marathon training

Ten Marathon Truths

  1. 20140301_183627 (1)You don’t truly appreciate how far 26 miles is until you get to mile 16…and then realize you still have to run TEN. MORE. MILES.
  2. Papercuts have nothing on achey toenails as one of the worst kinds of pain.
  3. Miles 20-26 will always be, in that moment, the most painful experience of your life.
  4. Those last 385 yards are evil – but not as evil as that set of stairs in your house.
  5. You know exactly what people are doing when they duck into the woods at mile 5 and you don’t care. At mile 6 you consider doing the same thing.
  6. Compression socks are worth their weight in gold.
  7. There’s never been a better excuse to eat a bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between two honey buns.
  8. You read about a man who completed a marathon dressed as a bottle of beer and you immediately question his sanity. You then vow to do more speed training when you realize he still finished faster than you.
  9. The post-marathon shower in a trailer is better than any you could take in a 5-star spa.
  10. Marathons are hard. That’s good because if they were easy you wouldn’t get to listen to everyone tell you how crazy you are.

THE END.

The Woodlands Marathon

This marathon training cycle has been challenging, to say the least.

It started off badly because I didn’t take a break after the Houston Half. I really wanted to squeeze in 18 weeks of training before the Woodlands and that required starting my marathon training literally the day after setting a PR in the Houston Half. My body and soul both needed a little bit of a break but instead I chose to press on.

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Things were going well up until the middle of December when I went on a 17-miler with my running buddy. It was a great run. It had frosted the night before and the grass was coated in white. We chatted, discovered a new route and I took a picture of a longhorn. When I got home I noticed a slight pain in the arch of my right foot and the next morning I could barely walk. It all started going downhill from there.

The foot injury took forever to heal, a full six weeks of painful on and off running. Every time I thought it was getting better I’d go on a test run only to have it flare up again. I have suspicions that it was my shoes. I bought new shoes during the middle of all this and it wasn’t until then that things started feeling better. I guess that’s a big lesson learned – always do long runs in fresh shoes.

On top of the foot injury I also missed several long runs due to illness (mine & the kids’). I was beginning to question my ability to properly train for the race and found myself wondering if I should defer. 

But dangit! I didn’t want to defer. I waited TWO YEARS to run another marathon and it’s finally here. I wasn’t ready to give up and somehow my determination won. I clocked a 20 mile run and then a 22 mile run two weeks later with a weekly mileage peak of 55 miles. I think I’m ready.

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Ready or not, marathon day is quickly approaching. I have started seeing updates from the race organizers with maps, directions, FAQs and signs about road closures. I know my bib number. Things are getting real.

I am slightly worried about my foot. I went on an 8-mile run on Sunday and felt that nagging pain return so I am spending the rest of the week resting and trying to mentally prepare myself for the challenge ahead.

I feel like I’m in better shape than I was for my last marathon. I have paid much more attention to pacing and despite the injury I managed to surpass my highest weekly mileage to date. I think I can run a 4:15. Faster than 4:15, there be dragons and I’m scared of dragons. The most important thing is that I have fun – this is, after all, a hobby. It’s supposed to be fun.

I can’t wait to share with you how it goes! See ya on the flip side!

 

Got the Love

imageYears ago, when I was in high school running cross country there was a Nike commercial that featured the tag line, “Got the love.”
I didn’t get it at the time, I didn’t understand what it meant but my parents did and they referenced it often when they were trying to push me to do something great.

It wasn’t until I was training for my first marathon that I really got it.

Got the love means working hard, pushing your body through pain and your mind through torment to achieve something you didn’t think possible. It means total dedication both in mind and body. It means doing things that other people would find crazy and still wanting more. “Got the love,” is a wonderful three word phrase that perfectly describes how I feel about running most of the time.

Lately though, I’ve struggled. After some tough training for the Houston Half and now six weeks into training for my second marathon I’m battling some burn out. My runs haven’t been fun in a while, they’re a chore. Every. Single. One.

Just getting out the door takes every bit of will power I have. Each run is completed because I have to not because I want to. For me running is fun and this hasn’t been fun in a over a month.

I thought I could power through it. Just suck it up, put on my big girl panties and deal with it. I tried for six weeks to push though it and finally decided that I really just needed a break.

So, somewhat reluctantly, I decided to take all of this past week off. My schedule was going to be messed up anyway because of the holiday and our camping trip (post coming soon!) so it was the perfect time to take a little running break.

I didn’t run at all. Not one step. Was it hard? No. Not at all, a sure sign that it was a much needed break. I had an extra hour every day to do other stuff – prepare for our camping trip, cook food for Thanksgiving and play with my kids. It was great!

Yesterday, a full seven days after my last run, I was actually happy to put on my shoes and go for my morning run, six miles on a gloriously warm December morning. Unlike all my runs recently, I actually enjoyed it. The sun was out, the wind was brisk and the air was fresh. I took it slow since I hadn’t run in a week and even enjoyed some conversation with my overly chatty passenger. We stopped at the playground on my route and Evie got to enjoy some running time of her own.

I do feel like I lost a little bit of fitness during my week off but whatever I lost physically I made up for mentally. 

We talk a lot about physical injury in the running community. We talk about shin splints, runners knee, IT band syndrome and plantar faciitis but we rarely talk about mental injury and that’s what I think this was. So much of running is about attitude, confidence and determination, the love. You need a strong mind to build a strong body.

I don’t feel that my mind is completely healed but after a week off I’m in a much better place than I was. Now it’s back to marathon training!

Only Shootin’ Stars Break the Mold

Occasionally, you do something in running, or in life, where you challenge your own perceptions of what you think you can do.

My little story begins Sunday morning at 5 AM. I woke up to prepare for my long run, a scheduled 14 miles.

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Through the window of our bedroom I saw intermittent flashes of light so I rolled out of bed and checked the weather. A fairly heavy thunderstorm was brewing but thankfully it was in another county. I started my pre-long run routine. I fed the baby, pumped, drank a cup of coffee, ate a banana and got dressed. I got in the car and drove a bottle of water out to my turnaround point. Once back home I parked the car and walked down the driveway toward the street to begin my run.

I was just about to push the start button on my Garmin when…

*flash* BOOM!

Eeeeeek! I scurried up the driveway to the covered area of our patio and realized that my run was officially cancelled. Bummer.

This left me with quite the dilemma. I really wanted to get this 14-miler done before the half. It was my last long run before the taper and I didn’t want to miss it. I could always do it on Monday but I had the kids with me. How could I run 14 miles with the kids? The furthest I had ever pushed the double stroller was 6 miles, there was no way I could push them the entire 14.

I finally decided to split it up and do two 7 mile runs – one in the morning and one in the evening.

Monday, I left for my morning run with an open mind, so open in fact that I threw a packet of Gu in the double jogger…just in case.  A mile into my run I felt great! I began to think about attempting the unthinkable, pushing the kids the full 14 miles. Just about then Smash Mouth came on my playlist and All Star came blaring through the speaker of my phone.

Didn’t make sense not to live for fun
Your brain gets smart but your head gets dumb

So much to do so much to see
So what’s wrong with taking the back streets?

I started thinking a little harder and evaluating the day. The weather was warm but not too humid. A slight breeze came in from the coast. It was overcast which means I didn’t have to worry about the sun zapping my energy. Both the kids slept well the night before and the baby had a great feeding before we left. I had rested legs and a positive attitude.

You’ll never know if you don’t go
You’ll never shine if you don’t glow

I slowed my pace and allowed my heart rate to settle around 150. If I completely ignored my pace and just focused on maintaining my heart rate I could do this. I COULD DO IT.

Hey now you’re an All Star get your game on, go play
Hey now you’re a Rock Star get the show on, get paid

So that’s what I did. At mile 3, I committed. I made a left turn to get on my long run route….and I took this picture.

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The baby slept most of the time and Evie just watched the scenery pass. At mile 4, I got a text message from my running partner asking if I’d run yet. I told her what I was doing.

She told me I was nuts.

At mile 6, I took the Gu and drank some water.

At mile 9, my running partner met up with me and she ran with me the rest of the way.

Sometime during mile 11, Evie started to fuss so I surrendered my phone for her to play with. She proceeded to take 15 pictures of our run…and three videos of her legs.

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A half mile from home the baby started crying but I didn’t care. I was sweaty, exhausted and had blisters between my fingers but I did it. I challenged my own perception of what I was capable of doing and I learned that you never know what you can do until you try.

All that glitters is gold…
Only shootin’ stars break the mold.

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Rocks on a Fencepost

I realize this is the second time in only a few months that I’ve completely redone my blog. I apologize if this confuses or annoys you but I’ve got a good reason.

When I was brainstorming for the relaunch of my blog back in February and March I was looking for something catchy and cute. “A Buck’s Life” is what I finally came up with. Though it is indeed catchy and easy to remember, it doesn’t reflect my personality or my life. I needed something better, something with more meaning.

After some great feedback from my family and friends regarding the Rocky Road post I realized the rocks were the special and unique. They represented a great accomplishment (completing my first marathon) and more importantly were uniquely me.

The rocks are a great analogy for this blog.  Just as each rock represents a small part of a long training run, each blog entry represents a very small piece of my life. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how true this analogy is and how appropriate of a name “Rocks on a Fencepost” is for my blog.

Yes, my blog is about running but that’s only one rock. It’s about being a mom, a wife, a daughter, a cook, a nature lover and an organizational freak. Most importantly, this blog is about trying to fit all those rocks onto one fencepost while still maintaining my sanity…which brings me back to running.

Everything always goes back to running.

My New Friend, Garmin

This is my new friend, Garmin. More specifically it’s a Garmin Forerunner 410. Garmin was a gift for my birthday from my wonderful husband.

While I was marathon training, I insisted I didn’t need a Garmin. After all, I’m not a serious runner. Only serious, fast runners need something as technical as a Garmin. I didn’t need one of those. They’re expensive and bulky. Unnecessary. All I really needed was a heart rate monitor (a necessity, because honestly I don’t want to have a heart attack and die) and a good pair of shoes. And Bob. Can’t forget about Bob. But that’s it. Certainly, not a Garmin.

Tangent. This brings to light an entirely different topic of conversation – my runner identity issues. Why did I think I wasn’t a serious runner while I was training for a MARATHON??? This is a topic for a completely different post. Maybe I can lay on the virtual phycologist’s couch and tell you about my why I still don’t think I’m a serious runner at some point in the future. Tangent over.

Anyway…

After the marathon was over, I laced up my shoes once again and embarked on something that I’d never really tried before – being a runner without a race. I had decided long ago that a weekly mileage between 30-35 miles would be perfect for weight management so slowly I began inching my way back to that goal. It took a couple of weeks to regain some of the fitness I lost while recovering from the marathon but soon enough I was where I wanted to be.

I never once wondered how fast I was going. I just assumed I was running somewhere in the 9:45 min/mile range. Slow but acceptable.

Occasionally Jason joins me on my daily runs. He has always been faster than me and is well known for poking fun at my slow speed.

“I can’t run this slow. It hurts my shins.”
“I don’t think this really qualifies as running, it’s more of a slow trot.”

Duly noted.

Back in November, after the San Antonio Half Marathon Jason decided he needed to take a break from running. He was burned out. Only recently, he has started pounding the pavement with me once again. One evening a few weeks ago the following conversation took place.

I asked, “How’s the pace?”
“A little fast.”
“Okay, I’ll slow down a bit.”

Wait. What?

Fast? Me? Huh? Our twice weekly runs have now turned into an opportunity for me to kick his butt. Payback!

This, of course, made me wonder..how fast am I really running? Am I really fast? Maybe I do want a Garmin. Conviently enough my birthday was just around the corner. Which is how, on Wednesday of last week, Garmin came into my life. It will never be the same.

Garmin does a lot more than just tell you your pace, time and distance. It records mile splits, running averages of projected splits and allows you to run with a “partner” a virtual running buddy inside your watch that will run a preset speed. Once your run is over you then bring the watch into the vicinity of your computer and it will automatically upload all your data to GarminConnect thanks to a wireless USB connection. Once uploaded, it allows you to analyze your run data in ways I never thought possible!

After my first run with Garmin I realized two very important things. My 6 mile loop was really 5.76 miles, a problem that is easliy remedied by tacking on a few extra few blocks.

-and-

I’m a lot faster than I thought I was! I’m averaging an 8:34 minute/mile over 6 miles! Holy moly! I am fast!

Now, looking back, I’m sad I didn’t have Garmin as a training aid during marathon training. What was I thinking???

I don’t know if I’ll ever use every part of this incredibly powerful tool. But I will sure do my best to try!

Please note: Garmin didn’t pay me to write this. I am only sharing my experience after a week of owning this product. If you’d like to know more about the Garmin Forerunner 410, I highly suggest you read the owners manual for more accurate information regarding features and specs.

Marathon Vet Coming Through!

Back in the summer of 2009, I was sitting on a table in the orthepotedic surgeons office staring at an x-ray of my broken ankle. The brake had healed and I had finally gotten permission to start walking around without my boot.

I asked the doctor, “Is there any activity I should aviod?” His reply was straightforward, obvious and yet not what I was expecting.

“You can do whatever you want. If it hurts, stop.”

That advice has proven helpful on more than one occasion since and was especially helpful on Saturday morning as I set off on my first run as a marathon veteran.

It was an easy 3 miles with the hubby, the baby & the dog. A nice, slow, see how it goes, play it by ear, kind of run. I set off with the intention of doing exactly what the doctor told me to do that day three years ago. If it hurts, stop.

Except it didn’t hurt. Yes, my muscles were a little tight and all my joints a little stiff but I could not have asked for anything more!