Monday, March 28, 2011

NOT a good start

I did a long run and a long(ish) bike ride this weekend to mimic the schedule for triathlon training - so today I was supposed to run. Well, this morning, I was awakened by HUGE thunderstorms which lasted all morning. I had to spend the day taking my older daughter to her home school glee club and drama classes, so my run would have to wait for the late afternoon.

I got home around 3:30. And I parked my tired butt. It's cold outside - ok, so it was in the high 40s which I know isn't COLD but it was cloudy and icky and just not pleasant. And I'm worn out. I'll run tomorrow, which is supposed to be a rest day.

But now I feel guilty. This time next week I'm supposed to run and swim on Monday. I'll have to run in the morning and then swim in the afternoon after my daughter's classes. Well, not next week since it will be spring break and there are no classes. But for most of the training - that will be my schedule!

This is intimidating. :(

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pre-training jitters!

This week has been one of those crazy spring weeks for our family. I managed to get some good workouts in, despite the craziness!

Monday - run 4 miles
Tuesday - bike 6ish miles
Wednesday - swim 1100 yards
Thursday - run 4ish miles

I don't usually work out 4 days in a row, so my body was a little worn out come last night. In fact, I lay in bed and just sort of felt my muscles aching. Not aching like in pain, but just from use. And that's a little scary! I start triathlon training in just 10 days! On most of those days, I will be doing TWO workouts - run and swim, run and bike, etc. And here I am all achy after just doing one workout a day for 4 days.

Scary!! Scary!! Scary!!

What was I thinking?!?!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A milestone reached!

Today was the Fallen Heroes of Georgia 10K/5K/1K race. This is my 3rd year to participate and I absolutely love it. Well, I don't love the course - way too hilly! But I love the cause this race supports! I was especially looking forward to this race because my BFF and I were going to get to run together, which we haven't had the chance to do in a very long time (early December!). By "run together", I mean that we drive to the race together, warm up together, stand at the start line together - and then the speed queen takes off and waits patiently for me at the finish line! ;) Here we are before the race - notice how stylish we are! My mom bought me the camo RunningSkirt for Valentine's Day! :)

Coming into the race, I had no real goals except to finish strong and have fun. I have been battling so many aches and pains the last few weeks, that I really wasn't planning to try anything exciting. This race was my PR last year - but that's only because I spent most of the year doing halfs instead. So imagine my surprise when, about 4 miles into the race, I realize that not only can I get a PR if I maintain my pace, but I can also come in under an hour! For me, a sub-60:00 10K is being a 'real runner'. I know, it's silly - very arbitrary - but that's just me!

So I decided at mile 4 to put everything I had into the rest of the race - forgetting that the 2 biggest hills were yet to come! Oops! After the crest of the last small hill, it was a downhill to the finish and I let it all hang out - Garmin says I did the last 2/10 of a mile at a 7:48 pace! LOL But as I approached the finish, the clock clicked up over an hour. I was disappointed, but just kept running through!

One benefit of having a fast BFF is that she is there to take a picture of you crossing the finish line:
When I crossed the finish, I pushed the stop button on my Garmin and looked down - 59:22!! No way!!! I was so excited, but didn't want to believe it was real until I saw the official results on the website this evening! (And yes, it's there - officially, 59:31!! They did a gun start but a chip time end. Not really sure why they did that, but I assume that accounts for the extra 9 seconds since I started my Garmin when I crossed the start line). For the record, BFF also got a PR today!!

Something new this year was "corals" (I'm sure they meant corrals LOL) - and they are self-monitored. But dang... who runs that fast??? LOL
This was the corral we lined up with... though I should have lined up in Corral 3 which was for "Intermediate Runners" with 9:00-12:00 minute miles. Went back to get my picture taken by my real corral but they had already taken the sign down - so I showed that I missed Corral 2 by this much! OK, maybe not that little but it was funny anyway! ;)
PR running - and milestone setting - deserves a reward! We went to Moe's for lunch! YUMMY!!!

What an exciting day - a tough course and such excellent results! This is the same place where I'll be doing the triathlon in June, which makes me a little nervous about the hills. But I have no time goals for the my first tri! Just completion! :)

The next race on my schedule is the Warrior Dash in May!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Swimming update

After 3 rest days (Sunday - Tuesday), I dusted of the cobwebs in my brain and took everyone to the pool after lunch. It was only the 2nd time that Austin has been to the pool since his ankle surgery last fall, and we were glad to have him along! He did a couple of laps with me, but I didn't want him to overdo it, especially since he had baseball practice last night. He made a joke about being "lap traffic" as he left the lap lanes and went to the recreational area to hang out with the sisters - you'd have to be a NASCAR fan to appreciate that!

As for my workout, I did 2 laps (100 yards) for a warmup. Rested for a minute or so, then I did 8 laps (400 yards). Rested for 1-2 minutes and then did another 8 lap set - at least I think I did, I lost count. Finally, I did a 2 lap cooldown.

I have done this workout three or four times now. The 8 lap set is approximately the distance I will have to be able to swim for the triathlon, so the fact that I can do it NOW is a huge confidence booster. I don't officially start training until April 4th, so I feel like I have a head start. The other workout my swim coach has me doing develops speed in addition to endurance, but I felt like it would be better to keep it nice and easy today since I haven't been feeling well recently.

I am feeling much better about my ability to swim the distance - now I just have to add in the "Ewww! It's a lake!" factor and the "OMG what are all these people doing swimming so close to me?!?" factor and I'll be good to go. Yikes.

And then there is the bike, which I feel like I have neglected this winter. Double yikes!

I guess that's where the actual "training" comes into play, huh?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Taking a Day Off

I'm sitting here at nearly 8 AM on a Monday morning writing a blog post. This is unusual for many reasons, but mostly because I am usually out running around my neighborhood at this time of day on a Monday morning! But not today.

The time change has a little bit to do with it. Being a woman (@@) has a little bit to do it. Having a crazy-busy weekend that was full of emotional turmoil has a little bit to do with it.

But I would also like to think that the development of some running maturity has a little bit to do with it, too.

You see, a couple of weeks ago I hurt my foot - the one that ALWAYS seems to get hurt, and in the same place - while walking around in sandals at Disney. That has healed up, more or less. But in 3 weeks, I start 8 weeks of triathlon training, which will immediately be followed with 20 weeks of full marathon training, with only a week of rest in between. Which means that these next 3 weeks are the only true "time off" I will have until November!

So when I woke up this morning feeling a bit under the weather - not from an illness, but rather from just from life being 'too much' - and it wasn't one of those days where a run would make it all better, I decided to just take the day off. The weather forecast calls for rain tomorrow, so I'll probably be taking the day off then, too. A year ago... 6 months ago even... I would not have been able to allow myself to do it. I would have gone out for the run, and in all honesty, I probably would have felt better for having done it. But the motivator would have been fear.

Today I am able to take the day off - without fear - because I know a good couple of days of rest will do my body more good in the long run. And that's what I'm all about these days. Keeping my eye on the big picture!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Running Through the Spectrum

I may not have mentioned it here, but I received a Kindle for Christmas! I am absolutely hooked on it, and I pre-ordered a book for the first time. When I woke up on March 1st, Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong had been magically transported into my home, and was waiting for me on my awesome little Kindle!

It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but perhaps I didn't really know what TO expect. This is a compilation of blog posts that Ms. Armstrong has written for Runner's World, grouped into 26.2 topics. It's very enjoyable, as I've never read her blog before - but had I been a regular reader, I think I would have been disappointed to pay money for material I had already read.

But it did get me thinking... I wonder if anyone would read a book I wrote about running. Aside from my first posts about how I got into running, I haven't really spent much time sharing why I run, or my feelings after a run, or what I feel like if I DON'T get to run (it's not pretty! LOL). I could call it "Running Through the Spectrum: How a Homeschool Mom turned Runner Girl to survive Autism".

Hmm, not sure that I like how that sounds. Autism is hard. Really hard. And scary. And stressful. And overwhelming. And all of that. But I love my children for who they are - and that includes autism! Yeah, I'm going to go ahead and come out as a mom who is not looking for a cure. But that's easy for me to say since my children are are quite high-functioning. Anyway, I digress. Maybe "survive" wouldn't be the best word for my title, then. Perhaps I'll get out the thesaurus and see if I can find the word that would describe what running has done for me, specifically when it comes to my ability to handle the rest of my life (which mostly consists of dealing with autism, since I'm a homeschooling mother!).

Here's a story I might share - if I were to write a book:

Running makes me feel like superwoman - for at least as long as I'm actually in the process of running. Once my feet stop moving back and forth in that rhythmic "low and slow" pace that feels comfortable for me, I tend to crash back to earth and land with a big thud.

A huge example of this involves the 3-4 months leading up to my first ever Blue October concert. I found their music just a couple of weeks before Austin had his first seizure. This, of course, was also just a few weeks before I took up running! So for a very long time, running and Blue October were intertwined. Those early runs were timed as I built up my endurance, and I would set a certain song for a walking interval and a certain song for a running interval.

About a year after I first heard their music, I had the chance to see them live and in concert. Those months of anticipation found me listening to the new CD on my mp3 player, and thinking of all the things I would say to the band members (specifically the lead singer and songwriter) to let them know how much the music touched me and helped me through that challenging period in my life. While I was running, I was amazingly articulate and appreciative. Piece of cake!

The night of the concert arrived and it was as incredible as I had anticipated, and my BFF and I waited around after the show for pictures and autographs - and, of course, for my chance to express my emotions just as I had done so many times during my runs! I was, after all, superwoman! My BFF pointed out the lead singer and drug us over to where he was greeting fans.

CRASH!

My legs gave out, and BFF had to steady me. She moved me forward and it was my turn. I opened my mouth, took a deep breath, and said, "Hi." Wow, that was amazing, huh? He signed my copy of the lyrics book he had just published and tried again, "Thanks." I was on a serious roll here! He was walking away when I blurted out, "Can I get a picture?!" And then I uttered another "thanks" after that was done, and thus ends my big, powerful sharing of emotions with someone whose writing had helped me through such a challenging time. I left shaking my head, while my BFF laughed hers off!

The very next time I went running after the concert, my brain picked right back up where it had left off - the conversation that I would have with Justin one day. I laughed to myself and said, "Yeah, yeah - nice try!"

So maybe one of the reasons that I am drawn to running is that I feel strong and powerful and brave and coherent... at least while I'm running!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Race Report: Princess Half Marathon 2011

I was really looking forward to this race for many reasons. First of all, since it had been my 1st half marathon last year, I was excited to be able to do it again with experience. Last year was such a blur because I was so nervous (and it was so unseasonably cold). I didn't really get to soak in the atmosphere. And this year I would get to pace Abbey to complete her first half marathon, which has become one of my favorite things to do!

For some reason, though, I simply didn't sleep this weekend. I don't know if it was the excitement, or the pressure I was imposing on myself to get Abbey across the finish line, or what. But Friday night I slept about 3 hours, and Saturday night I clocked a whopping 2 hours. I finally settled in around 11PM and woke up at 1AM and just did not go back to sleep. Around 2:55 AM, I decided to go ahead and get dressed so there would be one less person trying to get ready in our room. The alarms went off at 3AM and Abbey and Jan stumbled out of bed. We all got ready and made our way to the buses. I decided not to press the issue on pictures until we got to the bus line. Last year we had to wait in a long line for a bus, so I was really surprised to see a line of buses waiting for us. Unfortunately, though, it meant I never got pics with the RunDisney transportation sign!

We got to the H tent (where ROTE meets before and after races) and I was glad to see some familiar faces and meet some new folks! We did a couple of pictures, hit the potties, and then went to check our bags, assuming we could get back to the H tent. But they would not let us go back through once we dropped off our bags. :( I was very disappointed because I wasn't done chatting with everyone at the H tent (and I wanted a group pic), but I thought for sure I'd see folks in Corral C since there were a bunch of us in that corral. But it was crazy crowded - and I didn't remember much of the walk to the corrals from last year. I'm not sure if they were in a different spot this year or if I was just in such a daze last year from being nervous and overwhelmed that I don't remember!! We hit the potties again (thanks Disney for so many of them at the corrals this year!). Jan had earned Corral B, but decided to stay back with us in Corral C so she didn't have to wait alone!

The time in the corrals seemed to fly this year. Again, not sure if it was the lack of nerves, or maybe the non-freezing weather - but before I knew it, it was time to run! Abbey and I were running 5/1 intervals for as long as she could keep it up, so we said goodbye to Jan quickly! She was aiming to beat last year's time, which she did! We didn't see her again until the end. We did see a few ROTE runners, but I missed the chEAR squad. I was pretty focused on Abbey, though, so that might have been it. We did way too much walking in the parks and through resorts on Friday and Saturday, and I know both of us had really tired legs before the race even started. I felt horrible about that, and as her coach I should have known better and guarded our leg strength.

We stuck to our intervals very closely in the first part of the race. We were going a little faster than I had planned, but Abbey said she felt good, and I know that adrenaline really kicks in during races so I wasn't too worried. Abbey isn't big on pictures so we didn't stop much, plus I know she had a couple of finish time goals in mind. But we had worked out a plan for ASI pics coming through the castle, and she was to run ahead of me so I could video and take pictures from behind. At the bottom of the castle, she was supposed to stop so I could take a picture of her in front of the castle. So she's running ahead of me, and she shows no signs of stopping. I hollered out, "ABBEY!" and she stopped short and turned around. I yelled something about pictures, and she gets this evil, possessed look on her face and screams, "NO WAY!" and turns around and starts running off without me! I sort of shrugged my shoulders and ran to catch up! She did apologize later, and it's one of those fun memories that we'll always have of this race! But if looks could have killed, I would have been dead right there in front of the castle!

She ran the entire way through Magic Kingdom without stopping - totally in a groove! But the next part of the course is rough for many people and it took its toll on her. We did a lot more walking, which is fine, but I quickly calculated that her first goal was just not going to be doable. She was aware of that, too, so we started talking about what the next reasonable goal was - and she said she wanted to come in under 3 hours. But she had needed to do a lot of walking between miles 9-11, and we were cutting it close. Abbey is very competitive in nature, though, as I had seen when I paced her through her 10K back in October so she could get a qualifying time for Princess. So I knew she was tough and had a lot of determination in her. I told her that after we reached the top of the last overpass, which is around mile 11.5, we were going to run and we weren't going to stop until we reached the finish. We didn't have to go fast, but if we were going to come in under 3 hours, we needed to keep pushing through to the end.

I basically kept talking for the next 1.5 miles, which is easy for me since I have the ability to completely ramble on about nothing! But I seemed to be channeling my inner Jillian - told Abbey not to "phone it in", stuff like that. She did tell me that if she hadn't been so tired, she probably would have smacked me. So I guess I was doing my job as coach! LOL We were getting close to the end and I kept telling her that the Finish Line was right around the corner. Apparently, I did that a few too many times, because she yelled at me once that she couldn't see it! Oops!

But finally there was the finish line... and we made it with time to spare. 2:53:46 was our official time!! I was so proud of Abbey - I know how hard this was for her to go from not running at ALL to running a half marathon in only 6 months!! We met up with Jan at the H tent (she had barely missed her goal, but still had improved her time from last year by quite a bit!) but we didn't see any ROTErs. Since Abbey and I had to fly home that afternoon, and we wanted to hit up Hollywood Studios, where we had lunch reservations at the 50s Prime Time Cafe, we decided to head back to get cleaned up.

As far as the race itself, I was very disappointed that there weren't more princesses on the course this year. After all, the is the PRINCESS Half Marathon. If they were out there last year in the freezing cold, surely they could be out there this year! And where were Tink and the Fairies? The castle situation was terrible with the photographers, and then there didn't seem to be ANY photographers on the rest of the course - last year I had pics taken on Main Street USA, and then there were some set up over the course on a tower thing, and then running through EPCOT at the end. This year they didn't really seem to be anywhere except the castle and the finish line. I was hugely disappointed in the food/water situation at the end. I tried to grab two bottles of water - one for immediately and one to pour my electrolyte mix into since I don't care for powerade, but the volunteer would only let me have one. He said there was more water by the food. Well, there wasn't. It was only powerade, and I had finished my water bottle already! So I was thirsty, and the food looked terrible (maybe from sitting out in the heat and sun?). Transportation both to and from the resort was much better than last year.

Even with some of the issues I had, I really hope to be able to make this race again next year! I think I could probably do it without needing park tickets (which can double my expenses) since the ROTE rallies aren't in the parks for the most part. And especially if the weather is nice, I could hang out at the pool and go to DtD or take in a Braves Spring Training game and not have to spend so much money for the trip but still get to come and have a blast! I really think I will be able to make it work! I don't think I'll mention that to my husband quite yet, though!