Friday, January 28, 2011

12 weeks to oz. tough choices and sweet relief.

The past few weeks I've been struggling in running. Even though I took a break through most of December, I simply haven't been able to get my groove back in running. Yoga? Spinning? I'm back on my game as the numba' one stunna'. Running? Not so much. Honestly it's been awful the past month. I haven't been able to string decent miles together, I'm exhausted, burnt out... you get the idea.

Enter the fleeting thought at the start of the year that maybe I shouldn't do a marathon this spring. Fleeting thoughts banished, training commenced, but thoughts kept returning. As of Monday the thoughts were so strong I had to stop and pay attention to them. I started seriously considering dropping to just half marathons for the entirety of spring, but was wrestling with the decision. I just couldn't convince myself that it was okay to forgo a spring 'm' without feeling... well, like a failure honestly. Which is ridiculous. It's a marathon for goodness sake, not a life or death situation!

Until last night, or three o'clock this morning rather. When I was still wide awake pondering all of my life dilemmas and frustrations. When I realized I am just not interested or committed to doing long runs. I'm loving my weekday mileage, and the training of hills and speed. But my thoughts kept going to this: if I could successfully train for a marathon by running 12-14 miles every Sunday? I would do it. Which is of course asking for marathon disaster in my book. And to the fact that I was so dissatisfied with my 'm' training plan that I had already changed it a number of times. When really perhaps that dissatisfaction wasn't with the plan, it was really over running another 'm.' It sounded so daunting. And exhausting, especially considering how busy the next few months are going to be for the Edder and I. So at three-thirty a.m. I decided no 'm.' Then I rolled over and fell asleep. It felt blissful.

I'm sure over the next few months I'll wish I would have stuck it out in 'm' training every now and then. I'll get a bit sad I'm not conquering that PR 'm' goal in the next few months. But as of today, I feel nothing but sweet relief. Honestly, I am excited over the prospect of training really hard for three spring half marathons, shooting for my ultimate half PR goal (more on that in the future). That feeling alone is what solidified my decision to drop from the 'm.' It didn't sound fun, at all. It sounded miserable in fact. While going balls to the wall in multiple half marathons sounded like a blast. Because clearly I'm a sicko! I felt like I was running an 'm' this spring because that's what I was supposed to do. Because that's what runners do. We run marathons. And that's the only thing that proves you are a 'real' or 'good' runner. At least that's been my screwed up thinking. What? It's no secret I have issues!

But that thought is total crap, it just took a lot of talks with those closest to me and some enlightenment to realize that no matter what, running is running. Which is an amazing thing. It's so personal, so gratifying, if you let it be... It's just easy for me to get caught up in the 'keeping up with the joneses' aspect of running. I got caught up in it and it clearly made me miserable. My running is nothing like anyone elses. Period. As a dear friend pointed out to me, it shouldn't be stressful to run, it should help relieve the stress. Excellent point. Running and I, we go through fights about every six months, so really we were due.

So. Here we go folks. The FWR is going to embark on a journey to destroy some half marathons over the next four months. It's like my love and passion for running has returned just thinking about working hard on half marathons. And while I realize the blahgesphere couldn't care less if I run a marathon or a half marathon? I just had to get it all out there on my little blahg. Emotional vomit complete. And hey, what is my blahg if it isn't there for me to vomit all over? I mean really?

Moving on.

Week 1 Training (starting over, this was last weeks training):
Monday = Spin class
Tuesday = Yoga
Wednesday = 5 Miles Easy & Yoga
Thursday = 7 Miles Easy (split between the TM/Joggers & Lagers)
Satuday = 5 Miles easy (during which i stopped to whine to multiple people and cry a little)
Sunday = 13 Miles (all while whining to the lawyer about not wanting to train for an 'm', i was a bag of chuckles)

Lastly, all of the above said. I absolutely intend to destroy a marathon in the fall, and hopefully building a great base with halves and working on speed will just be a catalyst for me to do that! Wait. Not hopeful. It WILL be.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

topeka to auburn 1/2.

The Topeka to Auburn 1/2 Marathon is no joke, that sucker is rough. It chewed me up, but I didn't let it spit me out. I had no intention of "racing" this, and I didn't. I walked up the biggest hills, and ran a reasonable pace on the flat, or slightly inclined sections. I knew I needed to conserve myself and my legs on the hills since I NEVER run hills. EVER. I just started doing 'hill training' on the TM last week. Plus, I did plenty of racing the past few months and am committed to not race anything (although i have races i'll casually run) until the 'm' in April. Time to let my body focus on just the one race.

I'm thrilled I finally got to do the race I've been waiting five years to do. Clearly I could benefit from living where there are hills to run every day. But, the challenge for a flatlander was fun. I was happy with my finishing time and the fact that I met people along the way to chat with, something I've never done before in a race.

In fact, around mile six I came upon a guy walking up a hill at the same point that I was. We started chatting (read: exchanging expletives at the exact same moment) and ended up finishing the race together. It was nice to find a friend in the misery. I found that's the best part about a race that you aren't "racing." You can meet cool people along the way.

*cheesing at the top of urish hill with my new found race pal*

As for the course itself, it was hilly, there were about four miles of snow packed gravel, and it was hilly. Did I mention hilly? Just to show you what I mean, I present to you the elevation of T to A compared to my typical 'hilly' route that I run in Wichita. Yes, a route we consider hilly. Laugh. Because it is ridiculous in comparison. And as you'll see, there is a huge difference.

I won't lie, miles 8-10 felt like a breeze compared to the rest of the race, and that is where I actually picked up some time. It felt so flat and easy! Man, I wish I had hills like that to train on every week. I should mention that I also did this race in brand new, never before worn, trail shoes. Mizuno Cabrackens, which I loved. But it probably wasn't the smartest idea to do 13.1 miles in a brand new type of shoes. My calves and achilles were cramping by mile 12 and I have a feeling the hills, combined with new shoes, contributed to that. It hurt.

*happy to be at the finish line. it was getting cold, the sun went away, until then it was decent, in the 20's and sunny*

One last thought on the T to A race, just the other day I learned from someone writing in the Examiner, then posted on Facebook (so you know it MUST be real and pure truth.... right), that the Topeka to Auburn Half Marathon is ranked one of Runner's World's 10 most difficult half marathons. I tried to find the information to back that up, but I couldn't, so I don't trust that to be fact. It could also be that my research skills are just rusty.

However, even though I couldn't find the information to back it up, I'm going to pretend it's pure fact:
1) i'm obnoxious that way (even though it goes against my principles); because....

2) it totally benefits me and the fact that my finish time at T to A was only my third fastest half (but still faster than both trail half marathons i've done).

3) i am wishy-washy. clearly. and roll with what's most beneficial for me and my race times.

At the end of it all, I was hurting for nearly a week from the race, my legs were fatigued and my training last week overall was less than stellar (something i'll post about soon). But T to A is a race I will do again when I have the chance.

For this year, I will just view it as a challenging and fun training run that I did with 300 other people. Plus, I got to meet new runners and hang out with RunnurMark and a fellow Wichita runner (who runs barefoot and did the race in vibrams-ouch) for a little while after the race. All while I stuffed my face with pancakes (uh, runnurmark and barefoot dude finished way before me therefore enjoyed their pancakes before i even crossed the finish line. RUDE) and we watched/participated in the awards ceremony.

Official Results:
3/14 AG
207/300+ OA

*my third place AG prize. which was just pure luck.*

Thursday, January 13, 2011

14 weeks to oz. mostly a success. so far.

Fourteen weeks to my next marathon and the first two weeks of training were a total and utter fail. Therefore I'm going to pretend they didn't really happen and act like I WANTED to train for just 14 weeks instead of 16 for the Oz M. All of this means, granted I survive the brutal half marathon I'm running Saturday, that week one (we'll use that term loosely) of 'm' training was a success. Hill-work, speed-work, all of it. Pain free.

My training plan is complete after quite a bit of effort, and I'm very satisfied with it. It's more intense than any other 'm' training plan I've done so far, but I feel ready for it. If it starts to make me hurt too much, I'll back off. But to reach my goal I'm going to have to endure speedwork and hill training for this cycle, and hope my body handles it sans injury. Since I have a pacer and a coach I feel confident in putting it all out there for the Oz. That way if something goes wrong, I can totally blame him. And I will absolutely blame him.

That's what pacers are for. Blaming.

Therefore, my goal: 3:55.

Wish me luck blahgesphere, it's an ambitious plan for this girl. But after running the Gobbler Grind half, I have the confidence I need to finally go and attempt to 'race' a marathon.

Week 1 Training
Monday = 4 Miles, 'Hills' on the TM
Tuesday = 4 Miles
Wednesday = 6 Miles Tempo, 4 @ 8:34
Saturday = Hopefully finishing 13.1 in the Topeka to Auburn 1/2 Marathon

This brings me to my last point. Running the Topeka to Auburn 1/2 Marathon on Saturday, to which I've gotten many ridiculous looks and the big question WHY from my running buddies (none of whom are joining me. RUDE). Well, because back in the day, when I was just starting to run and I lived in Topeka, I was going to run this race. Then three weeks before the race, I had a little nugget of fun pop up called an appendectomy. So you know... that sort of stopped me. I haven't had the chance to run it since then.

Opportunity seized. Despite a forecast of cold temps, streets and gravel roads that will be covered in a mix of ice/snow/slush on a brutally hilly course, I'm in. Yep. I'm considering this a challenge. Thanks to the weather and road conditions I've bid farewell to any time goal and I'm just going to hope I don't hurt myself slipping down an icy hill. I am NOT a coordinated human being. This could be tricky. I take that back. This will be UGLY. However, I'm not sure any race could get much worse than the El Dorado Trail Half Marathon. Really, I've got nothing to lose. Clearly I have a problem with choosing the worst possible races available. But between that trail half and the OKC 'm' last year, my dignity has obviously seen it's prime.

Plus it's the only half marathon in this area for months to come. Don't you worry, I'm sure I'll have quite a bit of fodder to share on this little gem over the weekend. So then, there's that to look forward to...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

the rodeo clown vs. the possum

While I should be writing posts about my fail of an m training for Oz thus far, given my limited time and a better topic, I'm not going to. Instead, I sure am going to subject you to my blatherings as that DOG LADY. The one who tells stories about her dog. And her never ending week from hell. Insert overly dramatic sigh here. Giddyup blahgesphere.

So. The thing is, between work, teaching every weeknight for the next two weeks, and the fact that Edder is currently working equally ridiculous hours, I am managing m training... I think. Barely. SO that post shall come soon. Our house is one big bag of chuckles right now. Needless to say by 10p all we want to do is get a drink and sit on the couch to stare at the ceiling for exactly six minutes before going to bed. We are also exciting. I could whine further, but I will not.

Last night, the drinking and couch sitting activity was rudely interrupted by our dog Milo freaking out with angry barking/growling. More so than usual. Despite our better judgement, we decided to let him out to go "get it." Whatever "it" was, we assumed a harmless bunny or a confused squirrel. Oh no. Let me offer you the condensed version. After five minutes of violent barking and growling and scuffling, Edder forcing the mystery meat out of the bushes (lord knows how, i don't want to know), a chase into the backyard and our open garage, I land at the back door. Safely inside to watch in horror as my dog drags a gigantic possum that is clinging for dear life to a detached lawn mower bag out into the driveway. Where he proceeds to shake it. Until it appears dead. Condensed version. It was all much more horrifying in real life. SHIVER.

After Milo was satisfied his work with the possum was done, while still highly disturbed, I could stop being embarrassed that we were THOSE people on the block. The ones who let their dog out to cause a ruckus (what? i'm a kansan, i can say that without ridicule) at 10:30 at night. Edder managed to get Milo back inside and we instantly notice a fairly deep gash on his left cheek. A gash that no home remedy could fix.

The point to the story is this. After a late night trip to the doggie ER, having Milo put under, three stitches and a 5a trip back to the ER Vet to pick him up. Milo is one proud boy. Edder and I however, are tired. But we choose to find the hilarity in all of it, the timing, the expense, the inconvenience and the sheer stupidity on our part of letting our dog "get it." And we are now left with a dog that looks similar to a rodeo clown. And squeaks like a hinge for sympathy.

I present to you. The Rodeo Clown, Milo. A series:

*at the ER vet waiting to be seen. he is still very amped up and very proud of his 'killing' with his fresh wound as proof.*

*right after he got home, he jumped in bed and we let him because we felt sorry for him. these are his stitches. he is really good at looking pitiful, no?*

*sporting his pretty pink IV bandage in a blissful drugged up state*

*more of said blissful drugged up state, at this point it was just amusing and i'm being mean taking advantage of it. please note the tongue. it's a very rough life.*

*the proud rodeo clown, thanks to his shaved cheek, in a rounded shape. and this rodeo clown sure did kill him a possum!*