Mommy Wants a Timeout

In which I contemplate absurd moments in parenthood, occasionally attempt to refer to myself as a “triathlete” while keeping a straight face, and maybe post some random pictures of stuff I’m knitting

Archive for the tag “half-marathon”

Snow Days

9 days before my upcoming half-marathon, the Portland area got hit with a rare winter storm, which sent the city into its typical winter-weather hysteria. (Snowmagedden! Arctic Blast 2014! Snowpocalypse!)

Aside from some closure-related inconveniences (I missed getting the alert that the kiddo’s school was closing early on Thursday, and happened to be in the dentist’s chair when my husband called to inform me) and a swing shift at the hospital (luckily most people heeded the warning to stay off the road, so the drive wasn’t as harrowing as the subsequent 8 hours in an understaffed ICU), I was able to spend most of the long weekend at home.

My neighborhood picked up around 8 inches of beautiful, powdery snow, much to my son’s delight:

Creating a full-size snowman seemed like too much effort, so we settled for elf-size.

Creating a full-size snowman seemed like too much effort, so we settled for elf-size.

It was fun to see all the kids on our street with their sleds and toboggans sliding down the hill in front of our house. I’m not sure I remember a day when so many neighbors were out visiting with each other; snow (and days off from work) must be a universal catalyst for socializing.

My half-marathon training plan called for a 6-miler this weekend. Unfortunately, the gym was closed due to the weather (which I’m almost grateful for; I did a tempo run on the treadmill Thursday, which reminded me why I run outdoors in just about any weather!) so I decided to brave the snowy roads and trails.

Here’s a view of where I began, a paved trail I do at least a portion of nearly every run on:

Somewhere under there is a trail...

Somewhere under there is a trail…

The snow was powdery and mostly packed, but the footing was uneven and a little slippery. I slowed my pace quite a bit, and it felt sort of like running on a rough trail. By a couple miles in, I was pretty fatigued mentally, and very concerned about straining a muscle or twisting an ankle before my race next Sunday, so I turned around and headed home for a total of about 4.5 miles…Good enough, I decided, and my legs should be nice and fresh next weekend! Again, it was fun to see all the people out enjoying the scenery, some of them on cross-country skis

Fast-forward a few days: the weather turned almost balmy, and the rain started pouring down.

R.I.P., little snow elf.

R.I.P., little snow elf.

I made it outdoors for the last run before my race, a short tempo run which felt GREAT! The snow was a fun interlude, but it was nice to be back out in the normal Oregon winter drizzle.

The weather forecast for the coming weekend calls for heavy rain and wind…I’ll be hoping for a break between about 8 and 10 Sunday morning, but even if I don’t get one, at least I won’t be running in a Snowpocalypse!

(Fast forward another week…MAN, I have a hard time finishing blog posts! At least I don’t have the same problem with racing. My half is done, I nailed my goal pace, and I can finally walk down the stairs without cringing. A race report to follow…if I ever get around to it!)


Back in the Saddle, Again…

Ahhh, that was a nice, long rest, wasn’t it? I feel refreshed, energized, motivated…to blog again, that is. Sorry for the long delay…Since my Oly tri in September, life has been full: family, projects around the house, and yes, goal-setting and training for the next race.

I’m the Parent of a Kindergartener!

Hard to believe it, but the kiddo turned 6 in November. He’s happily attending a kindergarten a full half-hour away from our house. The long commute creates the perfect opportunity for him to pepper me with relentless questions like these:

1. How long until our sun turns into a supernova?

2. How much cheese can you eat before you have a heart attack?

3. Is a baby shower like a meteor shower, with babies falling from the sky? (I’m pretty sure he was joking with this one…At least I hope he was!)

All pretty reasonable questions, though none quite as wonderful as the one he asked me a year or two ago: “Mommy, what do the actors do when we press ‘pause’ on the remote control?” I laugh every time I envision a crew of tiny people inside our TV standing around waiting for my son to press “play” again.

Trying to find answers must count as some kind of training for my brain. I swear I’ve done speedwork on the track lately that was less exhausting than a 20-minute conversation with my son! Still, I’m loving this stage of his childhood, where his creativity and curiosity are expanding so quickly, but his little body still fits perfectly next to mine when he crawls into bed for a snuggle on Saturday morning.

I’m Training for a Half-Marathon!

After my Oly tri in September, I vowed to take a couple weeks off from training. I lasted 5 days before going out for a run. I waited a little longer before setting some new goals, then decided it’s time to jump back on the horse that threw me. My summer of training left me feeling stronger than I ever have, so I hunted out a training plan in which I run only 3 days a week, so I can continue to swim and bike at least once a week. It’s not an easy plan, though; I set a goal pace for my HM, and the plan calls for tempo runs, speedwork, and a long run all at prescribed paces to help me achieve that goal. There are no “easy run” days or junk miles, but I’m actually pretty happy with that. It’s nice to set out with a purpose for every workout, and so far I’ve been able to meet or exceed my goal pace with every one (although last week’s 6-mile tempo run nearly made me cry.)

I’m just hoping my body’s revolving display of nagging aches and pains (Left foot! Right knee! Left hip! Upper back!) doesn’t progress to anything steady and debilitating. With a little luck, February 16th will find me CRUSHING my half-marathon PR and nailing my goal pace! Either way, I’m feeling pretty good about the way I’m running right now.

(Disappears for 3 weeks, continues to train for her race and be a mommy, then remembers she has a blog again…)

And, here I am again. Today was the last run of the peak week of training for my HM. I’m proud to say I met or beat the prescribed pace for every tempo run, track workout, and long run I’ve done. I had weekly mileage totals that were way higher than I’ve ever had in the past, and all on 3 days a week of running! I cross-trained on the bike and in the pool, too, which was a nice break from the long run workouts.

At this point, I don’t even really feel that much pressure to nail my goal pace for the half. I’ll run hard if I feel like it, or back off if it feels like too much. The real victory I’m celebrating is having the self-discipline to push myself through mile repeats on tired legs, or an 8-mile tempo run when my stomach was cramping…or just getting myself out the door for a long run on a cold day when I could have stayed in my warm house.

So send me some happy thoughts on February 16th, if you think about it, but rest assured that I will be having fun no matter what. After all, the hardest part of my race is already finished.

I am an ATHLETE!!! (Just don’t ask me to climb a flight of stairs.)

Ouch…That’s about all I have to say right now.

Ha, ha…Just kidding. This is my blog, and my race report, so I definitely have a few things to say. But now that I am a half-marathon finisher survivor, the biggest thing on my mind is, “Wow. I hurt a lot more the day after than I thought I would.”

If you read my earlier angst-filled post, you already heard me whine about my injured foot, and knew that it was no sure thing I would run Sunday. But dammit, I paid the entry fee, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s the idea of paying for a race and then denying myself the pain and suffering of participating.

So before the crack of dawn Sunday morning, I strapped on my motion-control shoes, ate a bowl of oatmeal, and headed to downtown Portland for the Heartbreaker Half. It was a brisk 34 degrees outside, but luckily I had many blocks to walk from where I had to park the car to get myself warmed up. And I managed to time things just about right…Enough time to get through the porta-potty line and line up for my race without too many extra minutes to freeze and/or freak myself out.

Not that it mattered…A combination of nerves and the Gatorade I slurped down as I left my car gave me a horribly queasy stomach for the first 5 or 6 miles of the race. But I kept my breakfast down, and kept telling myself the nausea would pass eventually, and on the bright side, my foot didn’t hurt yet! But although they were flat and unchallenging, those first miles were the worst part of the race for me.

Just before mile 6, the course started climbing up hill, eventually getting pretty steep. I learned later that the course climbs about 500 feet betweeen miles 6 and 10. (Glad I didn’t know that ahead of time!) Ironically, this was when I started relaxing a little and chatting with the other runners. Misery loves company, right? Something about running hard and still only achieving an 11:30 mile just makes you comfortable striking up a conversation/complaint with a stranger. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, I know I’m not fast, so I might as well be a cheerleader for others!

After this grueling uphill section, we ended up running on a bike path bordering a beautiful wooded park…Still pretty hilly, but with enough twists and turns you couldn’t really see what was coming next. All the better, in my opinion. My legs were getting pretty tired, but I’d only felt a few twinges in my foot, (Seriously, my Brooks shoes are like a walking cast!) so I was beginning to feel like I might actually be able to finish this thing. And the nausea was gone by now, so I was able to eat an energy chew every couple miles, which kept me from burning out altogether. Interestingly, throughout this section of the race, I traded leads several times with a racewalker who was maintaining a pace that was so steady I could have set my watch by it. Yep, I’m not even ashamed to say it… I was averaging about the same speed as a walker. But hey, what normal person walks at and 11-min. mile? She really was amazing, and I told her so.

Eventually we left the park and began to head downhill, back to the city center and the finish line. With around 3 miles to go, I was now pretty sure I would be able to finish, and man, I couldn’t finish soon enough. I picked up the pace, finally said “see ya” for good to my race-walking buddy, and did my best to ignore my rubbery legs and twinging ankle.

In the last couple miles, I mentioned to another runner that this was my first half-marathon…She congratulated me, then pulled ahead…But just as we passed the 12-mile mark, she turned, jogged back towards me, and said, “Sometimes the last mile is the hardest.” “You want to keep me company?” I asked, and we ran the last mile together, sharing her stories about running all over the world, and mine about being a beginner triathlete. The last mile flew by, (at least in part because I ran it about 2 minutes faster than my average for the previous 12!) and pretty soon we were coming up on the finish. Sharon, my new friend, told me she was going to back off so I could have the finish to myself, and I made it across the line in 2:23:39…21 seconds faster than my projected time.

Finishing was awesome, the strawberry shortcake they served was awesome, I’m told that they announced my name when I crossed the finish line, which would have been awesome if I’d been paying attention…The only part that wasn’t so awesome was not seeing my husband and son cheering for me at the finish. Apparently DH got mixed up and ended up along the 10K course finish, which came in from the other direction. Poor guy had been waiting there for half an hour with camera at the ready. If he hadn’t heard my name over the loudspeaker, he might never have realized his mistake! So no finish line photos, but that’s just fine.

As for the recovery, my muscles were so sore the next day that walking down stairs was nearly impossible. Tensing my quadriceps sent waves of pain throughout me. And I was reduced to waddling around the house in the posture of a geriatric duck. Oh, and my foot hurts too. Time for a few days off from running, I guess. And maybe a trip to the podiatrist.

So I can check it off my list: half-marathon, complete. Building an endurance base to help me through an Olympic distance triathlon: complete. Plans for another half-marathon? Not anytime soon, that’s for sure!

Angst, Angst, and More Angst

My foot hurts. Really hurts…Not in the “I’ve been spending a little too much time on my feet” kind of way, but more like “Oh, this is how Julie Dibens must have felt when she dropped out of the run leg at Ironman Kona.” It aches all along the outside, a little bit on top in front of my ankle, and when I flex it (as when walking.)

This is a problem. You see, I have now completed three months of half marathon training, and my race is scheduled for Sunday. 10 and 12 mile long training runs? Check. 6 mile tempo runs? Nailed them! Everything should be in order to complete my first 13.1 in a few short days, and then BOOM! I put on my cute but poorly-fitted and completely unsupportive (but did I mention, very cute?) black boots after my 9-miler on Sunday, then strolled around the grocery store. All of a sudden, the mild, nagging ache that’s been barely noticeable for 6 weeks flared up into a pain so bad I was limping my way back out to the parking lot. Oh, vanity, you will be the death of me.

Three days and multiple icings later, (“You’re not going to make me eat those frozen peas later, are you?” asks the husband), the foot feels a tiny bit better, but still moans and groans if I walk around barefoot for too long. On the plus side, it seems to do okay if I’m laced into very supportive footwear. (My vanity is really suffering right now.) On the minus side…Well, 13.1 miles seemed like a really long distance when my body felt pretty good overall. Now that I’m injured, I really don’t know what to think.

So what do I do? Do I give it a shot on Sunday, and bail if it hurts too much? Do I skip it altogether, and forfeit my entry fee? So disappointing to even think about that, after all the work I’ve put in…I was really, REALLY hoping to check this off my list before triathlon season starts. As of now, my plan is 3 days of total rest (well, I’m going to swim, but I don’t think that counts), then an easy run on Thursday to test it out. If the foot holds up inside my super-stability running shoe, then I think I’ll cross my fingers and go for it. If it hurts too much…Well, I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, I guess.

In the meantime, the adorable black boots are in time-out indefinitely. As are the ballet flats and anything with high heels…And this is almost as sad to me as the thought of missing out on my race. (Okay, not really, but I do love my shoes.) Stay tuned to find out whether I run the half or not, and whether I end up back on speaking terms with my boots. Also, feel free to chime in with any injury-recovery advice!

Be nice to your feet...Or they will rebel and make you miserable.

Photo credit:

On relaxing…(or at least, trying to!)

Type A. Anxiety-prone. OCD. Rigid. Afraid of change. All of these are terms I’ve either used to describe myself, or have been described as by my (long-suffering) husband. For this reason I spent the first few months of my son’s life in a near-panic state. (Don’t turn the TV on while you’re holding him! You’ll give him ADHD! And make sure you talk to him while you’re changing his diaper, so his language skills develop properly!) It’s also why I started training for my first sprint triathlon over a year in advance…You can’t be too prepared, right?


It seems kind of funny to me now…Did I really think my son’s emotional and cognitive development was so fragile that I had to do everything just as the experts recommended, every moment of every day, or risk turning him into a juvenile delinquent? And did I really need to read, plan, schedule, and train with that much dedication in order to cross the finish line in a race that only lasted an hour and a half?

Yeah, probably not. My son seems to be turning out just fine, except for a few little personality quirks, like stubbornness, that I take no credit for. And all my races last summer turned out far easier (and more fun) than I expected. So I’m feeling lots more relaxed about my parenting skills, and pretty chill about the triathlon stuff, too.

Oh, but now my goals are getting loftier…I have, in fact, emphatically stated before that I would never do anything with “marathon” in the title, and here I am preparing for a half-marathon in just one short month. And true to form, I’m convinced that my ability to complete the race is contingent on me being able to adhere strictly to an expert-approved training plan. My biggest concern when I was hit with the mother of all GI bugs a few weeks ago: How was I going to make up for the runs I missed? And today’s snowstorm, rare for Portland, got me worried about what I was going to do if weather threatened to get in between me and my upcoming long runs of 10 to 12 miles.

So I’m telling myself, just chill. Missing a couple runs isn’t going to make or break me on race day. If the weather’s bad on the day I planned a long run, it won’t ruin my training to postpone it for a couple days. Hear that, inner voice of panic? It’s your inner voice of reason talking: everything’s going to be okay. You’re going to do just fine. No worries here.

Now excuse me…I just need to do some stretching, go over my prerace checklist, make sure the items I need to pack are listed alphabetically and cross-referenced by color, and create a driving route with a contingency plan in case of any Sunday-morning race-day traffic. I’ve only got a month, people, so I’ve got to get started!

If only I could be as chill as this guy...

Monsoon Running

Oh, nothing, just finished running 8 miles, whatever, no big deal. Except…

1. That’s the furthest I’ve ever run. Ever.
2. According to Weather Underground, there is currently an area flood advisory, wind advisory, and Special Weather Statement regarding heavy rains and urban flooding in effect.
3. Within 10 minutes of leaving my house, my clothes were soaked through, and weighed at least quadruple their dry weight.

Coming back on the trail through the park, just over a mile from home, I found that the creek had overflowed the wooden bridge. Undeterred, I climbed up on the 4×4 guardrail and walked across like a gymnast on a balance beam, only to find that a raging torrent had swallowed up the trail on the other side. Backtracking, I cut through the park to a nearby neighborhood and stepped into an ankle-deep mud puddle. Great feeling…I got to listen to my left shoe squelch all the way home.

I felt a little crazy running in the wild weather (at first I was sort of giddy-crazy, like a kid on a snow day, then later, more of a “what-the-hell-was-I-thinking” crazy) but I wasn’t the craziest person out there. Running through the country club I saw two guys golfing. No kidding…golfing! On a day like today! I was out there because I want to run a half-marathon in a few months. What was these guys’ excuse?

Oh, and as to the half-marathon. I’m thinking about the Heartbreaker Half in downtown Portland, February 19th. I’m a little worried, because I’m not sure what the Heartbreaker is supposed to be…Me, cuz I’m so sexy in my winter running gear? (Cap with brim, check…Headband to cover ears, worn over cap with brim, check…Batman-like belt with cell phone, keys, water bottle, iPod, gloves, check…Who could resist?) Or maybe the heartbreaker is the hill up Naito to Barbur Blvd. and Terwilliger? I guess I’ll find out. In any case, today’s monsoon run makes me feel prepared for whatever inclement weather February might send my way.

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