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


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 🙂

Endless Summer….NOT

Well, here I am, on my LAST day of summer vacation – I must return to work on Monday. <insert sobs here>  Honestly, the summer has flown by and I don’t really have much to show for it.

Ending the volleyball season with a bang 

The first part of the summer was spent shuttling Alli back and forth to practices as her team made final preparations for Nationals.  The last week of June, we all made our way to Indy for our last tournament as 11 year olds, hoping to bring home the gold!!

We were to start play on Tuesday, June 28 but our coach flew in 2 days early (on Sunday) to sight-see and get the team checked in.  When he arrived, however, he started feeling badly – so badly that he went to the ER.  He ended up having an emergency appendectomy on Sunday evening!

Of course, the girls were beside themselves with worry.  They LOVE Josh and wanted him to be OK.  And they depend on him during games to keep them on track and motivated.  Everyone was nervous because we just didn’t know what to expect or how the girls would perform without him on the sideline as he was not cleared to come to the gym on Tuesday.

Our assistant, Courtney (who is a very good, knowledgeable coach on her own), stepped up and led the girls to a 2-1 finish in our first round of games.  The one loss of the day actually put us in a better position going into Wednesday – we were in a pool with much easier teams AND going 3-0 would guarantee us no less than 3rd place.  Josh was back on Wednesday, albeit subdued, and the girls took care of business by beating everyone in 2 sets.

Thursday was bracket day….we were in the gold bracket and only needed to win one game to make it to the finals.  We knew that any team we faced at this point would be tough, but any team we faced could be beaten as well.  The girls came out swinging – I have never seen them play so well and with so much intensity and heart.  The team we were against was a very talented team that received serve very well – a sound passing team is always harder to get out of system.  We lost the first set with a close score of 24-26 but rallied tough and kept them on their heels in set 2 for a 25-17 win which forced a tiebreaker set.  Set 3 looked to be all in our favor until the momentum changed and we ended up with a heartbreaking 13-15 loss.  The fact that the girls were to get a 3rd place medal wasn’t much consolation at this point.  They fought with everything they had but just came up short.  The other team played fearlessly and we ended up playing it too safe after the momentum changed.  It was a hard pill to swallow.  They all wanted to play on the championship court and they all wanted that GOLD medal!  True competitors, through and through!

Parents had a hard time accepting the loss as well.  We all knew that our girls had the ability to win – it just didn’t happen that game.  And the reality was that any of the final four teams could have beaten any of the other final four teams….depending on each game.  The fact that we placed 3rd in the country isn’t anything to be ashamed of.  So many teams never make it to Nationals.  So many teams that make it to Nationals never even medal.  This was an amazing experience and quite an accomplishment for our girls!

I have to say, I have NEVER been more proud of Alli.  She is a talented setter, but has struggled with defense (LONG STORY which I will not bore you with here).  She has blossomed and improved beyond my wildest dreams under Josh & Courtney’s coaching this year.  Her defense at Nationals was RED HOT!  I have NEVER seen her play so well and so consistently.  So proud!!img_9968



Summer FINALLY started

I counted the end of volleyball as my official start of summer.  The season was so exhausting – club volleyball at any level is quite a commitment, but being on a national team that has a post-season requires even more.  I think it was less the volleyball and more the driving one-hour each way to practice that wore me and Alli completely out!  We were ready for a break, for sure.  The only drawback of the end of volleyball was that I had to intentionally make time to go swim, as I had been using Alli’s practice time to do those workouts.

It still seems as if I have been busy and had no time to check anything off the summer project lists, but I have NO idea what I have been doing.  I have enjoyed having the ability to workout at whatever time I chose during my day.  I have been getting my workouts done…..beyond that?  Not much.  LOL

Always up for a new challenge

I have started experimenting with meal prep.  Marathon training officially starts Monday, after I complete my first sprint triathlon!  I MUST get better at what I eat for lunches at work.  I never eat poorly, but I want to be more prepared and have more nutritious food handy.  I have a good handle on my training  and I know that Brent will have me as fit as I can possibly be to be ready for these upcoming races.  At this point, I feel that getting myself to the next level of nutrition will be the best way to enhance my training and performance.  I love how my journey is always evolving and presenting new challenges to overcome!

When I first started this journey 5 years ago, I started by counting calories.  I would drink half a soda instead of a whole, to cut calories.  Then I realized I didn’t like sodas anymore and cut them out all together.  The next things that I cut were chips and fried foods.  Along the way, I began to look at food differently – as fuel for my body instead of just calories to be counted.  That’s when I began to try to pay more attention to eating food that would nourish my body instead of eating something that was nutritionally void.  And now, I am moving forward again.  I am trying to focus on getting a better balance of nutrients and macros (I’ve been pretty heavy on the carbs! LOL) because I feel that will give me biggest advantage for  performance.

I’m also excited to have been invited to a Wildtree meal prep party.  This will help me in having more nutritious family meals ready to cook and will hopefully help alleviate some of the stress that comes with the full-blown schedule.  Anything I can do to make sure that I am not tempted to take short cuts will pay off in the long run.

And now, I must go and do my last bike workout before the triathlon on Sunday!

Happy Friday!!


Post-Thanksgiving/Land of Thai Recovery

Believe it or not, I do actually have a life outside of running, and I do discuss non-running things from time to time.

Return to Reality is Tough

really needed Thanksgiving Break, because I was terribly exhausted.  I turned off my 4:45 AM alarm for the entire week and slept until 6:00-6:30 most days.  I know that sounds early to regular people, but by the end of the week, I felt like a slug!

I didn’t get much accomplished during Thanksgiving break, but my body and mind relished the much-needed break.  I was able to run whenever my heart desired.  I even had time to add a little weight training to my routine (thanks to my hubby for getting the equipment set up!).

Probably the most fun was getting my new tattoo!IMG_6173

I think everyone can relate when I say that I was NOT ready to go back to work/reality/hectic schedule on Monday morning.  I was SO unprepared that I got myself ready Monday morning, gathered my things, hopped into my car and headed out to stop at my mom’s house to pick up Alli for school.  (Alli spends the night with my mom about half the time.  I let her, because I know how much it means both of them.  Plus, I want her to spend as much time with my mom as she wants because, well, my mom is almost 82 years old!)  Long story short…..I forgot that Alli was at HOME!  I had to rush back home, wake her up and tell her to hurry and get ready!  Alli and Memo have both enjoyed my mix-up far too much this week!!

Journey Home from the Land of Thai

Taylor started making her way home from Thailand on Sunday.  It was actually Monday in Thailand, but that area of the world is a half-day ahead of Texas folk.  The time difference kept me utterly confused.

There are no direct flights from Thailand to DFW, so Taylor’s route back was Bangkok to Tokyo.  Switch AIRPORTS in Tokyo, then fly to Chicago, then DFW.

The trip to Thailand was such a breeze, all of us should have expected something to happen.  All seemed well, until Taylor arrived in Tokyo.  She had a several-hour layover, during which required the airport switch, so I wasn’t expecting to hear from her often. When she actually called me, I knew something was off.  I answered the phone to Taylor saying, “Mom, I have a little ‘situation’, but don’t worry….it’s all handled.”  Then Taylor explained that she had somehow LOST her passport.  She told me that she had already called the Embassy and that they would issue an emergency passport, but it would require actually going to the Embassy.  This was going to cause her to miss her connecting flight back to the states.  Since she is the cheapest, most frugal person alive, she bought the cheapest tickets she could find so this mishap caused her to spend more money as her flight was not refundable nor could it be changed.

Ultimately, she did get her emergency passport and after shelling out quite a bit of money on the return flight home, this little “hiccup” delayed her return by about 24 hours.  I was uneasy about the passport situation, but not worried – as much as Taylor has travelled, I rarely “worry”.  That is, until Taylor actually got on the flight from Tokyo to Shanghai.  As the flight was boarding, she messaged me to tell me it was late (so much so that she was afraid it might be cancelled).  I used a flight tracking app, but the flight never took off (on the app anyway).  Rationally, I knew that if the flight was still on the ground, she would have let me know.  As the time passed, I became more and more anxious, so I turned to a dear ref friend for help.  My friend, Price, works at DFW, so I asked him to check his sources for the flight.  I was so relieved when he told me it was actually in the air with an hour of flight time left!  He even tracked it until landing and let me know when the plane was reported on the ground.

The plane landed around 10:30 PM Texas time on Monday evening.  I finally went to bed, but didn’t sleep much because I woke up to check my phone so often.  I didn’t hear from Taylor all night.  For the first time, I actually became worried!  Rationally, I knew that things were probably OK.  I knew her iMessage wasn’t working and that if she couldn’t find free Wi-Fi, that she wouldn’t pay for wireless access.  I was so relieved and surprised to hear from her around 6 AM Tuesday morning – she was on the flight HOME and she had sprung for Wi-Fi!  She FINALLY landed in Dallas just before 6 PM.  When she made contact on the flight home, I didn’t think I could be any more relieved.  Actually, I was MUCH more relieved when I knew that she was safely back on Texas soil!

In all seriousness, Taylor is amazing.  She is so brave to travel alone, and she keeps such a cool head when scary situations arise.  I am so proud of her, scatterbrain and all!

My niece, Laura, with Taylor in beautiful Thailand
My niece, Laura, with Taylor in beautiful Thailand

UPDATE:  Taylor came home before I actually posted this and shared her Tokyo experience.  She said outside the airport NO ONE speaks English and nothing is in English.  The airport was helpful in giving her a map (in English) and which busses/trains to take, but she couldn’t figure it out because everything outside the airport was in Japanese!  She found a Starbucks, then happened upon a British guy who was kind enough to walk her to the Embassy.  After the Embassy, on her way to find her hotel, she realized that she didn’t have her suitcase and that she had left it in Starbucks!  So she had to backtrack and was lucky enough to find the Starbucks (for the second time).  I am so thankful that she was able to keep her wits about her and especially thankful for the Brit who helped her find the Embassy, but I am most thankful that she is HOME!

I can’t help but talk about running, or things related to running

About 2 weeks ago, the cat caused a dish to break in the kitchen.  I “thought” I swept up all the pieces of glass, but the very next morning I stepped on a little sliver.  Of course, I was running on NO coffee at that point, so my brain was a little foggy.  In my lack-of-coffee-induced-brain-fog, I quickly pulled it out with my fingernails.  Errrrr, I pulled half of it out.  Glass.  Stuck in my foot.  During marathon training.  After those initial thoughts faded, I decided that the location would be a the best case scenario.  It was just at the base of my 4th toe.  Five minutes after all this happened, I completely forgot about it.

Fast forward about 10 days after my long run on the treadmill on Sunday….

In the hours after the run, my foot was really sore.  Of course, being a person who NEVER jumps to conclusions (I’m not a hypochondriac runner AT ALL, EVER), I just assumed that my foot was imploding.  Later on that evening, I decided to throw some Kinesio Tape on it, to see if I could bring some relief to the area.  It worked for a couple of days, then I noticed it again after my track session on Tuesday.  Naturally, this time I began to PANIC.  I seriously thought my foot was collapsing.

Luckily, a cooler head prevailed and I began rubbing around my foot to see if I could figure out exactly where the problem was. That’s when I noticed a bump on my foot.  When I looked at the bump on my foot, it all came flooding back – I HAD GLASS IN MY FOOT!

I did minor surgery on my foot, fished the teeny-tiny piece of glass out and now my foot feels great!

And now, off for shopping, running and cleaning the house!

Happy Saturday, everyone!!


Weighted Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving break couldn’t have come at a better time!!  To say that I’ve been riding the Struggle Bus lately would be an understatement.  Marathon training is nearing its peak which has left me mentally and physically tired.  All.  The.  Time.  Plus, I still have to be an adult (why can’t someone show up to work for me and wash all my clothes?!?).  The weirdest thing: society expects me to continue to act sociable.  (By the way, I haven’t been very sociable.)  Throw my ADHD in there and you have the perfect storm!  Some days I have trouble forming sentences…..seriously!!  As tiring as it all is, I absolutely love (almost) every minute of training!

Training has been going very well.  My fitness has been improving and I might even be getting a tad bit faster!  I really appreciate the guidance that I’m getting from my coach.  And successfully executing workouts that are appropriate for me has substantially raised my confidence level.  I have been battling a little calf issue, but I found an ART guy who is more than happy to inflict unreal amounts of pain on me…..and I can tell a huge improvement after 2 sessions with him!

Even with my recent successes, I still wrestle with doubts.  At this point (I say ‘at this point’ because I still have almost 3 weeks to race day), I am at truly at peace.  (If you have known me for any length of time, you realize how HUGE this is!)  What has changed?  I am finally trusting in my training.  (Hint: trusting your training is much easier to do when someone who is knowledgeable is planning your workouts for you and your training isn’t crap!)  I do have some goals for the race, but I refuse to fret over whether I meet them or not.  I know full well that ANYTHING can happen on race day and I have decided that I will simply do my best to manage the challenges that the race throws at me.  I’m a week away from taper and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a better place, running wise.  Being able to toe the start line, uninjured and strong, is a victory in itself, especially considering all the stupid injuries I have overcome this past year.

Weighted Thanksgiving

My husband is so wonderful.  He has been dedicating so much of his spare time to improvement projects around the house.  In late summer, he completely renovated the kid’s bath and lately he has been transforming his old shop into a workout space/game room for the family.  We are finally to the point that we are putting the finishing touches on the room.  He has filled it with TV/satellite, couches, darts and ping pong.  But he also moved my treadmill out there (NOT an easy task!) and I have my bike trainer out there as well.

To finish out the space, he got me a squat rack and Logan a bench press.  I have wanted to add “real” weights to my strength routine for quite some time, but I honestly couldn’t do the gym.  I am kind-of self-conscious, plus I can’t handle all the guys flexing their muscles in the mirror.  LOL  No worries – I am adding weight into my routine very slowly.  

Of course, Logan is using this as yet another reason to poke fun at his dorky mom, especially because right now I am only using the bar.  I have tried to explain to him that I am less than 3 weeks away from my race and runners can’t just go and max out without a huge injury risk.  I am NOT willing to do ANYTHING that will risk my performance in this race.  I have some things to prove to myself out there.

However, I am so excited to add this to my training….I think it will most definitely help me become a better runner!

“Save the World” Taylor

I laughed last year when I was told that many of Taylor’s high school friends call her “Save the World” Taylor.  The name fits her.  I really had no idea what kind of storm I was releasing upon the world when I was raising her.  She was my first and I was so worried about raising a child that was indifferent to the suffering in our world.  I wanted her to see the person’s heart and soul, not their race, religion, sexual orientation or any other restriction our human brain imposes on others.  I think I succeeded.  🙂  I also wanted her to be independent.  Of course, I never expected that teaching her to be independent would have her already travelling to Guatemala and Thailand by the age of 22!  I admire her fire and drive and fearlessness to follow her passion.  She is amazing.

She is in Thailand right now with my niece, Laura and her boyfriend Michael.  Laura and Michael have been in the region since late August and are scheduled to return next month.  Taylor couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit and I am so happy that she went!  The pictures that Laura has shared are absolutely beautiful!  I am experiencing a bit of jealousy sitting at my computer right now!

Beautiful women, inside and out!
Beautiful women, inside and out!

Happy Tuesday!


Dads are softies and double-digit long runs!

Not having a litter box was fun while it lasted. 

If you read my one post last week (I SWEAR that I’m trying to get back on a regular-posting schedule!), you know that we gave away our guinea pig (which we had owned for only one week) and it was murdered by our dachshund, Sophie, before the new family could pick it up.  This put us on the market for a kitten, which is what Alli really wanted in the beginning.  I think Taylor pushed the guinea pig idea because her one guinea pig died suddenly and not too long after she got it and she was trying to relive her childhood vicariously through Alli! LOL!!

Long story short, Bobby, Alli and I were out running errands on Saturday (I KNOW Bobby planned this), when we somehow ended up at the adoption center and ended up bringing this little tiger home. IMG_5380

This is the strangest cat I’ve ever seen.  First, he gets his claws stuck in everything – even his own fur! LOL  Then he slept with Taylor Saturday night UNDER the covers.  I’ve never seen a cat that would sleep under the covers.  He is a very sweet kitty, though, and loves to be held and petted.  He doesn’t even mind asking when you aren’t taking his hints!  Asking, as in climbing up your leg to get into your arms.  Ouch!  He is still unnamed, but hopefully that will be resolved soon. IMG_5404

The Never-Ending Ankle Recovery Story

Running is still going very well.  I ran another “high mileage” week (high mileage, relative to the proximity to my injury) without many issues.  I did experience some ankle pain after my tempo workout on Thursday.  The workout was at a decent pace, but the time I spent on each tempo was quite a bit longer than in the last couple weeks.  I did my usual recovery routine, focusing on my calves to get them loosened up, but Friday’s easy run didn’t feel that great.  My legs were happy, my lungs were happy, but my ankle was NOT happy…at least for the first half of my hour-long run.  Since I’m hyper-sensitive to any and every ache and pain, I spend Friday evening and most of Saturday fretting over this.  I did no exercise on Saturday, which killed me because I was banking on a nice 20-mile bike ride.

My concern about the tempo aftermath caused me to be nervous about my 11-mile long run on Sunday – so much so that I didn’t sleep well and woke up with my stomach hurting.  Mental Martha strikes again.  I was even nervous about the weather because I dreaded being cold.  It ended up being perfect – sunny and temps in the 60s! (Go ahead and laugh.)  My nerves about all those issues melted away once my feet finally started pounding the pavement.  I ran in my Newton Gravity, to which my calves are finally adjusted, and didn’t experience any issues.  No issues, except when I was on Old Friend (my favorite hill).  My calves got tired and cranky, but after the hill the calf issues worked out soon enough.  The only other problem that I encountered was that I just got tired.  This is my fault, since I didn’t fuel on this workout.  I need to change my mindset….I don’t really consider myself to be in the midst of marathon training because of my up coming half marathons.  But, people, I’m in marathon training!

My gorgeous view on the way on Sunday morning.
My gorgeous view on the way on Sunday morning.
I love running in the country in Texas. Even the fields are breathtaking.
I love running in the country in Texas. Even the fields are breathtaking.

My legs were very tired and a little achy yesterday afternoon, which sounded the alarms in my brain.  I stuck with the recovery plan and wore compressions, stretched, rested with my legs up, Epsom salt bath and lots of foam rolling.  Today the legs are feeling amazing!  My biggest mental challenge this week will be to make it through the taper to my race on Sunday!  🙂

I’m not a camel

Anyone that knows me knows how I LOVE the long runs!  I love the battle; I love the challenge; I love the time out there on the road; I love the feeling after the run is finished.  One thing that I don’t love is carting around my water.  I have typically worn a 4-bottle belt on my waist, but was so heavy at the start that it had become a mental drain (not to mention a physical one).  I have been researching different products to find the best replacement.  I considered CamelBak, but sometimes I like to bring chia water or Accelerade in addition to my water.  I can’t even think about cleaning a CamelBak after carrying chia water in it.  Plus, I wanted the option to carry water plus another type of drink.  My bad-ass ultra runner Twitter friend, Chad, is an ambassador for Orange Mud and I’ve been eyeing his hydration vest for months.  So, I asked him about the pros & cons of the Orange Mud vest versus CamelBak and I was sold!  I received my new vest just in time for my long run and I loved it!  The water sits high enough on my back that I really couldn’t tell I was carrying around 50 oz. of water.  In the beginning, I was concerned that the vest would cause chafing around my armpits, but after the run I could find no signs of chafing from the vest whatsoever!  There is also so much storage that I will have plenty of room to carry my fuel on the long runs, plus my mace…and my phone…and whatever else I decide I can’t live without for 2-3 hours! I am very pleased with this purchase and am so glad that I finally bit the bullet and bought it! IMG_5387

Turns out I’m not the only endurance runner in Fannin County

I got a message this weekend asking me to check out a new running club in the area, Renegade Endurance.  Apparently there are quite a few endurance junkies in the good ‘ole FC that I didn’t even know about!  I was excited to have been referred to this group and joined almost immediately!  However, I’m a little concerned because I’m pretty sure that everyone else are speedsters compared to me! LOL  In any case, I’m ALWAYS happy to connect with runners, especially when they are practically in my own back yard!! So, when you see me posting with the hashtag #areyourenegade you’ll know why!

Happy Monday!!


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!


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!

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!


Christmas came early (twice) and the not-so-great long run.

Friday evening, my little town held its Christmas Parade.  A wee bit early?  Probably, but waiting means that people start leaving town to Christmas shop.  And, believe it or not, the smaller (yes, there are smaller towns) towns in our county hold their parades in the weeks after Thanksgiving, so we wouldn’t want to schedule our parade to compete with theirs.  Apparently there are a lot of people who hit the parade circuit in Fannin County.  Who knew?  A little side note: my town’s population is around 10,000 (which includes 2,000 who are housed in the prison here) and is the county seat.  Last I heard, the county pop was around 30,000.  Small town Texas, America.  Right here.

I must confess I haven’t been to our Christmas parade in years.  Alli had a friend over to spend the night who suggested that we go.  We went into town early to get a parking spot, ate at THE Los Amigos, then headed across the street to secure a viewing spot.  Before the parade started, there was a little band and a choir singing Christmas carols and we even sang along by candlelight.

Alli and her friend, Roxy, protecting their flames from the breeze.
Alli and her friend, Roxy, protecting their flames from the breeze.

Finally the parade began! We were standing near a corner where the parade route made its final turn around the square.  Since I’m new to this blogging thing, I haven’t yet gotten into the mindset that I must have my camera at the ready at all times.  Sadly, I missed a good photo to go with this story.  As the floats crept by one by one, I noticed a person covered in white out of the corner of my eye.  My first thought was (and, I’m NOT making this up), “Why the hell did they let the KKK in this parade??”  This must have been on my mind because recently the KKK held a public rally in an East Texas town.  Seriously, SO sick of people who spread hate, but that is for another post.  As the man in the white robe came closer, I realized it was Jesus – although I’m assuming resurrected Jesus (he was even wearing Reef flip-flops).  Generally speaking, you would expect baby Jesus in the Christmas parade, but hey, this IS Bonham and we do live in the Bible Belt, after all.

Those of you who live in suburbia are really missing out.  In Tiny Town, Texas, you get to see some of the strangest parade entries: GIANT wreckers (WHY??), wooden electric cars named “MaryLou”, miniature horse-drawn carriages and more!  It was a fun evening out, though, and we were so glad that we went!

These miniature horses were sooooo cute!
These miniature horses were sooooo cute!
No Texas parade is complete without a cowboy on a horse.
No Texas parade is complete without a cowboy on a horse. (This one is for Paula, Marci and Jane!)

My church had the most original entry, in my opinion.  Of course, the fact that my sister and cousin were part of it had NOTHING to do with that!  Our church was to hold a “Spirit of Giving” this weekend and our entry was advertising this event.  It was staged like a marching band, except instead of instruments, the members were wheeling shopping carts!  Each shopping cart was decked out with lights.  Our “Drum Major” would whistle and shout instructions and they would wheel around in like they were marching on a field.  It was hilarious and very clever!

My sister and her parade shopping cart.
My sister and her parade shopping cart.

Alli and I volunteered at the Spirit of Giving event that our church held on Saturday.  Anyone was welcome to come and shop and there were no income requirements to be met.  Each man, woman and child who came were given tickets with which they could “purchase” items of their choosing.  All items were one ticket, and some smaller items were combined so that patrons didn’t have to use all their tickets on something small.  We had a “free” clothing room that was shopped first before they moved to the other areas.  There were bikes, coats, household items, food baskets and more.  I worked with my good friend, Andrea, in the picture section.  My reply when she commented about the fact that no one was shopping our booth was, “It’s hard to worry about decorating your walls when you need a coat.” So we made the executive decision to make our section a clearance section, and we started giving away all our items without requiring a ticket. 🙂

Working the event was such a blessing.  I had tears in my eyes more than once.  There were so many walking around with smiles on their faces.  I saw SO many kids from school.  It was great fun to see their reactions because I was obviously out-of-place! In the two hours that I worked, we were able to serve over 300 people.  They were all so appreciative.

Alli with her best friend, Sarah at the check-in point.
Alli with her best friend, Sarah at the check-in point.
Some people waited almost 2 hours to get to come in and shop.
Some people waited almost 2 hours to get to come in and shop.

On Sunday, our church elected our slate of elders for the upcoming term.  (I’m Presbyterian, by the way.)  My son, Logan was elected to serve as youth elder.  The funny thing is, I had NO idea until they called his name in the meeting!  Before names are brought before the congregation, the nominating committee talks to those who have been chosen, to see if they are willing to serve.  This means Logan was asked and said nothing to me about it!.  Typical.

Today, I had scheduled my last long run before taper.  I tried to send out good vibes to the running gods so that this would be the best long run ever, but apparently I failed.  Maybe I should have tried an offering of Clif’s Double Espresso gel? The good news is that there was no calf pain during the run, so fingers crossed in hopes that is healed.  Now for the bad news: my ITB was a little cranky.  And by “little”, I mean it wasn’t as painful as last time, but bothered me enough that Smart Jen overruled Queen of Stupid Sh*t Jen and cut the run short.  (Or maybe it was the promise I made to a friend to cut short if I experienced any problems….who knows?)  The run wasn’t a total loss, however.  I tried some tricks, like stopping and stretching my ITB as well as short walk breaks.  This seemed to keep it manageable during the 5 miles that I was running back to my car.  This gives me hope that I can finish on race day, if it decides to act up.  I may not meet my time goal, but I will just have to deal with that!

And, instead of “Suck It Up, Buttercup”, my new mantra (until the race) is “No Stress”.  I can’t worry about it.  It is what it is and will be what it will be.  I’m just going to try hard not to get in my own way between now and December 14.  And for that, I may need an intervention.


Happy Monday!!