Monday, April 9, 2018

Awesome Race Day!

It's been 5 1/2 years since I ran a road 10K, and the last one I did, in October 2012, I had no intention of racing to a PR (although that's what I did, barely....apparently I was in better shape than I thought). I've run 10K portions of workouts and longer races faster than my actual PR (53:12), so it was well overdue for me to race again to see where I stood with my fitness.

In November, I raced a 5 miler at 7:45 pace, so I knew that I had built up some middle distance speed in the last few years. I figured I could probably run in the 48-49 minute range, and at least break 8 min pace if race day conditions were good (that 5 miler was in 32 degree temps). I decided to sign up for a 10K after my marathon season was done, and picked the Cap 10K. It's the biggest 10K in Texas and on a certified course. Sometimes it's hard to navigate the people, but if you position yourself close up in the corral, it's possible to do a minimal amount of swerving around people. I would have preferred a smaller race, but 10Ks are hard to come by and I wanted to be sure it was on an accurate course (not short!), something you can't always guarantee in smaller races. So the Cap 10K on April 8 it would be.

Leading up to the race, my speed workouts were going pretty well. I was feeling like I had maintained pretty good fitness at the shorter distances and was eager to see how it would translate in a race. I had hoped that the Texas Independence Relay at the end of March would allow me to see where I was at, but the hot weather and difficulty of my leg assignments kicked my butt. I still think I ran pretty well, but all my legs were far off my expected 10K pace.

As we got closer to race day, I started weather obsessing. Shockingly enough, the weather was going to be spectacular for April in Texas. The weather for the Cap 10K is usually warm and humid, but not this time! Still a bit of humidity, but a starting temp of 42 degrees was ideal! I couldn't have been happier. If there was ever a time I could bust out a good PR, it was going to be at this race.

The husband was also shooting for a new PR. He ran a 45:49 last time he raced the Cap 10K, and it was still his current PR. He was hoping to break 45 minutes today, and I had a lot of faith that he'd actually break 44 minutes. He's been training so well lately for his marathon, and his speed is pretty impressive. With the good weather, I figured he'd be so close to 7 min pace, if not actually break it.

I went back and forth of what I thought I was capable of, and finally settled on an A goal of breaking 49 minutes. On a less hilly course, perhaps I could be a bit faster, but there is over 300 feet of elevation gain in this 10K. It mostly all comes in the first half of the race, and there's a lot of downhill to take advantage of, so it's most definitely a PR course if you know how to approach the hills. But it's also possible for them to take a toll. It remained to be seen!


We positioned ourselves about 15-20 seconds back from the start. With 22,000 runners I was so glad we had the first corral. This race is just so packed, and many people position themselves wrong in the corrals so it's not uncommon to encounter walkers within a quarter mile or so (yes, seriously, even in the first corral). I wasn't taking any chances. It also meant I was going out at my race pace...no warm up mile... and I had to hold that pace. Balls to the wall with nothing to lose, right??

The first mile was actually pretty uneventful. I went out at a comfortably hard pace, but not too crazy considering the first mile is a gradual uphill with over 100 feet of elevation gain (ouch!). It doesn't feel horrible and you're running towards the Capitol, but it's still not so easy. I hit the first mile in 8:06. Not too bad. Still needed to speed up.

As soon as we got to a downhill at the beginning of mile 2, I sped up. I wanted to take advantage of every downhill I could and not worry about whether it was wrecking my legs. Miles 2 and 3 are a constant rolling hill section, and you don't really get any relief until the second half of the race. Mile 2 came in at 7:53, and with the biggest hills during mile 3, that one came in at 8:02. I was a little disappointed that I was over 8 minutes on mile 3, so I knew that I needed to have no more fear for the second half of the race. I was really looking forward to all the elevation loss coming up, that's for sure!

At the halfway point, I was at 24:59. If I wanted to break 49 minutes I would need to run a full minute faster during the second half. At this point I had run the tangents well and didn't have any extra distance added on, but this course will bite you in the butt on that in the second half. It's notorious for forcing extra steps and I really have no idea why if you run tangents well, but it is what it is. I knew that I would have at least an extra 30 seconds of running beyond what my watch says was a 10K distance, and I needed to pace myself like I was running longer than a 10K. This is pretty much how any race goes, I know that, and neither the husband nor I have been able to hit the 10K distance even close to perfectly in this race. So....first half in 24:59 and an 8:02 pace, with the second half needing to be closer to 7:30 pace.

I saw my teammate Drew right after the halfway point, and I'm glad I saw him during a downhill because I bet I looked much better than if he'd seen me on an uphill! A quick wave to Drew and now a new focus on finishing this thing out. I was steadily speeding up and hoping it wasn't going to make me blow up. But like I kept thinking...I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by being fearless.

Mile 4 came in at 7:42 and again my watch beeped right at the mile marker. I was hoping I could get even faster in those last 2 miles, but mile 6 would be unforgiving. It's pretty flat and feels harder than it is. So mile 5 needed to be totally awesome. I felt okay. It was most certainly hard, but I still thought I could keep running this pace for another 17 minutes. I was getting warm so I took my gloves off and rolled down my arm sleeves...I was surprised I was actually feeling warm! My watch beeped before the Mile 5 marker (just like I thought it would!) with a 7:37 mile, and I passed the mile marker at about 39:40. I need to run the last 1.2 miles in about 9 minutes...I definitely thought I could do this!

I somehow gave a little extra distance to the course during mile 6 (of course I did...ugh)....and oh my gosh mile 6 can totally suck! But I was almost done and just needed to suck it up. Making the turn from Cesar Chavez Ave to South 1st Street is one of the best moments of the race. There is less than a half mile to go and you can see the finish festival. I knew Greg would already be done and waiting for me and I wanted him to be proud of my finish. My watch beeped that I ran mile 6 in 7:35 and I was so thrilled with that! I was steadily improving my pace during the race and was about to finish strong. One more turn onto Riverside Drive and the finish line was in sight. I just gave it all I had at this point. That last 1/4 mile was at 6:45 pace! I don't think I've ever even seen that pace during a 5K race, much less a 10K.

Pain cave at the finish sprint. Photo cred: Nancy K


I finished the race in 48:54....barely making my goal. An official pace of 7:52 per mile. SO DAMN HAPPY.





MY HUSBAND WAS A TOTAL ROCKSTAR!!! He not only made his goal of breaking 45 minutes, but he made MY goal for him of breaking 44 minutes! He ran 43:33! He's pretty incredible and I'm so proud of him.



Free vodka is always appreciated
After the race, we found some awesome friends and spent some time hanging out. We were both pretty tired, but really pleased with our races.

Looking back at my splits and analyzing how I felt, I have to say that I don't think I could have run this race any better. I was in Zone 4 for over 42 minutes of the race, with a couple minutes in Zone 5, so I was in control and running at threshold just like I wanted to be. My average heartrate was 159 and it never went over 168. I almost negative split every mile and am okay with mile 3 being slower since it was the hilliest mile. My second half was 1:05 faster than the first half and I clocked my fastest 5K on this watch (23:29). Based on my January marathon time, I think this is right where I should be in my fitness. It gives me confidence going into the rest of the year and future 2018 marathon training.

Stats for me: 28/1232 F40-44, 225/10349 women, 1145/18752 overall
Stats for husband: 33/969 M40-44, 313/8403 males, 348/18752 overall (only 35 women beat him!)

On Monday morning, guess what was found on the Statesman's Instagram feed? A picture of me!! How cool is that??



And that husband of mine? He's well on his way to being able to BQ in his July marathon!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Just gonna put this out there

In a couple of my previous blog posts, I alluded to a big marathon time goal I had in mind for the coming year. I am signed up for California International Marathon on December 2, which will then lead me to training (hopefully, if I make the cut off) for the Boston Marathon on April 15. I met my goals in my two marathons for this past season, qualifying for Boston with a pretty big cushion (5:07 under my qualifying time), and after experiencing that success and dialing in the training that seems to work for me, I am itching to see just how far I can take my running fitness.

I love having big goals. I love seeing success and knowing that when I put my mind to something and work hard, I can achieve my goals. It hasn't always been that way, but it was this year and I am still on a big time high from it. I want to keep going!

But I was extremely hesitant to put it out there just what I came up with for a goal. Many people keep that to themselves, or are really vague about it for fear of failure. After the Louisiana Marathon, I gained a confidence I didn't think I possessed and I'm not fearful of failure. Sure, I could totally fail, but I'm actually okay with that. As long as I feel I did everything in my power to succeed, then I still find that to be a success much more than a failure. I'm ready to talk about what my time goals are.

Here's why.

I have been following professional athlete Gwen Jorgensen for awhile now. I first heard of her when she won the Olympic gold medal in the triathlon at the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was just absolutely fierce and dominating and I was totally drawn to her. To celebrate her victory, she ran the New York City Marathon....in 2:41!!! She wasn't even properly trained for it and still absolutely killed it. A new professional marathoner was born. She has since retired from pro triathlon and switched gears to the marathon, with the goal of winning gold in Tokyo in 2020. Freaking lofty-as-shit goals right there, and completely inspiring.

She was interviewed for Sports Illustrated recently. She's taken a bit of flack for her goal of not just making the Olympic team, or getting a medal, but actually saying she wants to win gold. After all, she's nowhere near ready. But she's working as hard and as smart as she can to make the qualifying standard, run the Trials, make the team, and win that Olympic marathon. HUGE FREAKING GOALS. A quote from the interview stands out to me:
That was a bold statement of mine. It’s not a statement to put down anyone else. It was a statement to hold me accountable. For me, when I say a big goal, it’s out there and it makes me get up every day. I’m reminded and confronted with that goal.
So I decided that perhaps to hold myself accountable to what is in store for me in the coming months, it's time for me to say what my goal is.

Let's backtrack a bit. Originally, my goal this past year was to qualify for Boston 2019. I needed to run 3:55 to do so, but in order to actually make the cutoff or have a remote shot at that, I needed to break 3:52. I ran 3:49:53 in Louisiana, giving me a 5:07 cushion, which should absolutely be enough to gain entry.

Goal accomplished.

But I have no plans to just show up at Boston and "run for fun." If I busted my butt to earn the right to start as a qualifier, you can be damn sure I'm going to put everything I have into that race and do my absolute best.

So then my goal began to take shape.

I went back and forth from just getting a PR and re-qualifying for 2020, to maybe running 3:45, to breaking 8:30 pace (3:42). Nothing seemed quite right to me.

Then I took another look at the qualifying standards for the New York City Marathon, which are notoriously brutal. You have to have some serious speed relative to your gender and age to gain a time qualifier spot.

Challenge accepted.

I need to run 3:38 as a 45 year old to qualify for New York. That's 8:19 pace and a nearly 12-minute PR.

I have seriously lost my mind.

But there you have it. A couple friends knew this was what I was planning, but now I put it out there for all to see. I'm not exactly sure what my CIM goal will be, but I know that I need to PR in that race on my way to 3:38 in Boston. I also have two half marathons in October and January that will serve as a test of my fitness. I need to work diligently in the gym on my strength, and be consistent out on the roads throughout the Texas summer. I need to get leaner (every pound makes a difference, but it must be done without muscle loss). I have my work cut out for me.

Gwen has also been quoted as saying, "I'm somebody who's motivated by big challenges, and I'm motivated when I put the goal out there...It holds me accountable."

Truth



Saturday, March 10, 2018

Excitement for 2018

I am equal parts TOTALLY EXCITED and TOTALLY TERRIFIED!

And I love to have that reaction when I finalize my race calendar.

I went back and forth on whether or not I want to do another marathon before Boston 2019, but truth be told, no way can I wait that long to toe the line at 26.2 again. Nope, can't do it.

Marathon #15 will be California International Marathon in Sacramento on December 2 and I couldn't be happier about choosing that race. I really feel like I can run another Boston Qualifier and an even better one than the one I turned out in Baton Rouge this year. I have a goal brewing in the back of my mind and I'm excited to get to work on it. I have to be patient...but the wheels are turning already!

My endurance running race calendar is complete (I think?):

October 28 - Houston Half Marathon
December 2 - California International Marathon
January 20 - Aramco Houston Half Marathon
April 15 - Boston Marathon (please please please let BQ-minus-5:07 be enough to get in)

I am traveling for every single one. Does traveling 3 hours away to Houston count as traveling? It's only one night away from home, so I'll consider that pseudo-travel. Hotels are booked for the first three races...all of them right by the start lines. I feel totally comfortable with how everything is panning out.

Seriously, I am SO EXCITED about racing CIM. It's a net downhill course (but not as much as Boston), the weather is typically pretty good, it attracts a lot of really fast runners, and it's a top Boston Qualifier. While I do love the appeal of small marathons, sometimes you need to throw yourself in amongst thousands upon thousands of runners. I have friends that live in the Sacramento area and I'm hoping for the chance to see them as well.

I also realized that this will be the 5th capital city I will have run in. I've run races in D.C., Baton Rouge, Austin, and Nashville so far. I think that's pretty cool.

If things go as I hope they will in Sacramento, then I have an even bigger goal for Boston. I feel like I need to take advantage of where my fitness is at right now, build upon it, and really see what I can do over the course of the year. My tempo runs and speedwork have been spectacular lately. I've been running my fastest tempos ever and I am getting more comfortable on the track. I feel like my "run slow to run faster" approach worked beautifully for me this last year, so I'll continue to train like that. I just bought two of Matt Fitzgerald's books so I can continue my quest to learn as much about effective marathon training as possible. The 80/20 training method is similar to how I approached training, but with what seems like even more easy running and even bigger volume. Matt Fitzgerald explains that we are no doubt running less than 80% of our volume at a truly easy pace and that if we shift that percentage to where it should be, we'll improve our speed significantly. This is a great thing, because like I said....I HAVE BIG GOALS! 



The other book discusses the mental training necessary to be a successful marathon runner. It's never a bad thing to get mentally tougher, and vital to what I want to do.


One of my friends sent me a link to a TED talk by Eduardo Briceno titled "How to get better at things you care about." IT WAS AWESOME. He explains the difference between the Learning Zone and the Performance Zone. The most successful people (no matter what it is that they're trying to get better at) spend a lot of time in the learning zone, "doing activities designed for improvement, concentrating on what we haven't mastered yet, which means we have to expect to make mistakes, knowing that we will learn from them." We break down our abilities into components, subskills, etc, going just beyond our comfort zone until we master it. Practicing in the learning zone leads to substantial improvement, but we can't get complacent or our performance will plateau. We build our skills in the learning zone, and then apply them in the performance zone. But in order to spend more time in the learning zone, we have to do a number of things....believe we can improve, have a purpose we care about, have an idea about how to improve (deliberate practice), and not be afraid to make mistakes. Our society cultivates an attitude that we must be in the performance zone constantly (think of how schools approach teaching with letter grades and a narrow focus on what the right answer should be....versus exploring a wider thought process and giving feedback for revision and improvement). If we are afraid to get outside our comfort zone and try new things, even if we fail, we struggled, plateau, or fall behind.

It really was fascinating to listen to. I really do want to spend a lot of this year learning as much as I can about how to improve, focus on those little subskills until I can master them, pushing myself just outside my comfort zone until it becomes comfortable, and then gauging my success in the performance zone at the races I've chosen. 


Until then, however, it's all about my husband. He has his first marathon coming up in less than 5 months and he's working hard already at getting fit enough to run fast enough for a BQ. His checkpoint half marathon is on April 22, and while it might be hideously warm since it's here in Central Texas, it will still be a great gauge of his fitness before embarking upon the final three months of marathon training. We have three other friends planning on running his pace at that race (including one of the official pacers) so he will be in good company. I think the two books I bought will also serve the husband well. He has seen me train hard and knows what it takes, but I'd like him to soak up all the knowledge he can. I have no doubt about his speed. I want to make sure his mind is as strong as his body is going to be. I'm also getting super jealous of how fast he can run.

In the next 6 weeks I have three races...Texas Independence Relay on March 24-25, Cap10K on April 8, and the Wine and Roses 5K on April 22. Then I can relax a bit before real training begins in July. But these races (provided the weather isn't horribly atrocious) should give me an idea on my fitness before the awful summer months. Seriously excited about what is in store!


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Tempo is King

Tempo runs HURT.

But they are so awesome and when I'm done with one, I always feel on top of the world.

A tempo run, or "threshold run," is a faster-paced workout that feels "comfortably hard." They increase our lactate threshold and metabolic fitness, and because of this, we get faster and more efficient at these faster paces. And for further understanding, and to totally steal from the Runner's World definition, I'll go into the science a little.
During tempo runs, lactate and hydrogen ions - by-products of metabolism - are released into the muscles. The ions make the muscles acidic, eventually leading to fatigue. The better trained you become, the higher you push your "threshold," meaning your muscles become better at using these by-products. The results is less-acidic muscles (that is, muscles that haven't reached their new threshold), so they keep on contracting, letting you run farther and faster. 
In order to realize this training effect, you have to put in enough time at the right effort.

On Tuesday mornings during the fall and winter, we do tempo runs of about 60 minutes. Our fearless leader, Christine, determines what paces we run based on a recent 5K race result, or something close to that. We have a short, mid, and long tempo pace assigned by her. Based on what she has assigned for me, I assume these are 5K+15 sec/mi for short tempo, 5K+30 sec/mi for mid tempo, and 5K+45 sec/mi for long tempo. One week we may do 2 miles warm up, 4 miles at short-tempo, and 1 mile cooldown, and then the next week run 1 mile warm up, 5 miles at mid-tempo, and 1 mile cooldown. Or even a progressive tempo, starting at long tempo pace and speeding up to short tempo for the last bit. Truth be told, we don't see a lot of runs only running long tempo pace.

Heartrate tends to be about 85-90% of our maximum. Perceived effort of 8 out of 10. Conversation not really possible beyond a few words here and there.

In other words....OUCH.

I truly believe these runs are exactly why I gained the confidence to try to qualify for Boston. When we first started running these back in late 2016, I thought Christine was nuts for thinking I could run those kinds of paces for so long in a mid-week workout. Then I ran a faster 5K in February and she dropped 15 seconds/mile off of my tempo paces, pushing me to run them all even faster. Currently I'm another 15 seconds/mile faster than that (because of my Turkey Trot pace in November...dang it!). But she's been right every single time. I absolutely can run these paces, for miles at a time, and still feel alive afterwards.

I still remember one particular run back in October when I ran my fastest 5 miles ever during one of these tempo runs. I averaged 8:19 pace and I remember thinking that I could absolutely run faster than that if it was a race. Four weeks later I ran the 5 mile Turkey Trot in 7:45 pace. If you had told me over the summer that I'd be doing that, I never would have believed you. But Christine totally believed in us, and she pushed us, and she was right every single time! Some Tuesday mornings were harder than others for sure, but they were all successful tempo runs.

The long run might be the bread and butter of marathon training, but if your goal is to go beyond just gaining endurance and actually want to "race" the marathon, I absolutely believe the tempo run is right up there in importance.

This past Tuesday was really the first workout I've done since the Louisiana Marathon when I could truly see the speed I had built up during peak marathon training. We ran a 1 mile warmup, 5 miles at mid-tempo, then 1 mile cooldown. My mid tempo target pace is 8:15, although that's based off my 5 mile race pace and not a 5K (I need to race a 5K soon). However, after two hard marathons, I think 8:15 was certainly an acceptable goal. Truth be told, I didn't think I could actually hit that pace but I was going to give it a good shot. The humidity was pretty brutal that morning and I know some of the other runners were struggling in it, and although I didn't really get too bothered by it, I am now wondering if I could've run even better had it been drier out. Anyway....I ended up averaging exactly 8:15/mile during that 5 miles of tempo pace. With warm up and cooldown, I ran 8:51 average for 7 miles that morning. That was my fastest Tuesday morning workout and my second fastest 5 miles I've ever run. With as tough as this recovery has been and as patient as I've had to be, I am so thrilled that I could see a glimpse of the fitness I had at peak training and that I can get that back again.

I'm telling you, tempo runs WORK. If you're not doing them, why not?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Race Calendar+Goals+Pride

After the excitement of finishing my marathon season, it's been nice to take the pressure off myself a bit and just get back to enjoying running and thinking of future goals. There was a restlessness, however, that was eating at me and I knew I needed to get serious about picking out some races leading up to Boston 2019.

Since my half split times in both marathons were some of my fastest half marathons ever, I knew it would serve me well to focus more on that distance. Before these marathons, I hadn't run a sub-2 hour half since 2014, and my PR of 1:51:36 is now five years old. I have a big goal that I'm eyeing in Boston (provided, of course, that my 5:07 buffer is sufficient and I get in, and if the weather cooperates), and I'd like to get in some tune up races well before the buildup to Boston.

So I have picked two half marathons so far, both in Houston, but on two totally different courses. The Houston Half is on October 28 and is on a looped course through downtown and on Allen Parkway and Memorial Drive. It's a great section of Houston to run and I'm excited about it. It's easy to travel to Houston and it's on a Sunday so I don't have to disrupt our family schedule by having to travel on a Friday. It's not a huge race as far as big city races go (less than 4000 finishers in 2017). At first I was going to run a Shreveport half marathon that weekend, but it's on Saturday and a couple hours further away than Houston. Houston Half just seemed better logistically. Besides, it was only $50!

The second half I'm signed up for is Aramco Half, which coincides with Chevron Houston Marathon in January. I've run this race five times so far, four marathon distance and one half distance. Four out of five times the weather has been great so I'm hoping for that good luck to continue. I love this race for so many reasons. The organization can't be beat, it finishes at the convention center so you get to be inside after the race, the course is great, and the crowd support is the best I've experienced so far. The 2019 race will be my first race in my new 45-49 age group. It comes three months before Boston, so perfect timing to gauge my fitness and figure out where I need improvement before I build up for April 15. I'm hoping that my time qualifier is fast enough to get me in A corral (that's a big deal in a huge race like Houston)...but I think it will. Fingers crossed. This Houston race will really be a big goal race for me, provided the October race goes well and I can still see ways for further improvement.



I'm not sure how much I'm really going to talk about my specific marathon and half marathon time goals. I haven't told anyone beyond the husband what they are, and they frighten me a little. But if I learned anything from 2017 and my two marathons, is that I am perfectly capable of the hard work and discipline that is required for lofty goals, so why stick to the same when I have the potential to be even faster? But...to throw those goals out there into the open so early in the year? No, I'm not ready to do that just yet. My mind is going a million miles an hour strategizing the next several months and I'm looking forward to new challenges.

In March I'll be racing in the Texas Independence Relay for my 9th year in a row. It's been cut down from 200 miles to 180 miles this year, which means only three legs for me and not four, and probably a max of about 16 or 17 miles total for me to run. I committed to 8:15 pace and I'm nervous and excited all at the same time to see if I can maintain that kind of pace over my three relay legs. Two weeks after the relay is my first 10K road race in nearly 6 years. My goal is to shave 5 minutes off my PR. I have a relatively slow (for me) 10K PR since I have only raced a handful of times at that distance. The weather is a crapshoot in April in Texas, however, so I'll cross my fingers and hope it cooperates and I can suck it up enough to meet my "A" goal.

The hubs pointed out something funny this morning. Because I am planning to do Boston next year, that means that my thought of running Ironman Texas is on hold right now and he's so happy about that! Truth be told, so am I! While the idea of Ironman is not off the table at all, I'm so ill-prepared to start that kind of training. It's pretty much a relief to table that craziness for at least another year.

Now enough about me...I want to talk about my husband! He's running his first marathon in July, and a goal half marathon in April, and he has already been working his butt off. I wrote up a tough training plan for him, and he's flying through it in such an impressive way. He doesn't at all question the crazy things I make him do, even if they scare him, and he totally trusts the process each week. He tells me all the details about each run and how he felt so we can adjust if necessary, being mindful of doing too much too soon and risking injury. His dedication is off the charts awesome and if he's able to continue at this with the same determination, consistency, and commitment then he has a really big shot at qualifying for Boston at his marathon. He figures if he's going to go big, he may as well go REALLY big. He's seriously a coach's dream client. He just makes me damn proud!



After spending so many years training to "finish" marathons and never committing to my true ability, it feels so good to know that I am finally a good marathoner and have the ability to get even better. Crazy fast (for me) goals no longer scare me as much as they used to, although I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. But I know if I plug away one week and one run at a time, and track my progress, and adjust where I need to, and dial in my nutrition and racing weight like I did in 2017, I'm not totally crazy for wanting these new goals. I am so thrilled at the thought of crushing my goal in Boston next year!

Monday, February 12, 2018

My Husband the Marathoner

Something CRAZY just happened in the Hahn House.

The husband registered for his first marathon. The husband, and I quote, thinks "marathons are stupid."

HE'S GOING TO RUN 26.2!

Years and years ago, he told me he would run one marathon, and that would be Rome, and we arbitrarily picked 2020 as the year to do that together. He's always maintained that he would be one and done and he would have a great time in a beautiful city doing it.

Well.....

I think he cooked up this idea while I was racing Mississippi Gulf Coast. When he saw that I was going to Boston qualify, he started thinking about running Boston with me, but as a charity runner. As soon as I was done with that race and had caught my breath, he told me this crazy idea, and I was so excited.

Come to find out that it's not quite so easy getting picked as a charity runner, plus they start in a different wave than where I would start, so we couldn't run together if he was a charity runner. So that plan started to evolve into something even crazier.

He's going to try to QUALIFY for Boston and run it with me. Boston 2019 happens to be 3 weeks before our 20th anniversary, making it extra special.

So, the man who says marathons are stupid, who's never run longer than 2 hours and 3 minutes, is going to run 26.2 miles on July 29. He needs a 3:25 to qualify and will be shooting for a 3:20.

He's a great runner, but has only raced long distance once, a half marathon back in 2009, at a 7:50 pace while injured and on relatively low mileage (fast bastard). He has run several half marathons since then, but always with me or in training. Talk about an awesome and inspiring leap of faith!

I get to be his coach, and over the last two months I've been helping him build up his base miles and endurance, knowing he was thinking about taking on this challenge. He's up to 30 miles per week already, and provided he stays consistent and healthy, we will get him over 50 miles per week as we approach summer. Yes, a Texas summer spent running 50+ mile weeks, which will only serve to make him even stronger on race day.

I'm so excited about the opportunity to coach another runner to a Boston Qualifying time, or at least die trying! To take on the challenge of doing this for a new marathon runner will be even more exciting. If I didn't think he was a strong enough runner, I wouldn't want to do this, but my husband is pretty damn incredible. He has the discipline and focus to stick to a schedule, he's fast, he saw how hard I worked to hit my goal and the commitment doesn't scare him. All those factors are huge in order to pick such a lofty goal for a first marathon. He chose a downhill marathon, with a gradual downhill that will hopefully not destroy his legs but instead give him that extra boost to achieve his goal.

We have 5 1/2 months to work on this.

BQ or Bust!


Sunday, February 4, 2018

Control

As I was finishing up my last blog post, another topic formed in my mind that I feel the need to write out and work through. In case you haven't noticed, my mind works in overdrive sometimes and having this blog is a great way to dissect these thoughts.

I talked a bit about how important it is for me to focus on the things I can control in my life. I have so many things that are total crapshoots for me on a daily basis that without something concrete to focus on, I'd literally lose my mind.

For starters, my kids. Oh, my darling kids. Mind you, I love them with all of my being. I think they have incredible minds, incredible talents, and with a bit of direction, are really going places in this world. But parenting them is far more difficult than I ever envisioned. They are smart as can be, so I thought school would be a breeze for them.

Nope.

They have a ton of talent...my son is a computer whiz and my daughter is fully immersed in the arts - she can sing like nobody's business and her artistic talent is being fine tuned on a daily basis. So of course, they'd be super focused on success because of this, right?

Nope.

It's frustrating. That's putting it mildly. Actually, it absolutely kills me. It stresses me out like nothing else in my life that they always manage to find a way to get distracted, to not care, to perform less than they know they're capable of. I have absolutely no control over this, and I refuse to be a helicopter parent no matter how much the school pushes me to micro-manage them. I've spent years trying to find a balance between guiding them, hovering over them, harping on them, and talking about it until I'm blue in the face, while forcing them to take control of it themselves, to be responsible, and to allow them to fail and learn a lesson. I can't do the work for them, I can't force them to care, I can merely guide them and support them. Basically, it's totally out of my control and my mind wrestles with this on a daily basis.

So that's my kids for you. I don't have control over what they choose to care about or on what they focus their attention, but I have control over accepting them for who they are and supporting all their successes and their failures.

My kids are only a part of the uncertainty that surrounds me on a daily basis. There are so many things that I struggle with personally, and find difficulty in controlling. I have come to accept many of these variables, however, but it was a long process.

First, mental health. For a very long time I was unaware that I suffered from depression and anxiety and that it was an actual disorder that I would be struggling with for the rest of my life. I always viewed my "bouts" with depression and anxiety as just that....temporary bouts. It wasn't until a few years ago, that, after discussing it at length with my doctor, I was found to be clinically depressed and suffering from a legitimate anxiety disorder. Temporary fixes wouldn't make it go away. I would always have to be proactive about treatment and I could not be complacent. I'm so thankful for the counselor that I found who worked with me in those early days to come to terms with this problem and find ways to reset my mind. I'm thankful for my doctor for taking me seriously and then opening my eyes to reality, and spending time reworking my medication so I finally found one that my body could tolerate long term.

Anyone who suffers from mental health disorders understands just how significant all these steps are. I have accepted that this who I am, I have a husband who supports me daily and understands when it's just "not my day...or my week" and doesn't make me feel guilty about it, and I continue to find ways to battle through the dark times without giving in to that darkness.

I do not have control over my diagnoses, but I have control over how I let it run my life.

Next, the negativity in the world. I gotta be honest here. I think the way people have treated each other in the last couple years...publicly...is just insane. It's disgusting and unnecessary and it shows a complete lack of character. The name calling, the lack of common sense, the lack of decency, the inability to really think about what they're saying and doing. It blows my mind. I can't control what other people think or do or say, but I certainly don't have to join them in their immaturity and irrational behavior. It's forced me to remove people from my life (trust me, I only did this after a lot of soul searching), and to avoid some people, and to keep my mouth shut about many things. I want to be known for my compassion and grace, not for being a raging bitch when I don't agree with someone. So I've quieted my mind and my mouth. It's truly a freeing experience.

Lastly, let's talk about physical health. I am a healthy person...mostly. However, what isn't so obvious on the outside is that I do suffer from many physical ailments, and my family medical history is downright frightening. I have asthma, eosinophilic esophagitis and dysphagia, and scoliosis. My family has suffered with countless bouts of cancer, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and diabetes. I sometimes feel like I'm on borrowed time because I've not yet experienced anything truly life threatening. My disorders are incredibly frustrating at times, however. I had hoped in the last year to put myself as a priority and work on a better solution to my gastrointestinal issues, but because of my family's medical woes in the last year and the astronomical amount of money we were spending on that, I had to put myself on the backburner. I really need to get treatment again (surgery or meds? both? not sure). I finally said enough is enough and I scheduled doctor appointments with a new team of doctors after I was dissatisfied with my last one. That appointment is on Monday and I'm optimistic that I will see relief soon. It's been a long time coming and it was time to put myself first. With regards to my asthma, thankfully, with the weight loss and more focused marathon training last year, I feel like I've made big strides with improvement and better control of my asthma. I didn't have any real trouble with it. However, my allergies that lead to asthma issues need to be addressed in a more permanent manner. I finally scheduled the appointment I will need to begin allergy shots. It's a huge commitment but it was time I stopped putting it off. The scoliosis? Yeah, that's not exactly going away, and because of the imbalance it creates in my lower body, I have to be extra diligent with physical therapy exercises and weight lifting to keep my imbalance from causing running injuries.

My family medical history is probably one of the biggest motivators to me taking charge of my physical health. I can't control genetic predispositions to anything, but I can still do whatever I can to fight off other preventable diseases. I refuse to be limited by things that I am 100% in control over, and when I've seen things start to go sideways I always try to right the ship by putting more focus and effort into nutrition and exercise. To people on the outside, I seem obsessed. I really don't care. I know how devastating preventable illnesses can be and if it's something I can control, well, then that's what I'm going to do. I have a lot of plans for the present and the future and I don't want any limitations.

I guess the moral of the story is that when you're feeling completely overwhelmed by things outside your control, sometimes what can bring you back from the abyss is finding those things that you CAN control and putting more focus into those. It can be something small, or many small things, or something big. But there is always something that is within your control. Taking hold of that can help you reset your mind and bring a bright spot into what can many times be a very dark and dreary time.