Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First Marathon Freak Out

It’s been awhile since I posted, lots of stuff has been going on and I just haven’t been able to take the time to do it. I’m hoping to once again get back to updating this blog regularly.  However, more important things to touch on right now.

In 3 days I will be running my very first marathon.  Not only is it a marathon, but it’s a trail marathon.  A trial marathon that I hear are hills the entire 26.2 miles. Am I ready for this? I hope so!
I love my trails, so it’s only natural for me to tackle a trail marathon instead of a flat road marathon for my first one.  In fact, unless it’s at some super duper awesome location (such as Paris) I currently have no desire to do a road marathon. I might change my mind soon, but for right now, I would prefer to stick to trails.
I am pretty good at running hills, I’ll admit that.  However the park I normally train at for trail races isn’t all hills. Each hill has a straight or downhill following it for awhile before the next one. I’m nervous about constantly going up and down.

The temperature is also predicted to be in the low 80’s.  I do NOT run well in the heat.  My body just doesn’t handle it well. 

When I start to over-heat my heart rate goes up.  When I push it on hills my heart rate goes up.  Remember what happens when my heart rate goes up? I puke.

I did have a time goal for this race, I knew what I had hoped my per-mine mile pace would be.  I’m kinda throwing that out the window.  The main goal, with this being the last, is to finish it strong anyway.
So for now my race plan is to carry water with me, stop at each water station to fill up my bottle, drink water, splash water on my head, then continue.  This means a longer marathon but I think it’ll be safer. I also plan to walk hills if I start getting that familiar feeling telling me my HR is skyrocketing.   My goal is to run a safe and smart race and not pay attention to the time. I’ll finish when I do.
My main goal is to go out there and have fun and enjoy the adventure!

That doesn’t mean I’m not freaking out.   I’m FREAKING OUT!

Stay tuned for pictures and a race re-cap next week!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Eads Bridge Duathlon 2013 – Race Recap

Getting ready to line up
The Eads Bridge Duathlon was last weekend, April 21st.  This duathlon is a 1.5 mile run, 10 mile bike ride, 1.5 mile run.  The race starts on the Eads Bridge, on the MO/IL state line.  You then run to the end of the bridge on the IL side, then back to the MO side and to the transition area.  Get on your bike and away you go for 10 miles!  Then back to the transition and you repeat the run in reverse order.

Due to recent flooding the transition area had to be moved and this made the run 1.82 miles instead of 1.5, however the bike was still pretty much 10 miles. 

Waiting for it to start, it was FREEZING (and yes,
those would be sock monkey's on my socks)
I originally signed up for this race so I could get some practice racing on my bike and doing official transitions before triathlon season starts for me.  For those of you who know me, I think we can all agree that even though I knew this was a practice race, I was still going to race it and do my best.

I have to give props to my husband because we spent about an hour on Saturday practicing transitions in front of my house.  He would time me and give me suggestions on what to do. At one point one of our neighbors came over, he bikes, and he helped give me pointers too.   This also allowed me to get some sort of familiarity and comfort level with the transitions. 

And we're off! I love the arch in the background
The day off the race arrived and my entourage and I headed down to the race.  Husband, R, my Mom and my MIL all went down with me since this was the first race of this kind I have ever attempted.

I wasn’t too happy to know that I was pushed up an age group level as they went by what your age would be at the end of the year and not on race day.  I had to hope that most of those in my new age group would be older and less experienced (somehow) than I was. haha!

I was able to get my transition area set up and we walked to the start.  Husband and my Mom switched camera’s as my camera is a dslr and kinda bulky and my Mom had brought her small one.  Husband, even though he doesn’t run, was super supportive and said he would see me off at the start and then run to the transition area to give me support there. He wouldn’t be allowed inside but could spectate from afar.

1st transition.I'm behind the runner
My coach has said he wanted me to do the race in 58-59 minutes.  Based on my training, I knew I could do well with the run but we weren’t sure what my race pace was on a bike. I just bought my bike in November so I’ve only actually been on it outside a handful of times.  I was kinda going in to this blind. I had done a brick as a test and I was able to run a mile in under 8 minutes after riding my bike for 11 miles.  So the plan was to do the two runs with my miles being under an 8 min mile and then do as best I could on the bike and with the transitions (transition time counts towards your total time).

Imagine my surprise when my watch beeps at the first mile marker and I glance down and see a 6 as the first number.  Yup. I not only did my first mile in under 8 minutes, I did it in under 7!  My first mile was 6:50.  This was a mile PR (personal record) for me!  I couldn’t believe it!  I knew I was going fast but not that fast!
Then came the transition. Here I messed up on a couple of things. First, instead of hitting the lap button on my watch to mark the transition, I hit stop and didn’t realize it.  So instead of recording the time for my transition it was just paused.  Even though I had practicing taking off my running shoes and slipping on my bike shoes, I had issues with one shoe.  This wasted some time.  I then had issues with my helmet. I have no idea how or why. I couldn’t get it strapped on and had to take it off and mess with the straps and put it back on.  Finally, though, I was on my way!  

yup - he got chicked
Once I was on the bike I remembered to hit my garmin and that’s when I realized my mistake.  So I had to push start and then the lap button twice.  So my times and miles for my run and my bike ride are off because of this. Not a big deal, but for the geek in me it doesn’t allow me to really analyze my pace as in-depth as I would like.

Having never raced on a bike before, here was my plan going in to the race. I would start out at a pace I thought was good for me.  If I’m constantly being passed, I know I need to give it a bit more. If I’m passing others, I know I need to slow down.  As it happens, there weren’t really any groups of bikers. Most people were on their own, either passing or being passed.  Those who passed me were FLYING and there was no chance of me catching them.  I didn’t pass too many on the first loop but on the second loop I did.  I think this was as more bikers joined the course.   The bike course, I was told was mostly flat.  Well..kinda true.   We had to maneuver up some hills to get to a road and then it was an out and back, which we repeated twice.  This main road had a small incline, so when going one direction you were going up a bit and the other direction going down.  Because this is just how things work for me, the headwind was when you had the slight up hill.  Yeah.  Fun!

Towards the end I had two girls pass me but I kept up with them and we finished going towards the transition together. I was a bit annoyed as on the straights I would start to pass them, then we would get to a turn and they would slow way down and move so they were in my way and I had to slow down.  I think this caused me some seconds arriving at the transition zone because I had to slow way down and got stuck behind them getting off the bikes.  However I ran to my spot, threw off my helmet, gloves and shoes, slipped on my running shoes and away I went!

Husband hugging me right after I finished
The second run started with hills. Up hills.  Then we reached the bridge and it was just across the bridge, a small down hill then up-hill and back to the finish. The legs were super tired on this one because of the bike ride but I managed to pass people the entire way, which felt really good.  Husband saw me at transition, then ran to a spot on the course to cheer me on, then was able to get to another spot right before the bridge to cheer me on again.  This helped soooo much.   When turning around on the bridge, I kicked it in and started to surge a bit on the hill. Then I surged again right at the end, passing some guy right before the finish. haha!  I spent this run trying to pick off the females. Finding one ahead of me and focusing on catching her.   I ended up negative splitting this run. The first mile was around 7:57 and the second, .82 mile, was 7:42.

At first I was feeling very good about my race. I knew I gave it my all on the run and the bike.  Then I got the results.  I missed placing 3rd in my age group by 4 seconds!  This bothered me for several days. I walked around being weird about this race. Knowing I had no reason to be disappointed, but being disappointed all the same.  I didn’t hit my time goal, I came in at 1:03:05.  I missed placing by 4 seconds.   I kept going back over the race, finding places where I could have made up those 4 seconds.

All done!  R doesn't seem to care does she? ha!
After talking with a couple of people, I’m feeling feeling very good about my race and very happy with my results.  These are the things that were told to me that I have to remember":
1) This was my first time racing on my bike
2) This was my first time with transitions
3) This was my first time doing a duathlon
4) I PR’d my first mile. I did under 7 min miles for the first run, so much better than expected.  I hit my goal for my second run.
5) The run was longer than anticipated, yet the bike course was still the same miles.  So it’s ok it took me longer than hoped for to finish the race
6) This was my first outdoor mutli-sport race, remember #’s 1-3, and I missed placing in my age group by ONLY 4 seconds.

My official results:
Finish time: 1:03:05, 73/286 overall, 15/138 female, 4/21 age group

To give you an idea of how close the top 4 in my age group were, here are the finish times: 1:02:53, 1:02:58, 1:03:01, 1:03:05.  Crazy! The first person in my age group only beat me by 12 seconds!

I’ve decided that I really enjoyed doing this race. I loved doing the two sports. Both sports were a challenge and doing two in the same race gave it an excitement that I don’t get from just running (even though I do LOVE the running races).   Husband has already said that it will be fun to see what I can do the bike portion in next year after I’ve had a year of training with it.  Looks like I have to come back and do this one again and go after a PR. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Breastfeeding – The Mental Aspect

I mentioned that I had a lot of mental issues with breastfeeding.  I figured they deserved their own post. I’m hoping that by being completely open about this, others will read it and recognize that they aren’t alone (if they had similar problems) or be able to share with somebody that they think is going through the same thing.
First off, one of my major issues was with being “needed” all the time.  I don’t like it. I didn’t like that I couldn’t leave her for fear she would need to nurse and I wouldn’t be around to do it. I didn’t like that every time she was hungry I had to feed her, I didn’t like the constant need need need.  I didn’t realize this would be an issue. I knew I wanted to breastfeed. I knew that she would need to eat every 2 hours or so. I thought I mentally prepared myself for this.  

I remember a couple of times I would be sitting on the floor with the baby, having her do tummy time.  Myla, our dog, would come over and sit right next to me, touching me, wanting attention, and I was in such bad shape I would cower and just shake and cry. I would tell my husband to make her go away.  I didn’t want to push my dog away, this was new for her too, but I couldn’t handle being needed by the baby and the dog. I needed space too.  Most evenings, when Husband arrived home from work, I would be in my running clothes, ready to get out of the house. I just needed to get away for a bit and I could go for a short run if I had just fed her.

Another thing with breast feeding is doing it when away from home.  I think that right now there is such a stigma against it.  You have those on one side who are so against it, don’t want to see it, don’t want to know it’s happening.  Then you have those on the other side who say it’s such a natural thing..go ahead and do it in public.  I was very uncomfortable doing it in public. If I was in somebody’s home, I had no problem doing it.  But in public, no thanks.  It took me a long time to finally get over this and to start doing it (and yes I was completely covered the entire time).  Once I did it a couple of times, I was ok with it.  But before that we would schedule everything around when I would have to feed her so I could be home.
What was also hard for me was that I always had trouble producing enough.  At first I was able to produce enough for R, that wasn’t a problem. However I had trouble producing enough to be able to pump and feed her.  The days I would try this, she was super crabby and want to eat more often.  We decided to start supplementing with formula once a day, not only to give me a break from feeding her but also so I could pump and start a stash for daycare.  Several months in, once I went back to work and was pumping more and nursing less, I started to produce less and less. 

One of the hardest days for me so far was one Saturday afternoon when I nursed R and she was super crabby and we were unable to calm her down 30 min later.  Out of desperation we made her a bottle and she drank 6oz.  She was starving!  I realized at that moment that I could not provide for my daughter. Ok, I could, with formula, but not by breastfeeding.  As hard as it was for me to breastfeed at first, realizing I couldn’t provide enough for daughter was even harder.  

I often wonder if the issues I had with my thyroid, my depression, and the amount of working out I did all played a role in how little I produced.  As you can guess, this brings about it’s own guilt. If I stopped working out, could my body produce more? If my thyroid wasn’t crazy, could I produce more? If I was happy and not sad, would a trigger go off and allow me to produce more?  All these demands and guilt I put on myself, just made the mental aspect of breastfeeding so much worse.

Monday, April 1, 2013

CTWW – Water Usage

This week’s Change the World Wednesday was:

This week, consider your water footprint, particularly your indirect water use. Begin my using the calculators at the bottom of this PAGE (I found the extended calculator to be the best). If you need to convert measurements of food, here's a TOOL. Once you've calculated your water footprint, take a look at the results and see if there's an area which could be reduced. For example, if your primary water use is associated to cereals/grains, opt for varieties which require less water to produce (barley uses less water than rice). Reduce the amount of sugar you use (it takes 1,500 liters of water to produce 1 kilo of white sugar). Opt for fruits & veggies rather than meat (a kilo of beef requires 15,500 liters of water to create) ... or opt for pork or chicken (4,800 and 3,900 liters respectively). Drink tea instead of coffee, saving 110 liters of water per cup. Drive less (gasoline takes a lot of water). Buy less stuff (everything requires water to produce and transport). While reducing our direct water consumption is absolutely encouraged, this challenge is all about looking at the indirect water we use.

When I think of water usage, I think of water that I use on purpose..such as taking a shower, doing the dishes, using our pool, etc.  What I have never thought of before is the indirect water usage.  Huh?  What’s that you say?   That’s right, it’s not something most of us have ever thought of. Indirect water usage is water used for things that we do or things that we buy.  Such as, how much water is used to produce the Easter candy I’ve been munching on.  Say what? never thought about the use of water in producing food or items.  Although, maybe you have. I know I never have.

According to Reduce Footprints, it takes 1,500 liters of water to produce 1 kilo of white sugar. I probably ate enough candy yesterday to equal 1 kilo of white sugar.   It also takes more water to raise beef (ie: cows) and of course meet in general, when compared to fruits and vegetables.  We all know that fruits and veggies are healthier for us too.

While I did not take this past week to work on this challenge, since I just had a chance to read about it and look in to it on Monday, it does give me food for thought.  It’s something that makes me stop and say..hmmmmm.  Water I use at home is easier to control because I can see it, I can see the waste.  The indirect water usage I don’t. 

I’m trying to focus on eating healthier, cutting out soft drinks and sweets/chips.  Knowing this causes more waste of water, it’s just one more thing to tell myself when I try to talk myself out of the unhealthy stuff and try to focus on eating better.  Better for me = better for the environment.

Monday, March 18, 2013

CTWW - Local produce all year round

This week's Change the World Wednesday, hosted by Reduce Footprints is:

Last August, CelloMom suggested that we find a way to eat local produce throughout the winter months (you can read that challenge HERE). Now that we're moving into spring, it's the perfect time to come up with a strategy to ensure that we'll have local fruits and veggies next winter. Here you go ...

This week develop a strategy which will ensure that you and your family enjoy local produce next winter. Need some suggestions? Plan a garden with preserving in mind. Consider freezing, drying, canning, etc. and start gathering the items/tools you'll need to accomplish it (don't forget to check thrift stores, Freecycle, etc. for things like canning jars, dehydrators, and other items you might need). Visit your farmer's market and learn about the items which they'll have available and when they will arrive for purchase. If you are a member of a CSA, talk to the farmer about your goals and see how he/she can help. This week is all about planning with the goal of having local produce on your plate next winter.

This is a tough one for us.   Mostly because I admit to being rather lazy.  I'm just so tired! haha!    However, we have some things in place to try and do this, things we started last spring.

I've mentioned a couple of times we have a blackberry bush.  Well, we still have a TON of frozen blackberries in our freezer!  We mostly just use them for smoothies during the winter months.  I've slacked with my smoothies but getting back in to the habit of making one every morning.  So this saved us from having to buy a lot of frozen blackberries.

We had a small garden this past summer and plan to do the same thing this year, but we can't produce enough to keep us through the winter.  We just don't have a good spot in our yard that's bigger.  Our yard isn't fenced (very few are and the neighbors kinda frown on it) so we need to stay close to our house and with the pool it's not easy to do.  Plus we have a huge deer problem so we have to build around it to keep the deer out, which can be an eye-sore and frowned upon.  So, we'll do what we can to keep us in fresh food during the summer but won't have enough for all winter.    Baby steps though, right?

What I do love, however, is that a produce store opened up very close to us.  They try to buy local as often as they can, but that's hard in the winter months.  I stopped in once, they just opened this month, and think I'll frequent it often.  They didn't have a ton of organic but said they are planning to start increasing what they do offer in terms of being organic since people keep asking.  They also said that they buy local as much as possible, so May through September I'll be able to get local items.  Fingers crossed this works out!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Quivering Quads 2013 – Race Recap

I'm in the yellow jacket. Before the race shot.
Quivering Quads is a half marathon trail race in Troy, Missouri.  This was my first year running this race and I was excited about it even though I was dealing with the stomach bug and injury. The day before the race we had rain, for 5 hours straight.   Over night we had more rain.  Before the race started we had even more rain.  This race turned into an adventure.

At the start of the race we were told the creek crossings were ankle deep.  This ended up being true for some but not others.  The longer you were out there, the higher the water rose and the deeper the creeks were.  When I went through some the water was higher than my knees.  The current was strong too.  I was lucky that I didn’t fall or get pulled under, but others had trouble.  In fact, this is proof that runners are awesome.   There was an older guy in front of me and I kept getting close and then he would get further away.  Well, as luck would have it, I was somewhat close at each creek crossing towards the end of the race.  He would get across, then walk and watch me to make sure I made it across (and talk to me while I was).  Then when I was safe he would take off again.  Now that’s an awesome runner. I couldn’t find him at the finish to thank him either.
waiting for the race to start

The entire course was mud.  And more mud.  On parts, where the trail went downhill, you were just running in a river of water.  Other times you were running through standing water on the trails. If it wasn’t water, it was just mud.   This made for some very interesting situations.  A couple parts of the trail were drop-offs to a creek and it was a long drop-off, you had to walk it due to slipping and sliding with the mud.    I LOVED it.
The first 6 miles of this race were awesome. I felt good. I was having fun.  I started out with people and then slowly I left them behind.  I would catch up to a group or an individual, pass them the first chance I had, then run by myself for awhile.  Then I would see somebody ahead and focus on catching them.  Catch up to them, pass, repeat.  Many of the times when I was by myself and couldn’t see anybody, I would just look around me. It was peaceful. It was beautiful.  I loved being out there.

Then it started to rain again.  I lost feeling in my hands and my arms were numb.  My legs were heavy.  My shoes were so heavy from the mud and water I had trouble lifting them. I had to start walking on hills.  Sure, lots of people do this, however I train with tough hills. I pride myself on being able to run hills.  So for me to realize I needed to walk them, that was hard. 

still early on
I’m not sure if this was a good thing or not but my feet were numb and I was so cold I didn’t feel the pain in my feet and I was able to finish the race. I paid for it after the race and most of this week, but at least I was able to finish the race.  Not the smartest thing, but what are you going to do?

I am somewhat disappointed with this race but at the same time I’m not.  Makes sense right?  I’m disappointed I had to walk up hills towards the end. I’m disappointed I walked A LOT and not just on hills during the last mile.  I’m disappointed that people who shouldn’t have beat me, because I had a good lead on them, ended up either catching me or getting close.   However I also feel good about this race and happy about it because I know all of this was due to the injury and not being completely over the stomach bug yet.  Not to mention the race conditions of the course itself.   So for me to pull off what I did, I think I did pretty darn good.  Plus, I had a heck of a fun time doing it.

towards the end
I walked away with a finisher’s medal and a plaque.  That’s right! I placed in my age group!    I was 100 out of 336 finishers.  I placed 8th female. I was either 2nd or 3rd in my age group. I have a plaque for third, given to me at the race, however I received an email saying I was 2nd and online it shows I was 2nd in one place but 3rd in another. Go figure.  I have emailed the company to inquire about it and to see if I need to exchange plaques.  I know the female winner was in my age group, so maybe that has something to do with it.  Not sure.

not me, obviously, but shows how high the creeks got

Here is more detail about my run, including mile splits etc.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Another Half - but also a first

This coming Sunday I will run/race my first trail half marathon.  Quivering Quads Half Marathon.

 I'm nervous, I'm excited, I'm hopeful.  I have done further distance on a trail and on road. So I should be comfortable with the distance.   I've never ran at this park before though, so I have no idea what to expect.

I was also blessed with the stomach bug earlier in the week.  This is not good news for a runner. ha!  I'm still not 100% recovered but getting there.  This did mean that I had no problems with this being a taper week, as I've only worked out twice (Sunday and Tuesday).

I am also dealing with injury on both my feet.  I had hurt them a month or so ago. I took it easy, they cleared up and were fine.  However running my last race, Castlewood Cup, caused major issues.  I've been taking it easy for a couple weeks due to that as well.

Hopefully taking all this time off will mean my body is rested and ready to go on Sunday. I am worried how my feet will do. I am worried how my body will react.  However I plan to give it all I can and if I need to pull out of the race, I will.

Since I have not ran at this park before I have no idea what the trails are like or how hard the hills/course is.  I've looked at the elevation and the hills don't seem to be as bad as what I am used to.

Here is the elevation for Quivering Quads:

Here is the elevation for the Castlewood Cup course I did 2 weeks ago:

As you can see the hills aren't nearly as bad.  That doesn't mean I'm not worried. I could go all and come to a hill and it could be worse than I anticipate. I train with hills, but most are steep and not tooo terrible long.  The hills for QQ seem to be not as steep but longer, which could be worse.

So..we'll see.  Fingers crossed I do ok and don't have to pull out of this race.