Sunday, April 29, 2012

Race Day Maladies

  Yesterday was the Nashville Half Marathon.  That means 13.1 miles in which things can go terribly wrong.  Every single person that steps up to the starting line worries about one or more of those things.  Some racers worry about not being able to keep their pace, some worry about chaffing, some about a medical emergency, some worry about getting lost on the course, some worry about being last place, others about falling.  We all have our concerns before beginning a long distance race.

  Embarrassingly, my greatest race day fear is that I will need to use the bathroom during the race and not be able to get to a portapotty on the course.  Lots of others racers must also have this same fear, as is apparent by looking at the lines at the portapottys minutes before the race yesterday..

One poor guy that I passed had the most embarrassing moment of his life because he didn't make it to the portapotty and his disaster was visible to other runners.  I wanted to cry for the poor dude.
Fortunately, I have never had a race day bathroom disaster, but it will likely remain at the top of my fear list.

  I saw lots of people dealing with chaffing issues.  The medic tents were passing out Vaseline jelly on Popsicle sticks for people to use to rub onto any spots that were causing friction.  Only runners in pain would happily accept a Vaseline Popsicle.  Thankfully, I did not need a Vaseline Popsicle yesterday.

  During my race pace, I personally had to run around 3 different people who were lying on the road receiving medical attention from paramedics. The friends that traveled with me talked about others who were getting medical attention farther back on the course.  I have no idea what their injuries or emergencies were related to, but they were having a bad race day for sure.  

  My only race day boo boos yesterday were on my feet...... I chalk the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon as a race day success! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Accidental Carb Loading

  Two nights ago, I was sitting with my best friend at the ball park.  We both have boys, she has 4 and I have 3.  Two sets of our boys are on the same baseball teams....the 9 year olds and the 7 year olds.  Our 7 year olds were playing and we were cheering, as is typical on any given night.  I overheard her explain to her husband that she had left spaghetti on the stove for when he arrived home with part of her gang from a different game.  I perked up at the thought of spaghetti.  When she got off the phone, I interjected....
"We haven't had spaghetti in forever!  I don't know why I have cooked it in a while."

So, I made a mental note to go to the store to buy the things I need to have spaghetti for dinner sometime in the next day or two.  Today was the day.  But just as I was fixing my plate, I giggle as I realized that I had just prepared the most "cliche" prerace meal in the world for the night before I left for my half marathon.  Everybody....even about eating lots of carbs a day or two prior to a long distance race.  But I prepared it with only the thought that it would be yummy and the boys would like it.

 I accidentally carb loaded.

And I rather enjoyed it.

There are all kinds of things that runners are suppose to do before a big race.  You can google "last minute running tips" or "race preparations" and get thousands and thousands of tips and tricks of things that you MUST do to correctly prepare for a race....from prehydration to elevation mapping to aid station planning.

Basically, I didn't do any of that stuff.

There were, however, a list of things that I did do to prepare for the half-marathon in Nashville this weekend.

1. Carb Load. (Okay...admittedly, this was an accident.)

2.  Order a new running outfit so that I would feel FAB! (I finally found a skirt that absolutely does not chaffe my legs!)

3.  Write out plans for my substitute teacher for my kindergarten class. (Also make copies, lay out books, mentally prepare students...this list goes on and on...)

4. Cook enough spaghetti so that all my guys will have leftovers to eat tomorrow night.

5. Organize transportation to all baseball games for all boys while I am gone.

6. Trim toenails (I do not want any more black toenails.  It's not attractive.)

7. Charge camera battery

8. Charge IPOD

9. Wash baseball uniforms after tonight's game to be ready for the game tomorrow night. (Why else would I STILL be awake?)

10.  Pray that I won't need to poop during the 13 mile race.

So there you have it.  The real race day preparations.

I feel totally ready.....well, I will as soon as the washer finishes the spin cycle with those darn uniforms.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Running Nostalgia

As I was running down my country road a couple of days ago, I was totally into my run.  It would be my last 'long run' before the half-marathon coming up this Saturday.  I had set out early in the morning before the boys woke up.  I wanted to get 2 hours of running in before our day began.  We had 3 baseball games to get to and I didn't want my running to get in the way of my "Mommy Duties".  The weather was perfect for a run and I was enjoying my quiet time. 

I turned the corner at the end of my road and I saw my Daddy walking toward me.  He was also out enjoying the fresh morning air.  Daddy was out for a walk, since his body (and doctor) will no longer allow him to run.  My Daddy was a runner for many years. He ran countless 5K's and 10K's and also completed a marathon.  He was the one who introduced me to my love of running.  I remember watching him fly across the finish line covered in sweat and a look of pride and satisfaction on his face.  I wanted that.

My first miles as a 'runner' were quite treacherous.  I huffed and puffed and sounded like I was dying.  I couldn't even make it a quarter of a mile.  I had side stitches and my lungs burned.  I was a terrible runner, but Daddy kept encouraging me.  He would always say, "You gotta start somehwere."  or "You are doing great!  At least you are getting out there!"  He was always so positive....even though I knew I was stinking it up.  I was embarrasingly out of shape when I started.

(This photo was taken in 1998 just before a local 5K race. I waddled through this one at 8 months pregnant.)

I races with Daddy.  He always tore out fast and finished the race fast.  Then, he always turned around at the finish line and came back to finish with me.  Always positive.  Never demeaning me when I had to walk parts of it.  He was there for me then, and he is there for me now.

As I saw Daddy approaching me Saturday, I pulled my ear buds from my ears and shouted to him...
"Hey! I am finishing up mile 10!  I am going for 12 today."

Daddy beamed a happy smile at me and gave me two thumbs up. 
Then he said....a bit sadly...
"I sure wish I could join you."

I wish he could to.

I am thankful that he still shows up to my races to encourage me...even though he can't run with me anymore.  I am thankful that he instilled a love of running in me all those years ago.

I am thankful that me and Daddy have "this thing" together.  It's OUR thing.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Exhiliration Is Coming

This photo was taken of me during my first Half Marathon.

It's one of my favorite photos because I remember how I felt at that moment....


The Nashville Half Marathon is this Saturday.  Less than a week away.

In less than a week....I will get to feel this exhilarated again.

I can hardly wait.

Jacked Up Feet

I laid in the bed last night until 2 am, unable to sleep because of my jacked up feet. I was moments away from taking a hand saw and cutting my feet off at the ankles to end the pain.  Luckily, I snapped out of my sleep deprived hysteria and took some Ibuprofen instead. 

I have been training for a half marathon that is coming up in less than two weeks.  Ack!  I have been pounding out the miles day after day in less than stellar shoes.  Well, actually...the shoes were perfectly great running shoes until I trashed them on a muddy trail run.

I then tried to fix them by washing the mud out.  I used hot water in the washing machine...which melted the plasticky stuff in the lining of the shoes.  They shrunk up to warped and wacky junk shoes.  They poked my heels, lost the rubber support in the soles and pinched my toes. 

I was mad at myself for ruining my good shoes, so I decided to tough it out.  I would finish the marathon training and get through the half marathon before I replaced them.

In my stubbornness, I have acquired blisters on 6 out of 10 toes, I have gotten "black toenail" on two of which has already fallen off leaving the bare nail bed behind and the other hanging by a thread, and my feet ache after every single run.

Last night was the straw that ended the boycott on new shoes. 

As I lay in bed, with every... single.... beat.... of my heart pounding in my toes, I vowed that I would not go for a run again until I could replace the torturous shoes.  This was not a decision I made lightly.  I was horrified at the thought of replacing expensive shoes that are only a couple of months old.

Nevertheless, I am committed to running.

I have registered for the race.
I have paid the fee.
I have a hotel lined up with my gal pals.
I have made arrangements for the boys.
I have trained.
And trained.
And trained.

So, at 2am last night.... I made the decision to buy new shoes.

After school today, rain was falling....which meant that baseball games for the night were cancelled.  I made the 45 minute trek to the nearest (and best) running shoe store....The Trak Shak.

The running shoe specialist watched me walk toward him and away from him.  He examined my stride and measured my feet.  I am certain that he made a little gasp when he measured my foot at a whopping size 11.  Then he told me all I ever wanted to know about my feet.
Not only are my feet grotesquely large, but I also learned that I need extra "support".  I need this support because of my "overpronation in my stride" and because my "arch collapses when I strike the ground".
Good Heavens!  No wonder my feet have been hurting!

The specialist brought out three different shoes for me to try that were designed specifically for my kind of jacked up feet.  They even came in my honking big size!

I picked the Brooks Adrenaline GTS Running Shoes that are made with extra cushion and support.  They feel dreamy.

When I climbed into the car with my new shoes in hand, I texted Bradley to tell him all about my excitement of buying my new shoes.  I told him about the shoe specialist saying that I had an "overpronation and arch collapse" in my stride.
He sent back via text....

"I was thinking that myself, but I just didn't want to offend you by pointing out your overpronation.  I thought it might embarrass you."

Thanks, dear.

Hopefully, when I go for a run tomorrow in my new shoes and then collapse into bed, I will not feel the urge to dismember my jacked up feet.

Competitive Gene

Is there a such thing as being too competitive?  Apparently so.  And..... I may be in trouble.  I found this article online in Glamour magazine. (Oh, yes it IS a very trustworthy source of health information...what do you mean questioning my sources?) is a segment of the article....

Are you competitive? Would you label yourself as "aggressive" in terms of going after what you want? Here's the warning for people, our competitive nature may be slowly ... killing us.

Researchers who published a major study in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association say that those who are most competitive are at increased risk for stroke and heart attack than folks who are more laid back.
The details: Italian researchers studied 5,614 Italians and found that those who scored highest for competitiveness on standard personality tests had a greater thickening of the neck arteries, an risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Killing me??!!  Yikes!  That's harsh.

Thankfully, the article did go on to say that if your competitiveness is mostly geared toward your fitness and athletic competitions, that the competitiveness could in theory, be helpful instead of harmful.  The competitiveness gets dangerous when it spills over into friendships, your love life, and everyday tasks.  I think I may not die from being too competitive after all.

I have always known that I inherited my Dad's competitive gene.  All through grade school, I wanted to have the best grades.  In high school, I wanted to be the best softball player on the team....or even the county.  I always felt let down if I didn't get chosen for something or didn't win something. And I don't think that competitive tendency has disappeared over the years.  It still rears it's head up on occasion.

My competitive nature was in full force this past Saturday night.  I entered a unique night time trail run with two of my friends.

The idea of the run was that teams would compete out on the trails in the dark.  The event coordinators had hidden 12 books along the trails marked with reflective tape to be seen only in the dark.  Runners were to head out onto the trails wearing headlamps and run the trails in search of the hidden books.   When a hidden book was found, teams were instructed to tear out the page of the book that corresponded with their team number.  We were team #30, so we were to remove page number 30 from each book and bring it back to the finish line at the end.

Some hints to the books' locations were emailed to runners prior to the race and others were sent via text message during the race.  Prior to the start of the race, using the clues, we had determined that there was one book hidden on each of the trails that covered the mountain.  To collect all 12 books, our team would need to split up to cover all of the miles of the trails in the 3 1/2 hour time limit.

Our basic plan for the race was that I would cover the longer trails alone and my partners would cover some of the shorter, more challenging trails as a pair.  In the end, we hoped to find about half of the books each and meet back at the finish line as winners.

Our plan started out great.  I headed off on the first trail and within minutes found the first hidden book.  I ripped out page #30 and tucked it into my running belt.  I texted my team and alerted them that the first book was found.  I conquered the second trail, Buckeye Trail, and found book #2 almost as quickly.  I jogged on to my third trail, which looped around a wetlands area.  I was stumped a bit when looking for this book and ended up looping around the trail three times before finding book #3.  I moved on to Sandstone Ridge Trail which had some really steep inclines and grabbed book #4 at the top of the trail. 

On my way down this trail heading to my next trail is when I got the alert from my team that they had struggled to find their first book, but had finally located it.  We were now up to 5 books as a team.  I continued on to a long leg of my trail running and covered the Pipeline Trail, which was almost two miles round trip.  Then, Lizard Loop Trail, which was a mile long loop that I ended up running twice because I couldn't find the book the first time.  Locating the book on Lizard Loop was insane.  The book was hidden well off the trail and I had to cross a running stream to get to it.  I ran the rest of the night in shoes and socks saturated with mud, but I was determined to find the book for the team.

After all this trail running is when my competetiveness and determination really took over.  I really picked up my running pace and backtracked some of the previous trails to get to a new section of the mountain.  There were books hidden on The Crusher Trail and The Ridge and Valley Trail.  I looked at the trail map and realized that these were the most challenging trails on the mountain, but I was NOT going to let my team down.  I had books to find!

So I headed off on Crusher Trail and found the book fairly easily, despite the changes in elevation and the fact that I somehow ended up off the trail and was lost for a brief period of time.  I had now found 6 of the 12 books.  I had an hour left to return to the finish line.  I had one last trail to conquer....The Ridge and Valley Trail.  The trail map describes it like this.....

Ridge and Valley Trail (1.5 miles)
Our most demanding trail, it goes through 1000 feet of elevation change over its length. You will cross several small streambeds as you hike.

About 3/4 of the way through the Ridge and Valley Trail.....I thought I was going to die.  I was out of water in my water bottle.  My legs were ON FIRE from running the hills.  My body was exhausted.  I texted Bradley, who was at home with the boys, and told him.....
"I don't know if I will make it off this trail.  I haven't seen another human in forever.  I don't think I can make it back to the finish line. And I think I may even be lost or something.  This trail is sooo long."

But just as I was about to throw in the towel....I saw the faint glow of another person's headlamp.  The person ended up being the event photographer.  He snapped this picture of me as I was climbing yet another "Ridge" on the trail.

He had a thick Indian accent as he shouted...

"Hello, runner!  Are you OK runner?  I haven't seen any other peoples on this trail, runner.  I am take your picture, then I leave this trail.  Are you feel OK runner?  Yay, runner."

I have never been so happy to see another human as I was to see Suman the Indian at that moment.  He let me know that I wasn't lost in the the woods after all.  And I knew that I might make it to the book, get the page out, and get back to the finish line alive.

I continued running and finally got to the end where the most glorious book awaited me.  I cheerfully took the page and put it into my running belt.  I was more than elated to get to the end of the Ridge and Valley Trail to see that there was an alternative trail back to the finish line.  I think that if someone had told me that I would have to retrace my steps and run Ridge and Valley again, that I may have died right there on the spot.

I made it back to the finish line and my team mates arrived shortly after with the books they had found.  My legs were shaking like jello.  I was thirsty and hungry and exhausted, but I had had probably my best run ever.

I ended up covering close to 10 miles of trails in the dark and collected 7 of our team's 10 book pages.  Our collection of 10 hidden book pages was enough to win our team a 3rd place. 

For the past 3 days since the race, I have taken Ibuprofen every 4 hours to help with my aching muscles.  My legs have hurt so bad that I could barely walk.  I have never, ever been so sore from any exercise.
What did we get for this punishment to our bodies???

This medal.....

I know you are jealous.

And bragging rights for completing the race.

Was it worth it?
I don't know.

I'll let you know the answer to that when I am finally able to walk normally again without Ibuprofen.

Tick Tock Tick Tock

  I am a woman who wears many hats.  Mom, wife, kindergarten teacher, runner, wanna be great cook, writer, recipe reader, sometimes photographer, daughter, sister, friend, cheerleader and chauffeur.

I hesitate to post about this for fear of sounding all whiny and dramatic, but just wanted to explain my lapse in posts lately.  The hat I have been sporting more than the others lately is that of a chauffer. 

I practically live in my car and at various sporting venues these days. 

A typical day for me lately goes just like yesterday.  This was my day....

6:15-6:30 - Hit the snooze button over and over.  Ignore texts from Bradley telling me to get up.
6:30 - 6:45 - Make myself as presentable as possible.
6:45 - 6:48 - Put muffins in the oven.
6:48 - 6:50 - Give wake up kiss. Again. Again.
6:50 - 7:15 - Pack lunches, sign homework pages, get muffins out, tie shoes, race to the car.
7:15 - 7:20 - Drive to high school. Drop off Tucker.
7:20 - 7:22 - Drive to elementary school.
7:24 - 7:25 - Sign in.
7:25 - 3:00 - Work as a kindergarten teacher.  Leave No Child Behind. 
3:00 - 3:40 - Get the little boys haircut (No time for me and Tucker)
3:40 - 3:50 - Rush home and grab practice gear.
3:50 - 3:58 - Fast food drive thru (My middle one has to be fed before sporting events because of his hypoglycemia symptoms)
3:58 - 4:00 - Drive to baseball field. Arrive just as the first batter steps up to the plate.  Play Ball!
4:00 - 5:29 - Cheer like a crazy woman for Tucker who is on the Junior High Baseball team
5:29 - 5:32 - Drive Carter to his basketball practice (Shout to a passing Dad that he is being left unattended.)
5:32 - 5:35 - Drive back to baseball game
5:35 - 6:29 - Pick back up cheering like a crazy lady at the game. (Our team won by one run. Woot Woot!)
6:29 - 6:31 - Drive back to pick up Carter at basketball.
6:31 - 6:35 -  Drive back to fast food restaurant
6:35 - 6:50 - Feed the gang
6:50 - 7:05 - Drive to baseball practice at the other side of town
7:05 - 8:40 - Watch baseball practice. Cringe over missed throws and smile over awesome plays.
8:40 - 8:55 - Drive home.
8:55 - 9:30 - Send one kid to the bath and do homework with the others.  Rotate. Rotate.
9:30 - 9:40 - Fix glasses of milk and give goodnight kiss. Again. Again.
9:40 - 9:41 - Ignore the mess that has accumulated in my house.
9:41 - 9:43 - Start a load of laundry containing needed ball uniforms.
9:43 - 10:20 - Enter whirlpool bath santuary
10:20 - 10:21 - Move uniforms from washer to dryer.
10:22 - ?  Enjoy a few moments with the love of my life.
Sometime later - Collapse.

I am not complaining....nay....only explaining.  Explaining why I haven't had time to write a blog lately and explaining to myself why I can't fit a run in everyday....or a healthy meal....or a clean house.  It is what it is.  And I wouldn't change a single minute of my days.  The boys are growing and these busy days will pass.  And then I will be sitting around missing it. 

Gotta go.
Time for baths and homework.
Tick Tock. Tick Tock.

Summer Dream

Maybe this summer I can vacation in this......

Or this........

And NOT look like this........

If I keep eating this.......

And doing this.......

A girl's gotta have a dream, right?

I run

Running Wardrobe Malfunction

I was so psyched to pull out my favorite running skirt today.   Alabama weather is like Jekyll and Hyde.  Three days ago I ran in 30 something degree temperatures and was layered for warmth.  I finished the run wind burned and I made a bee line for the Vaseline for my chapped face when I got back inside my toasty warm house.  I was frozen to the core.  Running in freezing weather hurts.

Today, the weather was perfect for running....beautiful blue skies with 60 plus degree temperatures.  I am certainly a hot weather lovin' gal, so I was thrilled to exercise in the warm weather. 

 I rushed home after school and was so happy that it was finally warm enough to run in my running skirt.  I love running skirts because they add such a girlie flair to a sport that was once dominated by men.  I am always admiring the cute skirts of other gal runners when I am running in a crowd.  Mine, however, is several years old and just plain black. 

Sorry, I realize that the skirt is barely visible in this photo, but that's what happens when you try to take a photo of yourself with your cell phone while running.  Not quality photography here.

So anyway.....
The boys went next door to help my Dad work outside after school, so I took the opportunity to turn a short running day into a long one.

I decided today to just go run for about an hour, and not worry about the number of miles I ran. 
I have never, ever done that before in all my years of running.
I always head out with a mileage goal, but I liked the idea of just running however far I made it.

After only a couple of miles, I realized that my skirt was not cooperating like it always had in the past.
The undershorts were rubbing my legs and it started getting uncomfortable quickly.
I kept readjusting and pulling and tugging trying to fix the skirt, but it was getting worse by the minute.

I am not sure if the problem was that the skirt has gotten older and stretched out over the years and the undershorts were no longer holding tight to my skin, or if my thighs have gotten ....ummm...thicker....since the last time I wore the skirt.
I would like to believe that it was the skirt's fault.

After about 3 miles, the chaffing of my legs had gotten almost unbearable.

I had two viable options.

A.) Walk like a cowboy for a half mile home and call it quits.

B.) Trudge it home and make a speedy quick change out of the skirt and into some running pants.

I went with choice B.

I ran home, up the driveway, up the steps, changed in about 30 seconds, and ran out again....trying to break stride as little as possible......and kept running.

While I was running, I was thinking about how many little bitty things can negatively effect runs.

clothes rubbing
ill fitting jog bra
shin splints
runner's diarrhea
wind burn
chapped lips
side stitches
runner's knee
dog tagging along

(Aww.....C'mon, Davy! Gross!
Do you really have to stop and do that every single mile?)

I have dealt with all of the above over the years, but each malady that I have dealt with is overshadowed by the joy I feel when the run is complete.

I ended up running 8.25 miles today, hardly ever checking the mileage.
I just kept running until I ran out of time and had to get home to go pick up the boys.
I ran for an hour and 20 minutes and it was all for me.
The whole hour. Just for me.

It was nice....
Despite the dog poo and the wardrobe malfunction.

If You Have To Ask

I know that I am suppose to be a "Mommy Blogger" and write about all the cute little things that my kids do, but over the last several years, running has become a part of who I am, so I will continue to include blogs about it.  I just can't leave out something that is so important to me. 
So anyway....if you are new to my blog, you may not know that I am currently training for my 2nd Half-Marathon.  It has been a challenge to squeeze training runs into my crazy busy life, but I have made time for it, and I am so glad that I have!
Today was President's Day...which meant a holiday from school...whoop whoop!  Since I didn't have to work, I was able to fit in a longer run.  The weather was absolutely perfect for running!  I was able to try out my new running skirt.  If you didn't read about my wardrobe malfunction with my last running skirt.....feel free to catch up on it HERE.
My new skirt worked out great this time and I felt sassy and girly while I was pounding out the miles.

And I like the white one better than my old black one whoop whoop for my new skirt!

I was able to run 10.36 miles today and stayed on pace to beat my current personal half marathon time.  I was totally pumped about that!

I finished my run today sweaty, thirsty, dry lipped, achy, and with blisters on my toes and a toe nail that had pulled loose from my big toe......

...And I was all smiles!

I found this photo today and fell in love with the quote on it......