4 Days to Race Day…

(Jesse impatiently waiting for the human to quit taking a picture so we can get to the task at hand!)

 

…and it seemed only right to finish off my last run of race training with my favorite running buddy!

 

Part of the reason I have Jesse is because I’ve always wanted a dog as a running buddy: his need for exercise/stimulation helps keep me consistent with running when there’s not a race on the calendar and a training schedule to hold me accountable. Running with him helps me work on picking up the pace, and he gets to be outside and run around. It’s a win-win situation for both of us.

 

We had a great little arrangement until this past spring when we learned Jesse was actually heartworm positive. He underwent a series of three shots to kill the heartworm, and it required some time off from running. And by time off, I mean a combined 60 days of little/no activity! By the time he was cleared to return to activity, I’d already started marathon training, and I didn’t have the time to stay on top of my schedule and work with him to get him back in shape. Yes, even the four-legged runners can get out of shape. They may be faster than us human runners, but in some respects, they’re not that different from us when it comes to running.

 

I only needed a short run this morning, so I figured bringing the running buddy out of retirement wouldn’t be the worst way to finish out training. And, true to form, Jesse was more than willing to come along! More than the added effort of a faster pace, running with Jesse is a dose of joy. It’s not always a seamless venture (he did try to go after a skunk one time), but it’s hard to be in a bad mood after running with him. Jesse loves to be outside and gets downright giddy when given the chance to run. And I speak from experience when I say his joy and enthusiasm are infectious. So what better way to round out 16 weeks of work, early mornings, cranky calves, tendonitis, and dropping temperatures than a dose of joy compliments of Jesse?

 

All that’s left now is more stretching, lots of carbs, packet pickup…and Sunday morning.

5 Days to Race Day…

…and this morning’s strength training session was replaced by some time on my yoga mat. Ultimately, the goal of these last few days is to take it “easy.” This is the point in the schedule where I get to dial the work back and let myself recharge as I get ready for Sunday. So, for me, that means one last easy run tomorrow morning with lots of stretching & relaxation throughout the week.

 

As it stands, I’m looking at a mix of clouds and sun for Sunday’s race with a high of 45 degrees. (NOTE: this is also the point where I start to check the weather forecasts…a lot.) As running conditions go, that’s really not so bad. Ultimately, as long as it’s not raining, I’ll take it! 😉

 

All in all, I’m still excited, even as I’m busy at work trying to dot every “I” and cross every “T” before noon on Friday. Tendonitis notwithstanding, training has gone well, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results of all the work I’ve put in for the last 16 weeks.

6 Days to Race Day…

…and all seems right with the world. I managed a 3-mile, pain-free run this morning before work, and I managed to run it right at my goal race pace. So far, everything is as it should be, physically, and my stamina doesn’t seem to have taken too much of a hit after 2 weeks off.

 

It might be race week, but it was still Monday. So even as I’m winding down and prepping for Sunday, today was still so much launching back into the work week after a weekend and wondering if it’s too soon to start counting down to noon on Friday (three cheers for half days).

 

The overwhelming feeling of the day has been gratitude. I’m grateful the doctor cleared me to run. I’m grateful my overall fitness is still where it needs to be after a break. I’m grateful for cooler running temperatures (with the right layers, it’s really not so bad). I’m grateful that—by and large—training has gone well. And I’m grateful that, come Sunday, I get the chance to stand at another starting line.

Welp…

 

I’m glad the weekend went so well. Remember that on-and-off foot pain I mentioned during the Trinity River Half Marathon? Well, that foot pain came roaring back Saturday night after the race. And hung around on Sunday. And continued to hang around today. Basically, I haven’t walked without a limp since sometime Saturday evening.

 

So, I got the afternoon off and made my way to the doctor’s office. On the upside, the doctor didn’t see any obvious fractures on the x-rays. And that’s about all I know. In the meantime, I get to sport the walking boot, ice my foot, and take ibuprofen until I can see the practice’s sports medicine expert…next Wednesday.

 

Will Mallory get to run Dallas, after all?

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Tune in next week to find out!

Stripes and Races

There’s more to my athletic life than just running (yes, fellow runners, it really is possible). In 2012, I found my way to Ironside Martial Arts, where I took up boxing and Muay Thai. In 2015, I really decided to challenge myself by getting into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I managed to earn my first stripe  in December of that year (see below). But then life happened (my first marathon, illness, injuries, work, getting married, etc.), and before I knew it, it was June of 2018 before I was pulling out my gi and getting back to the mats.

(Started Saturday with one stripe and hoping to change that.)

 

It hasn’t always been easy, and I haven’t made it to every single class I would’ve liked to attend. But, I showed up, I worked, and I kept going. And yesterday during our adult promotion ceremony, the last six months of effort were rewarded with another stripe on my belt!

For the non-martial artists, let me explain: Each belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu starts with an empty black patch. As you advance, you earn new stripes along the way. Once you’ve received 4 stripes, you’re usually promoted to the next belt color. So, having earned my second stripe, I’m now halfway to my blue belt. But more than that, that little piece of electrical tape is a sign of my progress and accomplishment. That little stripe is validation that months of work, of frustration, of being submitted when rolling are all paying off. 

(Me and my Jiu Jitsu coach after promotion day. OSS!)

(Two stripes, up close and personal!) 

 

BUT, that’s not the end of my Saturday accomplishments! After BJJ, there was a quick change of close, a quick lunch at Chick-fil-A, and then off to Dallas for the Trinity River Run! Because why not run 13.1 miles through Dallas at sunset with almost 1,000 other people? Also, I’m a big fan of using half marathons as long runs during marathon training for several reasons:

  1. If I’m going to have to cover the distance, anyway, I might as well get another medal and race shirt out of the deal, right?
  2. Half marathons scattered throughout the training schedule have–in my experience–helped kept me from being overwhelmed. By and large, I only tend to worry about the next race on the calendar. So, when there’s a half marathon (or two or 3) on the calendar in the lead up to a marathon, I tend to worry less about the results of marathon race day.
  3. Scheduling a half marathon in the lead-up to a full marathon can help me get a grip on where I’m actually at. That is, I can use the half marathon (aka a tune-up race) to assess how my training is going: if I’m on track to meet my marathon goals, if I need to change anything, etc. Plus, my half marathon finish time can help give me a rough idea of how long it’ll take me to finish the full marathon.

(Me and the hubby chilling out at the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge before the race.)

(The start/finish line before the race.)

 

Given how much I’ve struggled with most of my long runs, I came to the race just hoping to finish in three hours or better. And since I’d been considering dropping down from the full marathon to the half marathon next month, I made an unofficial deal with myself: if it took me more than 3 hours to finish Trinity, I’d only run the Dallas Half Marathon next month; but, if I managed to finish under 3 hours, I’d stick with the full marathon. Needless to say, there was a lot riding on the outcome of this race.

 

I started off at 4PM with the sun still shining and a little bit of wind. As we made our way through Dallas’s Design District and along the Trinity Trails, I just tried my best to be mindful: focus on my breathing, pay attention to what was around me, and simply concentrate on the current mile. All seemed to be right with the world when a sudden shot of foot pain around mile 5 or 6 slowed me down to walking. But, after a little bit of walking, the pain subsided, and it was back to the work at hand. Before I knew it, I’d settled in to a steady game of leap frog with the 2:30–that’s 2 hours and 30 minutes–pacers!  (NOTE: pacers are runners in a half or full marathon designated to run a specific time. They usually carry signs announcing their pace and/or wear some sort of shirt or uniform to mark them as pacers. They exist to help runners keep track of hour their pacing and estimated finish time.) I even managed to catch up with the 2:25 pacers and thought I just might be able to hit a new PR, but another round of foot pain hit, and it was back to leap frogging with the 2:30 pacers.

(Post race with my finisher’s medal and part of the Dallas skyline.)

In the end, I didn’t set a new PR. BUT, even after a few more rounds of foot pain that slowed me down to walking, I still managed to finish with a chip time of 2:35:13! This race was a moment I needed to see that all the mileage (as sucky as many of the long runs may have been) and all the strength training has left me more than ready to not only finish the Dallas marathon, next month, but to finish well! It was one of those rare runs where everything else fades away, and I’m reminded of all the reasons I love running in the first place. Like the stripe I’d earned in the morning, it was validation of moving in the right direction, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the day.

Why Am I Doing This, Again?

Dallas isn’t my first marathon. That honor goes to the Walt Disney World Marathon of 2016. It’s not even my first time to attempt to run Dallas. The first time I tried to run Dallas as a full marathon was December of 2016. Having run Disney in January of that year, I figured a second marathon to finish the year wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. (Besides, I’ve always been a fan of long races in November – March because they help ensure I keep running through the holiday stress and holiday eating.) It didn’t go well that year: between calf cramps and other setbacks, I ended up making it to mile 15 before I had to throw in the towel. And that’s how I notched the first DNF (did not finish) of my running life.

 

That DNF has bugged me. It still bugs me. So, this go around is about “setting the record straight.” I’m not that worried about how long it takes me to get to the finish line (although, if a miracle happens and I manage to qualify for Boston, I won’t object 😉). I’m just more concerned that I complete the entire course, this time. This is really about me proving to myself that I’ve done this before and that I can do it, again.

 

Every part of me wants to panic…mostly because that’s what I tend to do with less that 5 weeks to race day. And, yes, part of me has actually considered dropping down to the half marathon, instead. But–barring illness or injury–I’m still planning on running the full. All signs point to 26.2…again.

5 Weeks to Race Day…

…and it’s hard not to panic. Most of my training runs have left me feeling like finishing this marathon is doable…at least the training runs under 13 miles leave me feeling that way. Anything longer than that has been ugly, brutal, and slow. Painfully slow. In fact, those long runs have been slow enough that I honestly have to consider whether it wouldn’t be better to drop from the full marathon down to the half marathon.

 

I’ve still got some time to decide one way or the other. Would I rather be running and finishing the full? Hell yes. But, if the writing on the wall says I’m not going to be able to finish the full marathon, methinks it’d be better to scale back and accomplish what I can by running the half marathon.

A Sign You’re a Runner

Scene: me walking to my desk on Thursday morning.

Me: “Good morning, Ms. M—”

Ms M—: Good morning. Did you go run this morning?

Me: No. I’m just going to wait until after work.

Ms. M—: I can see it all over your face [that you didn’t run this morning].

Moral of the Story: if your co-workers can tell you didn’t run in the morning, you might be a runner.

So Far, So Good

I’m coming up on the halfway point of training. In other words, I’ve got about 8 more weeks until the Dallas Marathon. And so far, aside from a ridiculous amount of rain, training has been mostly uneventful: just the usual 6 days of training around a full-time job, marriage, etc. And yet, I must admit that this round of training has actually felt easier than training for Rock N Roll Dublin.

 

I realize “easier” is a wildly relative term when we’re talking about marathon training, so let me explain. My goal for Dublin was to try and set a new PR. This time, however, my only goal is to finish—no time goal; just get across the finish line upright and in my own power. When I ran Dallas in 2016, I didn’t finish; I made it to mile 15 before I had to throw in the towel…and it’s bugged me ever since.

 

So, this time, around, my only goal for this race is to set the record straight and cover all 26.2 miles of the course. I don’t care if it takes me 6 hours or if I end up qualifying for Boston (it’s a long shot, but a girl can dream, right? 😉). And because that’s the only goal—finish well—this round of training feels vastly different even as it involves considerably more time and mileage. Running to finish has taken an enormous amount of weight off my shoulders. It’s granted me a clarity about my own abilities as a runner that I didn’t quite have the last time around.

 

Maybe I should forego the time goals more often.

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