Jemez 50K Training, Week 5: Fair Weather Friends

This week was a good reminder of how running has become such a social event for me through the years. The first few years I ran, I thought I preferred running alone, that it gave me time to work through the stress of teaching full-time. I could listen to music, be alone with my thoughts, and spend time outdoors. These days it’s rare for me to run alone. Running is a social event now, a time to talk with like-minded friends and train for an upcoming race. Running alone has slowly become second only to treadmill running — and that’s the worst type of punishment I can imagine. This week I got to run with all my favorite running friends and share a few beers and meals with them afterwards. And while the rest of the country dug out from a few feet of snow, we continued to enjoy unseasonably fair, spring-like weather.

Clouds

MON: Yoga  –  20:00 – Quads are a little sore from the back to back runs this weekend, so I did some easy yoga. 

TUE: Easy Run – 6 mi, Yoga 20:00 – Met Bill and Liz at 6:00am for my earliest run this year. It was foggy and warm (57 deg and 97% humidity) and the lake looked beautiful in the dark. It is surprising how many people run at the lake that early in the morning, each of us passing one another like phantoms, some with flashlights, most gliding silently past. I had forgotten how much I love these early morning runs in the dark. (I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune in the middle of July when I’m forced to run this early every day to beat the heat.)

WED: Tempo Run – 4 mi, Yoga – 20:00, Walk – 3 mi – Met Liz for a tempo run at the lake. We decided to postpone our usual Wednesday hill run until Thursday to give our legs a chance to recover. But of course, we couldn’t help ourselves on today’s “easy” run and still managed to push the pace into the tempo range. It was very warm and humid again and I was glad it was only 4 miles. Came home and did some power yoga, and in the evening met up with the Wednesday night running group and walked 3 miles with Hari, including a half mile run back to Fuzzy’s. I’m so glad Hari is slowly coming back to running. Susan is also running again, though she still has a cast on her hand. We had a huge crowd at Fuzzy’s to not only run, but also to drink local Lakewood beer (and get a free beer glass).

Lakewood Brewing

THU: Hill Run – 6 miI found myself dreading the hill run when I woke up this morning. It felt kind of like going through childbirth for the second time, where you know what’s coming and you just really don’t feel like going through that again! As always, once I got warmed up and put a few hills under my belt I started to enjoy the run. I am still, however, always happy when that run is over! It was warm and humid yet again, but I was thankful for the cloud cover.

FRI: Yoga – 45:00 – Tried a new kundalini yoga sequence this afternoon. It was different from my usual yoga practice, with lots of deep breathing and slow, extended poses to awaken the energy centers in the spine (chakras). Loved the abs poses to strengthen the core, my weakest area.

SAT: Long Run – 14 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Such a great run this morning. It was overcast, around 50 degrees, and there were just enough hills to keep it interesting. I had a nice breakfast afterwards talking to my friends, and am reminded of how much I enjoy my Saturday long runs with my group of friends. I’ve been keeping a good pace lately, seeing averages I haven’t hit in quite awhile. Left quad and groin felt a little tight towards the end of the run, so I did some hip opener yoga poses to stretch out the area. If it doesn’t rain tonight like it’s supposed to, looking forward to some McKinney trails tomorrow.

SUN: Easy Run9 mi – It stormed in the night so we cancelled our trail run. I was disappointed because I didn’t run trails last weekend either, but it was made up for by the fact that I got to run an entire lake loop with my best running bud, Hari, who is well on his way to recovering from his broken rib incident from Christmas. Even though the yoga cured the tightness in my left groin, my legs felt a little stiff from yesterday’s hills and the somewhat faster pace, and I was glad we only ran 9 miles. I am a little shorter than I wanted to be this week in mileage (5 miles) because of the missed trail run, but I can tell my legs need some rest. I’d rather be short on mileage and have fresh legs next week than get the miles in and not feel rested enough — and cause some type of stupid injury.

Stats for WEEK 5: Run – 39 miles, Yoga – 1:45:00, Walk – 3 miles

 

Running is My Drug of Choice

This week I’ve found myself several times with this thought: for some people, running is a drug.

They can’t get enough. They live, breathe, and eat running. They buy stickers for their cars, get tattoos and wear running jewelry, and buy cute little t-shirts with funny running slogans on them. Sound familiar?

You should see my car. And my t-shirt drawer. And the ten pairs of running shoes I bought on sale last year.

Some are instantly addicted from the very first run. They like the way running makes them feel. It may be the first time in their lives they’ve ever felt in control, empowered, and strong. That’s how it was for me.

For others, it comes on more slowly. After years of running they one day realize they simply can’t live without it. They run in spurts, until the day arrives when they feel like they can get through a run without feeling like they’re going to die.

Sometimes it happens after your first long race. You’ve pushed yourself further than you ever thought possible. Finishing your first half marathon or marathon is exhilarating. Even though you swear you’ll never do another one, you find yourself planning your next race within an hour after crossing the finish line.

For some, racing is the drug. These runners book a race every weekend. They don’t train; they race. Continually. I don’t know how they do it. I’m good for one or two big races a year.

marathons

This is as close as I’ll ever get to the 3:05 pace group in a marathon.

For many, their addiction to running only shows up when they’re injured. First they ignore that little twinge of pain that could signal something serious. They refuse to believe that they may need to back off and rest a day or two. I can’t be injured, I have a race in two weeks. They think they can run through it, that it will just go away. Denial is its own powerful addiction.

When they give in and go see a doctor, who then confirms what they knew all along, they become depressed when day after day passes and they can’t run. Some even feel like their identity disappears when they aren’t out running with everyone else. They need an intervention. We’ve all been there at one point or another.

Thankfully, I haven’t met many runners whose identities are that tied up in running.  Most of us accept that there needs to be balance in every aspect of our lives, and running is just another part of the pie.

The bottom line is, it feels good to run. Nothing beats a good run first thing in the morning, and those feelings carry through for the rest of the day. That’s a pretty good incentive to keep running.

For instance, the other day my friend Liz needed to run earlier than our usual winter time of 8:15am, and we met at the lake at 6:00am. It was dark and foggy, but I have to admit it was a nice change. After the run I came home and went into hyper mode, going shopping, cleaning the entire kitchen (even the fridge!), doing dishes, doing laundry, answering emails, and even fitting in a session of yoga. I am a dedicated Night Owl, and somehow the combination of getting up earlier and a good six miler definitely felt like my own personal drug.

When I’m injured or sick, and don’t run for a few days, NOT running starts to become just as addictive as running. Not running is easy.  There are other things that need to be done. Not running is relaxing. I can sit on the couch and watch TV instead. Not running makes me wonder why I push myself so hard, week after week. I could walk and stay just as healthy. Not running makes me question why I put in all those hours of physical exertion. I have so much more time in my day when I don’t run.

I mean, what’s the point? We’re all going to die in the end anyway, right?

But then I hit the road and fall in love with running all over again.

It isn’t about staying alive as long as we can. It’s about living as fully as we can.

marathons

See that START banner? It’s really mile 20, where the marathon truly begins.

Running is life affirming. I run because I can, because it makes me feel strong and powerful. On some level, I find running to be very spiritual, especially trail running. When it’s just me on a trail, under a canopy of trees, or running through a gorgeous desert landscape, I feel connected to everything. There’s no separation between me and the universe, and every moment becomes meditative as I focus on nothing other than the trail ahead. It sounds hokey, I know, but it feels natural and unforced. If allows me to focus on the here and now, the immediacy of moving and breathing, and nothing else. In those moments there IS nothing else:  nowhere else I need to be, no one else I need to be,  and nothing else I need to have.

If running is a drug, so be it. It’s cheap, easy, and does the body, mind, and soul good. And that’s an addiction I can live with for the rest of my life.

Jemez 50K Training, Week 4: Spring Training in January

Spring is definitely in the air with daytime highs in the 60’s and 70’s all week long. It made for some great running conditions. Of course, I’m trying hard to ignore the fact that it’s barely February . . .

Since I began running seven years ago, many of the people I started out with have gone on to accomplish great things in their running. Many have qualified for and run Boston, many regularly place in or win local races, and many are now tearing up the trails and winning trail races. It’s just amazing — and so inspiring — to see how strong some of our running friends have become.

MON: Rest Day  –  Enjoyed a day of laundry, grocery shopping, rest, and taking my car in for maintenance (but didn’t enjoy the bill). It was 78 degrees today! Crazy.

TUE: Easy Run – 6 mi, Yoga 20:00 – Ran with Liz from the house over to the Katy Trail in the warmest conditions since the fall. Starting temp was 72 with 76% humidity and winds gusting up to 30 mph. It rained twice on us during the run, and the wind was a beast to battle. It’s hard to believe it’s not even February yet. Did a session of power yoga afterwards to counteract some lower back tightness I’ve been feeling the past few mornings when I’ve gotten out of bed. The older I get and the more I run, especially on trails, the more I find I have to work a little harder to keep my core and back strong.

Clouds, Dallas TX

The cold front coming in over Love Field.

WED: Hill Run 6 mi – Almost 30 degrees colder today than yesterday’s run and even windier. It was one blustery, gusty run on the hills this morning with Liz and the wind that was always a headwind no matter which direction we faced. We ran up all the “monster” hills in Lakewood (Loving, Sperry, Shook, West Shore) and the cold air triggered my asthma at mile 2. Had to run back to the car and use the inhaler, and it was hard finishing off those last two miles. For some reason, though, I’m a glutton for punishment. I really love running hills. Give me hills over speed work any day. I skipped yoga today because Nicole and I went to see a movie (Silver Linings Playbook) and got busy with other stuff.

THU: Tempo Run – 4 mi, Yoga 20:00 – Speed work is my least favorite workout of all, so when Liz suggested we do a tempo run this morning, after our monster hill run yesterday, I thought she was joking. She wasn’t. I wasn’t happy about it the first mile, and felt like puking at one point, but once we settled into our rhythm it wasn’t so bad. Somehow we pulled off an 8:48 average pace, which is pretty good for this old body. In the end, it made me feel a little less guilty for the Tex-Mex we had for lunch. Followed up the run with twenty minutes of power yoga for flexibility. Rodney Yee yoga DVDs rule!

FRI: Rest Day – Enjoyed a day of total laziness.

Dog

Shasta does yoga with me.

SAT: Long Run – 13 mi – I decided to skip a trail run this weekend since most of my trail running partners are down in Huntsville running Rocky Raccoon. I’m kicking myself for not going down to spectate. Here in Dallas it was a beautiful morning for a long run, with 48 degrees at the start and not a cloud in the sky. We started from a different location (Crossroads Diner) and ran down the White Rock Trail to the lake and back. Running on the White Rock Trail is a nice change, even though it’s all concrete, but there were times I expected to see an alligator raise its head from the bogs we passed along the way (supposedly they are occasionally found here).

Most of us in our running group watched the Rocky Raccoon live race results all day and night, following so many of our friends who were running the 50 mile and 100 mile trail races. We’re proud of everyone who ran, but we’re especially proud of Nicole Studer who finished first place female in her very first 100 mile race! She placed first female in her first 50 mile race in Palo Duro back in October, so to see her do so well in her first 100, just a few months after her first 50, was amazing. As someone in our group said: there’s no hiding now, Nicole! Not only is she an inspiration, she is also one of the most humble runners you will ever meet — a true class act.

SUN: Long Run13 mi – Met up with a small group of running friends for a great run around the lake. The weather was comparable to yesterday, which means it was perfect for running. The air smelled fresh and it felt like early spring. I was a little sad not to be on the trails on such a gorgeous run, but it was nice to sleep in a little and not have to drive to the trails. I feel so spoiled by having such a beautiful lake to run around so close to my house. Today I was filled with thoughts of Nicole and her amazing win, and of how well everyone ran this weekend.

Here’s to running our best, and to letting that guide us to becoming better people in the world.

Stats for WEEK 4: Run – 42 miles, Yoga – 40:00

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 3: Settling Back Into a Routine

It was a very good running week. I managed to get in 38 miles and some solid yoga sessions. The asthma and coughing that have plagued me since early October are also much better, and I’ve enjoyed having my son’s girlfriend stay with us before she flies off to join him in Brazil at the end of the week. Most of all, after the craziness of Christmas, company, our wedding, and illness, it’s nice to settle back into a regular training routine. It helps having great friends to keep you motivated and inspired!

MON: Run  – 3 mi – Well, it’s a start. Usually Mondays are my rest day, but since my mileage has been so low, and because the weather was gorgeous, I decided to do an easy 3 miles from the house just before sunset. I was Garmin-free and ran on feel, which I’m trying to do more of. For someone who tends to be a slave to their watch, running without a Garmin is not easy. I loved the freedom of not caring what pace I kept. Legs felt good —  lungs not so much — but I made it back home to my inhaler and a cold Texas beer with dinner!

TUE: Pace Run 4 mi, Yoga 20:00 – Ran with Liz from the spillway for one of my fastest paced runs since Christmas. It feels great to be picking up the pace again.

WED: Hill Run 6 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – Met Liz for a hilly path run on the east side of the lake. Legs felt great and we kept a good pace. I really do love running a hilly path rather than a flat course (which is another reason I love the variety of trail running). Came home and did yoga with Nicole (back bends), then met the WRRC running group for a two mile run/walk for Nicole’s second run ever. She did great once again!

THU: REST DAY – Since Nicole will be leaving us in a week to join Nick in Brazil, we did important girl things to prepare for her trip. We got our nails done, had lunch, went shopping at Target, and bought some things at the grocery store. Living in a foreign country is not easy, and you have to make sure you stock up on American essentials like peanut butter and popcorn to take with you. I’m going to miss having another girl in the house (except for the dogs) when she’s gone.

FRI: Yoga – 20:00 – Did a session of hip openers with Nicole since she’s been having some pain in her groin muscle after running the other night. My coughing is MUCH better, finally!

WRRC

Our awesome Saturday morning running group at the first water stop.                                    *photo courtesy of Paris Sunio

SAT: Long Run – 12.14 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – It was a refreshingly misty, overcast, cool morning for a run with our largest group ever. When I saw the dog’s muddy footprints in the kitchen and the 91% humidity on the weather channel, I was not feeling exactly stoked about the run, but it turned out to be perfect running conditions. I was still feeling a little grumpy up through mile 9, but I got a second wind afterwards and felt great on the hills coming up off the lake. It was great, as always, to share breakfast and funny stories with my favorite running friends, including Susan, Kurt, and Hari, who came out despite their broken body parts (ring finger, pinky finger, and rib). Came home and did yoga (forward bends), which was just what I needed.

SUN: Trail Run10.21 mi – Rowlett Creek Preserve – I was seriously grumpy driving over to this morning’s trail run in Rowlett. I was feeling the two glasses of wine I had at dinner with friends the night before (even if it was followed up by roller skating), and the thick fog surrounding me in pitch darkness didn’t exactly scream Let’s run! Of course, all was forgotten once I got on the trails. The fog kept things cool and refreshing, and it was a completely different experience in the heavy fog. The trail wasn’t exactly muddy, but it was slick enough to cause me concern, especially on the steep downhills. I love my Brooks Pure Grit trail shoes, but they have no grip and are very slippery on wet surfaces. (This will only give me an excuse to purchase another pair of shoes.)

A hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage, hash browns, and biscuits and gravy with good friends you’ve gotten muddy with on the trails was the perfect way to end the week. After keeping my mileage so low this entire month while I was sick, I was a little concerned about doing back-to-back 12/10 milers, but my legs felt great both days. This has been my highest mileage week in over a month, and I’m happy to get back on track with my training.

Stats for WEEK 3: Run – 38 miles, Yoga – 1:20:00

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 2: A Week of Some

It was a week of some running, some walking, some yoga, and an Insanity workout. Went back to the doctor for the third (and hopefully last) time about the coughing, and still managed to get in a couple of easy runs. Rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I’ve resolved to just be thankful for whatever running I can do. I can freak out about not being ready for Jemez, or about losing all my conditioning, or I can just take things one day at a time and run when I can. For me, the bottom line is just being able to run. I may not be as fast or as strong as I want to be at a particular moment in time, but as long as I can get out and do even a few miles, I’m good with that.

MON: Strength – 20:00, Yoga 20:00 – It’s getting serious now! Started the morning off with some lower body strength training (squats and lunges, anyone?), followed by twenty minutes of yoga (standing poses). The squats weren’t as bad as I thought they might be — it has been several months since I abandoned strength training — but I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune tomorrow. I’ve decided to add hills to every single run to get ready for Jemez. I love my easy runs around the lake, but they really won’t help me much come May 25 in the mountains. 

TUE: Woke up to sleet when I let the dogs out, then fell back asleep and woke up to a blanket of snow. Decided to abandon the run — which wasn’t a hard decision because I am so sore from yesterday’s squats and lunges. Went to see the doctor (again) in the afternoon for the coughing, and he put me on a daily cortisone inhaler and a nasal spray. I really, really, really hope it helps.

Dogs in snow

WED: No running, no yoga, nothing. Decided to rest to get rid of the cough.

THU: Strength/Core – Insanity Workout 1:00:00 – Oh. My. God. Did an Insanity workout with my son’s girlfriend, Nicole, and it nearly killed me. The cardio parts weren’t too bad, but everything else was really, really hard. If I did this everyday I would be a machine. I told Nicole if she could do Insanity every day, she could handle running a few times a week.

FRI: Rest – Still coughing, but it’s getting better. More rest.

Sunset and moon

Beautiful sunset from my front porch.

SAT: Run/Walk – 3 mi – Slept in and skipped the group run since there’s no way I would be able to keep up for 11 miles. Ran with Michael, Nicole, and the dogs later in the neighborhood. It was fantastic weather, and it was also Nicole’s longest run ever. She did GREAT! We’ll make a runner out of her yet.

SUN: Long Run – 9 mi – I had already decided to run a lake loop all by myself today in the gorgeous spring-like weather, but was so happy when Bill texted and asked if I wanted to run/walk a loop with him. The lake was packed with cyclists, families, runners, roller bladers, and little kids on new Christmas bikes. It was a wonderfully leisurely jaunt around the lake with one of my favorite friends. Since we almost always run at the lake early in the morning, it was so different to see it on a Sunday afternoon. It was the perfect way to end a week. Best of all: my coughing seems to be improving. Keeping my fingers crossed that I’m on the mend.

Stats for WEEK 2: Run – 12 miles, Yoga – 20:00, Insanity – 1:00:00

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 1: Not the First Week of Training I Had in Mind

I had such high hopes for getting back on track this week and was looking forward to my first week of official training for the Jemez 50K. Things didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted, but I was able to get in some great running by the end of the week. Sore muscles from Sunday’s trail run, a migraine, and lots of rain derailed my plans for the first part of the week, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes. I still only ran three days this week, but am determined to get back on a regular workout schedule next week. Winter temperatures are on the menu for the entire week — and I couldn’t be happier about that!

MON: REST DAY – Yoga – 20:00 – OUCH. Woke up this morning to calves that felt as sore as if I had run a hilly marathon. This was very unexpected. I know we kept up a good pace during yesterday’s trail run in Grapevine, and we ran up every single hill, but geez, my legs are really sore. As in, too sore to run tomorrow. Michael says being sick for nine days was like a taper, and a fast, hilly trail run at the end of 16 miles midweek was the equivalent of a race. Therefore, really sore legs. I guess what’s the most surprising is that I rarely have sore calves, so I’m going to claim running up the hills and taking no walk breaks after time off from running as the main culprits. I thought I was listening to my body, but have to admit that my legs did feel very tired by the last few miles of the run. D’oh, rookie mistakes! Did yoga (Standing Poses) to loosen up the legs, but it didn’t really help all that much. Time for the compression sleeves . . .

TUE: Yoga 20:00 – My calves are still so sore that there’s no way I can run today. I am one grumpy woman because of it. I was looking forward to my first official week of training for Jemez, and here I’m having to miss the very first run on the training plan! Not happy at all. Yoga (Twists) helped some, but the cold, rainy day matches my mood. I’ve always taken pride in knowing when to back off and rest when I need to, but I know that these sore muscles are my own fault. I should have started back more conservatively than I did, after being sick for nine days. Grrr.

Rain, Rain and More Rain

Rain, rain, and more rain.

WED: Rainy Rest Day – Still too sore to run. Rained all day again. Decided to take a full rest day and hopefully I’ll be able to run tomorrow. This is not how I wanted to start my first week of training.

THU: Rest Day – Made plans to meet Liz for a run this morning and woke up with a migraine. Feeling very frustrated.

FRI: Run – 6.13 mi, Yoga – 40:00 – Finally able to run today for the first time all week. Liz and I ran on the Katy Trail on a day with spring-like weather. Unbelievably, my calves still felt a little tight when I ran. My conditioning seems fine, and we kept our regular pace and I wasn’t out of breath, but the time off seems to have affected my muscles and tendons more than anything else. Oh well, I just need to have patience in ramping back up to my former mileage. Did forty minutes of yoga later in the day (back bends and forward bends) to try and get back into a regular yoga practice. I think I’ve missed yoga more than I’ve missed running.

SAT: Long Run – 10 mi, Yoga – 20:00 – After yesterday’s high temp of 71 degrees, couldn’t believe when I woke up at 6:00am and it was still 68 degrees! It was supposed to be 58, so I made sure to wear shorts and a short sleeved tech shirt for the run. Not only was it warm, but the streets were wet from fog, and the humidity was 93% when we started running at 7:00am. Now I know where the expression “pea soup” comes from. The short and simple of it: it was a tough run. Nothing makes a run tougher for me than high humidity (except maybe a strong wind), and I think most of us feel that way. Nevertheless, we had tons of new faces show up for our group run, which was awesome to see. After more rain this morning, a major cold front is supposed to roll in later today, and it looks like next week will be perfect for running. With all the rain we’ve had this week, though, it looks like a trail run tomorrow is out of the question. Yoga after the run (hip openers) was just what I needed. As the cold front rolled in, more rain, including hail, graced our thirsty gardens.

Dog in rain

My dog likes running in the rain more than I do.

SUN: Long Run10 mi – Woke up with another headache, horrible asthma, and 30 degree colder temps than yesterday. With a stiff 25 mph wind from the north, the wind chill factor was 23 deg. BRRRRRR. Since we got almost three inches of rain this week, no one felt like slogging through a trail full of mud. Liz and I started from her house and ran a loop around the lake. The entire west side of the lake was head first into the wind. Liz, who struggled in yesterday’s warm humid temps, said she preferred today’s cold wind. She said at least it made her want to keep moving. I didn’t want to complain too much because at least it wasn’t 120 gazillion degrees like in the summer, and I promised I would love every single moment of running this winter, but I didn’t find the cold headwind at all pleasant. Having a throbbing headache didn’t help.

Thank God for hot showers, Extra Strength Excedrin, asthma inhalers, and friends who push me on tough runs.

Stats for WEEK 1: Run – 26.1 miles, Yoga – 1:40:00

 

Jemez 50K Training, Week 0: New Year, New Goals, New Training Plan

It was a crazy busy week with lots of celebrations:  New Year’s Eve, a brand new year, MY WEDDING, and a return to running after being sick for nine long days. It felt great to finally be able to run again. I missed an entire week of cold, perfect running weather, which was the worst part of being sick — even worse than blowing my nose every two minutes and feeling like I was breathing through a straw. Even better, I returned to the trails after a two week absence. I came up with a new training plan for my next big race, Jemez Mountain Trail Run 50K just outside of Los Alamos, NM at the end of May, and the training won’t officially begin until next week (hence the Week 0 in the title). I’m also running the Cowtown Half Marathon in Ft Worth in February, so I have two great races to look forward to.

Getting married in our living room, surrounded by close friends and family

MON: REST DAY – New Year’s Eve – I love a brand new year. There’s such a feeling of expectancy and renewal. Now that I’ve decided not to run the 50 mile race, I’m excited to start training for Jemez. There’s plenty of time to build back up to the distance and get in great shape for this challenging race. Even though I’m still congested, I’m looking forward to my first run in nine days tomorrow.

TUE: Easy Run – 4 mi, Yoga 20:00 – A chilly, drizzly 42 degrees for a late morning run with Liz, Todd, and their neighbor, John. I was really looking forward to running again after being sick for so long, and my legs and lungs felt surprisingly good. I have to admit that I enjoyed my brief hiatus from running, but I’m even happier to be up and running again. I even loved the cold, drizzly weather. Did some power yoga for the first time in weeks, and my stuffed up head was not happy at all with downward dog pose. I ignored it and kept going. I also realized how much easier yoga is when my legs aren’t sore and stiff from so much running.

WED: Tempo Run4 mi – Had to drag myself out of bed to run all alone in freezing temps. Boo hoo. Of course, it was nevertheless a great run, and I ran the last two miles at an 8:50 and 8:43 pace, which is pretty good considering I’ve only run 4 miles in the past 10 days. I run so much better in the cold weather — and when my legs are fresh.

THU: WEDDING DAY – What a wonderful day! It was amazing. I am so blessed to marry such a wonderful man, and to be able to spend it with so many great friends. It’s going to be a great 2013.

FRI: Rest Day – Exhausted from the wedding. Slept late, and spent the day on the couch reading, watching TV, nodding off, and eating leftovers. It was a a perfect way to celebrate my first day of being married.

SAT: Run – 8 mi –  Cold morning run with the group. Legs felt great, awesome conversations with my friends, and lots of fun at breakfast. I’m so happy to be running again!

Grapevine1-6-13_2

SUN: Trail Run – Grapevine – 10 mi – A beautiful morning for a run. Met Michael S, Jennifer S, Vicki C, Mary Sarah, and Vijay at Grapevine for a great run. I seriously considered sleeping in and being lazy (hey, it was a very busy  week!), but I hate missing a trail run and I hate not keeping my promises. It was worth it. We kept up a pretty good pace and ran up every single hill, and I was glad to be done at the end of 10 miles. It feels so good to be back out on the trails.

Stats for WEEK 0: Run – 26.2 miles, Yoga – 20:00

 

50 Mile Training, Week 10: A Change of Plans

Plans change. Sometimes we expect it, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes the decision is made for us, and sometimes things happen that cause our original intent to merely fizzle out in a rush of an expired oh well . . .

There’s not much point in writing out a day-by-day recap of the week because I was sick and didn’t run a single day this week. No guilt, no regrets. I didn’t do any yoga either. My head felt like it was parked under a car tire this entire week and running and doing downward dog were the last things I felt like doing.

I did, however, enjoy the holiday week. I got to visit with my son and his girlfriend, pigged out on Christmas dinner, and actually enjoyed taking a short break from running.

I had my first White Christmas EVER here in Dallas. EVER.

White Christmas in Dallas, TX 2012

View from my front porch on Christmas Day

Michael and my son, Nicolas,  finished building the fence in the backyard, and Nicolas also built us our very own fire pit. They also spent two full days fixing a plumbing issue. Not so much fun, especially when your house was built in 1926 and the pipes are made of clay. Even worse when the outside temperature barely gets above the mid 40’s.

So while I may have been down for the count, hyped up on Mucinex and taking it easy on the couch, at least the boys were busy.

Fence and fire pit

Our completed fence and new fire pit

I got a lot of knitting done.

But I digress. The subject, after all, is running. Every day since Friday I thought I might feel well enough for a short run, but the congestion in my head and chest were just too bad. My training partner, Hari, also got sick the same day I did, with exactly the same symptoms, even though he was in another state visiting friends for Christmas. Liz is now sick with the same thing. Susan’s hand is in a cast after breaking a finger in her first 54K and needing surgery.

My friends and I are a little beat up at the moment.

And speaking of Hari, this brings me to the change of plans I mentioned earlier. Poor Hari. Feeling sick in Phoenix, he took a hot epsom salt bath, fainted afterwards from low blood pressure, and snapped a rib in half in his back when he hit the edge of the bathtub. Thankfully, he remembers nothing, but the doctor has told him to lay off running for six weeks.

Our 50 mile race is in five weeks. I have no intention of running it without him — I only signed up because he asked me to — so I’ve decided to withdraw and focus on the Jemez 50K at the end of May. I am perfectly okay with this decision. I hadn’t put in enough really long runs before I got sick, and I’m thinking this may give me a chance to shake off the asthma and coughing that have plagued me for the past three months. There will be plenty of other opportunities in the future to train for and run a 50 mile race, if I so choose. At this point, I’m happy to stick to 50K’s for awhile.

So, after a few more days of rest and a new 50K training plan to come up with, which will include lots of squats, lunges, and stair master, I’m looking forward to 2013 and a whole new year of running and training.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Stats for WEEK 10: Run – 0 miles, Yoga – 0:00

 

50 Mile Training, Week 9: A Case of the Blahs

It was a tough week. Coughing and asthma returned for the third time since October, I felt a little burned out from running, and ended the week with a really bad cold. Whine, whine, whine. I still got in three great runs and two great parties this week, though, and that’s more important than feeling sick. Happy Holidays everyone!

MON: Yoga – 20:00 – Woke up at 4:30am thinking of things I need to do this week, but stayed in bed until 8:30. Feeling tired and a little grumpy from last week’s mileage. Did some power yoga (stamina) to try and get back into the routine.

TUE: Tempo Run 6.09 mi, Yoga 20:00 – Nice, cool morning for chasing Liz around the lake. My legs were still a bit sore from last weekend’s mileage, but they loosened up enough to give us negative splits and one sub 9:00 mile. I am still feeling a little burned out on running, and hoping it goes away soon. Next week will be an easy week, so I will keep that in mind as I continue to struggle.

WED: Christmas Lights  Run4 mi – Our third annual Holidayz in the Hood Christmas Lights Run. The past two years we’ve run from our house and had a great turnout both years. Last year we bundled up in gloves, hats, long tights, and double layers; this year we wore tank tops and shorts and pretended it was winter. When we left the house around 7:20pm the temperature was an unbelievable 76 degrees. On December 19! But this IS Texas, and within an hour of finishing the run, while sitting on the front porch eating pizza and drinking beer and visiting with old and new friends, lightning appeared in the west, the rain came down, and a cold front blew in from the north. Gotta love our Texas winters.

WRRC

Good times with good friends, pizza, and beer after our Holidayz in the Hood Christmas Lights Run

THU: Rest Day – After another night of coughing and trying to sleep on the couch so as not to disturb Michael, woke up at 6:15am and decided to cancel my usual weekly 10 mile hill run with Hari. I hate missing any scheduled runs on my training plan, but I just felt like I needed an extra day of rest. Boo to not feeling well.

FRI: Rest Day – After yet another sleepless night of coughing, decided to make another visit to the doctor. Had to sit forever at PrimaCare since my doctor’s office was already closed for the holidays. I actually saw a great doctor at PrimaCare who also happened to be a serious cyclist. He did blood work, said I didn’t have an infection, and that I just have really bad allergies and asthma. He said it’s been a particularly bad allergy season this year since we didn’t get a hard freeze until a few weeks ago, and that there’s really not much I can do other than get another shot of cortisone and another round of Prednisone.

While I’m glad I don’t have an upper respiratory infection, I’m not so happy about the severity of the allergies this year. I’ve never coughed as much in my life as I have these past THREE MONTHS. Talking to a doctor who is also an athlete and could understand my frustration did make me feel a lot better, though. We also had a good discussion about the fact that this is the first fall season I’ve done trail running, which could be resulting in worse allergies due to the simple fact of spending more time outside, and we talked about the possible correlation between higher mileage and a lower resistance to getting sick. Food for thought.

Trying to run through all this coughing and asthma has been a real challenge these past three months. While it certainly adds a physical obstacle to work through, it’s the mental aspect I’m still trying to overcome. I can push through a lot of pain, but THREE MONTHS of this is starting to wear me down mentally.

SAT: Trail Run, Oak Cliff Nature Preserve – 7.5 mi – A great run with a great group of runners this morning. It was colder than expected (36 deg), especially after Wednesday night’s balmy Christmas Lights Run, but perfect for a trail run. Most of the people had never run the Oak Cliff trails before and were pleasantly surprised at how pretty — and challenging — it was. Decided to run all the loops once like everyone else and stop at 7.5 miles. Even though it was a short run, it was just challenging enough to pack a powerful punch. Afterwards, introduced those who could stay to an Oak Cliff landmark, Norma’s Cafe, for a recovery breakfast. It was a very good start to the day. (Even though I did trip over a root hidden in the leaves and skinned up both knees. I will wear the trail scars with pride underneath my wedding dress next week.).

Oak Cliff Nature Preserve Trail Runners

Me and the gang at the Oak Cliff Nature Preserve

SUN: Sick – Woke up this morning with a congested head and feeling like I have a really bad cold. Decided to take a day of rest on the couch, watching TV and knitting. My coughing is better, but my head feels like it’s going to explode. A really blah finish to a tough week. I hate being sick. Here’s hoping next week will find me on the road to recovery and back on my feet stronger than ever.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone!

Stats for WEEK 9: Run – 17.6 miles, Yoga – 40:00

 

50 Mile Training, Week 8: Winter Returns . . . but Not For Long

After last Sunday’s warm, humid weather for the Dallas Marathon, a major cold front blew in just a few hours after most people had finished. My three mid-week runs were all in the upper 20’s/low 30’s (heavenly!), but it had already warmed up significantly again by the weekend. This was my highest mileage week so far in this training cycle, and aside from some minor soreness in my quads following Wednesday’s hill run, my legs felt good for the 20 miler. The high mileage caught up with me somewhat this weekend, especially since we immediately jumped into another training cycle after our last 50K without much of a break, and I found myself feeling a little burned out. Planning a wedding and the usual Christmas chaos also played a part, I’m sure.

MON: Rest Day – Woke up to a light dusting of snow and 30 degrees, which is amazing considering it was 67 degrees when I got up the day before. Crazy Texas weather. Too bad the marathoners had to slog through the humidity and warm temps at yesterday’s Dallas Marathon. Spent the day posting photos and video Michael took at the race, and getting some writing done. Forgot to take a photo of the snow before it melted.

TUE: Run 6.09 mi – Oh, happy day! 28 degrees for this morning’s run with Hari, and a beautiful crescent moon with Venus shining just below. I always say that it can’t be cold enough for me when I run, and today proved me right. It was an amazing run on the hilly path. The hills felt puny and it was an easy run at a fast pace.

WED: Hill Run  – 10.6 mi – Another gloriously cold morning run. It was actually so cold this morning, 27 degrees, that I had a brain freeze headache towards the end of the run. It was worth it. The hills felt just a little bit easier today, and Hari and Mike F kept up a good pace. Wedding plans and my son’s return kept me from yoga yet another day.

THU: Run6 mi, Yoga – 25:00 – Met Liz at the lake for her first run since the marathon. It was 34 degrees and a perfect blue sky. My quads were a bit tight from yesterday’s hills and two days of a fast pace, and I was glad I only ran 6. Did yoga for the first time in over two weeks (hip openers) with my son’s twenty-something year old girlfriend. I used to think I was pretty good at yoga; after doing yoga with Nicole (her first time ever doing yoga and she could do full lotus right off the bat) I felt like the old, rusty Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. So not right.

FRI: Rest Day – Enjoyed a full day of nothing athletic. Quads were still a little sore so I took the entire day off.

SAT: Run – 15 mi – After two parties last night and two glasses of champagne, getting to bed at midnight, plus the return of bad asthma and warmer temps, I was feeling pretty grumpy when I met Hari at 6:00am. For the third weekend in a row we’ve had warm, humid temperatures after a week of cold mornings, and the back and forth between cold/warm runs is starting to get to me. We had discussed doing back to back 20 milers this weekend, but because of my asthma, lack of sleep, and general grumpiness, we settled on only 15. I felt less than stellar the first 10 miles, but from mile 10 on I felt great. The temperature stayed the same the entire run (57 deg) but the humidity took a nose dive once the sun came up and it felt cool and pleasant. 20 mile trail run tomorrow — hope my legs cooperate!

Rowlett Creek Preserve trail runners

Good times at Rowlett Creek Preserve

SUN: Trail Run, Rowlett Creek Preserve– 20 mi – Woke up this morning feeling a little burned out and not looking forward to spending five or six hours of my day running, even on trails. Even though trail running is the thing I look most forward to, it’s still a long time to be running. When I got to Rowlett, however, and saw friends who don’t usually come out to run with us, it completely turned my day — and the run — around. Plus, we had perfect weather for running: 55 and overcast skies.  We brought food to eat in between the two loops (PBJ sandwiches, dolmas, Newman-O’s, and Coke) and kept the pace nice and easy. It was a good run. Once again I’m reminded how friends can turn a blah morning run into something special.

Stats for WEEK 8: Run – 57 miles, Yoga – 25:00

* Photo courtesy of Serena Lambiase