Thursday, July 3, 2014

Hanging with Bart and Meb

Yup, tomorrow I'll be running 6.2 miles with flat Bart and Meb at the AJC Peachtree Road Race. You know you're jealous. 

Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I Walk the Line

(My apologies to Johnny Cash, may he rest in peace.) 

I am a MotherRunner and because of this I walk the line. I am a mother and a runner. I am a runner and a mother. But first and foremost, I am a mother who runs. I view running as my oxygen mask. When you’re flying, they always tell you that if you are traveling with children to put your oxygen mask on first and then assist the children. That’s what running is to me, my oxygen mask.

When we moved to New Orleans last June, it was with heavy hearts. Hubby’s restaurant closed and they transferred him to a new city. We loved Atlanta; it was the only home our boys remember. We left our hearts in Georgia. So we followed the job to New Orleans. This has not been an easy transition for any of us. June in NOLA felt like August in Atlanta. Hot and Humid. Then it got even hotter and even more humid. We didn’t leave the house. I kept the shades drawn and the ac at full blast. I would run in the early mornings before the sun would rise and melt the sidewalks with 100% humidity or in the early evenings when the humidity dropped but the sidewalks were melting. A few months in, hubby’s work hours changed to very early mornings and he needed to stay at the restaurant later. Thankfully, my treadmill arrived at this time. It was my saving grace. I was no longer a slave to weather or work. I then followed my marathon-training plan to a T and when I had to, I would run inside, thankful for that treadmill.

Somewhere in the midst of this, I realized that I was starting to dread my run. It started slowly at first, dread of the long runs. Then it took over my short runs and then, running in general. I noticed that I was more tired. I slept late and had a hard time getting myself started each morning. I spent all day tired and dreaming of bed, but the minute I crawled into bed, I couldn’t sleep. I was wide-awake. Headaches became the norm as well as the inability to focus or think clearly. It wasn’t until my parents came down for Christmas and my mom pointed out to me that I was depressed did I realize what was going on. I remember when the dread first entered my mind and I remember thinking that it was crazy. Even though I had that dread, I completed my runs. If it was on my training calendar, I got it done. That training calendar was the only thing that saved me.

Around New Years hubby heard that he was getting transferred, again. I am glad that we are getting out of this dark, depressing city, but this transfer means no marathon on Feb 2. All of that training flushed down the toilet. Or was it? It was the training that kept me from the throes of depression. I don’t think I would have gotten out of bed if it weren’t for my training calendar. While I am sad beyond all measure that I won’t be able to run 26.2 in two weeks, I realize the importance that my training had in my life. I am changed because of it. I am stronger because of it. It is my oxygen mask. I might have to put my racing on the back burner and be a MOTHERrunner, but it doesn’t mean that I am just a mother and not a runner. I am a mother who loves to run. I am a mother who needs to run. I am a MotherRunner and because of that, I walk the line.

It’s a great day for running y’all!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I’m (almost) a Marathoner

Yesterday I ran 23 miles. Actually, it was 23.15 miles but hey, who’s counting?


A few months ago I convinced hubby to request a Saturday off (yes, it really sucks that he works all.weekend.long) so I could run a half marathon and tack some miles on to make an even (or possibly odd) 23 miles for the day. I hadn’t run a race in 2013 yet due to the severe bout of flu I had last winter and had to bail on the 15k in January and then this wretched move to NOLA shot any dreams that I had of running the ATL Half for the third year in a row. When I discovered a half in December, I knew I had to take it. My plan for the day was to get down there early, run a two mile warm up, run the half and then tack on 8 miles and be done.

When I picked up my bib at the running store (yes the race was so small the “packet pick up” was at a store) I asked how big the race was. The woman tried to tell me it was a big race. I figured that since the quantity of bibs for the 5k AND the Half was smaller than the letter “B” at the ATL half, she didn’t know what big was. I was right. I had hubby and boys drop me off at the entrance to City Park so I could put in my two miles. I ran past the start line so I could get the lay of the scene and discovered I had tons of time. I had enough time to get three miles in and stretch before the National Anthem.

The Ole Man River Half started promptly at 8 am. The temperature was a cool 66, feels like 66. The wretched humidity was up to 94%. I could feel the cool, thick air as I hopped out of the car and I knew it was going to be a hard 23 miles. I’m not sure how or why, but the first 7 miles (remember 3 before the half, so 4 into the half) were well under the 12 minute pace. Once again, I blew my wad by going out way too fast for the distance and humidity that day. I guess it was race day jitters? I should know better by now. I even went into the day knowing that it was a possibility. Once my watched beeped 7 miles (4 into the half), I knew I was done. Crap. 9 miles left of the race and 16 miles left to run. I struggled. My pace slowed down and then the headwinds at the lake started working against me. The overpasses felt like mountains. It sprinkled a bit. I think that some people would call it rain, but I knew the “rain” could be much worse. Thankfully, it didn’t outright rain or I would have been screwed. Then the clouds burned off and the darned sun came out. I could feel the road starting to melt in the sun. The second half of the race was all a blur. Finally, I entered back into the park and the beautiful oak trees created some shade. As I entered the finish chute, I saw hubby and the boys holding the most amazing signs cheering me on. I literally cried when I saw them. The boys hopped in and brought me across the finish line!

I told hubby that was the hardest half I have ever run and he quickly reminded me that I have never put in 3 miles before a race. I did a quick stretch and walked with them back to the car. They went to play mini golf in the park and I pushed on through for the last 7 miles. Mid race I had planned to just bail. Jump in the car and go home with them. But then I saw those beautiful signs and I knew I couldn’t give up. I’m not a quitter. I adjusted my run-walk ratio to 2:2 and pushed on. I did it. I finished 23 miles and I felt like wonder woman! My IT band didn’t hurt like it did on my 20 miler. I think I could have pushed on for another 3.1 miles and completed the marathon distance. Don’t get me wrong, I hurt, but I was uncomfortable vs. the severe pain I felt last time.

What worked for this race:
Aspaeris pivot compression shorts really helped my IT band
Body glide on my feet and under the front of my bra line
Gels every 4 miles
Clif bar to munch on throughout the run (no real hunger pains mid run)
Hydration: 2-10 oz flasks of nuun + 2-8 oz flaks of nuun on my fuel belt+ 24 oz hand held of nuun in the front pocket of my race vest (hydration pack) + race vest full of water.

Lessons Learned:
Body glide on my shoulder straps and at the back of my bra- hello chafing!
Hydrate with electrolytes in the 24 hours before the race. When I finished the half, my hands were the equivalent of Fred Flintstone feet. I asked a friend who is almost done with nursing school and is an endurance athlete and she told me that I was dehydrated and I need to hydrate the day before with a combination of nuun and coconut water. I’m going to try that next time. I’ll keep y’all posted.

I didn’t PR on this race or even this run. I was incredibly proud of myself for keeping my pace below 12 minutes for the first 7 miles, even if it means that I struggled the last part of my run. The reason being is that when I finish this marathon and train for my next half, I will have a MAJOR half marathon PR. My endurance-athlete nurse friend told me that running doesn’t get easier, you just get faster. I have been sad that my pace has actually slowed down by a full minute this training round. I try to remind myself that my distance is doubling and unless you’re Kenyan, a marathon is not a sprint. Yesterday’s paces proved to me that with the proper training and focus, I will kick some major asphalt on my next half marathon.

Two weeks of light running then the big 26.0, then the long waited taper. I feel like I’ve been training for a year now.

It’s a great day for running y’all!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Half Marathon + 10 miles = Saturday's long run
I remember when 13.1 used to scare me...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Is there anything worse...

...than trying to run on the treadmill while refereeing two boys?


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Twenty Freaking Miles

Holy heck and shoot fire! Twenty miles is not for the feint of heart! Saturday, November 23 I ran 20 miles. TWENTY FREAKING MILES!!! I have never run that far and it was mind blowing! I prepared a 6.63 mile loop that I ran three times and then tacked on a bit more to get an even 20. I started just before 6:30 in the morning. I had gotten up early to eat a bowl of oatmeal and drink some water. My nerves woke me up early and I could barely finish my oatmeal. I threw a Clif bar in a Ziploc bag and planned to much on it during the run. I brought four gels and took them every four miles. I had my hydration vest full of water and my fuel belt was full of nuun (two 8 ounce flasks up front, two 10 ounce flasks in the back). The temperature was 64, feels like 64 with 94%+ humidity. The minute I stepped outside and felt the humidity I knew it would take longer than originally planned for this run. 

As expected, the humidity really weighed me down. I started munching on my Clif bar around five miles. Take a bite and swig some water. I have found that I get incredibly hungry mid-run and I need to eat something or my stomach growls so bad it feels like severe stomach cramping. Taking gels every four miles really worked. My run/walk ratios were 4/1 (minutes). About 15 miles in, I decided that I was absolutely crazy for doing this! I even ran into my neighbor and told them that I was 15 miles in to a 20 mile run, he and his wife just looked at me like I was crazy! I admitted to them that right about then, I was either crazy or incredibly stupid. I felt both!

I can honestly say that this was the hardest physical run I have ever had. I struggled to keep my mind in the game. Knowing that I had three loops made it easier. The first loop was just that, but by the second loop, I was telling myself that I only had to pass that house one more time. I only had to pass that tree one more time. That really helped. About 18 miles in, my body decided to start fighting me. I guess it had enough of the abuse. My IT band got incredibly tight and started affecting my knee. I could feel some major blisters on my feet. I pushed on through and had to walk more than I’d like those last 1.5 miles, but my garmin read 20.01 miles when I finally got home! And yes, I immediately took a picture of it!

What worked this time:
My hydration was good. I could have brought more nuun since I burned through it due to the humidity. I think I will bring my 16 ounce handheld full next time and strap it into my hydration vest
Fueling was epic! The Clif bar really helped and the gels did their job.
Body Glide got all of the hot spots from the last run so no chafing.
Mentally I was able to hang on and stay in the game.

Lessons learned:
One more flask of nuun for humidity.
Body glide my feet for blisters.
Try my Aspaeris compression shorts  to keep my IT band in check

Overall, this was an epic run and I couldn’t stop telling people for the next 36 hours that I had run 20 miles! I can’t wait to say that I am a marathoner and to put that 26.2 magnet on the back of my car!

Next up: I will run 23 miles on 12/14. I am actually going to run a half down at City Park and then tack on 10 more miles. I will need to remind myself to not race this event, but treat it like a long run. I’m notorious for blowing my wad in the first 10k of a half and struggle on through.

It’s a great day for running y’all!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

And I Crushed It!

I woke up before my alarm today. I tossed and turned all night, anticipating said alarm. 17 miles on tap for this morning and I was dreading them. My last few long runs have left a lot to be desired and the thought of running 17 undesirable miles brought me to tears. I sucked it up, got out of bed, got dressed and made myself some oatmeal. My plan was to run four miles outside and then finish up with 13 on the treadmill. I’ve been trying to run outside as much as I can when hubby is home to watch the boys. I know that my marathon is outside and not on the treadmill and let’s face it; outside running is far more enjoyable. I did my first four miles and they were magnificent. I have no idea what my splits are because my Garmin was dead this morning. Epic fail. Before stepping out the door, I grabbed one of the gels that I had laid out for my treadmill set and threw it into the pocket of my skirt. After the first four miles, I was stretching my calves and felt the gel. I decided what the heck, today was made for running. So I sucked down the gel and ran another four. If I had thrown anymore in my pocket I would have finished up my whole run outside. It was that good. My legs felt light, my lungs cooperated, there was a beautiful sunrise and the birds were singing. It was a perfect morning for running!

I ran a total of 8 miles outside at 1:33:29. The temperature was 63 degrees, 83% humidity and a dew point of 58. I ran 9 miles inside at 1:52:30. A total of 17 miles at 3:25:59. I still cannot figure out my proper pace on the treadmill. I feel like I am putting in a solid effort and I’m averaging 12 minute miles. The same pace outside gives me 10:30 minute miles. Perceived effort I guess?

Starting my run, I made the conscious effort to start out slow and steady, 17 miles is no joke and I wanted to finish strong instead of the usual crash and burn. I ran 4 minutes and walked 1 minute. In my past runs, I have run 4 walked 30 seconds and the wheels always come off in the second half. The 4:1 ratio (that I even kept on the treadmill) was perfect. I will keep that ratio for my next long runs (20 mi, 23 mi and 26 mi), only three more to go before race day! I took a gel every four miles (4, 8, 12 and 16). I had just water for the first 8 miles outside and then started alternating with water and nuun for the last 9. Like I said, I finished strong and didn’t feel too dehydrated by the end. I was covered in salt and had some nasty chaffing. Nothing that a little preemptive body glide can’t fix next time around.

I did eat half of a Clif bar after the 8 miles outside. I have noticed on my past runs that I get so hungry mid run I start to cramp. Trying to decide if I should bring a Clif bar on race day cut into 3rds in a Ziploc or just grab a kids’ Z bar. I will experiment on the last three long runs! I am elated that there are only three more to go! This has been a hard distance to train for. A half marathon definitely fits into my family time much easier than a full. As of this moment, I am not sure if I will run another full until the boys are much older and can stay home by themselves. I do know that it could completely change post race and I’ll probably sign up for my next one immediately. I am running a half marathon next month. It coincides with my 23 miler. I will run the race (my only 2013 race) and then come home and run 10 more.

What worked for today:
Carb loading yesterday was a success! Waffle with Greek yogurt for breakfast, sandwich and salad for lunch, snack, and spaghetti for dinner
Pre and during run fueling was a success! Oatmeal this morning, gels every 4 miles, half a clif bar mid run, water and nuun
Sticking to the 4:1 ratio

Lessons learned:
Body Glide. Body Glide. Body Glide
Need to get sunglasses for outside running
Charge the Garmin

I really needed this run today. It re-ignited my passion for running and proved that I am much stronger than I think.

It’s a great day for running y’all!