Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lesson Learned!

OK, OK...maybe I should have already known this, but I learned this one the hard way.

This morning I was determined that in our training run I was going to run the first 3.1 miles in UNDER 30 minutes. I've only done that once - during the Allen Springfest 5K, and I still don't know what happened except that it was very cold that day. I got up feeling GREAT and ready to go. The temperature outside was between 55 and 62 degrees, but it didn't feel that cold. I told Rick I wanted to stop and get an energy drink on the way to "the Rock". We stopped at Quick Trip and I got the energy drink. Rick thought he'd like some coffee and it sounded so good I got some too. I drank all the energy drink and about 1/3 of the coffee on the way to the lake. We started off and I still felt great. I ran the first mile in 9:37 and I was running smooth and not breathing too awfully hard - so I was right on the pace I wanted to do the entire 3.1 in.

Disclaimer: This part of the post is not for the faint stomached!

At about mile 1.4 Rick called out that he wasn't going to drink coffee before a run ever again - he was really feeling it. I turned my head to see if he was looking OK and when I turned back it hit...I said I'm going to have to stop for a second - we stopped and I walked onto the grass and immediately heaved and heaved and heaved - I lost a good portion of what I had consumed that morning in the grass on the side of the running path. Of course then I felt like carp as well! Oh, and by the way, for those of you that use the Garmin feature of auto-pause...your Garmin may pause when you stop - but as soon as you start barfing your guts out it senses the movement and starts the clock running again! It will sure mess with your pace!

End of Disclaimer

We went on running, but with the stop I knew I wasn't going to make my under 30 time. I pressed on, but after mile 2, and before mile 3 I had to walk some and let my tummy settle a bit. Even with the stop and the walk break we still managed a 31:30 5K time. Well, I thought, perhaps a negative split then....but it was not to be. We finished mile 6.2 in a respectable 1:03:13 which is about a 31:43 5K. So we kept on mile 8 I was feeling good again and I actually ran the last mile at a 9:47 pace. I think that is the first time I've ever run the last mile and it felt halfway decent. I just wish this had been a bit better run.

I want you all to notice the new races posted in my upcoming runs list.

We got the news this past week that we may not get to go to San Antonio. Rick got transferred to a new group last week and they are scheduled to move their offices the weekend of the race. We should find out something for sure next week.

To stave off some of the disappointment we signed up for the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot - an 8 mile run on Thanksgiving morning, and then we decided to go for broke and sign up for the Rudolph Run here in Allen - a 5K that some of my students have been talking about running as well. Then today when we were talking to Cotton on the phone he told us to sign up for the Dallas Running Club 1/2 marathon as my birthday present. He knew how disappointed we were to not get to go run our first 1/2 in San Antoino, and this one is already 99% full - so if we were going to sign up we needed to do so now. We were planning on running the distance that day anyway - now we'll just get a medal for doing it! He also thinks he might be able to come out and watch us run - that will be really cool! THANKS SON!

Guess we'll be tapering our running next week now for the newest race on our list. I'm not going to take San Antoinio off until we know something for sure...keep tuned in for more details to come!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Training Run

Today was another long run in our training for the San Antonio Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon. It is getting close and we are getting excited. We decided when we signed up for this run that we wanted to run the distance before the race just to make sure we could finish - Ha!

This was the second time we have run the entire 13.1 miles - and was by far one of my best runs. I've been saying all summer that the heat just kills my running and the run this morning is just one more item I have to prove that.

When we got to White Rock Lake this morning it was about 6:30. (We slept in since we went to church last night and wouldn't be driving over to see the kids after our run this morning!). It was also about 60 degrees! For me - that was heaven! When we started out it was with shivering muscles and chattering teeth, but that didn't last long! :) The first mile was a warm up in the most literal sense of the word. The longer I went, the better I felt. By the 2nd mile in I was really feeling good! I picked up the pace...I kept thinking, "This is going to kill me on the back side, but it feels so good right now!" Rick said there was a little way there that he had trouble keeping up with me! We finished the first 5K in a respectable 30:57. The 3rd mile of that was run at a 9:46 pace. Like I said - I was starting to feel good!

We stopped for our water break and then took off again. Hoooo wheeeee! After that stop I could really feel the thigh muscles start to tighten. I figured they would loosen right up....hmmmmm. We ran the next 5K in 30:48. If it had been a 10K we were running that would have been negative splits! We actually ran at 9:55, 9:52, and 9:56 splilts for the 3 miles! And one of those was over 1/2 up-hill!!!

I was still feeling good and I was pretty much keeping pace with Rick - a first on one of these longer runs. Well, not so much maybe. The first time we went this distance my goal was to keep the pace below 11:00 minute miles and he stayed with me because we didn't know how hard it would be and we didn't want to have to quit before we finished the distance. Normally when we just do the 9 mile loop he pretty much leaves me in the dust and waits for me at the water stops. :) He is always encouraging when I catch up!

We took off from our water break and I was determined that I was going to keep the pace up for the next 3 miles and beat our 9 mile PR. Our splits on this set were 10:07, 10:06, and 9:43. Can you tell where the fewest hills were, lol? We finished the normal 9.1 miles in 1:30:09. Only .03 slower than our best which was run when we knew that was the complete distance! Now we only had 4 miles to go!

The last 3 were pretty hard. Mile 10 was OK, although it did have a pretty good hill I was still feeling pretty good. I ran that in 10:09. Then the thighs finally locked up - they were screaming at me to STOP THE INSANITY!!!!! My head just kept telling them to pick 'em up and put 'em down. My goal was to not go over a 10:30 split and I almost made it. Mile 12 was my slowest at 10:34. Again, the hill got to me...thank heavens for the water at the top of that hill. Rick finally had to slow down and wait for me a bit at then end of mile 13...with only about .41 miles to go he slowed down and paced me to the end - encouraging me every step of the way to kick it up a notch. We finally finished the entire 13.1 in 2:12:15. Now this is Garmin time - not clock time. I still figure we did it in well under 2:30 - even with longer water stops than we would take in a race, so we are right on pace to meet our goal in San Antonio of finishing in under 2:30.

It is so great to have such an amazing running partner with me on these runs. Even when I can't keep up I know he will be there waiting at each stop for me with an encouraging word and a pat on the back. Keeps me going, and going, and going......

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Pumpkin Run

Today was one of the days I've been training for! The 22nd annual Pumpkin Run. (According to the lovely shirt I'm now wearing!) I was hoping to break my previous blazing speed of 1:07:45 from the Dublin 10-2-4K we ran last June. My training times have been in the 1:04 range in our White Rock runs. (That is real time which includes water stops). I felt pretty confident I could do it this time! I was hoping that the horrible cold I picked up from the kids at school wouldn't affect me too much - The Nyquil and Dayquil I had been taking had seemed to help my breathing some and I wasn't coughing as much as I had been over the course of the past week.

We got off to a bad start when we were driving over to Joe Pool. Who would think you would run into dead stopped traffic at 7:30 on a Saturday morning? Well, if you live in the Dallas area I suppose it SHOULD come as no surprise. Yep, there we were, STUCK! We finally decided to go around the city instead of through it and found out there had been a traffic accident where a minivan had flipped over a guard rail...I sure hope no one was seriously hurt!

We finally got to the park where the race was to be run and missed the turn because the sign was right at the turn - no warning ahead of we made a U-eeee and came back. Then it was bumper to bumper from the entrance all the way to where you parked! We picked up our packets and our timing chips, got our bibs and chips situated where they belong and walked to put the stuff back into the car. Stopped at the porta-potty on our way back to the start to find out that it had been delayed for about 15 minutes, which meant we wouldn't start until 9:15...not a big deal in most places, but in Texas 15 minutes could mean an extra 10 degrees of heat!

Now this is a big run for the schools around the area - didn't know that ahead of time! The schools compete to see who can get the most runners to sign up and run. (Most enter the 5K). The winning school get $550.00. Sooooooo ... the begining of the race was a bit packed to say the least. The top 3 schools alone had over 400 runners with them! And as usual, the walkers did NOT go to the back of the starting area as requested NUMEROUS times! I don't know why they can't just do that - it isn't like their time starts before they cross the mat or anything and it is such a PAIN to go around them!

Once the gun went off Rick and I started working our way through the maze of kids, moms and dads, and strollers in front of us. I looked at my Garmin and we were going at about a 9:00 mile...oops, a little fast for me - so I slowed my pace a bit. The first mile felt great - even fighting the cold. My pace was still a little faster than I wanted at 9:30, but it felt really good. Mile two was good as well...there was a small hill, but I took it like a pro and shortened my steps, straightened my back and I was up it before I knew it was there - well, may not before I knew it was there, but it didn't pose much of a problem! Mile 3 is where I started feeling the run. We were out of the shade provided by the trees the first two miles, the temperature was rising and I looked up and saw a fairly decent hill in front of me. I was sure I could do this. It wasn't as bad as the hill at White Rock - I've hit that one at the 5 mile mark and kept my pace pretty steady, so I should be able to do this too, right? I could still see Rick up ahead of me, so I was feeling pretty good about myself, even though my pace had slowed to about 10:30 miles. At the top of the hill I thought I was going to die! I couldn't catch my breath and I felt like my legs were made of lead. I kept plodding along though watching my pace get slower and slower. Rick hit the turn-around ahead of me (of course) and I got to give him a thumbs-up as he went by going the other direction. I kept going - walked through the water stop which was the plan, and went on for the turn around. I was hoping to pick the pace back up at the hill - and I did for a very short time. Mile 4 was decent - under 11:00 - although I really wanted to keep them all below 10:30 - I've done that before! Still no trees and the temperature was still climbing. It would be in the low 80's before we were finished - which is still much better than the 90's we experienced in Dubllin!!!

I turned the corner at the bottom of the hill and figured I was headed for home and should be turning at the road we started on fairly soon...but it was not to be. When we got there we had to keep going out to the lake, around a small loop, and back in again. This was all into a headwind. Even though I felt like I had picked up the pace it sure wasn't showing! I passed Rick here again with only about a mile to go in the race (so he had about 1/2 a mile at this point). We high-fived each other as we passed and he shouted some words of encouragement to me. I just kept plodding along. After the loop I headed for the last water station. Guess what...they were out of water! I guess all the 1 mile and 5K runners wiped them out. Oh yeah...the beginning of this loop is where the 5K and 10K joined back up, so you were back dodging the walking 5K people wasn't quite as bad because it was the end of the race and it wasn't as bunched up, but still a little frustrating.

I made the turn and there were a few people that had finished the races that were walking back to their cars, but they were polite and were pretty much staying out of the running lanes. I finally made it to where I could see the finish line and there was Rick, walking across the parking lot to cheer me on. He shouted for me to "kick it to the finish", so I gave it all I had. (So did the guy in front of me - but I passed him anyway....should Imention he was probably in his 70's?)!

I crossed the finish line and Rick took me to the banana and water stations to fuel up. It felt good! We waited for the results and I was happily surprised to see that I now had a new PR - 1:06:03. A great 1:42 better than my previous time - but a disappointing 2 minutes slower than my goal time of 1:04. I was also surprised to learn I had taken 2nd place in my age group - I guess I should mention here that there were only 2 runners in my age group! I had to laugh at that!!!! The first place runner only beat me by 15 seconds!

Rick had an amazing race. Despite having problems with the ball of his foot he ran a fantastic 58:42...breaking the one hour barrier. He just keeps getting better and better. Despite being that good he placed 5th in his age group...but only a couple minutes out of a medal...I'm sure it won't be long before he will be picking up some bling!

All in all it ended up being a pretty good race. I hope we get a chance to do it again next year - but without the cold and the bad foot!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Most Amazing Race

This post is not about me - it is about one of the most amazing people I son. Nearly two years ago, in January of 2007, my son Cotton started running. He started like most runners - slowly, carefully, a block at a time. It wasn't long before he was running a mile, then two, then more. He came in one April day and told us that he had signed up for a half marathon. Not just any half marathon mind you, the Tahoe half. We were excited for him, and proud of him for making that commitment, and the more we talked about it the more we felt someone should go with him, so his dad took some vacation and in September of last year they were both off to Tahoe for 5 days. Cotton did really well, he ran a 2:06 time in only his second race.

After that race he came back even more excited about running. He also began biking - first with a mountain bike, then with a road bike. He kept working on speed and endurance in both arenas. One evening he came in and said he had decided he really wanted to challenge himself and try the Ultra Marathon in Tahoe. 72 miles all the way around the lake. We all discussed it and he said he would need to get a crew to go with him. Why not us? So all three of us made reservations for air and hotel and we got a van for the race. He biked the MS150 early in the year and then was ready to start concentrating on training for the Ultra. The classes he was taking in school were much more time consuming than he had first anticipated, so in March he sent an email to move down to just the marathon. School and work were simply taking up too much of his training time. In August the restaurant he was working at shut the doors with no warning, that meant he had to get a new job - now he had longer hours which cut into his training time even more. He thought he'd just pay the fee and move on down to the half marathon again when we got to Tahoe.

We flew into Tahoe on Thursday and met his grandparents there. We had such a great evening visiting. Got up before sunrise on Friday and went out for a short (3 - 4 mile) run, then out to Emerald Bay to take pictures and hike for a bit. Then we went up to Heavenly in the cable cars and hiked the green trail. We came back a little early so Cotton could ride the zip line from the top of the mountain. A 550 ft. drop!!! He had a blast.

On Saturday Rick and I got up early and went back out to Emerald Bay to get some sunrise pictures and hike some more. Cotton stayed at the hotel so he could go to the expo and rest his legs for the race. He had decided that whatever they had him signed up for he would give it a shot. As we were returning to the hotel we got a phone call from Cotton. They had lost his bib - he had a handmade bib, and the race was not going to be chipped timed. He was so upset. When we got back we talked to him and then we all got ready to meet Grandma and Grandpa for lunch and shopping. While we were there Cotton got a text message saying they had his bib. HE WAS STILL SIGNED UP FOR THE ULTRA MARATHON, NOT THE MARATHON!! OK...he decided he would go for it. Even though the longest distance he had run up to this point was 24 miles he would give it a shot. He went to the safety meeting with his Dad and then we were off and running picking up supplies for the midnight start of the race.

At midnight (after about 2-3 hours of rest) Cotton took off. We would drive ahead of him for about 3 miles and park and wait for him to catch up with us. We had mapped out the first three spots, but beyond that was anybody's guess! When he reached us the first few times he didn't even stop. We knew what he wanted so we would have it ready to hand to him. He was going for about a 13 minute mile pace and was doing pretty well sticking to it. He figured if he did 24 40 minute 5Ks he would finish within the allotted time. He was slightly ahead of pace after the 3rd stop. Once we passed that stop we were out of Tahoe and just on the highway. Let me tell you - it is DARK out there! When Rick and I were sitting in the car we couldn't even see each other! But if you stepped outside there were so many more stars than you could EVER imagine! It was simply amazing.

At about 3:00 AM Cotton stopped at stop 6 (17.8 miles). We didn't know it at the time, but once he started back up it was going to be a bit of a climb. HA! I can say a bit of a climb now because we didn't know what he was in for - running for 3 miles uphill at a 7% incline. It was like the hill that would never end! We were able to let him know at this point however that a lot of the other runners ahead of him had been walking a little more. He kept going and at stop number 10 we congratulated him. He had completed 26.2 miles - his first full marathon! It was 5:04 AM and he was still ready to run some more.

After stop number 11 we ran into just a little trouble. At the meeting, I guess Rick had to step out to go pick up some bus tickets or something, so he missed the information about a couple of the turns that needed to be made. We missed the turn. After 15 minutes with no runners passing us we backtracked to the turn, found the director and made sure we were where we needed to be. We caught up with Cotton (who, thank heavens, had NOT missed the turn) and gave him some Gatorade and orange slices. We were also fortunate that I was running with him when his phone rang so he was able to get some encouraging words from one of his friends.

As we waited at stop number 17, about 8:00 AM we could see Cotton walking toward us. It appeared like he had really hit a wall! He had completed about 37.4 miles so we could understand how exhausted he was. He was very emotional as he told us he would just like to try for 40 miles. He was so close. I asked if I could run with him a little bit and he must have REALLY been tired because he said yes. Off we went...oops, I quickly realized I had forgotten to take off a couple of layers! You heat up pretty quickly when you are running as opposed to just sitting outside a car waiting! I stuck with it though and when we stopped we were at the 39.5 mile mark. I told him, "You can do this!" I left my fleece jacket and sweater in the van and off we went for another 2 miles. At 41.7 miles I guess the Red Bull had given him wings because he was leaving me in the dust. He was up to 9:30 minute miles or faster - going uphill! When we reached the van we decided it was Dad's turn to run a little. Off went my boys. After stop 20 (46.1 miles at 9:22 AM) Rick told me that Cotton wanted to see if he could finish the 50 miles in under the qualifying time of 11 hours. I thought "cool", even though I didn't have a clue what he was trying to qualify for! At the next stop (48.2 miles) Rick told me - he wants to qualify for the Western States 100! I got back in the van and drove just a few 10ths of a mile down the road and there were the vehicles. The race director was there cheering runners on. She asked the name of my runner...I told her Cotton, that he was still going strong and was hoping to make it in the qualifying time. She just grinned and said that at this point he could probably crawl and make it! It was so beautiful to see him come up over the rise - he passed the mark at 10:18!!! Over 40 minuted UNDER the time needed. He blew past me like I was standing still...Oh yeah, I WAS standing still! Rick caught up and we both got in the van to drive to the next spot up the road. At just over 10:30 and 51 miled Cotton decided to pull the plug. Both legs were nothing but knotted muscles, and he felt like his knee was going so he called it a day.

Some might think that this was a failure since he didn't finish the entire 72 miles. I don't. I look at someone who overcame so much to get there - he had prepared for a totally different race, but when push came to shove he gave it his all. He more than doubled his best distance, ran through pitch blackness - ALONE, conquered a few demons, blew through several "walls", and qualified for one of the most prestigious Ultra races there is! I was amazed at his courage and perseverance. When I grow up I want to be just like him!

About Me

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This is about my life. My life as a wife. My life as a mother. My life as a Memaw. My life as a teacher. My life as a runner. My life such as it is.