I should have stayed in bed

I woke up with a hacking cough about two hours before my alarm: bad omen

A deer nearly ran out in front of me as I drove out to Rogue, but changed its mind: good omen

I snagged the best parking space at Rogue: good omen

Two out of three looks pretty good, huh? Except not. The deer could have been a bad omen just by virtue of its presence near the road as I was driving at 50mph. And getting the good parking space maybe meant I wouldn’t be able to walk really far after my run.

Nothing like seeing the glass half-empty, huh?

I was supposed to run 12 miles today, but really, the deck was stacked against me from the start. After Thursday’s five-mile Turkey Trot, I went to the Texas – Texas Tech football game. It was in the low 40s by the end of the game–a temperature Texans really aren’t accustomed to. Screaming for hours in the cold didn’t do great things for my asthmatic lungs, and on Friday I developed the same cough B had on Thanksgiving.

So when I woke up this morning–two hours early–and was coughing up a lung or two, I really should have just taken it as a sign and gone back to sleep. But alas, the schedule called for 12 miles, so 12 miles I would attempt. K called that dedicated. In hindsight, I think idiotic is a better word.

Today’s course was the 10-mile route through Brushy Creek Park, with a two-mile detour loop after exiting the park, before turning for home. I figured I’d shoot for 12 but bail on that detour if I needed to. As it turns out, even that was optimistic.

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Hello Mr. Scorpion at Brushy Creek Park. I think you’re dead, so technically I’m having a better day than you are. Just barely.

I’m not going to relive every painful, miserable mile here. Let’s just say it was unpleasant from the start, and I walked a lot. My legs ached and felt heavy. The cold wind burned my throat and lungs. I breathed through my towel now and then, trying to get warm air to loosen up my airways, but it was a temporary fix at best. I’d worn only a short-sleeved shirt, thinking I’d warm up quickly in the 50-degree morning, but it turns out I wasn’t moving quickly enough for that. My hands hurt from the cold.

I turned around at the five-mile mark, and the whole way back I debated with myself about whether to turn right and go another two miles, or turn left and head back. I almost convinced myself that because I’d walked so much, I needed to do the extra leg to compensate. But as I came out of the park, I looked toward the detour street–it just looked so far away. I turned left.

I’m angry with myself for wimping out. But I hurt inside and out, and I finally decided it wasn’t worth it for two extra miles. Next week’s schedule calls for another 12 miles, and I’ll try again.

After a shower, coffee, and leftover turkey, I no longer feel like crying. But I am parking myself on my butt under my quilt to watch college football all day. Maybe I can shake this off with some rest.

Because…  did I mention we’re running a 5K tomorrow? A few weeks ago we signed up for the Jingle Bell 5K since we’ve run it the last couple of years. But it didn’t occur to me that December 1st is actually the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend! So yesterday I drove downtown and picked up race stuff for our second race in four days. Brilliant.

How do you rebound from a miserable run?

Ever done multiple races over a couple of days?

Can anyone make me stop coughing??

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Turkey Trot (or The Third Time’s the Charm)

I first ran this race in 2011, and the disaster that was Mile Three pushed me to visit an orthopedist the following week for my hip pain. Last year, Thanksgiving was barely 10 days after I ran my first half-marathon, and I was still sort of in recovery mode and hadn’t run much. This year, I’m in the middle of half-marathon training and I’ve seen my pace (and race results) improve pretty steadily. Still, we registered for the untimed race, figuring we’d just have fun as a family. You know, and earn the right to eat a huge Thanksgiving meal later. 😉

I’d convinced my dad to run with us–he’s just gotten back into running–and we met up with him about 30 minutes before the start. Our rendezvous location was the corner of Riverside and South First, at the giant hole in the ground where Run-Tex used to be. The temperature was in the high 30s, and it was funny to watch people and the huge variety of clothing choices they’d made. Some people wore parkas; others were in just shorts and t-shirts. I went with my cold-weather tights and a pullover, plus gloves. I tend to overdress when it’s cold like this, so I had to force myself to counteract that and wear just the one shirt. It was a little cold waiting for the start, but not uncomfortably so.

Several times, the announcer reminded us that this is a five-miler, not a 5K. I’m guessing some folks learned that the hard way in past years? Yikes. Then someone sang the national anthem, but about halfway through the speaker system died. The crowd picked up the song and finished it, which I thought was a cool moment. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure the same thing happened at this race last year too.

And then it was time to run!

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Annnd, go!

I crossed the starting line and made the little dogleg across First Street onto Lavaca.  I nearly ran into two people who were already walking–why they started at the front, I have no idea. Argh! But when I looked back to find the guys, I couldn’t see them. They’d been swallowed up by the crowd. M and B were both wearing bright orange jackets, so I should have been able to spot them. But they were just gone.

I ran up Lavaca figuring they’d catch me somewhere that first half-mile or so. I passed the crazy guy yelling about Jesus (he’s always there) and spotted a friend from work cheering on the sidewalk. I reached the first mile marker, still by myself. I had no headphones because I’d planned to run with the family, but now I found myself running my own race. So I decided to make the best of it and see what my training has done for me.

At 15th Street, the course turns left and heads up a mile of hills–two downhill segments and three uphill ones. Usually I wimp out on this hill (it’s part of the Capitol 10K route too) but this year I was determined to run it. This section presents multiple challenges aside from the hills–it’s the second mile of the race, so those who started out too fast tend to slow here, running out of steam. Those with strollers are trying to make it without losing momentum. People stop suddenly, either for a walk break or to take pictures (or, in one case, to answer the phone: “Yeah, I’m at the part where 15th meets Enfield. Where are you?”) or swerve randomly. Then there are the people walking four or five wide, completely blocking the street.

By now I’d warmed up, and I took off my gloves, looping them around my spi belt. At the top of the hill, I slowed briefly for a water stop, then kept going. Halfway! I still had to run a couple of highway ramps, plus some stealth hills that last mile, but I was  happy to have the big hill behind me now.

I’m pretty sure the Mile Three marker was misplaced. My Garmin said 2.75 when I reached it, and while it’s never dead-on (and I’d done a fair bit of weaving around slower people) I didn’t think it was a quarter-mile off. But whatever–that information didn’t change much for me. However, the woman who said, “Well, it’s been three miles. Where’s the finish?” must not have heard that it’s a five-mile race, not a 5K. Surprise!

I skipped the last water stop, passed the Mile Four marker, and cruised up the last little incline toward the bridge. I was running in the middle of a big crowd, not something I’m used to at the end of a race. I felt pretty good, and as I crossed the bridge I tried to speed up, finish strong. But the road narrowed here, and I got stuck behind some slower people. One guy’s dog almost took me out, veering into my legs and bumping me.

I made the final turn and tried to speed up a little more. I could see a crowd of people backed up at the finish line. Last year, the race photographer got a great picture of the three of us crossing, holding hands. This year, I finished in a huge pack of people. I actually had to stop about two feet short of the final timing mat (which would have made me mad had I been running the timed race!) because of the log jam. But I finally got through, grabbed a water and some cookies, and found a place along the fence to watch the finishers.

I'm not used to finishing before my race companions!

I’m not used to finishing before my race companions!

About 20 minutes later, I saw B and cheered him on. I picked up my stuff and went to meet him–M and my dad were not with him (by the time I got over there, all three of them were walking together out of the finishers’ area), so I wanted to find him in that crowd. He had not been feeling well–he’d gone to bed early and when he woke up, he said he felt okay but not great. I know he didn’t really want to run this race, but he did it and I’m proud of him.

I really didn’t mean to leave the guys behind–I fully expected we’d run together. And I know it’s generally accepted by other runners that if you’re feeling it, it’s okay to take off and make it the best race you can. I am really pleased with my performance, but still, I feel a little guilty.

One thing’s for certain, though. My training–those Tuesday evenings running hill repeats and intervals and track circuits–is paying off. This year, I conquered those hills and still managed the same average pace, over five miles, that I ran for my 5K PR back in September.

What a difference two years makes.

Have you ever gotten separated from your race partners, inadvertently or because one of you was feeling better than the other?

I tend to overdress when it’s below 40*. What race-day mistake do you make?

Negative Ghostrider, the pattern is full

My neighborhood has no sidewalks, and only the streets near the front even have curbs. The main through street narrows as it winds toward the back section, where I live, and the curbs disappear. Quite a few drivers use this road as a cut-through, trying to avoid increasingly awful traffic in our area. Most of them drive too fast and ignore the two stop signs (I almost got hit by an SUV running one of the stop signs last year), so most of my three-mile loop skirts this section, although I can’t avoid about a quarter-mile of it.

I start on my own street where the houses are spread out on half-acre or larger lots, run around to the front where the houses are closer together and a lot of cars park on the streets, then come back down that main road until it intersects my street again and I make the turn for home. I always run facing traffic and wear clothing that makes me visible. But the streets are all relatively narrow and every so often, drivers either intentionally or carelessly buzz me like they’re Maverick in Top Gun.

(Did you enjoy the Spanish subtitles? “¡Grandes bolas de fuego!”)

My street doesn’t get a lot of random traffic–it’s a loop around the back, and in general people who drive on that portion are people who live here. Most of them wave and give me a lot of space. But sometimes, it’s clear the drivers aren’t looking past the hood ornaments on their own vehicles. Despite the fact that this stretch has about a quarter-mile of visibility, often I see drivers swerving away from me at the last second like I surprised them. One woman in a minivan actually veered closer to me as she approached. I don’t know if she was aiming for me or perhaps looking at her phone instead, but it was pretty unnerving.

The bigger problem is on that through street. A lot of those drivers don’t live here and are just cutting from one major road to another, heedless of residents, speed limits, foot traffic, and small mammals. The street is relatively narrow, with no curb–just an asphalt drop-off from years of repavings, then uneven grass. Not lush lawns–half-acre low-maintenance front yards pitted with holes, weeds, and broken chunks of the street itself. I try to stay on the street whenever I can–turning an ankle is a very real possibility on this terrain.

I understand that sometimes cars are coming from each direction and must stay on their own sides of the road to pass safely. I’m quick to hop off the road when that’s the case. But fairly often, it’s just one vehicle headed straight for me, not giving up an inch of pavement even when it’s safe to do so. I try to time it so I can step onto a driveway while a car approaches, but it’s not always possible. Once, a truck passed so close to me on the little bridge (I had nowhere to go) he almost clipped my elbow with his side mirror. Today a guy in a big pickup didn’t quite get that close, but I certainly uttered similar words to that guy with the coffee in the Top Gun tower.

I wonder about people who drive like this. Do they not see me? Are they on their phones or otherwise distracted? Is it that unusual to see someone propelling herself on foot? Or are they trying to teach me a lesson? I don’t get it. It’s 35* and I’m out there busting my ass. Is something wrong with that? So much that a guy in a big truck has to prove something to me? It was funny when Maverick did it in an F14 at a naval base, but on the street, a 5’2″ woman vs truck? I’m with Goose. “No, no Mav, this is not a good idea.”

Have you had close calls with vehicles?

What strategies do you use to stay safe while running on the street?

Sunshine on a rainy day

Last year, and again recently, my blog was nominated for a Liebster Award. This week my little corner of the internet also received a Sunshine Award. I am honored by these recognitions from fellow bloggers–it means a lot to me that others are reading my blog and find something worthwhile from my words. Thank you!

The two awards are similar in that bloggers nominate other bloggers, answer some questions, and then pass the award to spread the love. So I hope y’all don’t mind if I combine the two nominations into one post here.

liebster sunshineFirst, the Liebster questions from The Improbable Runner:

1) As a teenager, what was your most shameful celebrity crush?

I was a teen in the 1980s, so I had many big-haired, neon-clad celebrity options. I knew girls totally obsessed with Duran Duran, but I wasn’t a big D2 groupie. I really don’t remember major celebrity obsessions, but guys who were popular at the time–Tom Cruise, Kirk Cameron–have become sort of odd these days. That’s as close as I think I’m gonna get on this question. 😉

2) Pies, sweet or savoury?

Sweet. Always sweet.

3) Free healthcare, yes or no?

I don’t have free healthcare, but I think it’s something we should have as a national priority.

4) How many pairs of trainers do you own?

I own many–once I retire them from training, I wear them in casual situations. I probably have six? But current training shoes, two.

5) What is the drunkest you’ve ever been?

No clue. It would have been a looooong time ago.

6) What is the most gadgety piece of sports equipment you own?

My Garmin, probably.  It’s a Forerunner 405cx that I’ve had for a year and a half. I’m coveting the new 220 though.

7) Your favourite music album

In high school, it would have definitely been Def Leppard’s Hysteria or Van Halen’s 5150. I hated most ’90s music and didn’t buy much of it. Since the advent of mp3s, I hardly ever buy complete albums anymore.

8) Movie currently in your dvd player/last watched

I watch some stuff on Netflix–Mythbusters is the most recent thing I watched–but I don’t remember the last movie.

9) Have you had any tweets from celebs? If so who?

Nope. I had a Twitter account a couple of years ago but got bored with it and deleted it.

10) cat or dog person?

I have two cats and a dog, so yes. 😉

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And now, the questions from Striding Towards Life:

1.) How long have you been blogging, and what inspired you to begin?

I started last summer (2012) right after I began training for my first half marathon. I read a hilarious book called The Nonrunner’s Marathon Guide for Women: Get off Your Butt and Get on with Your Life by Dawn Dais, and I decided to start a blog to chronicle the good, the bad, and the ugly of a newbie’s training.

2.) Read the book, or see the movie – if you get a choice, which comes first?

Read the book, every time.

3.) What have you already crossed off your “bucket list”?

Run the Army Ten-Miler. Fly in a hot air balloon. Visit Europe and Hawaii. Those are the big ones jumping to mind right now.

4.) Coffee, tea, or caffeine-free?

Coffee every morning, iced tea with dinner. Hey, it’s Texas. Iced tea is our state drink.

5.) What song on your playlist are you most likely to put on “repeat”?

Something by Maroon 5–“Love Somebody” is a favorite. And Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

6.) What was your first paycheck job, and how long did you work there?

My mom worked for a small weekly newspaper, and in the summers I worked in the office. One year they let me do a photo shoot and write a couple of articles. I took a spectacular picture of a smoke ring billowing out of a warehouse fire, and the issue that photo ran in received multiple awards, including one for photography. I was 14.

7.) Ever drive a motorcycle? Would you?

Yes. My husband has had dirt bikes and street bikes as long as I can remember. I can’t ride a street bike because I’m too short–my feet don’t touch the ground. But I can ride a dirt bike.

8.) Early bird or night owl?

How’s mid-morning for you? I get up early because I have to, but I don’t like it. If left to my own devices, I’d stay up until around midnight and sleep until 8.

9.) What movie have you seen the most times, and how many?

Probably something from high school. There was a time I could recite most of the dialogue from Sixteen Candles and Top Gun, but since college I haven’t had time to see many movies once, let alone multiple times.

10.) Name a food you could eat every day, if cost or calories were no object.

Enchiladas del Mar from El Arroyo.

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And now, my nominations–in no particular order:

Maybe Marathoner

Eat Pray Run D.C.

Welcome to the Nuthouse

You Signed Up for What?!

Pink Elephant on Parade

Super Generic Girl

On the Lam(b)

Run Away With Me

I enjoy each of these blogs for different reasons. And I’ve been fortunate to meet a couple of these bloggers in person!

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And here are your questions!

  1. Do you consider yourself a runner? An athlete?
  2. Cold weather or warm weather?
  3. What are you training for right now, if anything?
  4. Do you have a bucket list race?
  5. Do  you like to travel? What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been?
  6. It’s three in the afternoon and you’re craving a snack. What do you grab?
  7. Do you live in the city, suburb, or rural area?
  8. What’s your favorite thing about where you live?
  9. Big university, small college, something in-between, none of the above?
  10. Do you speak more than one language? What language?

Like how I asked follow-up questions? I’m wordy like that. 😉

Even the seat warmers couldn’t help me today

I thought getting out of bed would be the toughest part of my run. But I was wrong.

An Arctic Blast! blew in yesterday, bringing rain and temperatures in the 30s. One of the local news stations even made an infographic for it, so you know it was serious.

It rained on and off all night, and it was 34 degrees when I got up this morning. But I didn’t hear any rain, so I got up, dug out my cold-weather gear, and drove out to Rogue. A little drizzle hit my windshield as I got closer, but it didn’t look too bad.

Hat, ear warmers, gloves, jacket, podcasts (today’s was the Stuff You Should Know episode on JFK’s assassination) chapstick, and my phone in a ziplock just in case. And I was off.

The first 100 yards out the door was a shock, and I thought, “Why the hell am I doing this?” My eyes started watering from the wind. But I managed to acclimate or suck it up or something, because the next two miles or so weren’t that bad. Cold, but not torture. At the top of the hill by the high school, I passed a returning Rogue, and she commented on the brutality of the wind. It was at my back, so I wasn’t feeling it the way she was, but I knew that was my future.

My schedule only called for five miles, and as I made the turnaround I was really grateful I wasn’t running more than that–I’d seen some runners on my street this morning, so I knew some Rogues were going loooooong this morning. My legs were numb, my feet were cold, it had started to drizzle, and I knew I’d be running back into that headwind. But I kept telling myself that the work I put in now will pay off in January.

Normally I take it easy on that return hill, but not today. It’s not a steep hill, just long and gradual. And today it also included that wicked wind in my face, which pretty much stuck with me the rest of the way back. I powered up that sucker to get done faster! Then the last mile, Mother Nature added another degree of difficulty: rain. My jacket repelled the worst of it, but my shoes, pants, and the part of my shirt hanging below my jacket got doused. My ponytail dripped rainwater. Fortunately my headphones were under my ear warmer which was under my hat, so they were protected enough. I was glad I’d put my phone in a ziplock!

When I got back to Rogue, a beautiful sight awaited me:

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Because this is what it looked like outside:

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I enjoyed my hot chocolate, then headed out to meet the guys for pancakes–Whataburger was hosting a Bikes for Kids fundraiser, and who doesn’t want hot pancakes after running five freezing miles?

I got in my car and fired up the seat warmers. But even after driving the eight-ish miles to the Whataburger, my legs still hadn’t defrosted. I guess there are limits to those things after all.

Bad day

Yeah, that sort of covers my day.

I got up early to run ten miles, but by mile two I knew it was gonna be a struggle. My quads were sore from the week’s training (core class, hilly training run, and a couple of shorter runs), and I just felt leaden and tired. I slogged through it, running as much as I could and walking more than I would have liked. Technically I finished ten miles, but it was slow and ugly.

After a shower, coffee, and some breakfast tacos (not in that order), I headed out to the Texas -OSU football game. Traffic was a nightmare throughout the city–100,000 people heading to the game, plus 250,000 or more in town for the Formula One U.S. Grand Prix. Sigh. I probably could have sold my tickets to some F1 visitor who’d never been to an American football game, but that would kind of be like Cal Ripken putting down the glove–I haven’t missed a home game since somewhere around 1994.

And this one was painful–Texas ended up getting slaughtered. My head hurt, my legs hurt, and my football spirit got a bit dented.

A good night’s sleep will be a decent start. But I’m also looking forward to dialing it back a bit–my training schedule isn’t quite as intense this week, so I hope that will help me recover somewhat. And I know a bunch of people racing tomorrow, so I’ll be stalking cheering them from my couch.

How do you recover from a less-than-great run?