Sunday, February 15, 2015

Rhythm & Blues Quarter Marathon

Time: 1:34: 14

I admit that I was lured by the bling on this one. This is a good race in general for medals. But when they offered a second medal for those who either ran a previous R&B race (which I had) or ran the Chevron Houston Marathon/Aramco Half (which I did), I was powerless. Despite the fact that it was on one of my work weekends.

My plan was that my family would drop me off at the race, I run it, I'd enjoy the after party, I'd walk across the street to where I worked, I'd use the staff shower to clean up, I'd work my shift. I made arrangements with Security to be let in early, and I stashed some toiletries and clean clothes in advance.

Let me back up to share how these plans could have gone awry. There's going to be a healthy dose of TMI, so if that doesn't work for you, skip the next paragraph.

I had been spending the last few days playing the game "Am I Pregnant or Not?" because my period was late where it hadn't been for a while. (Perimenopause is a bitch that way; and for the record, I was hoping for Not.) I spent a good deal of mental energy on comparing symptoms for the past few days. I woke up at 4:30AM on Sunday pretty convinced I was, especially since my breasts were aching so very much. I was to the point where I was trying to figure out how to tell the Mister and all the things we would need to do when I got up and ... there it is! Yay! Wait ... ugh. One less thing to worry about mentally, but sensitive and sore breasts, fatigue, loose joints, cramps, and mess are not the best foundation for a race.

All that being said, everything went according to plan, and I had a great time! I risked wearing a cotton shirt (horrors!) to have a TARDIS costume. Lots of good response from those who passed the Nerd Litmus Test. Not as much cheering, but I felt super cute. And the cotton did okay considering it was already pretty warm and muggy for a February (low 70s).

I'm to the point that a 5K is almost not worth the effort, but a half is really too long for my current lifestyle. Six to eight miles is about my Goldilocks zone right now. I didn't go any faster than I usually do (I have been lax at interval training), but I was able to keep a consistent pace throughout. I managed my running and walking so that my brain didn't do any stupid defeatist things. No weird pains in my feet, although my left hip gave me a little trouble. There were a few hills in the course that I expected. What I didn't expect was the slight pitch that sometimes made my strides uneven. But an overall satisfying run--no regrets, no disappointments, no beating myself up.

And two medals.

I did enjoy the after party--food and music were good, the surroundings pleasant. I was able to get into work easily, clean up satisfactorily, and move forward with my work shift as normal. Still really, really achy. But if that's going to happen anyway, I might as well have something to show for it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Race Report from the summer: Foam Glow

Time:  No idea. Didn't even bother to turn on Runkeeper
Charity: Children's Hospital

It's been a while since I've done one of these.

Despite it being August, and therefore hot as monkey, I joined my friend, Michael, on this little excursion. The usual pre-race waiting around was enhanced by food trucks, people watching, tossing of free stuff, and music. There was the addition, however, of bubbles ... many, many colored bubbles that cling and color one like a highlighter on LSD. Playing and dancing in the bubbles was big time fun.
Pre-race bubbles

Until we realized that it soaked our feet. Ew.

The line to start was INSANE (I'm not sure what the final count of attendees was). Naturally, we were squished in the corral, ready to go. Naturally the whole "walkers and families to the right" was considered a suggestion. I know I should toss away my disdain for all this behavior by now; these are the kinds of runs that you use to attract people to the sport. It's
This is actually still pre-race.
supposed to be fun. I seriously need to relax about this. That being said, as a mom, when I see a littlie on the ground on the left side surrounded by excited twenty-somethings, I get irritated. I get irritated more about that than the 20 minute wait until our wave was released; for that, I'm prepared.

When we finally got to go, there were two things I had forgotten. 1) Adrenaline does crazy things; waiting around impatiently only makes it worse. 2) Michael has a MUCH LONGER STRIDE than I do (this should not be news). When we got running, I tried to keep up the pace.

Imagine a chihuahua running beside an excited Great Dane. That.*

I don't think we were more than a quarter mile in before my breath was irregular; I'd work at slowing it down to some success. But then my ankles began screaming. It wasn't long before I hollered uncle. Michael was so gracious in slowing down (even his fast walk is my comfortable running pace). He said that he wasn't disappointed in me, but I was with myself. It just seems to be a pattern when I go with other people. I get overconfident or buy my own press or get caught up in the moment or whatever; then I start off too fast, wear myself out, and become afraid of picking up the pace again. Even though everyone I've gone with is super nice about it, I'm pretty sure I come across as a liar about the running. I'm just grateful that I can actually pull out Runkeeper stats to show that, yes, I do finish higher distances; I'm just really slow.

Post-race. Still alive. Still smiling.
It's another thing I know I'm just going to have to get over. It's a vicious circle--I would do better running with other people if I ran with other people more. People tell me I should join a running group for this reason, which makes sense. But then I'm going to have to fight my weird social anxiety about meeting strangers and hoping they won't shun me for being so slow. It's like junior high all over again.

Enough with the self-therapy. Did we finish? Yes. Did we enjoy each other's company? Oh, yes! Did I have fun? Aside from the self-doubt ... yes, I did.

Would I do another of this type of race or would I recommend it to others? Maybe. Wait on the bubbles until after. Be prepared for sudden stops in the color stations (or avoid them, as we did with one). Other people: I understand the need for selfies; but can you pull over to the side and not stop in the middle of the track to check if your picture turned out. Oh, and could you not crowd the finish line for your pictures while we're trying to dash across it? kthxbai.

* Okay, maybe more like a Corgie.

(Half) Marathon Weekend Report

Friday: Expo
Picked up race packets. Also bought running stuff, including bigger water bottles, a clip on pocket that I can actually use with work clothes, several headbands (Superman shield, unicorns and rainbows, paisley skulls, and Union Jacks), and a star waist pack.

Saturday: ABB 5K
Running this race meant not just a medal for this event but a Double Down medal for finishing one of the Sunday races; this one was a duh. However, my daughter had been asking to do a 5K with me since Thanksgiving. Since this was also my husband's birthday, we made it a family affair.

In many ways, it reminded me of my first 5K. Miss took off far too fast at the beginning and then petered out halfway through, all the while musing, "Is it over yet?" So, yes, much walking as expected. But the weather was gorgeous, and I saw a part of Neartown that I didn't really know.

We gathered medals and muffins, and then she kicked butt at her tae kwon do class afterwards. Really, I am proud of her for seeing it through.

I admit I was a bit worried, though, since I hadn't had a lot of sleep the night before. Race jitters were in effect.

Sunday: Aramco Houston Half Marathon
I managed a decent night's sleep and made it to the slowpoke corral with loads of time and managed to chat with some lovely women. Just to show how big an event this is, it took me 36 minutes to get to the start line after the original gun had been fired.

Again, lovely weather--clear and cool. It was kind of fun running city streets that I knew well. I also saw my hairdresser, who sings along the route with her group, The Great Pretenders. The turnout of cheering spectators was pretty constant.

It was weird when they called out my name ... and then I remembered it was on my bib. It's weird, but I am more comfortable with cheers of "Wonder Woman" than "Darcy"; in a way, the costume allows me to hide and not take my performance too seriously. I have had more than one race where people say they like to run next to me because they feel like they get part of the cheering. Which is cool by me--if you are out there at all, you are a superhero. I just happen to dress like one.

I was doing okay until my phone completely stone-cold died close to the 15K mark. This was where I floundered. I didn't have music to motivate me. I didn't have the voice to coach my running intervals. This is also where the fatigue and pain hit; I knew from my previous half as well as my training runs that this was a difficult window. So, yeah, I ended up walking way too much, tunnel-visioning with hip and foot pain.

Thankfully I didn't hit any of the hills on Allen Parkway as I had feared. I tried to remind myself of my very first 5K that took the same stretch of road and how far I had come. I tried to pick up the pace in the Downtown corridor from the library where I work to the Finish Line. That's where things got surreal: the full marathon runners were in the lanes to my right, spectators lined both sides of the road. The cheers for the costume came from different directions--"Go, Wonder Woman!" from here, from there, behind, ahead. I had to keep going. Simply had to get going.

And then I was done. And I found my family (which was my next worry with a dead phone). And I got three medals. And some food. And a nap.

I have finished a second half marathon. A pretty official half marathon. Not that some races are more official than others--you're still moving your body over a defined distance. Except when they are. This one just feels more real. People I knew saw me (besides my family). More people knew and congratulated me. It wasn't a better performance, but I feel a little more entitled to the sticker.

Monday: Martin Luther King Jr. Parade with Girl Scouts
Okay, so this wasn't a race. But we were in the same part of town in which I had spent the entire weekend. Plus three hours of standing around. Plus walking a mile and a half. By noon, my legs were tired, my feet were tired, my family was tired, I was tired.

I spent the afternoon with my daughter napping and watching cartoons. Because that's what finishers do.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Ragged State of Me

So, yeah, it's been a while. A whole lot of hell in that while.

Basically, school started and my daughter fell apart. We are thinking that they are explosive anxiety attacks; by explosive, I mean screaming, throwing things, kicking, sometimes disrupting an entire wing, getting suspended at least once a month kind of explosive. Without going into too many details, it's enough to say that we as her parents are doing what we can with the resources we have. And while people try to be "helpful" (everything from essential oils to homeschooling), I'm finding setting up boundaries to be almost as stressful as dealing with the calls that disrupt my work. What I have been telling people is that we know our resources and our situation; you need to trust us to be good enough parents to work through the basics (which is the bulk of the advice being offered). The best help you can give us is to listen without judgment if we choose to talk to you about it.

The reason I bring it up at all in my running blog is that is has taken a toll on my mental and physical health. Trying to figure out how to manage her anxiety attacks has made mine explode again. Debilitating depression has poked its head in as well. I'm edgy. I'm exhausted. I'm on a hair-trigger to either cry or yell at any given time.

Exercise is really the last thing I want to do, but thankfully I've developed enough of a habit that the fight is not as bad as it could be. What has been difficult is throwing the half marathon training in the mix. Runs for more than an hour or so seem overwhelming. The weekends that I work, I have to put off my long runs until the following Monday--when I'm most likely to get a call from her school. Everything seems disruptive.

Which brings me to this week--the half is this coming Sunday.

Will I finish? Yes. At the recommended pace? Probably not. At this point, I will probably finish in a little over three hours. Looking at the results of the last couple years, four hours was the average for the final finishers. It can be done--but I really want it to be done at this point.

Right now, I'm thinking "two and through" when it comes to half marathons. My life just can't absorb the training time. I'm anxious to get back to three days of Zombies, Run! with three days of Superhero Workout interspersed. I'm seeing a therapist, but I may need something more to function for a while. I'm seriously considering a low dosage birth control at the very least to help smooth out the hormonal bumps. I'll also revisit the Happy Diet to see if some of that will help again too.

Every now and then, I can step back and see that not giving up--on anything--is a heroic thing. One foot in front of the other ... I do have confidence that eventually everything will be better, that we will figure out what's going on. But that seems a very, very long way away right now.

In the meantime, let me get this 13.1 miles out of the way.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Winding down the Summer

I'm sad that summer is wrapping up. Yes, it's hot and work is hell and I can't seem to fit in a vacation, but I can truly sleep in some days and home life is less stressful. Then tenor of things changes when school starts, so I'm enjoying things while I can.

According to the half training plan I've settled on, I have another month before getting going. So this month I'm going to try to finish up the bulk of Zombies, Run! Season 2 and add in some weight work.

I also may have signed up for another race.

Here's the thing: I have a friend who has been killing it this summer! He's finishing up C25K, he's been doing a crunch challenge, he's lost a ton of weight--all while working full time and doing a local production of Hairspray! So when he mentioned an interest in Foam Glow, how could I not? (Also: coupon.)

Yes, it's another let's-cover-you-in-color runs, but I never miss a chance to go with a friend.

Plus bubbles.

So natch I'm thinking what to wear. I thought about grabbing some wings, but an inventory of my own wardrobe suggests not gilding this particular lily--I've got a white tutu and loads of neon stuff that will light up in black light. I may splurge with some neon lipstick or something.

This month is about grabbing the Happy before starting the Work.

#July100Miles: Finish Line! (Also My 200th Post!)

I admittedly don't take on challenges that I don't have at least some inkling that I can't complete. That doesn't mean, however, that I take on easy challenges. Otherwise they wouldn't be called challenges.* 100 Miles in one month was definitely doable, but it wasn't easy.

But it is done.

I've mentioned before that I'm not really into streaking.** I had made a few attempts before but nothing like this. After this experience, I'm still not into it. But I can do it. So if I end up choosing a half-marathon training that happens to have me running two days in a row, I'll be okay.

I've done this. I can do that.

My calves are aching in a way that lets me know that I do need to take a rest day (or two). But for the most part, things don't hurt as much as they did. My legs do feel a little more defined, and my waistline is a teeny bit smaller (not that I didn't eat the entire kitchen this month).

Also, because it was a long month, I had the privilege of running every day through not one but two bouts of ugly PMS. It seems to have helped with some of the symptoms. Still have a hair-trigger temper, though (can you imagine what I would be without the running?).

But seriously, between this challenge, an anniversary, a birthday, working at least part of three weekends in a row, and the blasted heat, I'm pretty exhausted. Proud of myself for pushing through but exhausted.

And then I discovered there's an  #August100Miles challenge ...


But maybe you should. When I broke it down into manageable bits (at least 3.22 miles a day), it wasn't that bad. I also used the heck out of Zombies, Run! (so much so that I ran out of the after-mission radio clips). It gave me a focus, and I may do it again next summer if it comes up again.

I should get my belt buckle in mid-August, after which I will attempt an Epic Picture.

But tomorrow, we sleep in.

* What would you call them? Easy-peasies? Shirley? 
** No, not that. This.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

#July100Miles: Week 3

Less than a marathon to go at this writing.

At this point, I've settled into a routine for the most part. I'm still a little ahead of the game, so I was able to sneak in another rest day. Still hurts, especially my butt (what?). Still a lot of walking.

A week ago, I was set to go out, and it was raining. I was about ready to turn around and go back to bed when I reminded myself that races happen rain or shine; I might as well start practicing in the rain now. This was one of those huge-drops-you-can-practically-walk-between kind of rains, and it pretty much let up after a quarter-mile in. As with most things, it turned out to be mostly mental. This month has been all about, "I can do that because I've done this."

Zombies, Run! had a satisfying story arc this week, only broken up once by one (kind of dumb) side mission. It did end in a Game of Thrones way, though. Trying not to be spoilery, but like any decent post-apocalyptic storyline, it's in your best interest not to love anyone. Except that you will. Because emotions. To the credit of the writer(s), I struggled with going out on Saturday because I was still sad,* but the following episode worked those feelings into the storyline. But seriously, don't love anyone if you can.**

I do love that in Season Two, you get Base add-ons that reflect the missions. Also Radio Mode (which kicks in after you finish a mission) has an algorithm that adjusts to the day of the week (and even time of day) that you run. It was spooky at first until I began to see the patterns.

The morning weather turned a couple degrees cooler this past weekend so I was able to keep a steady pace for 3 miles instead of just 1.5-2. Commitment to a half-marathon training plan is on the horizon. The kick-off party for that will be 31 July, which will be a nice way to wrap up this challenge.

* I know I'm not really running in a zombie wasteland. That's beside the point.
** I'm relatively secure that Runner 5 won't get killed off. Then again, if they were going to wrap up the game, that would be pretty cool. Just don't do a LOST ending.