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 pitch....soccer 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.
THE TAPER WORKS. JUST GET THROUGH IT, YOU ARE NOT LOSING FITNESS. I REPEAT YOU ARE NOT LOSING FITNESS DESPITE EVERY FIBER OF YOUR BEING TELING YOU THAT YOU ARE. THE MARATHON PACE THAT FELT SO FAST IN TRAINING WILL NOT FEEL SO FAST ON RACE DAY BECAUSE YOU WILL BE RESTED BECAUSE........THE TAPER WORKS. ALL THOSE MILES THAT YOU PUT IN HAVE NOT VANISHED, ALL THAT SPEED WORK IS STILL IN THERE. YOU WILL REAP THE BENEFITS OF ALL OF IT COME RACE DAY. YOU ABSOLUTELY WILL.
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. ;)