2015: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Initially, I wasn’t going to write the obligatory end of the year summary.  As the year winds to a close, however, I naturally started thinking about where the year had taken me, and I wanted to document it – if only just for me.  It’s been A year!  I have had some heart-stopping, stellar moments.  I’ve also had some heart-stopping, heartbreaking moments.

2015 Word of the Year

Last year, I chose a word of the year: Balance.  I felt everything in my life was OUT of balance and I desperately needed to get control of things.  My running was clearly out of control – I was prone to over-training and terrible at supplementing my fitness with cross-training and strength.  I was over-scheduled in almost every area of my life – there were some things over which I had control of scheduling and many things that I did not.  I’m not going to lie….I still struggle with balancing all of life’s demands.  But, I am better at the balancing act now than I was 365 days ago.  Truth be told, this is an ongoing challenge, but I’m up for it!

The Bad and The Ugly

I’m lumping “The Bad” and “The Ugly” together because I simply want to be DONE with all this negativity! LOL

  • Started the year with an ITB injury that stole the first 4 weeks of the year from me.  I was finally able to s-l-o-w-l-y return to running the last week of January.
  • Battled another injury – stress fracture in my heel – in July.  This hiccup took another month of running away from me and in the setback I wondered if I would be fit enough to run the full at Dallas.IMG_4598
  • The entire year felt like a battle.  I was battling to beat my ITB.  Then I was battling to recover from my heel.  Recovering from injury takes a lot of time, patience that I don’t have, and mental fortitude.
  • My biggest battle was in my mind.  It isn’t a secret (or at least I don’t think it is a secret) that I don’t have a lot of faith in my abilities – unless you count my ability to injure myself, in which case I have full faith in that!  Spending basically an entire year injured caused me to doubt myself.  I didn’t believe that my body could recover enough to ever run long distances again.  I didn’t believe that I could run smart enough to stay uninjured.  I just didn’t believe in me at all.  This was, hands down, the biggest tragedy of the year.

The Transformation

When I looked back at some of my earlier blog posts, I realize how much I had to learn….and how much I have learned!  I can’t believe how much I have matured as a runner.  I know there are still many lessons to be learned, but I have been able to find a peace with running that I never had before.  Some things I learned on my own.  Some lessons were taught to me by John, my partner for part of the year until he moved, and others I learned from my current coach, Brent.

  • I started the year with the intent to train by heart rate, but that change didn’t happen fully until I started working with my current coach in October.  The beauty of this is that all things prepare us for what will happen in the future.  Since I had been monitoring my heart rate all year, I knew how my heart would react in certain situations. Since my training with Brent is set up almost exclusively by heart rate, I was ahead of the curve, in a sense, because I already “knew” my heart.  This type of training has been very good for my running!
  • My partner, John, taught me the importance of running slower (which, ties right into the heart rate training).  With his guidance, I learned how to pace myself (which is something that I COULD NOT do before running with him).  Developing this discipline in my running certainly laid the groundwork for great things to come and made it much more easy for me to execute workouts properly.
  • I finally learned to listen to my body, even though I didn’t always act upon it.  I hope that will come as I continue maturing as a runner.  The fact that I now notice those little things is a huge victory.
  • I gave up running with music.  BEST.  DECISION.  EVER.  Taking away the distraction of the music opened up so many amazing things.  First, I can listen to my footsteps to see if there are any imbalances.  I am more aware of my breathing.  I don’t get lost in songs and beats, which formerly meant I would end up running too fast.  In addition, during those tough spots in a run, I had to rely on myself to get through it rather than finding a song to distract me though it.  BIG difference.  I think that helped my confidence A LOT.
  • The most beautiful thing happened when I started believing in myself.  By the time Dallas rolled around, I began to have a quiet confidence and somehow learned to have peace with what would come – good or bad.  I honestly didn’t fret over that race, which, if you know me, is a MIRACLE.  I am carrying that peace and confidence with me into 2016!

Cycling helped me through the rough patches

I love to bike….outdoors.  I dislike riding on the trainer, but I did a lot of that early in the year because I knew how much the cross-training would help my recovery.  Cycling also saved me during my heel fracture, because I was given the green light to ride as much as I wanted as long as I didn’t suffer discomfort.  I biked A LOT in July!

This year, I transitioned from a hybrid to a road bike, and with that came clip-ins.  Most people know how clumsy I am, and so you can imagine the number of falls I had because I would forget to twist my foot out….all of them happened in my drive-way!  I still laugh about it.

I do love any time that I get on the bike, however, and who knows – there may be a tri in my future.

The Good, Running-wise

Despite the setbacks, I had lots of victories on the roads this year.

  • Ran Skyline HM in May, even though it might have been too close to rehab and recovery.  I was 8 minutes off my PR, but the important thing is that I was able to run a fairly strong race, and it felt like a HUGE victory.Medal
  • I ran Rock the Block 10k at the end of May because I wanted to focus on some shorter distances to help bring down my HM time.  I was able to PR this race by about a minute @ 57:46.

    Start line selfie with my favorite oldest daughter :)

    Start line selfie with my favorite oldest daughter 🙂

  • Even though Plano Balloon HM was the WORST race of the year for me, it was a victory.  I ran this race after being back from my heel injury only 7 weeks.  I realize (now) that I was being to aggressive, but thankfully it all worked out in the end.

    Maybe my favorite race sign ever :)

    Maybe my favorite race sign ever 🙂

  • I joined Renegade Endurance and love having the support of the athletes in the club.  It is so much fun to hear about their successes and lift them up, and racing is much more fun when your teammates are there racing as well!

    My RE team members are the BEST!

    My RE team members are the BEST!

  • Rock n Roll St. Louis was one of the highlights of my year.  I went into this race just wanting to finish strong, plus the main reason I went was to socialize with my group of Twitter friends.  At this point, I had run Plano Balloon just a month earlier and missed an entire week of workouts afterward because my body wasn’t ready to run that race.  I had just started working with Brent and the main goal was Dallas Marathon.  I was completely shocked and surprised when I ended up with a PR 2:13:17 (by 43 seconds! LOL).
    Pood paced me to an awesome finish!

    Pood paced me to an awesome finish!

    My Sole Sister Jenn

    My Sole Sister Jenn

  • Believe 10k was the first 10k I ever ran.  Every year, I want to get down to McKinney to run it again but it never seems to work out.  When I asked my coach if I could run it instead of the 8 mile training run, he gave the green light and I immediately signed up.  But then, the monsoons of Thanksgiving  nearly washed away my hopes of running the race.  The race went on as scheduled, and I went, prepared for a wet, cold race.  I ended up with another PR 56:15 (1:30 better than May) and first in my age group!
  • I knew that I would have to run a TERRIBLE race to not PR at Dallas Marathon this year.  2014 was the race of the bum ITB and it took me wayyyyyyy too long.  This race was to be the highlight of my year, plus I felt I had something to prove on that course.  I was somehow able to run the most perfect race ever…for me anyway…and ended up with 4:15:12, considerably faster than the 2014 bum ITB marathon. Plus, I beat my time goal by 15 minutes!  My biggest fear is that I have now peaked.  Even so, I’ll take it, because so many runners never have a race experience as good as the one I had!  This is the race that made me feel like a real runner; like a real marathoner.

Here are just a few of the well wishes I got from my friends, near and far during and after Dallas:img_6754


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This one had to call me at the finish line ;)

This one had to call me at the finish line 😉

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The Non-Running Stories

So many non-running things happened in 2015.  As I look back, it probably seems that I am going through a mid-life crisis, but I think I decided that I am too old to care what anyone thinks, plus I’m running out of time to do all the fun stuff!

  • I lost my tattoo virginity.  By the end of the year, I had already gotten my second tattoo!  Be looking for a 3rd after Ragnar….I’m forcing myself to wait until then!BraceletIMG_6173
  • I jumped out of a plane.  SO.  MUCH.  FUN.  I will go again in 2016, to take Logan when he turns 18 years old!Jennifer_Kirkpatrick 034
  • Taylor went to Thailand, lost her passport in Tokyo and lived to tell the tale.
  • Taylor graduated Magna Cum Laude from Texas Woman’s University.147
  • Alli’s team, Madfrog 10 National, was the highest placing American team at AAU Nationals, placing 7th in the nation.  The top 6 teams were Puerto Rican.rainforest
  • While in Orlando for AAUs, I rode in a helicopter!Takeoff
  • Logan made a 34 on his ACT, which was supposed to be “just a practice”.

Looking back, 2015 was a very good year!  I look forward to continuing this progress in 2016!

Happy 2016!!

Jen

 

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EPIC weekend: amazing running friends and the best race ever!

St. Louis with friends

For months, a group of my running friends from Twitter have been planning racing Rock ‘n Roll St. Louis.  Luckily, none of us had to do anything except register and book our flights and hotel as our Type-A Canadian friend planned every single minute for us and was over-the-top organized nice enough to create an itinerary with all our events about 6 weeks in advance!  She even made dinner reservations for us.  We did have to purchase our tickets to the Arch and Riverboat on our own (oh, the horror! LOL!!), but a 5 year-old couldn’t have messed it up because her instructions were complete with screen shots.  IT.  WAS.  AWESOME!!!

Words can’t describe how excited I was to meet these people in person, and they did not disappoint!  I’m not going to go into great detail about our weekend, because my Type-A Canadian friend beat me to the recap and hers is better than I could have managed anyway. 🙂 (Plus, she had the selfie stick and is a great at photo documentation.)

I arrived Saturday and was blessed that my St. Louis-area friend Carli offered to pick me (and Mark, who arrived just before me) up from the airport.  She was so gracious and took us to check-in to our hotel then drove us to the expo for packet pick-up.  I picked up a long sleeve shirt at the expo to race in after near hypothermia coming off the plane……all I brought for the race was a tank (#TexanProblems)!

We then rushed to meet Jane, Pood and Jenn for the Riverboat cruise.  After the cruise, we walked the 1.5-2 miles back to hour hotel, then 45 min later walked the same distance back to the Arch area to eat – Chrissi and Carli, both from St. Louis joined with their families – and then back to the hotel!  LOL  I wanted to look less slobbish than usual, so I wore boots.  (Can I just say now that was a bad idea?)  By the time the evening was over, my shins were sore!  I NEVER have shin issues…..and I should learn to never say never.

I shared a room with my Sole Sister, Jenn, who is a New Yorker by way of California and we had the best time!  I swear we must have been separated at birth…except for our hair, which I will discuss later.  We got to bed as quickly as we could, but it was well after 10 when my head hit the pillow.

Best.  Race.  Ever.  

I actually got up late on race day.  HOW that was even possible, I’ll never know – especially when you consider that I woke up at 3 AM every morning the 5 days prior.  I had my Fitbit alarm set for 5:00 and 5:15 as a back up and woke up to Jenn’s alarm at 5:30.  Contrary to my usual obsessive-worrying self, I took it in stride, got ready quickly without rushing too much and headed down for breakfast.

Jane generally likes to get to the corrals an hour ahead of time.  Yes. An HOUR.  And it isn’t like she has to jockey for a place because she is ALWAYS in corral 1 (we don’t call her the Ottawa Cheetah for nothing)!  This time, though, the corrals didn’t open until 30 minutes prior to start and since Jane was “taking this one easy” (I suspect it was mostly because it was cold), Jane wanted to wait a bit before heading down to the corrals.  We were well after 6:30 before we made it down to the start.

The breathtaking view as we walked from our hotel to the start line.

The breathtaking view as we walked from our hotel to the start line.

I actually wasn’t nervous at all.  Somehow, I managed to let go of all the stress and decided that I would accept what I could get.  I could tell the weather was going to be perfect and my last few runs prior had been nothing short of amazing, so I was hoping to come in around 2:20.  I couldn’t have high expectations, because I was still working through the heel injury and had not “trained” for a half AND I didn’t even taper!  As we were parting ways, Pood asked if he could hang with me for a while, since he didn’t feel like running his usual 1:58.  It’s hard for me to type that without giggling.  I made it very clear that I had to stay in my heart rate zone but that my coach had given me permission to open up at mile 9, “if I was feeling it.” (In other words, Pood, prepare to run S L O W.)

The race finally started with this beautiful view of the sun beginning to rise behind the Arch.

Another gorgeous Arch pic!

Another gorgeous Arch pic!

And now, for the miracle.  I DID NOT START OUT TOO FAST.  (Go ahead, read that again.)  I even told Pood that we had to slow down!  What runners EVER say that about their race??  I knew that I had to keep my heart rate in check for the next 9 miles.  I also knew what my heart rate would do over the next 9 miles, and that there were some “hills” sprinkled in that would make things interesting.

Pood and I laughed, talked and joked through the first part of the race.  I told him at mile 4 that I was feeling REALLY good and if things continued, I would crank it up at mile 9.  At mile 7, I told him that I was definitely going to push on at mile 9.  Somewhere around mile 8, a woman started gagging as I was passing her.  Thank goodness it was a dry heave, because otherwise I would have been covered in someone else’s bodily fluids.  GAG

Around mile 8, I began to realize I had a shot at getting close to my PR.  I had to be mentally strong for this part of the race, because at this point, it took a lot to hold back until I reached mile 9.  It’s ALWAYS easier to push yourself.

Pood ran ahead of me at one point to get in line with a bunch of cheerleaders to give me a high-five.  How awesome is that?!?

At mile 9 I opened up the pace by about :45/mile.  I really felt that I could push it quite a bit more, but I knew that I would tank if I tried to run 4 miles at a pace much faster than where I was.  Mile 10 was a tad bit faster and I managed to kick it up a little bit more in mile 11.  Even though I could feel that my quads were getting fatigued, I felt that I could push myself harder those last 2 miles.  I was motivated, because I knew how close it would be for me to cross that finish line with a PR.  While I did not feel that the race was hilly at all, the inclines on that last mile were excruciating.  There was one last “hill” at mile 13, then thank goodness it was downhill to the finish!

I NEVER divulge my pace info, but that is changing today.  The splits for my last few miles were: 9: 10:24, 10: 9:44, 11: 9:38, 12: 9:09, 13: 8:40.  I’m really proud of those last 4 miles. 🙂  This is the first time I’ve ever managed to finish that strong at a race.  It felt so good, and I managed a PR!  My time was 2:13:17, beating my old PR by a whopping :43 seconds! LOL  I’ll gladly take it, as I NEVER expected to run this race that well!!

Pood and I after the race!

Pood and I after the race!

Fun always comes to an end

After the race, we found Jane (who had to wait an eternity for us to cross the finish after her 1:38 LOL) and some other local St. Louis twitter peeps.  We stood around talking and joking until all our crew had caught up with us and then we talked some more!  We finally started making our way back to the hotel to shower and grab a bite to eat.

Since I have the thickest hair West of the Mississippi, I showered first so that I could start the drying and straightening while Jenn showered and got ready.  She was able to shower, get dressed, dry her hair, straighten her hair and put on make-up before I finished straightening mine.  #thickhairproblems

My Sole Sister Jenn

My Sole Sister Jenn

Carli and Mr Carli (Greg) met us for lunch at the hotel restaurant (which was actually quite good) and we laughed and talked some more before realizing we needed to get moving if we wanted to catch the tour of Anheuser-Busch AND make it to the Arch tour on time.

The Budweiser tour was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip.  We toured the stables, which are immaculate and house a chandelier (yes, a chandelier in the horse stables) that apparently has a twin somewhere in Dallas.  We were given a sample of Budweiser during the tour but afterward we were able to choose a full glass from a much larger selection.  I ended up with an Apple Ale, which may have turned me into a beer drinker!

I am now on a quest to locate this chandelier's Dallas twin

I am now on a quest to locate this chandelier’s Dallas twin

Apple Ale....my new favorite!

Apple Ale….my new favorite!

After the Bud tour, we rushed to our Arch tour.  Another highlight of the trip.  I think the ride up in the little 1960’s pod elevator was the best part!  We then headed to meet the Carli, Mr. Carli (Greg), Chrissi and Mr. Chrissi (Jeff) for dinner, but stopped first for a drink!

The Arch's shadow revealed by the setting sun.

The Arch’s shadow revealed by the setting sun.

Sadly, all good things must come to and end and I was back on Texas soil Monday morning, but not before a Jen moment….. I printed my boarding pass at the airport so I didn’t notice that I had achieved the allusive and lofty TSA pre-check status until the screener pointed it out for me.  He told me that I could go to the pre-check line, but I was already there so I decided to continue on my fake-security path.  I regretted that choice almost immediately, however, when I was randomly chosen for an extended search.  The worst part was waiting for the screener to come to our line.  He simply asked if I had a cell phone, then he took a swab and tested it.  Luckily, I passed!!

Can’t wait until our next adventure!

Happy Friday!

Jen

 

 

Rituals come and go but runners will always be quirky

Runners are a funny bunch.  I recently found myself thinking about rituals that have come and gone during my time as a runner and some of them make me scratch my head.

  • There was a time when I would not run if I didn’t have “Quench” gum to chew.  I was convinced that I could not run without it!  This habit quickly changed after I started consistently running longer distances.  Gum doesn’t taste good after 5 miles.  LOL
  • Another crutch was music.  Music was bad for me.  My cadence and pace were too affected by the beat of the music, which generally had me running too fast.  I ditched the music for good early this year and I haven’t missed it at all!  In fact, it has helped me become more in tune with what is going on in my body during the run.  I am more aware of changes in terrain, pace, heart rate, breathing, and most importantly – any signals that my body gives me about things being “off”.  Now if I could just learn to act on these signals quickly enough…  Never say never, but I can’t see myself ever running with music again.
  • Even though when I started running I ran on my own, I ended up with a partner when I was a fairly new runner.  I came to depend on her for all things running.  When the time came for us to part ways, I wasn’t sure that I could do it without her….I didn’t think I could manage mentally without her by my side.  Sometimes I miss having another person out there with me on the road, but I wouldn’t trade the solo experience for anything.  I proved that I can rely on myself and push through whatever comes my way.  And that is empowering.
  • Compressions.  If you had told me 5 years ago that I would go to Wal-Mart post-run in my compression shorts, I would have labeled you a crazy person.  NEVER did I ever think I would have a reason to wear compressions.  Let’s just say once you cross over to compressions, you never go back! LOL
  • Believe it or not, there was a time when I had NO idea that chafing could (or would) actually occur!  Vaseline has become one of my best friends on the long run.
  • Negative splits: I was once under the misguided reasoning that ALL runs needed to be run in negative splits.  That’s a terrible way to train and I paid for it dearly.
  • Distance versus timed runs:  I only recently began running timed runs.  Not always running a specific mileage has actually been freeing.  When I ran for distance, I would not have been able to stop my GPS at 4.98 miles….that would have sent my OCD into overdrive!  My run log isn’t as ‘well-rounded’, but I have found that I now focus more on the purpose of the run rather than details that won’t ultimately improve my fitness.

Ready for St. Louis!

If you had told me 3 weeks ago I would be feeling as healthy as I feel today, I would have attempted to have you committed.  My heel – actually my entire foot – felt terrible.  It took a full week after Plano before I could get through the day without pain. I could not see myself being able to run 13.1 miles, much less attempting to run it competitively.  I am still not supposed to try to compete as much as I am to focus on my heart rate zones.  My focus has to remain on Dallas Marathon, which is now less than 2 months away.  I don’t have time for another setback!

Change-up

I have known for sometime that my Newtons needed to go, but I hoped that by strengthening my calves and ankles I would be able to rehab the problem without changing shoes.

This week, at the suggestion of my new coach, I started running in On Running shoes.  They.  Are.  Ahhhhhmazing!  They are sooooo good for my feet!  I am running in the Clouds and they are very lightweight.  You almost feel as though you aren’t even wearing shoes!  The thing that sold me, though, was the ease of my foot strike in them.  I wore them on Monday to test them out and things felt pretty good.  I wore them last night on my Fartlek workout and I am really hooked!  NO heel issues whatsoever, during or after.  (Imagine me dancing and singing, “I’m So Excited”)

My On Running shoes.  They are awesome!

My On Running shoes. They are awesome!

All in all, I’m feeling strong going into this weekend, and I am beyond thankful for it!

Happy Thursday!

Jen

 

Testing my limits in freezing and fitness

Training

Many of you know that I have a new coach.  What you may not know is that he is making me work hard at some kick-ass workouts…..and I am loving it!  Saturday he had planned a cycle workout, which looking at beforehand I NEVER thought I could complete…..but I did! 🙂  I absolutely love pushing my limits to see what my body can do.  And I’m excited to have someone pushing me that can see the big picture (I am NOT a big picture person when it comes to my running), which means my workouts should help me get over this injury hump and hopefully stay on the not-injured side of life.

Yesterday I ran my “long” run, which I understand was conservative as a result of where I’ve been since running Plano 3 weeks ago.  It was a timed run (90 min) versus running a specific distance.  I am training almost exclusively by heart rate, which is probably the best way for me to train.  I tend to get caught up in splits (odd, I know, because I’m so S-L-O-W), but running by HR I can simply change the screen on my Garmin and I never have to see my pace! (Out of sight, out of mind….kind of)  The long run was hands down the best run I have had in months.  It was effortless.  My legs felt so fresh and my heel behaved quite nicely.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still fighting to put this injury to bed for good, but when I look back from where I’ve come I realize how much progress I have made.  At this point, I feel that I am working to keep reinjury from happening rather that working through the injury, if that makes any sense.

The beautiful sunrise on my way out for my run. God is good.

The beautiful sunrise on my way out for my run. God is good.

When your friends are named Elsa

We all have that ONE friend that continually talks us into things we probably would never do otherwise.  For me, that friend is Elsa the Ice Queen….I mean, Erica.  Erica has been trying to talk me into cryo for weeks.  In reality, I did want to try it, but I live in the sticks, people, plus I have 3 kids which results in me having a hard time just trying to fit my workouts in!  Saturday, Alli and I went shopping and I had cupcakes to deliver to Erica.  As we were trying to decide where we would connect, she *remembered* that she had a cryo appointment.  Alli and I were able to break away and meet her at the cryo place.  Since she was the only one there at the time, she graciously asked if they could fit me in…..OF COURSE they could!  LOL

I arrived with the cupcakes just as she was getting finished and she was wayyyyy too excited about me getting in to freeze my bum off.  The dude suggested that I limit myself to 90 seconds and since it was my first time, and I gladly agreed.

Perhaps my brain should have sounded an alarm when I was instructed to put 2 layers of gloves on my hands and these huge furry slippers on my feet – I’m assuming to avoid frostbite.

If only I had known how COLD I would be!

If only I had known how COLD I would be!

When I got in, the attendant raised the platform just enough so that my head was exposed and then the torture session began.  Before 30 seconds had even passed, my teeth were chattering and I was shaking all over.  So, so cold!!  (Have I mentioned how I HATE being cold?)  It seemed like an eternity, but at the same time it went by quickly, thank goodness!

My teeth were chattering! (OK...it doesn't take much to make my teeth chatter but it really was cold!)

My teeth were chattering! (OK…it doesn’t take much to make my teeth chatter but it really was cold!)

You do feel invigorated when you are finally out of the chamber.  The guy that was working said that it was because I had more oxygen in my blood.  Maybe that is true, or maybe it is because I was absolutely freezing and my body wanted me to get moving to combat the cold.  In any case, I did feel refreshed afterward and it was MUCH less painful than an ice bath!

Elsa, I mean Erica, had just completed a hilly half-marathon and swears that it helped her recovery.

Rock ‘n Roll St. Louis, baby!

My next race, <cough> I mean training run, is this coming Sunday.  I am flying out Saturday morning and can’t wait to spend the weekend with my favorite Twitter runners!  I know my heel isn’t ready for a race, so I am going to have to be happy with a training run.  But Crazy Jen is always lurking just around the corner and she wants to run this as a race realllllly badly!

How can I be disappointed when I get the opportunity to spend the weekend with some great people from across the country, even one from outside the country?!?  And this is just one more milestone in my coming back strong for Dallas Marathon, which is now a mere 2 months away. <GASP>

Happy Monday, all!

Jen

 

The Never-Ending Ankle Saga

Sometimes I feel like my ankle injury and recovery has more installments than the Star Wars Saga.  If not for the injury, though, WHAT would I blog about?!?

Gut Check

Last week was tough.  I didn’t recover as quickly as I had planned from last Sunday’s half marathon.  I’m not sure what I expected, but I know that I didn’t expect my ankle to take almost the entirety of a week to settle down.  Sometimes I think I live with my head in the clouds.  Or the sand.  But most likely clouds because I generally have a “glass is half-full” mentality.  Sometimes this leads to my discouragement because always focusing on the positives kind-of pulls me away from the reality of the situation.  The reality of this situation is that, as much as it pains me to admit it, I still have a loooooooong way to go to be fully recovered.

Had I realized that Plano would be this hard on me, I would have scrapped the race.  I wanted St. Louis to be the stronger of my 2 half marathons this Fall and I’m pretty sure that I killed that chance last Sunday.  I spent a lot of time last week fretting and worrying about how I will get myself ready for St. Louis, how I can race it semi-competitively and manage avoid another setback like the one I experienced this past week.  After running a mere 2 easy miles yesterday, I know I was right to be concerned.  Then my good friend, Jenn, sent me the race elevation….

All I know is.... #aintTexas

All I know is…. #aintTexas

Race elevation actually did cross my mind yesterday.  I didn’t look it up because I know I can’t train for hills right now, and ignorance is bliss, right?  Thanks, Jenn, for covering me on this one…..

Step Aside, Ego

Let’s face it.  Every time I get myself into this kind of trouble, my ego has had A LOT to do with it.  OK….maybe my ego has had EVERYTHING to do with it.  My ego wants me to go run St. Louis as hard and fast as I possibly can (which, at this point couldn’t be either hard or fast).  After Dallas last year, I swore to myself that I would keep that ego in check.  Yet, I find myself at a similar crossroads again.  Running (and life) is a series of trade-offs in which you balance the risk with the reward.  Of course, when I signed up for this race I fully expected to be healthy and strong, but I’m not right now.  And the ONLY reason I signed up for THIS race was because a group of my running friends from all over the country (and Canada – can’t forget that Canadian!) would be there.  I need to stay focused on the reason I decided to go to St. Louis…..friends! Last night, while I was bellyaching to my friend Jenn, she suggested I run the race “REALLLLY easy” and enjoy the course (and bands) with her.

I’m most likely going to take the reward of running the race easy with Jenn instead of the risky choice of actually racing the race.  (Oh, running, how you humble me….over and over and over again.)  I’m actually really happy with this decision at this point – I am looking forward to running for the fun of it and enjoying the bands along the course.  The best part will be running with my Sole Sister!  Plus this decision relieves me of some anxiety – mainly how do I get myself ready to really compete in less than 18 days when I’m less able than I was before Plano.  I do have races on the horizon that I want to run as hard and as fast as I possibly can – Dallas Marathon, mainly, because I do have something to prove to myself on December 13.  If I can rehab myself and come back strong for Dallas, all this mess during these Fall races will have been totally worth it!

My current mantra:  I am more than my performance as a runner.

Cinnamon & Sophie

Alli finally settled on a name for the “store-bought cat” (as Bobby likes to call it): Cinnamon.  Cinnamon is a much better choice (IMO) than the others that were tossed out there: Meowington and Kitty Cent to name a couple.  Cinnamon made himself at home from the moment we brought him through the door.  He sleeps right next to me, often under the covers…..just like a dog! LOL (Sophie IS NOT going to like this when she comes out of that crate.)IMG_5579

Sophie has been crated for 2 weeks now and she is starting to make progress daily.  The first week was touch and go, and I began to wonder if she would ever get any mobility back in her legs.  Thank goodness I was wrong in that assumption.  She is still weak and wobbly, but is so much stronger and steadier on her feet than she was even 3 days ago.

Cinnamon LOVES to play with Sophie when I have her out of the crate sitting with me in the chair.  The cat is relentless.  Sometimes we have to lock him in a room just so Sophie can have some peace and quiet! IMG_5539

 

AND…..it’s National Coffee Day!!! For me, however, EVERY day is National Coffee Day 🙂

Happy Tuesday!

Jen

 

It’s marathon season, baby!

I’ve been sucking it up at blogging lately.  I envisioned more discretionary time when I decided to take the season off from officiating.  That HAS NOT been the case.  This is the busiest time of the year as far as work is concerned, however, the non-working hours are flying by!  Of course, I’ll blame this on Coach McKinney for twisting my arm into keeping score for our home games this past week. 😉

Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!

Those Sonic cups DO NOT belong to me!

What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??

What could go wrong when the two most AHDH people in the district are in charge of the scorekeeping??

The time not spent in the gym officiating has been a blessing, though!  I have actually been able to spend a lot of time with the kids, for which I am very thankful.  Bobby and I even twisted Logan’s arm into seeing Mission Impossible with us on Sunday afternoon.  I was more excited about Logan coming along than I was about the movie!

The weekend was packed!  Cycling, running, movie, pool party and birthday dinner for Bobby just to name a few.

 

Marathon Training <GULP>

I realized yesterday that it is time to think about marathon training.  I will be running Dallas Marathon on December 13.  I considered running a different marathon (for about a nanosecond), but I STILL have unfinished business out on THAT course.

This time around, I’ll be taking a more laid-back approach.  I think that knowing I completed my first marathon under hellish body conditions has given me a confidence that I didn’t have before.  Before, I thought I could finish a marathon, but now I know I can finish a marathon.  The not-knowing-for-sure intensified the obsessive part of my personality (I know – this obsessiveness is news to everyone!) and, as a result, I made marathon training very stressful on myself mentally.  Physically, I made marathon training stressful on my body because I ran all my long runs at race pace. (I literally cringe EVERY time I think about it! SO STUPID!!!)

My main goal is to remain injury-free.  I haven’t had time to built a good base since my return from the stress fracture two weeks ago.  Even though things are going well, it is more imperative than ever that I address every little ache and pain before it blossoms into a full-blown injury.  I think that not officiating this season will free up enough time for me that I can stay focused on this part of the process.

A nice distraction from the 16 week plan will be the 2 half marathons that I have on the horizon.  Plano Balloon HM is mid-September and I have NO time goal whatsoever for this race.  I want to finish.  It will be hard not to push myself, but I’m not sure that I will be able to push myself too much regardless.  Even though I was able to cycle during my stress fracture, my heart rate during my recent runs is higher than normal.  And chances are it will be as hot as blazes on race day!  Rock n Roll St. Louis is in mid-October.  Hopefully my time will be a bit better by then, but I still don’t expect to post a sub-2 as I had hoped.  Who wants to travel for a race and stress about your time anyway!  LOL

I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor's former club coaches. I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11!

I ran most of Plano Balloon HM last year with Taylor, one of Taylor’s former club coaches (it was his FIRST!). I *said* it was a training run, but nearly killed myself trying to PR when he told me to run ahead at mile 11 and I realized I could get close!

By focusing on the half marathons, I’ll be half-way through “marathon training” before I give much thought to Dallas.  It may not be the best way to PR, but I figure I could walk it and get a better time than I had last year.  (Let it go, Jen.  Let it go.)  Honestly, I would like to run a 4:00-4:15 marathon.  Not even sure if it will be possible, but I’m not going to spend much time focusing on it.  Plus, if I build my base properly and add in the appropriate speed work, I may just surprise myself!

The bottom line is that I want to run the race healthy, whatever that means for my time.  Last year I needed to know that I could finish.  This year I need to know what it feels like to run a marathon without nagging injuries.  What can I say?  I’ll probably never be satisfied!

Time for Truth Telling

Running is going well.  In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I am still having some issues with ankle stiffness and soreness post-runs.  This was very stressful to me at first, because mentally I feel injured and keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  However, the ankles are less stiff/sore after each run and it is all working out more quickly than before.  As far as any issues during my runs – I am happy to say I have nothing to report!!

I have worked my way up to 20:1 intervals x 3 without having any problems, so my next run will be a continuous 45 min run!  The recovery from that should give me a good gauge of where I stand.  If all goes well, I’ll be running a 6 mile long run this weekend in preparation for Plano Balloon Half Marathon!!

I’ll try not to be the sucky-sometimes-blogger in the weeks to come.  The start of school on Monday will undoubtedly shock me out of summer mode.  I can almost feel my increase in productivity now!

Happy Hump Day AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my very special friend, Carmen! IMG_5023

Jen