Time to Celebrate

Yesterday was my birthday and I have a lot to celebrate. I’m cancer-free, running again, and life has returned to some semblance of normalcy. Oh, and something I wrote is going to be published this month!

A few months ago, in the middle of chemo, I found out that a race report I wrote on my first 50K trail race in Palo Duro would be published in the running magazine Marathon & Beyond.  I was thrilled, of course, but it was tough trying to do some minor editing and send off photos when all I really wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and sleep. Trying to make my brain stay focused and my fingers work on the keyboard was a challenge, not to mention the continually strong urge to vomit.

The editors were patient and kind with me, however, and the article will be appearing in the March/April edition–which means any day now it should be in the mail. If you don’t subscribe to Marathon & Beyond, you should. It really is the best running magazine out there. Almost all of the articles are written by real runners, people like you and me, who tell their stories about training, racing, and running. It’s a magazine that’s more like a small book, written by people who love running crazy long distances. That’s us, y’all! (And no one coerced me or paid me into saying any of this. It really is a great magazine, and not just because they published my race report.)

I haven’t written much lately. It’s taken me a while to settle back into routines and transition back to a regular life, whatever that is. I can’t play the cancer card anymore when it comes to housework or cooking, the kids have come and gone, and I’ve been putting a lot of work into the knitting business. And I have to admit, coming back to running after almost six months of surgery and chemo was much harder than I thought it would be. MUCH harder.

Cross country skiing in New Mexico. Much more fun than running, but just as hard.

Those first few runs after my last chemo session were pretty rough. I could barely run ten steps before I was out of breath. I’m not exaggerating. I used to tell everyone I was starting back at ZERO with my running, but the reality is I started back at NEGATIVE 25. Chemo takes a lot out of you, and the fatigue has taken months to recover from.

So I started with walking. At first, it was only a few blocks with the dogs, then I felt strong enough to push it to three miles, then four. I added in small running segments, and celebrated when I was able to run one whole block without stopping, then two blocks. It wasn’t much, but it was monumental, all at the same time.

I decided four miles was the ideal distance for me, and my goal was to keep walking/jogging (AKA wogging) four miles until I could run the distance without any walk breaks. Interestingly, when I started running again, I picked right back up at my old pace. The problem, of course, was that my legs and heart weren’t conditioned for that pace, hence the fact that I was out of breath after ten steps. I needed to make myself slow down. I had to reteach my brain to slow down to a pace that I could more comfortably run. You would think this would happen automatically after such a long layoff, but it didn’t for me. I think this proves just how stubborn my brain truly is.

Running with my son’s girlfriend, Nicole, helped tremendously. She had never run before, and didn’t have any former running paces to mess with her brain. She naturally ran a pace that was comfortable for her, and it forced me to relearn how it felt when I first started running eight years ago–to slow down in order to run farther. This is all Running 101, but I told you I was stubborn. They say running is 90% mental, and this proves it (at least for me).

What also helped: the treadmill. Yes, doing the thing that makes me want to slit my wrists–running on the treadmill–helped the most to reprogram my brain to find the right pace. I set the speed to a very comfortable pace and ran TWO MILES without stopping. For me, this was huge. Just knowing I could run that far without having to stop and walk let my brain know that if I would just slow down, I could go farther. Duh.

After that mental breakthrough, it was Game On. Running was still hard, and I still had to take lots of walk breaks, but at least I was out there again. I ran only for time, noting each week how long it took me to cover the four mile distance. I decided to wear my Garmin one day just to see what my actual pace was, and of course it was a miserable run. Immediately, I got caught back up in my speed and trying to run faster than the last time. I ditched the Garmin afterwards and went back to the Timex. Eventually, a run/walk that used to take me 1:17:00 only took 51:00, including walk breaks. I wasn’t going to break any speed records, but that was unimportant. I was running again!

Showing off the new runner-friendly ‘do after a run.

Now that I’m four months out from chemo, I’m still taking walk breaks. I’m walking less and less each week, and I’m slowly getting stronger. Yes, I’m frustrated that I’m still walking on a four mile run, but I vowed I wouldn’t beat myself up over this. Building up all the muscles and tendons in my legs again, not to mention making my heart stronger and more conditioned, just takes time. There’s no hurry. And some days, running four miles still makes me feel as tired as if I ran a half marathon.

I try to do yoga at least five days a week, and like before, I swear it makes me a stronger runner. I can’t recommend yoga enough. No matter what else happens with staying fit as I get older, I plan to keep doing yoga well into my 100’s (or longer).

My only goal for the entire year is to run at least four days per week. No races, just base building for an entire year. I haven’t always met my goal of consistency. Some days I use the cold temps as an excuse, other days the wind, some days I’m lazy, and a lot of days I just can’t get motivated to run alone. Running is hard now, and it used to be easy. Building up to my previous level of conditioning is going to take a long time, and I promised myself I would be patient. Running is definitely much harder when you’re just starting out, and I haven’t reached the point where it feels “easy” again. But I will.

Of course, my running buddies are all much faster than me now, and I hate holding others back, but they have been great about meeting for an occasional “wog” during the week. I’m also doing a long run every Saturday again, and my closest running friends have been nice enough to run with me. I’m up to 7 miles, and in a couple of weeks I plan on running my first post-chemo nine mile loop around the lake. It will be hard, but I can’t wait.

Most importantly, I’M ALIVE, and that’s the best thing of all to celebrate this birthday!

white rock lake runner

White Rock Lake, I’m coming for you!

The Slow Comeback

It’s time to rewind. A blog that used to be filled with stories of 20 milers, long trail runs, and 60 mile training weeks is going to look very different for a while.

Chemo is over. It’s time to run.

I have been “wogging” (I can’t honestly call this running) 4 miles most days of the week. My plan is to stay at 4 miles and increase the time I run until I’m running the entire distance.

Once again I’m reminded of how great “just” walking is. I walked as often as I could during chemo, but it wasn’t far because of the extreme fatigue. It’s taken me two full months to run half a mile without stopping, but all those weeks of walking have made me strong enough to even attempt it.

26.2 stickers

Yes, I’m one of THOSE runners with all the stickers. Hate me if you must.

Since I finished chemo I’ve been very impatient, expecting to get back into shape within a few weeks and pick up right where I left off. It’s not going to happen. This body was beaten down pretty hard and it’s taken longer than I thought it would to return to running.

I’m okay with that. There’s no hurry. Really. I’m happy just to be moving again. Right now I don’t feel that old urge to push myself further and further. Maybe it will return one day, but for now there’s no training spreadsheet or running log calling my name.

My  first goal is to run a mile without stopping. One mile seems like a million right now, but at least I’m halfway there. My next goal will be to run the full 4 miles of my daily distance, and within the next two months I hope to loop White Rock Lake (9 miles) with some walk breaks included.

Christmas Lights Run

Runners in our front yard for our annual Christmas Lights Run.

Though I feel stronger every time I run, it is very, very hard to come back from being sedentary for six months. And I wasn’t just sedentary, I was being poisoned two weeks out of three from chemo drugs.  It’s a serious understatement, but I’m glad that’s all over with.

One thing I noticed right off the bat when I first started running again was that I was keeping my old pace on my short run segments. I could only run for about a block before I was completely out of breath and wanted to die, but I wasn’t shuffling along. Alas, the brain remembers but the legs doth protest. It took me a few tries, but I finally figured out–just like when I first started running eight years ago–that I have to slow down to build up my distance and work on endurance first. Speed comes of its own accord.

Speaking of speed, my husband told me the other day that I have to start all over with my PR’s, as in “pre-cancer PRs” and “post-cancer PRs.” I cry foul! Nobody else has a cancer-imposed PR moratorium to deal with, so why should I? Husbands can be so irritating.

Christmas Lights Run

I walked, hence the jeans.

I almost always have marathon dreams a few weeks before a race. During those long months of chemo I inexplicably had recurring dreams of running in the snow. I could hear the crunch of the snow underfoot, feel the cold air on my face, and taste the overwhelming freedom of running. I have no idea why it was always snowing in those dreams, but I loved feeling that I could still run, if only in my dreams.

Now that we’re having an unusually cold winter here in north Texas (and I LOVE it), the snow has disappeared from my dreams, though I still have dreams of running effortlessly, breathing easily and without pain. Kind of like I used to.

I’m looking forward to running that way again, in real life. Soon. Very Soon.

Fairfield Half Marathon. The (First) Recap.

Originally posted on It's A Marathon AND A Sprint:

I know that Colby is writing a recap of the FFH (the second F and H stand for Fairfield Half – I’ll let you decide what the first F stands for), but since we’re pretty sure that this was our last Fairfield Half, I think we can write 2 recaps. Right?

Here’s what my recap would read if I were allowed only 3 lines:
It was hot.
It was humid.
I think it was my last Fairfield Half.

But of course, there was so much more than that…

Like Vermont Covered Bridges, the course is beautiful, winding through great beach neighborhoods and along the Long Island Sound coastline. Whereas Vermont Covered Bridges showcases the quaint, small-town rural beauty of New England, the Fairfield Half highlights another beautiful side to New England. We got beaches, baby!

But both were hot, and alas, I did not fully get to enjoy the beauty…

View original 1,096 more words

A New Chapter

My life has undergone a huge change these past three weeks. Running has taken a backseat for the time being, though I hope to be running again within the next two or three weeks. As a friend said, “This is more than just a broken toe!” Indeed.

In the meantime, I walk. Yesterday I managed my longest distance: one mile. All things considered, it’s quite a milestone for me.

I’ll be writing more here on Run Nature once I’m up and running again. Until then, if you’re interested, you can follow my story on my other blog, Mind Margins.

Thanks for reading each week and for all your support these past two years here on the blog. It means the world to me.

Angela

Strength

AWOL

Sometimes it’s good to take a break. Sometimes you don’t have a choice. I had meant to post this two weeks ago, but life had other plans for me.

Up until ten days ago, I didn’t run much, but I did a lot of other fun stuff.

I ran a trail marathon and got injured. I stepped in a hole and fractured my third metatarsal. It happened at mile 3 and I continued on to the finish. I was more scared of the lightning during the race than I was of damaging my foot. Apparently I don’t even have to fall down to break something.

I went to the gym and tried to workout, but I hated it. I always hate working out at the gym. I did discover, however, that I LOVE the Stairmaster. I had to stay off my foot (or wear the Ugly Boot of Shame when I didn’t), so I watched a lot of movies and knitted. Yes, I am dorky enough to knit.

I had jury duty and got picked as a juror for the first time ever. It was only for two days  was a really interesting experience. Juror badge My daughter came home for a short visit, and my son and his girlfriend have been living with us until he’s needed at his new job site in Brazil. I’ve loved having the twenty-something energy in the house.

I signed up for two road marathons two months apart (a first): Marine Corps and Route 66.

I drove to Ohio and back for my husband’s uncle’s funeral. We drove 18 hours straight through, and I will never do that again. I love road trips, but I do have my limits. And we almost hit a deer at 12:30am on a dark Ohio country road at the end of those 18 hours of driving, which was not a fun experience. I got to drive through parts of the country I’ve never seen before, like Kentucky and a part of Missouri.

I went camping and hiking in Utah. I went on another road trip with my son and his girlfriend, this time to the opposite side of the country. The desert southwest, which I find beautiful, seemed amazingly brown and drab after the lush greeness of the Ohio Valley. That all changed once we got to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. They are spectacularly amazing.

I hiked a death-defying trail (Angel’s Landing) that I was too chicken to hike twenty years earlier. It was a great feeling to face my fears and do the hike. The view from the top was worth it, but the hike up was the best part.

Angel's Landing

At the top of Angel’s Landing. Under that left foot? Nothing but air, straight down, for 1,488 feet.

I was surprised to realize that I was still pretty strong on our hikes, despite being injured. I guess we don’t lose our conditioning as quickly as we think we will, and working out on the Stair Master really did help.

I discovered there’s no way around feeling the altitude at 8,000 feet, especially if you’re from North Texas, elevation 450. Even. Walking. Meant. I. Talked. Like. This.

Eventually, I returned to running. Coming back from an injury just plain sucks. I can’t say it any other way. It just takes time.

I’ve run two full weeks now since being given the green light by the doctor and it feels great to be back. I really missed running, especially with my friends. In all honesty, it was kind of nice to take a break, to change things up a bit, especially when it involved two road trips and spending time with my son and his girlfriend hiking in Utah.

Life really is good, my friends, and there is a lot of world out there to be played in and explored. In the meantime, it’s back to the hot, steamy, Texas asphalt for me.

50K Training, Week 10: The Most Gorgeous Week

Some weeks are just made for running.

This past week was an absolutely gorgeous week of spring weather. The week started out in the upper 30’s in the mornings and was in the low 60’s by the end of the week — which is a pretty abrupt change in temperature. The trees are just starting to get their green leaves, the evening sunsets with a thin crescent moon were lovely, and (though I was never able to spot it) there’s a comet somewhere near the Earth. Though spring is inevitably followed by summer, my least favorite running season here in Texas, I can’t help but love running in the early springtime.

Moon

Thursday night’s attempt at finding the comet.

MON: Pace Run 9 mi - Since the rain cancelled my trail run yesterday, and the wind kept me nice and warm in my bed, Liz and I met up for a loop around the lake this morning. Though not 35 mph like yesterday, at 36 degrees we definitely felt the wind this morning. We felt good, added in the hilly path, ran negative splits, and wound up with a pretty fast average pace (9:06). Even though it was only 9 miles, I was too worn out for yoga afterwards.

TUE:  Easy Run - 6 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – It was an absolutely gorgeous morning for a run on the Katy Trail. We are getting a little bored with running around the lake and it was a nice change. Tried to keep the pace more conservative, but the average was still only three seconds slower than yesterday’s. Enjoyed some power yoga later in the morning.

WED: Easy Run - 4 mi – Liz took a rest day so I did an easy run in the neighborhood. Legs felt tight and my allergies made me feel  fuzzy headed and sluggish. Breezy, but another gorgeous spring morning.

THU: Hill Run - 8 mi - Met Liz and Hari a little later in the morning for a hill run around Lakewood. It was another beautiful day, though the temperatures did climb into the low 60’s by the end of the run. In another month I will be dying for runs in the low 60’s, so I’m not complaining. Liz watched a show Sunday morning that highlighted a study about friendship that says people perceive hills to be less daunting when they are with friends. This certainly seems to be the case when we run hills each week. I can’t imagine trying to run them without my friends (and I would do a lot more walking if I did).

FRI: Yoga - 20:00 – Because of running four straight days, I have been yoga lazy this week. Did some easy forward bends.

St Patrick's Day, Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX

The madness that assaults my neighborhood each St Patrick’s Day weekend.

SAT: Long Run - 10 mi – One of the worst runs I’ve had in a long time. It was warm and humid, and I don’t think many of us have acclimated to the warmer temperatures yet. Also, my allergies have been pretty bad all week and, worst of all, my left ITB felt suspiciously tender. It continued during the run and early afternoon, but was never bad enough to call it painful. It was gone after an evening of relaxation on the couch — and it’s not easy to relax on the Saturday before St Patrick’s Day when you live where we do, just off lower Greenville Ave. For those who don’t live here, Greenville Ave. is Mecca to all St. Patrick’s Day revelers in Dallas. The noise of 100,000 drunk people, helicopters, sirens, traffic, loud music, and parties next door and across the alley (including yelling drunk women — why do women yell when they drink too much?) kept us up until 3am. It was a short night.

SUN: Trail Run - Grapevine – 8.7 mi, Yoga - 40:00 – Slept on the couch with the TV on until 3am to drown out the music from the party next door, then got up at 6:30am for the trail run with Hari and Susan. It was 64 deg, overcast, and humid, but surprisingly pleasant during the run. The ITB felt okay today, just a slight twinge of tenderness, so I’m not freaking out. It’s merely making its presence known. I will acknowledge and take tomorrow off. This has been the highest mileage week I’ve run since December, so I will back off. We had a fun encounter with a speeding armadillo on our run who ran right across our path, in a straight line uphill, running much faster than we were. I had no idea they could run that fast! And what kooky looking animals!

Looking forward to Grasslands trail marathon this weekend!

Stats for WEEK 10: Run –  46.3 miles, Yoga – 1:20:00

Armadillo photo courtesy of: Rafi B. from Somewhere in Texas :) (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

50K Training, Week 9: Blow Me Away

I was a skinny little girl. My best friend’s mom used to say that one day I would blow away in a strong gust of wind. I think I took those words to heart.

First day of school, 1966

First day of school, 1966

Everyone has their own personal running nemeses. High heat and humidity come to mind, both of which I struggle with. For me, though, nothing is worse than running against a strong wind, especially when it’s cold.

It’s getting to be that time of year when the wind makes its reappearance. My first two marathons are still my toughest races, mostly because of high winds in each race, with the second even windier than the first. Probably because of those two races, strong wind is my least favorite weather to run in. Winter temperatures make it even worse.

Two of my runs this week were “winded out” because of strong, gusty winds and cool temperatures. No guilt; I just didn’t feel like fighting 35+ mph gusts on those two days. I did get in three quality runs, though, so I’ll call it a step-back week and pick up the mileage this week.

Clouds

MON: Yoga – 40:00 – Woke up with a slightly sore lower back (probably from a small fall on the trail yesterday), so I did some back bends, then hip openers to help stretch out the sore quads. 88 degrees today!

TUE:  Rest Day - Heard the wind howling all night long, bringing in a cold front and plunging temperatures. Even Liz didn’t want to run in that wind, so it was easy to convince her to bail on our morning run. We attended a luncheon together and standing in the cold wind afterwards at valet parking got rid of all my guilt at not running. The wind continued into the evening, and I was having dinner with a friend anyway, so an unplanned rest day took place. This only means I will have to try and make up the miles later in the week.

WED: Hill Run - 8 mi, Power Yoga - 20:00 – Liz and I packed in as many hills as we possibly could on our run today. As usual, I dreaded the run and wound up loving it in the end. Liz and I had a great conversation on our run, and it reminds me that I’ve made some truly amazing friends through running. Power yoga in the late afternoon wore me out.

THU: Tempo Run - 6 mi – Yoga - 20:00After yesterday’s hill run, I don’t know how we did it but Liz and I picked up some serious speed today. We ran fartleks in between what we thought was an “easy” pace, and couldn’t believe some of the splits we pulled off. Liz loves sprinting, especially at the end of a run (I don’t), but our fast fartleks felt exhilarating. It was a great workout, and I could barely keep my eyes open later in the evening.

FRI: Rest Day - I thought about doing a few miles in the neighborhood in the afternoon, but after a hill run followed by a tempo run, and two scheduled long runs this weekend, I decided against it. Somehow I got busy later in the day and never got around to yoga either.

SAT: Long Run - 12 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – What a warm, humid, windy run. I guess I should be thankful that the wind kept us cool, but it was mostly just plain irritating. After morning runs these past few weeks in the 30’s and 40’s, starting with a  temperature of 61 degrees was a shock to the system. It certainly kept our pace slower than usual, and there were some hills in the end, but I managed to have a great run.

SUN: Rest Day - Another trail run rained out. I enjoyed sleeping in on a Sunday morning, but could hear the wind blowing and gusting outside. I had planned on running in the afternoon but felt absolutely zero desire to battle the wind. I took a rest day instead and will make up the miles next week.

Stats for WEEK 9: Run – 26 miles, Yoga – 1:40:00

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 8: My Cup Runneth Over

My friend Hari had some of his favorite running friends over for dinner a few months ago. As we stood in the kitchen, shooting the breeze while we waited for Hari’s world famous pulled pork to be ready, someone noticed a jumble of running stuff in the small pantry off the kitchen. When I say “jumble,” I really mean an overflowing waterfall of running stuff spilling from the counter. It was everywhere — and it was a MESS. After giving him a hard time for it for the next few weeks — because that’s what I do — I looked around and realized my stash of running stuff looks just as bad as Hari’s.

Hari's running stash.

Hari’s running stash.

This is my confession.

My running stuff is not confined to one area, like Hari’s. It’s all over the place. There’s the bookshelf next to my computer that’s a jumble of office supplies, yoga DVD’s, teaching materials, yoga mats, weights, and running stuff. There’s the dining room table where I put out all the things I will need for the next day’s run. There’s the closet where I keep all my shoes, jackets, shorts, shirts, capris, tights, gloves, caps, etc to ensure I’m warm/cool/dry enough for any type of weather or season. And there’s the dresser drawer where I keep all my socks. Yes, three-fourths of an entire drawer of socks — thin socks, toe socks, trail socks, and thick trail socks. And I won’t go into depth about the TEN pairs of Nike Frees I bought on sale last year that are stacked up along the floor of my closet.

Running stuff

At least it’s not too messy . . .

Don’t get that snooty look on your face. I know I’m not alone. I bet your place looks just as overrun with running items as mine.

MON: Recovery - OUCH. My quads are very sore from yesterday’s half marathon.

TUE:  Recovery - Still sore. Too sore for yoga even.

WED: Recovery - Just a little residual soreness in the quads, but I have a headache, so I’m taking another rest day and not feeling an ounce of guilt for doing so.

THU: Easy Run - 5 mi – Yoga - 20:00I thought I was just being lazy for not running yesterday, but my quads were still pretty sore on my run this morning, especially the left one. It was cold (37 deg) and Liz and I had to keep slowing ourselves down. We ran negative splits and finished off much faster than either of us really wanted to. I have to admit that it feels kind of awesome to be running so fast again. Enjoyed some forward bends afterwards and hoping it will help with the quads.

Running socks

Obviously I have a sock addiction.

FRI: Yoga - 35:00 - Since my quads were still sore yesterday, and I have two long runs this weekend, I decided to do some easy yoga and take a running rest day.

SAT: Long Run - 13 mi – It was SO COLD on our run this morning. 32 degrees at the start with an icy cold wind to boot. My fingertips were frozen the entire run. Nevertheless, it was still a good run — despite the trauma of having our start time pushed back to 6:30am, UGH — and we kept a good pace. I am going to appreciate every single cold run from now on because I know these days are numbered. (I really could have done without that cold wind, though!)

SUN: Trail Run - Rowlett Creek Preserve – 11 mi – A gorgeous morning for both a trail run and a birthday. The weather was perfect, and we had a nice group running with us. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done an extended trail run with my friend Hari, so it was nice to spend the morning on the trails with him. Afterwards, breakfast at Hubbards with some of the group, and a quiet birthday at home.  It was nice to take some time off this week from running to recover and to run a semi-long trail run to cap off the week.

Stats for WEEK 8: Run – 29 miles, Yoga – 55:00

Running clothes

The horror that is my closet.

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 7: Cowtown Half Marathon

After last week’s running boredom, I looked forward to taking three full days off before running the Cowtown Half Marathon on Sunday. Taking three days off before a race has always worked well for me, and I arrive feeling rested and excited to race at the start line. I was also looking forward to a short weekend away from home and running on a new course. Part of my running boredom is nothing more than always running the same routes, over and over, or the same few trails, and I was really looking forward to running in a different location. I was hoping that running a half marathon would also reset all my buttons and break up some of the tedium of training — and that’s exactly what happened. There’s nothing better than running a good race.

Cowtown Marathon 2013

At the start of the Cowtown Marathon/Half Marathon with the Will Rogers Coliseum and Ft Worth skyline in the background.

MON: Yoga - 40:00  I was feeling pretty sore from our short trail run yesterday, especially in the calf muscles and left groin area (which has been flaring up off and on recently, probably because of the hill work). Concentrated on forward bends and opening the hips, and felt great afterwards.

TUE:  Hill Run - 6 mi – Since we’re officially tapering before Saturday’s half marathon, Liz and I ran the hilly path rather than the more challenging hill route we run on Wednesdays. It was another gorgeous, early spring morning, with blue skies and temps in the mid 40’s. Though I am sad to see our Texas winter slowly fade away, I can’t complain about these perfect mornings for running. I loved that the hilly path seemed easy, and I especially loved feeling so strong on the hills.

WED: Easy Run - 4.2 mi – It was thundering and hailing when I got up to run with Liz, so we pushed the run back to this afternoon. It was a true winter day, with cloudy skies and a blustery wind from the north. I think we would have run 6 miles if the wind hadn’t been so bitterly cold, so we cut it short and kept a relatively easy pace. I’m really looking forward to three days off from running, some longer yoga sets, and then the Cowtown Half Marathon on Sunday.

THU: Yoga - 40:00Enjoyed my first day of taper before the half marathon on Sunday. Did twists and back bends, then took the dogs for a long walk in the evening. After a brief rain storm this morning, it turned out to be a gorgeous, warm day. I’m really looking forward to getting away for the weekend and running a half. My last half was in Eugene almost a year ago and I loved the course. For me, half marathons are truly a fun distance to run. I can push the pace, enjoy the course, and not feel as beat up afterwards as I always do after a marathon. Liz and I are going to try and run a sub 2:00 hour. We’ve both been running really well lately, so I think it’s possible. It’s predicted to be “breezy,” and wind is not my friend during a race, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t materialize. If it does, though, we’ll still have a fun race.

FRI: REST DAY - A total rest day (except for packing for the race)!

SAT: Rest Day - Liz and I took the train over to Ft Worth and met up with Heather at the hotel, which was a very short walk from the train station. I was glad I decided to stay with them overnight in Ft Worth rather than drive over from Dallas before the race. We took the free trolley to Uno’s pizzeria for dinner and met Hari, his family, Amy, and Aaron. The restaurant was packed, but it was worth the wait because the pizza was amazing. Liz, Heather, and I went back to the room and got everything ready for the race, then it was lights out at 9pm. As always, I tossed and turned all night, nervous about the race. Some things never change, no matter the distance.

Cowtown Marathon 2013

Me and Liz somewhere around mile 6

SUN: COWTOWN HALF MARATHON, Ft Worth - Sometimes everything comes together on race day and you have an amazing run. Today was one of those days for me. The weather was perfect (cold and wind-free), the course was hilly enough to add some variety, and overall I just felt very, very good. I decided not to wear my Garmin — a first for me — and tried to run according to how I felt. When I got to the top of the long hill around mile 9 (where I silently thanked all those hills I’ve been running lately) I felt great, and pushed the pace with a smile on my face. I went from a 9:10 average at mile 3 to an 8:50 finish in my second fastest half marathon ever (1:55:48), and the fastest finish I’ve had since 2010. It feels good to pull that off but, like I said, sometimes it all just comes together. The most important thing is that I truly enjoyed every minute!

Stats for WEEK 7: Run – 23.4 miles, Yoga – 1:20:00

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 6: Do I Have To?

There comes a time in each training season when I start to feel a little bored with running. This week was one of those weeks. Running felt more like something I had to do rather than something I got to do. I’ve always disliked having to do certain things, when schedules and routines become more of a grudge than something to keep me on track, and this feeling tends to surface once I reach the mid-portion of a training plan.  I knew the feeling would eventually pass, however, as it always does, so I put my head down and just kept going. That’s what we runners do, after all.

And as I used to tell my fifth grade students when they asked if they had to do their homework: No, the only thing you have to do is die. Everything else is optional. After puzzled silence and my pointed teacher look, they almost always understood exactly what I meant.

This week I kept the mileage about the same as last week because of this coming weekend’s half marathon. Best of all I finally got to run on trails again, though we didn’t run as far as I would have liked. Those long trail runs are in my very near future, though, so I will certainly appreciate being able to put in just enough miles to finish in time for a late breakfast and still have the rest of the day to enjoy.

White Rock Lake at sunset with Dallas skyline

Thursday’s beautiful sunset with the Dallas skyline in the background.

MON: Rest Day  Pure day of rest. Loveliness!

TUE: Tempo Run - 6 mi, Yoga – 40:00 – Damn that Liz! Today’s tempo run felt like a race, and we kept either an 8:41 or an 8:48 average, depending on whose watch you went by. Since our morning attempt at running was rained out, we met at the lake for a late afternoon run instead, which was a nice change. It was cloudy, chilly, and perfect for a tempo run. I felt guilty for doing absolutely nothing athletic yesterday, so I did a double yoga program of standing poses and twists. I also signed up for the Grasslands trail marathon in Decatur, about 1.5 hrs drive from here, on March 23. I figure it will be good training for Jemez.

WED: Easy Run - 5.3 mi, Yoga - 20:00 – Had an upset stomach in the morning, so Liz and I changed our plans and met Bill in the late afternoon for an easy run at the lake. The weather could not have been more perfect for an afternoon run. Liz and I could definitely feel the aftereffects of yesterday’s fast tempo run. Talk about some fatigued legs!

THU: Hill Run - 6 miLiz was having some hip flexor pain, and I was having some stomach issues again this morning, so I wound up running solo in the afternoon. I stuck to the hilly path and kept a pretty good pace, and was rewarded with a gorgeous sunset at the finish. My boredom with running continues, so it was tough to run on my own. It was 70 degrees when I started the run, and hard to believe it is still winter.

Sunset at White Rock Lake

The valentine I was treated to on Thursday evening.

FRI: Yoga - 40:00 – Left quad a little sore, so I did an extended set of yoga: forward bends and hip openers. I had the thought today that no matter what happens with my running as I get older, I will do yoga for the rest of my life.

SAT: Long Run - 15 mi - It doesn’t get much better than this. 32 degrees, no wind, and a perfect blue sky overhead. Hills at the beginning and end, 15 miles to keep it real, and good friends for laughs and companionship. We are so lucky to get to do this. 

SUN: Trail Run – Oak Cliff Nature Preserve – 5.6 mi – It was another stunningly beautiful morning, perfect for a trail run. It warmed up quickly, we had the trails entirely to ourselves, and things just could have not been more perfect. I took an easy fall right after I made fun of Hari’s non-glamorous way of breaking his rib. It was one of those falls where one minute you’re talking and the next you’re staring at the ground, wondering what happened. I chalk it up to instant karma for making fun of Hari. Actually, those stupid little stumps that jut out from the sides of the trail seem to take me down more than anything else. We had some brand new trail runners in our group today and it was fun to see their excitement. Breakfast afterwards at Norma’s more than compensated for any calorie loss and the indignity of falling down, yet again.

Stats for WEEK 6: Run – 38 miles, Yoga – 1:40:00