I’m An Ultra Girl!

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My one token picture taken after I finished my run =) I’m still standing…..
Hey boys and girls…
Have ya missed me ? I’ve had a busy weekend…. and as you know… my Saturday was kinda hogged by my 50K run. Half the day running, the rest of it, dragging my carcass home, getting cleaned up ( I never thought the act of showering and washing my hair was an athletic event, but it felt like it)  and allowing my body some much need rest time. Oh yeah, and a lil food to replace the 4,037 calories my Nike+ watch told me I burned off.
You gotta drop 3500 calories to lose a pound of fat…. so… that’s interesting….did I accomplish that too ? Multi-tasking in a new way 😉
I was….so….very…. tired.

Wow… it’s not …usual…. for me to run a half marathon, a full, and an ultra distance all in one morning 😉

Holy mackerel Batman…… I’m now an Ultra Girl!

(So you know, if you don’t, anything over the full marathon distance of 26.2 miles is considered “ultra”) a 50K is 31.7 miles although by the time I got to my “finish” I was close to 32.

Yes, the weather was amazing, but that wind was a blessing and curse. I seemed to always be running into it, which dries out my head in the worst way, not to mention, it’s so hard to run into the wind! I am now however, sporting a really good start on my tan 🙂

The best way (for me) to tackle this distance, or any really long run, is not to focus on the miles in front of me, just take them one at a time, otherwise, I might run kicking and screaming the other way……..

All was well and good, miles were going by, overall feeling good. I had left the parking lot at Starbucks ( my turn around point to start going….back… the way I had just run) and a mile down was the big hill I had just run down.

My legs were begging for mercy. I was almost at full marathon distance at this point. By the time I crawled to the top my “support team” came zipping up.

I will be honest…. I wanted to get in. I begged hubby to tell me to keep going. I was hot. My quads were threatening to leave my body after the hill not to mention almost 26 miles on them.

I cried a little on the side of the car. 

 Those voices were talking. Those horrible, damn voices.
I know them. They’ve showed up when I’ve run both marathons about mile 21-23. Those voices talk to you and try and convince you that you can’t do it, maybe you should quit, give up, take the easy way out. You must use every bit of mental muscle to stomp them down….sometimes you have to stomp hard.

I had already given myself the pep talk that I was counting down single digits to finish. I wasn’t gonna quit. I don’t quit.

Besides… he locked the doors on me 😉

The other crazy thing? In both marathons, and today, I started craving a Coke in the….worst… kind of way. Crazy ’cause I never was a big soda drinker, and haven’t even had one in… I don’t know how long. That simple sugar your body runs on… when you’re in the midst of long distance running… you aren’t focused on being all healthy… you just need energy. During the marathon I have to let the feeling pass and when I’m done I don’t want it anymore. Today though… I sent my support team off to get one….

talk about a shot in the arm … it was…helpful 😉

Anyway, I was having to double back on my run route to get all my miles in and decided to run a side road which was a mile back and forth and off the main busy road. I knew I had a little over a mile back once I got on main road again.

I won’t lie… those last miles were brutal…. hard and brutal. Seriously, I was praying for strength to finish what I started. Those legs….. were seriously protesting further movement… I know I took them to a whole new level of exertion…

Oh, and this side road I was on, in the beginning, hills, and then running back down… the quads were crying…legs were starting to feel fully trashed.

Finally… my watch hit 30 miles… which seemed surreal ’cause I’ve never seen that before… I would’ve done a happy dance if I could’ve moved my legs better…. it was finally time to head to my finish line..my mind was pushing my body at this point….

Although, it wasn’t the “race” I had originally planned out and there weren’t the crowds, and spectators with signs, or a time chip on me, my body didn’t know that… it still ran/crawled haha almost 32 miles…

My 50K in the books. A huge personal goal for this year. My official virtual race form has been submitted to the race committee and in a few weeks I’ll get my ultra medal and t shirt =)

Will I do another next year ? I’m not sure. It’s hard to not always want to take things to the next level, know you could do it a little better.

The challenge of running…..

I will tell you… I got home…and crawled onto my bed in the fetal position, not sure if I had the energy to get in the shower.

I’ve never….been so tired….ever.

My son came in and offered to carry me to the shower… nice try kid… I’m a package to pack… 😉  I assured him I could crawl in on my own when he grabbed me and said…

“Why are you so white and gritty feeling??”

Salt. Dried salt all over me. Crazy. A human salt block.

So I’ve had some rest time, been good friends with my foam roller, made dinner ( actually movement really is good for recovery, you have to push back against the desire to do…absolutely…..  nothing  the rest of day :-P) and managed to get cleaned up without calling 911 to rescue me haha

I slept well…. can you imagine ? I think you could’ve moved the house from under me….

And now… I’m plotting and planning what’s next….but first… the body definitely gets a little down time to recover…. the hardest part for me. I read an article suggesting you take one day off for each mile of your race you ran.

Yikes… I don’t know about that….
Overall, a pretty productive running month with two half marathons and now this 50K under me. I know some down time is essential, but mentally, I will admit to struggling with it.
What about you? Do you like having time off ?  When you do a big run, is the recovery time easy ? or frustrating for you? What are some things you do to help the process along ?  Share with me.
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Race Weekend Wrap Up

Hey boys and girls!

Ah my intent had been to get this written last night, but honestly, my brain felt to tired to put words together haha

Am I the only one who wishes on race day that no one wanted anything from you afterwards so you could be…a slug? Ha, actually, it’s probably a really good thing to keep moving around for good recovery =)

So, race day.  I was seriously grateful that the previous two days of rain and overall slop had stopped and the morning showed up in the high 50’s with the sun promising an appearance.

I live about 50 minutes away from the downtown San Antonio area where the race was being held ( this is with no traffic to contend with on an early Sunday morning 😉 so I was out and race bound by about 6. Race was set to go off about 7:45 but somehow they never quite get it started at that time. Anyway, if you run, then you know you just want to get to the site so you can just…chill… settle in… start getting focused and in your head. I need some time to set distractions aside and key in on what I’m about to do.

I mean, seriously, I know it’s only 13.1 miles, but then, it IS 13.1  miles…. it does require work and effort.

OK, the race itself as I mentioned in a previous post, is a 4 year old home grown event that is coming into it’s own. I love that we run through so much of old historic downtown San Antonio and that the start/finish is at our Alamo.

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In front of the historic Texas Alamo (after race)

And so you know, across the street from the Alamo is this huge monument to the men and the battle that was fought on this site.

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Alamo monument
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This is some of the wall that surrounds and protected the Alamo..

 

Ok….So the race. It’s pretty flat and they do a great job of touring you through old downtown San Antonio, along the Riverwalk, a local university and a beautiful city park and golf course…..they also throw in some trails too. As I mentioned previously, I like that this race is home grown and still smallish ( a few thousand people) they try and make it fun and offer personal touches.

And really, what other race starts with a real cannon blast ?

I knew when I started this race I was going to treat it like a long training run. A few miles in though I started dealing with some queasiness. I didn’t get it cause my morning routine had been the same as any other long run day. I later determined, I didn’t have enough fluid in me. I am a big water drinker on a daily basis and usually  push more before a race, which I hadn’t done. Am I the only one who does stuff like this ? You KNOW what you need to do, but somehow, you just fail to… and then you pay for it.

Add to it, I sweat out a lot, and I’ve learned…. that sets me up for that horrible feeling…which makes it soooo hard to keep pushing myself faster.

Although after passing the water station at mile 11 I had a young girl pull up next to me and say.. “I’ve been trailing you for miles… you’re doing great!” it did encourage me to push myself those last couple miles.  One thing I’ve learned in races… people pick me out and pace off me…. I guess I keep a fairly steady pace.

Anyway, I finished in about 2:20. Not my best time….. I’ll never be the fastest, most impressive runner on the course, but hey, I just ran 13.1 freaking miles! And then I realized after I finished and cooled down, walked back to my car to get my phone to snap pics and was chatting with people I realized, almost 40 minutes later, runners were still coming in and were still on the course.

Yeah, ok, I need to be nice to myself and know I did ok. AND I still got this super cool, 3-D medal for my reward 😉 it’s such a heavy lil sucker….

20150322_103052Oh and let’s not forget this tasty ice cold recovery drink they hand off to you as you finish….

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Gotta love Promised Land milk….

Although after running forever and then walking blocks back and forth to my car, I was pondering the beauty of relaxing in one of these…..

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Local horse drawn carriages to tour you through downtown…

 

So overall, a good race, wonderfully decent weather (I’ve forgotten what it’s like to run in shorts and minimal clothing!) good people and a good solid run to keep me loose for this Saturdays 50K I’ll be taking on.  That will be my next running adventure to share with you.

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Feeling a lil sassy and victorious after crossing the finish line 😉

Tell me… have you had any fun race adventures recently? What about the  runners bling ? Do you have a fav cool medal you earned ?

Race Weekend

Alright, I did give you a heads up earlier in
the week…..

It’s here.

Race weekend. It’s hard  feeling that hyper energy and excitement that comes with it.

I feel a connection to this half marathon.  This is the fourth year its been run and I’ve been able to be in each race.

Interesting tidbit, but it was after running my best half in this race that the idea of running a full marathon showed up in my head.

The start of full blown insanity…..

The first year seemed disorganized and a bit chaotic.
I pondered the idea it might not go further than one year.

However, as time has gone on it has gotten better. Its grown but still not so big you’re lost in a sea of people ( like when I run the Rock n Roll)

The coolest part of this race is that it
starts and ends at our historic Alamo.

Which is why the race is cleverly titled….

The Alamo 13.1 it needs to be mentioned you also get super cool finisher medals ’cause we all run for over ripe bananas that cool bling 😉

The course treks all over the beautiful downtown San Antonio area, along the Riverwalk and lots of other nifty scenic areas.

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Looking all messy and victorious after the finish in 2014
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A close look at the prize. Its nicer than a banana 😉
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Early morning at finish line

So….just a quick update here…stay tuned for weekend recaps 🙂

Happy running! Anyone else racing this weekend?

Racing The Icing On The Training Cake

I recently read an article that discussed runners who, well, just ran with no goals ever of doing an actual “race”. They run for fun, fitness and overall just having a good time.

My first thoughts were how freakish  interesting but then those thoughts were replaced by…. what are they aiming for ?

I mean, maybe I’m weird, but I LOVE having a few races scattered through the year. Mostly bigger ones with a couple small scattered in as well.  It motivates me to have something to train for. In fact, when I found a shirt by Nike that said “Training never stops” I was all over it ’cause I feel like it’s true.

Training is…… a lifestyle.

And honestly, I’d run ALOT more but those crazy registration fees…..did I mention I still like to eat food too ??  and buy running shoes?

I need a sponsor… would anyone sponsor a sassy, outspoken, middle-aged woman who’s trying to make fitness look cool for the greying hair crowd ?? 😉

Anyway, I ended last year with a marathon, launched into this year with my sights set on the 50K March 1 (which I’ve mentioned was cancelled) I did the half marathon that day they offered, and I already had a half planned for the end of this month… Sunday actually… and then the following Saturday (28th)…. I’m doing my 50K on my own.

Not a bad racing month…. and then I’m backing down on my miles for some recovery time… which will be soooo hard…but I know is necessary.

But all that training… leads to… RACE DAY.

No matter how many times I do it, I still get those hyper butterflies and excess energy. I love the day before picking up …. my race bib…… what is it about that?? Seeing that new number excites me.

And what about being around other people who are as crazy as you are ? The energy is like none other.

And finally, I’m dressed, bib on, gear all in place, if the satellite gods align my Nike+ watch will connect right on time and then I’m… on… that….starting line.

Freaking cool.

All those training hours? early morning runs? cold, wet, hot, humid, tired whatever, it’s all come to this moment…. I stand on that line ready to be launched with a sea of other runners. All of us running together, but each one having very different goals and personal victories for that race.

I know I won’t “win” that race.

I really try not to giggle when people nicely ask me if  “I’ll win my race”. I try and explain, that no matter what, when I cross that finish line, I do win. I’ve overcome a lot to get to that point. I’m not the speediest runner, I won’t break any records, I can hope to place well in my age group/gender, do better than a lot of the boys in the race 😉  and even overall… I’m good with that.

So yeah, when race day rolls around it really is the sweet icing on the cake for months of hard work and dedication to my training…..

Which leaves me pondering the runner who never toes the line…..don’t they like frosting on their cake ?

Tell me what you think as a runner… could you just run without ever goal setting for a race?

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Finish line in sight. Closing in on finishing my second marathon Dec 7,2014.

Who Me ? A Runner ?

It’s the question that can come without fail.

“Did you play basketball in school?” after my 6’0 frame has been assessed. “Why, no, I didn’t…”

“Oh, then you must have been in track”

Again, no, sorry.

I smile and tell them I was in band, and a twirler, my claim to fame and athletic prowess.

But… you run now… and you didn’t run in school…  is the next part of conversation…. ( well I did, chasing boys 😉

Then as it does, the conversation shifts to how I, somehow, without any youthful skill or pursuit of running, am doing it now.

Seriously.

How at the crossroads of “middle-aged womanhood” when I’m supposed to be getting soft and fluffy and settling into sensible shoes and clothes,  do I turn into a running junky who now sports the hard and lean look?

What possesses a woman to dive into a sport that people half her age scoff at doing ?

I’d like to claim pure insanity, but I kinda just almost, casually stumbled into it. I didn’t wake up one morning, jumping from bed, proclaiming……………..

“Today, I become a runner!”

I’d always viewed running as a sport requiring a lot of…effort… and one I wasn’t willing to dial up that kinda energy for.

If you’ve read my personal page you might already know that I started off as a happy disgruntled walker.  My doctor had encouraged me to get back to some kind of exercise, so since I used to walk, I just picked that back up again. Rather grudgingly in the beginning I will admit.

As time went on ( and I mean probably a couple years) I found it almost easier to do light jogging for short times. My legs are long and I walk fast ( my sons accuse me of “power walking” at all times, anywhere haha) when I realized the wheels didn’t fall off with that activity, I kept trying to go a little farther.

I still didn’t die.

Then at some point I thought I’d try pushing up my pace a little and attempt to go farther.

Then it happened. I got to a point where I was running more than walking. I kept at that process challenging myself to run to the next tree, or driveway, or mailbox, whatever was a short attainable goal. I usually got to that spot and set my sights on a new one.

And one day someone called me…. a runner. I was flattered and startled all at the same time.

Me? A runner? How had that happened ?

It was a slow gradual process of challenging and training myself. I never set out intentionally to do it. And you know something ? I’m so glad I did.

Physically, mentally and emotionally it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done on many levels.

The other thing? I’ve never met a community like those within the running community who are so encouraging, supportive and helpful to each other. Oh, and let’s not forget, we relate to so many things our non-running family and friends don’t…. so again… it’s awesome to have a huge group of  insane   committed runners to learn from and share victories with.

They understand when you gleefully post “I did negative splits on my run today!!!”” on your Facebook page. They get the crushing blow of defeat and frustration when injury hits or goals get missed. They understand the total euphoria of crossing that finish line…. again….. and what that means…and why you want to do it all again.

So yeah.

I’m a runner.

At this point now, I comfortably call myself that.

I don’t fully understand how it all unfolded, I’ll just say, that I’m glad it did.

Moments after the finish of my second marathon Dec 7, 2014
Moments after the finish of my second marathon Dec 7, 2014

Those Long Runs

Long runs.

When you’re a runner, there’s nothing more foundational to your training than a weekly long run. They are key to building strength and letting your body slowly adapt to greater distances. They are  crucial when you’re an endurance runner.

Countless Saturdays  these past months have found me out on the road in the wee hours of the morning. Seriously, what sane person is out at 5:30, leaving behind a perfectly warm bed to go out running ? My long runs have tapered down to my races recently and although I’ll be doing my 50K on the 28th, I’m not putting in any crazy long runs before then.

I am planning a long (ish) run for Saturday, you know, something in the double digits ? 😉

Is it weird that I want to see those numbers show up on my watch ? even in my last race when it was over 10 miles I remember thinking… “yay, double digits, now we’re getting somewhere”.

I’ve gotten to a point though that I really look forward to them. Some nights I’ve been so hyped up I’ve had a hard time sleeping ’cause I’m playing the route out in my head. I look forward to them ’cause on their own they singularly offer a new weekly challenge to me.

Long runs are so  life sucking  empowering for me.

Long runs have also carved out the most intense discipline in my life. It takes a lot to leave your bed and put yourself out on the road to be prepared to go…. in the dark…the cold…….the misty drizzle…. or know you’ll most likely encounter rain before you finish. So many weekly variables to the long run. To  understand that what you’re about to do is crucial to your success as a runner mentally and physically.

But let me tell you about what goes down once I’m out.

I live in the hill country so it’s always dark and very quiet when I leave. I take my music but never use it until the last few miles and by that time, it’s nice and bright out 😉

I take off and let my body slowly wake up and settle into the rhythm of the run.

If you’re a runner, you know what I mean. It’s this zone you just get your body in.

The only sounds I hear are my feet hitting the road and the soft sound of my breathing. If I’m lucky, sometimes, the sky is bright with stars or the moon, and  it’s the most awesome, amazing, privilege  to be out then. It makes me feel so very, very small and once again, in awe of our Creator and creation. One morning I saw four shooting stars…. silent, swift, and quiet streaking across the dark sky.. at that point… you don’t miss your bed at all.

All I can think is…. “If I was in bed I woulda MISSED that!”

I pass houses, dark and silent, the owners still tucked into bed, dogs not let out yet, single quiet porch or night lights still on. There’s a part of me that feels rather accomplished at that point for being out there, already having miles under me.

The night sky gradually leaves as the new day pushes into existence. If I’m fortunate, I also get to watch a glorious sunrise too.

You know that term “break of dawn” ?

It’s a real thing. It happens. But usually we are either inside, busy, or not really paying attention to see it, to actually even notice because it’s swift and fleeting.

Yet, when you are on the road, running, it’s all in front of you. A front row seat to the new days arrival.

It’s that soft subtle move that changes the last glimpse of night, to day time.  Blink and you miss it.

Long runs also give me time to think, process, or mull over ideas. I often get some of my most creative thoughts as I pound out that pavement. Oh yeah, and the therapeutic aspect at times can’t be beat.

By the time the sun is rising in the sky and people are getting out I’m closing in on finishing my run. I’ve usually popped music in to kick me a little more into high gear. I remind myself I get bragging rights when I finish 😉  and coffee…. yes, a little caffeine too…. I’ve earned it…..so  glad my Starbucks peeps love me messy in running gear as much as when I’m all girly again…

Finally, the last couple miles are in sight….. the finish line.

Depending on the distance, my legs could be asking…. “are we there yet ?”  Knowing the end is so close, I dig in deeper to push it all the way (it’s just…..evil…… in the last 1/4 mile I’ve gotta pull this hill that seems to sometimes get taller in front of my eyes 😉

And then, I’m finished, hours after leaving my comfy bed.

I’m tired. Sweaty. Hair dripping. A proverbial hot running mess.

Long run done and as always, I feel freaking victorious.

50K Road Adventure Continued……

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My first ever ultra bib…. and my first time to have my name on it!

20150228_14023920150228_14515820150228_144823-120150228_141130Hey boys and girls!  It’s been a busy couple days and I’ve missed writing and talking to you… time to make up for it 😉

Warning… this is kinda like a mini novel…..

As you learned in my last post, I was road tripping it to Ft. Worth Tx. for the Cowtown Marathon/Ultra Marathon race. I was super excited to be heading into the event that would be really, the culmination, of my months of training and essentially kicking my own ass… (oops, can I say that??) Not just that, months of making sacrifices, pushing myself in new ways, training in all kinds of weather, taking on more and more mileage, managing my nutrition as well as mentally training myself for the task before me.  I’ve learned so many things about myself preparing for this endurance run.

I’ve learned I have great strength, determination, a strong will, an unwillingness to “settle” without asking as much of myself as I can, that my mind is a huge factor in my success, and that I really can, always, do a little more.

I headed off on my road trip as prepared as I could be………

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Excitement and eagerness at a high octane level…..also helped along with some caffeine……

I had scaled my mileage back to taper and really focused on eating good carbs days out. I hydrated constantly ( well, that I always do) I increased my sodium intake ’cause I sweat out a ton when I run, I was getting to bed earlier… basically doing everything I could physically to ensure I went to the line as prepared as possible.

It was almost show time.

Saturday it was off to Ft Worth….  as we got closer…. the weather started looking different….. there was ice on roads and bridges….. and snow blanketing roof tops and filling fields. I had received e-mails Friday saying that they had cancelled Saturdays races, but Sunday’s half, full, and ultra were still on.

Ok, no worries, I had googled the weather for Sunday and it promised chilly with some precipitation but nothing horrible.

I am… always … the eternal optimist.

But then Saturday going to expo to get my runners pack and number ( see my first ever ultra bib …with my name.. how rocking is that ??)

I see this…. which is basically the area the race starts in……

20150228_145951do you see those streets? Ok… still upbeat…  hoping that stuff would go away ….magically…. overnight….

I kept checking my e-mail for updates like a school girl waiting for a message from her boyfriend. About 5:30 an update came through.

It was simply stated: The Cowtown Marathon and Ultra Marathon…are cancelled.

It took my breath away. My chest felt tight. My stomach felt like I had been punched. I tried to choke tears back….pointless…I was trying not to cry like a baby…..

Even typing this now brings tears to my eyes.

I wish I could fully describe all of what I was feeling.

Frustration. Major disappointment. Agony realizing…. all… of my work for these past few months… to this one… single… moment…. gone. The culmination of my efforts… to not take place.

Don’t get me wrong… I understood why. I had seen many of the streets…. can you say….slushies ?? This was one of the areas the race was scheduled to go through….

20150228_170122see those streets?

But still….. I wouldn’t be running the biggest event of my life the next day. I felt crushed. They were running the half and offered it to the full/ultra runners to participate.

I hadn’t gone all that way NOT to run.

But I’ll tell you , the next morning, waiting in the corral with temps lurking above freezing, my ultra bib on amid mostly half marathoners and some marathoners, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I tried not to think how different this day was playing out from what I had imagined. Or the comment from another runner… “oh, this will just feel like a warm up race to you” ( I didn’t want to tell him that was pretty true)

I was going to run but definitely going easy because even though I had trained in cold and pouring rain and heat, this day was literally my first time dealing with slush and ice. They had done a good job of mostly clearing the course but there were still lots of areas to exercise caution.

I will honestly say there were moments of emotion in that race I had to just work out.

Coming around the corner to the finish line….. another moment I had imagined so differently. I did shed a couple tears crossing that line… I just couldn’t help it.

But I did it. I ran the race. I did my best.  I didn’t back out or quit because it wasn’t what I had planned to do. On the bonus side… I got the coolest medal I have to date.

20150301_14484220150301_112614-220150301_125045 You can see my pics….. one is obviously post-race cold and sloppy look…. and my “hey I clean up ok!” look. Being all comfy in my fav RBX gear.

Sooo there you go….. my 50K…… crunched….. I will freely admit I’ve struggled with frustration … and tears have even cropped up writing this.

I don’t know what my next steps are yet. I already had a half marathon I was aiming for at end of month. 50’s are a bit harder to find.

I will do it though. I’m strong. I’m a fighter. And I don’t flippin’ quit.

I will do it even if it means I take off on my own and do my own personal 50k… I will do it.

Oh and before I go… I gotta give kudos to this amazing guy in my life who supports my craziness…cheers me on…and loves me when I’m sweaty and stinky 😛

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and thank you reader for sticking with me this far.

Come back and check in and see what life lessons I’ve pulled out of this situation…. because I know there are lessons to be learned…. it’s how we grow….