Friday, March 20, 2009

Related Shenanigans

Two Sundays ago, Shelly, Robert and I cycled around the UTSA campus. Last Sunday, Shelly and I ran around UTSA.

For two Sundays in a row, we've headed straight to the Flying Saucer for bar food and beers afterwards. I love triathlon training!

Spring Break?

We're supposed to be recovering from the marathon for a few months by training for a triathlon. That's not exactly what's ended up happening, but I'm happy to be doing what we're doing. I suppose we are resting from running, because our plan is to run no more than 15 miles per week.

But we're training 7 days a week now (only 3 of those days are running, though), we're doing speedwork, and we've signed up for a ton of races! We've got a race every weekend in May.

The most recent race added to our list is the Beach to Bay marathon relay in Corpus Christi. Six team members split a marathon, and there's a huge party afterwards. I remember when Dad and his friends used to do this race back when I was a little kid, and I've always wanted to do it. This will be my first time. Our team name is the Bay-Gulls (Why don't seagulls fly over the bay? Because then they would be bagels...) and I've become the captain by default. Shelly, Stephanie and I are making a girls' weekend out of it, and we're running with three other girls that we don't know. I think it's going to be great!

Planning 2009

Shelly and I had a GREAT RUN after work on Wednesday! I've been sick or allergic to oak pollen all week, and I had a headache before we started the run. Shelly agreed to stay close to the building in case my headache got worse during the run, and we ran 3 laps around the perimeter road at work (1.2 mile loop) rather than doing an out and back like we usually do for 4-milers. After a lovely run (negative splits!), we walked and talked around another loop, and before we knew it, it was 7 p.m.! It felt just like old times; Shelly and I chatting happily about our race goals while on a run/walk.

We talked through some of our feelings about the marathon. It has already been a month since the race, and I'm starting to feel better about it. Shelly is too, and I'm really glad to see it. Two days after the marathon, we both declared that we'd try again in November, but I'll admit now that I didn't feel very inspired to really do it. The thought of spending all those hours training, being tired and throwing out yoga and cross training, feeling fat and squishy from logging hours of slow runs, just to be demoralized again at another marathon, seemed almost too much to contemplate.

But now we've started talking about training for the Rock n Roll Marathon, and I know we'll be able to do it. At least we'll do better than last time. What better place for vindication than our home town? And then we'll race the Austin half marathon. After training for a marathon, it's obvious to me that we can dramatically improve our half marathon PR, and I'm really excited to try it.

That will all start in August. Until then, it's triathlons, fun runs and relays, and maybe a hill country bike tour. 2009 is starting to look like a lot of fun. It's about time!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Five-Mile Long Run

I ran five miles today with Shelly and our co-worker, Justin. It's only the second time since the marathon that I've run five miles, and it's the longest I've run since the marathon.

It didn't feel good today, but it made me happy. I had some weird tightness in my hamstring and soreness in my shoulder, which means I was running tense. Towards the end of the run, I got a stitch in my side. But I ran five miles at an average 10:26 pace. Not too shabby! It's a run that I'm proud of. I'm relieved to know I can still run more than two or three miles at a time.

It's really weird to switch gears and get into triathlon training. It's totally foreign to only be running two or three times a week. The only reason we ran five today was to avoid thunderstorms tomorrow, so we turned today's four-miler into five and we're skipping the run tomorrow. I think it was worth it.

I'm worried about Shelly. She hasn't had a good run since the marathon. She's been having calf issues that cause her to have to stop and walk it out on nearly every run. I haven't been stopping to walk with her. I feel guilty about leaving my partner behind, but we run so infrequently now that I can't make myself stop to walk. Justin and I just keep on running, and he challenges me to run slightly faster than is comfortable after several months of slow-paced marathon training. I miss running with Shelly though. I hope she starts to feel better soon.

Swimming and yoga tomorrow. Hooray!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Shelly and I officially started triathlon training this week. We're training for the Capital of Texas "First Tri" on Memorial Day, and we're going to do the Windcrest Freshman Tri at the beginning of May as a practice race. It's all very exciting.

Shelly and I have a great plan (we think) - we're tri training through the spring. This is recovery after 9 months of base building last year that culminated in a marathon attempt last month. After the Windcrest Tri, we'll know if we like it or not. Maybe we'll pick another tri this summer to train for. Or maybe we won't really like it and we'll drop swimming and biking and start building our running base earlier for the marathon we're planning to run in November.

I'm a newbie again for the first time in 10 years. It's a really weird feeling. I'm not a great runner, but I know how running works. I've read the books and the message boards and I've gotten advice from other runners, and I know how to sign up for a race and train for a race. I know what to wear. I know when to replace my shoes. I know how to do hill repeats and speed work and long runs and recovery runs, and I know why you do all those things.

Now I have to learn all that stuff for triathlon, and it's kind of daunting. I've read a couple of books about triathlon training, and we got a 12-week training program out of one of the books. I have a book on swimming (Total Immersion), and we're using that to learn to swim.

After our first week of training, I have some takeaways:

  • I'm not tired for the first time in 20 weeks. The first week of beginner sprint tri training is way easier than a marathon taper.

  • I love swimming. It feels amazing to slip through the water, and I think I could be good at it. But I hate chlorine, and I hate putting on a swimsuit. I also hate shopping for a swimsuit, which I need to do because we're going to be swimming twice a week and I don't want to do a ton of laundry.

  • I love spin class and I love to ride my bike. I especially love that bike riding involves Robert. It's so much fun to ride with him.

  • I don't know how to practice swimming so I can prepare for a triathlon.

  • I don't know how to practice riding my bike so I can prepare for a triathlon. I don't even know how to shift gears properly.

  • I miss running. I went out for an extra unscheduled run on Saturday just to feel my legs move.

  • I miss running. I don't think running three miles, three or four times a week, is going to work for me.

  • I miss running. I want to go out and run 10 miles just so I know I still can.

  • I miss running. I miss that feeling of satisfied tiredness that I have after I run long on the weekend.

  • I miss running. I think I underestimated how running takes the edge off my anxiety.

  • I miss running. I've got to figure out a way to get more running into this training plan.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Better Late Than Never!

It's almost a month later already and I haven't written an Austin Marathon race report. By popular demand (i.e., Leslie's request), here it is.

This was my first marathon, and it was 100% a learning experience. It was a disappointing (extremely disappointing) experience too, but upon reflection, it seems like anytime I undertake some big, meaningful endeavor (i.e., a giant race), it usually ends up being disappointing. Maybe I get my hopes up too high, or maybe I have unrealistic expectations for these types of things. Maybe I freeze up out of panic on the day of the big event. Maybe I'm too hard on myself... but for the half marathon it was true, and it turns out to be true for the marathon as well.

Anyway, Shelly and I trained our hearts out and really enjoyed the training. During the 20 weeks that we trained for this race, I skipped only two runs. That's pretty amazing, and unprecedented for me. We ran two 20 milers with little difficulty; in fact, every long run we did over 15 miles, I felt like I could keep going afterwards and complete a marathon.

Our plan was to stick to the 5-hour pace group and finish the race in 4:59:59.

Here's the report:

Miles 1-2: We went out too fast, trying to keep our pace group in sight.

Miles 2-7: After finally catching up with our pace group, we struggled to find our groove.

Miles 8-13.1: We settled into an 11:20 pace, running steadily over the hills. When we passed the turnoff where the half-marathoners went one way and we went the other, I became quite emotional. Wow, we're really doing it. We're going somewhere I've never been before. This is amazing. I had to choke back tears and had a little trouble breathing.

Mile 14: Shelly confessed that she wasn't feeling well: GI issues. We switched out water bottles with my family. (Thanks for being there, Mom, Dad, and Robert!)

Mile 15: We started to look for a porta-potty. When we stopped at the one at Mile 15, there was a line. We waited in the line for 5 minutes, which was just enough time for my calves and hamstrings to cramp up. After we left the porta-potties, I asked if we could walk to loosen up my legs. It was the first time Shelly and I smiled since the race started.

Miles 16-20: Shelly and I walked a mile and then ran/walked the rest. Shelly was really not feeling well. We said we'd meet my family at Mile 20 and ask Dad if he thought Shelly needed to DNF and get a ride back with them, or if she could walk on to the end of the race.

Miles 20-26: Mom and Robert walked us in to the finish.

Mile 26-26.2: Shelly and I ran feebly across the finish line (6:01) and picked up our finisher's shirts and medals.

It was pretty much a disaster, but it was a learning experience. After a day to think and cry about it, Shelly and I have decided to try again this fall at the San Antonio Rock 'n' Roll Marathon. In my secret dreams, in November, we are going to take an hour and 15 minutes off our marathon PR.