Tag Archives: Running

Training Journal – Hazards of Being a Cheapskate

Let’s be real here. No one actually enjoys energy gels. If I want a shot of energy that I’ll like eating, I grab Honey Stingers or Clif Blocks chews. They have the consistency of soft Dots and taste pretty good. Before a race or hard training session, I’ll eat a pack to get me going. Energy gels though…

History lesson: energy gels were created by people who hate joy for people who like punishing their bodies, because running ridiculous distances and biking a hundred miles will drain you of energy faster than cheap batteries in a game controller. They started showing up in the mid-eighties in clear packets that allowed everyone to see the terrible mistake you were making in real time. Since then, there are more packages and flavors than I can count but they all have one thing in common. The consistency is one level above glue, which means that your mouth desperately wants to chew it but when you try it feels so very wrong.

Runner’s World ranked 27 flavors of Gu, ostensibly the most popular gel brand, and I wasn’t surprised to find the unflavored one at the very bottom. Every runner friend I have always says the same thing when the unflavored Gu comes up in conversation: “who hates themselves that much?” Everyone has a flavor that they like (or tolerate the most), and mine is Jet Blackberry. I buy it by the box at my favorite running store and try and keep at least one in my running belt for emergencies. It’s pretty cheap but for a family on a tight budget, sometimes sacrifices have to be made. My other favorite is mocha Clif Shots, but there’s only one place that sells them around here and they’re expensive, and also the store employees are kind of snobby.

The last couple of long-distance races I ran had Gu at every water stop, and even though I had stuffed my belt with enough to last 15.5 miles I took one at every station because eating free gel is highly preferred to dipping into your own stash. Another race was the same way, and I took one every time again and squirreled them away for later consumption.

Then tragedy struck.

While running a half marathon, I went to a water stop and saw a box of gels. I grabbed one with my water only to discover that it was Gatorade Endurance. “No problem,” I thought. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.” It was not. The flavor was okay but the consistency was what I imagine sadness must taste like. It was more of a soup than a gel and I swallowed it as fast as possible, vowing to never make that mistake again. Unfortunately my cheapskate nature overtook my reason at the next water stop and the thought of saving money won over my distaste for the gel/soup. I not only ended up eating four of the things, I brought one home with me and promptly buried it in my bag.

The other day I went for a run and neglected to pack any Gu. There was one packet of something in the very bottom of my bag and…it was the vanilla Gatorade one. Desperate, I put it in my pack and went for a run. When it was time to refuel I tore it open and poured it into my mouth and friends, it was even worse hot. Somehow my stomach did not refuse it, but I immediately went to FWRunCo and bought a box of Jet Blackberry.

Moral of this story: always stock up on Gu.

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Training Journal: Houston Half Marathon

img_4720Two, nearly three, years ago I decided to start running again. When I was running in 2014, I never ran more than 3.5 miles. I had no desire to do anything longer. Then Charlotte and Richard, two of my best friends and the ones who can talk me into just about anything, invited me to come down to Houston to do the Houston Half 10K. There were months and months until the 10K so I was certain I could do it. I blew through the training plan in a month or two, and I started to wonder – could I run a half marathon?

The Houston Half will always have a place in my heart because 8 months after I started running, I finished my first half marathon along with Charlotte and Richard. Since then I’ve done upwards of 10 half marathons, and three of them have been the Houston Half in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Last Sunday to be exact.

Charlotte was still recovering from the Loony Challenge so she opted not to run this year, but Richard and I love traditions. We chatted on the plane about running (see yesterday’s terrifying post), and how neither of us were going to do well. He was recovering from the Loony Ultra Challenge and not only was I sick, but I’ve had this awful lingering hip pain since I overdid it on the release day for The Search for Sam so neither of us had run in at least 2 weeks. We went in with the goal of finishing.

Friends, it was bad. I made it about 7 miles before the pain was too much. I walked a large portion of the race, ran as much as I could, then was miserable in the sun for the last few miles. It was a new personal worst for both of us but we finished, ate our tacos Deadpool-style, and went for Mediterranean.

I’m terrified of what’s going to happen to me in January. I have 12 weeks to heal and train, and I’m doing stretches and anti-inflammatories. We’ll see how it goes.

Training Journal: Mistakes Were Made

mistakesGood job, Rebecca. Good job.

Last week I went running on Tuesday, like I do. I ran five miles on one of my favorite routes, then checked my preorder status. I’d been refreshing like mad because I was so close to a milestone…literally ten times the number of copies I sold of any of my books before! I needed to get out of the obsessive headspace I was in so I went out on the trail. I finished my five planned miles, then checked in on my preorders.

When I saw that I’d blown past my milestone, I got so excited that I did a celebratory extra five miles. And promptly pulled what Dr. Google has informed me is my hip flexor. I took it easy for the rest of the week and over the weekend with a few breaks to walk dogs, which actually made me feel better. Even the dog who tried to drag me across the concrete and caused a leash injury to my finger didn’t make it hurt so I thought I’d be cool to run on Sunday.

Nope.

I made it 2.5 miles before I had to tap out and I was kind of disappointed in myself. It didn’t hurt nearly as bad as it did on Tuesday but I could feel it getting annoyed with me so I stopped. Then I walked some dogs and it felt better. I don’t know what’s up but I’ve been looking up hip flexor exercises and I’m going to try laser therapy at work this week. I’ve also got two rolls of KT tape that I can pull out but I have got to put a bandaid on this thing because there’s less than 2 months til the Skyline Challenge, then another 2 months before the marathon.

I have a feeling that I’ll be walking the Cowtown Half in 2019.

Training Journal – Miles for Mollie and Taking it Slow

Runners all over the world watched the story of Mollie Tibbetts and her disappearance following a run. Nearly every female runner has experienced harassment on the trail, and nearly every female runner runs alone at some time. When her body was discovered, it was devastating.

A beautiful woman’s life was cut short when she had so many miles left to run, so women everywhere are running them in her honor. Mollie ran 6 miles. This morning I took to one of my usual trails alone and ran 6 miles for her. We can’t live our lives in fear, and even though I’ll be carrying pepper spray in my running belt now, I’m not going to stop running. That’s how Mollie would want it.

Speaking of strong women, I did another virtual 5K with my friend Karey! This one was a Harry Potter themed race; the Dash Against the Dark Arts. The medals were so cool! They opened like little books and have a glow in the dark moon inside.

Karey has had an exercise setback recently, and high impact movements cause her pain so we weren’t able to run this one. Instead, we power walked the 3.1 miles and had a good time. I always love spending time with her and I’m hoping we can look for spiders again soon. I’m also going to find another virtual 5K for us once I’m back from my conference in September.

Training has been spotty at best recently but it’s still coming along. My recent 10 miler was at a great pace and I have hope that I can do both the Skyline Challenge and the marathon within their respective time limits. This weekend I run 13 miles. I’ll probably toss in an extra 0.1 and call it a half marathon. I’m actually ahead of where I am supposed to be in my schedule so it’s all going to be fine in the end. I can feel it!

Training Journal – Panic Mode Engaged

16 WEEKS UNTIL SKYLINE CHALLENGE

Mistakes were made today.

Yesterday I made the mistake of looking at a calendar. I was immediately struck by a bone-deep horror when I realized that I only have 4 months to train for the Skyline Challenge. I’ve got to go from being a lazy slob to running 22.5 miles in 5 hours. That means I have to sustain a pace of 13:20 or less to finish the Challenge. Consider me kicked in the ass.

MaximumEffort

I spent some time last night working up a new training schedule that includes three runs a week, two spin classes a week, two swims a week at minimum. On Saturdays that I don’t work, I can take an extra spin class, and some Fridays I can do a short track run like I used to on Friday nights.

The marathon itself is further away – 6 months – but if I can complete the Skyline challenge (and that’s really all I want), the marathon will be a piece of cake. I’ll have an hour to run another 4 miles, and I’ll have 2 more months to get ready. It’s still scary and I can’t believe I’m considering doing either of them, but I’ve done scarier things and come out the other side in one piece.

superherolandingToday I went to spin class, which was rough considering it’s been like a month since I’ve been to it, followed by a nice easy 3 mile run. In 96 degree weather. If you don’t believe in climate change I’m not sure what to tell you except go outside and run in this heat that was definitely not this intense last summer. I know, I was running in it last year too.

I came very close to heat exhaustion today. Scratch that. I fell victim to heat exhaustion today. By the end of the run I was dizzy and my face was dry, in large part because the (only) water fountain that’s at my halfway point was either turned off or broken so I ran 3 miles in the heat with zero hydration besides the two bottles of water I drank at the Y. I was too overheated to even finish walking to my car so I laid on a bench in the shade until I felt better, then went back to my car and chugged another bottle of water.

Lesson learned, I guess. This weekend when I get paid I am definitely getting a hydration belt. I even know which one I want. I cannot get through another distance run without one, especially one longer than 3 miles.

Training Journal – Back on the Horse

The hardest thing about running (and being active in general) is making it a habit, especially if you didn’t grow up learning the importance of exercise. For me, I have a terrible tendency to let a small thing completely derail me and it’s hard to get going again.

I was doing great running, cross-training, and eating healthy but then I got strep throat and my pain medication stopped working, and everything spiraled down. Every time I wanted to get up and run I felt guilty for not going and I promised myself I’d start up again my next day off. Or the next. Or the next.

As much fun as I had at the Hell’s Half Acre 25K, my time was atrocious compared to the HMSA Masters 25K last year. It impressed upon me the importance of hitting my training hard again if I am going to make it to the marathon. Then I talked myself into being a slug and didn’t run for almost 2 weeks.

Today I decided it was enough. I had a headache when I woke up so I didn’t go to the gym for spin or swim, and was disappointed in myself. I reminded myself that the Trinity River Run’s Skyline Challenge is in October and I have to kick myself in the butt. Now. So I ate something, had a little caffeine, and went to run.

Then I got to the park.

It was 97 freaking degrees out and felt like I’d stepped into a furnace. I could have gone home. I wanted to go home. Instead I went to the gym and ran 3 miles on the indoor track. It definitely felt like I’ve been slacking but it also felt good.

Tomorrow morning I am going to get up and go for a run with my friend Amanda. Even if I’m slow I have to start somewhere. Never give up, never surrender.

Training Journal – Hell’s Half Acre

img_3853Some people go out partying on Saturday nights. My friends and I run long distances. 25K, to be exact. That’s 15.5 miles imperial. Chris, Becca, Stephanie and I ran the 25K, while Helen ran the 50K after running a 5K earlier for a total of just over 34 miles. Helen is a certified badass with the awards to prove it.

Most of the people I know thought I was crazy. 15.5 miles at 10:00 PM in the middle of summer? Madness! There’s nothing I love more than a challenge though, so I packed up my gear bag and hit the tollway.

The weather was actually fantastic. There was a nice breeze near the river, there was no sun in my face, and the temperature got cooler as I ran instead of hotter. Couple that with an almost completely flat course, add plentiful fluids and nutrition, and I had an awesome time.

The course was a 5K loop, which meant I had to run it 5 times, but it honestly didn’t feel boring or tedious. In fact, when I was finishing my 5th loop I was looking at all the little things I’d gotten used to seeing with a bit of sadness. It felt good to be running and when I crossed the finish line just after Stephanie and just before 2:00 AM, I felt incredibly accomplished.

I chatted with Stephanie for a while, then we walked to our cars and I started to get lightheaded. It was a little odd because I’d been hydrating regularly, eating my gels at the right times, and was eating a banana at the time. I sat on the curb and Stephanie sat with me until I felt better.

I got home a little after 3:30 and took a long, fantastic bath, ate some tacos and went to bed after hanging my new medal on the rack. I ended up getting to sleep at almost 5:00 AM and woke up at 9:30 to take my medication but couldn’t get back to sleep. My afternoon nap was blissful.img_3842

All in all, the Hell’s Half Acre 25K was an amazing time. It was the longest race I’ve done since last December’s 30K and I’m looking forward to starting my marathon training this week. Working from the bottom up to 20 miles again will feel just as good as this, if not better.

As an aside, I love the shirt they gave us. I have this great t-shirt from Lola’s Saloon that has a low v-neck that I adore, but it’s starting to unravel a little and I was hoping for a new one to pop up. This one looks like it has potential to be my new fave! It has a nice deep neck and is kind of soft. Plus, it tells the world that I did fifteen freaking miles! I don’t know if I’ll ever do the 50K, but I also said I’d never do a marathon and here we are.

I think I’m done racing until September. I’ve got the Labor Day 10K then and the CALF 15K, and I’m hoping to be in better shape than my last few races. Back to cross training!