Saturday, December 22, 2012

2 for 2

I ran my 2nd ever marathon today, 'Day after the end of the world' as part of my build up to Houston in 3 weeks. It was just a training run and despite not running as slowly as I was supposed to it was still a fun, relaxed run (didn't wear my watch just enjoyed myself and went by feel).

I left home at 7am for an 8am race start, the race was only around 20 mins away form my doorstep. Had to get a babysitter for this one as my husband is still away (2 weeks down ???? weeks to go :( ). 

I ate breakfast as usual and decided against taking anything else during the run apart from a few gulps of gatorade and as much water as I felt I needed. It was a nice cold start and a constant breeze (at times fairly strong head wind) meant it never got too hot which I like. 
I started off with H, we had both been told to take it easy and hit 8-8:30 pace but after the 1st loop I got itchy feet and pulled away a little bit. 
I have found a groove in training and its just as uncomfortable to run slower than this pace as it is to run faster so I found my groove and stuck to it. Ok, so there was also one chick ahead of us and it was kind of bothering me (caught her fairly early on the 2nd loop). Then I started picking off some guys, which is always fun :)

The course was so much fun, definitely not a fast one, it was quite sandy underfoot at points with some undulating small hills and twisty and......wonderful actually. So different from the usual paths and roads that I am stuck on 100 miles a week, I had a blast! It reminded me of some cross country courses I ran growing up in Scotland, had a near the coast feel to it and no concrete just 100% trail :)

I got passed by a guy at the end of the 3rd loop and then we did a bit to yo-yo'ing before settling for running together and having a nice chat for the vast majority of the last lap. He had run the 'end of the world marathon' on the same course the day before. I told him I was taking it easy so if he wanted to leave me to go for it but he started to struggle with a couple of miles to go, I hung around and tried to encourage and story tell as much as I could to help pass the time for him but after a while I decided to leave him to it and scooted off for the finish where we arranged to meet in the pizza and coke line ;) I was CRAVING coke so badly during that last lap?! I very rarely drink it but it's all I could think about for the last few miles. 
Upon finishing, I was handed a HUGE finishers medal and my squeezy toy (a Steve Boone, race organizer, speciality) showing my finish place. A number 2? 'Emmm, I know I wasn't 2nd?' I informed the woman handing out the medals and toys. I thought I was 4th and saw the 3 guys who had finished ahead of me all still standing around the finish. So after 'being mum' and making sure they all had the right numbered toy, I left in search for my coke with my correct number 4 (1st female but Steve Boone doesn't discriminate!) Why do guys always need a woman to organise them ;)

Got my coke, found my lap 4 friend but passed on the pizza. My stomach has been playing up for the last week or so AGAIN. It's driving me nuts, I think I should probably go see a doctor but who has time for that? Anyway, I took a couple of imodium before the start and it did it's job, no toilet stops and only one bad spell during the 3rd lap. I suffered afterwards for a few hours but it's been way worse so no big complaints. 

Today was true running joy for me. No pressure, no watch, just fun. I had a blast. 

My time? 3:25 for a long 27 and change course (H and my lap 4 friend plus race organiser all said just over 27 miles). The race the day before was 28 miles so they must have shaved a little bit off for todays. Some people who I know ran yesterday and didn't like the course or the fact it was long but I didn't care. It was never going to be a fast one and I was relaxed about it and just happy to be there. 

So that's 2 marathons and 2 wins, I know this record is going to be short lived!

Some snaps:

 H feeling the cold

 The gang

 After the race, H face planted so we were comparing knees. She was fine!

Today's medal in on the left, the one on the right is from my other marathon (Texas marathon Jan 2012) both Steve Boone races. Both are huge but the Jan 1st one is the largest finishers medal in USA I believe! 

This bad boy weighs more than 3 lbs, todays was probably around 1lb Mr Boone does not mess around with his medals :D No special awards for age groups or 1st place, everyone gets the same which I like.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


Today's 23 miler was pretty great in a few different ways. First off it capped another 100 mile week. 

I was charged with the first 17 being easy (probably averaged around 8:00/mile pace) then putting the last 6 in at 6:50 (marathon pace....allegedly). The final 6 miles went: 6:51, 6:51, 6:46, 6:50, 6:41, 6:31. 

Upon finishing  I stopped the watch, bent over and threw up! First time for everything, actually have done it before when I was around 9. Finished a cross country race and threw up due to car sickness from the journey down. Today wasn't down to the effort either, it was the gel I took after 13 miles. Today I had my 1st whole gel, having tried half last week I thought I'd give it a go. I started to feel ill at 20.5 miles but not bad enough for it to slow me down. Not sure what to do in the marathon, I can cope with feeling like that for 2.5 miles or so but much longer and it might affect my race. Will persevere.

It was hot and humid today, give me a break Houston! December 15th and my tshirt was soaked through and I started to get HOT during those last few faster miles. I told H at mile 19 'I want to take my t-shirt off so badly' to which she replied 'do it' (she was wearing a bra top but has the 6 pack to carry it off!). After a moments hesitation I thought '**** it' and off it came. It felt soooooo good, instantly 7 -10 degrees cooler, first time I've ever sported the somewhat skimpy sports bra look! It was very liberating, these guys have it easy with their bare chest training/racing that seems to very popular here in Houston! 

I have a real problem racing when its warm, I think I overheat very easily and have noticed a benefit since losing the baseball cap. Maybe I need to not worry about the fact my stomach is clearly one that has been stretched during 3 pregnancies and just get over it already. I think I will, if it keeps me cooler then it would be madness NOT to right? I just feel half naked and am pretty self-conscious...we'll see. 

H hasn't ran with me for a while and commented on how strong/fit I've become. I am gaining strength with every mile and am excited to see where some consistently high milage can take me next year.

This week also saw an 8 mile threshold run (6:30 pace on treadmill) as part of a 12 miler and the 'gut buster' which consists of mile, half and quarter mile reps, 2 of each with small recoveries then you get it all again! So mile, mile, half, half, quarter, quarter, and repeat. I was more tired at the end of Thursday than I normally am.

12 months ago I ran my 1st and to date only marathon in 3:13, it will be interesting to see how much I've progressed over that time. I know I'm a far better runner now but will the clock agree?! Time will tell.

Feeling like a very lucky girl to have found such a great coach and all round top bloke in Coach Doug and to have a wonderful training partner in H, if only I could persuade her to stay in Kingwood and not move to Colorado in a few months time :( 

Oh, upon finishing today's 23 I had to go into the Kroger where we park to grab some party favours for my soon to be 6 year olds party at........Chuck up Cheese's ;) (which I had an hour to get home, shower, eat and get the kids to). I ran and asked a girl at the cafe if they sold tshirts, 'yes, in the far corner', of course they would be! Remember I'm in effect in my underwear here. I then found and put on the largest t-shirt I have ever seen :D with some football moto on the front. I then grabbed a heap of crayons and pads of paper (buy 2 get one free YAS!) for the favours and scarpered unsure if the t-shirt was a more embarrassing look than the underwear. My t-shirt is hopefully still by the lake near my house where I tossed it, didn't have the energy this afternoon to take all the kids to go look for it. Will go first thing in the morning. 

Any  suggestions for good, super supportive sport bra top...things would be greatly appreciated. Preferably ones that make your stomach look ripped ;)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First ever century

I achieved a bit of a milestone yesterday morning on completion of my 22.5 miler, I reached a total milage for the week of 100. Nice, it feels good! Only 5 weeks until the 2013 Houston Marathon and I have a 100, 104, 96 over the next 3 of those weeks. I'm hoping it will be enough to put me in a position to run sub 3 but I'm not sure. I know I'll get there I just can't help wish I'd been putting in these big miles for the last few months. 

Yesterdays 22.5 (I had to do the .5 as I couldn't possibly end the week with 99.5) was nice. I took the first 12 easy and pushed a little on the final 10 but not as much as I have in previous weeks. The big news of the day was taking half a gel and not suffering any nasty side effects! I wasn't brave enough to try a whole one on my first go but will on next weeks long run.

I love running these higher miles and can feel my running coming on leaps and bounds but will it be enough for Jan 13th..... It doesn't really matter, the important thing is I am thriving on the big miles and my body is handling it (although I do touch wood frequently as all those around me seem to be getting injured). My goals are long term and I will give it all I have come the day but it isn't the be all and end all. 

I have had my husband home for the last week so have been able to put in some early morning runs, this weekend being no exception. Up at 4am to run at 4:45 take it's toll 4 mornings out of the week, well it does for me. Add to that the procession of kids I've had down to my bed each night this week and the disrupted sleep that follows and I am one very tired lady. 

I was lucky that my husband didn't have to leave last night as we had previously thought but held off until 7am this morning thus giving me time to get my 15miles in. I almost turned back on the bridge today as I couldn't see past the end of my nose, picture pitch dark with a thick fog and running into....nothingness! It was a little unnerving but I soldiered on and didn't come across the boogeyman in the thick pea-souper, phew. I then waved hubby goodbye, jumped in the shower whilst shouting at the kids to get dressed and got down to Duessen Park to watch the Rungirl half as fast as we could. I love to watch races but it was hard to be there and not be competing although the way my legs felt on todays recovery run I wouldn't have been able to do anything special. Sunday recovery runs are always a bit of a slog, I just take it very easy and run off the previous days long run. 

H was running and blew the rest of the field away for another PR. I want to be just like her when I grow up ;) Doug was also there to cheer H on so it was nice to get a chat with him although it is kind of hard with the cherubs causing havoc. You know whats a good job for young kids at a race...picking up all the water cups! Kept my 5 year old busy for a little while at least.

Here's what my first ever century looked like:

Sunday        15miles easy
Monday       15 miles easy
Tuesday       12 miles 8-8:30
Wednesday 15 miles 8-8:30
Thursday     0.5 w/u, 7 miles @ 6:50 (was supposed to be 10 but was called back to the child care at Y as they 'can't control' my 2 year old :s)
Friday          13 8-8:30
Saturday      22.5, 1st 12.5 around 8:10, last 10 building to low                   7's   

This was the lowest quality week I've had in a long time. I normally have threshold miles (6:30 pace) on a Monday and speed work on a Thursday. This week sees me back to the usual routine, let's see how I cope with 2 quality days (3 if you count Saturday's 23 with the last 6 at 6:50 pace!) in a 100 mile week. 

This week is a killer with 8 threshold wrapped up in a 12 miler on Monday and the 'Gut Buster' on Thursday. Might not make it though to Saturday's long run and those marathon paced miles ;)

In 2 weeks time my schedule has me down for a long run of 24 miles and it happens to coincide with a local marathon so I asked permission and got the go ahead from Doug. It's just a training run so I will stick to the 8-8:30 pace set for it. I have a few friends running AND it's on trails AND its called 'The day after the end of the world marathon' COOL! I'm excited. Hubby will still be away (looks like he will be gone for Christmas, a first in the 14 years we've been together :( ) so I'll have to call in some babysitting or have my mum take the kids, ditto for this weekend.

A few photos just because.

 'Uncontrollable? Do I look uncontrollable to you?'

 Tree 1, there is a lot of nudity in this house ;)

Obsessed with my new toy! 

 This is my end of the day look, disheveled yet victorious.

Obsessed. raison and cinnamon loaf before

and after. 

rosemary loaf 

Tree 2, needs a few more lights and a bit more tinsel!

So I can say with 100% certainty my next marathon will not be a PR but the one after that had better be! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful that's behind me!

As much as my miles keep going up, so it would seem does the intensity of my track sessions. I am in the middle of a 90 mile week, the most I have ever run and today marked the latest tough track workout. It went like this:

2000m, 10 min active rec, 8x800 2-3 min rec, 5min rec then final 2000m. Total miles 10.

I hit the times I was set, mid range, thus:

7:40, 2:50, 2:51, 2:52, 2:51, 2:53, 2:52, 2:51, 2:52, 7:35.

I'm happy. It was tough but I completed it and on target, can't ask for any more right? I like a full recovery so the big rests between these helped lots. I was solo for this session (what's new) and despite thinking I'm pretty good at hitting paces it took me the 1st 2000 and next 800 to find my feet again on the track. This was my 1st track session in a while but once I found my groove it was game on! 

I find these big sessions to be such a balancing act between pushing whilst knowing there's still lots more work to come.I told myself on each rep that 'this is all there is, just hit the pace and worry about the others whilst running them'. I think today showed me that I do have the strength to get through a session like this so might be able to push each 800 a bit more in future? (big talk is easy after the fact!)

With every session I am becoming more and more astounded by my new found strength. It's not so long ago that all I could manage were 3 miles at 10 min mile pace, a session that had me bent over double at the end and feeling fairly sick. I know that nothing gets harder than that 1st run. In my opinion it just gets easier and easier until you reach where you want to be. To others it looks like you are so tough, how can you complete a session like that? But it's just chipping away bit by bit and it comes, it has to.....right?! There is no big secret, the only thing you need to be able to do is work hard. Boy am I beginning to work hard! 

Pat on the back for me, hey somebody's got to ;)

Not a very welcoming sight for me at 7:30 this morning but they need to try harder than that to keep me out :D

If you're offended by profanity LOOK AWAY NOW! Took this and sent it to Coach Doug once the job was done! My hands were frozen thus the magnificent writing :s

Have a good one!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The price of a 20 miler

What does a 20 miler cost?..... $50 of course! That's what it cost me today to have one of my running buddies daughter come and feed my kids breakfast so I could go out to play! My husband is still offshore thus the sitter. 

Today was wonderful. I left the house t 4:45 and started my run at 5am, running the 1st 4 miles solo then hooking up with H who needed 16. We ran the 1st 6 (10 for me) at around 8min/mile pace but then picked up the last 10 as planned. Our range is 7:15-8:00 and we wanted the last 10 to be at the faster end of the range. We succeeded! It felt fantastic, the whole run was in the 40's and my stomach problem that has been bothering me for the best part of a fortnight has gone. It is so nice to run pain free and not have to ditch in the trees...well that's not true, still had to ditch but my bladder will never be the same after 3 kids ;)

Whilst my thighs felt heavy the entire time, full of lead heavy, I still felt good. Fast and strong. I am getting stronger, there's no doubt. I have never been able to keep my pace so strong and have it feel easy with my legs feeling so full of junk. All I could think was 'what could I do if my legs felt good?!'

My splits for last 10 were: 7:34, 7:21, 7:17, 7:15, 7:19, 7:10, 7:00, 7:04, 7:03, 6:52.
And thus concludes an 82 mile week. 

I ran my mile reps outside across the bridge on Thursday. They sucked. They were slower than they prescribed 6:10-6:15 but it was windy and as I think I mentioned flat it is not, I mean they're not up Mount Everest but an incline is an incline during a mile rep right?! I missed the finish on the 5th of 7 and ran way past it. I could be heard shouting some profanity, to nobody in particular as to where the beep my stump had gone (a tree stump marks my finish line in one direction). 
This session has 1 minute recovery and wipes me out like no other session. I mean todays 20 has nothing on this session. On the inclines all I could think was 'fiery balls of fire' as my calves were burning up nicely and I felt places in my rear end I didn't know existed - good stuff! I think these contributed to my heavy legs during todays run.

This is my bridge, look it might not look like a hill but I'm telling you I feel it, I think the photo is deceptive ;)

Spoke to Coach Doug about recovery runs and paces and he told me not to worry about the pace but to make sure I run them EASY. He said he knows it's hard to run that slow but I will benefit as it will allow the fast stuff to remain fast whilst maintaining a high milage. 
I have been taking them easy but I'm such a jerk sometimes. I have ditched the treadmill and have been running over the bridge above all week (we're not allowed to go any further from the Y if we have kids in the creche). Over and back, over and back, over and back you get the picture. Anyway, I found myself racing people the other day. Thoughts like 'I wonder if I could catch her by that sign', or 'I bet I could catch them before I have to turn', etc etc etc. What a neep (Scottish for turnip, and in this case idiot) I am. So what was supposed to be easy started getting in the 7:30 range the day after mile reps. I WILL behave in future (I did catch them though :)). 

So, to surmise, I feel great, tired, legs full of running but great. I knew big mile would give me the boost I needed and I'm only 2 weeks in with lots still to come. I just need to keep healthy and I'll be in good shape come Houston. 

Tomorrows recovery 12 marks the start of a 90 mile week and the most miles I've ever run in a week. Alas no mile reps, instead Thanksgiving see's me on the track with a session comprised of: 2000, 8x800, 2000. Gulp, might actually miss those mile repeats ;) I just need to find someone to watch my kids.........

Random thought time. I HATE my doorbell. With 3 kids, there is never a good time for anyone to ring it. I have tried and failed to take it to bits with a screwdriver so last week resorted to this:

Today the postman had a parcel for me and he KNOCKED at the door. When I opened it he asked in a slightly scared voice 'did I wake the baby?' Yes he was sleeping, no he didn't wake him. Ha, success! 

I keep adding to this post but I forgot to ask a question. Today I ran these 20 miles and had zero water (not a single mouthful) and didn't eat anything. It was really cold and I did carry water for all of 2.5 miles (from miles 10-12.5) when I ditched it behind a tree. I did have toast and marmalade and a cup of tea 45 mins before I started. My question is this: I have problems any time I try to drink any sports drink or take any of these power blast type things. I mean they mess me up badly and I HATE it. I can suffer all day after just having some gatorade. Do I NEED to take these things during a marathon, I mean if it's cold as it was today and I'm really not sweating much? I am half tempted to try but don't want to run out of steam. I am so clueless on this area of running. help!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Chugging along

I am tired. I have complete week one of my 10 week run in to Houston Marathon with a 77 mile week which included a killer mile rep session, 7 mile threshold run and 20 mile long run.

The mile reps really hurt, I opted to do them outside over the bridge at my YMCA. It's a little bit up and down and there was a bit of a breeze and boy did I feel every one of them (there were 6). I was a bit off target with a couple but only by a couple of seconds and it felt like one of the toughest session I've completed so I was pleased. It was one of those sessions when I find myself questioning what on earth I'm playing at. Thoughts like 'I'm 35 years old, I'm a mum of 3, why am I killing myself here to the point of wanting to throw up?!' But I knew those thoughts would vanish the second I completed the session whereas the disappointment of not getting it done would linger on and on and on so failure was not an option.

My long run pace has picked up to be between 7:15 and 8:00 min/mile now which would have been daunting a few months ago when the summer heat and humidity was high but I'm finding my happy, natural, running by myself pace is 7:30 at the moment so wasn't too concerned. I averaged around 7:30 for the 20 but had to stop 3 times due to stomach problems. I took my 1st ever imodium before the run (I have been having problems all week with stomach cramps) and without it I'm certain I would not have completed the session. So good news is I think I can count on imodium to get me through races although I'd prefer to solve the problem but I think I have some kind of weird stomach bug...thing this week. My stomach felt good for the last 4 miles of the 20 and I brought them in a little faster than I ought to 7:00-7:10 but it was so good to be running pain free that I just went with it and enjoyed it. 

I also genuinely feel, for the 1st time, that a sub 3 hour marathon is possible after only 2 years back running. The thought of 6:50's x 26.2, whilst still daunting is now, I believe doable. If I can handle the schedule I've been set and lose some lbs (I think my weight will be a deciding factor in my success) then I now believe I can do it. Bit of a breakthrough moment.

After the 20 miles, the real work began with our 1st soccer game at 10am followed by the library, lunch, grocery shopping then 2nd soccer game at 1pm. All of the in and out of the car/car seats and carrying of lawn chairs, sports bags etc whilst pushing a stroller solo is pretty exhausting. I am amazed by how much energy running actually GIVES me though. Once we got home and I had put the baby down for his nap and settled the eldest 2 with a snack and movie rather than flop in a heap and watch the movie too I found myself outside in the garden filling bin liner after bin liner with the leaves that have accumulated in our garden. Then back indoors to make dinner, I feel like I deserve a virtual pat on the back for all this hard graft...anyone? Maybe all the weekends activity is catching up with me now as it's all I can do to punch the keys on the laptop. That night I treated us all to a new Christmas movie (Arthur Christmas), we had all earned it. Great movie but I am a big Christmas fan and am as such probably very biased.

I'm now 2 days into the new week and have 82 miles comprised in part of more mile reps (7 this time), another 20 miler and todays 10 with 7 at threshold. 
Today was tough, the toughest threshold ever. My pace has stayed at 6:30-6:40 (due to these sessions being longer than 30 mins) and normally I enjoy this run and it's more easy than tough but today was VERY hard fought. My calves and back of my thighs (I have very poor knowledge of specific muscle names :s) were screaming from the word go, so much so that after 4.3 miles I dropped the pace from 6:30 to 6:40 where it remained until the last 0.6 where I picked it up again. 

I don't have any single digit runs until taper time and I admit I do wonder what a 100 mile week will make me feel if 70+ feels like this. But as my husband is away for 3 weeks (1 down 2 to go) maybe having my 3 cherubs solo is a factor although he works such long hours they're ready for, if not in bed when he gets home anyway but I am used to a little help at the weekend. So in his absence most sessions are on the treadmill although I have organized a sitter for very early Saturday mornings so I can get my long runs in in the great outdoors which makes me very very very happy.

I made a very exciting purchase today - a rice cooker! I am a terrible rice cook, I never seem to get it right so I loaded it up between picking up my middle cherub from preschool and going for my eldest from Kindergarten and when we got home, it was done! AND it's cooked to perfection! I see a lot of rice in this family's future. It's currently in the freezer awaiting being tossed in the wok for todays chicken fried rice which I am contemplating making and eating very soon and it's only 3:45.

I am so hungry all the time but, as mentioned I'm trying to lose a bit of weight so am attempting to find the right balance between eating everything in sight and having a bit of restraint. I also bought a slow cooker or crock pot as they call it here and N has given me some nice bean recipes which she makes a large batch of at the start of the week and then has it during the week when she's hungry. She adds a boiled egg or avocado or chopped up pepper for variety and hey presto a healthy, filling snack to tide me over until meal time. 

Now I have 2 days to decide whether those 7 mile reps on Thursday will be done on the treadmill or over the dreaded bridge.....I kind of hate that I know me being me means they'll be over the bridge. ugh. Sometimes I wish I would give me a break. Are you your toughest task master? 
This has reminded me of a woman in the gym today who I had the misfortune to hear bitch and moan her way through her session. She complained about EVERYTHING. I was very close to announcing 'we're all hurting, we're all suffering just shut up and get it done or go home'. Did I mention my threshold run today really hurt and may have added to my no nonsense mood ;s 
Why come and do something so half arsed and complain the entire time? Maybe there was an invisible gun to her head? (I'd have pulled the trigger...) Her training buddy looked suitably annoyed and tried her best to ignore her whilst busting her gut to complete the session. Today the loneliness of the distance runner was a blessing, I could never train with a complainer! I wonder if any of you run with a whiner, good motivation to get faster I guess!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Miles and miles and miles of smiles!

This is what I have been waiting months for, my new schedule from Coach Doug for the last 10 weeks run up to Houston has arrived. I have been asking for big miles for what seems like forever and he has asked that I demonstrate patience and has assured me 'they are coming'. 

They have arrived. I actually talked him up a bit from the original schedule he sent through. It had me down to run in the Rungirl half in early December but despite us 'running through' that one it still showed dropped milage the week before and week after and the 1st 3 weeks were not as high as I'd have liked. So, being the negotiator that I am I asked for more miles and told him I was willing (sad but willing) to drop the half if it meant more miles were possible. I think he is happier with this plan as it sees an uninterrupted build up to Houston and I am happy I have the kind of miles that are going to kick my fitness level to where it needs to be come January. 
Just a side note here, I have been base building forever now and Doug is VERY strict about the 10% rule for weekly total miles and long runs. I feel like I am pushing against him all the time to do more and I know that's one of the reasons him having the final say on what goes is so important, he is not reckless with my health. 

So starting next week my weekly milage looks like this:

77, 82, 90, 78, 99, 100, 102, 93, 68 and 24.

This is HUGE for me. I have only run one marathon before and there was no plan. I also don't keep a training schedule but from memory know I was only doing around 50 miles a week. My track sessions were equally unorganized and consisted of around 3/4 800's with maybe a mile thrown in every now and again. On that preparation I ran 3:13. It will be very interesting to see what I can run off of this type of work. 

I also asked that I get to 'taper hard' as I can't stand not running! It throws my routine out and especially over the Festive Period when school is out and my husband is at home and our routine goes haywire anyway, I need it to hold onto for the sake of my metal health and the general safety of my entire family (I need those endorphins) ;) (winking but actually 100% sincere!)

The track sessions have been moved to a Thursday for logistical reasons that involve a locked track, knowing someone with a key and having company on the MONSTER sessions I have been set! Unfortunately the guy I was hoping would keep me company on these sessions is out of town for most of November but as my husband is also going offshore for 3 weeks I will be treadmill bound anyway. That or I might venture outside the Y and mark up the greenbelt with some chalk and get the sessions done that way. 

I am happy with the balance of intimidation (blind terror) and excitement I feel looking at this schedule. Just getting through some of the individual sessions will be a victory (the 'Gut Buster' looks particularly fun!) Also stacking up all those miles will not be easy and I'm not taking anything for granted. If anything starts to hurt or I'm just not coping I will let Doug know but I am relishing the challenge. 

If successful I know that I have given myself the best possible chance of standing on the start line come January 13th feeling 100% confident that I have kicked my butt into the best shape possible in what will be 2 years back into running. That's very important to me, if my head knows I've done the work then my body can't help but agree. 

But talk is cheap, time to get to work! 

Very happy camper.

I think I mentioned before that I also want to drop a few pounds before the marathon. I have been watching what I eat more closely than I would otherwise (the only monitoring I did before was watch whatever I fancied go in my mouth) and am hoping that and the increased milage will take care of the junk in my trunk! I get a mixed response when I mention I want to lose a little bit of weight. Some people think I'm nuts and BELIEVE me its not for aesthetic reasons, I feel more attractive with something to actually put in my bra but who wants to carry extra for 26.2 miles? Not I! 

In other matters H, N our respective better halves and myself are having an extremely rare night out tomorrow night. I have stocked up on International beers and ales and we will have our own late Octoberfest at mine before hitting the local It is going to get messy, no doubt. We have 9 kids between the 3 of us, we are runners and not HUGE drinkers (well N might be ;)) and we are stay at home types, that can only lead to carnage on a rare night out. It will be fun to relax with these guys in a different setting from our usual one and it's not lost on me that it will probably be the one and only time we get together in this way with H before she and her family leave for Colorado. I am pushing that thought to the back of my mind. I miss her fast ass already.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Houston Half 

I'll keep it brief, I had the perfect day today, I felt rested it was cold and the course was fairly flat. I've been working hard, time for a BIG PR. Fail.

I did PR but not by much 1:28:40 and the worse thing is I think I was my own undoing. I ate something yesterday evening that I know can mess me up but haven't had it for ages and was craving it so did (Alpen for those interested!). The result, stomach cramps for the majority of the run today. I had to ditch into the trees at around the 9 mile mark and had waves of cramps throughout the race. 

Ok, the positives. In between the cramps I felt great, strong and my breathing was easy. I PR'd and had what was probably around a 30-40s toilet stop so of course I know there's more in there. My stomach is feeling a good bit better now, still not out of the woods (pun intended) and my childish feeling sorry for myself mood has almost lifted. 

Lesson learned, no high fibre cereal less than 24 hours before a race, my stomach can't take it. 

H ran an outstanding race, 1:25 and change! that's more than a 6 min PR! N also beat me by a few seconds. 

2nd in Age Group, I didn't hang around, we gave Coach Doug his whiskey and scampered, I was not feeling up to breakfast and just needed to get home. Only one emergency stop on the way home so that wasn't too bad!

I have never been so disappointed with a PR run in my life, I let myself down with a school girl error. 

Still, onwards and upwards! The big miles are coming and some serious track/threshold sessions too so time to get the head down and get on with it. I forgot what a child I am when I have a disappointing run! Suck it up buttercup ;)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Freezing my ***** off! 

This is in danger of becoming a weather blog but I'm so excited to report it is VERY cold right now in Houston, Texas :) 
Houston Half Marathon is tomorrow at 7am and the over nigh low is 45 degrees. This makes me very very happy. No where left to hide, let's see what I can do when it's not hot and humid. I feel rested and ready to run. Heather and I have our plan, shooting for a negative split starting out around 6:40 pace and building to 6:30 ish. We'll see. I'm relaxed about running 'together', at the end of the day we're both going to see what we've got and run our own race but we can take turns drafting as it's supposed to be windy at the start, good job we're both a broad 5'9", we might actually give each other some shelter.
Coach Doug is going to come along on his bike so we can keep wrapped up until the last possible second before throwing our gear at him, it will be nice to see him and get a proper chat. We're going to take him for breakfast afterwards and I've got a bottle of single malt with his name on it as a small token of my appreciation for all he's done and is doing for me.
I'm leaving the family at home for this one, just really want to concentrate on the task at hand. Also, I've been on single parent duty for a few weeks now as my hubbie has been working long hours so I need the break, he's still not home at 6:30pm 0n a Saturday :(

I have surprised myself with how relaxed I've been all week, I can get very nervous before races, a little nerves are good and I can usually keep it in check but this time it has been easy. 

Here's hoping for a PR tomorrow, I have everything in my favour just got to go do it. 

Got to go look out those gloves and then its an early night with the last few pages of 'Running with the Buffaloes', what a wonderful but heartbreaking book.

Wish me luck! 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Upping the tempo

Another week of training ticked off in the build up to the Houston marathon in JAnuary. It has seemed like a very distant goal for a while now but is creeping closer and closer.

This week saw my biggest mileage of the build up thus far with 74 miles. I felt tired until around Thursday after my race last Saturday. I went straight into a 10 recovery the next day and then faster work on Monday as usual (.5 mile/.25 mile repeats). 
Wednesday saw my usual threshold paced run on the Treadmill but as discussed with Doug I upped the speed a little from 6:30 to 6:22/mile. I've been feeling very comfortable at the 6:30 f0r a while now and felt there was room to speed it up a bit without changing the purpose of the session. I was a little tired still from the race but as suspected it felt relaxed but with a little more emphasis on the 'hard' in 'comfortably hard'. I had asked to run it at 6:20 but the treadmill options are 6:18-6:22 so I erred on the side of caution.

I topped the week off with my longest run  FOREVER this morning with 18 miles. I ran with my 'old' group, I haven't run with them for ages and have been feeling bad about it and wanted to touch base with them. It was fun and only felt like 14 miles as the last 4 became a somewhat heated political and religious debate! I love this type of thing and found a fellow sparring partner in one of the groups new members. Let's just say we have very different views on...everything! He said at the end it was nice to 'meet' me (we had met once before, I must be VERY memorable!) Anyway, I'm not sure he meant it entirely but it was all in good humor and again, turned 18 into 14. 

I didn't get much sleep last night, my own fault just ended up going to bed far too late so am currently fighting the urge to nap. We have been at soccer all morning and have a Halloween party this evening which I need like a hole in the head. I just got distracted and read that back - what a PARTY POOPER! The kids are looking forward to it and it will be fun I'm sure. I'm not getting dressed up, I actually hadn't even thought of that until just now......but the kids are so that counts right? I am way more relaxed about it than I would usually be and I realise it's because I actually have something to wear. No, I'm not someone who is really into clothes (I used to be a bit but then I had kids and turned into a bag lady, is a translation required here I wonder? Not someone who loves bags, rather a homeless person. I never know which of my many expression translate over here.) 

I have had a bit of a week of disasters in the communication stakes. Despite all apparently speaking English I have found since moving to Texas I have to search for the words I need as the vocabulary is HUGELY different and my sense of humour just does not translate. Feeling a little exhausted with it and like the alien abroad that I am. Maybe I just need a trip home, it's been a while.

Back to the clothes thing! Sorry, this is all over the place, see tired. Since having kids and my weights being up and down and now with all this running, I haven't had any clothes that fit me properly for....years. I HATE shopping and avoid it like the plague but did venture into GAP last week and found some trousers that really fit me! It's not a big deal but its so nice to feel relaxed that I know I have something and that I may look semi respectable! I grabbed some tops too so I'm all set :) Oh, for all you hipless wonders out there, 'sexy boyfriend' GAP jeans are the way ahead, I got 2 pairs. Will probably get every color, hey they fit 'if it aint broke.....!'
Its easy to know when I'm tired I ramble the biggest heap of...... :) 

Taper week this week and then Houston half next Sunday, if it's as cold as it was this morning (car said 53 at 5am!!!!!!!!!) I will be happy. I only had shorts and a vest on and only wished I'd put on a long sleeved top for the first half mile. I never run in anything other than shorts and am not a fan of a long sleeve unless its freezing. 

Oh, I forgot the most important bit, a red angry bird, Tinkerbell and a garden gnome. You were desperate to know of course ;) 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Can running be a team effort?

Last week on our long run it was just H and I for 17 miles and she popped the question, no not that question! She asked how I felt about working together during our upcoming half marathon. My initial reaction was 'yeh, sure', you can pretty much ask me anything and that will be my response. She reassured me she knew races are everyman for themselves but maybe we could have a plan for the 1st few miles. 

I went home and as is always the way I fully digested what I had just agreed to. I have never run a race before as a team. I mean I've run countless relays but that's different. The whole concept of entering a race with a plan that involves working with someone else is so alien to me. I would have never thought of doing it myself. I worried that in agreeing I was somehow losing my competitive edge, not treating the race with my usual 100% do or die attitude? 
I decided that I would talk to H and tell her I didn't want to but then as the day wore on I really started to think about how this partnership could benefit me, both of us. I think it's so important to be conservative in the 1st few miles and I struggle to contain myself, if I was accountable to someone else pace wise then maybe that would be more likely to happen. Yes, maybe for the 1st 5 miles we could keep each other in check. Then I started to think about it some more. 

We work together a lot, we make a good team on the track and long runs week in week out, maybe it could work in a race? It's much harder to be upfront and setting a pace, imagine if we could take turns, mile about during the guts of the half, say miles 6-11....think of it as 3x 1 mile reps each, thus sharing the work load and the pressure of pace making...that's sounds kind of awesome. 
I think it might help psychologically too, breaking the race up that way into real separate chunks. 
I haven't talked to H anymore about it since she popped the question so these are merely my thoughts. I did check with Doug what he thought about us working together and he said he thought it was a great idea so we have coach clearance. Between the 3 of us I'm sure we'll come up with a good plan. 

It even got me thinking about the marathon in January. H and I share the same coach and are working towards the same goal, sub 3 in Houston. What if we could work together in that race too?! How incredible would it be to go up against 26.2 as a team, maybe the half will act as a good trial run to see how we both feel about it. 

It's funny how full circle I've come on this. It's not EVER something I would have thought up by myself and my initial reaction (after agreeing ;D) was 'wow, wait a minute, I really want to kick everyone's ass in every race I enter including you H!' but I think this might be the smart thing to do to get the fastest possible time I can. I am excited to talk to H and see what her thoughts are. I do think the plan should only extend to the first 11 miles, then it's just a case of give it what you've got for the last 2. Also, if she's feeling great and doesn't want to stick to the plan she can take off at any time she likes and ditto for me (but I don't see that being an issue for me).
I said I want to 'kick everyone's butt' but thats not really true, I don't think about placing or other runners when I race I am just trying to better myself (except for in the race when I try to pick off runners or beat them towards the finish of course!). I'm all about PR's at this stage. So if H and N (she's running the half too) were to go out and beat me, that's a ok, I'm interested in how I run and my time and I always want to see them do their best and have a great run. Oh, I don't think N is interested in teaming up, she announced on Sundays recovery run 'I don't even want to see your faces before the race'. :D She cracks me up and she meant it! I guess car pooling's out of the question then :D

I've really surprised myself on this as I am a VERY independent person. I don't do anything really with help from others, I am loath to ask for help I just like to get the job done solo, it always seems so much easier that way.

Have you ever teamed up during a race, is that what it feels like when you run with pacers? I've never run with a pace group before and was nervous about losing my competitive edge come Houston if I chose to then - does that sound nuts?!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ten for Texas

Just a quick recap of this mornings adventure to the Woodlands for my Ten for Texas 10 miler (the names a bit of a giveaway right?!) 
I did, as predicted PR. But as this was my first ever 10 mile race that only required a finish. 

The plan was to start off at around 6:40-6:45 pace and then after 3/4 miles pick it up to 6:30-6:25. I didn't manage that pace, here are my splits:

6:37, 6:40, 6:49, 6:45, 6:45, 6:46, 6:59, 7:06, 6:42, 6:45 and 20 seconds for the extra 0.06 my garmin registered (I find it second nature to 'run the tangents' growing up running on country roads this was simply known as 'run the shortest route possible without getting hit by a car'. 
So an official time of 68:17.

So LOTS of 6:45s and then a couple of really rough miles in which I felt every ounce of energy exit my legs and be replaced with cement! But around the 8 mile mark I got through it and was able to push on again, which was nice. I felt like I was climbing from around the 2nd mile all the way until just after the 5th. I kept telling myself 'what goes up...' as the start and finish were virtually the same place but my rear end complained quite a lot the whole way back! 
I did feel strong in this run (apart from those 2 miles) it's not the time I hoped for, well I didn't really know what to expect but I'm semi happy with how it went. 
I tried to catch a female runner for miles and eventually got her with 0.7 to go and then had to push to the end as I could hear her try to get back to me. That was not fun but hearing my kids shout 'GO MUMMY' as I rounded the last bend was the best and I held her off. My 'victory' was short lived, we tied on chip time 68:17.4! I don't mind sharing the result with her, she worked hard for it too! 

I was 38th overall, 11th female and 2nd in my AG. I managed to grab my trophy before we had to leave to get home for soccer. 
I'm definitely making progress but there's still a long way to go. I need to keep working hard and am looking forward to getting some benefit from big miles when I EVENTUALLY get to do them (yes I am impatient as ever). 
I also need to lose weight, nothing drastic but I know I'm heavier than I ought to be (who needs to carry any extra round 26.2 miles?!) I have just dropped 5 lbs recently by cutting out my 'post kids to bed snackathon' that I'd throw myself every evening in celebration of making it through another day ;) so will stick with that for a little while longer to maybe drop around 5 more. I don't like feeling too thin, that's only ever happened to me once before when I was 16 and the 1st thing my new coach did was put me on a diet. I could only lose 7 lbs but looked and felt awful, so WEAK and like a bag of bones, my running also turned to ****! I have zero intention of EVER returning there, I am all about being strong and healthy. 

I have 10 miles recovery tomorrow and my biggest week milage wise with 74 then it's back to the dreaded taper in preparation for The Houston Half on the 28th of October. 

I had my merry band with me today so my hubbie snapped some shots (actually he took 3 zillion pictures) here are just a few, well quite a lot actually!

 Where is she?

 Patiently waiting on me whilst I was telling myself the harder I pushed the sooner I'd see them!

So close! 

 She's just out of shot but I am determined not to be caught in this shot!

 I did not look like this during miles 7 and 8! 

My fellow 68:17.4 friend!  

 Really wanting to collapse on the pavement here but trying to be enthusiastic for the kids!

A drawing for me! 

 Over the photographer now.....!

Wardrobe change (1st and possibly only time in Lulu Lemon changing room!) Texting Doug, H and N my result. H, N and I harass each other on race days for instant results so I couldn't disappoint them! 

38th overall