Catching up before the spring forward!

Honestly, I have really good intentions of regularly posting here, but life just keeps getting in the way!  It takes quite a bit of time to write a blog post – the proofreading is the worst part for me.  If you read my blog much you know that I never actually proofread that well.  Why am I still horrified when I find a gazillion mistakes after the blog is actually posted?!?  (Welcome to the Life of Jen.)

Running

I’ve been doing a fairly decent job of posting running updates. (IF you count race recaps! LOL)  Running is going really, really well.  I can only give credit where credit is due, and that credit is due to my coach.  I find it such a relief that I no longer need to question my training plan (if you could call what I was doing prior to hiring my coach a *plan*).  Probably the best part is that I am not constantly wrestling with my ego.  It is NO secret that my ego got me into lots of trouble where running was concerned.  I am still my own worst enemy, though, as evidenced in yesterday’s bike trainer workout.  I had a pretty hard workout in which I needed to get my heart rate up past a certain threshold, but was unable to get it as high as needed.  I would get very shaky and just wasn’t able to hold the intensity.  Then it hit me – I had not eaten a pre-workout snack.  I thought that my during-workout drink would be enough and I was WRONG.  I was so disappointed in myself.   I SUCK at nutrition in regards to my workouts.  I’m not going to dwell on it, though.  I’m going to do my best to fix it going forward.  Yes, I’ll probably do it again.  I’m not there yet but am getting better….I think.

I have another half marathon next weekend – Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas.  I’m hoping to drop my time just a bit from Cowtown, but this is also a difficult course and I’ll be relying on me, myself and I to push through this time (no Brent to drag me along)….anything could happen.  Right now, the weather looks favorable, but this is Texas and the forecast will change at least 14 times between now and next Sunday.  After RnR Dallas, I’ll have just a few weeks until Ragnar Relay in Austin – I am SO EXCITED!!

After that, and I have been keeping this under my hat (I am SO afraid of failure), my main goal is making a 3:45 marathon.  I have no idea how close (or far away) I am right now.  I know I am loads faster than I was at Dallas, but how much so??  It’s a mystery.  I wish I could add a marathon in this Spring to get a good gauge, but Alli’s volleyball schedule makes it virtually impossible to train for a full.  I have had trouble keeping up with half marathon training! LOL.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to achieve this goal, but they always say if it isn’t just a little bit out of reach, you aren’t dreaming enough.  So I’m dreaming big and I try to remind myself during every workout that any slacking won’t get me to my goal.  I hope this will be the catalyst that helps me move past the tendency I have to let off the gas a bit when I start feeling fatigue.

So what’s been going on outside of running?

Life has been keeping me very busy!  Alli’s volleyball team is really taking shape.  They play SO WELL together, which is a direct result of the great coaching staff on the team.  This is an 11s team playing in 12 Open (the most difficult division) and our region of USA Volleyball (NTR – North Texas Region) is known for its very competitive level of volleyball.  These girls are consistently finishing 3rd or 5th in every tournament.  Of course, they would love to finish 1st or 2nd and earn a medal, but the teams that knock us out are very talented teams that will likely go on to Nationals and finish very high.  Our team is preparing to travel to the Windy City Qualifier on Easter weekend in hopes of earning a bid to Nationals.  Whether we do or don’t, the higher level of competition will prepare us for our own road to Nationals.img_7675

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LOVE how they always put their arms around each other during time outs!
LOVE how they always put their arms around each other during time outs!

 

Logan’s soccer team has one more game before play-offs, and they are also hitting their stride.  Our new coach has been good for this team.  I’ll be honest….when I attended the first scrimmage I was a bit worried about the season….but each game they play better and better!  I am extremely proud of Logan.  He was moved from midfield to defense this season and he has been playing some great soccer.  He seems much more at home in defense and I believe he has positively impacted the team more there than he could have in midfield.JOHN5260

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Spring Break is almost over 😦

I have enjoyed Spring Break SO MUCH, even though it has rained EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  I haven’t even gotten that much stuff done, but Alli and I made time to go shopping, I was able to take my mom to her doctor’s appointment, and even seen Race and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.  I LOVED Race!!!  I highly recommend it to anyone, whether they like running or not!  Whiskey Tango Foxtrot was good in a different way, but after having just seen Race, it pales in comparison.

And now, I need to get in my strength work and get out for a short run before the rains come once again!

Happy Friday!!

Jen

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Hotcake Hustle 10k Race Recap

I ran my first race of 2016 this past weekend and, I’ll save the suspense – I ran another PR!  I was mentally floundering in the long, dry spell without races for the 10 weeks between Dallas Marathon and Cowtown Half Marathon.  So I looked at my schedule and found a couple of races to “fill in” that void and break up the monotony of training…the first, of which, was the Hotcake Hustle 10k .

The last 10k I ran was during Thanksgiving break, when we had received record amounts of rain (and flooding) along with temps in the 30s.  (Northern people STOP rolling your eyes – that was COLD weather for Texans!)  I tell you this because the forecast was almost exactly the same for my 10k on Saturday.  I was beginning to think the gods of running were trying to tell me that 10k wasn’t a distance I should consider racing!  In the end, the weather was perfect – temps around 40, not a lot of wind and NO RAIN!  Actually, perfect racing conditions as far as I’m concerned.

Before the race

Many people know of my dear friend, Jane, who lives in Ottawa, Canada.  We have been fortunate enough to meet in person twice: once when she came to San Antonio to run Rock ‘n’ Roll and this past October when we met in St. Louis for yet another Rock ‘n’ Roll race!  Well…..she blogs, and during football season, frequently references her trips to the Ottawa RedBlacks games.  (Her dad has season tickets.)  Imagine my surprise, when this caught my eye while waiting for the race to start!img_6961

I HAD to ask him to take a picture!  I explained that my friend lives in Ottawa and attends the games and that she would DIE when I sent this to her!  He was Canadian, by the way, grew up there and I assume he is living now in God’s Country, I mean Texas.  Of course, I immediately sent the pic to Jane!

The Race

I’m glad I didn’t check the route before the race.  The thought of it would have driven me mad.  The course was out and back and the 10k’ers ran the “loop” twice.  Generally speaking, anytime there are runners running on both sides of the road I get mental, always wondering where the turn around point will be.  Luckily, this time I was too preoccupied with running over a bridge while trying to keep my heart rate under control – I might have momentarily obsessed over having to run that TWICE.  As it turned out, the bridge was WORSE on the way back….if you assume it would be the same, you would be WRONG (I have the elevation on my Garmin to prove it).img_7032

I was to keep my heart rate around 160 for the first couple of miles then open it up.  At the 2-mile point, however, I still had the back side of the bridge to tackle.  I knew the front side had been tough, so I decided to wait until I was over the back side before pushing the pace going forward.  That turned out to be a really good idea (yes, Jen actually does make smart decisions at times).  When I opened up, my goal was keeping my heart rate on the high side of the 170s.  I was too cautious to push it over 180 at this point in the race because 1) I had that damn bridge AGAIN and 2) it was highly unlikely I could maintain that for the next 3 miles.

The second loop was fun and fast (for me anyway), except the back side of the bridge really slowed me down AGAIN.  I know I have previously professed my love of hills, but I’m beginning to only like hills during training.  LOL

My nature is to hold back and stay in my familiar, comfortable place.  I DO NOT want to fail, and in a race situation like this, failure (to me) would be tanking at the end.  I tried to push myself out of that comfortable, familiar place during the race and I feel that I did a fairly good job.  I probably could have pushed it a tad bit more, but who knows…..I might have been right on the edge of doing too much.  Again, #myoneword for the year, uncomfortable, came into play.  I reminded myself that I was well-trained and prepared and all I needed to do was get out of my comfy spot and let great things happen.  I guess I would have to call it a success!  My legs were definitely dead by the end and I beat my previous 5k time by about 1:00, as well as new PR for my 10k by 1:00.img_6963

After the race, I had two different women come up to me to compliment me.  How AWESOME is that?!?  One of them mentioned that she noticed me at other races and was always impressed.  First, what a great feeling it is to have a complete stranger compliment you!  And second, YAY for women coming together to support each other!  Honestly, I think THAT was the BEST part of the race!

I ended up with an official time of 55:20.  I came in 119/462 overall, 43/287 out of all female runners, and 7/51 in my age group.  Not too shabby 🙂

And today,  I enjoyed a cup of coffee out of my finisher “medal”img_6969

Now I’m twiddling my thumbs until my next race!

Happy MLK Day ~ keep moving forward!

Jen

 

 

2015: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Initially, I wasn’t going to write the obligatory end of the year summary.  As the year winds to a close, however, I naturally started thinking about where the year had taken me, and I wanted to document it – if only just for me.  It’s been A year!  I have had some heart-stopping, stellar moments.  I’ve also had some heart-stopping, heartbreaking moments.

2015 Word of the Year

Last year, I chose a word of the year: Balance.  I felt everything in my life was OUT of balance and I desperately needed to get control of things.  My running was clearly out of control – I was prone to over-training and terrible at supplementing my fitness with cross-training and strength.  I was over-scheduled in almost every area of my life – there were some things over which I had control of scheduling and many things that I did not.  I’m not going to lie….I still struggle with balancing all of life’s demands.  But, I am better at the balancing act now than I was 365 days ago.  Truth be told, this is an ongoing challenge, but I’m up for it!

The Bad and The Ugly

I’m lumping “The Bad” and “The Ugly” together because I simply want to be DONE with all this negativity! LOL

  • Started the year with an ITB injury that stole the first 4 weeks of the year from me.  I was finally able to s-l-o-w-l-y return to running the last week of January.
  • Battled another injury – stress fracture in my heel – in July.  This hiccup took another month of running away from me and in the setback I wondered if I would be fit enough to run the full at Dallas.IMG_4598
  • The entire year felt like a battle.  I was battling to beat my ITB.  Then I was battling to recover from my heel.  Recovering from injury takes a lot of time, patience that I don’t have, and mental fortitude.
  • My biggest battle was in my mind.  It isn’t a secret (or at least I don’t think it is a secret) that I don’t have a lot of faith in my abilities – unless you count my ability to injure myself, in which case I have full faith in that!  Spending basically an entire year injured caused me to doubt myself.  I didn’t believe that my body could recover enough to ever run long distances again.  I didn’t believe that I could run smart enough to stay uninjured.  I just didn’t believe in me at all.  This was, hands down, the biggest tragedy of the year.

The Transformation

When I looked back at some of my earlier blog posts, I realize how much I had to learn….and how much I have learned!  I can’t believe how much I have matured as a runner.  I know there are still many lessons to be learned, but I have been able to find a peace with running that I never had before.  Some things I learned on my own.  Some lessons were taught to me by John, my partner for part of the year until he moved, and others I learned from my current coach, Brent.

  • I started the year with the intent to train by heart rate, but that change didn’t happen fully until I started working with my current coach in October.  The beauty of this is that all things prepare us for what will happen in the future.  Since I had been monitoring my heart rate all year, I knew how my heart would react in certain situations. Since my training with Brent is set up almost exclusively by heart rate, I was ahead of the curve, in a sense, because I already “knew” my heart.  This type of training has been very good for my running!
  • My partner, John, taught me the importance of running slower (which, ties right into the heart rate training).  With his guidance, I learned how to pace myself (which is something that I COULD NOT do before running with him).  Developing this discipline in my running certainly laid the groundwork for great things to come and made it much more easy for me to execute workouts properly.
  • I finally learned to listen to my body, even though I didn’t always act upon it.  I hope that will come as I continue maturing as a runner.  The fact that I now notice those little things is a huge victory.
  • I gave up running with music.  BEST.  DECISION.  EVER.  Taking away the distraction of the music opened up so many amazing things.  First, I can listen to my footsteps to see if there are any imbalances.  I am more aware of my breathing.  I don’t get lost in songs and beats, which formerly meant I would end up running too fast.  In addition, during those tough spots in a run, I had to rely on myself to get through it rather than finding a song to distract me though it.  BIG difference.  I think that helped my confidence A LOT.
  • The most beautiful thing happened when I started believing in myself.  By the time Dallas rolled around, I began to have a quiet confidence and somehow learned to have peace with what would come – good or bad.  I honestly didn’t fret over that race, which, if you know me, is a MIRACLE.  I am carrying that peace and confidence with me into 2016!

Cycling helped me through the rough patches

I love to bike….outdoors.  I dislike riding on the trainer, but I did a lot of that early in the year because I knew how much the cross-training would help my recovery.  Cycling also saved me during my heel fracture, because I was given the green light to ride as much as I wanted as long as I didn’t suffer discomfort.  I biked A LOT in July!

This year, I transitioned from a hybrid to a road bike, and with that came clip-ins.  Most people know how clumsy I am, and so you can imagine the number of falls I had because I would forget to twist my foot out….all of them happened in my drive-way!  I still laugh about it.

I do love any time that I get on the bike, however, and who knows – there may be a tri in my future.

The Good, Running-wise

Despite the setbacks, I had lots of victories on the roads this year.

  • Ran Skyline HM in May, even though it might have been too close to rehab and recovery.  I was 8 minutes off my PR, but the important thing is that I was able to run a fairly strong race, and it felt like a HUGE victory.Medal
  • I ran Rock the Block 10k at the end of May because I wanted to focus on some shorter distances to help bring down my HM time.  I was able to PR this race by about a minute @ 57:46.

    Start line selfie with my favorite oldest daughter :)
    Start line selfie with my favorite oldest daughter 🙂
  • Even though Plano Balloon HM was the WORST race of the year for me, it was a victory.  I ran this race after being back from my heel injury only 7 weeks.  I realize (now) that I was being to aggressive, but thankfully it all worked out in the end.

    Maybe my favorite race sign ever :)
    Maybe my favorite race sign ever 🙂
  • I joined Renegade Endurance and love having the support of the athletes in the club.  It is so much fun to hear about their successes and lift them up, and racing is much more fun when your teammates are there racing as well!

    My RE team members are the BEST!
    My RE team members are the BEST!
  • Rock n Roll St. Louis was one of the highlights of my year.  I went into this race just wanting to finish strong, plus the main reason I went was to socialize with my group of Twitter friends.  At this point, I had run Plano Balloon just a month earlier and missed an entire week of workouts afterward because my body wasn’t ready to run that race.  I had just started working with Brent and the main goal was Dallas Marathon.  I was completely shocked and surprised when I ended up with a PR 2:13:17 (by 43 seconds! LOL).
    Pood paced me to an awesome finish!
    Pood paced me to an awesome finish!

    My Sole Sister Jenn
    My Sole Sister Jenn
  • Believe 10k was the first 10k I ever ran.  Every year, I want to get down to McKinney to run it again but it never seems to work out.  When I asked my coach if I could run it instead of the 8 mile training run, he gave the green light and I immediately signed up.  But then, the monsoons of Thanksgiving  nearly washed away my hopes of running the race.  The race went on as scheduled, and I went, prepared for a wet, cold race.  I ended up with another PR 56:15 (1:30 better than May) and first in my age group!
  • I knew that I would have to run a TERRIBLE race to not PR at Dallas Marathon this year.  2014 was the race of the bum ITB and it took me wayyyyyyy too long.  This race was to be the highlight of my year, plus I felt I had something to prove on that course.  I was somehow able to run the most perfect race ever…for me anyway…and ended up with 4:15:12, considerably faster than the 2014 bum ITB marathon. Plus, I beat my time goal by 15 minutes!  My biggest fear is that I have now peaked.  Even so, I’ll take it, because so many runners never have a race experience as good as the one I had!  This is the race that made me feel like a real runner; like a real marathoner.

Here are just a few of the well wishes I got from my friends, near and far during and after Dallas:img_6754


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This one had to call me at the finish line ;)
This one had to call me at the finish line 😉

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The Non-Running Stories

So many non-running things happened in 2015.  As I look back, it probably seems that I am going through a mid-life crisis, but I think I decided that I am too old to care what anyone thinks, plus I’m running out of time to do all the fun stuff!

  • I lost my tattoo virginity.  By the end of the year, I had already gotten my second tattoo!  Be looking for a 3rd after Ragnar….I’m forcing myself to wait until then!BraceletIMG_6173
  • I jumped out of a plane.  SO.  MUCH.  FUN.  I will go again in 2016, to take Logan when he turns 18 years old!Jennifer_Kirkpatrick 034
  • Taylor went to Thailand, lost her passport in Tokyo and lived to tell the tale.
  • Taylor graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Woman’s University.147
  • Alli’s team, Madfrog 10 National, was the highest placing American team at AAU Nationals, placing 7th in the nation.  The top 6 teams were Puerto Rican.rainforest
  • While in Orlando for AAUs, I rode in a helicopter!Takeoff
  • Logan made a 34 on his ACT, which was supposed to be “just a practice”.

Looking back, 2015 was a very good year!  I look forward to continuing this progress in 2016!

Happy 2016!!

Jen

 

All the things I’ve been too busy to blog about

Training and running Dallas took most of my attention and focus until just recently, but our family has experienced some amazing and notable events as well!

I am the mom of a college graduate

Let me say that again.  I am the mom of a college graduate!  I have always been beyond proud of Taylor.  She worked so hard and graduated Magna Cum Laude and only missed Summa Cum Laude by .10%…..and she is mildly dyslexic (although she has NEVER let that get in her way).

My math major in front of the Mathematics banner
My math major in front of the Mathematics banner

She has decided to go ahead and get her Masters, and will be starting that journey in January at Texas Tech!  She is already and amazing coach and I know that she will be just as amazing in her teaching career.147

We ate at LSA Burger in downtown Denton after the ceremony. What Texan wouldn't use the billowing flag in the background for a photo opp?
We ate at LSA Burger in downtown Denton after the ceremony. What Texan wouldn’t use the billowing flag in the background for a photo opp?

Checking items off the bucket list

Taylor, Alli and I LOVE to go to the NCAA DI Volleyball Championships.  We have settled into a pattern of going every other year.  Two years ago we went to Seattle, and that city still stands out as one of my favorite places of all time!

This year, the championships were held in Omaha.  Going to a Nebraska game has been on my bucket list for quite some time.  Honestly, I still want to go to one in Lincoln, but I was happy to attend a Nebraska game in any part of the state!  I am a fan of the Huskers (and Coach Cook)!  Plus, I love the way that their fans wholly support the program.  Oh, and I love the way their fans are so knowledgeable about the sport of volleyball – you definitely can’t find that everywhere!

My friend, Mark, lives in Nebraska, and by extension, is a HUGE Huskers fan.  We discuss volleyball quite a bit…OK….ALL THE TIME.  When I learned the championships were to be in Omaha, I immediately asked if he planned to go.  We decided to buy tickets together so that we could enjoy the games together!

I REALLY wanted Nebraska to made the Final Four, so that I could see them play in person.  Of course, I am a Texas fan first and foremost, but I questioned their ability to win Regionals this year….and they barely did in a thrilling 5 set match with another of my favorite teams, the Florida Gators.  (Side note: I love Mary Wise!!!  She is always the last woman coach standing in the tournament.  I sooooo badly want her team to make it to the Final Four so that SHE can make it to the Final Four!)  I get so side-tracked when discussing volleyball!

Texas made it to the semifinals as well as Nebraska.  I honestly thought Texas would get knocked out my Minnesota in the semis (OK…..Hugh McCutcheon….ANOTHER of my favorite coaches!) but Minnesota played worse than Texas passed on serve-receive, so Texas was on to the finals.

Nebraska rolled over Kansas fairly easily and the Longhorn – Husker final was set.  I was torn.  At this point, I knew Texas had NO CHANCE of beating Nebraska, despite their 5-set win over the Huskers at the beginning of the season.  I could go into all the reasons, but I would bore all but one reader and you would all be confused anyway.  Plus, Huskers had home court advantage and their fans are INSANE!!

My dad played football at Kansas, so I was hoping they could give Nebraska a run for their money in their first Final Four appearance.
Kansas vs. Nebraska semi-final match.  My dad played football at Kansas, so I was hoping they could give Nebraska a run for their money in their first Final Four appearance.
Horns Up!
Horns Up!

The finals match was very close during the first couple of sets, with Nebraska edging a 2 point win over Texas in both sets.  (Again, I could comment about how we were in the same terrible rotation at the end of each of those sets, but I’ll refrain.)  In set 3, Nebraska hit their stride, Texas started shutting down and it was all over except the roar from the Nebraska fans.  They really are amazing fans.img_6618

While in Omaha, we visited the zoo, which thankfully had several indoor exhibits because it was COLD!!

Taylor and Alli did not do well getting close to the peacock
Taylor and Alli did not do well getting close to the peacock

Saturday morning, we went to Union Station, which is now a museum.  It also lays claim to housing the largest indoor live Christmas tree.  This tree was apparently planted some 40 years ago locally, and had long ago outgrown this woman’s yard.  There was also a large train exhibit as well as a cool photography exhibit.img_6592

I ate like this THE ENTIRE TIME.
I ate like this THE ENTIRE TIME.

I can’t blog without discussing running

Last week, I took recovery VERY seriously.  I didn’t do ANYTHING….not even foam rolling or stretching….and I enjoyed every minute of it!  I wasn’t that sore after the marathon, actually.  My left quad and one of my left hamstrings were cranky, but otherwise things felt really good.  I could tell, though, that it would have hurt if I had gone running (it actually DID hurt when I had to run back to my car at the airport on Thursday).

My first scheduled outing was a 30 minute easy run on Tuesday.  All went well (except for the technical difficulties that were all my fault) and my legs felt sooooo good!  Now the problem is that I am antsy and I don’t run again until Sunday!  I’ve been filling my time playing with Logan’s weights, trying to figure out what I’m going to do for weight training going forward.  (Can you believe I didn’t add it during taper?!?  Me either.  Miracles never cease.)  I have also gotten back on my yoga and foam roll schedule.  Doing my stability routine for the first time was…..disheartening.  It’s amazing how much you lose in 10 days.  But day 2 the hips were much less wobbly and I know I’ll be stronger by Cowtown than I was at Dallas, so no worries there.

My wish to everyone is for you to have a wonderful time with your family during this holiday season!

Jen

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!!

8 DAYS UNTIL DALLAS! <gasp>

Let’s talk about Dallas

Before we talk about Dallas, let’s talk training…and racing.

Believe 10K

This past weekend, my training called for 8 miles on Saturday and 20 on Sunday.  However, there is a local 10K (which happens to be the first 10K that I ever ran) that I really wanted to run.  I got coach approval, registered and all was set……until the monsoons began on Thanksgiving day.

It was COLD and it was WET…….I HATE to be cold!  But race or no race, I had to run some miles and running a race – even in wet, cold rain –  was certain to be more fun than a regular training run.  Luckily, the rain stopped just as the race started….for the entirety of the race!

My body felt really good during the race.  I was supposed to keep my heart rate in Zone 2 for the first 4 miles, but I struggled with that because there were SO MANY HILLS.  After some reflection I feel that I could have pushed a little harder on the last couple miles, but I was being a bit cautious…..because of the HILLS.  I was afraid that if I pushed too hard, too early, that I would lose steam and slow down at the end.  I’m still trying to find that magical race exertion balance.  In the end, it worked out, because I PR’d by 1:30 (my last PR was in the Spring) and I won my age group!!  Miracles never cease to happen! Let this be a lesson to all of you to always run in cruddy weather because a lot of people don’t show up!  I didn’t stay for the awards, because I NEVER expected to win my age group.  It was so cold plus the announcing of the winners was so slow that I opted for Starbucks after the overall winners were announced for the 5K.

My Major Award
My Major Award

Another cool thing about this race was that I finally got to wear my race shirt from my run club, Renegade Endurance.  The jerseys came in the week after I got back from St. Louis and I haven’t raced since then, so it was fun to break it in with a PR and an age group win!  (I was too cold to have any pics made at the race site and barely remembered to take the pic when I got home.)  #ADHDprobsIMG_6239

Last Long Run

Because the monsoons over Thanksgiving break caused some flooding in my area, I had to run my last long run on the treadmill. <sad violin music>

Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it.  My longest run on the treadmill prior to Sunday was 5 miles.  I dreaded this run on several levels.  This run was my last chance to work on fueling and hydration before the race.  The conditions on a treadmill are just no match for being outside.  I did tweak my fueling a bit and I won’t truly know if it will work until race day.  Terrain was my another issue.  There is no preparation for a road race like running on a road!  Finally, and I suspect this was highly influenced by terrain (or lack thereof), my heart rate was SO LOW.  I try to keep my heart rate low on long runs, but my heart rate was about 15 beats per minute below where it usually is.  (If you’re confused – it’s just one more way that my treadmill run differed from a road run.)   I could have sped up to increase my heart rate, but then it wouldn’t have been a long SLOW run.  During the run, I focused on the fact that, at the most basic level, long runs are about time spent on your feet.

Mentally, I battled boredom.  I watched movies, but I am convinced that was not a good thing.  As I got into the movie, I paid less attention to what I was doing on the run.  This is the precise reason that I stopped running with music – I do not need any additional distractions!

In the end, a run is a run and when I was done, I felt VERY accomplished!IMG_62539 Days and Counting

Soooooooo, Dallas is 9 days and counting.  This time last year, I was a nervous wreck.  I knew that the race was going to be hard and terrible and painful, but I tried to hold on to that hope that my ITB would behave.  It didn’t.  I’m still shaking my head over it.

This taper is different.  Even though I spent a ridiculous amount of time recovering from injuries in 2015, I’ve also gained an unbelievable amount of fitness and strength over the past two months.  The difference is that I have been working with a new coach since the beginning of October.  In the words of one of my running buddies, “He attacked my weaknesses” and, as a result, I am running stronger and faster than ever.  In the beginning, he told me he would get me to Dallas injury-free and strong.  I didn’t believe him because at that point, I was still injured – mentally and physically.  I had spent SO much time on injury that it was becoming hard to believe that I would ever get over that hump.  I honestly didn’t believe that I could be strong enough to run the full at Dallas.  But guess what?  My coach delivered.

I am more than strong enough to run Dallas.  More importantly, I have transitioned mentally from seeing myself as weak and injured to strong and healthy.  Instead of a taper filled with anxiety and apprehension, I am filled with energy and excitement because I can’t wait to run this race!!

Happy Friday!

Jen

 

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!

Jen