Sunday, May 27, 2012

Training Negotiations 

So last week was a disaster as far as fitting in training around the kids, school, swimming, soccer, life.....etc. 

I have been struggling to find the routine that suits me and the kids best since taking up running again 16 months ago. I find that evening sessions are very hard as I either have to put the kids down or rush out the door and leave it to my husband the second he's home from work which isn't ideal. I am also cream crackered by 7pm and the last thing I want to do is head to the track to put in some mile reps! 
I also like to go to the Y each day as it provides me the routine I love and I'll be honest, I enjoy to get a break from the kids and the creche and women who work in it are wonderful! But I don't like being longer than an hour and I rush the core work at the end of my run or miss it completely if I feel I've taken too long. 

Since upping to 2 track sessions a week (Mon/Wed), which I do of an evening, I missed my morning Y session so added 2 extra easy 6 miles + core sessions on Mon/Wed morning, just to keep the routine I mentioned above. 

My coach is happy for me to add miles and takes all my concerns on board in designing each weeks sessions. 

I think I have finally worked out the best solution to all my training problems! I need to get my running done by 6am. Easy, except my husband has the early morning slot to exercise :( But after pleading my case he has agreed that I can go early and he will work around me. He will still make 3 spin classes a week before work and can make up the 2 he'll now miss at the weekend or of an evening. So it's taken me 16 months but I am now happy that I will get all my 'serious' sessions done by 6am, except for 1 track session which will still be Mon evening but only for the summer. I will still hit the Y every day around 8:45am to do some easy miles and some more structured strength training. I have been doing some core work but ignoring my arms completely, so I can now address this and not be worried about the kids being in the creche for too long. 

I feel happy that I won't miss any training this way, if I miss a Y session it's no big deal, they are just added extras after all. 

On another note, I have started to actually use the roller I bought a couple of months ago, I use it every day and LOVE it. I think it helps with recovery and hurts so good! I also put some ice in a cold bath and hop in after my long Saturday run, something I start to look forward to around mile 9, Houston is getting hot and sticky, here comes summer :s

So 4am to rise every day, AND I'll get to run outside instead of on the treadmill all the time. Let's see how this goes.....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I cheated.....on my group and LOVED it!

I have missed both track sessions this week. I will fit one in tonight after soccer training but will have to forgo the other. I hate missing sessions and it doesn't happen often but I have 3 kids and this week has proved difficult between swim practice, soccer, swim meets, preK graduation (they do that here?!), summer splash day, etc etc etc. I had meant to go and put in some easy miles on the treadmill this morning after I had done my helper mum bit at my eldest's summer splash day but what I thought was an hour turned out to be all morning so here I am all dress up and unable to run. 
I am consumed with guilt too, maybe after tonight I will feel a bit better that I only missed out on one speed session? 

Ok, negativity over. I feel GREAT just now, full of running! I want to race so badly but swim meets will take up our Saturdays until the end of June so I may have to wait a while. 

I mentioned before I kind of run with two groups, I had trained exclusively with the same set of runners until relatively recently. I had heard about fast H for a while, she was going to be joining us but took her time! I raced against her in a half back in Dec and not long after that she started coming out with us on a Saturday morning. She is fast, she was a 400m hurdler (amongst other things - heptathlete) at college and i knew I needed to get together with her on the track. We now meet every Monday at 6:30 at the high school and she makes sure I put in a nice solid session! 

Then there's N, I had heard about her and knew she ran with another group here in Kingwood. She had seen me run my marathon here and wanted to train with me. I was in HEB one day and this stranger asked 'are you Vicky?' 'Emmmm yes, what did I do?!' :D It was the best conversation ever. Now I've said that, this is going to sound VERY vain, it was like having a conversation :D She was very matter of fact 'I want to get faster', 'me too', 'I want sub 3 hours' 'me too' 'we need to run together', 'yes we do'!!!!! 

But there is this awkwardness, it transpires about making the move between one group and another. She threatened to meet 'my' group for ages but never would. Then at last she did. She is a very gutsy runner, likes to work hard and LOVES big miles. She is not a fan of the track but knows she has to do it if she wants to get the kind of results she's after. So when she asked me to meet her and another guy at her groups meeting place one Saturday morning when I knew my group were meeting in the usual spot around a mile away, I knew I had to return the favor and say yes! It wasn't just the two of them however, it was the whole gang! The 1st thing one of them said was 'I just saw X from your group at Starbucks' (where we meet) and he threw me a quizzical look! 

I have lived in 3 countries now, on 3 different continents and both hemispheres and I enjoy (for the most part) the cultural differences. But what's really interesting to me is the differences between 2 running groups who all live within a few miles of one another! These guys like to talk shop! Within 30seconds I had been asked what my marathon PR was, I LOVE it, my other group don't tend to talk about running much which I think is a shame. They guys are off the chart running nuts (I mean that in the best way possible!) They are trail runners and ultra runners, you can instantly feel how much they love to run and it's not so much about the clock.
The run was harder than I'm used to for a Saturday long run, they threw in some tempo miles, which I'm supposed to do but to be honest I've found it difficult as I haven't wanted to dictate to the other members of my group during our Saturday run. 

Once finished these guys all strip off (in their cars) and get changed, some were pulling chairs out of their cars so they could sit down whilst they changed their shoes! I commented on all this activity and N said 'this is nothing, wait until it gets really hot, then we have a makeshift shower!' all of this in the car park at Kroger :D Both groups share one thing in common, they reward themselves with a coffee and chat after each run. I am not in that place yet, I have to dash home to rescue my husband from our 3 cherubs, the run is my socialising. Maybe one day I'll get to join them. I wonder what they talk about.......RUNNING of course!

I have since got to run with N a few times and will 'cheat' with the Kroger group again but for the next few weeks I am running solo at 4am ish before I have to become swim mum. 

All 3 of us are 30 something, mothers of 3. We have different backgrounds in running, H and I were competitive in our youth whilst N came to the sport a little later. H has always kept in amazing shape whilst I enjoyed a lot of partying in my 20's! N has the most marathon experience, she has ran around 8, Houston will be her 9th I think. Oh, we are all signed up for Houston in Jan. On paper I am the slowest at 3:13 (2012), then N 3:11(2012) and H has a 3:09 PR from her pre kids days. 

I am very excited to have these girls to train with and whilst we don't get together as often as I'd like, I am going to make a concerted effort come Autumn to get out very early and run with N as I then want to put in some more miles later in the morning so I can get some big miles in preparation for Houston. 

I am hoping that come January we will all be lined up with the 3 hour pace team ready to do battle (not against each other but with ourselves and  26.2 miles!) I am very excited and terrified at the thought of having to average 6:52 pace to achieve my goal but if it doesn't scare you then your goals too weak, right?!

So, if you get the chance go ahead and cheat, you won't regret it I promise!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Fish Out of Water

I had pre-made lasagna the day before (3 trays of; 2 for people at hubbies work, one for us), my bag was packed, directions printed off just had to get my eldest to swim practice at 4. I had the luxury of leaving the other 2 kids at home as I called my mum to come round a bit early so I didn't have to take them, it was hot yesterday and my birthday so I felt a little bit entitled to ask for help (I don't usually). I took my swimmer out a little bit early so I'd have time to make the hour drive to Rice Uni, crossed the road to the car and...... smashed window. It wasn't like that 25 mins prior when I parked the car, it was just across the street from where I was sat watching my son swim and the guy cutting his grass RIGHT next to it knew nothing about it?! ugh.
Well that's that, I've spent all day feeling nervous about a meet I'm now not going to be able to make, nervous just got overtaken by disappointment. 
I asked Mr Lawnmower what had happened, he said it was like that yesterday???? I could see this was a nonstarter. I wasn't going to get a confession out of him (might have felt like beating one :D) After much wasted time, I cleaned up the glass and drove home. 

My mum offered me her car so I grabbed my bag and ran! Part of me felt like bailing but I figured I'm allowed to be self indulgent one day a year!
In my rush I never took my phone charger or tom tom, they live in my car and I had a fleeting thought that I should grab them but never. mistake.

I got there fairly easily (I'll not mention doing a lap of the football stadium trying to gain entry only to call the organizer and be told I was at the wrong stadium). 
Now safely at the track I found myself surrounded by....athletes. Toned, buff, serious athletes. 'omg, what am I doing here?!' I sent a text similar to this to my running group, they sent some messages of encouragement. My phone was now about to die any second. 

The running order was set, 1st track event to start at 7, I was there at 6 so in really good time. I found it hard to know when to start my warm up as I didn't know when the 800 would start but took my cue from the handful of gringos that crawled out of the wood work towards 7! My stereotyping combined with judging body types was spot on, the white female runners were indeed taking part in the 800! I spoke to one, 'emmmm what sort of time are you looking for?' 'I'll go out in around 65'. Great. Not even in my hay day was that a split I heard at the bell, well once but boy did I die a death on lap 2! I don't worry about others too much and decided I'd probably kick her butt in a marathon (just trying to make myself feel better!) so just got on with the task at hand. 

We lined up 'waterfall' style. Not a term I've ever heard before despite running a gazillion 800's in my youth, so we were not staggered in lanes just toed the curved line at the start. This didn't go down too well with most runners(?) but it makes no difference, it wasn't a large heat, just 8 of us. Oh, '65' was put in the 2nd heat with mostly males as she wanted a fast one....thanks for that right at the start folks, rude is rude. 
They never shouted out the split times at the bell which I had expected but I ran a reasonable race and finished in 2:38. I didn't feel too wiped out at the end, not sure if I gave my all or if I'm just so used to reps that I was ready to do another around 60 seconds later?
I was reasonably happy with that time, I'm training for 5 and 10k's not 800's so I think it was fair, nothing special. 
I had the 400's to go before the 1500 started so jogged a little and stretched. 

Nobody else doubled up which helped me feel like they were speed merchants and not training for the same distances as me, made me feel better! 

There was a team of school boys there, one of whom was trying for the school record, over 1600m. I have NEVER run 1600m before. I have never run a mile on the track before, where I come from it's all about the 1500m. Still, doesn't matter it's close enough to the mile for it to mean something to me time wise.
They ran males and females together, I led the females for the 1st lap (again no lap splits were called out which was a pity) but then 2 came past. I tried to hold onto them but they pulled away around 20 yards. I felt strong, not fast but strong and thought I'd try to get them on the last lap. I just managed to pip one at the line after hauling ass down the last 100m but the other one was too far ahead. 
My time was 5:40, so now I have a 1600 PR :D I had figured I could maybe run a mile in 5:30 so a bit on the slow side and again I felt like I could have run another and another so i am pleased with how strong I feel. 

So back to my initial reaction of how everyone else looked and feeling like a fish out of water. I have lost around 20 lbs since taking up running again and my body has changed out of sight. Whilst I can write that and know it is true I don't FEEL it. I walk around feeling like I did 16 months ago. I think I've been 154 lbs give or take (with the exceptions of those 3 pregnancies) and my body has been 'soft' for sooooo long (i.e. my entire 20's and into my 30's) that my brain still thinks I am. I get a surprise every time I see a photo, 'oh look at how slim my face looks, wow my arms looked toned, what's that indentation on my thigh, etc'. 
I still see a big baby belly when I look down and then I'll see a photo and wonder where the baby belly is hiding because there's no room for it in those shorts?
Whilst waiting for my times, I stood behind the guy analyzing the finishing video. I saw myself come from behind and pip the other girl on the line at the end of the 1600, at least I think it was me. The girl wearing my clothes with my hip number on looked like a strong runner, just like the other girls in the race who I had thought looked much slimmer and more defined than me. THEY looked like runners, not me. But here I was caught on film and I looked just as much a runner. 
I hope that in time my head will catch up to where my body is, again maybe it just needs a bit of time or am I lacking confidence? I'm a pretty confident person, at least I think I am!
This isn't the 1st time I've felt this way, like I look clearly out of place amongst strong, toned runners and then I'll get the email with the race photo's and I'm taken aback. When will I FEEL like I am part of the 'fast looking' runners club and how does it, if at all affect my performance??????
Anybody else with distorted body images out there?

Just one more observation. Whilst growing up, my whole world was athletics and cross country and I do find myself a little bit frustrated at times with peoples apparent lack of running etiquette. Of course I'm not from this neck of the woods so there may well be cultural differences too or maybe not everyone has had the grounding I've had. But next time you finish a race, do me a favour, don't just walk away, stop turn around and shake hands with the next few athletes who finished ahead or behind you. Congratulate them on their run, trust me you'll thank me, it feels good! I would shake hands with my fellow competitors at the end of every race from the age of 7 onwards and I think it's still important to acknowledge those that make a race a race - what would we do without each other just be running round in circles solo - now that would be CRAZY :D 
Also, think of the track as the busiest road you've ever encountered, look all around before you take a step, if you're passing someone pass them before cutting in, just be very aware and courteous to those around you whether at a meet or during training.
It has taken me around a year to be able to train in lane 1, that was a cardinal sin growing up, it gets most wear and tear and was out of bounds until race day! I've decided if you can't beat em join em on that one (that and I felt silly running wide all the time :D). Lecture over.

It was a long night last night made longer with no sat nav to help me find my way home (I have zero sense of direction but knew I needed to head north and got home eventually :D) I will return, and hopefully feel a little less like a fish out of water and beat those times but I think I'll take my family next time, I missed them a lot and they can run if they want, these meets are open to everyone so we'll make it a family evening out :)

ps returned home at 10pm to dirty dishes by the sink and laundry, happy birthday to me. sigh ;)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My first year back running

I have my first track meeting tonight at Rice Uni and my first competitive (?) 800 and 1500 in..... oh around 18 years and I am nervous. I think it helps to remind ourselves how far we've come sometimes, I need a confidence boost today thus the photos! Besides, everyone loves a good before and after ;)  

 I swear I felt MUCH thinner :D (I had baby #3, 4 months prior to this, just fyi!) 1st race 5k in Jan 2011 4 weeks back into running after 16 year break!

 Chip time was 24:?? I forget. This race hurt.

 Houston Rodeo 10k, Feb '11 50:??, this also hurt....a lot.

 Feeding Harry his breakfast before 1st ever half marathon - Angies (see below)
 'Angies half crazy' in March '11 new PR! VERY sore stomach throughout :(

 Kind of fell into a tri in May '11
 That's me with the left arm out the water, 1st 1st timer (1st in age group too, had I entered it!)

 Tri that became a duathlon in Aug '11
 1st after 1 mile run, this is me down to 5th after the bike section
 Caught them all on the final 3 mile run, 1st in age group 4th overall :)

 Best trophy ever

 Hilly Huntsville half Oct '11, new PR 1:34, 23 mins off old one!

 Rungirl half, Dec '11 1st in AG, 3rd overall nice PR, official time showing on the clock!!!!!

 Jan 1st 2012, about to leave for 1st ever marathon, start only 5 mins from my house :)

Texas Marathon 4 loop race, 2nd overall (was leading until end of 3rd lap)
 1st female 3:13 - new PR!

Give or take a race or 5, that was it in a nutshell!.....still very nervous.

Monday, May 14, 2012

                          Go Faster Shoes!

These have 18:30 5k written all over them, right?! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day treat!

Life has changed a little for me over the last 5 plus years with the arrival of my 3 little cherubs and the ensuing chaos that arrived with them. I am in a permanent state of sleep deprivation and have decided my grave stone ought to read 'perpetual motion' as I never seem to get to sit still.
So last night I decided mothers day would start early for me and I went to bed just after I put the kids down (I was sleeping by 8pm!) I had been up since 4:15am as I have to put my Saturday long run in extra early for the next couple of months. My 5 year old is taking part in his 1st ever swim summer league and that means galas starting at 7am so i need to be done/showered early. 
This solo, early morning 12 mile run was BLISS! I rarely get to run outside at all and even more rarely by myself. I had forgotten how nice it is to dictate the pace and I had the whole of Kingwood to myself. 'You are welcome' to all those other runners who ran the bridge on Saturday after me for breaking the gazillion spiders webs along its 1 mile span - yuch! Still, didn't spoil my run and gave me something else to think about during my threshold pace 3 miles. 

Back to Mothers day treats, so I decided not to set the alarm despite there being a tri near my house that I wanted to go watch the next morning. I rarely need the alarm (see 3 children) and I figured if I woke up/was woken up in time, I'd go. Roll on 10 1/2 hours, yes 10 1/2 hours of solid sleep!!!!!!!!! That hasn't happened in, I don't even know if that's ever happened, certainly not post kids! AND I woke up of my own accord, not jumped on, not having a torch shone in my eyes, not with a stinky nappy (diaper), ALL ON MY OWN! Happy Mothers Day! The clock said 6:30 so I threw on my clothes, told my husband I was going to watch the tri and wouldn't be long and sped to Deussen park just in time to see some friends taking part in the relay and watch the 1st wave start. I felt a bit guilty not taking the kids, but it is Mothers day and I figured they wouldn't mind, give them time to get my breakfast ready for my return (yeh right! :D)

The tri was fun to watch, a 'super sprint' that I did last year but I didn't feel any strong desire to be taking part myself. I am a runner, I think I've established that. It was cold, I wished I'd brought a jumper, and the lake was choppy but the hundreds of women who were there made it look fun - women at their best getting out there and making it happen - I  LOVE it! One woman shouted during the 1st transition "That's the best thing I've ever done in my life!" her daughter who was standing next to me said "well it took you 10 minutes to swim...." I stopped her "wowwwwwww, no abuse allowed" to which her mum said "yeh, no abuse in the transition zone!" ha, it was very funny! Her daughter laughed and told her she was awesome "but why didn't you enter the 1st timers wave?", me:"this is your 1st tri? because she's hard core that's why!" 'You're hard core mom!" :D 
I love these random interactions with these amazing people who sign up to do things that takes them out of their comfort zone, there is inspiration all around! 

After the tri I returned home to my favorite people and after breakfast and cards we headed up to the Woodlands for my big present, SHOPPING!!!! SHOE SHOPPING!!!! Not that kind of shoe shopping, I HATE that kind of shoe shopping, my kind of shopping takes place in Luke's Locker. I got helped by a great guy today who was even feeling my legs at one point :D. I have a wide foot and getting shoes is normally unpleasant but he had lots of options for me. I told him I needed spikes, go faster 5k type shoes and heavy high milage shoes. I got what I asked for. 
After I put the baby to bed and the other 2 were settled with dad and a movie my Brooks Launch and I went for an easy run round East End park. They feel great, full of bounce and I can feel that next 5k PR in there :D I have a feeling I have found my 'go faster' shoe and this is more than likely the 1st of many pairs of Brooks 'Launch' for me. 
A very good Mothers Day (and birthday - those shoes didn't come cheap :s). Looking forward to trying my spikes out this week during training and at the all comers meet at Rice uni on Thursday. I haven't worn spikes in around 17 years, wish me luck!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

'What are you training for?'

I have been asked this twice this week. I remember being asked this same question whilst recovering between hill reps in the countryside near my home in Scotland as a teenager, by the farmer whose sheep were usually my only company during this particular session. 

After what felt like a long pause I managed to name my next race but felt like I had sold myself short. I wasn't just training for the next race I was training for what I wanted to be a long and fruitful career in athletics, training for an Olympic gold medal, training for a world record in the 800m, training because running was what I knew and loved. But that would have made the weird girl running up the short sharp hill 15 times seem even more nuts, right?

So I here I was again, at the High school track this time, 34 year old mother of 3 on a Monday night doing a session of 1200's in 80 degree heat. 

'What AM I training for?' 'Why am I here?' 'What on earth am I playing at?' Thoughts like these have been bothering me during my 1st 12 months back into running. This has turned from an urge to get running again into so much more. I am running every day, about to start twice a day, my body has changed out of sight from soft, just had a baby to hard and angled, with bony bits I never knew existed.
I have acquired a coach, am going shopping for spikes and trainers on Sunday as my Mothers Day treat, 'What am I training for????' 

I'm training because I love it, I love to run I love to get faster, I love that I feel like I'm almost running again. I want to see what I can do, what this body can achieve. Can I run a sub 3 hour marathon a mere 2 years after starting from scratch? Can I get an Olympic qualifying standard? Can I have a marathon PR that begins with 2:3x ????? 
I am also being 100% self indulgent and enjoying the break and freedom running represents to me now I have kids. Being a stay at home mum of a 5, 3 and 1 year old is....tough. Here comes the compulsory, 'I love it' but it is TOUGH! 

So my answer now is 'I'm training for a marathon'. It's still not the full answer, it doesn't take into account the 5k's, 10k's, half's, freedom, sense of independence, SANITY!!!! But it will suffice. 
I made a conscience decision to throw out all those nagging 'why's' a couple of months ago. Who cares 'why'? The fact is I am training, I am running, I have goals, tough goals and I want to see how far I can go. 
But I am also aware that it is easy, oh so easy to pronounce my LOVE of running when I am only 16 months in and PR's are still tumbling. I know what's to come, I know my improvement has to slow down, I know I will more than likely plateaux I may even drop back a bit but I am hopeful that even when these things happen I will not lose sight of how wonderful it is to just run. Forget times (I hate that Garmin), forget Jack Daniels (where is his chapter on love and joy of running anyway?!), just the freedom alone is enough to have me hooked for what I hope is a very long time.

Oh, the 2nd guy that asked me was an 80something in the Y today. I had just put in a hilly 6 on the treadmill with my pace ranging from around 8:30-7:00 min/mile pace.
'What are you training for, a marathon or something?'
'yes a marathon'
'I knew it, I've never seen anyone run like you before'.
I took it to be a compliment, I think it was! It made my day actually, I felt a little bit special :D Hope I'm still moving and exercising like he was when I'm in my 80's, there's inspiration all around us!

Incidentally the spikes are for the all comers track meets that start next week at Rice Uni. I also need a pair for my short/fast track sessions on a Wednesday. Q: How long does it take this 34 year old to run an 800m and 1500m, I'll find out next Thursday evening I guess, by which time I will be 35, sigh. 

So 'what are you training for?'.........