Thursday, March 29, 2012

Being Human

Man - a creature made at the end of the week's work when God was tired.  ~Mark Twain

Running this week has been below average. Sorta.

I  have not ran as much as I have wanted due to aches, pains and staying up later than I should. I'm going to hit a 77-80 mile week.

I was disappointed for a moment.
Then I thought, to be disappointed in 80 miles...this is sad.

I had a great workout Tuesday, just another rust breaker...10min @ 5:56, 8 min @5:35, 5 min @5:21, 3 min @5:13, all with 2 min rest. HM/10K/5K/3K race pace.
I felt great so I turned around on Thursday and attempted 10x800m @ 5K-10K pace....that did not workout. I split 2:55 on #6. My legs felt heavy and tired.

In my early years, not completing a workout was like the end of the Universe. Now, its like, "You know what, I've got life to worry about now."

We don't have time to worry about an incomplete workout. Really, we don't have time to worry about not making my miles. I'm not sure what causes me (us- distance runners) to over analyze our training sometimes.

I don't know why I (we) need to obsess over our faults.
We need to focus on our small successes each day.

Making mistakes is what teaches us life lessons. I hope that this week, you fail a little bit along the way, too.

In the end, you will be better because of it. Trust me.

Sorta Related, I got a chance to read The Ultimate Beginner's Running Guide: The Key To Running Inspired. I'm not a beginner, but I will read anything running related if someone gives it to me. I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because I got to take myself back to the very beginning of "running" for me....when I was embarrassed running because I was worried about who would see me! During this time, I had no idea what training for a race would include and I lacked confidence in myself. Clearly, I would have benefited from a guide like this. I appreciate getting the chance to read it. Look for a review in a few days.

Run happy!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

5 weeks from Montreal (Half-Marathon)

This was my last week of “recovery” after NOLA Marathon, I did my best to run less than I wanted to. My legs feel good, and I’m itching to crank up my miles. I ran 65 miles this week and it feels like I barely ran at all.

Wednesday was my first official workout back and I felt surprisingly well. Originally, I had scheduled 8X1000m @ 5:35 mile pace (goal 10K pace), but I was bored half way into the first interval so I ran 5 min intervals instead.

Saturday I planned to run my standard 6 miles at goal half marathon pace. Typically this is usually a shock for the legs after the marathon. To change things up, I ran the local Historic Starkvegas “10K” (it’s a very hilly and long course, 6.43 miler to be exact). I ran a great tempo and awesome splits, averaging 5:57 (sub-80 pace) on the hardest 10K course I have ever run. It’s a rather new race…a nice scenic course that needs to be measured or certified (obviously). But it was incredibly organized in its second year- if they end up getting it re-measured for next year, I may do it again. Great hill training!
Oh yeah, I did win, my friend Kelly was second. I felt fantastic!
Right before the finish! Photo by Rod's Racers

Kelly and I after our race/tempo run.

Monday: 10 miles
Tuesday: 10.5 miles ( w/ Kelly)
Wednesday: 15 min w/u, 10 min c/d, 5X5 min @ 5:35 mile pace with 2 min recovery jog in between (on treadmill) felt heavy during the first two intervals, great after that.
Thursday: 8 miles (up late- conference)
Friday: 10 miles (conference)
Saturday: 2.5 mile w/u, 6.43 mile tempo at goal half-marathon pace (38:16 or 5:57 pace) felt great! Very hilly and difficult course, 3 mile c/d with Kelly + 1 mile fun run (13 miles) 1st lady.
Splits: 5:56 (up hill) 5:49 (flat), 5:53, 5:55, 6:01, 6:04, 5:59 (final .43) ~last two miles were very hilly and zig-zaged a lot which caused my splits to be slower, effort was the same.
Sunday: 6 miles (wanted to run more but I have 4 really big weeks ahead of me)

Currently I am working out my training for Canadian Half-Marathon Championships. The goal is to average somewhere around 5:55-6:00 pace.  Ultimately, I would like to break 78, but I’ve got to put the work in first.  I was just told today that I have a Montreal Endurance teammate looking to run 1:17:30 so I am very excited…going to hang on as long as I can and see what happens.

Before I forget, I now have a new sponsor! That is right, GU has entered me into one of their programs. I’m extremely excited, cannot wait to try some new flavors! I guess stealing all those GUs in the elite tent at NOLA was not necessary after all J


Saturday, March 17, 2012

Teaming up and starting fresh.

These last two weeks I have really focused on recovering. I did not run a step faster than 7:30 mile pace until this past Thursday were I did a mini workout to test the legs. I feel fast and strong and ready to go...but I'm being careful.

I'm ready to start a new chapter.

It is obvious that Houston has found the right mix of training and recovery to allow me to improve tremendously over the last year. We are still going to make some adjustments, but generally, me training will be the same with another increase in miles and some faster stuff thrown in to help me run the Canadian 10K Trials standard. Jumping from 60 miles to 80 miles has helped me shed 10 minutes in the marathon, so I will be making another jump in mileage, and possibly another if my body responds positively. I am also changing to a two-week schedule, something we experimented with before NOLA that proved to be successful.

Running the NOLA marathon has inspired me to register for the Canadian Half-Marathon Championships at the end of April. I'm still very confused about racing back home and navigating the Athletics Canada website is extremely difficult for a Canadian living in Mississippi. Therefore I have joined Montreal Endurancenon-profit sports team based out of out of Montreal, Quebec. Its current list of athletes compete in a variety of of endurance sports, from running (800m to the marathon), triathlon (swimming, cycling and road running) as well as cross country skiing. I'm very excited to be a part of this team as I have been reading the teams blogs for quite some time already. For those of you that don't know, my Cousin Ryan (Hodge) is also a member. Cool stuff!

The blog post on the Montreal Endurance site about me joining the team states that I am currently the #1 ranked female marathoner in Canada. Keeping in mind that it is VERY early in the year, and any minute I could be bumped down the list. Still, its pretty cool, and even though my current PR would have me ranked 11th on last years results, I will be running a fall marathon. If all the "uncontrollables" are...controlled, I will run another big personal best. I would like to finish the year in the top 6. I am capable of this.

I'm trying to live like I feel an elite runner SHOULD. Possibly this will help me transform into one... (sink or swim, maybe?). I need to say that none of this is possible without a strong support group, My family is so supportive of my running, not just my husband, but my father, mother, siblings, cousins, relatives, inlaws, friends. Even my local running group, Boardtown Runners (a runners dream) my Mississippi team, Rod's Racers, and the Brooks ID program. I am so blessed to have so many people that support what I do, even my Maddy slaps me high five when I am logging miles on the treadmill (she's 17 months, going on 17 years). Its amazing how many runners I get to connect with on a daily basis.

Even with so much going on, I feel that I still have the time to be dedicated to running. I have really found a balance, and some creative ways of adding miles without sacrificing family or work time. Getting rid of the crud (most TV and all other hobbies besides blogging and reading) has helped. Running is very important to me but Maddy and Houston must come first. I am very blessed that they are so supportive. 

Next week I am running the Historic Starkvegas 10K as a tempo run to test the legs. I have a very busy summer that I am excited about. Time to buckle up and run some PRs!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rock n Roll New Orleans Marathon Race Recap

Marathon in 2:49:06* for 1st! J
+ bathroom break after the half-way point (36 seconds from door to road)
So 2:48:30 without it ??
(I’ve heard there are no potty break conversions in the marathon. L)


Houston, Maddy and I headed to New Orleans Saturday morning being that is was only a 5 hour drive and there was an event I wanted to attend Friday night.  We arrived at the race expo at 2:00pm.

I  was told I had to visit the “solutions desk” to pick up my race packet. Here- I struggled.  
I told the man waiting on me, “I need to pick up my race packet here.”
He then looked at me like I was crazy.
Struggling to explain myself I blurted out “Um…uh…I’m an elite…?”
He nodded as if to say “right answer” and grabbed a piece of white paper from underneath his desk, “OK, fill this out, what is your name?”
He then came back a minute later with a race bib, arm bad, and a timing chip.

This is what he gave me.

Thanks David for taking this.

I’ve never received this number before in a road race. I have been “1” on the track numerous times, but in a road race with 22,000 other people- this was a first.
Maddy at the expo- messy hair and cookie crumbs!
 We cruised through the expo, hitting the high spots – Brooks had a huge awesome presence doing gait analysis and showing off their super new line of clothing- I didn't forget to visit my new friends at Sof Sole and ZeroWater…I even got to catch a few minutes of Frank Shorter and Rod Dixon talking about the good old days.  I would drive five hours to listen to two running legends like Frank and Rod (look at me, like we are on a first name basis or something).

That night I made a rookie mistake. I was starving so Houston and I didn’t spend too long looking for a restaurant, we picked the closest Italian place we could find. Unfortunately,  I couldn’t pronounce anything on the menu, so I ordered the only thing I could recognize: Lasagna.
The mistake, only the real thing was twice as meaty.
Mistake. Big. Mistake.

I had a stomach ache all night, that lasagna was rich – much richer than the Kroger brand we are used to J. When I woke up race morning, I made numerous trips to the bathroom and I had a sneaky suspicion I may suffer from some stomach problems later in the race.

Being that we were staying at some over-priced hotel only ¾ of a mile from the start line (there was mandatory $35 valet parking) I had no trouble getting there in the morning to warm up and check my bag.  The energy at the start line was amazing, the music was blaring, it was NOLA, it was AWESOME.  I lined up with all the other “elites” and the when the gun went off- it was time to get to work.

I can understand how the half at New Orleans is so freakin fast, especially for the women. It is amazing, I have never had so many people to run with, many running sub 1:19 pace. Its flat as a freaking pancake, lined with fans, live bands at every turn.  You run down by the French Quarter and many of the most beautiful sites that NOLA has to offer. The first 13 miles was awesome. 

I was really just floating. 

I glanced down at my watch every once in a while and knew I was running on pace. I felt amazing, slow at times. I was POSTIVE I could run 26.2 miles at the pace I was running, I was laughing talking and really enjoying myself.  Until about 8 miles it was really just a dream of a race.
Early, feeling good.

After that I started getting blisters. Like an idiot, I wore socks I had not tested over a 10 mile run and could FEEL blisters forming on my left foot. Every time I took a step I got a shooting pain up my leg and my foot was already slapping the ground hard. I figured it would be something ridiculous like BLISTERS that slow me.

Ha, wrong.

1:22:33 at half-way (just before the bathroom break!)

At nine miles my stomach was aching hard, I was hurting and I KNEW I was going to have to stop for a bathroom break. Being that I had a awesome group to run with through the half, I held on as long as I could. After recruiting my biker friend to watch for second, and bidding my running friend so long (for now) I darted into a port-a-john about 10 meters off the course just before City Park. From opening the door until I stepped back onto the road, it was 36 seconds. New Record. Biker high-five.

Then I did something stupid.

Feeling amazing and somewhat fired up about how awesome I handled that “could have been disastrous” situation, I dropped a 5:58 mile after sprinting to and from the bathroom running into the wind at City Park. Feeling good for just over a mile, I started to tire unexpectedly at 15, and at that point I realized I was in trouble.
Sprint to catch the pack of guys ahead with a 5:58 mile. Dumb move.
I was alone and it was windy on this stretch.  My hip started to get tight, my breathing labored. My stomach still hurt but at least it was not throbbing.  I didn’t feel good anymore.

I got quiet and started to think positive thoughts. Honestly, I had no idea if the people in front of me were coming back or not ( I told myself they were). My husband offered me a gel, I refused,  got quiet. No one spoke. I kept running.

Mile 16 I was passed and I spent about a minute trying to find my legs again. I was confident I could stay with this guy, and he was happy enough to run in front of me. We got back on pace running mid 6:20’s, not what I wanted but given the way I felt I was happy with it. It was getting hot and the sun was out, I was doing everything I could just to overcome those negative spots that made we want to drop out. I felt like I was going to bonk at any minute.

The next few miles were uneventful, I was catching back up with some of my earlier friends, but my stomach, feet, and body were still hurting. My form was deteriorating and at mile 21 I felt the side of my foot split open and was forced to run heal toe like a normal person.  My legs felt dead and heavy doing this.
Getting back in the race

I’ve ran a lot of races in the past were I have really had to fight from half way because of my hip locking up so I figured I could rally. I convinced myself that if I let the guy in front of me go, I would be second and I would lose the race. Problem was that he was slowing too, and finding another gear somewhere, I ended up passing him before it was all said and done.

Running back towards the (eventual) finish, we turned back onto the course were 1000s of runners were just heading out to run the loop around the bay. Without these 1000s of screaming runners, I am not sure if I would have finished Sunday. I felt a few small surges of excitement and energy and for the first time, I realized I could really win.

The clock was off a minute the entire time so I figured I was under 2:50 for sure. I did some math and realized I only had to run 6:50 pace the rest of the way to break 2:50. This motivated me to run 6:30s, and before I knew it, I hit mile 25.

The last mile was a complete blur as we got closer and closer to the finish. There were more fans here and it really helped carry me along. I heard my name numerous times, I tried to wave but I couldn’t tell who anyone was. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other at a pace that would keep second behind me.

I passed two people late and finished the final 400 meters under 6:00 pace. It was exhilarating to run up the final straight away with people screaming at me, breaking a Rock N Roll tape. MOST OF ALL, it was relieving. After as much trouble as I had…I was just happy for it all to be over.
Photo by

Breaking the tape
Afterwards I headed to VIP and grabbed a cup of coffee (yes, after 26 miles, this was all I wanted) and chatted with a few of the other winners, especially Liz, the woman that finished second, a beautiful woman and FAST!  When no one was looking I snatched up a few handful of Gus that were piled all over the tent (for those of us that don’t have a nutrition sponsor, GU/Gels are expensive) I was just waiting for someone to say, “Is that the woman that won the marathon stealing all those Gus?” 
Why yes that was me, and I went to the bathroom during the marathon too, in case you were wondering.

Highlight of the weekend besides winning a Rock n Roll marathon in one of my FAVORITE places on earth? Feeding Maddy beignets from the VIP buffet and accepting my award from Frank Shorter and Rod Dixon.

Look at us laughing, haha. Me and FRANK SHORTER are laughing at something…TOGETHER

After all that, what did the Franks do? Celebrate? Yes, we celebrated (Franks Style)

We jumped in the car, stopped at a Wendy’s about an hour down the road. The Walking Dead was coming on AMC at 8:00pm and I wanted to clean the house before work in the morning.


Thanks for all the love and support. Your comments mean a lot. I have great running friends, family, a great community of supporters here in Starkville and with this blog. The 2:49, not what I wanted, and I know that I am capable of much better, but a win and a PR – can’t really complain.

I will line up for 26.2 once again to chase 2:45. For now, back to being Mom.

Happy Running.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

How it went down...

Rock N Roll New Orleans Marathon: 2:49:06 for 1st female.
Bathroom break, stomach issues. But a PR is a PR!
Recap coming soon...for now, video below!

Thanks for all the love and support!
Run Happy :)