the time we had to train), BUT as a training run.  Of course, at the time, I was like – heck yes I can do it as a training run!  But Crazy Jen rears her head more often than I would like to admit.  I have been in a battle with Crazy Jen over how to run this race.  Of course, I REALLY want to go out there and run a 2:10-2:15 (actually would prefer a sub 2, but I know that isn’t possible right now), which would be in line with my last half marathon.  My partner thinks that 2:20-2:30 is more appropriate and a time that we can run without causing injury.  EGO.  KILL.  I’ve NEVER run a half marathon slower than 2:17 and those times are messing with my brain.

The last couple of days I have been trying to focus on some things that will hopefully keep me grounded during the race. (Plus, he may tie a rope around my waist to hold me back.)

  • The longest I’ve run since my injury is 10.5 miles.  While this is a sufficient distance to run prior to most half marathons, I feel a bit under trained just because I know I haven’t fully built my base yet.  Keeping this in the front of my mind is helping me stay focused on the fact that this is a  “training” race and should be run accordingly.
  • This is a marathon….not a sprint.  OK, THIS isn’t a marathon, but my training is.  I need to keep my focus on continuing to build my base slowly and steadily and not allow myself to get caught up in a mindset that will usher me right into another injury.  Thankfully, I have a partner that doesn’t mind telling me NO when what I want to do is bad for me, or I probably would already be injured again.
  • I tweaked my hamstring yesterday.  So this is a new development, but possibly one that will help me stay focused on an appropriate, steady pace come race day.  (OK, I’m just going to be honest….I would run lights out if my partner wasn’t pacing me.)  I was helping corner a kid who was attempting to run away and I took off in a little sprint.  Thankfully it only hurts when I foam roll and felt OK during this morning’s run.
  • My hips are off, just a little.  I haven’t been to my myofascial guy in well over a month.  This is a good thing, because I haven’t really needed to go, but I can tell my hips need some TLC.  Honestly, I haven’t been doing the stack exercise he gave me on a regular basis, so it is my fault.  They aren’t off much, though, and I don’t expect it to cause any problems during or after the race.  And the good news is that I have an appointment with him next Wednesday!

Here are my goals for this race:

  • Finish strong.
  • Avoid injury.
  • Focus more on feel than on time.  (I can’t express enough how painful it is to write that, but it is necessary.)
  • Enjoy every minute!

They aren’t the most glamorous goals, but appropriate for this race, I think.

This morning we ran an easy 5k and I was blessed with this beautiful view as I pulled back into my driveway. another sunrise

Have I ever told you how much I LOVE the sunrise??

Happy Thursday, all!

Mid-life crisis or total loss of mind?

OK, I’ll admit that most people think I lost my mind a LONG time ago…..and they are most likely correct.

In case there was any doubt left, yesterday, I did this:skydive

I have wanted to go skydiving since I was 16 years old.  My cousin, Mark, used to skydive all the time when he was younger and I always thought it sounded like such fun.  I’ve watched my niece, Laura, and my daughter, Taylor, go skydiving yet I never had the courage to actually do it for myself.  Last Fall, my friend Corky and I started discussing how fun it would be to go skydiving and that is how this trip was born.  We decided to wait until the weather was nicer and have been trying to coordinate our schedules since March!  My kids think I’m going through a mid-life crisis but I don’t really think that at all.  There just comes a point in your life where you want to start doing the things you’ve always wanted to do…..so I’ve decided to do just that!

There is one thing that gives me pause……I’m running a half marathon on Sunday!  Clearly I did not think this timeline through, and am hoping and praying I don’t break a leg or sprain an ankle!

This will be my first race of the year (and since my marathon and ITB injury) and the longest distance I’ve covered since the injury.  I have had a lot of anxiety about this race.  I wonder if I am completely ready and the reality is probably not.  But, I am *trying* to approach it as a training run, even though I have some time goals in the back of my mind.  I know, it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.  Stay tuned to see if I am able to execute this plan…..

Until then, Alli has the night off from volleyball (YAY!) and our softball game has been cancelled, so I might actually get something done around the house!  I am sooooo ready for some down time!  Summer can’t come soon enough!

Happy Tuesday, all!

Jen

The good kind of exhausted

It’s no secret that my life is like a 3-ring circus, and most of the rings are of my own doing.  If only I had Hermione’s time-turner, I would be able to stay on top of everything!!  The past few days have gone by in a whirl wind!  I wish I could say my toilets are clean and all the clothes are put away, but (sigh) I cannot.  However, I logged some nice miles over the weekend and spent the rest of it watching Alli’s 10-year-old team dominate the 11s, so the toilets can wait!

First, I’ll get to the running updates:

Thursday evening, we ran hill repeats again.  They weren’t as much fun this time, because my partner had me run them at easy effort on the first 4 repeats.  (I was NOT happy about that, but he didn’t seem to care one bit in the least.)  The last 2 repeats were shorter, but he instructed me to give a hard effort on them.  I clocked a pace that I didn’t even know was possible for me.  OK….I’m not stupid…I know there is NO way I could sustain that pace for any distance at all, but it was a really exciting payoff to be able to see it….attached to ME!  The weirdest thing is that I didn’t go through any stiffness or soreness from this workout.  I’m still not quite sure what to think about that.  When I got home and showered, did some yoga, foam rolled and put on my new Zensah recovery socks.  OH.  MY.  GOSH!  I love them!!  They are amazing and felt sooooo good!zensah

Saturday morning’s long run was to be 10.5 miles, at a god-awfully slow pace.  However, I am coming to understand and appreciate what SLOW runs do for your body, so even tho my partner couldn’t make it for that run I knew I had to maintain the pace.  I kept the pace pretty well through mile 5 with not much fluctuation (SO NOT Jen).  Around mile 6 (when Jen got the run-high), pacing became painfully difficult.  I looked down more times than I could count and found myself close to 1:00 faster than my prescribed pace, but, contrary to my normal response (run the faster pace and just get a little faster), I managed to slow myself and get back into the zone.  This is quite a noteworthy accomplishment and I still don’t know what it means or how I was able to accomplish this on my own.

There really is no better feeling that greeting the sun when out on an early morning run.
There really is no better feeling than greeting the sun when out on an early morning run.
There really are few things more beautiful (to a Texan) than a field of bluebonnets.
There really are few things more beautiful (to a Texan) than a field of bluebonnets.

Around the time that I started having pacing issues, I also had some minor ITB issues.  I tried not to panic.  I stopped and stretched and continued on the way.  I wrestled with the decision to scrap the run and take a shortcut back, but I decided to continue on.  That was probably Crazy Jen rearing her head, but I can’t keep her locked away ALL the time.  I may be rushing recovery by having entered  a half marathon on 5/3, but logging the miles for that race training run was in the back of my mind.  Throughout the day, I felt that ITB tightness, but stretched as much as was possible (which wasn’t much since I was now camped out at the Dallas Convention Center).  The good news is that it now feels great.  I’m hoping and praying that it is all related to increase in distance from the more focused training I’ve been doing the last 6 weeks.  For now, I’m taking the Scarlett O’Hara approach and have decided I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

After the Saturday long run, I came home and did some recovery yoga and foam rolling.  Then Alli and I packed, frantically, and were off to Dallas for a tournament a the convention center.  Alli’s team played in the Mizuno Lone Star Classic, one of the National Qualifiers for USA Volleyball.  This qualifier is the largest in the nation (fitting, since everything is bigger in Texas) and is divided into 2 weekends…each one with over 100 courts.  The teams are seeded, then divided into pools of 4 teams (sometimes 3 teams due to numbers).  There is an AM wave and a PM wave each day during pool play, then brackets are played out on Sunday.  Most divisions are giving out bids for the Girls’ Junior National Championships, so there are 2 days of pool play for every age group except 11s.  And since Alli’s team is a true 10s team, we were playing in the non-bid 11s division, which meant we only played Saturday and Sunday.

We started our pool on Saturday with our referee duties and I gave our scorekeeper the match off and kept score for her.  Mainly because it would make the match go faster, but I also really enjoy keeping score.  I was much more comfortable keeping score here, rather than Friday night when I kept the books for softball.  (I’m too ADHD to keep up with the base runners!)

The pencils were old and terrible.  HOW am I supposed to make it perfect if I can't erase? #scorekeepingnerd
The pencils were old and terrible. HOW am I supposed to make it perfect if I can’t erase? #scorekeepingnerd

Then, it was time for our girls to get to work.  We were in a 3-team pool, and HAD to win both of our games in order to keep our hopes for Gold bracket alive.  The first set was sloppy, but the girls pulled it together and came out on top in the end….29-27.  The next set was a beating and we won 25-6.  We should have won both sets 25-6, but a win is a win.  Next up was an Oklahoma team.  They stomped us in the first set 14-25, but we answered in set 2 for a 25-14 win, finally pulling it out in the tiebreaker 15-12.  These wins put us first in our pool and guaranteed us the right to play for gold on Sunday morning.  However, we had a crossover match later that evening to determine pool seeding for those pools.  AGAIN, playing an Arkansas team, we lost the first set 22-25.  And AGAIN, we battled second set to force a tiebreaker, which we won 15-7.  (WHY can’t they just save my heart and take care of business in 2? LOL)

Luckily, a couple of moms and I got away for drinks in between games Saturday evening.  Made that last game a lot less stressful! LOL
Luckily, a couple of moms and I got away for drinks in between games Saturday evening. Made that last game a lot less stressful! LOL

We were back on the court early Sunday to ref, then play our last 2 pool games.   Just like Saturday, we were in a MUST WIN situation.  We had to win both of our pool games to make it to the 8 team gold bracket.  We took care of business 25-15, 25-5 in the first match.  The second match was closer, but we still managed to close it out in 2 games: 25-22, 25-23.  Making it to the gold bracket meant that the lowest we could finish would be 5th of 44 teams.  Sadly, the first team we were to face would be a team that knocked us out at a tournament a few weeks ago, effectively handing us 5th place in that tournament as well.  We played on our heels the entire first set, which ended terribly 8-25.  The girls came ready for battle during the second set, but we made too many unforced errors and ended the game a little short with 19-25.  Our girls were the only 10s team in this 11s division and ended up 5th.  There is NO way we could walk away with our heads down!!

Our girls are so much fun.  I tried to get video of them playing leap frog during the opposing team's warm-ups.  I mean, they ARE Frogs!!
Our girls are so much fun. I tried to get video of them playing leap-frog during the opposing team’s warm-ups but failed. One parent made a snide comment about the goofing off, but what does she know? They ARE Frogs!! (And they are TEN year olds!)

Normal tournaments are exhausting, but qualifiers are exhausting x 10.  We walked out of the convention center at 9:30 Saturday evening and had to be back on the court, ready at 7:30 AM.  I had reserved a room at the Omni, because it is connected to the Convention Center and for too many good reasons to list.  When we got back to the hotel, the wait to eat at the hotel buffet was 1 1/2 hours.  I knew there was NO way we could do that, so, much to Alli’s disappointment, she had to raid her Sunday snack bag.  I assured her we would find something healthy to eat at the concession stands on Sunday….she was SO worried about her healthy snacks!!  (WHY???  I had already successfully bribed motivated her to get her serves in with the promise of a smoothie!)  Since the hotel buffet had been such a fiasco on Saturday evening, I decided to order room service for breakfast so that we wouldn’t be stuck in that same situation again Sunday morning.  She was SO excited when it arrived!  Doesn’t take much to excite a 10-year-old!

Alli had the eggs and bacon.  I ate the English Muffin and took a few home fries off her hands ;)
Alli had the eggs and bacon. I ate the English Muffin and took a few home fries off her hands 😉

The Omni did a great thing for the Lone Star guests and set up a room in which we could check our luggage until we were finished in the convention center.  It saved me a big hassle as my car was in the valet.  After we claimed our luggage and finally got our car out of the valet, we were on our way home.  And in less than 15 minutes, Alli had settled in for a nice, long, well-deserved nap.

Yes, I took this while driving, BUT traffic was stopped!
Yes, I took this while driving, BUT traffic was stopped!

Happy Marathon Monday!!  I’m cheering on all the runners!

Jen