Monthly Archives: March 2014

Every Race is a New Adventure

Life goes along routinely for weeks, then one day , you change one thing and from then on, you lose the routine. Same way with training for races. While training for the Houston Chevron Marathon, I had a plan, I followed it with some changes to accommodate other people’s needs and my own body’s aches and pains. But I felt good that I was moving forward with the plan. Since then I have felt a little lost about my goals. I want to reach a certain goal in a 5K, sub 27:00, but I also want to keep my long runs comfortable at a distance of 10 miles so I can run a half anytime I feel like it. So I have to achieve a delicate balance of speed work, long runs, easy runs, strength training, cross training and rest! I know you other runners understand. And then I have three friends I run with that are trying to deal with their lives and keep up their training and I want to run with all of them. Running with my friends makes it so much better! But sometimes I sacrifice a speed or distance goal just to run with someone. Or I might do a trail run which is a great workout and fun, but not fast. So , all this to say, I was not really sure how my last race would turn out.

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Plans had been made for this race, The Biggest Loser Half Austin, but life had other ideas. So what I thought was going to be me and my fast and wonderful friend rocking this race together became me running it alone. I had big doubts!  Could I do it without her speed pulling me along? Was I out of shape from so many easy runs? Was the lack of cross training in the last few weeks going to hurt my time?  Had my cheats on my Paleo diet ruined me ? Darn corn tortillas! So, I went to the race with a big question mark, but also determined to do my best. I read in a book called Second Wind, that the Japanese runners encourage each other with the phrase, “Do your best!”. I keep thinking of that during my race, haha!

How did it go? I know you’re dying to found out, so here is my report.

PR city!! 1:55:56, 5th place in 45-49 age group, unbelievable! God was with me. The weather was perfect. Some other friends showed up. My sister dropped me off at the race so I didn’t have to walk from the parking lot. I had good luck in the portapotty before the race, if you know what I mean. This was a Biggest Loser event. That means it was not very big and there were lots of beginners. That made me feel like an elite. Hehe! I was able to line up in the first corral! So awesome! The first corral was for 10:00 pace, lol. We took off. I was concentrating on not going out too fast so I looked for a person to follow. I found a lady doing a perfect 8:50 pace. I stayed with her for a long time, it really helped. Once she slowed to get water and I waited for her and told her that I wanted her to lead because she was  my pacer. She laughed! She did end up finishing a little ahead of me in the end, but her help was greatly appreciated. I lost her when I slowed to eat my gel and take water. So then I found another runner to pace with. I also just kept the main group of about 8:45 pace runners in sight. There was also a race official in a bright pink shirt on a bicycle that was encouraging me at each mile. After I would catch up to her, she would move on up the road another mile. I started thinking of her as my ‘pink angel’. Thanks , whoever you are!

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I had told myself that even though it wasn’t hot outside, I had to make myself drink water and take a gel at approximately one hour in . I did that . At the half way mark I was feeling good and felt like I could keep up that pace til the end. I did walk briefly  for water breaks but otherwise, I ran the whole thing! My avg pace was 8:51. I had two slower miles while drinking and eating gels. I could go on and on, but I will just say I felt pretty happy at mile 10 when I saw that even if I dropped down to 10:00 pace I would still get a PR and sub 2:00! I was getting tired and I told myself, these last miles are the ones that really count. They show how badly you want that goal time. Don’t poop out now! Push, you’re almost there. Stay focused on form and not tensing up. It’s a huge mental game. If you’re reading this and you’re not a runner, just think of anything hard you’ve had to do that require much determination and perseverance.

So lessons learned . You may be better trained than you think, but be sure to get your speed work days in so you feel confident. Pacers are very helpful! Fueling properly works. I used Salted Caramel Gu and Chocolate Outrage Gu, as well as Endurolytes pre-race, and plain water. I ate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Larabar and half a banana pre-race and water. The day before I ate rice and grilled fish twice. Also chocolate turtle candy, turkey lunch meat, banana, pork jerky, Cherry Larabar, Coconut water, pineapple juice and maybe a few other things. I don’t eat gluten, so no bread. Another lesson, I need to believe in myself more! I discovered I could run fast even without my fast friend beside me. The race itself helped me along. I also made sure to remember my friends and family in prayer along the way and devote my run to those who can’t run. I ran with a thankful heart that my husband and children allow me to enjoy my sport without guilt. I thanked God for the stream of blessings he pours out on me daily.

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I look forward to the next adventure, this weekend! My first 25K Trail race. Very few expectations, other than to have a blast. Will let you know how it goes!

The Gift of Peace

I started out to write about control. Who or what is in control of everything, if anything  or anyone is. As a Christian, I have a set of theological beliefs that have changed over the years as I have done more reading and thinking and , I believe, as God has opened my eyes to new understanding. Maybe you’re ‘not religious’ as people sometimes describe themselves when they don’t go to a certain church or have a firm belief in God or any higher power, or when they claim a belief in God but don’t have the desire to study and learn more about Him. If that describes you, you may not be aware that there has been a huge debate since forever over this issue of control. There are terms for it; fatalism, determinism, predeterminism, fate, chance, luck, and others.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fatalism#Determinism.2C_fatalism_and_predeterminism

Predestination is the one that gets some people riled up. My particular belief is that God is in control and knows the beginning, middle , and end of all events.  How this actually plays out and whether we have any choice in any matter, that is the question in my mind. Did I have the choice to sit down and type THIS WORD? Maybe, maybe not. So why do I mention PEACE in the title? Because I have come to the point where I trust God enough that I don’t really have to know the answer to that question. It’s an important question when it comes to setting goals, making plans, AND , placing blame and finding fault. If the serial killer had no choice in his actions, why do we give him the death penalty or life in prison? Well, because we have to protect other people from him. But should we hate and judge him? Not really. What is the point? It’s human nature to do it, but not really useful.

Should we make plans for the future, save up money, set goals to achieve? Well, if God is in control of everything, then and we do those things, then it is because He planned it, so that must mean it is okay. We can get stuck on the shoulds, Should I do this or that? Should I marry this guy, have a baby, go to this college, quit or take this job opportunity? This is where faith can be such a blessing and bring peace to fear and chaos. You make decisions based on the information you have about the situation, God’s word, the Bible, what you know is right and wrong, and your personal preferences. Then you move forward. If God doesn’t want that to happen, it won’t! The chaos may not disappear but you keep trusting that God knows best.

I sometimes get hung up on the evil in the world and WHY does it have to happen. Why are children born with disabilities, abused, aborted, unloved? Why are some people so violent, mean, depressed, manipulative, etc? Why doesn’t God fix it now? When is Jesus coming back?! I have to trust Him with those unanswered questions. God is not bad. Evil is bad. God is good all the time. He knows more than me.

These questions are deep. They can drive you a bit crazy if you dwell on them too long. That’s why I say I have the luxury of peace. I no longer let myself dwell too long. I trust God. That can be a bit scary but it’s not risky. The Bible says we are to have faith like little children. Young children trust grownups! They assume they will be taken care of. We are to assume that God will take care of us.  I feel like throwing a little gospel message in here because I want everyone to have this peace. I already know some people will reject it and even become frustrated and angry just reading this, if they made it to the end. But here goes.

Seek God. Let him give you the peace that passes understanding. If you’ve never read the Bible or read it a 100 times and  it had no effect, read it again. Keep praying that God will give you faith. Give God your fear. Peace be with you.

Here’s a handy link if you want to do some reading now.

http://www.biblegateway.com/

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It’s never too late to learn this important lesson.

Okay, this is hard to admit,so I will go ahead and tell it to the whole wide world.  I’m not very empathetic. I’m very sympathetic. I’m a great listener and advice giver. But I don’t like to feel emotional pain so I shut it out and stick with mirroring and analyzing other people’s problems when they share with me. I honestly didn’t know or mean to do this. But something happened that made me very aware of another person’s pain.

What happened was I felt that same pain, a new pain I had not felt before. It was the pain of thinking I was about to lose something that was very important to me and yet a luxury item. Not a person, but a big part of my life. Running. I thought I would have to stop doing it regularly and seriously and racing and buying gear due to financial problems. It took a few days and some other stuff had to happen first, but eventually the light bulb flickered on and then began to shine brighter until I saw it through my walls of protection around my heart.

I saw that this person, my husband, has had to suffer this loss multiple times in our marriage and yet he did it out of love for me and our children. I confess I never understood the magnitude of his suffering! To me, it was a shame, sad, unfortunate, but just reality that he would have to sell some of his ‘toys’ so we could make ends meet. I may have thought that he was even a little selfish for not doing it more willingly. It’s just a motorcycle! It’s just a hot rod! You can buy another one someday.

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But oh, I get it now! And tears come to my eyes when I type this. How selfish and unthinking I was! How hard hearted! He is a ‘gear head’, it is what he was born to be. Not a collector, but a designer, engineer, artist of machinery.

Those were not just toys to him. Just like running is not just moving my feet quickly. Those machines were part of him. He put his heart and soul into them just like I do when I run. This was a long needed lesson. I wish I wasn’t so slow to learn it because I am sure I could, painfully, recall many other examples where I was not aware of someone’s true feelings and needs because I was too busy thinking of my own. I promise I will do better. Thank you, God, for opening my eyes and heart.

Further thoughts on slow running, or How fast can you go?

Having stated an opinion that one should try to run at least an 11:00 mile, I have now reconsidered and feel that I should clarify lest anyone feel bad for running slower than that. First of all, I agree that ANY running is better than NO running. I want to encourage all beginners to just get out there and move your legs and see where you end up and enjoy the experience without being too critical of yourself. The benefits of exercise are worth any embarrassment you may feel for being overweight, slow, dressed ‘wrong’, or not knowing all the cool running lingo. So just go! And go often!

 

Secondly, my real point when I said I found those memes illogical or dumb is that I think it’s good to push yourself and see what you can do. According to the laws of nature, not everyone can possibly win every race or run the exact same pace. But find out what YOU are capable of, because it is in the striving that you will find much satisfaction. You may start at walking a 20:00 mile,then jog a little and be able to finish that mile in 17:00. Later you may run faster during your jog periods and complete the mile in 15:00 and be quite proud of yourself and you should be! The day may come, and it does for many, that you complete an entire mile running and you will feel like an Olympian! Or you may be able to walk really fast and pass some of the slower runners. I hate when that happens!  Keep stretching yourself and discover the joy of meeting a self chosen challenge.

It’s not about a certain pace, it’s about not settling for less than your best because you never even tried. However, I do understand that not everyone has the same reasons for lacing up and heading to a trail, race, park , or neighborhood, or even gym. You may have no care in the world about pace and are just out there enjoying the weather or talking with a friend. More power to ya! You may enjoy raising money for causes by doing charity fun runs or walks. That’s awesome and the world needs you.  But for the rest of us, don’t be afraid to set a goal of improving your pace or meeting a certain race time. The rewards are worth it!

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Thoughts on slow running

Everybody is not the same. Some people like vanilla, some chocolate. One says tomAYto, one says toMAHto. I do not mean to say that we must all be the same.

However, there are some ideas that I find annoying. Posts on blogs, memes, inspirational photos. They seem illogical or dumb to me. One of them is that:

“Slow running is great! Better than sitting on the couch.”

Well,,,,yes,,,,but….

Moderate or fast running is better! It’s more fun, more rewarding and not as hard on your body in some ways. Having formerly started out as a slow runner, like most people, I can attest to the truth that slower running takes longer to get the same number of miles in (duh), causes you to have bad form (usually), and may cause people to laugh and point as they drive by.

So , don’t embrace mediocrity. Start slow and keep trying to get faster through using speed work, intervals, hill repeats, good nutrition, weight loss, consistent training, good form, good shoes, and competing in races.  My guess is that you will enjoy running more if you get to at least an 11:00 mile pace. Anything slower is just too slow in my opinion as a non-expert.

Visceral

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vis·cer·al
adjective \ˈvi-sə-rəl, ˈvis-rəl\

: coming from strong emotions and not from logic or reason

medical : of or relating to the viscera

That’s how I feel sometimes when the sky is so clear and blue and the sun is warm and shining and not too hot, visceral. I feel so awesomely happy and like I just want to EAT the sky! I’m not completely controlled by emotions, but…they do have a bit of power over me. A drive to town can be a truly inspiring experience for me. Today I made a video while driving, it was just so nice I had to capture it.

Outdoors on a pretty day is my favorite place to be. A rainy , gray, misty, cold day will put me right into a funk. Good thing I live in sunny Texas, not Seattle or Portland! Evidently I’m not the only one like this as evidenced by the multitudes of websites selling products for depressed people needing more sun in their lives.

Fortunately, I’m a reader and discovered the benefits of taking a Vitamin D supplement. It can even be helpful for those who do get sun exposure. If it’s raining a lot and I get bummed, I also have Vitamin B-12 drops in my cabinet. I take a few other supplements in an effort to stay happy all the time. I don’t like being depressed and yet it happens.