A slow runner's journey at the back of the pack

Life’s Not Fair… And It Rarely Is.

This post may come off as a rant/vent, but that’s just the way it is sometimes.

First, I know I said I would try to do more with my blog and then vanished again. I’m still not running. My knee is still shot until next year. I am now not walking nor am I swimming. For reasons to be explained further.

What am I doing? Currently, I am working from home on a modified bedrest. The modified being that I can use the restroom and make 1 trip up/down my stairs daily. I am fully capable of fulfilling my job duties as my work is 85% computer based and 15% phone based.But why would this be a rant?

Last week it was brought to my attention that because I’m stuck at home on bedrest, it’s not fair. I have never been so offended by 3 words. And granted we live in a world where someone’s opinion shouldn’t offend, trying to apply “fairness” in my situation is total crap and I would advise anyone with a problem about my circumstances to get over it.

Want to know what’s not fair?

At the beginning of the month I went in for a routine ultrasound. Everything seemed fine. The tech showed us our beautiful baby girl. She was growing. She was healthy. Everything you would want to hear at an ultrasound. Then we waited – which is common – for the radiologist to make sure the tech got all of the scans necessary. While waiting, I dressed and went back to the waiting room.

Then I was called back to my doctor’s office. I didn’t think anything of it. This was my first time having my ultrasound right there in her building. I previously got my ultrasounds at different clinic locations that are all connected within a central physician network. I thought it was actually pretty convenient that we could go over the ultrasound right then and there, even if it was unexpected.

The rooming nurse sat me down in an exam room. I started to think maybe it wasn’t all as it seemed. When the doctor came in, she told me some news no expecting mother/father wants to hear. The ultrasound picked up some issues. I was now considered to be high risk. I would need to be a specialist. I would need to pick up an expensive prescription and stop taking them immediately. In a matter of minutes my presumed healthy pregnancy was flipped upside down.

The rest of the week was a blur of appointments, pharmacies, ultrasounds, and even an emergency outpatient surgery – complete with intubation. My risk of continuing to carry this child was 20% I will deliver a full-term baby / 80% I will face a 2nd trimester miscarriage. Post-surgery and with continued use of a medication (not covered by insurance by the way) and bedrest, my odds are 50/50.

So when people say, “it’s not fair she’s just laying around,” they’re right.


It’s not fair I may deliver a child who may only breathes seconds in this world before she’s gone.

It’s not fair I may not deliver a healthy, beautiful baby girl that I see every 2 weeks via ultrasound.

It’s not fair I have already had to grieve the loss of 1 miscarriage in my life already.

It’s not fair I had to change my entire life as I know it – from being active and working towards everything and putting all of that on hold to do the best thing for my child.

It’s not fair I can’t run around with my 2-year old son.

It’s not fair that I have to deal with stupid comments from adults who have no idea what “fair” is.

But you know what? Despite everything that has happened to me this month, I haven’t once said, “it’s not fair.” I have prayed. I have thanked God for the opportunity to bless with me with the ability to carry a child. I have asked God for strength – both for my body to continue to carry this child as well as the strength that God forbid should something happen, He can help guide me through. I have prayed that he take the burden of worry and guilt and show me His way. I thank Him for my husband and family that have been nothing but supportive.

Now it’s probably not fair that I’ve turned this into a sappy, religious post. But life’s not fair. And the sooner adults grasp that, the better world we might live in.

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A New Pace of Life

I love how I had these grand resolutions to post more and then post-marathon, I didn’t. And now if I only want to focus on running, I probably never will. So I’ll try to post more about other things going on. Why no running? Funny you should ask….

About 7 weeks ago, I enjoyed a delicious brunch with my favorite international couple. She’s Italian. He’s French. I get to educate them on all things USofA. And I love the way he pronounces “Wrangler.” Like it REALLY makes my jeep sound like a sexy beast. Anyways, post-brunch, I headed to a soccer game. I didn’t really want to play, but they were down girls with 1 sub so I pretty much was needed. It’s a co-ed league so you have to have a minimum number of girls playing (I think 5?) or you forfeit.

I was having a great game. I was open for crosses – not that the boys every pass to me; I had an awesome assist; I won a header against 2 6 ft. tall guys. It was good. Then they moved me back to defensive mid to give somebody else a break…. Now I don’t mind midfield (I hate it), but I can play it. It’s just hard when I can’t slide tackle – a no-no in this league. Suffice to say I was pretty blah about my move. There was probably 10 minutes left in the game and we were up 5-0. The other team had a throw-in and one of the guys on defense told me to “get in front of that guy and force them to throw behind him so I can step in.” Typical, right? So I get in front of the guy… Throw-in is nearly at my spot so I reach out for it and BAM! The guy hits my knee JUST right from behind and everything felt like rubber bands snapping.

Fast forward to Wednesday, the soonest available orthopedic appointment and yup, they’re pretty sure I tore my ACL. Hobble along to X-Ray, and wait… I need a pregnancy test for the change I might be pregnant. Oh wait. I am!!! So now everything for my knee is on hold. After a few dramatic days of dealing with doctors, and a flood of hormones, my ACL and meniscus are both torn, and my MCL is either sprained or torn. Surgery will be done after my delivery and recovery so…. Next year. Then I can run probably 6 months after that.

So, long story short – no running until June 2017, but there’s a baby coming this way December 2016. Fortunately, I am allowed to ride a stationary bike and do yoga since the doctors say that will help prepare my knee for a faster recovery. My lady doctor wants to see me swimming in the pool and eating salads all summer – no surprise there.
How’s that for the pace of my life?

Chevron Houston Marathon

The Chevron Houston Marathon has come and gone. Only this time I can say, “I AM AN OFFICIAL FINISHER!!!”  
I’m not going to lie – it was hard for me for a little while. I thought surely I would come in around 5:45-5:50. The chip time has me with a 5:56:04 finish. Adam started and stayed with me the entire race and his Garmin died at 26.33 miles with a time of 5:48. I like his time better. My Nike watch died at mile 23 and I had to use my phone for the remainder of the run. Except I forgot I even had my phone before it clicked I could use the running app. Go me.
We arrived early and got our awesome free street parking. We stayed in the car where it was nice and warm, but then I wanted to drop off a change of shoes at gear check. They blocked off the bathrooms to only have people use the porta-potties. So we walked over to the Westin by our parking spot and used their restrooms. Then back to the car to stay warm.

We arrived in our corral in time for the Star Spangled Banner. Then we waited for another 33 minutes to cross the start line. It was a good thing we had so much time because it took nearly 28 minutes for my watch to find a signal – something I’m definitely NOT happy about. Once we got moving, my hands were still numb. I saw a pair of small gloves on the street and yes, I stopped to put them on. I kept them on for 5+ miles and I do not regret my decision. 

The first miles were packed and fun. There was lots of talking. Saw a funny sign in front of a church saying “You know He’s all about that grace, ‘bout that grace, no devil.” I thought it was clever. It’s also one of my son’s favorite songs so it was nice. Adam had to use the restroom but all of the porta-potties had lines. I saw the coach I trained with between miles 3 and 4. We played leap frog a lot. At mile 5 along Kirby, he REALLY had to go, as did I. So I told him we could pull off at the Whole Foods on West Alabama – no line and FLUSHABLE toilets. So we did.

I knew after 10k, we would turn on Bissonnet and somebody along there would have a beer. And of course, the same people from last year were there handing out cans of beer. Thank you generous people!!! I saw my mom working the marathon/half marathon split along the course. She was dressed as a penguin because she’s that awesome.  

 After the split, it became lonely. It seemed a majority of the runners around us had gone straight for the half marathon. I was surprised how quiet it was through Rice University. I guess I expected more students out there. Once we entered West University, THOSE people know how to cheer on a marathon. There were several lawn parties and one place even had their church band come play in the front year. The Astros had set up a tent along the course and were giving out free towels – thank you very much!

Westpark was tough, but not unbearable. It was mostly quiet. Then we reached the half marker about 2:40 which is pretty good considering last year I think we finished the half in about that time and we still had another 13.1 to go. The 5:30 pace group passed us around mile 15. They were trucking too. At that point we were still on target for a 5:30 finish. I started fading after the Galleria though. I saw a co-worker who ran alongside me for a block and talked to me about how I was feeling. After we turned on Tanglewood, I started to go downhill. I think I walked from 16.5 to mile 17. I was stuck in my head.

At Mile 17 I decided to turn it around though. I was afraid I would hit the wall so I tried out a trick my mom taught me before Cozumel. It’s basically singing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” but instead it’s “99 Prayers to God I Lift Up.” I would sing this for 5 minutes – 10-15 “prayers”, then I would walk a minute and thank God for a variety of things – for my strength to run the marathon, to my family, to my friends, to my knowledge, etc.” It sounds cheesy but it took me another 3 miles to finish the song and apparently our pace matched those of the first few miles.

At Mile 20 I took a bag of chips from somebody. I was so hungry and I really appreciated it! At Mile 21, I took one of the last beers from the beer tent. They were closing down and out of beer when I told the volunteers sitting there drinking beer that they were drinking it all so we didn’t have any. I guess my guilt trip worked because a lady offered me her cup. I definitely felt like my pace was dropping but when we were running, we were still averaging 11 minute miles. At one point, we were running uphill with an 11 minutes pace at Mile 22. 
 My watch died at Mile 23. Like I said, it took me awhile to remember I had my phone in my running belt and could use my app for the remainder of the run. The last 3 miles of the marathon course are the hardest. I ran Marine Corps twice and this was still the hardest because of all of the hills. Houston is flat with the exception of overpasses and Allen Parkway… and this course finishes along Allen Parkway. It would be nice if we didn’t have to run the underpasses, but what’s the fun in that? There are two underpasses in addition to 2 noticeable hills along this 3 mile stretch. And after 23 miles, it’s severely unpleasant.

Along Allen Parkway a woman was next to me crying. I asked her what was wrong. She saw the time clock at Mile 24 and it was approaching 6 hours. She was scared she wasn’t going to make the official cut off time since it took her 30 minutes to cross the start line. It was her first ever marathon and she really wanted to finish and get her medal. She was convinced they wouldn’t give it to her. I told her it was ok, she needed to keep going because they would use her chip time, not the clock time. And then she took off. Then a woman from Sweden was cramping along the side of the road saying she couldn’t go any further. We were approaching Mile 25 so I told her to run with me, I was going to run for 4 minutes. She ran and we talked about her trip and her boyfriend and this was also her first marathon. At the end of 4 minutes, she walked with us for our 2-minute break, and then she took off to finish.

Once we got downtown though I was done. I didn’t want to run anymore. I asked Adam if we could do 3/3s, which really turned into walk, run as much as I could, walk, run as much as I could, walk… Then I saw the 6-hour pacer coming up behind us so I decided to run it in. We crossed together and I have never been so glad to be done. Of course I was also super emotional. It’s only taken me 4 times to register for this race to actually be able to run it.
  I am super proud of Adam who with very little – AND I MEAN VERY LITTLE – training, was he able to complete the 26.2+ miles. I also may be slightly jealous, but I figure most people would be had they put in months of early mornings and training. I am excited that we did it. I’m excited I finished under the gun. I am excited that I don’t have to do another marathon for a long while. Up next I’m pacing the Katy Half Marathon so that should be fun.

My Marathon Weekend Plans

The weekend is here! The weekend is here! Technically. What’s another 9 hours at the office? 

I don’t know if it’s because I’m FINALLY running Houston or if it’s because this is my hometown, or if because throughout all of my training I have covered all but 3-4 miles of the marathon course, but I am feeling the most prepared I have felt for a race in a long time. I am relaxed. I am confident in my plan. I am ready. I AM EXCITED!!!!!

 So my plan for the weekend is as follows:

My mom is volunteering at the expo today so I have signed off on my packet release for the 5k. I’ll meet with her this evening so I can avoid Saturday’s packet pick-up. I’ll either eat some more Italian or make the black bean, squash and sweet potato enchiladas from Thug Kitchen (only my most favorite cookbook recently!!!). Last night we had simple spaghetti with Ikea veggie balls and some vegetable marinara. Oh and garlic bread and wine. I’m in full carbo-load mode.

 Saturday morning Adam and I are heading downtown (downtown! Doooooowntooooowwwwwn a la Macklemore) to race the 5k. I know, I know I should treat this like a shakeout run. But my 5k runs have been so good lately and I’ll be running with Adam who always pushes me to run faster. Maybe – MAYBE I can break 30???? After that, we’ll swing by the expo to pick up our marathon packets and look at all of the goodies.

 Then it’s back to the house full of the wonderful expectation of resting and relaxing but I already have a long list of things to do – laundry, change the sheets, vacuum, clean the ducts and put the vents back on (they’ve been off since we bought the house… oops), clean the bathrooms since I won’t want to do it Sunday. I also would love to go to Saturday evening mass. Then there’s the whole grocery shopping thing to tackle.

 And OMG the eating!!! I am almost excited about the marathon of eating I will get to do on Saturday. So much that I am already hungry for tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll eat whatever post-5k food is offered – stale bagel anyone? And then I’ll probably stop for some actual breakfast – doughnuts? I’m not sure what, but I’ll be eating. Not to mention the samples at the expo. Then I’m going to drive down to Pearland – yes ALLLLLL the way to Pearland for lunch. It’s a good 35 miles from my house. But there’s a doughnut shop that has the BEST veggie burger I’ve ever had. It seriously tastes like a real burger. And sweet potato fries. Yummm. I may hit up Sonic for happy hour and a hot fudge sundae too. Later after mass, I plan on eating at a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant that has pretty much been my Friday go-to before my long runs. I used to hate this restaurant in high school, but now it’s one of my favorites. And they have great margaritas.

 Sunday. Sunday. Sunday. The marathon. I plan on arriving around 5:00-5:15 so I can find free parking on the street. Otherwise I’ll have to pony up and pay for a lot. I haven’t decided if I’m going to drop off a gear bag. I’m considering it only because I know how much I will want to take off my shoes at the finish. Then it’s really a matter of hanging out until my corral starts. Since I’m slow, I’m obviously in Corral D. Once things get going, I hope to relax into my run and trust everything will fall into place.

 I reviewed the course earlier this week and with the exception of Weslayan to Westpark to the 610 Feeder, I have run all the other miles of the course. How is that for a great training program? I know one of my friends will be at mile 5. I’m looking forward to seeing my mom at the marathon / half-marathon split around mile 8. After that, I don’t know who I may see, but I’m sure the City of Houston will turn out like they have all the years in the past and cheer on the runners. I really feed off the energy of the crowd support. It’s no wonder Houston is always my best race. And this year, I’m looking to make it my best marathon everrrr! 

 If anyone is interested in tracking, you have to download the Chevron Houston Marathon app. Gone are the days of text alerts I suppose. So sad. Anyway, here are my numbers: 

 

Marathon Week!!!!

By this time next week I will hopefully have completed the Chevron Houston Marathon. I paid my registration fees. I paid my training program dues. I paid with blood, sweat, and tears on miles and miles of training runs (though mostly sweat!). I have eaten my weight in Gus, Nuun tablets, post-run bagels, lattes, and beers. It is finally here.

MARATHON WEEK!!! I may seem a little excited about this marathon. I am. I am SUPER DUPER excited. While I planned for Marine Corps Marathon to be my first marathon (and so glad I did), I’ve wanted to run Chevron Houston Marathon for a long time now. So long, that I’ve registered and paid for it four times. This will be my first time running it. Why four times you ask? Good question. And I do have excuses – but they are all pretty valid, except maybe 2015.

 1. 2011 – I was out a week before the training run on my last 7-mile taper run before the race. I was running my favorite running trail – Allen Parkway. This was before it underwent a $200,000,000+ renovation so there were tons of cracks on the beaten asphalt path. Adam and Dharma turned off at mile 5, leaving me to finish the last 2 miles alone. No biggy. Until about Mile 5.5 when I stepped on a crack and broke my ankle. I hobbled the 1.5 miles home in extreme pain. I picked up my packet on crutches. I cheered the runners on marathon morning while sitting along the side of the road.

2. 2014 – While I was living in Wisco, a girlfriend and I planned to travel down to Texas. I was going to take on the full, she was going to take on the half. It was supposed to be a fun race-cation / warm up from Wisco winter. I found out shortly after registering in June, I was pregnant. By January, I was living in Texas and dropped to the half marathon. Kelly still came to visit and run. My doctor advised me NOT to run as it could start premature labor. I cheered her on.

3. 2015 – I was ready! I was going to come back from having little baby E. I was going to shed my pregnancy weight! I was going to do it!!! And then like all first-time moms, I realized the exhaustion that accompanies a newborn does not always make time for 4:30 am training runs or whenever you think you’ve gotten a consistent schedule, teething starts. Or a cold that can’t be treated with anything other than steam and time. Or. Or. Or. So yes, this year I made excuses. I dropped to the half because my options were 1. Attempt the full and be miserable or 2. Drop to the half and do awesome. Since you can’t have awesome without me, I went with option 2 and had my best half ever (up to that point).

4. 2016 – I’M GOING TO RUN CHEVRON HOUSTON MARATHON!!! Sniffles, groin, lack of sleep be damned! I was freaking out over the weekend I couldn’t find my specific long-run socks, but I found them so no biggie. I am ready. I can do this. I will do this!!!

 Also, HUGE thanks to everybody who has helped me get ready for this week. I could not be ready if it weren’t for the following:

– My husband who has spent soooo many mornings taking care of the baby while I head off at zero dark thirty to hit the streets running. He also joined me on some of my longer runs so I wouldn’t have to run alone – pretty common, even with a training group at 200 people (what?!).

– My mom who has gone running with me during my shorter training mornings in the wee hours of the morning, joined me for some of my longer training runs on the weekend, followed me on my 20-mile run after running the first 6 with me to make sure I was ok and didn’t need anything, and also, she watched E a few times so Adam could join me.

– My mother-in-law who has also graciously gotten up at 4 am to watch little E while Adam has joined me on some training runs and has offered to get up early both mornings of the 5k and marathon.

Oh yeah, did I mention I was doing the 5k/Marathon challenge?!

 And thanks to social media for convincing me I can do this and get stronger and have fun while running!

 How’s that for some Monday Motivation??? 

 

Decisions…. Decisions… Which Race Should I Run??!!

While I am a huge fan of lists – ask Adam, I have a list for EVERYTHING – I’ve never been a big pros/cons list fan. I made an attempt at one for two races I’m considering and either the races are relatively similar or I didn’t put that much effort into it, because I came up with the similar numbers of pros and cons for each race. Thus, I’m putting this to the blogosphere.

My goal is to run a half marathon during February. I will have completed Chevron Houston Marathon January 17. Mind you, I’m not a great runner so I don’t know the recovery period before I should really push myself to run again so we’ll play that be ear. The 2 races I’m considering are the Katy Half Marathon or Surfside Beach Half Marathon.

 Katy Half Marathon:

Pros include
– Registration includes free race photos, tech shirt, medal

– Katy isn’t that far from my house making for a short drive

– I’m guessing there will be a lot of local running groups supporting runners who didn’t get into the Aramco Houston Half Marathon (though I could be wrong since they did away with the lottery this year)

– A finisher’s jacket (I’m a sucker for a jacket!)

Cons include

– Registration fee is $85.50 – not bad for a half, but more than the other race.

– Race date is 3 weeks after marathon

 Also, the course starts with 1.75 loops around the mall parking lot, before it goes out to make a single large loop through the neighborhoods, finishing back at the mile. Not GREAT, but not terrible either.

Surfside Beach Half Marathon:

Pros include:

– Registration includes “save our beach” t-shirt with participant names in tiny print, a cool sea turtle medal

– The registration fee is $75 for the half

– The run is on the beach, but it’s all hard compact sand making it a forgiving surface

– My mom is running it (yay!)

– Race date is 5 weeks after marathon

Cons include

– Surfside isn’t the closest of destinations – at least 90 minutes without traffic

– The course is out and back along the beach

I guess for the cons, my mom is running so we could carpool. And the out and back course is more of an “out and back” loop since you go 2 miles out one way, come back in front of the finish, a few more miles out the opposite direction, and then back to the finish line.

 I suppose I have a leaning towards Surfside, but then Katy seems cool too. So really, I have no clue. Help!!!

  

A New Year Begins

A year ago, I ran the Run Houston 10k at Sam Houston Race Park. This year, I ran it again. It was cold, again. It was wet, again. Unlike the last time, I also had the stroller with me. 

  Now I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything on here, mostly because I honestly didn’t know where to begin. I had a hard time coming back after Cozumel 70.3 in terms of not feeling like a total failure. It’s coming, eventually. But then I focused on my marathon training. And who knew that with a little (no really, it’s a lot) of miles, I would become gradually faster. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you have seen an occasional blurb about my pace improving.

 While I probably should have run the 5k on January 1, I stuck with the 10k. I have been trying to run a 5k every morning before my long training runs because I am registered for the 5k/Marathon challenge NEXT weekend. And despite the rain and the cold and OMG the wind that stopped the stroller dead, I finished 2 minutes faster than last year. And did I mention that it is probably a PR for me? And with a STROLLER?!

 A few weeks ago I ran a 5k and had my fastest 5k time to date of 31:24. I’m hoping that I’ll break 30 minutes in this upcoming year. It’s so close!!! I really wanted to push for a 1:10 or faster 10k, but I’m still happy coming in at 1:11 and some change.

 The run was pretty consistent – 2 loops on an out and back course (1 f or the 5k). I hovered between an 11:20-11:40 pace for each mile. There’s hardly any (11 ft.) elevation change and I think ti’s because there’s a slight bridge over a creek.

 The after party was pretty lackluster. You get a small glass of water like the water they hand out on the course. They were out of any other drinks by the time we finished though I saw lots of people with bottles of water. You also get a small cup of chicken and rice and a quarter (or maybe a 6th) of a bagel. Not a whole lot. Then we waited forEVERRRRRRRR for the awards ceremony. We probably waited a good hour before they started with the 5k awards before moving on to the 10k awards. My mom placed 2nd in her age group. She’s a badass motherrunner!

 After that, we stopped for some Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch and to catch part of the Ohio State / Notre Dame game. Then I slept… for FIVE hours. Talk about a nap. But I wouldn’t want to welcome in the New Year, any other way!

 In terms of resolutions, I don’t have a lot on the list. I’m trying to focus on having less which is evident by the growing pile of stuff accumulating in my garage for a future yard sale. But you’ll find out more about that soon. Otherwise, I am trying to stay clean, organized, and clutter free. Once I even get there, of course. Also, I don’t have weight loss goals, but I am focusing on less sugar (not successful so much today) and more fruits/veggies and less cheese. So far I’ve eaten a lot of jelly beans and chocolate covered potato chips… but once they’re gone, I’m so on it!