Training Journal – Military Miles Half Marathon

img_3737I’ve been a little quiet about my health, both mental and physical, because I always feel like no one wants to hear about it. You’re here for books and kittens, after all! Last week, however, was extremely rough for me as I suffer from chronic pain in my hands. It was bad enough that I became somewhat depressed about things and was feeling a little hopeless, so I decided to handle my physical issues in my favorite way – running all the miles!

I went to Dr. Google and looked up June races, and found one in Las Colinas called the WW Military Miles half marathon that looked promising. After a little bit of internal debate and a conversation with Charlotte, I signed myself up for 13.1 miles in the Texas heat.

Now I know I said I would never run another race in the summer after the Badass Texas half but I was certain I’d do better because the elevation wasn’t so crazy. Also, they gave me really nice socks (pictured above).

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The race was pretty good! I didn’t do better than the Badass half but I definitely enjoyed it more up until the last 3 miles when I once again felt like I was baking. They were awesome about keeping us hydrated and trying to keep us cool with iced towels and water every mile, and a lot of the course was shaded trails. It was hot and I was exhausted from finishing a book the night before, but it was a lot prettier and I just feel better running under the trees.

I finished with the exact same time as last month but I’m proud of myself, and I feel so much better. My hands are still killing me but hey, I don’t run on my hands! I got so down about what I’m having trouble doing that I completely forgot what my body is still capable of doing. I also wore shorts again because good gravy, Texas is hot in the summer.

Also, bonus kitten pic of Robin Lord Tater Tot snoozing!

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Training Journal – What It Takes to Be a Badass

img_3612My best friend likes to talk me into things. I’ve known her since middle school and we’re close enough that she calls us “sisters of the heart.” Thankfully, the things she talks me into are often good for me. This time she talked me into (another) half marathon.

When I first started running in 2014, I saw a flyer for the then-named Badass Brazos race. It was billed as the “hottest, hilliest half in Texas.” I told my husband that I would never attempt that thing, mainly because I didn’t want to die. Two years later, Charlotte pops into my email suggesting I be a badass with her and run this race.

I love running with Charlotte, even though she’s faster than me. I love the post-race rehashing of our favorite and the toughest miles, the feeling of sharing something special, and of course the post-race selfie with the medal. Sometimes during a hard race, all you can do is think of the medal.

They renamed the race the Badass Texas half at some point, and according to their website the thing was on a flatter course. Friends, if that’s what they called flat, I’m not sure I want to know what they call hilly.

It started off all right. Not too humid, a little warm but nothing I haven’t run in before. It started at 6:45 so it was even a little dark. Charlotte went to join her pacer and I went to join mine, we hugged and said we’d see each other at the finish line. At Mile 3, we hit our first big hill. By Mile 7, when the major hills started coming, I was already tired. To make things worse, the sun was out and slowly baking me. The race directors had anticipated this and put water stops at every mile instead of every 2 miles, and there was ice cold water, iced towels, and energy packs available at every station. Even with this extra support I was wishing for the thing to be over when I wasn’t even halfway through.

Then came Mile 11.img_3609

Actually it was more like Mile 11.5, but I don’t want to be nitpicky. All of a sudden I was feeling lightheaded, clammy (bizarrely enough), and extremely nauseous. I knew what this meant. I’d crossed the line from being hot to heat exhaustion. I was determined to finish, though, and with encouragement from Charlotte’s husband and son, I made it over the finish line and received my enormous medal.

We drank two ice-cold bottles of water, ate oranges in the shade, and were even treated to snow cones but we still felt like we were melting. We both swore we’d never do this thing again, and that distance races were out of the question for the rest of the summer. Still, we did it.

img_3562I started running again in 2016 to try and lose weight, and while I have lost some it’s no longer the reason I run. Even at my slowest, I’m amazed at what my body can accomplish. I never thought I’d be able to run a 10K, let alone a half marathon or a 30K. I’ve had some rough times and even ate pavement recently, but I am proud to call myself a badass and can’t wait to see what Charlotte talks me into next.

Definitely no more half marathons this summer, though. It’s too damn hot.

Training Journal – Bad Mother Runner

For those of you who don’t know, I actually have two stepdaughters. I haven’t seen either of them in years due to circumstances, but I do think of them often. I don’t think this necessarily means I’m a mom, but I do spend a lot of time mothering my cats so there’s that. Anyway, it’s my love of cats that got me into this nonsense in the first place.

You see, our clinic has a cat. I’ve mentioned her before, and everyone refers to me as her bestie. Because of something I did during an emergency with a patient, she broke her leg and I’ve been beating myself up about it for days. I had a really rough couple of days and decided that I needed to do something to feel better about myself. Enter the Mother’s Day half marathon.

Even though it was going to be a full 2 weeks sooner than I planned for my first half marathon since doing the Cowtown half, I had planned to run 9-10 miles on Sunday so

this didn’t seem like too much of a stretch. I was nervous, though, super nervous that I would fail or hurt myself, or just plain finish last. That’s happened to me before and it’s really embarrassing, even though I know I should be glad I finished.

It actually went really well at the beginning. I managed to sustain a 12:07-12:15 mile for 9 miles…then the sun came out. I do not do well in direct sunlight or with steep hills, and this course had a little of both. I didn’t improve my time from last year but I also didn’t do worse, so I’m calling it a win. I also got this great purple medal, which was just an added bonus.

In two weeks I’ll be running the Badass Texas half marathon with my best friend, and I’m hoping I’ll do a little better but if I can just stay at this level I’ll be happy.

And hey, my time on Sunday was about 10-12 minutes faster than February, so there’s that.

Training Journal – Highly Suggestible

As we have already established by my marathon training, I am very easy to talk into potentially bad ideas. My friend Richard talked me into a marathon. My best friend talked me into the Badass Texas half marathon in three (!!) weeks. And now it seems my spin instructor may have talked me into a triathlon.

A little background here: it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve trained for a triathlon. I’ve actually done one as a matter of fact, a little indoor triathlon at the YMCA in Wisconsin. My proudest moment was not being the last person out of the pool. I am an AWFUL swimmer. I’m also terrible on a bike. So why am I doing this?

I’m a very big believer in conquering your fears. So even though the thought of putting my face in the water gives me panic attacks, I go swimming twice a week. One of my other close friends wants me to go bike riding with her so she can teach me not to leap off my bike instead of stopping it. I’m hoping that I’ll not only gain enough confidence to complete Baby’s First Triathlon, my running will improve as well.

This month my goal is to swim 1/4 mile twice a week, go to spin class twice a week, and run 3-4 times a week. If I have a goal – say, a triathlon to train for – I’ll be more likely to stick to this schedule.

Next stop, Badass Texas half!

Training Journal – Stronger Every Day!

I’ve had the best week! Last Saturday I ran in the Skyline 10K in Dallas and I am pleased to report that my pace has improved significantly since the Green 6.2; 12:04/mile at the Skyline down from 13:49/mile at the Green 6.2! Told you I’d crush it!

I fully attribute this to my cross-training. I’ve been going to spin class for about a month img_7741now and have been swimming intermittently as well. Tuesday I swam 525 yards, went to spin class for 45 minutes, then finished off with a 5K in which I dropped my pace by 15 seconds (!) from my last time on that trail. Thursday I added a second spin class and let me tell you, getting up at 5 AM is not at all fun. Next week, I’m adding a second 3 mile weekday run as well.

As it turns out, my best friend is also a terrible influence on me! She emailed me and asked if I wanted to join her for the Badass Texas half marathon – hailed as the hottest, hilliest half in Texas – because I am a badass. It’ll be my first half marathon since starting my new training regimen and I’m a little nervous.

img_7722The Skyline half went really well, though, so if I keep up my training I should be able to make a decent show of it. I was surprised by how easily I sustained my pace, even dropping to 11 minutes or lower in places! The miles seemed to fly by and I felt great afterward.

During my last marathon training attempt, I was plagued by shin splints the entire time. There were times that my right leg hurt so badly that I was just limping around work, or forcing myself to get through enough of my warmup that adrenaline would kick in and my muscles would warm out of it. I know, I know, not good for me. This time I’m being smarter.

In addition to the cross-training, I’ve changed my diet and as of today I have lost 10 pounds! I’m training myself to eat more than a pack of energy chews before a heavy training session, and I’m up to a granola bar and a banana. Eating before a run has always upset my stomach so I did most of my fueling mid-run. This way seems to be giving me more energy and I’m glad.

The Skyline Challenge has a time limit of 5 hours to run 22.4 miles, and the Houston Marathon has a time limit of 6 hours to run 26.2 miles. That means to finish both of them I have to keep a pace of 13:30 or lower, so I’ve got some work to do. If I can keep going the way I am now, I’ll be able to do it!

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Houston Marathon Hopeful

IMG_7373In the time I wasn’t updating here or doing much writing because why bother at this point (just kidding, it was depression), I got into running. Really into running. And at some point, 5Ks were just not doing it for me anymore. 8 months after I started the Couch to 5K program, I did my first half marathon. Last summer, I decided I was going to be super-amazing and try marathon training.

Let’s back up a second. So I have this friend I’ve known for like 15 years at this point, and he’s a very dedicated multiple marathon runner. He’s also the worst influence on me in the world. He can hype me up faster than anyone I’ve ever known, and he was super excited when I tentatively asked him questions about the Houston Marathon. My original goal for the year was to do the Houston Marathon Warmup Series, which is a series of 3 races that lead up to the Marathon in January: a half marathon, a 25K, and a 30K. Then my friend happened and my friends in the 10 Mile Club backed him up. The next thing I knew, I was signed up for the marathon. Twenty Six point Freaking Two.

I actually did really well. I pushed myself harder than I’ve ever pushed, running 4 times a week with a peak mileage of 32-35 miles. I was incredibly proud of myself when I not only made it up to 20 miles, I finished the Warmup Series with my friend cheering me on (and turning Deadpool into an inside joke). I’m so proud of these dang medals.

And then…INFLUENZA H3N2. The week of the marathon.

Obviously someone with a 103 degree fever isn’t running 1 mile, much less 26, so I stayed at home and stayed off Facebook where all my friends were running the marathon. I was so angry and bitter that I didn’t even congratulate anyone. Because all my hard work was wiped out by a horribly mutated virus and no fault of my own, I became depressed and lost all my motivation.

I’m proud to say that I’ve managed four races this year; The Cowtown 5K, Cowtown Half Marathon, Dash Down Greenville 5K, and Green 6.2 10K. Unfortunately, because I haven’t been training, I barely made it through the 10K. Even though my motivation still wasn’t there, and I suffered through some bad runs and another illness, I still applied for the 2019 Houston Marathon. And got in.

IMG_7598It is now critical that I get back into the training groove. I’m joining the marathon training group again in the summer, doing the Houston Half, then a 22.5 miler in late November, and by that time I should be ready for the marathon in January. Today, I started the dreaded cross-training.

It went pretty well. I did an hour of spin class – haven’t done THAT in more than a year and my butt is telling me all about it – followed by 3 miles on the track. My next run will be on Sunday before work, and I’m planning on 3-4 miles. My eye is on the Skyline 10K in Dallas on April 28th and dammit, I’m going to crush it.