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 



Thursday, October 11, 2012

2 days to go...

until Ten for Texas. My husband picked my package up for me today (he works 10 minutes away from the Woodlands so makes for a good errand runner on such occasions). 
I'm excited, excited and nervous but healthy nervous! I talked to Doug, 
ok, I get the impression people here call their coaches 'Coach' but I can't do it. I grew up calling my coaches by their first name and it feels really weird to change to Coach now, I kind of feel like I'm 5. I can stretch to Coach Doug, but not to his face, to his face it's Doug. I digress.
I spoke to Doug and he wants me to go out conservatively (6:40-6:45) for the first 3-4 miles then try to pick it up to 6:25-6:30 pace. I know I could do it on the treadmill but not sure about on the road - hope so! 

I ran 6 easy today and felt my chest was tight which is really unusual seeing as I was indoors. H jumped on the treadmill next to me and when I told her she said the pollen count was high and it was bothering her eyes etc (she is my weather and pollen count girl). I am so fed up of the whole pollen thing here, I'm over it. I feel like I'm making the same excuse in virtually every race, 'oh it's too hot' 'oh the pollen count was high' BLAH! I will pop a pill Saturday morning and then forget about it, I double dare you to mess with me on Saturday weed pollen ;) Hopefully the pill will do the trick, I've been working quite hard and wouldn't mind a little reward for all the graft! 

I was going to go solo on Saturday but I met a friend today who told me I should take the kids as the post race party is pretty good and they'll enjoy it. We have time to get back for soccer so I caved and they will head up an hour or so later than me to hopefully see me finish and then enjoy the music and food. I like them to see me race but tend to end up being the one running around looking after them when I should be warming up so this way I can have the best of both worlds, stress free time before the start and then my favourite people in the world there to greet me when I finish. 

I'm going to put my neck on the line here and say I am 100% going to get a PR on Saturday (yes, it's my 1st ever 10 mile race). Now I just have to finish it. 

We enjoyed a couple of days of cool weather in Houston lately (yes it's back to summer temps again :( ). We made the most of it, look we're wearing COATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 Bouncy pillows are not a good idea for mothers of 3, weak bladder (you see where I'm going with this?!)

 This is how we get to Elementary school every day, the penguin gets to ride her own bike on the pickup leg when we have more time.

3 of my 4 favourite people in the world who will be waiting for me at the finish line :)

Good luck to all those racing this weekend, marathon season is upon some of us I know! Looking forward to hearing about some PR runs out there!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Easy, easier, easiest

I'm not entirely sure this is worth a blog all of its own but what the hay, it's mine I can do what I like right?!

So today, after a bit of sweet talking last night over email with Coach Doug, my threshold 5 became threshold 8 (10 total, 1w/u 1w/d). I dropped the kids off at school then headed to the Y ready to go. I LOVE Wednesdays, I love getting to string a few miles together at a pace that is 'comfortably hard'. I have been feeling a bit frustrated for a while that I'm not working hard enough but I know that's why I need Doug and why I need to listen to him, I don't want to get hurt and he thinks that at age 35 I have time to get where I want to. I trust him. 

I have been feeling for a while that I could go longer than the maximum 6 miles he has been giving me for threshold runs and I thought the confidence boost from proving it to myself would help when I get to race in around 10 days time. 
Today I did indeed manage 8 at 6:30 pace (on treadmill, incline 0) but I didn't just manage it, it was so easy. I really feel like I've made some kind of big progress lately. Today was the first time I can say that I felt the way I used to feel in my previous running life as a teenager. 

It felt great from the word go but then around 25 mins in it just got easier. That's only ever happened once before, in a run half a life time ago over the same distance and at a very similar pace. My breathing was completely easy and I felt very present in this run, as I always do with threshold. I didn't listen to anything or watch anything on the tv, I need to concentrate 100% during this type of run. I thought about where it hurt and realized, no where. This is a trick my dad taught me years ago. He would ask 'where does it actually hurt?' whilst we were running an I'd try to pinpoint it but more often than not couldn't because it didn't. I still do it during most runs not when I'm struggling though, when I feel like I'm flying!
I know I could have kept going at that pace for another couple of miles without too much difficulty. But the big question that I'm left with is how will that translate in the real world? I will be able to answer that question in 'Ten for Texas' a week on Saturday. All I need is a cool day, cold would be wonderful but cool will do and I can see where I really am. Either way I'm excited. 

Last December, 12 months back running after a zillion year break, I needed a similar confidence boost the week before my 1st ever marathon. I ran 5 miles on the exact same treadmill I was on today (I like to get the same treadmill, what can I say) and finished in 32:27 so 6:30 pace give or take. But the difference is that effort was flat out, all I could give type running. There was no ease, it was balls out, lie down and die at the end type running. Today was a very different 6:30 pace, I felt like a million dollars and was able to chat to a couple of people with relative ease throughout (my old men at the Y think nothing of striking up a conversation regardless of what I'm doing on the treadmill :D). 

Is that worth a blog entry, one training run? Maybe not but it was a monumental run for me. If 6:30 can feel that easy what pace will feel easy in another 12 months time and 12 months after that? I'm excited to find out! 

I love running :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

69 Mile week :)

Only 3 days into the highest mileage week that Coach Doug has ever set me far so good. It began with 10 miles recovery run on Sunday with H and N which was a bit faster than the prescribed 8:30-9 min/mile pace but not by too much. 
Then Monday was one of my favorites, 7 miles with 6x3mins at 6:30 pace on an incline of 3 (yes I was on the treadmill, what's new?!) with 1 min recovery. I felt strong, it it a tough one for me but I thoroughly enjoy how hard it makes me work. Just to prove how much it took out of me, I fell asleep on the couch in the afternoon which NEVER happens. I really love doing some 'hill' work, it hurts me in a way no other session does and it's so flat where I live I think it's important I have them in my schedule. 

Today was 10 easy miles at 8:30 pace, on the treadmill again, incline 1.5. H ALWAYS runs EVERYTHING on the treadmill at 1.5, even her threshold stuff (she is so strong!) and so I have been taking a leaf out of her book and cranking it up there but only for the easy miles, Wednesday threshold I leave at 0. I think it's important for me to get that session in at just under my lactic threshold and (here's the real reason) I love the way 6:30 miles feel on a 0 incline but am not as fond at 6:30 pace on a 1.5 incline ;) 

So tomorrow ought to be 7 total with 5 at 6:30 pace however I emailed Coach Doug today and asked if I could have a go at doing 8 at 6:30 pace (10 total). I feel I have it in me and would like a little confidence booster before my first race in FOREVER (crappy 5k's excluded!) 'Ten For Texas' in a week and a half time. He agreed but on the proviso I drop the extra  3 miles elsewhere (not my long run) so my weekly milage doesn't go up. So it's a done deal. I'm not going to go at the crack of dawn (last week I was at the Y and on the treadmill at 4:30am) as I can handle 5 or 6 threshold at that time of the morning but 8 will be much more manageable after a full nights sleep at 8:45, once I've dropped all the kids off at school. Yes, Wednesday is my ME day and Threshold day, got to love a Wednesday :)

On a sad note, H is leaving :( I knew it was coming but not until next summer so in true me style I had pushed it to the back of my mind. I don't deal with emotional stuff very well (understatement of the century). Now her husbands work has moved things forward so it looks like I will one fantastic friend and running buddy down by January. I am so sad about her going, it's funny how quickly you develop a deep bond with someone you run with. We have a lot else in common, 3 kids all the same age, soccer playing kids, the Y and husbands who put up with running wives! Oh, guess where she's going...Colorado, Denver to be precise. So I'm sad and just a tiny bit jealous too! Ok, a LOT jealous!!!! I am happy for her and her family, I know they are more suited to life there and have been wanting to make it their home so of course I'm happy but I'm so sad too. 
It's kind of weird for me to feel this way. I have moved continent twice now and didn't really feel too sad about going either time - is that awful? I knew I'd miss my granny and some friends when I left Scotland but it's struck me how much I don't want H to go. I think for the first time in my life I have found people in N and H who completely 'get me'. I don't have to explain or brush over the fact I run quite a lot. I don't have to try to play down how much it means to me or how important it has become in my life over the last 18 months or so. There are no explanations needed, they know because they feel exactly the same way. 
We have very similar views on lot's of things and can freely voice these opinions during our long runs together without fear of offending. I even get to swear at ease as N has a worse potty mouth than me! 
It's been a bit of a culture shock for me moving to Texas and it's so nice to have these girls to be myself around and say what I really think about....everything.
I have met so many people since I've moved here but I don't really 'click' with any of them like I do with these running girls. I think it's just the first time in my life I feel like I 'fit in', 100% fit in and it's nice. N better not go anywhere or I'm screwed!  

This is off on a tangent but I am also trying got shake a couple of pounds and have stopped eating once I put the kids down at night. That's when I usually go raid the cupboards and eat all the things I'm not supposed too. I'm actually a firm believer in all things in moderation and don't believe in denying myself what I fancy but I want to shake these pounds so night time snacking is out at the moment. I am sharing this as my husband is currently chowing down on the chorizo and is washing it down with a beer. Loving your work honey ;) Might go to bed so that HUGE bowl of porridge I make myself the instant I get up is here that bit sooner :D

What are you snacking on? Can I have some?