Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Night

Halloween is definitely one of my favorite days of the year.  I can specifically remember almost every halloween of my childhood and it brings back such great memories.  Ok except that one year I was a crayon and my mom bought my tights two sizes too small and we had to stop at every other house to pull them up, but I digress.   I remember having so much candy even a pillow case wasn't enough to haul it all around.  I'd come home and covet every last treat (except those damn popcorn balls) and the candy lasted me until Easter.

I hope my kids are creating their own special Halloween memories as I have done everything I can to make it special for them.  If you know me at all, then you know I'm always up for a good Halloween theme.  I had the kids talked into being Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach from Super Mario Bros. for months, but when it came to ordering the costumes my plans went up in flames.

Nicholas started expressing the desire to be a baseball player.  I begged and coerced, but nothing was changing his mind.  It wasn't until he finally said, "Why can't you just let me be what I want to be?" that I realized how crazy I was being.  I don't want Nicholas' memories of Halloween being that his mom MADE him wear a Mario costume.  So the Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates' baseball player) costume was born.

That left me with Jack and Ella to manipulate convince into being what I wanted them to be.  Ella was kind of all over the place, but basically her costume preferences were anything girlie.   So, I started showing Jack all kinds of costumes and he became fixated on a spider costume while browsing costumes one day while Ella and Nicholas were at school.  Once he saw it there was no changing his mind.

Ok well all didn't have to be lost, surely I could talk Ella into being Little Miss Muffet.  The costume was pink and girlie.  I still a chance to pull off a theme.  Um NO!  Not only did she say no to Little Miss Muffet, she said no to Strawberry Shortcake,  Lalaloopsy, and other girlie options.  She had one thing on her mind.... Taylor Swift.  I really did love the idea and the costume turned out great, but there was NO theme!

The bottom line is the kids all LOVED their costumes and I have never seen each and every one of them so happy on Halloween.  They are ALL finally old enough to understand AND enjoy the whole process.  They're also all young enough to think trick or treat is still really cool.  I want to just freeze time right here forever!

In the end, it doesn't matter to me that there was no theme.  I'd rather see them happy and being who THEY want to be and seeing them happy makes ME the happiest!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Run for the Water Race Recap

I don't care how many races I've done, getting up at 4:30 am never gets easy, but it is necessary to be on time for a 7:00 a.m. start.   We (Bianca, Chrystal, Julie and I) left the house at 5:15 a.m. just to be sure we beat the road closures.  We were to our destination just after 6:00 and decided to wait in the car for awhile because it was "cold".  I say cold, but it was probably about 50 degrees.  Hey if you'd endured 100 plus degree temperatures for 4 months you'd think 50 was cold too!  

Nevertheless, we had to brave the cold at some point.  We set out around 6:20 and started walking toward the local fast-food restaurant to use the bathroom.  We weren't out of the car more than 30 seconds and this happened to Bianca.  

It's supposed to be good luck to get pooped on by a bird, so I knew Bianca would have a good race!  I don't think she was pleased (even if it was good luck).

After we took care of business we headed to the start line which was very uncrowded.  I was surprised more people weren't milling about, but maybe they were hiding out from the cold in their cars a little bit longer.

We took advantage of an empty start line to pretend we were elite runners on our mark.  If I hadn't have told you, I'm sure you would have been fooled into thinking we were actually the elite runners.

I'm beginning to think we're all a bunch of better posers than runners.  Ha!

Julie stretched a little as I coveted my Walmart throwaway sweatshirt.  It may be ugly but it was warm. (By the way do NOT fear because even though I tried to throw this away at the start it was still there when I returned so it will be back to warm me for another race!)

Before you knew it, there were masses of people at the start line.  I decided on Saturday that I would be running this race just for fun.  I knew Bianca and Chrystal were planning to go much faster than I wanted to TODAY.  I just couldn't see pushing myself for 10 miles just 2 weeks before my marathon.  I made the decision to run with Julie at HER pace and just have a kick ass time doing something I love without any pressure.  It was truly the right decision.  So, Julie and I lined up toward the back and waited for the start of the race.

I think the race started pretty much on time and the masses of people were off.  There were 3000 participants in this race so the start was pretty heavily congested.  Julie does a 2:30 run and 1:00 walk on her long runs and that was our plan for today.  2:30 of running went by so quickly and Julie's Garmin chimed indicating it was time to walk.  The crowds were so heavy at that time we ran through our first walk break.  By the time the second walk break came around, we were surrounded by other people who were clearly doing the same walk/run method.  This was my first time ever doing walk/run and I can definitely see the benefits of this type of training.

Before I knew it, we were at mile 3.  Julie was really happy and feeling strong and confident.  I love seeing her this way and loved the smile on her face.

The miles were coming and going and by mile 4 it was clear that we were both having a really good time.  It's been a long time since Julie and I have run this distance together so we had a lot to talk and laugh about.

By mile five, I was SCREAMING for a potty break.  I have NEVER stopped during a race to use the bathroom but my bladder just couldn't help it.  Julie told me she could have stopped 2 miles ago so I didn't feel bad or as if I was holding her up by my stopping.

Miles 4 to 6 were supposed to be the hilliest of the course (personally I think it was 4 to 7 but who am I?).  Julie and I just had to laugh because every time our timed walk break came we were on a downhill and when it was time to run we were on an uphill.  Doesn't it just figure?  It was as if someone (and an evil someone) had planned it that way.  We ran those hills though and did it most times literally cheering ourselves on. 

The worst hill came just before the 6 mile mark, but the top of that hill provided a breathtaking view.  It's moments like these that remind me why I run.  It's not to be the fastest, or run the longest.  It's to soak in the moments along the way, whatever they may be.  Today it was an amazing view, atop a hill, overlooking a lake, with a beautiful sky and awesome landscape.  I had all but forgotten the hill I'd just climbed when I reached the top. 

From then on, the miles just ticked on by.  Mile 7, 8, 9... tick, tick, tick.  I think I peed at everyone of these miles too!  What's up with that bladder?  As not to slow Julie down, I'd run ahead and then catch back up to her.  At one point I was sprinting to the porta potty through a water stop.  There was NO ONE (and I mean no one) around me.  There were about 10 volunteers at the water station all cheering and I just kept running faster and faster as they screamed just for me.  I looked down just before I reached the porta potty and realized I had been running a 7:30 pace (albeit for 30 seconds).  How's that for crowd motivation?

It seemed like we had just started the race yet we could hear the finish line music and crowd.  Hearing that always inspires me to think about how far I've come.  10 miles.  That's a LONG way, yet now it seems so easy for me.  It was over before it was even started.

I can't tell you how happy I am that I decided to take it easy today.  Sure the competitive side of me wonders what I could have done today, but I had to look at the big picture and the right thing for ME to do was to take the pressure off today and just have fun!  It meant more to me to cross the finish line with a friend than anything else.  We crossed the finish line in 2:08.

Thanks for the memories Julie!  This is one I won't soon forget.

For those of you wondering (and the rest of you too since you're still reading) Chrystal and Bianca had a great race.  They started off running a pretty fast pace (around a 9:40) and were able to hold it for 5 to 6 miles until Chrystal starting having severe pain from an old IT band issue.  They still finished strong in 1:49  and change!  WTG Ladies!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Ready to Run

Ready, ready, ready, ready...ready to run.  All I'm ready to do is have some fun!!!!

I'm ready to run
I'm ready to run
I'm ready to run
I'm ready to run...ready to run...
ready to run...yeah I'm ready to run. I'm ready
Whoa I'm ready to run...I'm ready...I'm ready to run...
I'm ready to run...I'm ready
Oh I'm ready to run..I'm ready. 

Also ready to sleep.  I've felt like, since last evening, that I'm coming down with something.  I refuse to hear that noise.... la la la la I can't hear you.  *fingers in ears* 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Adventures in Packet Pick-up

Bianca and I are quite the pair.  Today we headed out to pick up our packets for the Run for the Water 10 miler we are doing on Sunday.  Neither one of us really knew where we were going, despite the fact that I had been their before (in my defense I didn't drive).  Anyway, we were armed with an address and a GPS and we set off for downtown Austin.

On the way there, there was a lot of grandma driving hunched over the steering wheel and going 40 in the slow lane.  What is it when you don't know where you're going that causes you to lean up on the steering wheel?  I don't know, but it makes me laugh.

Nevertheless, we safely arrived at our exit for the downtown streets where we encountered a few more obstacles.  There was batting of the eye lashes to move over two lanes of traffic.  Funny thing is we were wearing sunglasses so I think "chubby dude" let us over because he felt bad for the suburban housewives venturing through downtown Ausitn.

Next up was the iffy right turn on red.  It went something like this:

Bianca:  Can we turn on red?
Me:  I think you can.
B:  That's the thing about driving downtown that I don't like... too many pedestrians
Me:  I know they're everywhere
B:  Looks like it's safe to go
Me:  Yeah I think it looks good
Bianca starts to turn cautiously looking out for bikers and pedestrians 
Me:  Uhhhh Bianca... you have the green arrow.

Clearly we need to get out of our own backyard a little more often.

After one more missed turned we arrived at our destination of RunTex on Riverside Drive.

We had the hefty responsibility of picking up packets for four other runners.  I mean seriously I had to spell their last names and count out four safety pins apiece.  It's a tough job, but I managed.   A talent not many possess.

I am happy to report I received an even bib number and I will be racing as bib number 168.  I also like that 8 goes into 16, 2 times.  All even numbers.  It's bound to be a good race right?  

I also love the shirt.  Isn't it all about the shirt?  Women's fit!  Dri-fit!  What's not to love?  Speaking of what's not to love... check out miss thing below.  She might not be a good driver *wink wink* but she's a hell of a model (and runner)!  

Best of luck to all my fellow runners racing in Run for the Water.  Also best of luck if you haven't yet picked up your packet.  Hopefully you fare better than Bianca and I!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Loosening my Belt

Heading out for girls' night to a friend of Bianca's.  I'm wearing this outfit that took me an hour to pick out after I put on everything in my closet  I just threw on.  I'm not loving it especially now that I see it in pics, but it will have to do.

I'm taking my cousin's world famous Buffalo Chicken Dip.  May need to loosen a notch on my belt.

Maria’s Buffalo Chicken Dip
Buffalo Chicken Dip 001
Mix 2 large cans chicken
Buffalo Chicken Dip 006
2 8-oz packages cream cheese
Buffalo Chicken Dip 007
1/2 c blue cheese dressing
1/2 c Ranch dressing
(you can use all ranch or all blue cheese if you prefer)
Buffalo Chicken Dip 005
1/2 c buffalo sauce
Buffalo Chicken Dip 008
‘1/2 c Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 c cheddar cheese
Buffalo Chicken Dip 009
Blend all ingredients. 
Buffalo Chicken Dip 011
Either bake until melted (350* for about 45 minutes) or use crock pot.  Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos scoops (or both).
Buffalo Chicken Dip 012

See ya on the flip side.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Breaking All the Rules

There are so many "rules" for running.  I know, what I should and what I shouldn't do when it comes to running don't I?  Truth be told, I don't know that much about running and hardly even consider myself a runner.  I know that seems stupid considering I logged over 120 miles last month, but no one has ever accused me of being too smart.

Speaking of which, Runner's World recently published a list of running rules and how to safely break them and I realized that during marathon training I have broken almost every running rule (see NOT smart).  I, however, have survived 24 weeks of marathon training injury free (knock on wood) all while gaining endurance AND speed.  Runner or not?  I'm not sure, but this is how I broke the rules AND lived to blog about it (who makes these rules up anyway?).

Stretch Before Running:  Um yeah, I often talk about it but aside from the occasional calf stretch (less then a minute) I don't stretch before I run.  George keeps warning me that one day I WILL get injured and I know when I do he'll say, "I told you, you should have stretched."  Meanwhile I probably will wind up injured because I tripped and sprained my ankle, but I guarantee he'll still blame it on my lack of stretching.

Do Pre-race Strides:  What the hell does this mean?  Wait, wait, wait... does this mean you go out and run BEFORE a race.  I used to see crazy people doing this all the time and thought they were a bunch of flippin' morons, but during my last race (IBM Uptown Classic) I actually went out for a pre-race stroll.  There is something to be said about warming up those tight muscles.  So I've begun to see the importance of this rule.  Score 1 for me!

Cap Your Longest Run at 20:  Nope I ran 22!

Structure Your Schedule:   For the most part, when it comes to this rule, I was a rule follower.  I had a scheduled training plan and I stuck with it.  I kind of wish this is one rule I would have broken.  I think a lot of times I don't listen to what my body is telling me and I push through some uncomfortable situations physically.  I can see where this had made me a lot stronger mentally and physically so not all was lost.

Push the Pace on Long Runs:  What?  Who made up these rules anyway?  Some running God or Goddess with freakishly long legs and equally lengthy stride.  Well guess what you running Lords?  Chubby chicks run too and we'd rather be likened to the tortoise than the hare.  Just sayin'.

This is during a RACE and my feet are barely moving 

Take Rest Days After Long Runs:  Well what a novel idea.  Who ever would have thunk it? NOT ME!  Sundays are my long run days and I usually didn't allow myself a rest day until Friday (and sometimes not even then).  I always rested on Saturday though, if you consider going to 15,000 sporting events, birthday parties and other family obligations resting.

Don't Bulk Up:  CLEARLY I just couldn't help myself.  Have you seen my guns?

Cardio Cross Train:  I ran three days a week and NO MORE.  Cross training consisted of weight lifting, cycling/spinning and that's it.  Running days were Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday and you wouldn't catch me doing anything extra.

Increase Weekly Mileage by 10%:  Fine I'm a rule follower at heart.  I don't like to break the rules, really I don't.  I am careful to listen to this rule because I know this is the quickest way to develop an injury (NOT  my lack of stretching GEORGE).  Score 2 for Susan!

Measure Your Effort:  This rule suggests you wear a Garmin, but don't look at it.  You are to measure your own effort.  Um hello if I didn't have my Garmin telling me how damn slow I'm moving then I'd never kick it up past a 11:30 pace.  Looking at my Garmin keeps me focused on whatever goal I've made for myself.  Most days I'm not out there just running for myself.  I'm out there with a goal in mind and if it were up to just little old me I'd barely get my heart rate moving.

Wear Running Shoes:  Um hmmmm yeah I did that one.... but not well.  Have you heard the tale of the three shoe sizes?

So there you have it.  How to break all most of the rules and still survive marathon training.  Like I said, who made up these rules in the first place?  Not ME!  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Time to Savor the Taper

I couldn't leave you all hanging and not report back to you about my LAST (yeeeeeeeeeee haw) long run for marathon training.  Sunday called for 20 miles and nothing about 20 seemed appealing that day.  I met Bianca at 6:30 and she was to run the first 15 with me (her marathon is a week before mine).  We decided to meet at a new location and then run to the trail.  This helped add on 4 miles to the out and back course and also helped to break up the monotony of running the SAME EXACT route every damn time.   

My calves were STILL sore from my hill repeat workout that I did on Tuesday.  Yes you read that correctly-- Tuesday.  I wanted to take things nice and slow and told myself that time didn't matter.  This was a training run and it was supposed to be slow.  It was so dark during the beginning of the run I couldn't see my Garmin even if I wanted to.  By the time the sun rose I realized I still had my Garmin in bike mode and I couldn't really decipher my pace at that point either.  So I told Bianca to give it to me straight... how bad slow was my pace.  She then reported our pace was 11:41 average.  I knew I had been going slow, but I never imagined it would be that slow.  I decided to blame it on the darkness.  Who runs fast in the dark when you can't even see one foot in front of the other?  What?  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  

At around the 5 mile mark we saw Julie up ahead looking good.  Julie also had 20 miles on her training plan on Sunday and was running alone doing a walk/run combo.  She looked very official in her new compression sleeves.   Actually, both my girls make those things look GOOD!!!!  

After a few laughs (I'm not allowed to tell you why) and some words of encouragement, Julie sent us on our way.  It seemed odd to be running away from Julie, but I know her walk/run program works for her and it's how she needs to train right now.

At this point it seemed to me like we had been running forever, but we were only to our normal turn around point (just about 6.5 miles).  We decided to take an untimed stop and have a Gu.  I complained to Bianca that I didn't really feel like running today.  She shot me a disapproving look and I explained I just didn't feel like running twenty miles today.  6.5 seemed just perfect.  She wouldn't let me quit (damn you Bianca) so we trudged on.

Miles 7 through 13 are pretty much a blur.  I think I started to feel a little better mentally and knew that if I kept telling myself I didn't feel like running it was only going to be worse.  So I sucked it up and managed to make it through the next 6 miles relatively easily.  I mile 12 I decided to eat my Honey Stinger shot blocks.  That will be the LAST time I eat those.  I love the way they taste and I love the consistency, but I do NOT love the belly ache they always give me afterwards.  I've tried them on several occasions and realize they just don't agree with me.  By mile 13, I felt nauseous and by mile 14, I thought puking was imminent.

From miles 14 to 15 I thought about Bianca leaving me as we headed back to her car.  I thought of a million excuses of why I couldn't continue and why I should just quit.  When we finally arrived at the point   where it was time for Bianca to leave, I realized my belly was feeling a WHOLE LOT better.  I said my goodbyes to Bianca and started changing my mindset (AGAIN) to tell myself all the reasons I COULD do this and not all the reasons I couldn't.

I told myself that I could go as slowly as I wanted, no one was there to mind.  It was just me, myself and I. I may have pumped up the iPod and blasted Katy Perry Teenage Dream and sang at the top of lungs.   I may have, but no one will ever know for sure because it was just me and my shadow out there pounding the pavement.

I finally convinced myself around the 16.5 mile mark that I had no choice other than to do the FULL 20 miles I had scheduled.  I was almost out of water and the only place I could get water was along the trail.  I had about 1 mile to the water station and I knew I could make it there, fill my water bottles and then have plenty of water to make it back to my car.  Water never looked so good! 

I also spotted Julie out on the trail as I pulled up to the water stop.  She looked strong to me, but she told me she was beginning to struggle.  I wanted nothing more than to be able to run with her and support and encourage her, but I had one mission and that was to get this run D.O.N.E. done and Julie still had over 5 miles to go (I had just 2.5 left).   Once again we said our well wishes and we both set off in different directions.  

The last few miles I was hurting physically, but I was into this run.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day and I wasn't going to let a few miles spoil everything for me.  My hamstrings and hips felt a little achey and my feet were generally tired, but overall my body was holding up and that made me happy.  

 Clearly the best self portrait ever!  Hello hair.... what are you doing?  

 I was definitely happy when the Garmin (I was wearing Bianca's) let me know I had reached 20 miles.  It might have been slow (for me) but my last long run for Rock n Roll San Antonio was complete!

Here is the breakdown of the run.  Because my Garmin was on bike mode for the first 6.75 miles the run is broken down into 2 sections.  I realize the total mileage doesn't add up, but that's because I forgot to start my Garmin after waiting to cross traffic one time.  I wore Bianca's Garmin after she left and it read 20.01!

I can't tell you how good it feels to have completed my 24th week of marathon training.  Thanks for following along through all my adventures in marathon training.  The last 2 weeks are taper weeks and something I'm really looking forward to.   I intend to fully savor the taper!