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3M Half Marathon 2017 race report.

This was the second of the races in my half-baked, ill-conceived training plan for Ironman Texas. The first was the Decker half marathon, and my general plan was to run Decker undertrained as a baseline, then try to run 3M a little faster. I kinda figured that would take care of itself, given how much easier the 3M course is.

Then life happened.

As it always does. But I went into 3M not at all where I'd planned to be, training-wise. I won't drone on about excuses, but as an outline of what I WOULD drone on about, if I were to drone, I just didn't make myself do the speedwork I intended, the first two weeks of 2017 were probably the worst work weeks I've ever experienced, I had a COMPLETE motivational failure of an 18 mile run that turned into a 6 mile (this almost NEVER happens to me, so I can't even be too surprised or upset; mostly I just find it kinda scientifically interesting), and I had a random evening where I went from Fine to Unable To Walk Without Limping Terribly. What happened remains a complete mystery, but 24 hours of sitting or being in bed with a heating pad on my leg, then a week of no running seems to have cleared it up. All of that combined into some non-ideal preparation for a speedy half marathon. Then I spent the day before 3M walking, standing and marching. If I really cared about my time at 3M, I would have stayed at home on Saturday, but instead I went out to show solidarity with the women (and many men) at the Austin Women's March. Did it impact my race? I'll never know, but even if it had meant a 4 hour half marathon the next day, I would have zero regrets. I can run 3M next year. This was something so much bigger and more meaningful to me, and I'm glad I got to be part of history.

Women's March Austin

That's a pretty dramatic paragraph! All that being said, I'm actually just fine with my time at 3M. I didn't have a formal goal, and if I had, it would have been faster than what I ran, but I'm not upset about it.

I decided to run to the start line, to get my warmup in, and so that I could leave Matt the car, since we only have one. It ended up being 2.7 miles from home to the startline, and it was into a generous cross or headwind the whole way.

Ohyeah! The wind! After 60ish degrees and terribly humid at Decker, for 3M we got 60ish degrees and 20mph winds, gusting to who knows what. Warm AND windy?! My favorite! So I intentionally overdressed for the warmup, knowing it would be dark and windy and early and bleh.

I got to the start line just after 7, hit the portapotty, which took forever, dropped my long sleeve shirt at the clothing drop (I had run with my dry clothes bag wadded up in my pocket!), and waded into the start chute. At like 7:25. Not my best idea. I shoved and pushed and weaved, but I could only get up to where the fence started, which was behind the last pace group (2:15). Buuut there was nothing I could do, and it was my own dumb fault, so I just stayed there and froze in my short sleeved shirt as the wind buffeted us.

It took me a couple minutes to get over the start line once the race started, but then I just tried to settle in, while simultaneously weaving around all the people who had seeded themselves appropriately.

People had been saying "hey, it's a point to point run, so it'll be a tailwind most of the way!" That was not true. It was a crosswind for most of the way, a headwind for a small part, and then some tailwind at the end. The crosswind was pretty demoralizing at times, though. If you let your guard down, you'd suddenly find yourself staggering a couple steps to the side, as the wind rudely shoved you. It was annoying, but hey.. at least it kept the temperature a little cooler? I was comfortable in my short sleeved shirt, would have been fine in sleeveless.

3M 2017

I never looked at my watch, just tried to run comfortably hard in the beginning, settling in, trying not to fight the wind too much, just lean into/against it. As always at 3M, there were tons of friends out running and cheering, and I cheered back at them as I saw them. Including Matt and the dogs just before mile 6! I knew they planned to be there, and I looked forward to it the whole first half of the race. I saw them way before they saw me, and I ran up and the dogs were So! Surprised! Suddenly mom! I stopped and got a million kisses, left the small handheld water bottle I'd been carrying with them, and headed out for the second half.

3M 2017

Which was pretty uneventful. I just plodded along, survived Great Northern, trudged up 45th St directly into the sun, but with a lovely tailwind, and then down Duval into campus. I tried to pick it up for the last two miles, but I felt pretty stiff-legged. That last uphill after campus is always supremely unwelcome, but Rogue was out with a big cheering squad, and that helped motivate me up, around the corner, and across the finish line.

Amy and Karen after 3M 2017

As I said, I'd never looked at my watch, but I really felt like I'd run a stronger race than I had at Decker. So I was briefly a little surprised and bummed that my 3M time was a 1:56:03 (compared to Decker's 1:55:32, which I had been surprised and happy with). Who knows which of those excuses played any role in the difference in performance, or if I'm just stronger on hills than flat courses, or if it's just random.

But it's another half marathon in the books, my first 3M in 5 years (13 minutes slower than my 3M/half marathon PR of 1:42:23), and a lovely day to see so many friends, so I'm gonna call it a good race!

And a strong finish!

9:10, 8:47, 8:52, 8:53, 8:52, 8:53, 8:49, 8:42, 8:52, 8:55, 8:28, 8:31, 8:34

Well, that was windy. Thank you to everyone who was out cheering, and congratulations to everyone who ran!
happy running

Turkey Trot 2016 race report.

Turkey Trot! One of my favorites.

This year Kate and Karen would both be in town, so we could get the whole gang together with our ridiculous Thanksgiving costumes from last year for the first time. The complication, of course, was that Karen would be exactly 4 days out from Ironman Arizona. She wasn't even sure she'd be able to run, and if she could, how she'd feel. But we figured we'd just wait and see, and at the very least we could get ridiculous start line photos together.

My goals were modest for this year. I haven't done much speedwork since the Tahoe Triple, and I'm really not concentrating hugely on speed in preparation for Ironman Texas, so I figured I'd use it as a standard workout, to include a warmup and then a few tempo miles, if I was feeling good. And if the weather was good. Which is the big unknown for Turkey Trot. Especially when you're wearing a lot of warm costume.

Kate and I carpooled, grabbed a selfie, then did a 0.69 mile warmup over to the corner where we were going to meet Karen. Another photo of the whole gang, and then a 0.43 mile warmup with Karen, to see if her legs even worked. They did! Perfect.

Kate and Amy pre-Turkey Trot 2016

We waded into the sea of humanity that is the start line, not bothering to try to get up near the front. We were just running for fun. We found Meghan on the way, so the four of us chatted until it was time to go. And then it was time to go!

Because we started so far back, we had a very slow start. Nobody was concerned. We weaved in and out of people, dodging walkers, trudging our not-all-that-warmed-up legs up the first hill. Somehow, despite Karen getting ahead of us initially, we all managed to stick together through the first couple miles.

Karen and I got chatting, and she told me about her experience in Ironman Arizona, and we tossed around some ideas about training for Ironman Texas and plans for the further future. Just having a lovely time. The hills were tough, but we chatted through them. The sun was out now, and where we'd been chilly standing around at the start, we were no longer chilly now. I pulled my arm warmers down to my wrists.

Kate, Karen and Amy pre-Turkey Trot 2016

Once we got done with the hills, we started picking up the pace more. We didn't discuss it, it just sorta happened because there was downhill. We chatted with the folks we saw that we knew, cheered for other people in costume, got lots of compliments on our costumes (which we kept forgetting we were wearing), and realized that we'd pulled ahead of Kate and Meghan.

In the last two miles, I started to reach Peak Ability. I could feel my lack of speedwork, and I was getting right to the edge of my comfort zone. Karen, however, was feeling great. I commented on how she certainly didn't seem like she'd just done an Ironman. I could barely keep up with her. And it was warm enough, with the sun out, that I had to take my arm warmers off entirely.

And then in the final mile, I COULDN'T keep up with her anymore. She pulled ahead of me, and I was doing all I could just to keep her in sight. She started looking behind her, waiting for me to catch up, but I yelled that I couldn't go any faster, I was doing all I could. She said she knew, she just wanted to cross the finish line together, and she'd fall back a bit. That continued over the final mile, with her mostly running ahead of me, and then in the finish chute, finally falling back to run beside me so we could cross the finish line together.

I really had no idea what we'd run. Our total time was 44:19, which I knew was fairly slow compared to my recent Turkey Trots, so I figured my suffering at the end was me just being out of speedwork shape. Turns out, no, we just started really slow.

Perfectly executed accidental progressive pace run? Don't mind if I do!

9:58, 9:22, 8:39, 8:13, 7:53

7:53! No wonder I was suffering. I think I've only run one other sub-8 this year, and that was in April. And even though my overall time for this year's Trot is slower than last year's my last two miles were faster than any of the miles from last year.

It feels good to discover I CAN still run fast! And man, I wish I could be four days out from an Ironman and be that fast/faster.

44:19 (8:52/mile)

History shows that I'm continuing my trend of getting slower every year. I think it's pretty healthy, and shows how far I've come, that I really don't care. This year was about fun, and I got some surprising speed as a bonus, and overall I'm happy with the whole experience.

2004: 52:24 (10:29/mile)
2005: 52:45 (10:33/mile)
2006: 47:54 (9:35/mile)
2007: 44:35 (8:55/mile)
2008: 39:48 (7:58/mile) (suspect it was short)
2009: 40:59 (8:10/mile)
2010: 36:35 (8:05/mile according to official time) (definitely short)
2011: 40:29 (8:06/mile)
2012: 38:58 (7:48/mile)
2013: 39:45 (7:57/mile)
2014: 43:51 (8:46/mile)
2015: 42:41 (8:32/mile)
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What's Next: Fall 2016 Edition

At some point, when you don't do something for a while, you have to stop and ask yourself, "... Was that it? Am I done with that? Am I retired now?"

Between 2007 and 2013, I did 6 Ironmans. In 2014 I did Ultraman Canada. Since UMC, I've done exactly one triathlon, and it was a sprint. Two years with only one sprint triathlon. Does that mean I'm done? It would be a logical time to stop. I have plenty of friends who have said, "That's it for me" and retired.

Well, turns out, I made a promise. When Ironman Texas entered the scene, I said I had NO interest in doing an Ironman in Houston in May. That's just crazy. Talk to me if they ever move it earlier or a lot later in the year. And now they called my bluff, and moved Ironman Texas to April.

So making good on a promise to my friend Coach Karen, I'm signed up for Ironman Texas 2017!

It's been months since I swam at all, and I had to actually pump up both tires from flat to put my bike on the trainer. I'm a long way from where I was when I was doing an Ironman a year. I'm not competing against that Amy. I'm out to discover whether this is something I still want to do, and remember how much I enjoy long rides with my friends and early mornings at Masters. And see if that finish line is still magical.

I have many months to get ready, so I'm wading back in slowly. But I'm tentatively pretty excited, you guys.
happy running

Tahoe Triple 2016 race report.

Oh, geez. Where do I even start? By the time I finished day 2, I'd forgotten most of day 1. I considered making this into three separate race reports, but it really feels like one event, so one race report seems more appropriate. Hopefully I've forgotten so much that it won't end up being so long I can't post it on livejournal. Because I'm so good at brevity.

Details...Collapse )
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Tahoe Triple Training - 10 days to go.

Though technically I'm counting down to the day we leave town, which means we have 8 days to go.

We made it through the last two big weekends: 10-20-10 and then 15-22-10. That last one was painful, especially since that 15 miles on Friday was hill repeats up Far West and Ladera Norte. And someone stole our water cooler 5 miles into our run. Good times.

You don't really anticipate, when you leave your 6 gallon water cooler of ice water at the top of a hill in one of Austin's more expensive neighborhoods, that you'll come back half an hour later and it'll just be gone. Makes the remaining 10 miles of hill
Friday morning Ladera repeats

Now the runs are getting shorter (though no less plentiful), and the event starts to seem ever more real.

The amazing news is that, after 5 months of training in endless pure misery, the weather has FINALLY taken a turn for the better. Practically every run we've done has been in ~75 degree dew point, but for our final week, Fall has finally arrived (hopefully to stay), and the dew points have dropped into the 60s. As have the lows. Maybe it sounds kinda dramatic to say it's magical, but.. it is.

And just in time! We need these lower temps to acclimate us for the THIRTIES we're likely to see in Tahoe. Or twenties. Earlier today the extended forecast briefly said it might snow on Monday. It's way too early to really know anything, though. Except I'm bringing one of every weather-appropriate piece of running clothing I own. Uh, I mean three. Three of every weather-appropriate piece of running clothing I own.

ShoePorn: Tahoe Triple Edition. These shoes have run 54.2, 390.9 and 0.0 miles respectively.
The pink ones have been my workhorses so far: 390 miles on those. The blues and greens, 43 and 54 miles respectively, will be the ones I wear in Tahoe.

And that's really the main thing on the agenda currently. Making a packing list to figure out what in the world I need to bring. It feels like, since it's only running, it shouldn't be much, but it's 3 days of running, and multiple pairs of shoes, and lots of layers, and I guess I should see if I have a pair of jeans that fits, since the highs might not get out of the 50s.

Otherwise we're resting, enjoying some shorter runs in this magical weather, and trying to bank as much sleep as possible (while still getting up at 4am to run).

The million dollar question I keep getting is, of course, are you ready? And just like the first time I did Ironman, I honestly can't answer that question. Does running 15 miles, then 22, then 10 successfully mean you can run 26.2, 26.2 and 26.2? Does following the schedule I was given to the absolute letter mean that I'm ready? I think we won't know until we get there and give it a try.

This wasn't exactly the training we envisioned when we started out, and we have no idea what's going to happen once we get there. We never really had firm goals, certainly not time-based ones, and I believe at this point our goal is to go to Tahoe, enjoy the beautiful weather, the beautiful scenery, the wonderful company, and if the stars align, run 3 marathons in 3 days.
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Tahoe Triple Training - one month to go.

Weird. Four more weeks until race week. Sounds short, but the next two weeks will be our hardest, so we can't relax yet.

The last month of training has been hard. I've already talked about most of it: the early mornings, the insane dew point, the inability to ever feel not-thirsty, the back to back weekend runs and the hills.

What I haven't really addressed is the impact all of this has had on Matt. This hasn't been Matt's favorite summer. He started having GI problems near the beginning of our training, and has been battling the dehydration and nutritional fallout that results from rarely being able to keep food inside. He doesn't really mind talking about it, but since it's not my story, I'll just give the overview. He ended up getting scoped, upper and lower, and fortunately and unfortunately it wasn't very conclusive. It's possible it's Crohn's or Colitis (though at least Celiac was tested for and ruled out) But there were no big glowing Yeses during the scopes, either. So we're still in the dark there, with further testing and experimentation needed.

Meanwhile having those kinds of problems in this kind of weather has been really rough. There were a few runs where dehydration and overheating set in by the end, and Matt was just miserable and shuffling in the last few miles. Then two weekends ago on our Saturday 20 miler, Matt just started feeling worse and worse. At one point he sat on a curb. Then he started walking the uphills. And then in the last few miles, it was pretty much just a solid powerhike. His whole body was cramping. He was miserable. But he got his 20 in, and we headed home. He managed a shower, but had no desire to eat (fortunately I'd forced his recovery beverage into him on the drive home), and just went to lay down. After laying down for a few hours and feeling miserable, sick and dizzy, we headed to the ER. He was tested very thoroughly, and fortunately it just appeared to be very bad dehydration. 3 liters of saline and some Zofran later, we were discharged and sent home.

Since then we've been kinda playing it by ear. Matt has wisely eased back into the running, only doing the runs on his schedule when he's feeling okay and the weather isn't too bad. Fortunately between the rain that moved in and the slow but inevitable end of Summer, the weather has been.. well, somewhat more tolerable, at least. Some days. It's still pretty bad. But better.

So that's where we are currently. I did 13-20-10 last week, which sounds CRAZY, but I can't even be as happy about, because Matt wasn't there to run the 20 with me. I'm sure he's very tired of me worrying about him and questioning how he's feeling and whether he should be doing what he's doing. I'm the president of the Keep Matt Out of the ER Club now. The next two weekends are 10-20-10 and then 15-22-10 where the 15 is hill repeats on Mt Bonnell. If the weather stays decent (or gets better! please!), hopefully Matt should be able to finish off both of those weekends with me, and we can start tapering.

It still seems a bit beyond the realm of possibility that I could run three marathons in three days, but I'll just keep doing what the schedule says, and hopefully that'll get me there!

Now I just have to figure out a Shoe Plan.
happy running

Tahoe Triple Training - 3 months down, 2 months to go.

2 months to go. It feels like that's still so much time, but then it's also just 8 weeks, which feels like not much time at all. But those 8 weeks contains a lot of intimidating runs.

Which is not to say we haven't already had some of those. We've now had two 18 mile runs now, one that involved Mt Bonnell and one that involved Dry Creek, Ladera, and a lot of other big hills in our neighborhood. And our Friday-Saturday-Sunday blocks are getting ever longer. This week we had our longest yet: 13 miles Friday, 18 miles Saturday (including the aforementioned big hills), 10 miles today.

Run from Hell elevation.
Run From Hell elevation. That big V is Far West/Ladera. It hurts.

It's funny.. you build up to it, so it really doesn't sound all that appalling by the time you get there. It seems logical. Last week Friday was 12 and Saturday was 16, so it makes sense they'd go up. They go up each week. But then on Saturday, when you start to run, you remember that 13 miles is no joke, you guys. Your legs definitely remember that, as you start your run. And then on Sunday.. well, really everything's just kinda numb at that point. At least you hope it is. Mostly everything's just tired.

And the weather doesn't help. I won't go on about the weather this time. I covered that last time. It hasn't gotten any better. We're now firmly in the most miserable month of Texas summer. But.. BUT.. that means that next month theoretically won't be as miserable! I mean, if we live long enough to get there.

We did have one positive and reassuring experience recently. It FINALLY rained a couple weeks ago. I had already gotten my run in that morning, but Matt was able to take advantage of it. And he said it was WONDERFUL. Matt hasn't thought running was wonderful in months. He's been suffering badly in this heat and humidity. But that rain run felt amazing, and his paces were ones he hasn't seen since the beginning of this training. So there's HOPE. We have to believe that when we get to Tahoe, because we've trained through this horrible weather, it will feel magical and we'll just be able to run faster and happier than we have this whole summer. But it's really hard to believe that. And Matt's run gave us hope again.

So now we just put our heads down, grit our teeth, and get through this hopefully-last-month of misery. We have a recovery week this week, but then we start with the 20 milers on Saturdays. And a couple sessions of Mt Bonnell repeats on Fridays. Do you know how many miles only 4 repeats of Mt Bonnell gets you? TWELVE. I didn't really believe it until I mapped it out. (That's up and over, then back up and over. That's one repeat.)

Final notes in bulletpoint form:
- By Sunday, I'm generally incurably thirsty. But so tired of drinking water.
- This isn't really fair, because I took two months completely off running last year, but I've already run more miles this year than I did all of last year.
- My previous most miles run in a month was July 2009, 193.58 miles. I just beat that with July 2016, 211.24 miles.
- I woke up at 3:45am three days in a row last week to go run. This is easier for me as a morning person than it is for poor Matt, who definitely is not.


Tahoe Triple training week 10: 10-18-8 for the weekend, and some much-needed new shoes.
My Clifton 2s had 518 miles on them, so they got to retire and be replaced by some snazzy new Clifton 3s