Oh Yeah, I Have a Blog

Remember that time I said, “It’s summer vacation now. I’ll blog more.” Yeah… sometimes I lie. But I’m determined to get on a regular writing and blogging schedule again, so look for more posts soon! In the meantime, here’s a photo dump to catch you up on recent happenings around here.

The #1 reason I haven’t been blogging:photo 1 (14)

I LOVE Ken Follett, but I can’t read him during the school year, because I can’t stop once I start and I end up reading most of the night. I read The Pillars of the Earth a few years ago but didn’t have the sequel at the time, so I started my summer by re-reading Pillars, and now I’m halfway through World Without End. 

Visiting Family (and my mountains):
photo 2 (13) photo 1 (15)
We spent Memorial Day weekend visiting my parents and grandparents on the Western slope, and I managed to get about 12 million pictures of Dallas Divide and none of my family. Whoops. We were hoping to get in some hiking (for them) and trail running (for me) while we were there, but the weather refused to cooperate. We still got some quality family time, though, so it was a good visit. Plus, a fox family was living behind my parents’ house, so we got to watch the babies play one night.

We weren't close enough for a picture this good; it's from my dad's game camera.
We weren’t close enough for a picture this good; it’s from my dad’s game camera. But look how cute he is!

Yardwork:

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Trying to make progress on the yard has also been time-consuming, but it’s coming along! We got sod installed yesterday. as you can see. It’s not quite the right shape yet — we have to get borders installed — but it looks 95% better than the dirt and sticker-weeds. I can’t wait to stretch and do outdoor workouts in it once it’s all established!

Making Jam:

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When we were visiting my family, we had dinner at Grandma’s, and J and I both raved about her cherry-rhubarb jam, so she gave me the recipe. I’d never made jam before, but aside from a frantic mid-batch phone call to my mom, it went well, and the jam is tasty!

Dreaming about camping:
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We ordered a tent and sleeping bags a while back,  and they finally came this week! Naturally I had to try out my sleeping bag. Sadly, schedule-wise (and yard-installing-wise), we probably won’t be able to camp until the end of June, but I am so excited!

Running:
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A
nd seeing deer. I still don’t have a running goal, and it’s kinda driving me crazy, but I’ve been enjoying easy runs and occasional hill repeats. I’m also lifting a lot more than usual. I have done zero speedwork since the marathon a month ago, so the Skirt Sports 13er in two weeks should be interesting.

And that’s the past few weeks in a nutshell. I’ve been trying to keep up with reading blogs, but let me know anything new that I might have missed!

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I Don’t Know What to Do with Myself…

Sometimes I forget I’m a blogger. Or, rather, I remember I’m a blogger because I feel like I should write, but this whole “having a career” thing takes priority, followed by sleep, so blogging stalls out a bit. But now school is out, and the last day for teachers is tomorrow, so here’s hoping I’ll be able to write more.. and maybe actually put some thought into what I write. Wouldn’t that be nice? Because it sure didn’t happen here…

Warning: This is probably the worst post I’ve ever written. You can stop reading now and I won’t be mad.

The other reason I haven’t blogged since my race recap is that I’m feeling a little lost in runningland. I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m all recovered now, and I’m working on strength training and still running shorter distances, and I’m trying to lose the few pounds I put on when I was on that elimination diet (though I’m not trying that hard. I like beer and cereal. Not together). Turns out, eating pretty much nothing but white rice and Chex for a few weeks will add a few globules around the middle. And also, it didn’t help anything, so I’m back to eating normally. Go guts.

Anyway. I thought it would be nice to have this summer as an “I do what I want” summer… and maybe I’ll feel differently once it’s actually summer, but right now, I’m not loving the lack of structure. I’d love a redemption race from Lincoln, but I also know that this summer is a busy one — lots of out of town time for conferences and family stuff, our cruise in July, and trying to put in a backyard.

Evidence that a backyard is actually happening.
Evidence that a backyard is actually happening.

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We’d also like to squeeze in a camping trip or two somewhere. I could train for a big race amid all that, but I’m not sure I want the commitment of a training schedule: “Oh, hey family. Nice to see you. I’m gonna go run for three hours now.”

I’m also still secretly harboring that ultra dream, but that’s also a major time commitment. And frightening. I’d need to run a lot more trails. And I’d need someone to teach me how to be good at running trails, because the concepts of hiking up hills and fueling for 8+ hours on my feet and, um, not getting lost all terrify me.

Of course, I also want to get whatever is wrong with my insides figured out before I commit to much of anything, because I’m sick of my guts dictating my life.

I do have a couple of races this summer — the Skirt Sports “13er” in June, and the Chase the Moon relay in July. I’m planning to do those just for fun. I don’t have time to get super fast in the few weeks before the 13er, and Chase the Moon’s whole purpose is to be fun. So I’d kind of like some competitive goal on the horizon. I just don’t know what.

do know that I want to get in as much mountain time as possible this summer. I need my fix of this:
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If you want to invite me on your mountain excursions, that’d be great. 🙂

So… yeah. Thanks for sticking with me through this long and rambling post. I needed to get my thoughts out.

Who wants to go adventuring this summer?! And who wants to teach me to be a trail runner?

Lincoln Marathon 2015 Recap

For 18 weeks, I focused on one number: 3:10. Whatever my actual pace was on easy, tempo, and long runs, three hours and ten minutes was always in the back of my mind. I’d targeted that goal twice before, instead running 3:13s both times. Lincoln was going to be my race, the one where I finally broke that barrier.

I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t even come close. Unlike the past two races, though, I’m not beating myself up about it. Sometimes, the weather is challenging. Sometimes, race day is not your day. And last Sunday was definitely not my day.

We left home a little after 7:00 on Saturday morning and drove the six-ish hours to Lincoln. Jordan deserves the Husband of the Year award — he’d spent Wednesday through Friday in the mountains with sixth-graders, then got up early Saturday to drive me to Lincoln, got up early again on Sunday to watch me run, and then drove me home. He’s a winner.

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Our first stop in Lincoln was the expo. It was really crowded, so we didn’t stay long. Instead, we checked in to our hotel and I went for a short shakeout run, then stretched and Sticked to work out the stiffness from the car ride. We grabbed some pasta from Noodles and Company, then just relaxed in the room and went to sleep early.

I slept surprisingly well for the night before a race, waking up just before my alarm went off at 4, when I ate my bagel with PB, popped some Immodium, then crawled back into bed for a while. Finally, we got up, got ready, and headed to the start line. Lincoln knows how to start a race: there was a huge indoor space to wait in (which wasn’t necessary, since it was already 60 degrees, but it would’ve been really nice in colder weather), and approximately 12 million porta-johns, to which my nervous bladder sent me several times.

Finally, it was time to find my corral and get ready. Lincoln’s corrals are sorted by bib color, which makes it easy to find the right spot. As I lined up, I saw the 3:13 pacer and told J, “I’ve got to beat that guy!” (Spoiler alert: I didn’t).
photo 2 (9)The National Anthem played, the wheelchair racers started, and then — BOOM — we were off!
photo 4 (2)The first few miles ticked along right on pace, but the weather was heating up and getting humid fast. By mile 5, my tank top was already getting soggy, and I was getting nervous, though I was still on pace. By mile 10, the sun came out in full force, I was sweating hard, and my pace started to drop from 7:15s so 7:25s or so. At that point, I knew that my 3:10 goal wasn’t going to be realistic.

Miles 7-12 were mentally challenging, as the half-marathoners were starting their negative splits, and I was getting passed like crazy. Since so many more people run the half, a lot of the spectators were shouting things like, “You’ve got this! Just two more miles!” It made me laugh… and also really tempted me to turn right, toward the finish, at the split. But I knew I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t finish the full, so I turned left, leaving the half crowd behind.

J saw a woman wearing this shirt and took a picture for me. He knows me well.
J saw a woman wearing this shirt and took a picture for me. He knows me well.

The second half of the race had much less shade, and my pace started dropping significantly. I was seeing eights on my watch, which I didn’t like, but if I crossed a certain speed threshold, I’d get lightheaded and nauseous, so the slower, safer speed won. At about mile 15, a little twig wedged itself down into my shoe. I had to stop and take my shoe completely off. I was not thrilled with losing even more time, but there was no way I could run another 11 miles with that thing rubbing my foot.

J caught me shortly after mile 15, and I made a “shoot me now” gesture. The heat and humidity was dragging me down — training through the winter certainly didn’t prepare me for it — and a headwind was blowing to boot, but he cheered me forward.

At this point, my pace was shot, so I simply focused on moving forward, breaking the race into 2.5ish-mile segments — from aid station to aid station. At each stop, I chugged at least two cups of water and often dumped one on my head, too. Several aid stations and friendly spectators also handed out cups of ice, which I’d dump down my bra for a few minutes of sweet relief. I probably should have been drinking Gatorade — I’m sure my electrolytes were way off; my body was gritty with salt by the end — but since I hadn’t trained with it (thanks to that strict diet), I didn’t want to race with it. I’m not sure which was the worse decision — risking it and having it destroy my stomach, or skipping it and getting more and more dehydrated. I did take three Vfuel gels, the last one at mile 17 or so (I think). I carried five, planning to take one every 45 minutes, but after a while, I just couldn’t stomach them in the heat.

I finally hit the turnaround just before mile 20, expecting to get some relief from the wind. Nope — it shifted, too. I thought that shift was all in my head, but several other runners said the same thing. I read an interview with the women’s winner, and she even said so! That made me feel like less of a baby. The last 10k was a slog — I had to stop and walk several times to keep from blacking out, and I continued my chug-dump-ice routine at the aid stations.

At least everyone else was struggling, too, so we cheered each other on as we leapfrogged. One nice guy even offered me water from his Fuel Belt when I was hurting. That’s the best thing about this sport — sure, we’re there to compete, but everyone looks out for one another, and I love the camaraderie.

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Finally, I turned the corner into the stadium and toward the finish line, which was at the football field’s 50-yard line. That tunnel seemed to go on for-ev-er, but I really appreciated that the half and full marathon were split all the way to the finish. Dodging walkers at the end of a marathon is rough, so I liked that we had separate paths. I also loved that they announced each marathon finisher over the loudspeaker in the stadium. I felt like big stuff.

When I was finally close enough to see the clock, I saw 3:27, and gave it what little kick was left in my legs.

photo 2 (10)It looks like I’m passing all those chicks, but they’re in the half lane.

The race sent a finisher video, but I’m not smart enough to embed it. If you want to see what a 90%-dead redhead looks like, click here.

Once I crossed the line, I stopped to catch my breath and wait for the world to stop spinning, hobbled back into the shade under the stadium and grabbed some Gatorade and water, then shuffled back out to the stadium turf. I wasn’t sure where J was, and I didn’t think nonrunners were even allowed where I was, but I desperately needed to sit down, as I was pretty dizzy. I eased myself onto the turf, rested my head on my knees, and drank my water and Gatorade. I even managed to choke down some chocolate milk. After a while, I felt okay enough to try to find J… but I couldn’t get up. I had to ask a stranger to help me. Ouch.

Post-race. So much sweat.
Post-race. So much sweat.

I finally found J, and then found the showers (another perk of this race: not having to stink afterward). Then, we found my favorite post-race lunch: a burger, a beer, and sweet potato fries. It was everything I wanted.

My official time was 3:27:14 — my third-slowest marathon, and far slower than the 3:10 I originally hoped for. I was disappointed, sure, but I honestly feel that there’s nothing I could have done differently. I’m not a good heat runner anyway, and I didn’t have any opportunities to train for those conditions, since the last 18 weeks were, you know, winter.

I felt better about my finish when I got the official results e-mail Sunday night: I crossed the start line 133rd overall, 15th woman, and 5th in my age group, and I crossed the finish 130th/16th/6th. So yes, I struggled, but so did everyone else. Later, I read that the men’s winner — who also won last year — ran 10 minutes slower than he did in 2014. So yeah, the conditions were tough. I wasn’t just a wimp.

I was impressed with the race as a whole and would definitely run it again. It was extremely well-organized, and the volunteers and spectators were awesome. I also think it could be a PR course if the weather cooperated — it’s flat, but not painfully so , with just enough little rollers to keep it interesting.

So what’s next? I’m not sure. I’d like to try again for 3:10… sometime, but not this fall. I don’t want to register for another goal race until my stomach stuff is straightened out, and with all our travelling and adventuring this summer, I don’t want to be committed to a hefty training schedule. For now, I’m going to recover, then run for fun and lift a little more weights. And then…. whatever I want, I guess!

Anybody else race this weekend?

How far off is your personal worst time from your personal best?

Any suggestions for what my “next big thing” should be?

And the Winner Is….

Just popping in this morning to announce the winner of the Skirt Sports 13er and gift certificate: Enna Jones! Congrats, Enna! You’ll be getting an e-mail from me shortly.

If you didn’t win, go visit Ivanna from Petite Heartbeat — she’s also giving away an entry — and follow @skirtsports on Instagram. They’ll be giving away more entries during their #RealWomenMove campaign soon!