Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I'm 40...

Saturday I turned 40. I am not sure what I expected, but when I look in the mirror, I look the same. I didn't suddenly wake up all stiff (well stiffer than normal) and not able to stand up straight. Do I see 40 when I look in the mirror? Honestly, no, I don't. Am I ready for 40? Part of me isn't ready for this new decade and how 'old' it sounds. I know 40 is not old because I am not old. I don't look 40, I don't feel 40, and although I'm mature, I don't act 40. So what is so tough about it?

I unexpectedly started celebrating my birthday last Wednesday. I teach 3 indoor cycling classes a week, and I'm pretty close with most of those in my morning class. They thought they would surprise me with a room decked out with black balloons, a happy 40th birthday banner, and streamers made up of the number 40. Oh, and signs on the door of the cycling room. Now, I like to think I'm good with surprises, but really, I'm just ok with them, and in the morning at 5:30, I'd say I'm pretty bad at them. My initial reaction to this was less than positive. Of course, I loosened up, woke up, and had a great time. They also surprised me with a goody bag of some of my favorite snacks, and an iTunes gift card since my music is a huge part of my class. It was a really fun and sweet surprise, and a great way to kick off the 'celebration.' 

My gals at work celebrated my birthday eve with me on Friday by treating me to lunch at one of my favorite places, Jutama's, which serves delicious Thai food. And I also received some really sweet gifts from them. 

The actual day of my birthday was very quiet. I had brunch at Southbound Bagel with one of my oldest running friends. We spent some time chatting and catching up, and I filled her in on the events of the Houston marathon. I would share a picture from this lunch, but the one I'd want to share, she wouldn't let me take. I relaxed part of the day,then closed it out with my mom, niece, nephew, and his girlfriend at the Southern Miss basketball game, which we won. I had to work a few hours on Sunday at an expo, but was able to spend the rest of the evening with a close friend watching movies and eating pizza. 

Monday we gathered at mom and dad's for the big family birthday bash. Dinner would be at 5, but I went on over early to spend time with whoever was at their house. The highlight of the afternoon was shooting a gun for the first time. This is odd for me since I have grown up around guns with hunters (tons of them), a dad retired from law enforcement, and a brother currently working in law enforcement. My oldest nephew talked me into going out to shoot. It was fun and scary all at the same time. My ears still aren't normal, but I am actually excited about going to do it again soon, with earplugs this time. The crowd began to gather and included my mom, dad, sister, 3 nephews, one niece, one niece-n-law, a great niece, a nephew's girlfriend, my niece's boyfriend, and I had a friend there also. We had a great meal, great laughs, lots of stories, even more picking on me, and my favorite, cake. It was the perfect day to celebrate with my family, and I loved it. 

Birthdays can be fun, but we have never been the type of family to blow a birthday out. I am not a big fan of being the center of attention so I am kind of glad it is all over. I guess now I won't have to worry about a tough birthday again until 50? Just saying that was hard... But, like I've always heard, growing older is better than the alternative. 

I do have one more thing to do this week that I am considering part of the birthday fun. Tomorrow night I am seeing Willie Nelson with a few friends. I am not crazy about country music, but I do prefer the older stuff so this should be fun. I mean, Willie is a legend! I will post pics in my next blog of this great adventure!

Oh, and I started back running today after a week and a day or two off. I am enjoying the rest and the relaxed running mentality a LOT! But it's good to be back on the road! 

Not that all this birthday stuff is over, and I am settling into my new age and new decade, this is what I know. 
I'm 40. I'm a runner. I'm a cyclist. I'm a sports fan. And I'm fabulous! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Houston Marathon Race Report

I haven't been in a hurry to write this race report post as I have been pretty conflicted about how I feel about the marathon and a bit less than excited about this one. I should strive to find the positives in all things, even something like this that honestly was not that enjoyable of an experience.  You will understand in my report below.

That was probably the hardest one I've done strictly because I wasn't as ready and the weather was beyond terrible for an hour or so.I started out trying to stick to the plan, which was to walk one minute at the end of each mile, but the wind and rain were so brutal, I was having trouble focusing. Everything seemed so chaotic in the midst of the rain and driving wind, which was blowing the rain sideways in sheets into the left side of my body. My HR strap came loose in the first couple of miles so I had to get that all fixed back, then at some point, I lost TWO of my gels! I had them in my race belt, and I guess they weren't secure and just slipped out. After the first round of rain stopped, after 20-30 minutes from the start of the race, I calmed down and just tried to regroup. I was cold. I was soaking wet. My gloves were soaked so I got rid of them. I had on arm sleeves that helped even though they too were soaked, and I had made a last minute decision to put on capri tights instead of shorts. I’m glad I did because it helped shield some of the wind, but my clothes stayed wet for about 4 hours. The rain came back around mile 6 I think, and it was really hard with huge drops. I would say by mile 8 or 9, it stopped for good. Someone in the crowd even said that the radar was clear. So I regrouped again, fought off the urge to turn around with the half, and tried to get back on the plan. I made it to the half, but I started struggling. My legs were hurting. I took a moment to stop and stretch, then I threw in an extra short walk or two. To try to compensate for fewer gels, I drank Gatorade more than I normally would. Of course they were handing out gels like after mile 20 so I passed on those at that point, and I avoided any food being handed out by spectators. I was doing all I could to save my run. By miles 20-22, I was pretty much done. I hurt really bad, and it was going to take sheer will to get me to the finish. I would run as long as I could making deals with myself that I could walk if I made to the mile kite or this block or whatever, or I would walk when the pain got really bad. Of course starting back was awful, and each time I moved slower and slower, including walking. When I hit 25, I wanted to tried to run the rest of the way in, but I couldn't  The tailwind (which was at least 30 mph) was making it difficult to not fall forward. I simply didn't have the legs to keep up with how hard it was pushing me! I bet no one has ever wished for a tailwind to go away, but I did. I saw the banner for the last ½ mile, and I forced myself to keep running (trotting, limping, whatever it was I was doing) to the finish. I made it and when I stopped, I wanted to lie down in the road. 

Moving through the finish area was really tough. I found it extremely difficult to walk. In these larger races, finish areas are big, and it's a maze almost that you have to go through to escape. I got out of that area, found my mom, and then parked it in the middle of the floor before I collapsed. Once I gathered my wits and felt better, it was time to get out of there so I could get warm and fed. Because we had come in hours earlier in the rain and darkness, we, along with many others, had a lot of trouble finding my car. I walked a LOT doing that, which really helped the soreness, but it prolonged my getting food and the recovery I needed. That night, don’t think I didn't TEAR UP a hamburger. It might be the best one I've ever had. After that it was a restful night in the bed watching the Golden Globes and reading all the fun text messages and FB posts from my friends. 

This one has taken a bit longer to recover from, but that’s not surprising. Right now, thoughts of another marathon are not appealing, but I'm sure that will change. I was not completely ready for this race, and I know that going into it. A couple of illnesses did not help my training, and of course, the weather was the worst I've ever run in before. I knew to expect it to be painful, long, slow and mentally challenging. It lived up to ALL of those expectations. :)  The positives are that I overcame. I overcame a tough injury that knocked me out of training completely. I overcame the fact that I wasn't as ready as I usually am or wanted to be. I overcame the weather. I overcame a huge mental battle that endured pretty much the entire race and even the morning before it started. Of those things, I am very pleased. This one wasn't about how fast or slow. 

I'm feeling good today and plan to be back to running in the next week or so. I am looking forward to jumping on my bike to train for my first century ride in May at G.A.S.P, from Austin to Shiner, TX. 

Number 12 in the books!
Taken immediately at the finish. I was pretending to feel good, 
but the smile completely conveys how happy I was it was over. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's been a while...

Ok, so it's been more than a little while, it's been nearly a year! In a nutshell, 2012 wasn't the greatest of years. The year started out getting over my injury, which turned into a mental injury. As I returned to running during the first five months of the year, I questioned my heart and desire for it. That's a tough pill to swallow, especially when running is melted into every area of my life. As the year moved forward, I sort of bounced back. I used my deferral for Houston's registration in May and started working with my coach again in June. Was I back? Physically yes, mentally, not as much. That was the theme for the year too. As a result of the injury, my run fitness suffered dramatically, which caused my mental fitness to suffer. If I couldn't run like I did when I got hurt, did I want to run? Did I want to run even if I did bounce back? I continued running, hitting and missing some days. I knew deep down I didn't want to quit.

So here I am. Houston is Sunday. After nearly two years I will be back to the marathons My 12th. And possibly one of my worst. I'm ok with it. I've accepted that it is what it is. My training wasn't spot on. My endurance isn't what it should be. My fitness is relative to what I put into the last few months. I will finish the 26.2 miles, but it will involve much slower paces and some walking. Saying all of that, I am kind of excited. The pressure is completely off. My expectations are low, which for a mental runner like me, is running gold. I will have fun regardless of the outcome. What a painful way to have fun!

2012 had its share of personal heartaches and struggles, but I'm positive that 2013 is going to be my year. You see, I turn 40 in a little less than two weeks. Yes, 40. I won't lie, it freaks me out a little. My life is nothing like I would have thought by this point, but I really wouldn't change anything about it. Saying that, I almost feel as if 40 is a new start in life for me. It's an empowering feeling that I am choosing over one of feeling 'over the hill.' I have new training and fitness goals for this year. I will aim to run another marathon in the fall. I will also complete my first century ride from Austin to Shiner, TX! I'm really PUMPED about that. It's something new and fun for me!

I'm also going to blog more. I spared whoever reads this of any mopey, whiney posts during the year I want to forever forget so with a positive year on the front, I am going to spread the blog cheer!  I will do my best to write a positive post about Houston. Ha! :)

Happy new year and happy running!