Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Coming Up Short

The running group is doing a mileage challenge next year. Out of curiousity, I tallied my 2012 miles last night.

Sixty-nine miles short of 1,000. 69 miles short!! Argh!

Thanks a lot, stupid injury. Thanks a lot.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Love THAT Feeling

So, it just goes to show you what I know...the pain in my leg was not from a quadricep strain. Noooo...a femoral stress fracture. That never even entered my mind, but maybe I did kind of know? As one of the doctors was bending my leg back and forth, asking over and over "Does this hurt? How about this? Does this?", I started to feel like an idiot because I was having a hard time explaining exactly where the pain was. I gave a little laugh and said, "It's almost like it's my bone."


I heard the first doctor confer with the main doctor outside my door after I had had an x-ray and "stress fracture" came up often. Wow - that just sounded so serious. I liked the sound of "quad strain" better. Dr. Johnson came in and had me hop on my right leg. Not a problem. Right leg is fine. Now hop on the left...came down on it after one hop and wanted to scream. He said that little test is a huge indicator of a stress fracture. I was sent on to have a bone scan done the next day, and there it was on the computer screen that I snuck a peak at. Crap.

Of course, running is out for several weeks. I was starting to get frustrated and depressed the second week of no running, but after confirmation of a significant injury, I just have to accept it and find something else for now. It is what it is. Pretty much the only way for a stress fx to heal, is time and no impact. I've been vocal about how much running means to me, and being away from it for this long now really does make me see how much my mental health depends on it! I so miss that time to challenge myself, work up a sweat, breathe in, breathe out, focus, clear my head, get the blood and muscles moving, take count of my blessings, be out in nature, bond with other runners. Yes, I've been down lately. But I'm already tired of myself being down.

Yesterday, I rallied the troops (the family), and we had a Triple F (Forced Family Fun) adventure on our bikes. The girls were not happy being told that's what we were going to do, but I knew once we got out there, they would love it. They did. We drove out to Crockett Park and rode the trails on what was a beautiful, mild-weather day. Charlotte sang while riding, and Paige chattered non-stop. I listened to them, but would also drift off to my "happy place" - not the same feeling I have while running, but I was just so thrilled to be out moving. That afternoon, I decided it was up to me to keep that feeling going.

This morning, I drove out to the rec center. Found out for just $3, I get to use everything in the Fitness Center. Gyms aren't really my thing...I belonged to an all-women's gym right after college, then again for several months when I lived in Memphis while a flight attendant. I would just rather be outside. Can't stand having tvs on everywhere. It's so stuffy. But, I'm limited right now to what I can do, so I am now going to a gym again. And I loved it! I did 30 minutes on one of those sit-down bikes (didn't really care for it, but it was a good warm-up), then 30 minutes on an elliptical. That was more of a workout, and I did enjoy it. I started to get that feeling...the blood was pumping, the heart was working, sweat was pouring. I still hate the tvs and that I'm indoors, but I was feeling good. I didn't want to leave just yet, so I decided to lift some weights for my arms. Something else I haven't done since my 20's! Felt good!!

I can't wait to be out running again, but I'm so glad I have found a place and things to do to keep me active and...sane. When I run, I don't do anything but run - this is actually giving me an opportunity to focus on other areas, and become stronger all around. I go for a follow-up Jan. 9. I hope - pray - the fracture will be healed by then and I can slowly start back, but I need to be prepared if it isn't. I just need to make sure I always have a way to get that feeling.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful For A New Decade

Might as well put it out there...I am 40 now. *gulp*

Oh, I don't see it as something to be upset about - I have great visions for my forties. This is going to be an exciting decade (although, I am a bit nervous that in less than four years, I will have a teenager in the house...), however it isn't starting out like I had hoped for. Seems I have a quadricep strain, which has stopped my running momentum dead in it's tracks. And I need my running.

I can't blame the strain on my marathon, although I think that made it worse. I do remember my left quad starting to feel strange (not hurting, yet an aggravating feeling) about a week or two before the marathon. I'm so ignorant about running injuries - I just assumed it was another minor ache and pain from all the training. Maybe even a symptom of "taper madness". The quad would start off bothering me for about a quarter of a mile, then I guess the muscles warmed up and I didn't have any problems. Same thing in the marathon. Didn't even bother me during the race. After the race...oh, yea. But, my legs basically hurt all over, so again, I didn't think it was a "running injury". If I had, I would have done everything to start treating the strain - RICE. When we got home from FL, a day after the race, it hurt so bad, both legs, to stand up, walk, going up and down the stairs killed...ugh. I knew I needed to rest and not run for at least a week. I tried slowly walking outside after a couple days - it hurt, but I figured I needed to do it.

After a week of rest, my right leg feels completely normal, and honestly, my left doesn't hurt too much to go up and down the stairs or walk around anymore. However, I tried going for a slow run on Monday, and wow - couldn't do it. Left quad hurt. I didn't push it, and it really made me sad. I haven't gone to a doctor for an official diagnosis, but I did my research online and I'm sure that is what's wrong. I went out yesterday and bought a compression sleeve for my thigh. Wore it around for a couple hours yesterday, and it felt good, but I know it's still too soon to run. All the articles I read about quad strains, say NOT to run until you have no pain in your quad. It could take up to 6 weeks. Oh, I hope not!! I so badly wanted to run the Turkey Trot today with the family, and I can't help but worry that my racing plans for next Spring are in jeopardy.

The worst part is not having my outlet - my free therapy. A friend passed away Monday night from breast cancer. It was a gorgeous day Tuesday, and all I wanted to do was get outside and run, and have that outlet to clear my head, reflect on my blessings. It was a hard day. I just need to be patient and know that resting is the only thing that is going to heal the strain.

It is Thanksgiving today, and even though I remind myself every day to be thankful for what is in my life, it's a day to put it out there. I'm so thankful for what running has brought to my life - therefore, I will find the patience and the discipline to let the injury heal. I'm thankful for a new decade to love my family and friends, and live life to the fullest.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

26.2 - The Marathon

On May 26 of this year, still hyped up after an exciting and PR setting half marathon, I sat down at my computer, took a deep breath, and registered for the Pensacola Marathon. The Full freakin' marathon. Then I teared up, and thought, "Oh shit...what have I done?"

I focused on the goal of running the full like I had never focused on anything before. I didn't want to fail at it. I bought Hal Higdon's Marathon: Ultimate Training Guide, and let every word sink in. Shortly after signing up, we made our move back to Tennessee. It was now going to be back to running hill after hill. After hill. But I could not have been happier to move back. I decided on Higdon's Novice I marathon training plan, and on July 8, my journey began.

I was unbelievable to me how fast the weeks flew by. I had printed out the training plan, and run after run, week after week, I would mark off the training runs. Two weeks done, five weeks, ten...The weekly mileage got longer, the runs got harder, but I never lost my focus - which is weird for me. I have usually always lost my focus! haha! It did help that I joined the local running group. I always thought running alone was the best, but it really is inspiring and motivating to run with other people. I had some runs where I started to fade, but whoever I was running with seemed to always pick me back up and edge me on. I love how you and the person you run with can be complete strangers at the beginning, but at the end, you seem to have formed a connection. I'm so grateful to those I ran with.

I think another factor in making the weeks seem to fly by, was running in races along the way. What a great time for fun! During the training period, I ran: the Franklin Classic 10K (first 10K - such fun!), the Air Force Half Marathon (well...most of it. Long story - not my fault. Would have been nice to have someone direct the lead pack so we wouldn't have gotten lost, but anyway...I did that race mainly to reunite with a friend I hadn't seen in 30+ years, and it was amazing!), the Women's Half Marathon 5K (with Paige!! So proud of my baby and what she accomplished!), the Murfreesboro Half Marathon (beautiful race - LOVED it and can't wait to do it again next year), and The Wounded Warrior Project 8K (meaningful race, gorgeous route - but killer hills). Wow - now that I see all the races, I can't believe what I have become...I'm truly addicted, aren't I?

Nothing compares to the experience of running "The Full" though.

The time had finally arrived. The four of us drove down to Florida Friday morning. Hung out with Mom and Dad that night, and then with Ray's family Saturday morning.  Mom and Dad had so graciously agreed to have the girls stay the night with them that night, and bring them to Pensacola the next morning for the marathon. The girls are such troopers and would have been fine staying in our hotel room, but I know I wouldn't be fine! I didn't want to be a stressed-out mess in front of them.

Upon arriving in Pensacola, Ray and I headed to the expo to pick up my packet. The full and half packet pickups were separated, and I couldn't get over that I was in it for the full. The nerves started to set in.

We checked into our hotel, then headed out to drive the route.  Wow...that was eye-opening. I was going to run that far? And did you see those hills?? Crap. I'm not going to lie - doing that sort of psyched me out. I just kept telling myself that no matter what, I was going to get through it. Running, walking, crawling, whatever. We finally headed to dinner and met up with my dear friend, Lisa, who was running her second half, and her family. Dinner was another major stressor! I ended up making reservations at three different restaurants because I couldn't make up my mind what I wanted to eat! I just wanted somewhat bland, normal food so I wouldn't have an upset tummy the next day. Macaroni Grille is where we finally ate, and I had a decent meal of roasted chicken, asparagus and potatoes. And tons of water. Back at the hotel room, I ate a Clif Bar before I went to bed - just one last chance to get some carbs in me. After laying out my running outfit, my gadgets, and nutrition for the next day, I started to relax a little. Ray turned off the lights at 9. I think I got a couple good hours of sleep, but after getting up around 1:30 to use the bathroom, my mind was running the rest of the night.

The alarm finally went off at 4:50. I remember stretching and saying, "I'm not ready...." - I was excited though. Ray lay in bed for a while longer, while I basically ran around in circles getting ready. I drank some Nuun (the caffeineted ice tea flavor), and ate a large wheat bagel with peanut butter. I sat down and stretched for a few minutes - tried to wrap my head around the long run I was about to go on. I had put together a bag for Ray on things I thought I may need along the route - body glide, a Clif Bar, an extra Honey Stinger Gel, and some Nuun - and made sure he had that. We headed downstairs, where we met up with Lisa!

The start line was just a couple blocks from our hotel so we walked over. When we stepped outside, we were surprised by the winds and how chilly it was - low 50's. The temp felt great, but the wind sucked. I remember feeling a little bit nervous, but I love the start of races - so exciting!! We stood with Ray for a while, then they called the runners to line up. I gave Ray a kiss, and got a bit teary - nerves, fear, and I think I wanted him there with me the whole way. I stood with Lisa for a few minutes, saw our old boss from our restaurants days, then I saw the pace group I wanted to follow. The 4:30 pace group. I don't know why, but I decided 4:30 sounded like a great finishing time. I knew in order to do so, I would need to keep at a 10:16 pace. I wasn't sure I could do that, but I was going to try to just keep them in front of my the entire race and see how close I got.

I didn't introdue myself to the pace group leaders who were surrounded by other runners, but I did end up talking to some very nice women next to me. One had been running 20 years, but this was her first marathon, and the other woman, had only been running 9 months and this was her first as well. They were so friendly, and it took the nervous edge off to have them to talk to. As the horn went off to start, we all gave each other a high-five and off we went! I waved to Ray and told myself, "this is it!!"

The full and half runners all took off together, so it was a bit congested in the beginning. We basically did a big square and I got to see Ray as we came back around - so cool! The pace group did start out fast, but I was pumped up, so I was right there with them. The route started to take us along the bay. Beautiful, but I was focused on the pace group and what was ahead. There was a big hill at mile 2, but it never worried me since it was so early in the race. I made it up no problem. Mom had mentioned they would be around the 2.5 mile mark, so I kept a look out for them, and sure enough - they were there!! The girls saw me and started jumping up and down, and waving their amazing signs they had made that night. Oh, it made me so happy!! I wanted to stop and hug them, but it was right after an aid station, so I had a huge crowd behind me - had to keep on keeping on.

There was a long gradual incline up to Scenic Highway, but then it seemed to flatten out. I still had the pace group right ahead of me, but I started to wonder about the pace they were keeping. It was around 9:50 - something that is not a problem for me on shorter runs, but duh...this is a marathon! I started to back off, but still keep sight of them. At this point on, the wind from the bay became more of a breeze. At mile 3, I heard a thud and looked over to see one of the women bunched up in the pace group had taken a hard fall. My heart hurt for her. The group helped her up, and I heard her trying to laugh it off, but from the way it sounded, I knew she had to be hurt. It also made me realize I needed to watch out for hazards in the road. Ugh.

Around 5.5 miles, the full and the half split up. Huge moment. People were there cheering, runners were yelling "Good luck, Marathoners", and I couldn't help but let out a squeal as I followed the full marathon sign. A runner next to me made a comment, and I told him this was all new to me - he said it was for him too. I loved knowing I wasn't the only one out there doing this for the first time. The next two miles or so were flat with no spectators. There were young marines standing along the route - there I suppose to watch for anyone needing help. So many of us told them thank-you or gave high-fives. An hour and sixteen minutes into the race, the lead marathoner came running down the road in the other direction. Amazing.

At this point, I was still feeling great. We got back out onto the road, where spectators had started to gather again. At the mile 8 aid station, I made the decision to go ahead and use the port-a-potty since there was no one in line. This is when I discovered a new challenge for me here in my first marathon...something that screams "well, of course this would happen to YOU, Mandy!". My...umm...monthly visitor made a surprise appearance. Mmmhmmm. Yep. "You are kidding me." I was stunned for a few seconds, then decided there was no way I was going to let that stop me. But I needed a plan...Long story short - after texting back and forth from the road with Mom, then calling, trying to calmly talk about tampons while having other runners around me, I got a text back that Ray was at mile 11 and had me "covered". Mile 11 came, and there was Ray flagging me down. Bless his heart...he was trying so hard to not let anyone see what he was going to hand me, but I just laughed and told him it didn't matter. He's my hero.

So...after that whole fiasco, I seemed to get a second wind. I had lost the pace group, and just decided not to care. I slowed my pace to around 10:20-10:40 and began to really have fun. My energy felt great - at this point, I had taken gels around mile 4.5, mile 8, then again at mile 13. I was switching between water and Nuun (Ray was great at giving me a bottle of prepared Nuun at mile 11!), and just drinking when thirsty. I high-fived all the Marines along the route, and thanked all the volunteers and police watching traffic. It was at mile 16 I saw Mom and Dad. Dad caught sight of me and started waving a sign, and Mom was busy snapping pictures. I just can't described how much it meant to have them out there - an instant rush of energy. I think this is the point where I asked Dad, "Am I almost there?!" I was starting to get tired. For me, they picked the perfect spot - I needed that rush of energy from seeing them because I had the worst hill ever just up ahead. Ugh...what a beast.

My legs were starting to feel tired, but I put my head down, took smaller strides (MUCH smaller), and made it up the hill running. And kept running! Not far up ahead, I could make out Ray and the girls. The sight almost made me cry - there were Paige and Charlotte holding their signs and high-fiving all the other runners. I was soooo proud!! I just know it gave those runners just as much of a rush as it did me - almost every runner that passed, made their way over to get a high-five. Ray told me later, that they had been in that spot for 45 minutes with the girls doing that. Love. As I came up on them, I did quickly stop and give them a hug and kiss.

I got a boost of energy at that stop, and carried on, but was definitely beginning to feel it. At mile 20, we faced another big, daunting hill. However, at the base of this hill was a high school marching band's drum line. Omg, they were amazing and perfectly placed!! I gave them the "rock on" sign and they cheered as I trudged up the hill. Again, I made it up running, but did have to walk at the top to get a drink. Only a drink though - I wasn't ready to walk yet. I remember telling myself that I only had two more 5Ks to go...the real race begins at mile 20 and I knew that...just keep those feet moving. I saw Ray briefly - he had parked by the side of the road and asked if I needed anything. I told him I was fine and had to keep going. I love him so much - every single time I saw him, he would pump his fist and tell me how great I was doing with so much enthusiasm. It's was the best feeling knowing he had my back, and wanted me to succeed.

Another hill at mile 22. Good grief. Ray was at the top of it again, asking what I needed. I stopped to fill my bottle up with Nuun, and told him I was really tired. He told me I was in the homestretch and sent me on my way. I looked at my watch - honestly, this was the very first time I looked at the time - and saw I had been running for 4:09. My brain wasn't working that well, but I did figure that there was no way I was going to finish at 4:30 - and that was just fine with me. This is the point where I noticed so many runners now walking...stumbling...working out cramps. I just had absolutely no desire to quit or really walk. Sure, I was exhausted, but more than anything, I was ready to be done and I wasn't going to be DONE until I crossed that finish line. And the quickest way to the finish line was to keep on running. I have no clue what my pace was at this time - probably somewhere around 11:00. I was dragging.

Mile 23 gave me another little boost of energy - one more 5K to go! A man on the side of the road yelled "Go 145!! Looking good!". 145 - that's me!! Woohoo! The Marines and police started offering more words of encouragement, and each time they did, I felt more and more inspired to continue on. Ray had parked again at mile 24, asking if I needed anything. Part of me wanted to climb into the car, but I waved him off and told him I was fine. I passed a great group of kids, all dressed in Superman garb, who gave high-fives - they were fun! After that, we were running along the bay again, and the winds had picked up dramatically. I had my hat nearly blown off several times. Headwinds plus exhausted legs equal one helluva battle to keep going. I had a moment where I thought I was going to drop - I looked at my watch and saw 24.88 miles. I told myself I could walk until 25 miles - there was no way I was going to walk the last 1.2 miles. So, I started walking. Problem is, after running for that long, walking HURTS! I ran again.

The route made it's way into historic downtown Pensacola - I knew the end was near. The finish line, the finish line, the finish line...it's all I could think about - just get me to the finish line, legs! I was surprised to see Ray and the girls standing at the road - they went wild! A man across the street started clapping and yelled, "You're doing great! Finish strong!" I gave the girls a high-five and told Ray, "I'm going to keep going!" I soon ran up on a police officer directing traffic who looked at me and said, "You go around that corner, and you'll see the finish line - keep going." There were several families standing at the corner cheering, yelling my name, and a rush of adrenaline came over me. I looked over and saw my dad standing near an arch leading to the finishing chute lined with flags. I ran over and held out my hand,giving him a high five - "I'm going to do this!!", I told him.

It's so hard to describe how amazing it was running those last few feet towards the finish line. Total strangers were calling my name and cheering. I was so exhausted, yet so amazed that I was actually about to complete a marathon - something that just never seemed possible to me. I never even dreamed about it, because I never thought someone like me would ever attempt something like this. A marathon!! All the pain and exhaustion seemed to fade in an instant and I threw my arms up and cheered - I DID IT! 4:48:38


It's Thursday now, and I am still on a runner's high. My quads killed me the first couple days after the race, but I'm much better now. I can't wait to start running again. Everyone tells me you never forget your first, and I never will. I remember every face, and every word of encouragement. I'm so grateful for those people, my family, the cloud cover that day, and for my body holding up through all the beating it has taken.  I want to do it again.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Franklin Classic 10k

The first race of the fall season is in the books!

The Franklin Classic was a fun, well organized race. I drove there with my neighbor, Corey, and quickly found a place to park next to some of the amazing historic houses of Franklin. I love that town. For days, the forecast called for rain (courtesy of Isaac), and we were nervous about the skies opening, but they never did, and the cloud cover was definitely a blessing. The humidity was ridiculous, but it's one of those things you have to grin and bear around here.

I went into this thinking of it as just a training run. I would just keep a nice pace, and told Ray I would try to finish in about an hour. I have just been running so slow in this weather - I wasn't expecting much. While waiting for the race to start, I talked to a woman in the running group. She asked me what my goal was....uhhh...She decided since I finished my last half in under 2 hours, I should be able to finish in 52 minutes. Wow. I laughed and started negotiating my goal with her...58? 54? No...55? Okay, 55 minutes.

As usual, I took off too fast. I looked at my watch at one point and saw 8:18 - felt okay at that point, but knew I couldn't keep that up. After the first mile, I started to get what felt like shin splints in my right leg. It hurt and slowed me down. Got a little sad watching what felt like everyone pass me by. But up came some hills, and those same people that passed by me, were now either shuffling or walking. For some reason, going up those hills, the pain in my leg worked it's way out. I started to really pick up the pace around mile 4. I just felt great and decided to push it. At mile 5, I told myself to go all out, and I did end up sprinting hard when the finish line came into view. According to my watch, I finished with 6.27 miles in 55:16. I've never run a 10k, so I guess that's my PB! I think I have it in me to run a faster 10k, but I'm happy with what I ran on such a hilly course, on a humid day, and deciding to make a last minute goal.

Love starting out my day with a race....

*Official Race Results*
55:14 - Meh...
Age Group: 19/85 - now, I just think that's cool. Don't know why...it was neat to see my name up near the top.
Overall: 418 out of apprx. 3500.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Week 8

A couple of "firsts" this week - the first time I ever ran over 13.1 miles, and the highest weekly mileage ever: 29.1 miles. Can't leave off that .1.

The week started off with a simple 3 mile run on Monday. Then I had to think ahead...my long run for the week was 15 miles. I wanted to do it on Saturday, when I would be able to get out at 6am and avoid the heat. However, I have a 10k race on Monday - would I want to run 15 on Saturday and have tired legs on Monday? So, I thought about running the long distance on Wednesday. The biggest issue, was the heat. Due to getting the girls off to school, then driving out to the park, I wouldn't be able to start until about 9 - when the sun is up and blazing hot. I decided to go for Wednesday. And I learned my lesson.

I woke up that morning feeling pretty eager about the run, curious to see how I could handle my longest distance to date. I made several mistakes that day. For one, I assumed I could run it like my last half marathon. I ran that in under 2 hours - I knew I would be a little slower due to the heat, but I still saw myself finishing at just over 2 hours. So, I started out pretty fast, right around a 9:10 pace and held that for several miles.

The first 6 miles of the run was in the shade...not bad. I was feeling good. Stopped at 5 miles to take some chews (my big order of gels is not in yet!!), and drink. After mile 6, I was in the sun and it was 84 degrees. Things started to go downhill. I started to slow down, but I told myself that was fine. It was good to slow down, and I knew that I really should be running around a 9:30-9:45 pace (honestly, what did I know? I've never run that far!). I think I stopped around mile 9 for more chews, and at mile 10 I came across my half-frozen water bottle I had set out on my way to the park.

This is when I started having horrible battles in my head on whether to quit or not. I began to realize how freaking hot it was outside and how tired my legs were. All I could think about was laying down and drinking cold water. I began to stop every mile to drink, and it was hell having to start back up again. I reached my car around mile 12 to grab a nuun out of the cooler. I sat there for several seconds debating on finishing up, but Hal Higdon kept ringing in my ears, "You can vary the schedule all you want, but don't skip the long runs!" (I'm paraphrasing.) I knew I had to finish. I've talked before about having to battle that nagging little voice that tells you to quit - I've never had a battle like this. I was in such a bad frame of mind...my legs were killing me, my feet were incredibly sore, my mind was nothing but negative thoughts - it wasn't pretty.

I kept going though. I would run (shuffle) a mile, then allow myself to stop and drink, and walk for a few feet. Then, I would convince myself to run again and just make it to the next mile. I thought I would never reach 15, but I did. 2:36. Ugh. After reaching my car, I grabbed my chocolate milk, and sat in the shade to stretch. I was soaked in sweat, and quite possibly, overheated. Stretching hurt. Walking hurt. Climbing into my car hurt. I began to get really sad and full of doubt...how in hell am I going to make it another 11.2? Should I just go ahead and cancel? I am anxious about the marathon, but I'm not going to quit. I realize how stupid it was to run that far in that kind of heat and humidity when I've never done it before. It's NOT going to be that hot during the race. I made it through the 15, and went on to run 4.34 on Friday, and 6.67 today (I know...wacky distances, but it all evens out!). My next crazy long distance, I will definitely run on a Saturday EARLY, EARLY and with the group, so I can learn from them.

I'm not going to let that horrible run cloud my thoughts on running and the race. I'm once again eager to see how I can handle my next super long distance - 16 miles in two weeks. It did suck though. : )

Monday, August 27, 2012

Week 7

Oh boy, the mileage is getting up there!

Long run this week was 12 miles. Have not done that since training for the Carmel Half, back in April (?). I decided to do the run on Wednesday while Ray was at work, and the girls were at school. I brought along a Honey Stinger Gel, extra water, sunsceen...everything I thought I would need.

The route contained a good amount of hills the first 5.5 miles. After that, it was pretty flat, but I was out in the sun for a long, long time. That just wears me out. I drank more on that run than I ever have before. That's not a bad thing - I was actually proud of myself for doing so, and not worrying about how it would slow me down. I struggled towards that last 2 miles - I just wanted to be done. It worries me that I'm thinking that at 12 miles when I'll still have 14.2 miles left to go in the marathon - yikes!

On Saturday, I decided to run with the group again for 6 miles. I ended up having a really good time, and the miles flew by as I chatted with the others. Met an 11 year old girl training for her first half marathon. She paced me on the run. She paced me! She's a great kid and I was in awe. The mom said her daughter's goal is to finish the half in 1:49 - I have no doubt she'll do it.

So, I came home and talked my 9 year old into registering for her first 5k. It wasn't hard - she's been talking about doing one for a while now. I think she's nervous, but she'll do great. She's going to LOVE being a part of the race. She ran in a 1 mile run at my Carmel Half, came in 2nd, and still talks about it, so I know this will thrill her.

This week, I run into unchartered territory...15 miles. I've never run over 13.1. Eek.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Week 6

Nothing too excited to post about! This week was fairly easy...long run was only 7 miles. Weather is cooling off, so I'm feeling great. I did end up buying a foam roller, but the purchase was not due to running related injuries (yet). I was upside down blowdrying my hair after my long run on Saturday, when I felt what seemed like my shoulder blade shift, then excruciating pain. Ray thinks I pinched a nerve. I don't know what happened, but the pain almost made me throw up. He gave me a massage and I took some Ibuprofen. I ran into a neighbor at a store, who suggested the foamroller and told me how to lay on it. Wow...it really, really helped. I then did some leg stretches on it, and can understand why people have a love/hate relationship with them.

From here on out, the mileage goes up. And up. And up....

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Week 5

Look at all those miles crossed out...may not feel good running them at times, but sure feels good marking them off! Thirteen more weeks to go.

My first two runs this week were done on the treadmill - just had to - but good news...the girls have started school! That means when the bus takes off, so do I.

More good news...the weather is cooling off! That's even better than the girls going back to school! I ran 5 on Thursday when it was in the high 70's - felt great. This morning though was incredible...62 degrees. Could not have asked for a better morning to run 10. I didn't feel like running around this area, so I skipped out on running with the group again, and headed over to Crockett Park. I was one of only a few at 6a.m. I did pretty good at keeping my pace down - averaged 9:25min/mile. I stopped at mile 5 for a quick drink of water and some chews. I had in my head a route that would be fairly flat and avoid all the hills at the park - no such luck. I was way off. Hit about every single hill out there. Argh. Hills are a bitch in actual time, but as soon as I'm up and over them, I give myself some serious high fives. My legs were tired around mile 8, and the balls of my feet were feeling sore, but I made it and gleefully crossed off the 10 when I got home.

Major mistake today though. When I arrived at the park, it took me a few minutes to get all my gear together. I ran with my fuel belt with water bottle, big Garmin, and phone on my arm. I stuffed the chews and huge car keys into the tiny little pouch on the fuel belt and took off. I quickly realized I still had my prescription glasses on. Grrr. Instead of pulling out the keys and putting the glasses in the car, I just set my glasses up on the windshield by the wipers. Figured they would be perfectly safe. Of course, when I got back to the car after running, I stretched, drank my chocolate milk, took off all my gear, and left. Not until I was almost home did I remember my glasses. Crap. They were gone. Ray and I drove back over there later that morning searching for them, but not a trace of them. No broken glass, so mangled frame. Nice. Not sure how much a new pair are going to cost me, but seeing how we don't have the awesome vision plan with the last job, I'm sure it's going to be painful. Not needed. The glasses are needed...the expense, is not. Typing this blog is blurry. I'm not a fan of wearing glasses, but I'm a huge fan of seeing clearly. Mistakes happen.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Week 4

Training is slowly starting to pick up, and I am feeling it.

My parents came up from FL this week to visit, and we had a great time. They came in Monday afternoon, so I got in my 3 miles early that morning on the treadmill. For the Wed. and Thurs. runs, I got up before everyone else, and went out to run my 4 and 3 miles.

I sound like a broken record, but this humidity is just awful to run in, and it's really making running outside...hell. I decided to skip running with the group on Saturday - they were meeting at 5:30 a.m. at a park about 20 min. from my house. I love running at that park, but after a week of waking up early and entertaining all day, getting up at 4:30 to prepare for the long run and drive, was not something I wanted to do. So, I got up at 5:00 a.m. instead, had some breakfast, took my time stretching, and headed out. As soon as I stepped out of the house, I knew it was going to be hard. The humidity was so thick, it took so much extra effort to get a full breath in and fill the lungs. Miserable.

Despite that, I took off running too fast. I have a hard time slowing down. I know I need to slow down, but for some reason, I have the hardest time. I suppose it's that feeling that my running form is all off when I slow down, but it's also a feeling that if I slow down, I'll never get done. Nonsense. I did end up struggling big time the last couple of miles. The humidity, all the hills, tired legs...I found myself walking halfway up the last hill, drenched in sweat and breathing hard. I ran the last half mile to my house, but when I got inside and saw my husband, I had to fight back tears. I felt so defeated. And drained. Major doubts about the marathon - even the half marathon in Sept. - ran through my mind. I really need some cold weather. Really.

With the increased mileage, I am now experiencing the heel pain that comes with plantar fasciattis. It does not feel good, lemme tell ya. I'm doing my stretches in the morning, and rolling a ball under my foot when I'm sitting down. It helps, but worries me. It's all part of the journey, right? If it were easy, everyone would do it, right? Well, I'm still determined.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Week 3

Good grief...didn't I just finish week 2? Is it just me or are these weeks flying by? Wow.

16.5 miles total this week. Before I left for my run on Wednesday, Ray asked how far I was going. I told him 4 miles. He looked at me and asked, "And you're training for a marathon?" I know...just doesn't seem like I've accomplished much at this point, but I know it's a gradual build-up. Next week, the weekly mileage total jumps to 19, then 21 and on from there. My long run this week was supposed to be 5, but I ran with the running group and did 6.5.

I ran with my neighbor Jeff - great guy to run with - and he told me I would need to go ahead and buy another pair of shoes. My new ones wouldn't take me through the marathon. He said I would put over 400 miles on them during training. I didn't believe him. But it's true - from beginning to end (through the race), the total is 462.8 miles. Gasp. I hope someone puts my shoes on sale!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Week 2

Nothing too exciting to post about week 2. I did the short runs this week all on the treadmill. Ugh. It was a busy week. The girls had VBS at night, so I did my runs early so Ray and I could hang out while they were gone. I tried to vary the runs - switched up inclines and speeds. Still...treadmill running.

My 7 mile long run I did on Saturday with the running group. Actually, everyone split up and I ran with a nice woman, who was doing 6. So hard to describe how horrible the humidity was...felt like I had a wet, hot rag over my face, and I was loaded down with heavy blankets. Awful. I made it through though, averaging a 9:21 pace.

Another training week marked off!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

First Week

One week of marathon training done! Feels good to mark it off the schedule. Did my 6 mile long run with two others from the running group today. The woman I ran with is training for the Chicago Marathon in October, and the man is training for his first - the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis in December. I tried slowing it down to a 10:00 mile pace to keep with the others, and did so for about two miles, but I found that slowing down that much really threw off my running form. I hope that doesn't make me sound like a snot...we just kind of all separated, and I did the rest of the run around 9:30. I really am trying to make a conscious effort to slow down for my long runs as everyone is telling me that's what I need to do in training. Shorter runs fast - long runs slow. I also began to question whether or not I should be doing a different training program? Maybe HH Novice 2? I guess I felt like I should be doing more this week, but I need to remember it's a LONG road ahead.

Oh, and I love my new shoes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

And So It Begins...

Marathon Training Schedule: Novice 1
1Rest3 m run3 m run3 m runRest6Cross
2Rest3 m run3 m run3 m runRest7Cross
3Rest3 m run4 m run3 m runRest5Cross
4Rest3 m run4 m run3 m runRest9Cross
5Rest3 m run5 m run3 m runRest10Cross
6Rest3 m run5 m run3 m runRest7Cross
7Rest3 m run6 m run3 m runRest12Cross
8Rest3 m run6 m run3 m runRestRestHalf Marathon
9Rest3 m run7 m run4 m runRest10Cross
10Rest3 m run7 m run4 m runRest15Cross
11Rest4 m run8 m run4 m runRest16Cross
12Rest4 m run8 m run5 m runRest12Cross
13Rest4 m run9 m run5 m runRest18Cross
14Rest5 m run9 m run5 m runRest14Cross
15Rest5 m run10 m run5 m runRest20Cross
16Rest5 m run8 m run4 m runRest12Cross
17Rest4 m run6 m run3 m runRest8Cross
18Rest3 m run4 m run2 m runRestRestMarathon

Do I really know what I'm getting myself into? I sure hope so...guess we'll see.

Had my first run with the new running group on Saturday. I showed up and spotted a neighbor there, which was a relief. I guess I felt like I had to prove myself, so I said, "Yeah, sure, I'll jump in and do 10 at a 9-9:30 pace." Really? I hadn't done a  long run like that since training for my last half. I only had half a Clif bar and a couple sips of water to fuel me, the humidity and heat were already getting up there (even at 5:30 a.m.)...what was I thinking. But, I hung in there. Almost told them I decided to just do 8, and turn around after 4 miles (run same route back) as I had a couple moments of feeling nauseous, but I suppose my pride wouldn't let me. I think I'm really going to enjoy this group though. Many runners have done marathons, and I can learn so much from them. And as much as I love to run by myself, I really did enjoy the company. It did make the run go by faster, although I would much rather listen to people have a conversation while running, than talk myself...

So, I'm already thinking of altering the training just a tad. I think I'm going to run on Mondays, rest Tuesday, run W-TH, rest Friday, run Saturday, rest Sunday. Well, I won't "rest" on Sunday, but I doubt I'll find an activity to do that really qualifies as "cross-training". I'm always doing something active...can we call mowing the big yard "cross-training"? Playing with the girls in the pool? I'll continue to do my long runs on Saturdays, but when the girls go to school and start sports, I'll move them to Wednesday mornings so I don't miss much time with the family on weekends.

That's the plan. That's the schedule. At this point, I'm nervous, but focused. I hope I can stay that way the next 18 weeks.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Let's Go Shopping!

Tuesday night, I went running around 7:45pm. These days, it has to be a late run or run at the ass-crack of dawn in order to beat this wicked heat. Ray said it was still in the 90's when I left the house - I'm not sure it's the heat that is so draining, as it is the humidity. Blech. Enough about the weather...

I did 4 miles that night, and around 3 miles, for the first time ever during a run, I felt pain in my plantar fascia. Crap. Right then and there, I decided I would never run in those shoes again. I needed to go shoe shopping. Those Asics have been with me since early Feb. I have put around 400 miles on them (400!). I don't know if they are the reason for my pain, the added mileage, or maybe both. Whatever, I had been ignoring any hints, and now my foot was making it loud and clear - NEW SHOES PLEASE!

I knew I needed new shoes. Don't know why I was putting off a shopping trip. I think it was knowing I was going to drop a wad of money on some good ones, and I'm not good at spending money. My Asics were a cheaper model - good, but cheaper. And I went through many pairs of shoes in less than two years of running. I'm not knocking Asics - I loved my shoes and was open to another pair. Actually, I figured I would stick with Asics, just get something that was known as a great model for running long distances.

I took the girls with me, and we went to the local Fleet Feet store. I wasn't thinking I needed to get the whole treatment, but the salesman looked at my feet, watched me walk, made me stand up, sit down, walk again...He said I didn't need such a hardcore stability shoe like my Asics model - I didn't over-pronate as much as I thought I did. As he turned around to go into the backroom to get some shoes, I stopped him and told him I had a budget - please keep it around $100. Gulp. For someone that buys shoes at Target (on sale...), that's a sickening amount of money to spend on shoes. But I love to run. I know how important it is to have a good shoe.  I'm not kidding...I saw his face drop. I'm sure he was aiming to bring out several of the $150 shoes I saw on the shelves. Sorry, buddy. 

The salesman brought out  Brooks and Mizuno shoes. I have tried on Brooks before, and to me, they are very similar to Asics. I put them on, and ahhhhh....nice! The did feel like my Asics, only not as bulky inside (if that makes any sense), and much lighter. He had me go outside and run in them in front of the store. The girls thought that was a riot! Little side note...When I came back inside, Paige was telling the guy about how she placed second at the Carmel Family Fun Run. He was sweet and was making such a big deal about it. She told me in the car that she should have worn her medal inside...love her!

I told the salesman the Brooks shoes felt great, but he had me try on a Mizuno shoe on one foot, with a Brooks shoe on the other and told me to go run again and see which felt better. Definitely the Brooks. So after almost two years of running in Asics 1160, I am now a Brooks runner!

Brooks Ravenna 3. Pretty snazzy looking, eh? When we got home, I put my Super Feet insoles in them, and wore them the rest of the day around the house. I was dying to run in them last night, but we had some storms blow through. Not much rain, but HUGE lightening bolts. So, I did 4 miles on the treadmill. I don't know...I don't really count that as a real test in the shoes, but they did feel just fine. I joined the local running group (say what?!), and may do a long run with them tomorrow morning. That'll be the real test. New shoes, joining a running group...I'm just getting all kinds of crazy these days!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More Coffee, Please

Clearly, I'm not awake.

I just got online to print out Hal Higdon's Marathon Training Schedule: Novice 1. I read what I had printed, and thought - Wow. I didn't realize how easy this training will be.

That's because it was the Novice training for the Half Marathon.

Wake up, Mandy. Wake up.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Personalized Success

I'm not going to lie...I love my 13.1 magnet on my minivan. There are hundreds of dark green Honda Odysseys out there, but not many with a 13.1 magnet. Makes me proud everytime I see it. I worked hard and I earned it. Don't really care what others think. I used to have a neighbor that, for some reason, was bothered by the magnets. Bothered by all the runners in the neighborhood. Just bothered by life in general, I guess. She went out and found a 0.0 magnet.

I have seen several magnets that show the running distance, then the name of the race. I love that more! I like the thought of getting a new magnet for every race I run, with the name of the race and the date. What a great way to remember! No, I wouldn't litter the back of the van with them...one is enough. I don't know...maybe put them on our fridge out in the garage. Or get crafty and make some sort of piece of art with them. Anyway, I found a site that personalizes the decals/magnets!

How cool is that? They come in every distance - you pick the color you want and add the text. $9.98. The site is www.goneforarun.com.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Dude - I Chick'd You


That has to be my new favorite running slang. As in, "You totally chick'd that guy at that finish line!" Girl power, right? Read one female runner claim she finds it offensive. If I heard a couple guys ahead of me say, "Dude...speed it up - we're about to get chick'd", I think I would be flattered. Yea...that's right - this middle-aged mom-of-two is about to take you over, so speed it up! I'm actually going to make a game out of it my next race - see how many guys I can "chick". Probably not that many...I'm assuming most of the men at the Air Force Half are going to be in great shape. Just a guess. But, it'll be fun to try. I'll have a mental chick'd list to keep track.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


It's National Running Day! Get out and run! 6.33 miles today - odd number, but I ran it pretty fast and that was the number when I got home. Found my new shirt at Marshall's yesterday. First time ever I've been in that store. Of course I had to get a shirt that has RUN on it...and for such a great price!

Now it's time for a shower, then run on over to the local specialty running store to see what advice they can give me about this plantar fasciitis I'm developing. I'm such an idiot...I thought that was something you were born with. Well, I know we all have the plantar fascia, I just thought plantar fasciitis must be some sort of "defect", for lack of a better word. For over a week now, it's been painful to walk on my left foot right when I get out of bed. I don't have to hobble - on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst), it's about a 5 in the morning. It doesn't last long, but I have enough friends with PF, I figured I better look it up and see if that's what is happening.

After reading about the causes, I'm thinking my PF symptoms are due to upping my mileage and/or my shoes. I feel just fine otherwise. No heel pain, no tight calves...just the sore foot in the morning. Maybe, hopefully, I'm catching it early enough and can take care of it. I will be devastated if it interferes with my upcoming training. Can't let that happen.

Here is a picture from WHOOHA Gear (a clothing company - I like their stuff):

Sums it up, huh? Don't think I have much to add!

**Went to the running store - Blue Mile - and had a very nice girl help me out. ("Girl"...she was probably in her early twenties. Do I call her girl? Young lady? Woman just sounds too old. I can handle woman - 'cause I'm getting up there.) Told her about the issue I'm having with what I think is PF. Since I bought my shoes in Feb (can't remember if  it was early or late Feb. I need to keep track of these things!), she said I could probably hold off buying new ones, but mine were getting to that point. She suggested Comf-Orthotic Sports Replacement Insoles, from Hapad, Inc. "A patented, deformable replacement insole for relief fo chronic heel pain resulting from plantar fasciitis." Again, I don't have heel pain yet, but why wait until it gets to that point? The girl/lady/woman said to try these, and if they don't work, get new shoes. Fingers crossed!

I also bought some Nuun. Lemon-lime. Going to see how I like it. Picked up a couple Gu's, but couldn't do it. I want to try them for convenience sake - finding a place to store all my Honey Stinger chews is tricky (and chewing while running isn't all that easy) - but...ugh...the whole texture thing.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Thanks For The {running} Memories

Just three more weeks left here in Indiana. As excited as we are to get back to Tennessee, there are parts of Indiana that we will miss greatly. For starters, that weather during our stay has been fabulous - just fabulous! We moved here on the tail-end of summer. While I recall some hot summer days, I don't recall many. Autumn seemed to linger for a while here, and it was more than welcomed. I feared winter as we were now in the north, but thankfully, it was mild. Everyone tells us we lucked out - apparently last year was much worse (complete with a horrible ice storm). The spring has been dreamy, and holding out just as long as it can.

All this beautiful weather allowed me to get out and run to my heart's content. Now, it wasn't always blue skies and fluffy white clouds - I've run with winds at 22mph, and on freezing cold days. I refused to stay inside all winter. If the streets were clear of ice, I would run. The coldest day I got out was 20 degrees - it hurt my face for a little bit, but I warmed up. It felt great to be one of those "crazy runners" who got out and did the deed, despite the temps. Sometimes, it felt like I had to kick my own butt to get out and do it on those days, but I did. Shoot, you HAD to run to keep warm going outside in tights! I truly believe that nothing makes you feel more alive than running outside on a freezing cold day - gets the blood going, and the lungs working hard.

One of the best things about this area, is being so close to the Monon Trail. The Monon is a paved trail system that runs from Indianapolis up to Westfield - where we live. I can run 1 mile in one direction and hit the trail through Carmel. One mile in the other direction, leads me to connect on the Monon and run up through Westfied. The path is wide, mostly shaded, mostly flat, and lined by wooden fences in some areas. It's quiet in the mornings, but fills with families, cyclist, running groups, etc. in the afternoons.

The trail is well maintained and I've always felt safe on it (although I do run with mace now in case I run into a stray dog). I see chipmunks on the trail all the time, and the one time I decided to stop and use one of the trail restrooms, I couldn't because an incredibly large raccoon was pacing back and forth in front of it! In autumn, all those beautiful trees turn into brilliant colors, with leaves that fall and litter the trail. It's gorgeous. As I mentioned, it's mostly flat, so I don't run it all the time - I have a hilly route I like to challenge myself on, but if I want a nice, relaxing run, I go for the Monon.

Of course, Indiana will always have a special place in my heart as being the site of my first half marathon...and my second! The Indianapolis Half Marathon last October, held at Ft. Benjamin Harrison State Park was truly spectacular. Not my best performance, but by far the best scenery. The Carmel Half Marathon was just plain fun. We ran through a lot of suburbs, but hit some of the Monon and part of the Carmel Arts District, which was cool.

I didn't know what to expect here in Indiana, but I was pleasantly surprise, and thankful for our short, but sweet, stay here. I have two more days to run outside here - girls get out of school Wednesday, and the husband has gone south for his job. I suppose I could hire a sitter to watch the girls while I run, but I have a feeling it's the treadmill for a couple weeks. It'll work. My mileage will go down (sorry, but I just can't do long runs on the treadmill. The most I have run on it is 5 miles and I thought I was going to pull my hair out!), but the important thing is to keep going. I'll be able to get back on track in TN, before marathon training begins.

Thanks, Indiana. I will remember you fondly.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Making Training Plans

"Wow. What's up with the crazy new blog look?" you ask. I needed something to do while the HVAC man was repairing our AC for the second time. I think the new look reflects how I was feeling...hot.

So, I finished Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide by Hal Higdon. He made me feel like it's totally doable, but I'm not sure I got all the answers I was looking for, or learned much of anything new. Not to sound like I know everything! I just did so much research on long distance running when getting ready for my first half marathon. I do think the most important thing I learned though, is to respect the distance. At this point, I have no idea what it is like to run over 13.1 miles, and it is scary territory.

There was a chapter on "the runner's diet", but I'm still confused on nutrition during the race. I suppose I'll find out what works best for me on my long training runs, but do marathoners eat during the race (talking about mid-packers here...not the elite. Or maybe I should be talking about the back of the pack - who am I to think I'm included with mid-packers??)? Do they just subside off of chews/gels, or are they choking down bagels or energy bars in the latter half of the run? Honestly, I can't imagine either, but I know I'll have to have something more than chews to keep going.

Also, finding your pace for the run is still a question. Higdon says in the book that a good way to estimate how long it will take you to finish a marathon, is to take the time you finished your half x 2, plus 10 minutes. Well, I finished my last half in 1:57 x 2, plus 10 minutes...that's just a little over 4 hours. According to a pace calculator, that's running at a 9:18 pace - I don't want to doubt myself, but ha! Honestly, finishing in a certain amount of time shouldn't even be a concern of mine as a first-time marathoner. But it's nice to have a goal to shoot for (other than FINISH!, which is my main objective). I'm going to shoot for under 5 hours, hoping I can do it in 4:30. However, as I've said before, I'm going to be open to whatever happens. The first 12 miles of this race are all a climb - I have no idea how I'll be able to handle that. Hopefully, I can hang on strong and look forward to the last 14 being a decline.

I'm looking at following Higdon's marathon program for "Novice 1" - an 18 week training program, with the longest run being 20 miles in week 15. He suggests running a half in week 8 - I'm already signed up for the Air Force Half Sept. 15, which falls on week 10. I'm sure I can rearrange some mileage there. Also on my calendar, is the Wounded Warrior Project 8k Nov. 3, which is week 17 of training. Higdon's program calls for an 8 mile run - again, I'll fiddle with the weekly mileage and make it work. I think it's going to work out just fine.

So training officially begins July 8 - we'll be in TN by then. Girls will be out of school, but the husband's new job will supposedly allow him to be home every night, and I'll just have to run then. I'm trying now to boost my weekly mileage to stay in shape and be ready for the training. I'm working to keep my mileage to 20+/week. I've been doing good, but once the girls get out of school, and since the husband is already at his new job in TN, it's going to be hard to keep it up. I'll have to do the treadmill, and it's a battle to go for long runs on that thing.

I'm very motivated to stick with this though, and see it through to the end!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

New Blog Name?

I did it. I just registered for a full marathon. Pensacola Marathon, Nov. 11, 2012.

Charlotte just asked if I am nervous. Yes. She then told me I would have to practice. Yes, yes I will.

I am healthy. I am capable. My goal will be to finish, and to have fun. I honestly don't care what my time will be, but I would like to keep it under 5 hours...just because I don't want to be out there any longer than that. But I don't even know what kind of pace I will have to keep, and need to remain open to whatever happens.

My parents grew up in Pensacola. I was born in Pensacola, although my parents didn't technically live there at the time. Dad was over in Vietnam, and Mom drove down to Pensacola to have me and stay with her parents. I made it back to Pensacola to finish college, and lived there off and on after school. It's as much of a hometown as I'll ever have. It's going to mean a lot to me to run my first marathon there, and have a medal that says "Pensacola".

Also, this event takes place 10 days before I turn 40. A great way to end a great decade, and look forward to a new one.

Deep breath...I can do this.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Taper Madness

I asked a friend yesterday how training is going for her first half marathon, coming up in two weeks. Her reply wasn't too enthusiastic. She mentioned how she thought it would be easier by now, she didn't expect her time to be great, and frustration. I know what she's going through - I've been there, done that. When I was going through it, another friend pointed out I was experiencing "taper madness". In mentioning this to my frustrated friend, I searched the web and found this funny article:

Symptoms and Treatment of Taper Madness

'Tis the season. There is a wicked strain of Taper Madness sweeping across the world. Since fall is the prime racing season for so many runners, you can't trip over your own shadow without falling into a runner with a full case of delirium and the shakes from Taper Madness.Dscn0830
Taper Madness is real. Don't let your doctor tell you any different. It isn't a figment of your imagination - it strikes all runners who attempt to take their training down a notch a week or so before the big race. It is a necessary evil that runners live in order to arrive at the starting line with legs that have a bit more spring in the step instead of feeling beat to hell. But the contrary nature of the taper is what you gain back in physical rejuvination you lose in mental reasoning capacity. The term "madness" wasn't happened upon. It is a full and complete description of the feeling a runner gets as they anxiously await for the race. Their thoughts race - most times in circles of repetition. They sense and feel aches and pains of the tiniest amount and then worry them to the greatest extreme. All their conscious waking moments are consumed with preparing and running their long awaited event.
But there is a bright side to your condition - it is entirely temporary, 100% reversable and completely harmless to your long life. But the symptoms can be confused with other more serious conditions, such as truly losing your mind, life ending not yet discovered diseases, and obsessive compulsive disorders that need to be treated.
To help you decide if you need to ride it out versus see a specialist, here are some of the common symptoms of Taper Madness:
  • Out of Control Phobia of Germs. You have converted your hydration belt, cellCrazy_baby_face phone holder, purse or other items on your person into hand santizer and Lysol toting equipment. You find yourself spraying down desks, keyboards, phones, bathrooms, and even your loved ones to keep them 99.9% germ free. You easily move out of the way of handshakes and hugs of most people - even the ones you live with now. Your children and spouse are instructed to stay within arms length and even blowing kisses down wind are prohibited. Even if you have never been a self proclaimed germ phobe before your taper, you find that your eye sight is accurate enough to now see possible viral and bacterial infection lurking around every public surface. No infection, flu, or cold will stand between you and the starting line.
  • Self Proclaimed Expert Meterologist. Through your running training, you rarely studied weather except to decide how much sunscreen to wear. You withstood all temperatures, wind gusts, precipitation - hell even a tornado and hurricane. But now with weeks to go, you have your email, Twitter, IM and cell phone set up to provide up to the minute reports on the 3, 5, 7, and 14 day forecast for race day. You have enacted a "no talking" zone during nightly weather and find yourself switching to the Weather Channel ten times a day. Some runners will even go so far to try to strike up a relationship with the local meterologist to get the inside scoop. And others will channel ancient forecasting methods to forecast the weather themselves using moon position, clouds and the path of birds.
  • You can't get enough of the details. The race website you glanced at a few times before signing up you now visit regularly in the lsat few weeks. You have a minute by minute schedule mapped out for the days before the event through the starting gun. You have studied the maps to figure out bathrooms, parking, meeting spots, and more. You have doubled checked your confirmation number, hotel reservation, and your bib number. Every other day of the year you let the little things go but for a few weeks each year, the details are everything.
  • You wonder if you are losing your mind. In the same hour you think to yourself, "ISilly_dog can!" "I can't possibly.." "I will!" "What the heck was I thinking..." "I can't wait!" "Am I really ready?" "I am going to rock that race!" "What if I am last?" "I can't wait to cross the finish line!" "What if I don't finish?" "My training has gone so well." "I should have pushed harder on the miles in the middle...". You flip flop between positive energy and mental anguish in the blink of an eye. Every other month of the year you are a rational, logical human being capable of dealing with complex emotions. But for these few weeks, you can't seem to get seem to talk sense into yourself.
  • You see people talking and hear words, but you really don't care what they are saying. And that's not like you. Most times, you try to pay attention in those boring meetings. You can usually remember what your better half told you last night. You can even stay lucid in a conversation with your kids about video games and cartoons. But not during Taper Madness. Not a chance. You hear people talking. You see their lips moving but you can't focus on the message and you really don't care. During Taper Madness you would you really like to stand up and scream, "Can we talk about what I want to talk about....MY [FILL IN RACE}?!?!?"
  • Your race gear achieves high status. Instead of being throw on the floor, in the laundry or stuffed in a bag, your chosen race gear is clean, folded and perched on a shelf, chair or other place of high honor a few days/weeks before the event. Family members are instructed not to touch it, move it or refold it. It has a purpose.
  • Excursions require safety reviews. Someone casually mentions going out for a meal, drink, shopping, whatever, and you do a mental scan of the route, the establishment, and company before deciding if it is worth the risk of a sprained ankle, chance of eating the wrong food, or picking up a stray germ.
  • You think about the race - ALOT. When you get up you think about what you will be doing that time of the day on race day. When you go for a run you think about what it will be like to start or finish the race. You have visualized the finish line so many times you have your never-to-be-used finish line speech to perfection. You have practiced, secretly, the fist pump, jump for joy, double arm 'yahoo!", etc that you will do for the picture that really counts. And smiles....you know which smile you will try for and at which miles - instead of the death snear - even if that is how you feel. You think about the race at every meal, walking to your car, brushing your teeth, while watching the news, singing your favorite songs (but with new taper related lyrics)... with every step or breath you take.
  • You know you are dying ... or at least facing a race ending injury. You held off minor and major injuries throughout your training, but now in just a few days you have aches, pains, tweaks, tight spots all in places you haven't before and in ways you haven't experienced before. You wonder how your body could betray you now! You spend time on www.webmd.com and www.sportsinjuryclinic.net hoping to find the answer to your mystery illness - only to find that there is nothing that specifically covers what you are experiencing.
If any of these sound like a current symptom you have, congratulations - you have Taper Madness. There is a wonderful home treatment.
The race.
Just go with it for a few days. It will come to a quick end as you cross the starting line.
In the meantime, know there are many runners like you dealing with the same infliction. If you need a place to vent, talk about your race or absolutely nothing, stop by the Taper Madness forum in the Lounge and talk about what you are thinking about, how you are coping or heck, even about what you really want to talk about ....YOUR RACE!
***If you are wondering, the pictures have nothing to do with running. They just made me giggle and thought they would bring a smile to your face too.
Crazy baby face on Flickr by Christian Metts
Dog picture by Red Star

Omg!! Is that not ME a couple weeks before a race?! Exactly! Reading it just made me laugh at what I put myself through. I identify with it all, sad but true. I guess that's all part of the experience...can't see it not happening again. Especially if I register for a full marathon - can you imagine the insanity then?? Good lord....

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Yesterday, I decided to do something radical for my run, and forced myself to leave my house without Garmin.

Literally had to force myself.

I've become really attached to Garmin. I have posted time and time again saying I don't really worry about pace, but now it's obvious I do. Used to be, I would look at Garmin only when the chime went off every mile - now, it seems I'm constantly looking down to check my pace. I think when I started getting a little bit faster, I was just so amazed. It would become a challenge to either speed up, or slow down. I guess it's not really a bad thing, but it does always keep me in a race-type mode. Of course, I'm not racing anyone, just myself, but it gets to where I always feel like I have to go hard. Even if I leave the house thinking I'm going to run a nice, easy 3 miles, I end up looking at Garmin and thinking I should be setting some sort of PR.

I'm still coming down from my half last weekend, and seriously entertaining the idea of a full marathon. Actually, I'm a little obsessed with it. Still scares me, makes for a nervous tummy, but I do think it's something I can do - or at least try. I'll never know unless I sign up and do one, right? Anyway, I don't want to always feel like I need to go hardcore while I'm not training for a race right now. I want to continue to enjoy running. Reading about marathon training, I understand it's a full committment and it's going to be hard - it doesn't scare me, but I'm looking at this fall or next spring. It's time to relax now. Still run, but relax.

So, I left my house yesterday feeling naked without Garmin. I ran a route I'm very familar with, and had to fight the urge to always look down and check mileage. I'm not going to lie - I felt anxious the first couple of miles. But then I relaxed, and let my mind wander. It was a good run. Felt weird that I didn't have any numbers to put into my training log...Maybe I'll try a Garmin-free run more often.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carmel Half Marathon Review

Second half marathon is in the books, and wow - what a different experience from my first. I had an absolute blast this race. I can honestly say that I loved every minute of it, and finished feeling like such a winner!

As I've mentioned before, our friends - Dawnan and Corey - came up with their two girls for the race. It was Corey's first half marathon. They are dear friends and I was almost more excited for Corey to run it, than I was for myself. I had been watching the weather for ten days, and it had gone from being sunny and warm, to cold, to cold and rain, then finally back to just being cold. I was really dreading being cold and wet - so thankful the rain cleared out late Friday night.

Corey and I woke up at 5:45 on Saturday. I decided on wearing capris, a t-shirt, and a new long-sleeve running shirt. After pouring half a cup of coffee, I realized I was pumped full of adrenaline already. I probably could have gone right out and run the race, but knew I had to eat. I managed to get down an English muffin with peanut butter and honey, and a greek yogurt. Corey and I left before Ray, Dawnan and all the kids. We found our parking spot, then began a 10 minute walk to the race area. It was around 40 degrees, but felt about 37 with the wind. I was a little nervous I didn't dress right after all - I was freezing! We hit the port-o-potties, and hid behind a wall to avoid the wind and stretch. We saw some of our friends from Nolensville and talked to them before the announcement was made to line up. On my way to my spot, I saw Ray and the girls. It always gives me a burst of energy to see them cheering!

Unlike my first half, this race did not have really specific corrals. My plan was to run behind the 2hr pace runner, but I didn't see her anywhere. I figured I would just get in with the 9:00min/mile group and see how I did, as my dream was to finish in 2 hours. A couple days earlier, I did an online pace calculator and found that in order to finish in 2 hours, I needed to maintain a pace of 9:09. Finally, the pacer came and stood right in front of me - I was glad to see her, and to know that I was in the right spot! I didn't introduce myself, but she seemed very friendly and was already encouraging other runners.

I remember last year, I was full of nervous energy being line up to start - this time, I was just excited. Cold, but eager to start. The National Anthem was performed, then people were running! I don't remember if there was a gun or just someone yelling go, but off we went! I happened to catch sight of Ray, so I looked over and waved:


When I looked forward again, I realized the pacer was way in front of me now! She was going fast! I sped up and Garmin said I was running an 8:43 pace. Yikes. If she was going to run this fast the entire race, I didn't know if I was going to make it. But I felt so good, I just kept up. The crowd seemed to stay together for a couple miles which was tricky, but fun - I think that might be one of my favorite times of a race. I love hearing all the feet hitting the road, and the conversations going on around me. Everyone is so excited in the beginning and having fun.

We passed a water station a little before mile 2, and I noticed the pacer veer off the course to get a drink. I wonder if they are required to do that? She was an experienced runner and I couldn't imagine she really needed a drink that soon...Anyway, I didn't see her again until mile7! I didn't need a drink, so I just kept running. I kept two women in my sights who had been lined up behind the 2 hour pacer as well. We were still running under a 9min/mile. And I still felt great.

I had driven the first 7 miles of the course a couple times earlier this year, and was worried about this big hill before mile 4. Turned out to be nothing to worry about. It took me a few feet to recover after I got to the top, but I quickly regained my pace. Coming down the road towards mile 5, I was surprised to see Ray and the girls standing on the corner cheering! Actually, it took me a minute to realize it was them - didn't run with my glasses!


I see that video and I'm surprised at my form - I'm not so sure that would be considered "good form". I look like I'm shuffling! But I would be scared to change the way I run - it works for me! I honestly felt so good this race. I kept looking at Garmin, seeing a sub-9min/mile pace and thinking "surely, I'm going to bonk any second now!" I couldn't believe I wasn't winded, or my legs weren't sore and tired. I think I only stopped quickly for water at mile 3 and mile 10.

It was at mile 7 where I heard a large group of runners coming up behind me - the 2:00 pace runner, and her group! I was a little pissed that now she shows up, but then realized I didn't need her - I was doing just fine. She ended up getting past me, but I just ignored her.

I don't mean for this to come off as cocky, but at mile 10, I remember being amazed that I felt the race was going by fast. There were a few hills on the last few miles of the course, but I just kept my head up and carried on. I came up on the pacer at mile 11 and took great delight in running past her (she was a nice person - I just made it a challenge to beat her). Mile 12, I looked at Garmin and saw I was at 1:50:xx. I had a moment of doubt that I wasn't going to finish in 2 hours - I still had that feeling that I was going to run out of steam. I was sooooo close though, and U2's "Where The Streets Have No Name" came on - that's a song that gets me moving. I told myself to dig deep and push it until I had nothing left.

I did push it, ripped my earphones out, and got more and more excited as the crowd noise got louder and louder. On the way to the finish line, we went up a bit of an elevation, but got to go down to the finish line. I gave it a final kick. I can't even describe the feeling of seeing 1:57 on the clock right before I crossed. I let out a dorky "whoooo! whooo!" as I ran across, feeling like I had just won an Olympic event, or something.


That is the feeling I wanted when I ran my first race, but was so disappointed it didn't end like that. This time, it was amazing to finish with a huge smile on my face and automatically having the sense of accomplishment. Amazing. My official time is 1:57:53 - thirteen minutes faster than my first half. I even had a negative split - I had always read about those, but never thought I would be able to achieve that! It wasn't by much, and probably due to me sprinting towards the finish line, but whatever. Ray and the girls ran over to me - Ray was so thrilled for me, "You totally beat your goal!" I was on such a high - I certainly hope I can run like that again, but if not, I will always treasure this race and how I felt.

After I got my chocolate milk and banana, I met up with the others and watched as Corey finished his first half - under his goal time! It was so cool to be there and see him do it. So thrilled for him.

Paige and Charlotte were the next to run. They were signed up for the 1 Mile Family Run/Walk. I went to the bathroom as Ray took them to the Start. When I came out, I couldn't find them, so I went with Dawnan and the others to get warm in her car. I was so cold from my sweaty clothes, I couldn't stop shaking. I borrowed her phone and called Ray.

M: "Hey - where are you guys?"
R: "(puff, puff) I don't see Paige! (puff, puff) She's way ahead of us!"
M: "Are you running?"
R: "(puff, puff) YES! (puff, puff) GET TO THE FINISH LINE!"

I hung up and flew out of the van to the Finish Line. It wasn't far, and by the time I got there, I saw a little boy come up over the hill and cross the line. Next came Paige! I couldn't help but tear up - she had the biggest smile on her face and looked so happy. She flew down the hill, got her medal and ran over to me. She was so excited and proud - couldn't stop talking about how great she was feeling. It was thrilling for me to see my daughter feeling like I did earlier. Not long after Paige, I saw Ray and Charlotte come over the hill. Ray let go of Charlotte's hand and she ran across the line. She got her medal and ran to me, crying. She was so overcome with emotion. I don't think I've ever felt so proud! I found out later, she fell hard at the beginning of the run, but she got back up crying, pulled herself together, grabbed Ray's hand, and ran the rest of the race. I think she really surprised herself with what she could accomplish.

It was an amazing day for us all. It's Sunday now, and I'm still exhausted from being on such a high yesterday! Wish I had pictures, but I didn't take my camera (of course) and Ray only thought of video, which I'm happy to have. We were all too frozen after the kid's race, we just wanted to get back in the car and didn't think to take any pics with Ray's phone. Oh well. I'll never forget any of it.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Dream Goal Coming In Focus

Just got in from my best run ever. I felt great and the weather was perfect. It was my big 12 mile run - one more run this week (5 miles), then it's 3 weeks until the next race. I still find anything over 10 miles to be very intimidating. My tummy gets very nervous before I head out, but I got into the groove quickly with this run.

I finished the 12 miles in 1:49:35, and when I saw that time, I couldn't help but get emotional. Because I'm so cheesy. I didn't think I had any energy left, but I sprinted the last 30 feet and felt awesome. What got me emotional is if I can keep up that pace on race day, I will finish right at or a little under 2 hours - a farfetched dream goal of mine. I try not to think about it because I don't want to be disappointed if I finish with something like 2:03:xx, but I secretly long to finish there. This race course will be hillier than my route - even though I do have some good hills I've been running - and I will have to keep my adrenaline in check, but I want it. Badly. I have a former neighbor from TN coming to run this race and it will be her first half. I'm sure I've mentioned her before. She's a phenomenal athlete, but running isn't her favorite sport - she's a triathlete, and enjoys the biking/swimming more. Anyway, she's training to finish the half in 1:45:xx. Hello?! Unbelievable. While I know I am unable to achieve that at this point (or ever...), she's my inspiration to push myself further. She's a mother of 4 boys - I want to be a fast momma too. My time may be fast only to me, and I'm fine with that.

I'm on such a high right now. Feeling thankful I'm able to even run and appreciate these small feats.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What Now?

Well, something is wrong and I'm pretty pissed and sad about it.

Last week, I bought new Super Feet Inserts. The blue ones...exactly like I had before for almost a year. Exactly. But not exactly because now when I run, my right leg kills me. Looking at a picture of muscles in the leg, I guess it's the peroneus longus that hurts so bad...or is it the tibialis anterior? Oh, hell if I know - it hurts and it wasn't doing this before! Those inserts aren't cheap, which is why I'm so mad. But also because I feel like an idiot - really...how hard is it to put in an insert? I'm going to put my old insert back in and I guess go visit the local specialty store tomorrow. I had to stop twice in my 4.5 mile run today - even walk 1/4 of a mile because it hurt so bad (felt really tight). Grrr. The only thing to do is find a solution and hope that I didn't do any damage.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cake Reward

So, I saw this cake in my current issue of Southern Living and time stopped still.

photo courtesy of Southern Living
Lemon-Orange Chiffon cake with Lemon-Orange Buttercream. {drool} When I saw it, I immediately knew what I would make it for...as a reward for completing my next half marathon. Should I reward myself with something so decadent and sweet? Is that a healthy idea? Probably not. No...no, for sure it's not. But it's what I'm going to do! It's not like I make desserts like this every night (although I do eat desserts every night...small desserts. Like a teacup of ice cream.). This is a special dessert. Something I will only make for special occasions - like family visiting, or finishing a race. I will dream of this cake for another 8 weeks. Omg...only 8 weeks left! I'm coming for you cake!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Messed Up Schedule

Ugh. I just fudged on my training run. Supposed to do 3 miles...3 miles! I figured I would do it on my treadmill and do a little speed work, but I crapped out at 2 miles. To be honest, my training schedule is about to get all out of whack for about two weeks. Ray and I go out of town next week. I have a 4 mile and then an 8 mile run on days we'll be gone. I'm going to take some running clothes and try to get the 4 miles done on a treadmill at the hotel, but I don't see the 8 mile run happening. If Ray was also a runner, I would have him come out with me at a park or something, but I won't go run by myself in a strange city. Eek. I'm supposed to do a 7 mile run this Saturday, but the weather is going to be soooo beautiful tomorrow (sunny and high of 47!) that I'm going to run it early - drive out to the area that has many hills. Maybe knowing I'm going to do a long run tomorrow messed with my run today.

I'm trying not to be so hard on myself about not following the schedule as written. I'll be back on schedule the first week of March, but I can't help but feel like I'm going to fall behind. Fall behind who? haha! I guess the important thing is to keep at it and do the best I can, when I can.