Saturday, October 11, 2014

10 for Texas 2014

Another 10 for Texas in the books and it feels great!  Last year's race was kind of a nightmare.  I totally hit a wall and thought I was going to die by mile 7. I vowed to redeem myself.  I came into the race with a few goals.  My  "Pie in a Sky Goal" of 1:25:00 (8:30 pace), my "definitely could do if I kept my head on straight" A goal 1:32:00, and my most important B goal of finishing with good form and in a good place mentally.

I hardly could sleep last night.  After a fitful night, I woke up at 5:30 for good and ate a bowl of oatmeal and a fruit smoothie.  I brought along a bottle of gatorade which I finished before the race.  Last year, a major problem was I was so dehydrated before mile 4 that I could barely move.  I wasn't going to make that mistake again.  I also brought along a couple of gu's.  Last year I only brought one and it wasn't enough, or I took it too late.  See, I'm learning!

I lined up at the start halfway between the 9 min mile sign and the 10 min mile sign.  Sidenote:  Please line up where you think you will finish not in the place "If I actually trained I might finish at this pace". Seriously.  For long races you need to train.  Here's a hint, If you are breathing hard in mile 1 of a 10 miler you're playing with the wrong crowd.  I must've passed a couple hundred people in this already crowded section AND I was not going faster than I planned on for this mile.

The race was awesome.  The only issue was sometimes the volunteers weren't ready with water at the water stops, they were all holding gatorade.  There were lots of spectators this year. I think in part because it was an out and back so people didn't have to travel the city to cheer on their friends.  So even if there weren't really that many, it felt like a lot because I saw all of them twice!

I took my salted caramel gu's at mile 3.5 and 6.5.  I never felt depleted the whole race.  When I started getting tired, I focused on the mile I was in and getting to the next.  I was most proud at the finish because I never broke form.  I never kicked myself mentally.  Only happy thoughts.  I am notorious for focusing on the bad in any training run/race.  I made it a point to practice happy thoughts this training season and it worked.

Mile nine was my fastest mile at 7:37.  I wasn't even breathing hard!  My legs felt strong at the finish.  Maybe I should've gone faster!  Yes.  I should've kicked my pace up before this point, but I was afraid to hit a wall.

There was a girl finishing about the same time as me and I knew I couldn't let her pass me.  We raced to the line and I finished one second ahead of her! Yeah!  Go me!  I came in 30th pace in my age group with a time of 1:26:29.  Not only did I beat my true A goal by almost 6 minutes, but I almost made my Pie in a Sky goal.  I have no doubt that if my hip hadn't bugged me all 12 weeks of training I would've killed that goal as well.  Oh, well.  That's for next year.

My Splits:

Official time of 1:26:29

Yup.  Nailed it!   :) But as you all know, good is never good enough.  I can't wait to prove myself at The Woodlands Half Marathon this Spring.  Hopefully my hip will heal during my time off this month and I can finish proudly!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Beginner Swimmer Tips

I now have a summer of swimming under my belt.  As a beginning swimmer with no experience in a lap lane to now a seasoned beginner, I thought I'd share a few things I've learned.

  • It's ok to be the worst one out there.  You'll get better.  The first day I nearly panicked, but I managed to swim a few laps.  With a bit of instruction and practice I eased my fears.  And p.s. all my instruction was online.
  • Don't be embarrassed by your speed.  You'll probably be surprised at the variety of swim experience in the pool.  There will be the lady swimming only breaststroke quite slowly and fluidly.  There will be the woman swimming 100s in a minute flat.  Then there will be people like me, someone who slowly but surely gets there and back, there and back.  
  • When you arrive at the pool, and find you need to lane share, take time to observe the lanes to see where you fit in.  Don't over or underestimate your abilities.  If you find you got into the wrong lane, then just switch.  No biggie.  
  • Every time I go to a new pool or at a new time, I'm afraid there will be too many people in the lanes.  I've found that most people are happy to lane share.  Even with several people in a lane, if you pay attention, the swim will go quite smoothly.  I shared with a handful of people today and didn't even notice.  It didn't go any differently than if I had my own lane.
  • I'll say it again cause it's so important.  Don't worry about your speed or ability.  Just try.  You will get better and more confident with time, but that's only true if you try.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Final Review: Run Less, Run Faster (long overdue)

OMG.  Run less, Run Faster is frickin' hard!  But it works.

Now for the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I actually had to bow out of the plan early.  I pulled my hip flexor muscles and was in quite a bit of pain for a few weeks, so I don't have 10k results to prove the plan.  However, I do know that my easy pace is now quite a bit faster than it was at the beginning of the plan.  Easy pace was closer to 10 min/mile and now easy is 9 min/mile.  I can chat away for miles and miles at that pace now, when that used to be my tempo pace.

I really liked the track workouts.  It was especially nice having the paces written out.  All the guess work was gone.

Now for the bad.  Ugh.  I really hate having all hard workouts.  I really love my easy days.  I really, really loved chatting with friends.  If running is a social thing for you, then this plan will not work.  You will probably have a really difficult time sticking to it.

I do think that I will continue with the speed workouts when my hip is completely healed.  I will remember to do my tempos and my hills.  BUT I will also make plenty of time for the fun, easy stuff.

Running, to me, is as much as about building relationships and maintaining good mental health as it is about working out my body.  If you feel the same as me, then take Run Less, Run Faster with a grain of salt.  If you are just looking to run fewer days and meet your goals.  This might be the right plan for you.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Just Keep Swimming

"Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.  What do you do?  You swim, swim, swim."--Dori

I love that line from Finding Nemo.  I say it to myself all the time as I run, but now it applies to a new part of my life--Swimming!

I am really falling in love with the water.  I love finding a bit of rhythm.  I love the contrast of the cool water on a hot day.  I love my new shoulder muscles.  Yes.  I am a bit vain.

Today I swam 1600m.  That is one mile for all you imperial measurement folks.  It is the farthest I have ever swam.  I did mostly freestyle, but also just legs, just arms, and I'm trying to learn breaststroke (with not much luck).

I love meeting new goals.  I love trying new things.  At the beginning of the summer I was afraid to swim 25 m.  I could barely squeak out 400m on my first workout.  Barely over a month later I can swim a mile!  A whole mile! (and 500m without stopping!!!) I would add more explanation points, but I already overdid it.

To add to my euphoria, I have written almost 10,000 words in my new regency romance.  This story kind of breaks my heart. I hope I can express the emotions I feel adequately in my writing.

Sigh.  Life is good.

Try new things. You might like it. And when things get tough, Just keep swimming.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Workout recaps...sort of

I strained my quad muscles due to overtraining a few weeks ago.  I should've slowed down earlier, because I could feel an old injury in my hip flexor flaring up.  I just felt so good that I decided to ignore niggles, push through all out pain, and run multiple days in a row when I know my body starts to get angry when I run more than two days in a row.  Finally, after running three days in a row--again--and coming home in so much pain I thought I would throw up, I decided to take a week off of running.  It was a good call.  I actually took off 9 days.  I felt perfect after 5, but kept resting for good measure.  I found I liked resting...a lot!  So much so it took all I had in me to wake up this week for my runs...

Mon- 5 @9:09 pace, no pain
Wed-5 @9:30 Pace, no pain
Thurs-200m swim, during safety break.  Received the best compliment ever!  "You're getting faster, Mom!"  I really appreciated my kids cheering me on poolside, even if only for a few minutes.
Fri-3.5 @9:18, stopped run early due to tightening in quad.  No pain.  Came home and felt really tight and within a few hours had actual pain.  I re-taped, iced, and all that fun stuff. 
Sat- 1400m swim.  THAT IS ALOST ONE MILE!!!!!!!  I was in the water for about an hour, but actual swimming time was about 35 min.

KT tape is my best friend, if you didn't know that already.  

During my rest week, I traded my running days for swim days.  

Mon-700 m swim, (100m kicks, 5X100m freestyle, 100m kicks)
Wed-900m swim (can't remember the breakdown, but it was similar to Mon, just with more laps)
Fri--700m swim
Sat-800m swim

I am getting so much better at my freestyle.  I can now breathe bilaterally, and am very comfortable breathing from my left side. I also feel much smoother in the water.  I still need to hire someone to help me out on my form, or at least have my husband record me.  

Today I started learning the breaststroke.  I have a long way to go, but after a few drills I was able to swim 100m breaststroke.  By the last 25m I felt like I was getting a bit of rhythm, or at least I was at a point where I could say "I get it!...I think."  Haha!

Monday, July 7, 2014

I can't swim, but I want to Tri

I am not a swimmer.  Before this Summer, I think the last time I swam a lap was in the 6th grade during a swim class.  At that time in my life I really loved to swim.  I remember asking my mom if I could join swim team.  She said swim team was only for the good swimmers. ** Ouch! Alas, I swapped training suits for cute tankinis and goggles for tanning oil and spent the next twenty years poolside.  Much like me in this photo.  

This is the life!
In May, Ironman Texas took place just minutes from my house.  I ran down and watched the swimmers and was bitten by a bug.  I can't do that! I thought. Swim two miles!  That's crazy!  But those kinds of thoughts get me thinking and I thought and thought and realized that I want to do that!

But I can't swim.  My mom told me so when I was in the 6th grade.  I'm probably going to drown.  All these thoughts passed through my brain as I slipped on my goggles for the first time a few weeks later

My heart raced and panic ensued.  I'm gunna die! I'm gunna die!  Then I realized I could still reach...and the side was two feet away if I got in trouble.  I swam 400 m, stopping every 25 m to catch my breath.

I got home and watched about a zillion youtube videos on swim technique and breathing.  Just four lap sessions later, I swam 700 m and only had stop every 50 m.  Improvement.  The most major being that I don't think I'm going to drown anymore.

I've got a long way to go.  But don't say "Can't" in my hearing. I might just respond with one of my favorite childhood poems.

Feeling pretty cool after swimming 700m.   Don't worry. My ego
was tempered by the babies that passed me in the fast lane!
"Listen to the mustn't, child.  Listen to the dont's.  Listen to the shouldn't, the impossibles, the won'ts.  Listen to the never haves then listen close to me...Anything can happen, child.  Anything can be."--Shel Silverstein
**As a sidenote, I must add that my mother is amazing.  She is not a mean person, just human.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Taking on Challenges to beat a Challenge: Post-Partum Depression and Anxiety

Depression.  Anxiety.  Meds.  They all felt like dirty words.  I didn't want to admit that maybe I had it, or maybe I needed them.

The hopeless feelings started shortly after the birth of my fifth child.  I think it was a build up of a few things. Lingering feelings of loss after my miscarriage ten months before Luke's birth, the difficulty with being the primary caregiver for five children, and possibly from  the hemorrhaging that left me weak and tired for the next few weeks after his birth.  I don't know.  Maybe it was just my turn.  Maybe even if none of those things happened, maybe I would've been depressed anyway.

These guys are always my biggest cheerleaders.  I love them so much!

Luke ended up hospitalized at three weeks old.  He had the flu.  I was already exhausted but watching my tiny baby hooked up to tubes and monitors took what little bits of myself that I had managed to pull together and rip it all apart.  Luke came home after a few days perfectly healthy.  I pretended to be. I blamed my exhaustion on the recent birth, my short temper on the trials of taking care of five kids and a household.  As soon as my husband would come home from work, I would hand over the responsibilities and lock myself in my room.  

I knew I wasn't feeling right.  I would lose my temper at the drop of a hat--but I've always been passionate.  It was easy to write off initially.  But then new feelings were also taking over--things that usually would be a breeze for me kept me awake all night.  Planning for Cubscout day camp, something I had done a few times before with minor annoyance, kept me awake for more than three weeks straight.  

I blamed it on my birth control.  I called my doctor, switched meds, and weaned my baby.  All those things helped.  Thinking my hormones were the only issue, I decided everything was fine.  
This is where I didn't want to go.  It's a stressful vacation with babies,
and my anxiety was already crippling me.  I wasn't sure I could handle the added stress.

Only, it wasn't.  Anxiety over an upcoming vacation (that I really didn't want to go on) was crippling me.  My husband and I were fighting constantly about the vacation.  Somehow we made in onto the plane without killing each other, only to come off it with a three month old baby with a fever.  

That week was hell.  I was already on the edge, but then I was stuck in the middle of nowhere (literally more than an hour from the closest hospital) with a feverish baby who couldn't sleep.  The diagnosis of pneumonia pushed me over.  Or maybe it saved me.  A week of people trying to convince me my baby was fine, when I could see he was clearly not, made me think that I might truly be crazy.  I was glad to know that I wasn't, but wondered why I couldn't calm down.  

Now that Luke was on the mend, shouldn't my heart stop racing?  Shouldn't I be able to sit back and enjoy life?  Luke was sleeping again, shouldn't I be able to sleep?  But none of that happened.  Instead I slept less and felt less.  The only thing I did feel was a growing hatred to my children, particularly my two year old girl.  

She looks tired in this picture. All her pictures from this period look tired.
 I think I did that to her.  She was confused. My doctor let me know that I was not alone. That I could be cured.
Can you imagine how horrible it feels to know you brought a life into this world and you wished that life was gone?  I wish I never felt that way, but I did.  Even now, knowing it was the disease and not me, I don't want to admit that I had those feelings. I needed to admit I had them.  It was the only way to get the help I needed.

Back at home, I would call my husband often and begged him to come home from work.  Big deals at work meant he never could. Luckily a friend called out of the blue one day and asked if she could watch my kids the next morning.  I took her up on that offer and many times after.  She always seemed to call when things were at there worst and offer me what I needed most--a few hours child free.

I hated asking for help.  It was like admitting I was a failure at my vocation of choice--motherhood.

I knew I needed to change.  Running had always been my solace.  Emily, a person I had never met before, posted on a Facebook page that she was new in town and in need of running partners.  I'd given up running two years before.  But I needed something and running and always provided that something before.

Within a few weeks, I had worked up from barely being able to finish three miles, to barely being able to finish five.  It felt great.  I felt better.  

Or so I thought.  Running didn't heal me, but it certainly helped me see through the haze.

Driving down the road and imagining running off it doesn't exactly equal better.  Screaming at children for the literal spilled milk doesn't exactly equal better.  It was time to call my doctor.  She offered me medication.  The "M" word.  Reluctantly, I filled the prescription.  

I caught myself singing.  Luke smiled and I was singing.  I smiled.  When was the last time I had sung my baby a song?  I couldn't remember.  I wanted to cry.  Only a week on the medication and I was singing.  And snuggling with my two year old.  And loving it!  I love to snuggle.  Especially with her. I had forgotten that I liked snuggling with my babies...and my big kids!  Suddenly they wanted to be near me, too, now that I didn't yell at them for looking at me funny.
This is the little girl that I know and love.  Whimsical and fun.  Always a treat! (unless it's nap time)
But still I wasn't better.  The medication let me see that.  It made things clear. It separated reality from the dark-fiction my mind created.  I could see I had a long way to go.  But now how to overcome?  

I needed a project.  A big one.  Something that would help me find me again.

Normally, when I need a big project, I choose my writing.  But writing pulls me right where I didn't need to be.  Writing locks me in a room, alone, for hours on end.  Something that normally I'd enjoy.  But now that was exactly what was hurting me.  I couldn't be there fraternizing with my demons.  I needed to be fighting them.  This time, that was not the way to go.

The answer was found at 5 am on a dark street. 

The marathon.

Running a marathon isn't about the last 26.2 miles.  It's about the hundreds before it.  It's about the black toes and sore muscles.  It's about the runs that feel easy and like you could fly.  But especially about the ones.  The ones that should be easy but leave you wanting to cry half a mile in.  It's about doing something hard, just because you can.  It's about making friends.  It's about being lonely with your thoughts and realizing you're not alone.  It's about finding your demons and then not only fighting them but destroying them.  

I love running.  I love finding my demons.  I love finding my "can'ts" and "won'ts" and "shouldn'ts."  I love doing the impossible.  Each step had been a fight against my depression.  Each step has shown me that I'm more than PPD.  I'm more than my anxiety.  

And maybe today I didn't complete that last repeat.  I can go home and cry about it or I can run tomorrow.  

And, fingers crossed that I won't strain my piriformis again, I will be running tomorrow.  Because it is a new day and a new chance to fight.  

I know.  Bad Picture.  About mile 6 of the marathon.
With my running buddy and one of my best friends.