Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Paige's Bday Party

Paige's birthday isn't until this Saturday, the 24th, but I will be away at Art on the Square in Southlake with my artisan jewelry business. Monday was just the best night to have family and a few extra special friends over to celebrate Paige's 2nd birthday. It was all about Paige's favorites - DORA, pizza, carrots and ranch, broccoli, apples, and chocolate cake (cause frankly, if it's not chocolate, Paige doesn't think its cake). It was a thrill to let such a sweet little spirit indulge in all her favorite things. Happy Birthday baby girl!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Half-Marathon Learning Curve

This past Sunday, I ran the Big D Half Marathon. It was night and day from my first half marathon back in December (the White Rock). So for any of you peeps that are considering maybe running and conquering a half-marathon, I thought I'd go through what I think made the difference...

- Do not skip a long run! - When I was training for White Rock, there were days of low motivation. Ok, who am I kidding, there were entire weeks where I didn't even get out to run due to lack of motivation. I missed 2 or 3 of my long runs in a 10 week training program, which is a lot. This time I hadn't missed a single long run (although I hadn't tapered down like you should because I was still ramping up for my May 2nd half marathon). I had also started a running streak... and was on day 18 on the day of the half. The consistency of my running schedule carried me far. I wasn't nervous before starting... and it honestly all felt like just another training run (except for the unavoidable cattle herding at the beginning of the race). At White Rock, I was tired by mile 6 and half-dead by mile 9. The large majority of that run felt like pure torture... this run felt like a nice healthy run. It was shocking how different it was.

- 10 mile warm-up, 5K race (thank you Libby for this point-of-view) - At White Rock, I tried to run with a pace team. They were a little fast, but I managed to keep up, though at times it was a struggle. By mile 8, it was agony to stay with them. By mile 9, I decided that finishing was more important than possibly collapsing from trying to stay up with them. The last 4 miles were pure torture at White Rock. I was barely moving. I didn't "walk" but was being passed by walkers. I was in a sad sad state. This time, I held back. I started out slow. I found Libby (an inspirational runner who I had just met after following her blog for awhile on a friend's recommendation) at about mile 1 and asked if I could run with her. We kept a slow, easy pace for mile 1-7. Libby opted for a walk break at mile 7, and I decided to push on. Since I had been holding back, I felt great, so I sped up a little bit, not a lot, between miles 7-10. When I hit 10, I looked at the time on my Garmin and realized I needed to push to come in sub-2:30 (White Rock time was 2:35). I was feeling great, so I sped up some more... and then I hit mile 11.5 and saw my watch, and sped up even more... pushing through to finish at 2:28. I even sprinted the end. I felt like I still had some in the tank and maybe could've pushed harder, but I'm very happy with what I did, and it's not like I'm super-speedy anyway, so what's another minute or two?

-Try the GU - Sure, I had heard about it before White Rock, but hadn't tried it and didn't want to start then in case it upset my stomach. GU is an energy gel, some with caffeine (both the flavors I used - chocolate and vanilla - did have caffeine). At White Rock I noticed a big energy drop at mile 6 and then a complete plummet at mile 9. I had taken GU on a couple of my long runs since White Rock just to try it out and wasn't absolutely convinced yet. During Big D, I took a GU at mile 5 and mile 10. I never noticed a plummet (or spike) in energy. My energy stayed relatively constant throughout the race. It was awesome. I'm convinced! I still don't and won't use GU on runs less than 7 or 8 miles.

- Support systems are important - At White Rock, I found the pace group which kept me going the first 8 miles. Plus I saw my dad at miles 6 and 10, and my brother, sister-in-law, and 2 nephews were waiting for me at the finish line. At Big D, I went with a group of awesome ladies, I ran from mile 1-7 with Libby, and some of the ladies I came with were at the finish waiting for me. These things seem minor, but as a slower runner, a half-marathon is a 2 1/2 hour mental mindgame, and every little bit of motivation you can find is needed, and every bit of encouragement you receive fuels you.

This race was so different from the last one, and I'm actually looking forward to my next half in just 3 weeks on May 2.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Keep On Truckin'

I've had an eventful running week. In the last 14 days, I have managed 67 miles. I have not missed a day in 2 weeks. I'm praying that this doesn't lead to injury since my typical running week is only 4 or 5 times a week. I have been limiting myself to a maximum of 2 miles of running on my typical off days, and I really like the way this streak feels. Each run gets a little easier.

A few noteable events:

On Monday, my friend Karen and I decided to do a 10 mile long run together - the last long run to prepare us for the Big D Half-marathon that we'll be running this Sunday, April 11th. She didn't want to head down to the lake, so I suggested Greenbelt Trail in Garland. Now, I've run the Greenbelt Trail before, but only the front side that runs alongside Duck Creek Dr from Centerville down to I-30. I wasn't even really aware that there was a back portion of the loop. So at about mile 8.5, we headed toward the back part of the loop thinking it would be the easiest way back to where we parked, and... we got lost! Not just a little lost... we finally found our cars as my Garmin clicked over to 12.5 miles (yes, we walked that last 2.5miles). I was so late getting home to my kiddos, that I didn't even have time to stretch... so I had to run another 1/2 mile later that day to warm my muscles back up and then stretch. I think Karen has forgiven me, but we'll see on Sunday!!!

On Tuesday morning I got a text from my running partner, Amie, who has been dealing with a number of injuries. She had decided she was ready to start running again (she had been cleared to walk a few weeks ago, but not run). So of course I got up to the gym to meet her for a run. It was great to have her back in action.

On another note, I have been a complete clutz this week. I removed a chunk of skin from my knee on the side of the bleachers during the kids' tennis practice, then removed a chunk of skin from my pinky while cleaning the stove (really???), and then today removed a chunk of skin from my wrist doing an ever-so-graceful fall at the playground and catching the concrete on my wrist. Let's just hope I can make it through these next two half-marathons with my remaining skin in-tact.

Lastly, I've been thinking about doing a lot more half-marathons this year. It's so much easier to just stay ready than it is to have to keep ramping back up. My original plan was just to do the Heels and Hills on May 2 and then White Rock on Dec 12. But I've officially added this weekend's Big D, and I'm considering The Hottest Half on Aug 15, DRC Half on Nov. 7, and/or Rock N Roll San Antonio Half on Nov. 14. I was sad to miss the Rock N Roll Dallas Half on March 14th, but I was afraid with my winter motivational issues that I wouldn't be ready... and I was right!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Running Streak!

I'm on a streak. I normally only run 4 days a week, but I have run the last 7 days straight, and I'm feeling great... actually feeling better than ever, and more comfortable than ever on the runs. I'm thinking about adding an extra half marathon next weekend (The Big D on April 11) even though its just 3 weeks before my already planned half marathon (Heels N Hills on May 2). I have no plans for this streak... no hard set goals, but I'm interested to see how much further I'll take this. (Thanks Libby for the running streak inspiration!)