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. ;)


  1. Congrats on an awesome race Vicky! I am sure you are super excited and proud. It is awesome when all of the hard work comes together on a great day. I am trying to decide between Chicago and CIM as my fall race. It would be fun to meet up! Wish we lived closer too. I would do just about anything to have someone to train with some days.

    1. Thanks, to be honest I was really happy but it was a week ago now and I'm....over it. Now it's kind of this HUGE pain in my *** that means I've got to recover FOREVER (my coach is big on recovery :()!!!!! First we have to taper and now we have to recover - WHAT?! Maybe I'll just ditch the races and train ;)
      I hear you, I mostly run solo and live for my Saturday runs when I meet up with a crowd even though most of the time there are at most 4 of us who actually run together. C'est la vie. Is there nobody for you where you live?
      Yes, you should definitely do Chicago (I don't know what CIM is :D). Now I just have to persuade my husband that I shoud do it and we might get to meet! I mentioned a new treadmill to him today and steam started to come out of his ears ;s

  2. Great reflections about your training/racing. I especially love what you wrote in red. Hahaha, don't we all get a little insane when it comes to taper time??????

    You're going places, girl. Keep up the good work! :)

    1. I read other peoples 'insane' taper blogs and was all 'well I wont react like THAT!' ha, I completely lost my mind :D I might have to print the red bit out and put it on the fridge during the next one..... Then only my husband will think I'm mad.

  3. Great post- especially about the taper!! I conviced myself to pace for a 3:15 (instead of the 3:10 that I trained for) two days before my fall marathon. I am bookmarking this page to come back to before my next marathon.

    So you are a fan of high mileage? The most I have ever fine is 55 in one week, and I am terrified (mainly of injury) to go higher. Any tips on how to get there??

    Also- Chicago is a great race, but I am biased since I live in the burbs. Definitely put it on your radar!

    1. I can only talk for myself but to me it's a no brainer - you run more miles you will be WAY faster over the marathon (and half). I was probably doing around 55 in the run up to my 1st marathon (Jan 2012) and ran 3:13. I then got up to 105 for this one with I think 5/6 weeks at 90+ and hey presto 12 min PR. Of course there are other elements in there but for me it's mostly about the milage. I think it just makes me fitter. I don't do any other exercise other than running and I'm in the car for most of my day (we cycle to school but it's less than a mile away). I just think it's about moving and getting fit. I like to be as active as I can be. My pace didn't drop too much during Houston and that strength is from the miles. I'm not trying any harder, I haven't suddenly got tougher, it's just plain and simple miles. I think 3:10-3:15 is the fastest I could hope for on 55 miles a week. I need way higher to get faster. You're not going to find many (any?) top marathon runners who aren't putting in 3 figure weeks, it's no coincidence. I was worried about getting injured too but touch wood I've had no problems thus far.
      I stick to the same shoe's, I have lots of running buddies who are in a different shoe every time I see them and almost without exception they complain of feet/lower leg problems. I can't help feel the 2 things are related.
      I think sleep is SO important, it's when we heal and our bodies repair themselves, if you're not getting enough then you're not getting enough time for the 'damage' running does to be fixed.
      These things are just my gut instinct, I have a very limited knowledge of the science of running but I also trust my gut!
      We built up to the high miles VERY slowly, frustratingly slowly. Let me dig out my old schedules from the last few months and I'll let you know my weekly totals. My coach (Doug Storey) likes to have down weeks so it's kind of 2 steps forward one back, 2 forward, etc.
      I am right back down to 50's and 60's between now and the Woodlands half in March. I begged him for more but he is standing firm, he is BIG on a LONG recovery and I have to trust him (terrified of injury!) He has promised HUGE miles after that though :)

    2. Thanks for your detailed reply! Twelve minutes is a huge PR- I am hoping to shave 7 minutes off this year, and I have gotten some feedback that 7 minutes is not possible in just a year. So, thanks for inspiring me. IF my foot continues to feel ok, then I am seriously going to look at some higher mileage plans.

      I agree about sleep. I can't get enough (well, actually, 9 hours seems to be perfect for me)!!

    3. I wish I had the 'you can't take 7 mins off your PR in a year' person in my life, just the kind of thing I LOVE to get me motivated! ;) It's a nonsense to put a limit on improvement, only you know the work and effort and all the hundred other factors that went into that PR, and only you know the same factors for this next marathon. I was hoping for more like a 14/15 min PR this year so I fell short, you go get it!!!

  4. Would love to have the time 100+miles a week, but I would need to run twice a day, and that doesn't happen any more... That said I still get to sneak in a couple of morning runs but that only takes me to 60+

    Taper is good, but rest weeks are also good...

    1. I disagree, taper and rest SUCKS ;) Yes, time is a pain. I need to start to get up early and run before the kids get up to fit in the big miles I think, at least a 3/4 times a week. I can't rely on the child care at my Y, time slot isn't long enough and if one of the kids wakes up and is sick and I haven't run I have to wait until the evening once my husband gets home and I do not enjoy running late, too tired. And when my husband is away, then it gets really tough. I have an ancient treadmill at the house but I would really like a better one, then I can run early and get the miles in even when my husband is away. Now if I could just get him to agree......

  5. It looks like you've thought about this and really have a good plan for being an even BETTER runner than you are now. Chicago will be incredible. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks, still working on my hubbie re Chicago but where there's a will.....!

  6. 100 miles a week would kill me! My body is for sure not built for that! Found out the hard way that I'm built more for 50-60 weeks with higer intensities to get the most ban for my buck. It's always very interesting to me how different runners bodies respond to training demands.

    It's hard to take everything in post marathon isn't it? Glad you found sometime to reflect for next time around. And you WILL NOT regret doing CM13 ;)

    1. Yeh, i guess I'm so excited about all these miles and the benefits I feel that I forget it's not for everyone. I hope I hold up long term, the thought of getting hurt does not sit well with me AT ALL. Just got to keep reminding myself to take them easy.
      Yes Chicago, I have a few months to persuade my better half!

  7. This post was awesome! and just made me so excited for the season ahead :)
    ...and your 100+ miles weeks!!! I gasped when I saw I have a 99-miler in the works pre-Boston...maybe Doug took all your comments about loving high-mileage and translated them across to all of our schedules! :) hehe! I will love it!
    I can't wait to hear which races you will be doing this year! I know you will rock Chicago!

    1. I'm very excited to be part of the Doug Storey team and for the season ahead too! 99 miles, good luck not squeezing in an extra one to make it the 100 (I think he does that on purpose to tempt us :D).
      What sort of miles were you doing in the run up to your marathon PR? You are going to do very well in Boston I think, no freak weather this year I hope!

  8. I need to read the red words, over and over and over!! I do need to check again about how long your taper was. I think it was 2 weeks?

    There are a number of things i can relate to here! Monster trucks. Would LOVE to go with my boys. They would absolutely have a BLAST. And I would be eating corn and floss right with you. Though I also make my own bread and cook from scratch :)
    "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)" Unfortunately it is still appealing to me, but i just don't consider it an option anymore. That makes it easier to resist.
    About the pants. Yeah. BLACK is the way to go. even then, I think sometimes it is noticeable. :/
    Thanks for the thoughts on the immodium. I think I might try it, but hasn't been an issue on most runs. Just once I hit 80+ minutes on everything.

    1. I have drank more during this recovery period than I would normally, I'm convinced it's related to how much running I do! The more I run the less I need/want booze! Also 3 young kids are enough to make me think twice before pouring that glass of wine, my children can smell the merest hint of a hangover and go on the attack :D I need to be on my game to deal with them!!!!
      Yes, try the imodium for sure, it has been a bit of a miracle cure for me in races and long runs. A running buddies son ran 2:43 in Houston with 3 loo breaks. I asked if he'd tried imodium, who needs 3...ANY stops when you're running that fast, what a pain in the ....... :D I have no post run 'consequences' after using it, if you know what I mean.
      I'm also on the 'juice' now, ie juicing everything green I can lay my hands on and drinking a glass at breakfast. It feels a bit wasteful when I see all that 'pulp' maybe I'll try some of the recipes that use it but feel that might be step too far for me! OBSESSED! :D

    2. So. I rally think it's a combination of distance WITH speed. Do you have issues if you run long and slow? Or if you go say, for an hour and fast? I did my little "marathon training run" and had no issues on it, one stop, but not "emergency like", you know. It was pretty slow, though.

  9. So, so true about the taper... thanks for that reminder. I'll come back to it, too. :) Running, then sleep, nutrition and strength seems like a good balance to me. Exciting news about Chicago! I've heard great things about that race!

    1. I've introduced a bit of strength work and am really enjoying it, pretty determined to keep it in there but we'll see how it works out when the miles go up again. I can't wait until Ocotober, bit of work to do between now and then though!

  10. Great post on the taper! I think that is the toughest part of training.

    Crashing during a race is tough, I have learned to start fueling at the start almost and just doing less each time but more frequently :)

    1. Totally the toughest part followed by the recovery, bluch. Some of you more experienced marathoners need to do a fueling blog, hint hint hint ;)

  11. Ahhh...I know of where you speak, having little ones and trying to fit it all in. I have passed that stage now, but remember it well. I think you are doing great w/ the time you have available.

    Totally relate to the aging thing, too, although I have you by 10 years! I know that my chances for a PR now are really small, so I'm giving it all I've got. You still have time, but I think it's great you're giving it your all at a really optimum age. Good luck with the next effort!