Sunday, January 20, 2013

Post Houston Thoughts and Wet Pants

I keep meaning to find a few minutes to write down some of things I want to remember while they're still fresh in my mind after the Houston marathon last weekend so maybe I'll do it here. It's Sunday morning and the kids and hubbie are all still sleeping despite the fact it's 8:05!!!!!! This NEVER happens but we were at Monster Jam (think big noisy monster trucks :s) at the Reliant Stadium last night and didn't get home until 11pm which is later than late for everyone in this house. The kids had fun and I enjoyed it too, especially the popcorn and candy floss......emmmm.....cotton candy (have to translate virtually everything over here!) 

Ok back to business! Will do bullet point style but will not doubt still be very long winded as I'm incapable of anything less. 

* FUELING - I do need fuel during a marathon. Crashed at mile 16 and then took a gel at around 16.5 maybe (not sure where I got the gel from the spectator) and one again at the official 'gel aid station' which was mile 20. So next time I plan to take 3 starting at mile 7. I hesitated before typing that number because it does make me nervous taking one so early on but this is a learning curve and I do aim to use them during longer runs to try to et my stomach used to them so fingers crossed I wont encounter any problem mid marathon.  And I'd really rather not 'crash' energy wise EVER again during a marathon thank you very much!

* MILAGE - It has been 2 years since I started running again and I feel like, whilst it's nothing really I have put in some milage and watched (and continue to watch) my legs and body change in composition on a month to month basis. I feel like it's now or never. If I'm serious about getting as fast as I can over the marathon (and I am) then I need to start putting in consistently high milage now. I'm 35, 36 in May and I don't have that long to build the kind of milage base I want so got to get after it now. High milage works for me. I feel so good on it and I know I need it to get my marathon time as fast as it can be. I also thoroughly enjoyed the build up to Houston and being allowed to run 100+ miles a week. It requires zero discipline for me, what's hard about doing what you love? So I am really going to (and already have) asked Coach Doug (Storey) for big miles week in week out. Ideally I would like to average 100 miles a week +. 
This only becomes difficult when my husband is away with work. This wasn't an issue until recently when he was away for 7 out of 8 weeks over November and December. I am then restricted to a 2 hour time slot at the Y for the child care and that's not long enough. I have a treadmill at the house which I never use as it's......old and crap. Well it is. Ideally I'd love a new one but they aren't cheap and my husband already thinks I've lost my mind with all this running malarkey but I may have to gently force the issue (hmm bit of a contradiction in terms to 'gently force' :D). 

* STRENGTH - I was doing a little bit of core work before my miles got high for Houston. I would fit in it after I had done my running whilst at the Y but once I needed the full 2 hour child care limit to run the core work went out the window (yes I could have done it at home but never got into that routine). 
This needs to change. In an ideal world I would have enough time to fit in everything I want to better my running. But I am limited to 24 hours in a day. No matter how hard I try to squeeze an extra couple of hours out of every day the earth and its rotation refuses to play ball (how annoying is that?!) So, time wise milage gets top priority, then sleep, then nutrition, then strength. That's just the way I feel it needs to be for me. I am obviously only talking about running here, my kids and husband are the top of the list above all those things but this is a running blog not a 'how I try to have a balanced family life' blog. 
So core will return. I need a routine I can do at home and I will get up a little bit earlier to do it or do it of an evening. I prefer the early option always as I am spent come 7:30pm when the kids and all settled in bed.

DRILLS - I don't remember what Heather called it.....'Dynamic something' but I think it's the type of 'speed' drills I used to do as part of every single warm up in my previous life as a runner (ie in my youth). I'm sure they've moved on since those dim and distant days (I know they have, I witnessed it for myself last summer at the track meets I went to at Rice Uni).
So H and I have been talking strength since Houston and both want to get some in there. She is a guru in this department. She was a 400m hurdler at college and has WAY more knowledge in this field but not for marathon running as she herself acknowledges. Anyhoo, she is sending emails and doing some research and wants to meet me at 9am on Tuesday at the football field ;) at the Y where she will show me what's she's thinking and we'll run through some drills. 
We talked a little about preschool for next year, maybe if we can try to line up when our kids are in school we will get to run/train together more, it makes sense. Who wants to be the only crazy out there for all to see on the football pitch, much better to have a crazy friend with you, hay it can't be madness if there's more than one of us....right?! Oh, she ought to be in Colorado already but isn't sure if/when that will happen now. The oil patch is a fickle business. I am so happy to have them stay here but not at the expense of them being where they want to be. So I will enjoy the time they have in Houston and getting to have such a like minded running buddy to train with until they get the move they want. 

* Nutrition and Sleep - my kids (youngest is 2 1/2) are starting to sleep a bit later HOOOORAY! I actually have to wake them most mornings at 6:45 to get up for school (the eldest is in Kindergarten so we have to be up for that every day). This makes a nice change from being assaulted by mini terrorists every day at around 5:30 when they used to rise. 
Ok, I like 9 1/2 hours sleep a night, hell I'd even take 10. I don't get it but I'd like it. I do get enough sleep now though. We are through the worst of the broken nights with babies and toddlers (3 kids in under 4 years gives you a lot of that) but now it's pretty plain sailing. Don't get me wrong we go through phases, my 6 year old is currently coming into our bed every night at the moment and then it will be the 4 year old, etc etc  etc. But on the whole, we are out of the woods. 
So I get around 8 1/2 hours a night. I go to bed early (always before 10) and haven't been having to get up early to run but that will change with an increased milage but I can handle 2/3 early starts a week, I can not handle a mega early start every day, I turn into a zombie who becomes very clumsy and  can't string a sentence together (think drunk without the booze!)
Nutrition wise, pretty happy too. I think I'm still on the heavy side but I'm hoping consistently high miles will take care of that. I cook every day, make most things from scratch. I have shifted to very 'clean' eating and have gone from buying organic meat to now opting for organic fruit and veg too. I have been very aware since having kids and being solely responsible for everything that goes into their mouths that what we eat is so important. This has intensified since taking up running again. It hasn't been a conscious decision just something that has happened naturally. I find myself wanting very simple, 'clean' food. I claim I'm not a health nut (my friends laugh when I say this?) and yet find myself working out more than most, making my own bread, I have gone from being the person who buys the tomato pasta sauce in a jar to making my own. My one 'cheat' was using tined chopped tomatoes but now find since using fresh (skins and seeds removed) I can't go back. sigh. My latest toy is a juicer haven't used it yet but I see it having a prominent place in my future!
Having said all that I am definitely not above popcorn and candy floss at a Monster Mash but in general there has been as shift towards 'cleaner' eating. 
Alcohol is no longer appealing, I have the odd beer but think I used it as a way to release stress before, to unwind after a tough day and now running takes care of that for me so I'm no longer drawn to it in the same way). I used to drink a lot in my late teens and throughout my 20's, very much the culture in Scotland. Very glad to no longer be in that place, I suffer horribly the next day (4 days). 

* Small stuff - Bin bag...trash bag with a head hole as fashioned by H was a GREAT idea to keep me both warm and dry once we left the George R Brown Convention Centre and headed to the start line. I kept it on until around 2 mins from the start and felt warm and dry in the cold rain. I will make sure I always have one with me for every marathon from now on.

Warm fleecy tops with a hood I got for H and I for the same period of time (outside waiting for the gun) to throw away was also greatly appreciated. Found them the day before for $10 a piece so didn't hurt too much to toss it. Will start to keep my eye out for such items and start a 'throw away' collection. All clothing was collected and given to the homeless after the race (these guys think of everything). 

Shoes. I didn't know what to do here really for race day, the whole shoe thing kind of confuses me. I've decided there's a lot of hype and if it aint broke I wont try to 'fix' it. So for the race I wore the same shoes I've been training in. I don't keep track of milage on my shoes but would guess they had around 400 miles on them (they were pretty new ha!) I am thinking I can get more than the 350 the manufacturer tells me I can, I don't want to spend $100+ a month on shoes so I guess I will have to get more out of each pair. I also hate breaking in a new pair, despite getting a wide shoe they are still too narrow initially until a couple of runs have stretched them out. Maybe I'll look for a wider fitting shoe the next time I'm at a running shop. I also recently read it's wise to rotate shoes as pairs can have defects, this makes sense to me, eggs and baskets and all that. 

I need to get shorts with a pocket for gels that I can race in. 

Also would like arm warmers, I think they might have been a smart idea for Houston (cold and wet) but as I don't have any I didn't wear any. I have next to no running gear. I probably need to get some.

Gloves, yes need some warm, waterproof gloves too.

When staying in a hotel pre race ask in advance about what, if any, breakfast is available and maybe take my own. Ditto with the meal the night before, ask for advice about where to go. We were lucky and Doug and his wife took H and I out to eat the evening before the race so they did the thinking for us. They had their car and so we could get out of the very busy Downtown and went to a great Italian where I got my usual night before spaghetti bolognese. Also $60 all in (with tip) for 4 plus a glass of wine - love the cost of eating out here in the US of A!

Taper!!! ok, best till last! Despite going a little bit crazy during this one, it my 1st real taper, and deciding the day before the race that I couldn't actually run and was going to drop out. I will say it. The taper worked. I went from being able to do 6-8 miles at marathon pace and a bit faster at the end of my long runs whilst having 100 miles in my legs, and it feeling fast, to cruising through 16 miles at that pace on race day (ok the first 5-6 of the marathon felt a little rusty but after that it was EASY). Even after I had my fueling crisis at mile 16 the pace never felt very fast not the way it had in training. 


I am writing the above as a reminder to myself! I know that I will freak out during my next taper and the same doubts will no doubt flood my mind and I want to have something to remind myself that all will be well! 

As I said I have been meaning to jot down all the things I want to remember while they are still fresh in my mind so I can use the knowledge gained from this marathon for my next.

So what is next. I have prepared a race plan for 2013 and have given it to Doug so he can come up with a training schedule for me. Thank you Doug! I will post the details of it later. But the biggies are a marathon in Chicago in Ocotober and then Houston again in January (ok, so I'm into 2014 but it's the year ahead). I think 2 marathons a year are the limit, Doug agrees. 
Why Chicago? I googled 'fast and flat marathons USA' of course. It is not a definite yet, another one that needs some 'gentle force' with my husband! :D I have young kids and the night before Houston was the first I've ever spent away from them. So to go to another city for this running hobby seems a bit of a stretch for me. But one that fills me with so much excitement. I admit I felt like it was a HUGE extravagance to have a hotel room the night before Houston and all to myself :s I wouldn't want to take the kids to Chicago, it just wouldn't work. But if I can trick my husband into viewing it as a weekend getaway for just him and I..... ;) No trickery really, I am very tongue in cheek incase you hadn't noticed. 

In the mean time I have a local 5k at the Y on the 2nd of Feb, my kids will be running in the 1 mile race too and then a 50k, yes I said 50k on the 9th. Its also local, only 10 miles away and a friend asked if I wanted to do it with him so I got the ok from Doug. I will be taking it easy, well that's what I'm saying at this point but that may change between now and then. Oh, hell it already has! 

Ok, everyone's up and I have things to do and have blabbed on and on for long enough.

If you have any thoughts or additional advice on any of the above I am always open to suggestions. I have so little experience and I love to hear what other runners have to offer, regardless of what pace they run. Experience is experience. 

Oh, I did 8 miles with the group yesterday and got all the post marathon chat which was fun. Because it was such a short run H and I decided to go for the post run coffee (tea in my case) and further chat which we never do because we feel we have to race home to save our husbands from our kids ;D Anyway, I had (as usual) pee'd myself a little (lot) during the run (see 3 kids) anyway, I put my grey tracksuit bottoms on after the run then went and sat down for my cup of tea. When it was time to leave I realised that my wet shorts, which are always black to hide my leaky bladder, had most definitely shown through onto my grey bottoms. So I did the whole awkward hover as we all got up to leave trying to make all the guys walk out in front of me, and would they, NO! So off Heather and I went, in the lead. sigh. I whispered my problem to her whereupon she leaned right back and looked at my ass, despite my cry 'don't look!' :D She confirmed my fear. 
Just thought I'd mention one of the not so glamorous aspects that make up my every day. I could go way worse than this, believe me but will refrain....for now!
Yours, keeping it real. ;)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ministry of silly walks

I was kind of hoping the video of the finish would show a little bit more of my post marathon attempt at walking but it does catch a bit of a wobble. Enjoy! :D

Some more stats:

Person Details


NameCook, Vicky (USA)
Age Group35-39
My FavouriteAdd Runner To 'My Favourites'


Place (M/W)22
Place (Division)3
Place (Overall)146
Finish Net03:01:50
Finish Gun03:01:59


Finish Net03:01:5009:4906:578.65

Sunday, January 13, 2013

3:01 :)

No cliff hanger here ;) 

This will be brief. I never thought I'd be so happy with missing my goal but happy I am :) See, can't stop smiling :):):):):):)

Long story short:

I decided yesterday that I wasn't running, then that I was only treating it as a training run due to the tightness I felt in my chest during my easy 3 mile run. I think I just totally freaked out. My whole family is/has been sick and I have been dreading getting it too and I haven't been 100% but honestly I think it might have just been anxiety!

Anyway, after texting Coach Doug and Heather that I was out, I texted them back to say '**** it, I'll run and see what happens'.

Today was cold, wet, and windy in Houston. Nice running weather for this Scottish girl. I stayed downtown in my own room and didn't know what to do with myself so I spent the whole time last night reading and missing my kids (who met me at the end and have since driven me crazy - so normality has been resumed ;)). 

I am not good in big crowds and boy were there a LOT of people there this morning. This is y 1st big marathon but I had no problem getting a porta-loo, bag drop was easy, I got pretty close to the start line. All good, nice job at moving a lot of people around seamlessly Houston.

I caught up to the 3 hour group and there I remained. I felt great, i wanted to go at mile wait...mile wait. Then mile 16 hit, I was waiting until mile 18 to make my break but holy moly the life just seeped out of the soles of my feet. 

I learned a HUGE lesson today. This runner DOES need fuel during a marathon. Yes, I had decided not to take anything other than a few sips of gatorade from the 10 mile point on. All that stuff messes with my stomach and I thought I didn't need it. WRONG. 

I have never felt anything like it, the pace dropped off, my eye sight went terrible, I was weaving around and felt so light headed. I started asking all the spectators is they had a gel I could have. Then I saw a man with orange slices I grabbed one and inhaled it, still no gel, I NEEDED a gel. I kept going and asking everyone then I got lucky and a woman gave me one! THANK YOU BEST SPECTATOR EVER. I told her she had saved my life, a little dramatic perhaps but she did save my race. 

I took it, then washed it down with gatorade (made it to the next water station) then got a banana from someone. Ok, kick in, kick in, kick in! And it did, I felt a million times better, felt energy come back and then it was back to business. I could still see the 3 hour 'balloon' so close and yet so far. I told myself to relax and take my time getting them back. I knew if I could just get there I could settle in and I'd get my goal. I worked to close that gap but I could not get to them. 
I took gatorade from that point onwards and another gel at around the 20 mile mark where there was a fuel station. 

Crossed the line, in 3:01 did the whole stop running and my legs would not cooperate and walk thing! Was held up by a nice guy until I looked like I wouldn't veer into the barrier and/or collapse anymore. So that's a 12 minute PR, I'll take it.

It was so awesome. I'm so happy. I know there's so much more in there even at this point. But the really exciting thing is I feel like I understand what my body needs fuel wise (I'm sure I still have a lot to learn but todays lesson was a very important one) and I know that with the right training (mega miles) I have so much more to give. 

I found my family and within 5 minutes of finishing I had my 4 year old on my shoulders and was making the 15 minute walk to the car so we could get back to the hotel. Life was restored to normal (4 year olds have no respect for the fact their mums have just run a marathon). Love her.

Bit of a sore tummy afterwards, price to pay for those gels but worth it for pulling my race back around today.

22nd female, 3rd in AG.

Next goal, sub 2:55 by the end of the year (would really like low 2:50's actually so might revise that). But talk, as we know is cheap. Rest time then back to averaging some serious milage for 2013.

I'm adding the most important part late!!!!!!! Huge thanks to Doug Storey, Coach extraordinaire. Like I told him, I knew he knew his sh** ;) If you're 'serious' (ie prepared to work hard) and are looking for someone who takes your thoughts, wants and needs into account (he gets that we runners are all different) then he's your man. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Doubting 'Thomas'

One week to go until Houston marathon and I am in taper hell. I wont bang on and on about how it feels because I'm guessing you all know, far better than I I'm guessing. 

I have been/am under the weather too which is not helping my head at the moment one bit. I caved on Saturday and went to the dr's who gave me an assortment of pills and potions (bronchitis) to take so hopefully by Sunday I will be back to normal. 
My kids are all coughing and my eldest is throwing up so we are just a picture of health, I'm hoping I can avoid the throw up part but once one of my kids gets something they are very good at sharing with the rest of the family. I also still have my weird stomach thing lingering on. It's been a month now and things aren't back to normal so I will go see a dr about it after Houston. I have a feeling I have some nasty bacteria hiding out in my stomach and it's time it left!!!!! 
But there's no point stressing about it, there's nothing I can do so time will tell what kind of health I'm in when I line up on Sunday.

I am missing my 100 mile weeks so much. I have decided that in the future I want to keep my miles high in the run up to a marathon and just drop the intensity the week before. The holidays have not helped in any of this. I am a creature of habit and the added stress of no school and having my hubbie home messing with my routine has not helped! I had the packed lunches made last night, clothes laid out, bags packed all ready for school today then both kids were sick so no school. It turns out they saved me some embarrassment - school starts back tomorrow :D

The timing of the Houston marathon is not great and I think I'll listen to Coach Doug and pick a different one for next year. Any recommendations? I think I'd like to do one in October/November and then maybe a 2nd in March (probably the Woodlands). 

Coach Doug thinks I'm capable of 2:57 on Sunday. He has suggested a race plan but I think my head isn't quite there yet. I'm not 100% certain yet but I think I'm going to start off with the 3 hour pacers and sit in until the 18 mile mark. If I'm feeling it then this will be the earliest point I'll make a move but may hold off until 20 miles. I am not sure of my speed but am confident about my endurance, not sure that makes sense. But I feel like the longer the race goes on the more it plays into my hands ie if I can get to 18/20 miles and feel ok then I think I'll make it. I want to negative split, I want to feel in control and own all 26.2 miles. I don't want to do my usual start off too fast and spend the rest of the time dying a long slow death. 
I do have some fire in my belly but my lack of races in leaving big question marks for me. Let's face it someone with a 1:28 half PR has no business going for a sub 3 marathon but that 1:28 was a bit of a disaster. I had a emergency 'bathroom' stop in the trees and suffered with a sore stomach for most all of it. So I know I'm faster than that....but how much?! 
I have been eating these big miles up and throwing down some nice faster miles towards the end when my schedule has called for it. I have completed some monster speed sessions and have hit all the paces set. But the last week has been a mess with tendentious rearing its head for a couple of days, illness and general family chaos. I feel like I must be losing fitness but I guess the taper is done for a reason and I do trust Doug but I do have to keep reminding myself all the work I've done hasn't been undone because of the taper but that's how it feels!

In all honesty I just want it to be Sunday so I can get this one out of the way and start putting in the big miles I want to average for 2013. Don't get me wrong, I am looking forward to it, I'm desperate to race, I want to get that time so stinking badly! But I also know this will not be my fastest marathon, there's more to come and I want to move passed this one and get serious about this 26.2 business.

I've asked Doug if we can stay between 90-100 miles for the year and he came back with 80-100 to which I said 89-100 and it's a deal ;) I know that by putting in consistently high miles I will get the kind of marathon time I want. I also want April/May/June to be jam packed with speed work. I want more 200 and 400's than I've had hot dinners. I want my 800 and mile time to be as fast as I can get them which means a return to the Rice Uni Allcomers I ran a couple of last year. I want a far more respectable 5k time all while putting in high miles week in week out.

I also want to get some core/strength work built into my routine and keep it there (my core work has fallen since my miles got big). 

Want, want, want, want, want!

I have a hotel room booked for Saturday so will leave in the afternoon and hit the expo to pick up my package then I'll have an entire evening to myself. I've never been away from the kids for a night before but knowing my husband is in charge will hopefully allow me to relax?! A few friends are running and are staying over night so hopefully I can meet up with them and find a good place to eat (makes me nervous eating out the night before a race - I was thinking about taking my own food but how would I heat it up?!) 
On the eating front, I also feel like I've put on so much weight  despite the scales telling me otherwise. I just feel like a taper messes with my head more than it's worth. I'd rather go in to a marathon less rested but have my head in a good place than go through this again! 

But it's is just running isn't it folks. I am reminded on almost a daily basis how lucky I am to have the life I have. My kids are healthy (well, you know what I mean) I found one of the good ones husband wise, I have my health. Life is good and it has been good to me. I get to run, I get to run my guts out on Sunday and then will be met by the 4 faces I love at the end. Life is good.

Freezing yet enthralled at Sea World San Antonio last week (the hats were purchased at the Alamo an hour or so before, sooo cold!)

For once I didn't say 'no' to the lolly pops. Well, who can refuse a princess and her brothers on her birthday?! 

We surprised the kids with 2 nights in a 'fancy hotel' once their Daddy got home after missing Christmas and being away for 7 out of the last 8 weeks. 

One last thing. I have people tell me how 'I've got this' that it's 'in the bag' etc etc etc. I think 'how do you know?' Their wishes and kind thoughts whilst appreciated mean zero to me motivationally. Doesn't that sound awful, but it's true. Then there's this one guy. My favourite guy. Who doesn't think I'm going to make sub 3. He hasn't come out and said it directly but he keeps telling me not to be too disappointed if I don't etc etc etc. He is my favourite guy because that's what makes me tick. Don't tell me I CAN do something, tell me I CAN'T. Doubt me, think I just don't have it. It will be his words I carry with me on Sunday, his voice I hear at miles 5, 13, 18, 20, 22 etc etc etc. I wont be devastated if I don't get under 3 on Sunday but I will be if I don't give it everything I've got and there's no chance of that happening and for that I thank you Mr Doubter.
Now do me a favour and post some doubt filled comments ;)