Rochester Race Recap

This past weekend, I traveled to Rochester for a mini-reunion with my Sole Sister Jenn – OH, and to run a little race!  I ran the Rochester Marathon!! 🙂

Back Story

Back in the winter months when I was planning to run the Big Cedar 50 miler this November, my coach advised me to find “a hilly marathon to run in late September/early October” as a warm up to the 50M.  I started looking around and found NOTHING in Texas that fit the requirements.  So I expanded my search to surrounding states and found nothing.  When I started considering farther away states, I had the idea to start looking in states where I had friends.  So I started looking then asked Jenn to send me her race schedule.   Low and behold, she was to run her first full marathon on September 18.  So we started talking about it and she was SO excited, but I cautioned her it was a bit earlier than Brent had suggested so I had to get it cleared through him.  He did and I signed up immediately!  I was so excited to have the opportunity to be there when she crossed the finish line to become a marathoner!!

Fast forward.  Jenn started having pain in her knee…or at least she thought it was her knee.  She ran about 3,000 races before she broke down and consulted medical attention (mind you, she is a MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL).  Diagnosis: stress fracture in her femur.  This meant she wouldn’t be able to run the marathon….or the half-marathon.  I felt SO BADLY that I would be going up there for her to wait around for me to cross the finish line.  On the flip side, she felt SO BADLY that I was coming up to run a race that she could’t run.  So we both felt badly, but there was no way that I would have cancelled!!  She was the ONLY reason I chose that race!!

My own struggle with my psoas and running in the Devil’s Armpit is well documented so I won’t revisit it here.  Suffice to say that I felt unprepared for this race simply because of the Jedi mind tricks the heat played on my brain.

Race week finally arrived and OFF I GO!

This marathon training has seemed so short.  The first half of it was shared with training for my first sprint triathlon at the end of July.  Plus, maybe I’m getting old because time seems to fly these days.  In any case, I didn’t really feel like I trained for a marathon at all! LOL

Friday came and I was ready to go!!  My bag had been packed for days…..well, my race gear at least!  My day didn’t start exactly as I had planned.  I had packed greek yogurt, boiled eggs and some almonds and cheese for the trip AND TSA MADE ME THROW THE GREEK YOGURT AWAY.  I was so mad.  Our security is SERIOUSLY A BIG *&^%(*& JOKE!!!  <insert stress here>  My metabolic efficiency plan is lower carb and currently no grains….try finding anything to fit that description in an airport!  I looked at the yogurt that was available in a couple of places, but it was too high in sugar and carbs so I decided to eat  my eggs and add cheese or almonds.  My fat intake would just have to be a little higher than normal.

This trip seemed to take FOREVER!  I was so ready to see my friend!!  When my plane FINALLY  landed, I was walking to the luggage carousel and I saw the “Ain’t Texas” shirt first before I noticed who was wearing it.  IT WAS JENN!!!!

 

We dropped my bags, picked up our packets, went grocery shopping for my special diet and for the weekend then headed off to Joshua’s football game.  (Football in New York is WAY different than Texas, btw!)  It was a crazy busy afternoon!

Jenn had this box waiting for me!! She is so thoughtful.
Jenn had this box waiting for me!! She is so thoughtful.
Isn't it perfect?!?
Isn’t it perfect?!?
This cupcake was called Gluttony and I left it in her fridge
This cupcake was called Gluttony and I left it in her fridge <whaaaa>

Saturday we didn’t have set in stone plans.  We slept in (until 7 AM!) and drank coffee for quite some time then decided to head out for my 2-mile run before the rains came.  Jenn rode her bike alongside me and we talked and chatted the whole way.  The run felt SO GOOD.  When we got back home, her husband, John, was finishing up breakfast.  Bless their hearts for being so accommodating with my pre-race food binge/special diet.  I say this because I had to eat SO MUCH FOOD (and it was so specific)! LOL  My ME specialist with whom I am working sent me a very detailed plan.  I followed it almost to the letter (I had to make some modifications for lunch.)  We didn’t have breakfast until 10AM, so with the late start I had even less time between meals to get all this food down.  I felt as if I needed to be rolled away from the breakfast table – I was so full!

Jenn wanted to take me around Rochester, so I made my between-breakfast-and-lunch-smoothie and we headed out.  Our first stop was Genesee Brewery, which is located right on the Genesee River.  I WAS STILL SO FULL – by now it was after Noon and I had downed my smoothie in the car.  I couldn’t drink much, so we decided to get a flight and share.  (The beer here was the best of the day overall, by the way!)  I SWEAR I only sipped!!

The cider was for Jenn. I personally don't consider it worthy of drinking.
The cider was for Jenn. I personally don’t consider it worthy of drinking.
Genesee River (lower falls, I think) right next to Genesee Brewery
Genesee River (lower falls, I think) right next to Genesee Brewery

Our next stop was Rochester Brewery.  The beer here was OK, but they had a scotch ale that tickled my taste buds, so it was my favorite beer of the day.  img_1453

See that liquid goodness at the end?? That's the scotch ale
See that liquid goodness at the end?? That’s the scotch ale

For lunch, we went to an apparently famous BBQ restaurant – Dinosaur Bar B Que.  It was delicious, but different than Texas BBQ.  Of course, I was still stuffed from breakfast and smoothie but that didn’t stop me from stuffing my face…again!

MORE food!
MORE food!

img_1460

After we ate, we made our way home for a quiet pre-race evening and late dinner.

GO time!

I slept like a baby.  It seemed like I had just closed my eyes and my alarm was already going off!!  I fixed my race-day breakfast, got all my gear together and we were headed to the start line!  We got there in plenty of time – Jenn and I are of the same mindset that you must get there early.  I like to get there early to get myself centered before the race (and use the potties 200 times), but I think for her it is more about parking.

Joshua's sign gained A LOT of attention. It was so clever!!
Joshua’s sign gained A LOT of attention. It was so clever!!

We made our way to the start and lined up.  I never had pre-race jitters except for the couple of minutes when the race countdown had begun.  The gun went off and the course immediately turned into a steep downhill.  I tried to hold back for a bit but decided just to go with it and let gravity take over.  So my nutrition change called for making UCAN gel.  (Surprisingly, when you add Base salts and use coconut water, it doesn’t taste half bad!)  I had 2 containers of UCAN gel in my belt and each of them had 2 servings of UCAN.  I really only needed three, but I like to be prepared.  I ALWAYS carry extra.  I also had a GU, in case of emergency.  Boy Scout status here.  Running down the hill, I felt those gel containers bouncing around and as I reached back to steady them, ONE FELL OUT.  Either I am as mentally strong as Fort Knox, or things like this have happened too often to count because I didn’t even really panic.  (I think we ALL know which…) Seriously, though, what was I going to do….go back and attempt to get it and get trampled?!?  NO.  I just needed to adjust my strategy.  I decided to spread out my servings of UCAN over a bit longer period of time, then use my GU between mile 20-22.  And so the first mile came in at 7:59. (I SWEAR IT WAS GRAVITY!)

I settled into a fairly steady pace soon after my plunge from Mt. Everest and averaged between 8:30-9:20 until the halfway mark.  All of this time, I had stayed in zone 2 heart rate, which was NOT the plan.  The plan was to run 3-5 in zone 2, kick it up into zone 3 then give it everything at mile 20.  Riiiiiiight.  There were hills.  LOTS OF HILLS.  Downhills, too, which were just as bad because they were generally steep and I could tell my quads would pay for those soon.  By mile 8, I could tell that the ups and downs were already taking a toll.  I was on pace to run around 2:00 for the first half and I knew that my legs wouldn’t be able to keep up.  I knew that I wasn’t going to hit 4:00.  I HAD to reconcile this and not let it affect me mentally.  I made a decision, though, not to slow down.  What would that accomplish??  I knew I was going to slow down at some point and wanted to cover as much ground as I could before that happened.  Despite the killer hills; despite shredding my quads on the downhills; despite my fueling issue; despite the rising temps; I still ran the first half in 1:55.

As the second loop started, I could tell that I was slowing down.  Now came the ever-burning question:  when to use the last half of the fuel I had left?  I had taken the first serving at mile 8, which was around the 1:10 mark.  I decided to try to wait until 16, even if it was a bit past 2:20 (which I knew it would be! LOL).  I was expecting an aid station at 16, but in the second half there was an aid station at 14.5 and not again until 17.  So I took the UCAN at 17.  This made me a little behind my re-fuel.  I was beginning to fatigue and to add insult to injury, I had to stop for the bathroom, which ticked me off.  I NEVER have to stop during races.  Bleh.  I could tell by mile 19 that my energy level was decent and had been steadied by the UCAN, but remember wondering if my legs would be able to take me another 7 miles.  My quads were the problem and so fatigued from the downhills.  I ended up taking the emergency GU at mile 21, just to make sure I kept my energy levels up for those last 5 miles.  I had already slowed down – I was running between 10:00-10:30 min miles for the most part and I couldn’t afford to lose anymore time by losing more energy.  All this time, I was STILL in zone 2.  That seriously bothered me, but my legs didn’t have it in them to run fast enough to get my heart rate up.  I finally crossed the finish line at 4:10:43, a PR by about 4 min 30 sec – yes, a PR was great but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t upset about not being able to run this race better.

As soon as I got my medal, I was nearly tackled by Jenn!  I forgot to mention that Jenn, after the femur fracture, dropped back to the half and had decided to walk it.  On Saturday, she said she might run the last 3 miles if she wasn’t feeling any pain.  She casually told me that SHE RAN THE ENTIRE RACE.  Oh Jenn.  What am I to do with her?!?  I am so proud of her tenacity and how she refuses to never give up!!  She also said that she thought I might have placed in my age group, because (and I quote), “I was looking at people’s faces and judging their age and everyone was younger than you.” Because you can ALWAYS determine someone’s age just by looking!  LOL

How can you be disappointed when you are almost tackled at the finish AND she tells you she ran the entire half?!?
How can you be disappointed when you are almost tackled at the finish AND she tells you she ran the entire half?!?
Joshua holding the signs Jenn made for me!
Joshua holding the signs Jenn made for me!

We made our way to the results tent and I had snagged 2nd place in my age group!  That was definitely icing on the cake!  I laid down on a bench while Jenn went to claim her special medal for finishing the Four Seasons Challenge, then we went out to claim my Major Award!

Survived is a good way to put it. THE HILLS.
Survived is a good way to put it. THE HILLS.
img_1473
My Major Award!!

Food binge!

OK, I really didn’t food binge.  LOL  But I did eat a Garbage Plate.  Apparently it is a concoction that is unique to Rochester.  Jenn and I shared one because I knew that I would NEVER be able to eat a whole one.  It had macaroni salad, home fries and hamburger patties on top.  So odd! LOL  It wasn’t bad.  Personally, I would have preferred mac’n’cheese but Jenn claimed that NY’ers love their macaroni salad!  LOLimg_1475

We ended up getting Panera for dinner, which made me happy :), and settled in to watch football before it was time to head to bed.

I want to take this time to say HOW MUCH that I enjoyed spending the weekend with Jenn and her family.  She told me before I came how much I would love her husband and her boys and she was so right!!

Post-race demons and coming to acceptance

I’m not going to lie.  I was not happy that I didn’t run a sub-4 marathon.  In my mind, getting to that point was going to be validation that I was on-track for Houston and my BQ attempt.  I tried to focus on the positives.  I tried to reason with myself with all the reasons that I should be proud of 4:10, but none of it worked.  When my coach asked me what my feelings were about the race (I have a feeling that he already knew), he told me to list the negatives and the positives.  That actually helped.

Negatives:

  • My legs didn’t have it in them.
  • Stayed in zone 2
  • Missed goal time of 4:00

Positives:

  • Wasn’t as tired afterward as in past marathons (I’m sure that had nothing to do with staying in zone 2)
  • Didn’t break down mentally in race (I waited until after LOL)
  • 1:55 first half, even with the hills
  • PR
  • 2nd age group
  • No stomach upset/issues (this was my first race using UCAN as fuel during the race)

I also decided to list some variables that I knew had effected the race:

  • Taper seemed shorter (maybe it wasn’t)
  • Started new nutrition program 3 weeks ago
  • Fueling fiasco at start of race
  • Hills.
  • Temps for the race had increased steadily and it was fairly humid.

And, things I need to figure out going forward:

  • Why did my legs feel so dead when I never got out of zone 2?  Was it solely the hills?  Is any of it related to transitioning to metabolic efficiency?  I mean, I just started this process.
  • Why do I feel like I failed if I was able to come out with a PR and age group place?

I have had a couple days to get the race endorphins out of my system and catch up on sleep.  I did a little research and the elevation gain for Rochester (according to Strava) is 915 feet.  The elevation gain for Dallas is 524.  So I basically ran twice the elevation, or difficulty, and still managed a nearly-5 min PR.  That actually made me feel better.

I also need to remember that I had to overcome a setback with that psoas and I still managed a PR.  Even more important and encouraging is that I have had no aches and pains aside from my quads.  My quads were mad over those downhills, but they haven’t been grumbling too much.

Most importantly, I am BLESSED.  Blessed that I was able to travel to see my friend.  Blessed that I can even run at all.  Blessed that my body is healthy.

So yeah, I was upset for a bit.  I acknowledged my feelings, worked through them and have managed to find myself on the sunny side of the situation!

THANK YOU to everyone for all your support!!!  All the texts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram messages and comments, for signing up for the tracking that didn’t work – YOU ALL ROCK!!

Got my eyes on Houston!
Jen

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It’s marathon season, baby!

I’ve been sucking it up at blogging lately.  I envisioned more discretionary time when I decided to take the season off from officiating.  That HAS NOT been the case.  This is the busiest time of the year as far as work is concerned, however, the non-working hours are flying by!  Of course, I’ll blame this on Coach McKinney for twisting my arm into keeping score for our home games this past week. 😉

Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!
Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!
What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??
What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??

The time not spent in the gym officiating has been a blessing, though!  I have actually been able to spend a lot of time with the kids, for which I am very thankful.  Bobby and I even twisted Logan’s arm into seeing Mission Impossible with us on Sunday afternoon.  I was more excited about Logan coming along than I was about the movie!

The weekend was packed!  Cycling, running, movie, pool party and birthday dinner for Bobby just to name a few.

 

Marathon Training <GULP>

I realized yesterday that it is time to think about marathon training.  I will be running Dallas Marathon on December 13.  I considered running a different marathon (for about a nanosecond), but I STILL have unfinished business out on THAT course.

This time around, I’ll be taking a more laid-back approach.  I think that knowing I completed my first marathon under hellish body conditions has given me a confidence that I didn’t have before.  Before, I thought I could finish a marathon, but now I know I can finish a marathon.  The not-knowing-for-sure intensified the obsessive part of my personality (I know – this obsessiveness is news to everyone!) and, as a result, I made marathon training very stressful on myself mentally.  Physically, I made marathon training stressful on my body because I ran all my long runs at race pace. (I literally cringe EVERY time I think about it! SO STUPID!!!)

My main goal is to remain injury-free.  I haven’t had time to built a good base since my return from the stress fracture two weeks ago.  Even though things are going well, it is more imperative than ever that I address every little ache and pain before it blossoms into a full-blown injury.  I think that not officiating this season will free up enough time for me that I can stay focused on this part of the process.

A nice distraction from the 16 week plan will be the 2 half marathons that I have on the horizon.  Plano Balloon HM is mid-September and I have NO time goal whatsoever for this race.  I want to finish.  It will be hard not to push myself, but I’m not sure that I will be able to push myself too much regardless.  Even though I was able to cycle during my stress fracture, my heart rate during my recent runs is higher than normal.  And chances are it will be as hot as blazes on race day!  Rock n Roll St. Louis is in mid-October.  Hopefully my time will be a bit better by then, but I still don’t expect to post a sub-2 as I had hoped.  Who wants to travel for a race and stress about your time anyway!  LOL

I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor's former club coaches. I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11!
I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor’s former club coaches (it was his FIRST!). I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11 and I realized I could get close!

By focusing on the half marathons, I’ll be half-way through “marathon training” before I give much thought to Dallas.  It may not be the best way to PR, but I figure I could walk it and get a better time than I had last year.  (Let it go, Jen.  Let it go.)  Honestly, I would like to run a 4:00-4:15 marathon.  Not even sure if it will be possible, but I’m not going to spend much time focusing on it.  Plus, if I build my base properly and add in the appropriate speed work, I may just surprise myself!

The bottom line is that I want to run the race healthy, whatever that means for my time.  Last year I needed to know that I could finish.  This year I need to know what it feels like to run a marathon without nagging injuries.  What can I say?  I’ll probably never be satisfied!

Time for Truth Telling

Running is going well.  In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I am still having some issues with ankle stiffness and soreness post-runs.  This was very stressful to me at first, because mentally I feel injured and keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  However, the ankles are less stiff/sore after each run and it is all working out more quickly than before.  As far as any issues during my runs – I am happy to say I have nothing to report!!

I have worked my way up to 20:1 intervals x 3 without having any problems, so my next run will be a continuous 45 min run!  The recovery from that should give me a good gauge of where I stand.  If all goes well, I’ll be running a 6 mile long run this weekend in preparation for Plano Balloon Half Marathon!!

I’ll try not to be the sucky-sometimes-blogger in the weeks to come.  The start of school on Monday will undoubtedly shock me out of summer mode.  I can almost feel my increase in productivity now!

Happy Hump Day AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my very special friend, Carmen! IMG_5023

Jen

Keep moving forward: A tattoo story

Something happened this weekend.  Almost 2 years of searching, debating, contemplating and discussing culminated in finally settling on a tattoo, then losing my tattoo virginity.

Wayyyyy back when I was training for my first marathon, I decided that I wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate my accomplishment.  I spent a lot of time during training trying to decide what I wanted and where it would go.  Of course, the race was cancelled due to a freakish ice storm, aka Icepocalypse, which bought me time to decide.

I looked off and on throughout the year, finding things from time to time that spoke to me, yet never finding something that I felt confident I could put on my body and be happy to see there 20 years down the road.  I wanted a tattoo that spoke about running, but, then again, deep down inside, I wanted something more meaningful.  I didn’t take lightly putting something PERMANENTLY on my body.  So the marathon that I actually ran came and went, and I was no closer to finding “THE tattoo” than I ever had been.

I finally decided a few weeks ago that it was time.  I just knew it in my gut….and I always trust my gut.  You see, a couple months ago, around MLK day, I started thinking that “Keep Moving Forward” might be the tattoo for me.  Still, I wanted to wait and let the idea simmer and percolate for a while.  And recently, the idea had matured and blossomed into something that I was comfortable living the rest of my life with.

I LOVE Martin Luther King, Jr. and all of his quotes.  But I especially love the one (that I chose) that runners often quote, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  So it does have a connection to runners and running.  And it had a connection to my marathon.  First, I trained for this marathon TWICE.  Then, with my ITB injury, finishing was a mental and physical challenge, but throughout the race, I kept moving forward.  During the last 8 miles when every single step was so painful, quitting was never an option.  So the quote gave me a real, emotional tie to my marathon, which totally commemorates the race!

This quote speaks to me on so many other levels, though.  Most of you who know me or who have read my blog much know that I lost my dearest friend 11 years ago.  That was the biggest and most monumental life test I have ever experienced.  To say moving forward was a challenge would be a gross understatement.  I didn’t want to move forward….I didn’t even understand how I could go on; how I could live.  I was so devastated.  My heart was smashed into a thousand pieces.  But I did go on.  And I did live….even if at first I just went through the motions, but I was doing.  Little by little, moving forward took a bit less effort.  The sparkle slowly returned to my eyes (but not completely until I found running).  In all honesty, this tattoo is as much (in reality, MORE) about Allison as it will ever be about my marathon.  Every time I look at it, I will be reminded that I am NOT a quitter and I CAN overcome whatever life throws my way.  It isn’t lost on me that Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of Allison’s favorite people of all time.  In fact, Kaitlynn recited MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech for the Princess contest one year.  Every time I look at this work of art on my body, I’ll know she is with me.

Of course, it is also a reminder that there are injustices in this world that still must be remedied.  Our society STILL discriminates against anyone and everyone who doesn’t quite look like the majority or think like the majority.  And for a liberal hippy-trippy like me, this tattoo will be a constant reminder that we must fight back against the ignorance and hatred to keep moving forward.  We must put aside our differences and treat each other like human beings, regardless of the color of one’s skin, one’s religion, or sexual orientation.  People are people.  Period. (And while I’m at it….why am I considered a “liberal” person just because I feel people should be treated equally?  I don’t understand why that is such a far-fetched thought.)

Finally, this tattoo speaks to my faith.  It’s no secret that I identify myself with the progressive faith community.  I hope that my actions speak to the fact that my main concern is acting justly, loving kindness and walking humbly with my God.  (By the way, Micah 6:8 is my favorite Bible verse 🙂 ) I (we) can’t rest until everyone is treated justly and with kindness and dignity.  Until then, I will keep moving forward and doing what I can, where I can, when I can.

As for the placement of the tattoo, that has a significance as well.  I had it placed on my left forearm.  I wanted it on my arm so that I could see it everyday.  When this idea originally came to mind, I imagined it somewhere on my foot.  As my ideas evolved, I realized that I needed to be able to see it.  But my left side….my left side is my weak side – the side prone to injury.  I needed it to be on the weaker side because I need to focus on that side in order to be whole…as a runner specifically.

Last weekend, Alli accompanied me (I TRIED to get her to stay home) when I went in to make the appointment and put the deposit down.  On the way, Alli said, “What if you have surgery on the spot where you get this tattoo?  Will they be able to put it back right?”  Only Alli would see that angle!  I had to admit, it was something to think about!

So the date had been set and a good friend accompanied me so that she could lose her tattoo virginity as well.  Of course, having never had a tattoo, we had NO CLUE what to expect!  Luckily, Taylor came with us so she could get a second tat (and keep us straight).

We have friends that own Homestead Winery (in the metropolis of Ivanhoe, Texas) who have a tasting room in Denison.  We decided to make a stop there since Taylor had never been.  Of course, Taylor is taking full advantage of being 21 and looks for these “opportunities” whenever and wherever they arise.  We tasted just enough wine to take the edge off, then were on our way.

May I say that Orange Muscat was pretty yummy.  I came home with a bottle of that!
May I say that Orange Muscat was pretty yummy. I came home with a bottle of that!

We talked to our artist about what we wanted and he set off to draw them up.  Aaaaaand the first draft didn’t work for me.  If you know me, you know that I try to be tactful (most of the time) because I don’t want to unnecessarily hurt someone’s feelings.  Well, I HATED that first sketch.  As I was trying to formulate in my mind how to break it to the guy, Taylor said, “MOM, just tell him you don’t like that one! Don’t get one you don’t like!!”  (OK, for the record, I was NOT going to get something I didn’t like….I was just trying to let him down gently!)  So we discussed again what I wanted and when he came back the second time, I was ready to marry it!

Surprisingly, I was not nervous at all before, during or after.  (I’m sure it had NOTHING to do with the wine tasting prior!)  I was a bit anxious, but I think that was just me, ready to git’er done!

The actual inking took no time at all and wasn’t THAT painful.  However, it was a little painful and my friend was ready and waiting to capture the moment!

I am not smiling.  I am gritting my teeth.
I am not smiling. I am gritting my teeth.
This was in no way as painful as running on shot ITBs.  "#justsaying
This was in no way as painful as running a mara on shot ITBs. “#justsaying

And before I knew it, I was done!

Keep Moving Forward
Keep Moving Forward

It’s no secret that I usually eat as healthy as I possibly can, but after this experience, we went for some comfort food!heart attack on a plate

Yes, I ate most of this.  I also had a strawberry daiquiri that I had been looking SO forward to, but it was a terrible disappointment.  It wasn’t sweet at all and mostly rum! (OK….I love rum! So not going to complain about that!!)

And here I sit, roughly 24 hours later, happier with it than I could ever have imagined.  I am SO glad that I finally bit the bullet and had it done!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Jen

 

When the gods of running (and volleyball) smile upon you

 

I think this was me this morning.
Nothing to do with the post except that it is Monday after Spring Break.

Last week, the gods of running smiled down upon me.  Most of you are probably already laughing, since you already know that the gods of running rarely smile on me.  That, or their sense of humor is extremely warped.  OK, their humor is probably extremely warped.

First, I’ll give a bit of the back story for those who may not know.  For 2 years, my friend, Amy, was my trusty running partner.  She was the navigator and the pacer.  I was the trainer (go ahead and laugh) and the water/fuel girl.  Amy LITERALLY held me back – but that was a good thing.  When I would get in “the zone” and start to speed up, she would grab me and tell me to slow down!!!  I embraced training without her, though – and when I had to run without her I did my own thing when I wanted and how I wanted (which, I admit, wasn’t the SMARTEST approach I could have taken….note running gods’ warped sense of humor.)  And unless you’ve been living under a rock, or this is the first time reading my blog, I ran my first marathon on a bum ITB and had to take 7 weeks off before I could start slowly running again (which was, no doubt, directly related to the way I trained without a partner).

Training post-marathon/ITB rehab has been going fairly well.  I have occasional aches and pains; of course at least one of my muscle groups is ALWAYS tight, but I have been dealing with the issues as they arise in a surprisingly smart fashion, especially for me.

Last week, I crossed paths with another runner….in my hometown.  That is noteworthy, people.  That’s not to say that there aren’t runners in my hometown (because there are plenty).  I just don’t know of any that consistently run the distances that I like to run <read: not as obsessive as Jen>.  It just so happens that he recently moved to town and needed to know places to run (and wouldn’t mind having a running partner).  We exchanged numbers and were able to coordinate running together last week.  If you are a runner, you know that finding a running partner that is compatible with you is…..well, difficult.  (And if you are an introvert, this is very reason that you never seek out running partners in the first place.)  I think we both felt that it is a good fit, and since he is a good pacer, it’s a GREAT fit for me! Our first run felt a lot like Crazy Jen going to confession.  Clearly he needed to know what a running nut he was dealing with (to make an informed decision, of course), so I rehashed all the stupid things I have done in the name of the run.  But the good thing is that he doesn’t care that I’m crazy, or is just THAT desperate for someone to run with, so it looks like it’s going to work out for both of us! 🙂

This weekend was a whirlwind of volleyball (I know….what’s new??) First, the team that Taylor coaches was playing in the Mid-East Qualifier in St. Louis.  USAV sanctions a handful of qualifiers across the country and the WINNING team (singular) per division is awarded a bid to USAV Junior Nationals in June.  Taylor’s team was playing in a division with 100 other teams and her team made it into the Gold bracket, which was the top 16 of the tournament!  They ended up losing the first match of the Gold bracket to the eventual winner of the division, which effectively ended their hunt for a bid, but she was so proud of how her team ended up.

Taylor is back row, far right.  Yes, she is shorter than ALL her players, even her liberos.
Taylor is back row, far right. Yes, she is shorter than ALL her players, even her liberos.

On the fight into St. Louis, Taylor said the guy next to her kept bending over and talking to his feet.  She wasn’t quite sure how to react, so she asked if he was talking to her.  He said no…..he was talking to his Dachshund, who was IN his carry-on bag!doxie

She got the biggest kick out of it!

Alli played in a tournament this weekend as well.  Before we left, she whipped up some cupcakes all by herself!Alli's cupcakes

Too bad that she left them on the counter, which means we didn’t get to share any with her teammates.

On Saturday, we were in a terribly weak pool.  Even though we were seeded 2nd in the pool, we easily won every game.  No one scored on us more than 16 points per set all day.  Alli served at least 50 points, which is CRAZY!  She was on a roll and her serves were smokin’ hot!  Since the facility was 1.5 hours from home, we reserved a hotel room for the night (because I KNEW we would be back at the gym by 7 AM!) and ate dinner with one of her teammates.

Celebratory dessert for earning 1st in our pool!
Celebratory dessert for earning 1st in our pool!

I wish my camera could have captured how wide their eyes got when the server brought out the apple pie.  First, she poured cream onto a hot plate, then added the apple pie and topped it with a scoop of ice cream.  They enjoyed every bite!

I knew that the bracket would be tough for us on Sunday, because were some decent 12s teams in the tournament.  We easily beat the first team we faced, but met our match in the second round.  This team attacked every ball, played great defense and tough serves, but the thing that threw us off was the way they worked the net.  We haven’t faced many teams that are good at blocking and working the net, so we had some adjustments to make in that regard.  Our little Frogs hung tight and battled for every point, played great defense and attacked the ball, but we eventually dropped the first set 22-25.  The second set was a nail-biter, with each team trading points, keeping the game basically tied until it was 14-all.  At that point, the wind blew out of our sails and we started struggling, making mistakes that I have never seen from this team.  The loss put us at 5th place in the tournament of 21 teams, which is pretty good for a bunch of 10 year olds! 🙂volleyball mom shirt

I saw this shirt at the tournament and joked that I NEED it!  LOL  No…..I wouldn’t actually wear it.  But it was fun to joke about it!!

Happy Monday everyone!!

Jen

Philosophical Friday

A few weeks ago I attempted (and failed) to write this post.  I finally scrapped it because I just wasn’t able to get my thoughts onto the page in a way that made sense without rambling on for days.  Here’s to never giving up!

Originally, I began thinking about myself as a runner while I was attempting to come to terms with my less-than-stellar marathon performance. (By the way, I  HAVE achieved peace in regards to the race, accepted it and can genuinely say that I am content.)  It was during this time that I had a little epiphany about perception.

So how does perception tie into all this?  Back to marathon…..I was upset with myself because I wasn’t able to embrace the results and appreciate what I had accomplished.  WHY did I feel that way and WHY did I feel like such a failure?  When I say that I don’t compare myself to others, I mean it.  I am pretty content living in Jen’s little life bubble.  However, most of my online interactions are with other runners and that is where the perception comes into play.  Even though I don’t compare myself to them, I do think this has kept me from fully appreciating MY accomplishments because my “norm” has become what I see my online friends doing.

Gaining understanding of this has helped me in many ways.  Like I said, I now embrace my marathon for what it was.  But, it also helped shape my running goals for the coming year.  I recently shared with someone that often, in regards to running, I feel like a poser.  For one, I feel I don’t run enough, cross train enough, stretch enough or foam roll enough!  And as much as I hate to admit it, don’t always consider myself a “runner”, even though I KNOW I am!  However, my new-found perspective has allowed me to cast away some of these self-imposed standards.

So all this got me thinking about running and how I can create a balanced fitness regime and why do I LOVE running SOOOO much?  I mean, my whole focus this year is to do all the cross training so I can stay healthy….in order to become a better runner.  (I know my focus should be on being fit vs run, but still debating myself on that one.)  Initially, I started running as a way to improve my fitness and lose weight.  I wanted to be healthy by the time I turned 40. But along the way, I discovered the Jen that had been lost for a while (and I may have developed a little addiction to endorphins).Buddy

And the reason Jen was lost?? Ten years ago, my best friend, Allison, died suddenly.  Actually, our families were best friends.  My husband and her husband did almost everything together.  Our children did everything together.  I can’t describe how close we were and how much I treasured her friendship.  She was a soul mate.  That loss changed the lives of everyone in my family, and I had a VERY difficult time dealing with it.  In fact, getting pregnant with Alli just a month after Allison passed away was the best thing that could have happened to me.  But I’m saving that story for Alli’s birthday.

Honestly, I spent the next 7 years in a fog, just going through the motions of life.  I doubt most people realized how deep the grief was for me, but another of my good friends told me once that my sparkle was gone.  I did find enjoyment in my family and in my kids’ activities, but other than that, I was simply existing – going through the motions.

But then one day, I started running.  Surprisingly, I REALLY enjoyed it. The challenge of making it to the next milestone ignited a passion in me that had been dormant for so long.  I still remember the first time I ran a mile.  Then two miles.  Five miles were HUGE!  I said I would never run a half marathon, but I did.  I also said I would never run a marathon….BUT I DID!!

Oh, and did I mention that Allison was a runner?  She always tried to talk me into running with her and I would just laugh!  I know she is so proud and I can feel her with me every time I get out there on the road.

My Allison!
My Allison!

Running has given me so much: it has helped me to find my happiness and self-confidence again (happy Mama means happy family!); it has forged a connection with my kids – I’ve been able to run 5ks with Alli as well as 5ks and a half marathon with Taylor; it has connected me with many wonderful people I would have never met otherwise; and it has shown me that I truly can do anything I put my mind to.  So it’s more than running.  It’s about living.

This little exercise in self-discovery has at least helped me identify some of the forces that drive me to run.  And by doing that, I think that I can control my approach to running more intelligently than I did in 2014.  Plus, it is always good to reconnect with your roots.

So how does all this relate (in my head, anyway)?  As I said before, my word of the year is: Balance.  I personally think that nothing can be achieved without awareness of the goal in mind and what is pushing you toward that goal, or away from that goal.  All these little epiphanies are (hopefully) pushing me toward my goal of living a balanced 2015 (not only in fitness, but in my life)!

Happy Weekend, everyone!!!

Jen

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

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

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

2014 Accomplishments

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

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

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

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

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

2014 Lessons Learned

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

2015 Goals

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

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

Here’s to an even better 2015!

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

Thanks for reading!
Jen

Fantastic Friday (It’s Christmas Break!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I looked inside, I was blown away.

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

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

Happy Friday everyone!