Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Step Forward: Little Rock Half Marathon

In my journey of 2 steps forward and 10,000 steps back, I finally starting moving forward again with my half marathon this weekend in Little Rock.  Yay!

Prior to this weekend, I was doing nothing but going backwards.  My last race, although done when I was sick, was still a poor enough showing that I started to feel sad.  I knew the run was not an indicator of where I was in building back my run....or was it?  Truth be told, I just didn't know.  Well, I thought I knew.  I thought that once again, I had managed to make zero progress in my fact, I had even gone backwards and was slower.  (cue world's smallest violin)

And the Little Rock half marathon was here, and I wasn't ready...again.  What do you mean you weren't ready...sandbagger!  Don't you hate it when people say that?  No, for real.  I wasn't ready.  All signs, including the weekly run mileage average of only 23 miles for the past 6 weeks (and even less the 6 weeks before that),  only 2 longer runs of 11 and 13 miles (not even long), and zero tempo pointed to another sub par race.  That is just not the way to prep for a half marathon in which you want to do well.  I was really sad and stressed about it.

Another race with no goals?  Another training day?  No, please no.  Now I have no problem just getting out there no matter how slow or out of shape I might be.  I love to run, and that is not dependent on speed.  But, I think all of us as runners need some races where we accomplish something objective....something more than just having fun.  Of course I always have fun!  But, I also like the feeling of seeing progress or pay off for my work.  I had planned this race with the intention of being race ready, but once again I wasn't ready to answer the call.

The Little Rock Half Marathon is my favorite, though, so I stuck with the plan to run it.  AND, I had the opportunity to run as an ambassador for my favorite bra sponsor, Enell.  I was challenged again to keep a positive attitude about my current race fitness, and I also challenged myself to race the races on my schedule regardless of where my training might be.   
 The best running bras for C cups and higher AND nursing mamas! :) 
I met up with my other favorite mother and friend, Joy.  My morning was a little less chaotic without a toddler around, but it wouldn't be a classic mom day if something wasn't a little challenging, like the fact that my breast pump didn't work.  Thankfully Joy had one and I didn't have to feel completely miserable on my run.  (and thank goodness I run in Enell bras and don't have to worry about anything moving in that area). Once at the race, we did a sub par warm up, put on our garbage bags to shield the rain and cold, and then tried to sneak into the same corrals but got busted.  :) How could the race officials say no to these two friendly girls that just wanted to run together.  Come on! :)
The race started, and I told myself over and over to go slowly and pace very moderately.  If there is one thing that I consider my strength, it is pacing.  I was guessing I would be lucky if I was anywhere near 1:45 or even slower.  I was thinking an 8 to 8:15 min pace would be reasonable.  I kept looking at my garmin and the numbers coming back to me were "too fast."  I kept forcing myself to slow down.  Every mile kept feeling easy....too easy, honestly.  I thought for sure they must be downhill with a tailwind, and once I hit the inclines my "real lack of fitness" would show.  And then I hit the inclines after the 10k mark and my pace was continually getting faster.  Finally, at mile 8 or so, I realized I was running an appropriate pace, as shocking as it was to see 7:30s and 7:20s on my screen.  The hills weren't slowing me down, and I wasn't dying.
Someone under-dressed for their spectating duties...LOVE my baby cousin Anna :)
I saw my family around mile 10 or 11, gave them a big smile, and just kept cruising.  I realized I would hit a post baby PR if I just kept it going, so I really focused on form and turnover the last few miles.  Well, I did until I hit the 10,000 walkers from the 10k that merged onto our course.  Then I spent the last 2 miles dodging people, politely asking them to make room, and accidentally knocking into a one or two.  And while my last 2 miles were my fastest, I couldn't quite get into that place where I really pushed my pace due to the crowd. 
(thanks for the pictures, Aunt Kathy!)  This one is my favorite :)
 I finished in 1:38:49 for a new post baby PR.  (Last post baby PRs were in Nov with a 1:42:22, and 1:42:21).  I negative split each section of the race and felt great.  And as Isla likes to say:  AMEN!

Why in the world was I able to hold a 7:26 pace (according to Garmin as I ran a long course- official pace 7:32)?  2 weeks ago I could barely run a 4 miler at 7:35 pace and I was dying!  I think there are a few reasons.  1.  I was healthy for this race- no sickness in family.  2.  Joy and Jeremy fed me a ton of food the night before, and I slept a full night (1st one of 2015, I think).   3.  I have a lot of fitness to draw from pre-baby, and that is still in there somewhere  4.  I am just a consistent training block or more away from breaking through  5.  I keep getting out there and trying, and I don't let my lack of results keep me from starting  6.  It was just my day to feel good.  Race day luck :)

Nothing till Nola 70.3 besides mom, work, train, house hunt, keep current house from falling apart, and....staying positive and working HARD!  Now we are going to focus on real PRs!

Thank you for the support for this race- you guys are the very best:  Super dad and Spreaglet, The Harwood family, Enell, Breakaway Running, Powerbar, Los Locos, Wattie Ink,

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pushing On

It has been a very busy month!  I am thrilled to have a few minutes to write on my blog, though, as our winter weather has kept us home and Isla is happy counting glue sticks and doesn't need my immediate attention.

Surgery!  Dave had his AC joint repair.  We knew this would be a very hard surgery.  It involves cutting off some bone, using a hamstring allograft to create a ligament, and some drilling/wire/etc...  The first few nights when Dave was up screaming in pain, my heart really went out to him.  Of course Isla happened to get sick right when Dave had surgery, so I was back and forth between their rooms several nights taking care of fever, wiping tears, rubbing backs, filling ice bags, and administering medicine.  Both of them needed "Momma Nurse."  It was insane, but we did it.    
Daddy's little helper....I left the room for one second and she had climbed up on his surgery side.  Oops!
No wonder the surgery hurt.  Yikes.  But Dave is doing awesome now.  He is still immobilized but hopefully starts PT next week.
3 weeks after Dave's surgery, I was able to get out a bit and run a 4 mile race.  It was a huge flop for me- almost 2 minutes slower than I did 2 months ago.  That is A LOT of time to bleed out of a 4 miler.  I have so many #excuses...maybe 7 or so.  Doesn't matter.  I think that on the day, I was just not fit.  All 7 reasons just point to not being fit on the starting line.  I was miserable out there as I ran so slowly and hurt doing it.  I was super dejected, as I keep taking 2 steps forward and then 10,000 steps back on this journey. 
 My post race stalking of Dave Wottle, 800 meter Olympic Gold Medalist.  Google his race- amazing. 
But let me tell you why I ran anyway, even though it was not ideal.   1.  I love to run.  I was slow when I started years ago, and I didn't let that stop me.  I don't let it stop me now.  2.  No one can be at their best, all of the time, at races.  There are other reasons for getting out there.  If you are worried about posting a bad time, you will sit on the sidelines more often than you want.  And you know what?  I would rather start the game and have a bad game than sit on the sidelines wishing I were playing.  Years of soccer taught me that.   3.  Dave Wottle:  He was the guest speaker at the event, and I was not going to miss that. 
 Because swim caps go with every outfit!
So, onto spunky 19-month-old.  Where to start?  The fun stuff is watching her little brain grow and develop.  It is just amazing the things she can say...from counting to the alphabet.  She does something daily that is just so brilliant it puts a big smile on my face.  All toddlers are so brilliant in the eyes of their mamas!  :)  Plus she gives amazing hugs and kisses, and I love them even if they are a little manipulative.  ;)
We are still struggling with sleep here.  Majorly.  I don't want to keep belabouring the topic on my blog.  At the same time, maybe there is another family who has struggled like we have.  Not every mom has an easy going, sleeping baby.  I think I was up 10+ times last night.  This is a big struggle for our family.  We do not expect a toddler to sleep through the night without help- that is what parenting is about.  But, we have been on the excessive side of no sleep for a long time. We have had periods where it has gotten better, and then is has regressed.  But, we will keep working through it.  It will get better! 
 Valentine's Day Dinner....Isla fed me instead of eating herself.  What a date! 
My child also does not like to eat.  90% of the time I pick her up from daycare and she has not eaten a thing.  I would say 90% of the time she won't eat dinner either.  This is a huge source of stress for Dave and I because we know if she doesn't eat, she will be cranky to the max.  I imagine this is all part of toddlerhood in some way.  Yet....all of my friends kids of the same age eat good portions of food.  Even daycare gets concerned about her.  Most of the time she will try something and then cry.  She won't touch a bite after that.  So...hmmmm.    
But man the cuteness!  Isla loves hats. 
A little while later, we had on another hat.  I love kissing those cheeks!!!!
And I rounded out my weekend by taking Isla on a dinner date.  And oh what a date she was....snoozed through most of it after skipping her nap.  That's my girl!!!!

Racing:  Next up, Little Rock Half Marathon.  I am nervous I have gone so far backwards in fitness that I will be jogging, and that is not what I wanted out of this race.  But, I am going to show up and just push with every day and every hand I am dealt. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

This and That

Training has officially started.  I was slightly grumpy with an easy November/December, but as soon as the holidays were over, my schedule looked completely different and now I am doing work.  It is interesting for me to see how different my training looks now when compared to 3/5/7 years ago.  My time allocation for training (less) and my stress levels (higher) are different than they were years ago, and my training has been adjusted to reflect that.  The result is that I am starting to improve in fitness again, even though I do much less.  It has taken me a while to adjust, but I am buying into the process now. 
At the awards banquet with my soccer-turned-runner girls
Last weekend I went to the RRS banquet.  I managed to eek out a 3rd place AG award at the 2014 RRS.  I am a little cursed with this seriesOn 3 different years, I have been 1st in my AG for 75%-90% of the series and then lose it on the last race or two.  Having the staying power for a 5 month series is part of the game!  Fortunately, I always lose to friends, so it gives me a fun story for my "back in the day" collection of memories.    
Play time with Isla.  I spy sun!  
 Isla is still chugging along.  I am trying to think of some good stories to share.  She has discovered the Barbie has boobies.  She also met me at the daycare door the other day with a booger in her hand and asked me to "clean booger."  She is a little shy at school and doesn't communicate with her teachers the way she does with me, and I wondered how long she had carried that booger around while waiting for my help.      

 Winter Run of Fun #1 with the Terrapins
I am making an effort to train with friends whenever I have the opportunity so I don't stay in total isolation.  This is the perfect time of year for training with friends because I don't have a lot of specific workouts to do.  
I also set a 1 mile PR yesterday at Master's swim class.  This was great motivation for me, and sometimes, I need life to throw me a little bone like this to keep me going.  I was probably faster than this back in 2011-2012, but I never did a 1 mile TT, so I will never know.  But, it was the fastest timed mile I have ever swam by over 2 minutes, and the bonus is my back didn't hurt and I did it on only about 7-8,000 yards of swimming a week.  A few years ago, I was easily swimming 10-14,000yds a week.  I would love to get back to that yardage, but I have to be home at a certain time for Dave to get to work, so my swims are cut pretty short in the mornings. 
Man, I just love this kid.  I found her just sitting in the stroller the other day with Minnie, asking someone to take her walking.  So sad Dave won't be able to pick her up and hold her for a long while.
Dave is having AC reconstruction to his shoulder next week.  This is going to be tough on everyone, especially him.  The surgery is a really big deal, and I don't think he realizes how little he will be able to do for months.  It stinks for him, and I hope he heals quickly and with positive results.  For me, it means I won't be able to go to Master's swim for a while and training will have to be adjusted, probably, as Dave won't be able to lift Isla out of bed or help change her.  Basically, if Isla is home, I need to be home.  The surgery is poor timing in a way, as I am on such a roll with training and motivation.  But, one thing I am learning as a parent is that it is certainly not all about me, and that I have to just do the best with what I have.

Have a great week of training!