Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Personal Record, but.......

Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas.....where do I start? 

I guess I'll start with my expectations for this race.  I ran this race last year and had an absolute blast.  It wasn't my best race since I was dealing with some hip flexor issues, but it was still a ton of fun.  So without hesitation, my friend Monika and I signed up again on the very first registration day. 

When I started my running journey about 4 years ago, I couldn't even run two solid miles without a walk break and gasping for air.  My first 1/2 in January of 2009 was a 2:34, which was one of my proudest moments...I actually cried when I crossed that finish line.  Since then, I have been chipping away at my time, each race faster than the one before.  When I ran Rock 'n Roll San Diego in June, I managed a 2:09:23.  I decided then that my goal for Las Vegas would be the 2 hour mark.  I had 6 months to get there. 

I've mentioned before that my life went a quite a bit sideways over the past 6 months, so getting in the miles has been extremely tough.  I'm not running as much as I would like to or as much as I need to.  But you just make the best of it.  In November, I ran the Women's Half Marathon in Scottsdale, and even though I hadn't been running that much, I managed a 2:04:41.  Inching closer. 

I knew that 2 hours was definitely in my grasp.  Just 4 minutes and 41 seconds to whittle away. 

Enter the power of Twitter.

I happened to mention to Charlene from F.A.B. Running (Running with Charlene)  that I wanted a sub-2hr at RnRLV.  [If you don't follow her on should!  @CRagsdale]  So she gave me the strategy that she used for her two 1/2s (1:56 and 1:44):

Run a 10 mile race. Get to Mile 10 by 1:30, pick it up a bit to get to Mile 12 by 1:48, then give it all you've got without killing yourself until the finish. 

So now I had two strategies to pick from:  going with Charlene's 10 mile race plan or going with a pace group, which had worked for me in the past.  Hmmmm....

Looking back (hindsight is 20/20!), there were lots of 'red flags' going into this race. My friend Monika new there would be problems as soon as she saw the map for the course....the merge of the full and the 1/2 runners had "potential disaster" written all over it.   Then we were leery of the whole idea of a night race.  We do run in the evenings, but all our long runs are in the mornings.  This was our 6th 1/2 marathon, so we've figured out what works for us as far as eating and would we adjust this to a night race? 

And then there was the expo.  Definitely not as good as last year.  The layout was terrible.  Who thought to put the official merchandise checkout basically in the middle of the room? Last year all the official merchandise and the checkout ran across the back of the room, leaving the rest for all the vendor booths.  This year, the room was kind of cut in half, making the layout awkward and crowded. And with 44,000 runners, "cramped and crowded" wasn't what they should have been going for. 

Monika and I at the expo.....yes, we match.  Yes, we're dorks. 

We did get our race shirts, unlike some people who came later in the day, but the sizing was definitely weird with the Women's shirts.  Luckily, I had selected medium instead of my usual small, so mine fits. 

Oh, and this was a bonus in our bag:  real head lamps!  We are running Ragnar Del Sol in February, so these will definitely get used. 

Monika models the headlamps!

And we did have a lot of fun with this display....made for some interesting Facebook postings, that's for sure!

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At the expo, Monika and I decided that we would go ahead and sign up for the 2-hr pace group.  I still had Charlene's strategy floating around in my mind, but we opted to go for what worked in the past.  The other three girls in our group went for the 1:52 pace group.  Monika didn't want to pick up these signs, but I told her that wearing these would make us commit.  Little did I know......

Onward to race day.  First of all, it was really bizarre sleeping in on race day.  I felt like I needed to be somewhere.  We went to a breakfast buffet and filled up on a good breakfast at about 10 am.  Then we basically relaxed, snacked, and drank water the rest of the day.  Again, we had NO clue how to handle our eating for this evening race business. 

At about 3:30, we decided it was time to get ready and head on over to Mandalay Bay.  We were staying at the Luxor, so we didn't have to go far.  I have to say, I stressed over my clothes.  It was freezing in Las least to us who came up from the Phoenix area!  I had brought a couple of options for race wear just in case, but I was really conflicted as to what to wear.  In the end, I went with capris and my long sleeve, but kind of light-weight, Brooks shirt.  I threw some sweats and a fleece pull over in my gear check bag for afterwards.  Another thing I always do is carry my own stuff.  I fill one bottle with water and one with Cytomax and then I carry 2 or 3 Vanilla Gus (the only flavor I can stand), pinned on my race belt so I can just reach down and rip them off. 

I carry my own stuff for a variety of reasons.  I like to be able to eat and drink when I want to, aid stations are zoos, and I'm just used to having it on me. After hearing that they were short of supplies on the course and that the water came from fire hydrants and was stored in big trash cans, I'm especially glad that I always have my stuff on me.

Off to gear check.  Luckily the Luxor and Mandalay Bay are connected by corridors, so we didn't have to walk outside to get to the gear check.  But honestly, getting there was a pain. Where was the signage?  There were thousands of runners wandering everywhere, and very little direction about where to go.  We just followed the herd of runners that still had their gear bags, assuming that we'd get there eventually.  After all, we had an hour to check our stuff and get to our corrals.  Plenty of time, right? 

Our group:  Michelle, Monika, Deb, Me, April

We finally made it to gear check (uneventful) and had 45 minutes to get to our corral.  Monika and I were in Corral 9 and the others were in Corral 5.  Getting out of the MB Exhibit Hall was an adventure.  There was NO crowd control.  People were trying to file in and out of the same set of doors. Just another red flag....

We wandered out and toward the corrals.  Again, no signage or volunteers directing people.  With 44,000 runners, crowd control is a MUST!  When we finally found the corrals, we were at corral 20....and need to get up to corrals 5 and 9.  No easy feat.  Thousands of people were just crammed in the walkway along the corrals.  No one was directing people at all.  Spectators were just standing there, not letting runners get through.  We pushed our way along, and finally just jumped into corral 13 and worked our way up through the actual corrals. 

In every other race I've been in, there is a volunteer making sure that people are entering the correct corral.  Not at this race.  There was no one checking bibs.  People were just jumping into whatever corral that they could get to since the crowds were keeping them from getting to their actual corral.  And I know for a FACT that there were runners in the corrals with no bib at all...they were bootlegging the race. 

Monika and I finally made it to corral 9, with about 10 minutes to spare until start time.  We immediately looked around for the 2 hr pacer....couldn't find them.  In fact, lots of runners were looking for that pace group and couldn't find it.  And since Monika and I had our "2:00" signs pinned on our backs, people were assuming that WE were the pace group!  HA!  The first corrals were starting, and still no sign of the 2:00 pace group (we found out later that it was in a corral further back, not in corral 9 like we were all told at the expo).  So I made a game time decision:  I was going with Charlene's 10-mile race strategy. 

Monika and I formed an unofficial group with a few other runners.  I had my Garmin, so I told them my strategy and said I'd get us to Mile 10 by 1:30.  By the time our corral hit the start, I'm pretty sure they had already given up on the wave starts.  It was chaos.  People walking right from the get go.  There shouldn't be walkers in corral 9.  People were actually shoving other runners.  I mean, at the start there is usually some bumping and jockeying for position.  And typically if you bump into someone, a quick wave (the universal "sorry!")  is in order.  But I was actually pushed by other runners, with no apology or acknowledgment.  No excuse for that. 

And the clothing.  When you're in a race, and you start to strip off your sweatshirts, gloves, etc., it's just proper race etiquette to make sure to toss things off to the side, out of the way of runners.  Didn't happen here.  People just dropped things right in the middle of the road.  The road was dark (even on the strip) and congested, so these clothing items became serious hazards.  You often didn't see them until you were right up on them.  Lots of dodging and jumping going on. 

And the merge.  Who the HELL thought it would be a good idea to essentially dump a bunch of marathoners right in the middle of the later corrals (which we all know means slower runners and walkers) of 1/2 marathoners?  Ridiculous!  Sure, there were cones that were supposed to designate a marathon lane.  But the cones were really spaced out, poorly marked, and often knocked over.  I admit, there were times that I ran just inside the marathon lane in order not to run into other runners.  But I never got in the lane without making sure that I wasn't cutting someone off, and I always jumped back into the half lane as soon as I could.  And all the aid stations were on the side of the road that required the half marathoners to cross the marathon lane to get water!  Dumb! 

Monika was running just off my left shoulder, and every mile I'd turn around and give her a time check.  At mile 6, I turned to tell her the time...and she wasn't there.  I did a quick look around and couldn't find her.  She knew that I was hell-bent on dominating this race, so I just kept on going. 

I was in some kind of weird zone.  Other than the defensive running tactics that I was having to take not to trip over discarded clothing or run smack into the back of someone who didn't move over before they decided to come to a complete stop, I was aware of very little going on around me.  The lights of the strip?  Eh.  I was too focused to pay much attention. 

Another issue I had with running at night?  My vision.  When I run during the day, I wear my sunglasses, which are prescription.  I don't have to wear my glasses all the time...if I don't need to see detail or read something far away I just skip them.  But my night vision sucks.  And I don't wear my glasses when I run.  When I would try to look too far ahead, everything was a little blurry. Couple this with running, and everyone's heads bopping up and down, and it's a little dizzying.  So I just focused on a spot on the ground about 8-10 feet ahead. goal was to get to Mile 10 by 1:30.  I was booking it on the strip.  I was running a 8:45-8:50 pace, which is crazy fast for me, but I felt really good.  However, those who ran this race know that the part off the strip sucked.  It was narrower, congested, and had a lot of turns.  Not to mention it was dark, the road conditions sucked, there were no bands, and very few spectators.  So I was forced to slow down a little at several points during this section.  As I approached Mile 10, I knew it would be close.  My time at Mile 10:  1:31.  Then I did like Charlene suggested, and dug a little deeper.  But by this time, many people were slowing down and walking.  Since the crowds never thinned out the entire race, I was fighting to keep a steady pace.  I knew that it was going to be really close.  I kept an eye on my Garmin, and just pushed myself like I've never pushed before. 

But it wasn't going to be enough.  As my time ticked over the 2 hr mark, and I could see the finish, but wasn't quite there, my heart sunk.  I knew I was going to PR, but I couldn't help but be a little sad to see my 2-hr race slip away. 

I crossed the line at 2:02:26.  Then I hit a wall....literally.  Everyone was at a complete stop. The finish area was complete and utter chaos.  No organization for handing out medals or mylar blankets.  I also know for a fact that they gave medals to people that didn't even have race bibs....hope they feel guilty now that they know they didn't have enough for people who actually paid for the race (one of my friends did not get one).  I immediately became cold, light-headed, and a little out of it. Some man was trying to talk to me and I felt like I was in a fog...couldn't make out a word he was saying.

I grabbed a blanket and tried my best to keep moving.  The picture stops were a nightmare.  I fought my way through that mess to tried to get to the food.  Where I was quickly disappointed.  I think they picked those bananas right off the tree before the race. I have never seen such green bananas!  And the rest of the food was slim pickings. I just grabbed a Cytomax and skipped it.  I needed to find a place to sit before I passed out. 

We had agreed on a meeting point before the race, so I headed there, where the other three ladies in our little group were already waiting.  Now I was worried about Monika.  After I waited a little while, I sent her a text.  No response.  Typically Monika is a much faster runner than me, so I didn't expect her to be too far behind. 

Finally she showed.  And was not in good shape.  She said she started not feeling well about 1/2 way through the race, and at Mile 10 she stopped and threw up.  Then she had to fight her way to the end.  (But even sick she managed a 2:17, so kudos to her!)  We needed to get her inside, so we took her into the gear check area and sat her with some of the medical volunteers.  I went and got our stuff (which took forever), then went back to get her warmed up and get some fluids in her. 

After sitting there for a good 30-40 minutes, we started heading back to our hotel.  And the corridors were INSANE!  No crowd control, no system for getting people in and out.  And we were some of the earlier finishers.  A friend of mine that finished later on and got stuck in the mob was texting me and telling me about all the people puking, passing out, etc.  Apparently it was a real nightmare.

We finally made it back to Luxor, showered, and then went downstairs to find something to eat.  Yeah right.  It was 10:45pm on a Sunday night.  All the buffets closed at 10pm, many of the restaurants closed at 11:00 and weren't seating anyone else, and the ones that were still open were insanely crowded.  Driving off the strip wasn't an option (traffic nightmare) and neither of us were in any shape to walk very far.  There were thousands of hungry, grouchy runners that just wanted something to eat.  Fail, Vegas!  If the casinos would have kept their buffets open a few extra hours that night, they would have made a killing. 

All in all, this race is going down as my least enjoyable.  It was too crowded and way too unorganized.  And the marathoners were completely and utterly screwed over.  I don't know about next year.  If it's at night, definitely not...I don't think evening races are for me.  If there are 60,000 people like rumored, probably not.  They couldn't accommodate 44,000...what makes them think they can accommodate more? 

So what's next for me?  I am already registered for Rock 'n Roll Arizona.  It will be my first full.  I'm totally undertrained, and don't know how I'm going to get all the miles in over the next 6 weeks.  But my only goal is to finish, and I think I can manage that. 

After that I have Ragnar Del Sol in February. 

But that 2-hr half still haunts me.  So I think I'm throwing another race on the calendar.  The IMS Arizona race is February 19th.  Sure, it's only 6 days before Ragnar, but I think it will be my best chance at a sub 2-hr race.  It's downhill, flat as a pancake, and a relatively small race.  And it's only $60.  I've got to go for it. 

Besides, I need to get the bad taste of the Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas 1/2 marathon out of my mouth. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Can't Stop the Music

It's that time again! Time for a new running playlist.  Usually I switch it up every month, but things have been crazy around here. 

But Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas is next week (WOO HOO!), so I needed something new to get me going.  I've talked before about how music helps me push through.  And this time I'm going to really need that extra motivation.  See, for RnRLV, I have a certain goal.  A goal that I've been slowly working towards for the past few races:  that magical 2 hour mark.  Right now, my 1/2 marathon PR is 2:04:41.  Just a few measly minutes off of my goal. 

Problem is, my training has been pretty lackluster.  Finding time to get more that 5 or 6 miles at a time a few days a week is extremely tough these days. 

But I'm going to go for it.  Might as well.  I know I can do the distance, I'm just going to have to push myself harder than ever before to break 2 hours.  It's only 2 hours of suffering, right? Anyone can survive 2 hours of anything, right?  Right? 


I decided this race calls for a new playlist. And my incentive to run this race within my goal time:  the playlist only has two hours worth of music.  And I'm not going to put it on repeat.  :) 

So without further delay, my new playlist, in random order:

1. Time Bomb - 311
2. Josie - Blink-182
3. Brick in the Wave - Authority Zero
4. Movement - Authority Zero
5. Missy - Airborne Toxic Event
6. Welcome to Your Wedding Day - Airborne Toxic Event
7. Always Something - Cage the Elephant
8. Get It Right - Authority Zero
9. Everlong - Foo Fighters
10. Eskimo Kiss - The Kooks
11. Junk of the Heart (Happy) - The Kooks
12. Trouble - 311
13. Around My Head - Cage the Elephant
14. The Distance - CAKE (always on my race playlist!)
15. The Rock Show - Blink-182
16. Innocence - The Airborne Toxic Event
17. Shake Me Down - Cage the Elephant
18. All I Ever Wanted - The Airborne Toxic Event
19. The Bad Thing - Arctic Monkeys
20. Wild Nights - 311
21. Right Before My Eyes - Cage The Elephant
22. Creepin' Up the Back Stairs - The Fratellis
23. All My Life - Foo Fighters
24. Runaway - The Kooks
25. M+M - Blink-182
26. Lonely Boy - The Black Keys
27. Walk - Foo Fighters
28. Dammit - Blink-182
29. White Limo - Foo Fighters
30. Strange Girl - The Airborne Toxic Event
31. Wattershed - Foo Fighters
32. Break the Mold - Authority Zero
33. Is It Me - The Kooks
34. Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair - Arctic Monkeys
35. Does This Mean Your Moving On? - The Airborne Toxic Event
36. Sunset In July - 311
37. Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis

Happy Running!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Girls ROCK!

[Side note:  I have been very absent from this blog...last post was in August...YIKES!  Without going into all the gory details, I am going through some huge changes in my personal life.  Blogging had to take a back seat for awhile, and sadly, running kind of did too.  I've tried to keep putting in miles while my life went sideways, but I'm definitely off-track from where I want to be.  I'm hoping to be able to get my "running mojo" back over the next month.]

Sunday, November 6 I had the pleasure of running in the Women's Half Marathon in the Scottsdale-Tempe area.  This race is put on by Women's Running Magazine to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation.   I haven't run this race before, but I can say I'd definitely do it again.

Without getting too "touchy feel-y," there is something empowering about running a race that is almost all women.  Oh sure, there were a few guys.  At least 6...that's how many I saw out on the course.  But this race was mostly about women.  From the awesome "swag bag," to the great shirt (women's cut nice!), to the beautiful medal, this race was all about the girls.   There were big groups of friends, lots of first time 1/2-marathoners, and of course, the always inspiring cancer survivors.

My race day started at the ungodly hour of 3:45 am.  Yes, THREE FORTY FIVE AM.  Ugh.  I had to get up, dressed, eat, quickly walk my dogs and drive all the way across the Valley to catch the 5:05am shuttle to the start line.  Since this isn't my first rodeo, I knew that having everything ready to go the night before is key.

Can I just say that I love it when our names are on the race bib?  It's so nice having total strangers cheer for you by name!

The shuttle dropped me off at the start line at 5:20am.  And it was cold.  This was really the first cold weekend here in AZ.  Temps were in the 40s.  I know, you Northern and Eastern people think we're wimps.  Whatever.  I could see my breath. And the race wasn't starting until 7am.  I would be a popsicle by then. Luckily, the awesome race volunteers let us sit on the Gear Check bus to stay warm.

My friend Monika was dropped off at the start at just after 6am.  We stayed on the bus in the warmth until about 6:30, then decided it was time for our pre-race porta-potty stop.

Now, we all know how race porta-potties are....just nasty.  Everyone's "system" is revolting, whether it be nerves or what they ate.  And they almost always run out of toilet paper, which is why we now bring our own roll.  But I made an interesting observation at this race.

Women's Races = Cleaner Porta-Potties.

Now, I'll need to do some more research on this theory, but I don't think it's a coincidence that there were so few guys and much cleaner toilets.  I have a son, I know how you guys are in the bathroom.  :) These porta-jons were almost pristine...with plenty of T.P.

So now it was off to find our corral. All the 1/2s we've done so far have been Rock 'n Roll events, which are huge.  So we've always been in corral 10-13.  This was a much smaller race, so we were in Corral 3.

Monika and I pre-race. 

Neither Monika or I had really set any goals for this race. Monika had been up most of the night before doing a Scavenger Hunt race with her husband, and my mileage has been in the toilet lately.  So honestly, it was just run what feels good and see what we get.

When we lined up, we noticed that the 2 hr pacer was in our corral.  On whim, we decided we would just hang with him as long as we could.  And we did...for the first 7-8 miles.

Between miles 6 and 7, I saw two things I've never seen in a race before.

First, we had to avoid a stiff-as-a-board dead cat in the middle of the course...yuck!  Monika had the pleasure of almost stepping on it.

Then I saw something really disheartening.  There was a couple of stretches of the race where you ran down one side of a road, then did a turnaround and ran down the other side of the median.  We actually watched two girls cut across the median about a 1/4 mile before the turnaround.  Really?  I couldn't believe it. I wanted to point at them and yell "CHEATERS!!!"  (I didn't).  I know they weren't going to win the race or anything, but come on.  It's just not right.  I hope they are ashamed of themselves.

The organizers of this race kept telling everyone how nice and flat the course was. Flat except for the hill between 7 and 8 that kicked my ass, and then the big hill at mile 10-ish.  Oh, and the hill between mile 11 and 12.  I don't mind some hills, but the ones that come toward the end of the race are just brutal.

As we went up the first hill, we tried to hang with the pacer.  Monika managed to do it.  I fell off a bit.  My lack of mileage was starting to kick in.  The longest run I had gotten in over the previous 3 weeks was 6 miles.  My body was saying "Ok, you can stop now!"

But Monika pulling ahead is nothing new.  She's generally a faster runner than me anyway.  I kept her in my sights....until about mile 9.  Then my damn hip flexor started screaming at me.  A quick look at my Garmin told me that I was still in good shape to at least finish near my current PR time of 2:09.  So I decided to stop and walk for 1 minute and stretch out my hip.  Monika kept on trucking and then I lost sight of her.

That minute did the trick, and I took off again feeling renewed.  Until that nasty hill near mile 10.  I turned a corner and there it was. I took one look at it and how slow everyone was trucking up it and made a decision:  I wasn't going to run up it just to gain maybe 30 seconds, but be wiped out at the top.  So I walked.  And a dozen or so people passed me.  But then I got to the top, feeling a little refreshed, and started off again...passing all the people who passed me on the hill.

And for some strange reason, I felt like I had a second wind.  I looked at my Garmin and I was running a 9:30 pace.  That's pretty quick for me, especially at mile 11!

Then I saw her...Monika in her red & white hat.  And I slowly but steadily closed the gap, tapping her on the shoulder at Mile 12.  We got to finish the race together after all.  Monika has now nick-named me "Lazarus."  She had written me off after I fell behind at Mile 7.

My official finish time:  2:04:41.  A new PR.  Who would've thought?  Totally undertrained, I managed that time.  A friend of mine said I wasn't undertrained, just "well-tapered."  Ha! I'm not gonna lie...I suffered.  I really had to dig down deep for those last few miles.  It never ceases to amaze me what we runners can force our bodies to do in the moment.

Monika and I post-race....

And the medal.  This is now my favorite medal.  It's just gorgeous.

It's big (probably 4-inches across) and mirrored, and the center is a charm that you can take out and put on a necklace.  Very nice touch!

Looking forward Rock 'n Roll Vegas.  Only a few weeks, but I'm hoping to get some good running in between now and then.  I'm out of commission for a few days due to some medical stuff, but hopefully next week I can get back to it.  That race has a goal:  2 hours or less.  I think I can do it.

Happy Running! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Most Important Meal

Breakfast.  They tell us it's the most important meal of the day.  And it is.  But it's also the most often skipped.

I am not one to just jump up and eat first thing in the morning.  I like to be up for awhile, drink a cup of coffee (or two) and then think about eating.  If I'm running first thing in the am, I will eat a little bit of something, like a mini bagel with peanut butter.  But I often find myself getting on with my day and then realizing at 10am that I haven't eaten anything.  Not good.

Especially now that I'm back in school.  The high school that I teach at starts at 7:15am.  Yep, you read that right. Personally, I think it's cruel and unusual punishment to make a teenager be at school at 7:15.  But what do I know.  Technically, as long as I'm there by 7-ish, I'm fine.  But I like at least a 1/2 hour to "get in the zone" and put on my teacher hat, so I try to get there no later than 6:45am.

Which means I get up at 5:15 (or so...depends on how many snoozes I take), get dressed and head out the door by 6:30 (Luckily, I don't live far from the school).  This schedule does not work well with my lazy breakfast preference.

You can guess what happens.

I drink my first cup of coffee while I'm getting dressed in the morning, and take one with me when I go.  But breakfast doesn't happen before I head out the door.  Then I'm STARVING by 9:30.  Not good.

So this school year I decided to take a different approach.  Protein shakes or smoothies.  I can make them ahead of time, grab them when I leave the house, and drink it on the way.  Problem solved.  And I'm not ravenous before lunch.

There are a million (+ 1) resources for protein shake and smoothie recipes online...just google it and you'll get more than you can go through in an evening.

But right now I have a fave to share:

Peanut Butter Banana Shake

For 1 serving (I usually make a double batch or more)

1 scoop protein powder (I use vanilla whey protein)
1-2 Tbsp peanut butter
1 cup skim milk
1/2 banana

Blend. Pour. Enjoy!

What about you? Do you have a favorite protein shake or smoothie recipe to share?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Filling Out the Calendar

Now that summer is almost over (today is actually my last weekday of summer vacation, boo!) and I'm headed back to work, I've started thinking about what I'm going to have on my plate this fall. I'm trying to be better about scheduling and looking ahead, something I've not been too great at in the past.

So I started laying out all the events I'd like to participate in over the next 6 months or so, and I think I've got it pretty much figured out.

My "race calendar" is going to look something like this:

October 8, 2011 - Cactus Cha Cha Trail Run , Full Cha Cha (7 miles).  I've done the 3 mile mini Cha Cha, but haven't tackled the full Cha Cha before.  But I have seen the course mountain biking, so I know what I'm in for.

October 30, 2011 - Competitor AZ 10KAdvertised as a "warm-up" to the PF Chang's Rock 'n Roll AZ.  This race will be about just having a good time.

November 6, 2011 - Women's Half Marathon, I have to admit...this race is all about the medal.  Just look at it:

Isn't it divine??  And hello!  There's a COOKIE BAR at the end of the race!  Need I say more?  Plus I have some girlfriends joining me for this one.

November 24, 2011 - 8th Annual Southwest Valley Regional YMCA  Thanksgiving Day Triathlon, I've done this race a couple of times before.  It's a sprint triathlon, run backwards (run, bike, swim).  It's a lot of fun and since I've been swimming quite a bit, I have high expectations this time around.  I think the whole family (husband and kids) is going to participate in this one, so it will be fun.   

December 4, 2011 - Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas!!!  1/2 marathon.  I'd really like to come in right around 2 hours on this one.  This is a girlfriend's weekend away too, with my two best buddies joining me on the Strip.  It'll be a great time, that's for sure!  And we'll try to stay out of trouble...I promise!

January 15th, 2012 - Rock 'n Roll Arizona   My FIRST FULL marathon.  I'm excited. I'm scared.  My official goal:  just to finish.  But I've definitely got a time in mind.  Not ready to put it out in the Universe yet.

Notice there is nothing in August or September.  This is intentional.  I will be getting back into the swing of things at school and at home.  Also, the heat is KILLING me right now.  I am definitely not running as much as I would like right now.  It's just too miserable.  Arizona during monsoon (which is our "rainy" season) is's hot and humid.  Maybe not as humid as the south, but when you're used to dry heat, 30-50% humidity kills.

Anyway, this is what my fall/winter is looking like.  I'm excited!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming....

Cross-training.  We all know it's good for us.  But I have to admit, since I got into running, I tend to let everything else fall by the wayside.  It's just so easy to put on your running shoes and go.  Cross-training can take a little more forethought.

Enter the pool.

My kids are part of a fantastic swim team, the Westside Silver Fins.  It's a year-round club swim team, with kids ranging in age from about 5 and up.  We have wonderful coaches and a great facility.  The pool is located at our neighborhood YMCA, which is also the gym we belong.  Super convenient.  Kids can swim, parents can workout.

And even better, my two running buddies, Tracey and Monika, both have their kids on the team too.  And since we are at the pool 3 to 4 evenings a week with our kids, we might as well make use of that time.

Well, this year Tracey started swimming in the Masters program affiliated with the swim team.  And she has slowly drug me into it.

Now, I haven't taken a proper swim class since I was, oh...maybe 12?  I did start swimming some laps occasionally a few years ago so I could participate in a sprint triathlon, with the goal being just 400 meters without drowning.

I've been swimming Masters for almost a month now, and you know what?  I'm starting to really like it.  I'm still crazy slow, (although age modifiers fins certainly help) but I'm loving the workout that I'm getting.

I've read many times how swimming is the best full-body workout that you can get.  I have to agree.  I'm often sore in muscles I didn't know I had.  Experts say that you only have to swim 1/4 the distance you would run for an equivalent workout.  For example, swimming 100 m = running 400m.  I certainly believe it!

Not to mention the recovery aspect.  Getting in the pool and swimming has been a great recovery exercise.  It takes the pressure of your muscles and joints and works different muscle groups that can actually help with your running form and may help prevent injuries.  And there have been days where my legs are sore, and getting in the pool and just kicking helps tremendously.

Swimming and running just seem to complement each other nicely.  Swimming continues to be a challenge for me, but I like the changes I'm starting to see in my body, especially my upper body and core.  I'm really hoping that I reap the benefits from swimming in my running.

What about you? What is your favorite cross-training activity?

As for me, I'm going to just keep swimming!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Girl Power

Remember when I was debating with myself over how I should register for Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas, full or 1/2? Well, after much thought and a very insightful email discussion with Tricia, I registered for the 1/2.  The main reasons:  I don't want the Vegas race to be stressful ('s VEGAS.  It should be about FUN!), and as Tricia pointed out, the Vegas marathon has a pretty strict time limit which I don't want to have to worry about in my very first full.  

So what else did I do?

I registered for Rock 'n Roll Arizona.....for the full. Yes, I registered for my very first marathon.  This will be good for a few reasons.

1.  It's in Arizona in January, and the running weather in AZ in January is right up my alley.

2.  I live here, so no traveling.  My husband can pick me up at the end of the race and wheel me home on a stretcher drive me straight home to my own bath and bed.

3.  I have my support system here, namely my two of my closest friends and running buddies, Monika and Tracey.   They are both planning on running it too, although they are both much faster than me, so I only expect to see them at the start and the finish!

Tracey is our "guru" and main cheerleader.  This will be Tracey's 8th (I think!) marathon (she even did one while pregnant with her second son...she ROCKS).  Tracey is the one that I credit with all my running successes.  She drug me out on a mile run (which was tough for me at the time) about 4 years ago, and hasn't let me stop since.  When I finished RnRSD with a new PR, she was the first person I texted.  And she promptly answered back telling me how proud she was.  I think she was just as excited about my run as I was. That's Tracey...the most genuine and supportive friend you could ask for.

Tracey and I before one of our 1st races together....

Then there is Monika.  One of the most peppy and positive people I have ever met.  She's like a human feel happier just being in her orbit.  We leaned on each other a lot through RnRSD and I don't think I would have done as well as I did without her.  And this girl is up for anything.  Wanna try running a 1/2 marathon? "Sure!"  Wanna run a full marathon?  "Why not!?"  She's just not scared of least not outwardly.  And here's another great thing about Monika:  she can come up with song lyrics to fit ANY situation at the drop of a hat.  She is the soundtrack to our adventures. Top 40, classic rock, obscure 70s hits, bad elevator music....she knows it.

Monika and I after our first race together, Rock 'n Roll Las Vegas 2010

So it will be the three of us hitting the course in January.  Tracey the "Pro" and our steady rock, Monika the Entertainer, and me...the Nervous Nellie of the bunch.  Good times ahead, for sure.  We have some other races planned between now and then, and I know we're going to have a blast.

I scared, excited, and especially nervous about making this jump from 1/2 to full.  I waffle between "Of course, I can do it!" and "Holy hell, what am I thinking?"  Sometimes changing from one to the other in a matter of minutes.

But one thing is certain:  I'm looking forward to taking this BIG step forward in my running with two fantastic women.

Monika, Tracey and Me on the 4th of July

Friday, July 1, 2011

Back to Reality

Whew!  It's July already...where is the summer going?

We have been off on a whirlwind three week vacation.  And it not only ended up being a vacation from housework, children's activities, work, insane Arizona heat, and everyday life, it ended up being a vacation from working out too.

Oh sure.  I threw my running shoes and some workout clothes into my suitcase.  But I was simply too lazy busy to pull them out and put them to good use.

We started our vacation with a couple of days in New York City, hitting as many sights as we could: Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center just to name a few.

The kids in Times Square

We walked a TON.  And since I had completed the Rock 'n Roll San Diego 1/2 just two days before we left, I didn't feel guilty taking a break from working out.  

Next we boarded the luxurious Queen Mary 2 and set sail on the last remaining transatlantic ocean liner, bound for Southampton England.

Ready to set sail!  

Sure, there was a fitness center on board.  Sure, you could run around the ship on the observation deck (ummm...cold North Atlantic temps and very windy, no thanks!).  But I choose to spend my time exploring the ship, taking part in on-board activities, spending time reading (uninterrupted time...what a treat!), and enjoying the fabulous food (four course gourmet dinners every night!)  I still did quite a bit of walking and we always took the stairs, even if we were going from deck 2 to deck 14.  

After a week on the ship, we had two weeks in England, visiting my husband's family as well as quite a bit of sightseeing.  

We took the kids sightseeing in London for the first time (they've been to England before, just not into London). 

Along the Thames, with the Tower Bridge in the background

We took the Eurostar train to Paris for a couple of days (first time to Paris for the kids and I):

 On a cruise along the Seine

In front of the Arc de Triomphe

I enjoyed myself.  I ate what I wanted (and drank more cider, beer, and wine than I usually would) and chips, desserts, crepes, cornish pastys, sausages, breads, cheese, British bacon (so much better than the bacon we get here) etc.  But I didn't gorge myself.

Needless to say, I was scared to get home and step on the scale.

But to my surprise and delight, I only gained 1/2 a pound, which is nothing in the scheme of things.  Why?  Honestly, I think it was because of the lifestyle.  Lots of walking (including always taking stairs) and fresher (not processed) foods.  Not that I eat all that badly on a normal basis.  But there wasn't any fast food and very little soda (diet Pepsi has been my weakness), and no mindless snacking.

This is a trend I'm going to try to keep going at home.  It might mean more trips to the store than normal and more pre-planning on my part, but I think it's worth it.

Now that I've had a chance to recharge my batteries, it's time to get back onto the workout wagon....

Hope you are having a FANTASTIC summer!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Personal Record

Fantastic.  That's the best word I can think of to describe my race.  

I've mentioned before how 2:15 has been my goal for the past two races.  It's been taunting me.  Plagued by hip flexor issues, I just couldn't manage to get there.  2:18:30 was the closest I managed to get.  

This time around I was determined to hit that 2:15 mark.  I talked with the track coaches at the high school where I teach, picked the brain of the running coach at the gym I belong to and managed to work out my hip problem. With that under control,  I trained a little harder than before (although there's still a lot of room for improvement for next time) and at one month out, I felt pretty good.  Then I got hit with allergies and the sinus infection from hell.  It knocked me on my ass for about 2 weeks.  I still ran, but 4-6 miles was all I could manage at a time.  I tried to make up some slack in the 2 weeks before race day, but there was only so much I could do.

So I left for San Diego really unsure about this race.  My friend Monika and I drove down on Sat morning and went straight to the expo.  After checking in and browsing all the vendors, we stopped at the pace team booth.  Monika and I both have the habit of starting out way too fast, then falling off at the end.  She is usually  quite a bit faster than me, but was laid up for 6 weeks with a stress fracture in her shin, and had really only just gotten back into it.  She was just as unsure as I was about this race.  We had decided that we would sign up for a pace team.  We'd never done it before, but a lot of people swear by them, so we'd thought we'd give it a try.  

We signed up for the 2:10 group.   Yep, 5 minutes faster than my goal of 2:15.  

I have to admit, I was scared.  I didn't know if I could pull that out.  But Monika and I had agreed that this race we'd try to stay together, and I told her that I really wanted this and her job was to not let me give up.  

Monika and I at the start (me on the right!) 

Race morning we woke up at 4:30 am, got dressed, and walked the mile to the Start Village.  We checked our gear, then headed for the porta potty line (with my roll of toilet paper in hand!).  And it was the porta potty line from HELL (surprise, surprise).  But I had to go.  As we inched closer to the front, and time ticked closer and closer to start time, I have to admit....I almost had a panic attack. (Not to mention we had to listen to this annoying girl brag about her running exploits the entire time....ugh).  I got to the bathroom as the first two corrals started. 

[Side note:  My roll of toilet paper was much appreciated by many of the people in line with us...told you, instant friends.]   

We raced to our corral, #18, then shoved squeezed our way through the mass of people to find the 2:10 pace team.  

Our orange "beacon"  

About 10 minutes later, we had made our way to the start line and we were OFF!  And it wasn't long before I knew that the pace team was a good idea.  Our pacer was awesome.  Not only did he keep us at a nice, steady pace, he told jokes, gave encouragement, and was our own personal cheerleader.  

We stayed right with him until the second aid station (can't remember what mile that was).  At that point, the group walked through the aid station and grabbed water.  We chose to keep going.  After that, we didn't see or hear the group again until near the end.  But we knew that as long as they didn't pass us, we'd meet our goal.  

And then came miles 4 through 6.  What was wrong with those miles???  Why, a nice little climb.  It wasn't terrible, just a lot more than I was expecting.  And by mile 6, I was hating it.  But Monika (who is now officially the Wind Beneath My Wings) kept me going.  She pushed me.  If she hadn't of been with me, that stretch might have blown my whole race. 

But as much as I hated the uphill, the downhill between miles 6 and 7 was glorious.  We definitely made up the time we had lost between miles 4 and 6 and then some.  

We trucked along pretty well until mile 10.  And that was when we both had to dig deep.  I can't explain what happened to me during that mile, but I KNEW I was going to make my goal. I was mentally focused.  I have never felt that good that late in the race before, and at mile 11 I got a little bit of a second wind.  

But that was when Monika hit her wall.  I suddenly noticed she wasn't with me anymore, so I slowed down and looked for her.  She was back about 10 yards or so, kind of run/walking.  I thought it was her leg, but later found out it was her stomach.   And just like she did for me during miles 4-6, I slowed down and pushed her.  She got back in there (she's a champ, I tell you), and we kept on going. 

Now, the San Diego course is simply beautiful...everything except the end stretch going into Sea World parking lot.  I mean, it's a parking lot.  How scenic can it be?  I kept looking for a peek of the finish line, but it never came.  That stretch of the race seemed sooooo looooong.  As we came up on about 12.5 miles, I heard the 2:10 pace guy yelling somewhere behind me.  And that lit a fire under me.  No way in hell was I going to lose my 2:10 in the last 1/2 mile!  So I picked it up a little.  Monika fell back a tiny bit, but I knew she wasn't too far behind and that she would want me to go ahead if I felt good.  When I look at the data from my Garmin, I can see where I kicked it gear for the last stretch to the finish line.  

When I crossed the line and hit stop on my Garmin, I had done it.   2:09:25.  (2:09:23 official chip time).  Monika crossed the line at 2:09:37 (The one and only time I'll beat her, I'm sure!)

After the race

Nine minutes faster than my old PR.  

I'm so damn proud of myself.  I really am.  I felt like I ran my best race, and that's such a good feeling.  

And that 2:15 won't be haunting me anymore.  

Now I need to set a new goal.  Maybe I should shoot for sub-2 hours.   Hmmmmm.......maybe I'll shoot for that in Vegas!

Friday, June 3, 2011

San Diego or BUST!

Well, tomorrow morning I will be picking up my partner in crime (Monika) bright and early and hitting the road for Rock 'n Roll San Diego.  I don't know what we're more excited for:  running the race, or a couple of days without kids.  Hmmmm.....

Yesterday I spent a little time getting my stuff together. Now this isn't my first will be my fourth 1/2 marathon. Before the first one, I was a nervous wreck.  What do I bring? What do I wear? How early do I need be there? For someone with life-long anxiety issues, there was a lot to worry about.  But now I don't stress.....much.  While I'm by no stretch of the imagination an expert in anything running related, I've figured out what works for me on race day.

So here's my "bare necessities" for race day:

Garmin:  I teach high school math and have a BS in Civil Engineering.  In other words, I'm a nerd.  A nerd who likes numbers.  I can't help myself.  I love seeing all that data.

Running belt:  Yes, I carry my own stuff.  For a few reasons. I'm used to it. I can eat/drink when I want, not just when it's available.  Aid stations are complete zoos.  I'd rather just keep on trucking through them.  Also, I've heard from people I know that have worked races that things aren't always as "hygienic" as I would probably like (mixing with bare hands, filling water jugs from hoses and hydrants...yeah, no thanks!)

Gu:  ONLY  Vanilla Bean GU.  I have issues with my sinuses draining when I run, so I always need to spit.  If I consume something that needs to be chewed, that just makes more spit.  So that leaves me with gels.  I've tried them all.  Vanilla Bean GU is the only one that I can tolerate...and that's just barely.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!  I'm pale. Not as translucent as my 1/2 British kids, but pretty pasty.  I have two skin colors:  white or burnt.  

Burt's Bees Lip Balm:  My lips get really dry when I run, so I slip this in my belt to use during the race.  It's the best lip balm ever.

My clothes.  Not too picky there.  Shorts and a tank top.  Something comfortable and moisture-wicking that doesn't rub any body parts in any weird ways.  And if it's cute and matchy-matchy, score! I've worn this outfit a few times so I know it doesn't bug me.

Hat.  I have to wear a hat.  I can't take the sun without it.  And this hat is my fave.  It's dri-fit and it's a youth size, so it actually fits my head.

Footwear:  Most important!  I've run in the New Balance 850 series (857, 858, back to 850s) for the past few years and I love them.  They are a stability shoe, and they work for me.

As for the socks....sigh.  My feet get hot, so I'm picky about the thickness of my socks.  These socks were recommended to me by someone at Road Runner Sports.  They are Balega Low Enduro's.  They are damn comfortable.  But man are they hot!  I don't like my feet to feel sweaty, but I don't like blisters either, so these are what I go with for long runs.  They haven't done me wrong yet.

Finally....the most important thing in my Gear Check Bag.

Yes, a roll of T.P.  Have you ever been in the porta-potties at a race?  Everyone's bowels are in serious overdrive.  And it never fails...I will choose the one without toilet paper.  Solution: bring your own roll and hit the toilets before you drop your bag at Gear Check.  And if you want to make a lot of instantaneous best friends, share your TP with the other people in line.  They will love you.  

Well, that's it!  I'm ready to go!  Can't do anything else to prepare...I just have to go out there, have fun and run my race!  

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ready to ROCK San Diego!

Woooooo hoooooo!!!!! Rock 'n Roll San Diego is less than a week away!  The miles are run (although not as many as I would like, but moving on....), the arrangements are made. Now comes one of my most fave parts: making a new playlist!

I love music.  Any kind of music.  I'm not a music snob.  I'll listening to pretty much anything....a good song is a good song.  But I do have my preferences, which I wrote about a little bit here.  I like to change up my playlist frequently, so it doesn't get stale.  I usually rotate in new stuff, while keeping some of my faves from previous playlists.

So without further Rock 'n Roll San Diego playlist (which will be on shuffle, so who knows what order!):

Bridge Burning -  Foo Fighters

Bang, Bang K'naan & Adam Levine (fun, great beat, and Adam Levine...sigh....)

F**k You! - Cee Lo Green

Tonight Tonight - Hot Chelle Ray (my kids are OBSESSED with this song.)

Monkey Wrench - Foo Fighters 

What the Hell - Avril Lavigne (can't help myself, it's catchy!)

Little Lion Man - Mumford &  Sons

Kiss With a Fist - Florence + The Machine (she just rocks....)

White Limo - Foo Fighters (fits my "loud and slightly angry" preference to a tee)

Love Don't Wait - Michael Franti & Spearhead (fun, fun, fun!)

The Distance - Cake  (no running playlist is complete with Cake....)

Henrietta - The Fratellis

Welcome to the Black Parade - My Chemical Romance

When They Come for Me - Linkin Park (I like this song when I'm suffering....about mile 10, I'm sure)

Animal - Neon Trees (great beat)

Times Like These - Foo Fighters

The Sound of Sunshine - Michael Franti & Spearhead (happiness in song form)

Best of You - Foo Fighters (if I was going to do karaoke, it would be to this song)

Let Me Go - Cake

Back & Forth - Foo Fighters (everytime I hear this song, I have to resist the urge to sing)

Billionaire - Travie McCoy

Horseshoes and Handgrenades - Green Day (again, loud and slightly angry)

Everlong - Foo Fighters  (musical genius)

Dog Days are Over - Florence + The Machine

Lisztomania - Phoenix (again, I love the beat of this one)

Walk - Foo Fighters (I LOVE the lyrics in this song....)

Never There - Cake  (another one that makes me want to me, you don't want me to sing)

Teenagers - My Chemical Romance

We'll Be Alright - Travie McCoy

Rope - Foo Fighters (Maybe my fave off the new album....)

Wretches and Kings - Linkin Park 

What's the Attitude - Cut Chemist (guilty pleasure!)

Price Tag - Jessie J and B.O.B.  (another guilty pleasure)

Headwires - Foo Fighters

Creepin' Up the Back Stairs - The Fratellis

Holiday - Vampire Weekend  (just love them!)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Going the Distance...

So I have a decision to make over the several days.

Registration for Rock n' Roll Las Vegas opens on May 31st.  I'm definitely doing it.  My friend Monika and I had so much fun last year that we knew before we even finished the race that we'd be back to do it again.

What I need to decide is:  half.....or, dare I say it, full.  Yes, I'm contemplating signing up for the full.  It would be my first marathon.  Monika is talking about doing it, and I have a feeling that she is going to use peer pressure kindly ask me to do it with her.

I would have a training partner in Monika.  I have plenty of time (according to the calendar, anyway) to prepare.

But I'm scared.  Can my body (mainly my hip and back) make it through the additional miles?  Can I fit all the extra training that a full would require into my already busy life?

I'm just so undecided.  If I do it, I have to fully commit to it.  I cannot be wishy-washy about it.

And so I will continue to think about it.  But not too long...registration is right around the corner.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Curse of the Long Run

Today's run was supposed to be 9 miles.  It was 7.15.  And that took me one hour and 20 minutes.  It SUCKED.  It ROYALLY SUCKED.  Where do I start?

In the first few miles.....

Barely around the corner, and my shoes aren't tied correctly.  I'm picky about this.  Not too tight, not too loose.  I've been known to tie and re-tie my shoes several times before I run because they have to be just right.  So I have to stop and fix them.

That extra 45 minutes of sleep is going to bite me in the ass.  It's already warmer than I like it.

Uh....guess I need to actually push "start" on the Garmin.

I don't think I put enough SPF 10 million on my shoulders.  I can feel my freckle collection growing.

Why do I already feel like crap?  I'm not even running that hard. Yikes! My heart rate is in the mid-170s.  That is not good territory for me.  Oh wait.  Decongestants + cough syrup + antibiotics....yep, that'll do it!

In the next couple of miles.....

Must stop for a minute and cough up a lung....damn sinus infection.

Why is the safest side of the street never the shadiest side of the street?  Murphy's Law....

Why does it feel like there is something in my right shoe?  It's bothering me.

It's gone beyond bothering me...something is hurting my foot.  I have to stop and figure it out.  Great, it's my new socks.  They are just a little bit big, even though they are smalls (I have tiny feet), and the "extra" sock has worked it's way under my foot.  While I'm stopped, I have another little coughing fit.

In the last couple of miles.....

Ok, I'm now sweating and sunscreen is running in my right eye.  It burns.  Maybe I can run with one eye closed???

Have to stop and fix the damn sock on my right foot two more times.  And to add to the drama, the seam of the left sock is now rubbing a blister on the top of one of my toes.  Epic fail on the new socks.

I check the time.  I have to cut this run short and head home.  Husband is waiting to go mountain biking and was supposed to leave 10 minutes ago.

Grade for today's run:    D-

Yeah, that was terrible.  I think I have a long run curse.  This will be my 4th 1/2 marathon and every time I get to the point of needing to pull 8 or more miles for my long run I have "issues."  For the first one, the first time I did 9 miles I had to call my husband at mile 6 to pick me up because I was dry heaving on the side of the road (of course, I ended up with the stomach flu).  For the next two, I was dealing with hip flexor issues the whole last month leading up to the race, which really hampered my long runs.  This time, this nasty sinus infection has knocked my for a loop the last couple of weeks.  And today's run was just a hodge podge of random issues.

Ugh!  I was feeling good about San Diego.  Now that I'm three weeks out, I'm not where I would like to be.  Sigh....

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fitting It All In....

[I started writing this post the other day, then I read this post up at  'another mother runner’ about Whitney, who has 9 (NINE!) kids, and still manages to be an avid runner.  Now I just feel like a whiner…..]

want to be a better runner.  I really do.  I have the motivation. What I'm lacking is the time.  I know I'm not alone in this.  Here's a snapshot of my life:

I teach high school math.  Only part time this year, but next school year I will be full-time. Oh, and the school I teach at starts at 7:15 in the am. (Cruel and unusual for teenagers, I know).

I'm taking classes.  Yes, I'm in school myself.  Teaching is a career change for me, so I'm actually adding a teaching credential to my Bachelor’s.

I have two kids, ages 9 and 6.  Between the two of them, every evening of the week has some extra-curricular activity (they each only have two, but one is swimming which is multiple evenings per week).

And I have a husband who likes to spend time with his wife (I think).  

And then there's all the rest of the junk:  a house to clean, groceries to buy, laundry to do, etc. etc.  

Oh, and did I mention I play softball two nights a week?  

Sound familiar?  I'm not complaining, just laying it all out.  I'm busier than some people, less busy than others.  These aren’t excuses not to run; these are just the things that cut into my running time. 

I should also mention that I am a "7 hours of sleep" kind of girl.  I would prefer 8, but I can function just fine on 7.  Any less than that and I'm just not my usual chipper self.  I have to get up between 5 and 5:30 just to get myself and the kids up, ready, and out the door on time.  So morning runs during the school year are pretty much out.  Sure, I could get up at 4 am.  But then I'd have to be in bed and asleep by 9pm.  My kids go to bed at 8:30. Sometimes that time between 8:30 and 10:00 is the only time during the day I have to get things sit and have "quiet time."  

So then there's evenings and nights.  I do most of my short runs at the gym on the treadmill while my kids are out in the pool at practice. But anything more than 4 or 5 miles and I want to bang my head on the treadmill out of sheer boredom.   

Longer runs are obviously saved for the weekends.  

So my question for all you "runner moms" out there who have kids, households, husbands/significant others, and jobs.  How do you do it? 

I know it can be done.  I know it will involve setting priorities, scheduling, and sacrificing.  Sometimes when you’re in the middle of the problem, you don’t see the solution.  What I’m hoping to get is sage advice from moms who have made it work. 

What works for you?  How do you fit in all those miles, without sacrificing the important things (like sleep)?  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

'"A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish"

This past weekend we drove up to Prescott AZ to watch my husband and and a group of his friends ride in Epic Ride's Whiskey Off-Road mountain biking event.  This is the second year that they've ridden in this 28-mile event, and they all had the same race goal:  finish faster than last year.

And they were all able to do that....except my husband.

We were waiting at the finish line, hoping to see them all cross.  Two of his friends had already come in around the 3 1/2 hour mark.  My husband was shooting for 4 hrs 15 min, about 30 mins faster than last year.  When that time came and went, I started to get nervous.  I knew how badly he wanted that time.  And then my phone rang.

He was on the trail with a woman who was part of a bad crash and had a broken collar bone.  He had me run over to the medical tent and relay messages back and forth to work out where they were on the trail.  And then he hung up.  And I knew that not only was he not going to get his 4:15, but he was going to stay with her until the medics got there and probably add a good hour or more to his time.  And that's what happened.

When he finally crossed the finish line (he said starting again after sitting for almost an hour was BRUTAL), he checked his actual "pedal time" on his Garmin:  4 hours and 15 minutes.  So he would have met his goal.

I was sad for him.  I knew how badly he wanted to beat his previous time.  But he was perfectly OK with it.  He said there wasn't any second-thoughts about staying with her, that if it was his wife (or mother....the lady was 63) on the trail, he'd want someone to stay with her until she had help.   Plus he's just that kind of guy.

So this got me to thinking about my own goals.  I'm running Rock 'n Roll San Diego in a little over a month.  This will be my fourth 1/2 marathon.  The first time the goal was easy:  finish, preferably without having to walk.  And I 2:34:54. [I know my times are kind of slow to some of you "real" runners out there, but remember: I'm the "wannabe" runner!]

Not too shabby for someone who tried running in college and couldn't go two miles without puffing on an inhaler.  So the next race, which was almost a year later, I wanted to finish in 2:15:00.  Then about 6 weeks out, I started having trouble with my hip flexor any time I ran over 6 miles.  The goal had to change to "just finish."  Somehow I managed 2:18:30...just 3-1/2 minutes shy of my goal.

After Las Vegas, the plan was to back off for a while and figure out what was up with my hip.  But dammit if I didn't want the Double Down medal for running RnR Las Vegas and RnR Arizona back to back (because it's all about the medal, right?)  So I figured I'd just do it, even if I had to walk, limp, or crawl pass the finish line (stupid, I know).  Time for race #3:  2:22:38.  I know I was injured, but I couldn't help but be disappointed that I added time.

So here I am, a month out from San Diego.  Even though my training hasn't gone exactly as planned (darn "real life" keeps getting in the way), I feel faster than I ever have and better prepared.  I think I've got my hip issues situated, and I'm just mentally in a better place.

So I'm setting my goal again:  2:15:00 or better.  I'm throwing it out there in the Universe.  And I'm going to try really hard to run a good race and be happy with my time, even if I don't meet that goal.

Now I have to make a decision....pace group or no pace group.  Thoughts?????

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Sound of (Running) Music


Some people like to plug into their ipod when they run, some people like to plug into nature and just be "one" with their surroundings.  Me?  I've gotta have music.  It serves two purposes for me:  it helps me keep going, and it keeps me from hearing myself panting breathing.

Even if I'm running with other people, I will have one earbud in so I can hear my music. Yes, I know...some people think that's rude.  But I've come to rely on my music to help me get through the miles.  It's part of my escape.  It's the only time when I can really listen to music that I like (i.e. not Kids Bop or Selena Gomez) uninterrupted.

I like put together running playlists, and I like to change it up frequently so I don't get burned out. What do I like to listen to when I run?  Well, I like my running music loud, fast, and slightly angry. So my playlists usually have quite a bit of alternative rock.  But I'm not a music snob.  I'll listen to pretty much anything...a good song is a good song.

Today I put together a new playlist.  And this one has a "theme."  Here's the back story:

My good friend Monika is a HUGE Foo Fighters fan. Back on April 5th, she invited me to go see "Foo Fighters:  Back and  Forth," a documentary about the band, followed by a live broadcast of a concert where they played their new album in its entirety.  Now, I've been familiar with Foo Fighters for awhile, and I knew some of their bigger hits.  But after watching the documentary, I have to say I'm now a real fan.  Monika is working on elevating me from "casual fan" to "SUPER FAN" status, so she gave me the "complete works"  for my listening pleasure.

And thus is created my new playlist, made up entirely of music by the Foo Fighters.  Here you go!

1. Everlong
2. Big Me
3. Headwires
4. Generator
5. Monkey Wrench
6. Low
7. New Way Home
8.  White Limo
9. Wattershed
10. Back & Forth
11. Weenie Beenie
12. My Hero
13. Breakout
14. My Poor Brain
15. Good Grief
16. Wind Up
17. Arlandria
18. I'll Stick Around
19. Times Like These
20. Rope
21. Gimme Stitches
22. No Way Back
23. Bridge Burning
24. Learn to Fly
25. Walk

Do you listen to music when you run?  What do you like to listening to?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

At the Starting Line...

Let me introduce myself.

I'm not a running expert.  I wouldn't even consider myself "a runner."  I'm a "wannabe runner."  I'm someone who has always been active, but got involved with running only in the past few years.  I'm a mom, a wife, a teacher. I'm closer to 40 than 30, so I'm starting to deal with all these random aches and pains that are probably just part of "getting old."

I'm constantly struggling to find that balance between making time for fitness and all the other junk that life throws our way.  Sound familiar?

I love to run, but lately I'm struggling to find my "running mojo."   So today while I was on a 7 mile run and my mind was making its usual way through all things random, I decided I needed a blog.  A place where I can make myself publicly accountable, where I can have a creative outlet for all my thoughts, struggles, and other running-related musings.

Yes, I know cyberspace is full of running blogs.   But I hope you'll stop back by, say hello, and share your thoughts!

Happy Running!