Monday, March 21, 2011

Top 10 List: Things I Learned Running 20 Miles

1) If you're tummy is hurting before the run, take your Hubby's advice and find a bathroom. Squatting on the side of the trail leads to nothing but embarassing, and maybe messy, memories.

2) Don't break your sunglasses trying to dig toilet paper out of your running pack (see #1). Especially if the run is, say, 3 hours. Not fun.

3) Cutting your hand on your camelback clip will cause bleeding. Oh, and there are NO bandaids or first aid stations on running trails.

4) Nothing else can lift your spirits from a bad start (see #1-3) like your kiddos. Talk about God's timing- I was crossing a street about 5 miles into my run just in time to see my mom and the kiddos driving to school. Cheered me right up.

5) The value of knowing restroom locations on trails is absolutely priceless. 20 miles, 4 potty breaks, and only 1 trail squat (again, see #1). I'd say that's a pretty good day. Thanks, Alison, for sharing your wisdom with me ;)

6) Runners, aka pedestrians, ALWAYS have the right of way. Seriously. Stop next time you see someone crossing the road, dummy.

7) The best running songs ever: Where is the Love. Raise Your Glass. Poker Face.
Sure, sure they're overplayed, but they all have a great running beat

8) Worst running songs ever: Down by the Bay. The Books of the Bible. The More We Get Together.

Not sure why I had all the kids' music on my IPhone......?

9) Always try to finish your run at or before your final destination, even if it means circling around a bit somewhere along the way. There is nothing worse than approaching your stopping point, realizing you still have half a mile left, and having to run past your house, car, or gym to finish the run. Trust me, folks. I made this mistake on my 18 mile run, learned from it, and did things the right way today.

10) Never underestimate the value of a friend running the last few (or in this case, eight) miles with you. There is only so much time you can spend with yourself, only so much music you can listen to, and only so long you can keep your feet moving without the aid of distraction.

Thanks, Kristen, for telling me the story behind the "Friday" song, what it was like to cover the crime beat at a W. Virginia newspaper, and only the positive things about the Colorado Marathon.

20 miles- check!

One...Two...Three Trips to the Chiropractor

I carried Lily into the house last Wednesday, like a do a least a half dozen times a day. Except this time, when I set her and my purse and my gym bag down, something in my back tweaked. Bad.

I'd planned on getting in a speed workout before the kiddos swimming lessons that night, but instead made a beeline down Broadway to my Chiropractor.

"Oh......this is pretty bad" he said as I lay down on the table. "What'd you do?"

"Nothing" I said, "Seriously, just the normal, everyday stuff."

After two more visits, he determined my spine was fine and the muscle was only sprained, not torn.

"Optimistically, you could be running in the morning. However, my guess is you'll need several days, maybe even a week for the muscle to repair itself," he said.

"Just great," I thought. I already missed my speed workout, I had a 10 mile run with a friend planned for the morning, and a 20 miler scheduled in for Sunday. And the marathon is only six weeks away.

I took three solid days off. I was less focused on missing all my training runs and more focused on the beautiful day when I would be pain free again. When I'd be able to play with the kids, pick Lily up when her newly mobile feet failed her, and maneuver the stairs without cringing.

By Saturday I was 75% normal. By Sunday I was 90%. And just in time for Monday, I was well enough to tackle the 20-miler.

So what did I learn from all of this?

Injuries happen. A few days off will not ruin months of training. And ice + wine + catching up on the DVR = a happy mommy.

Miles, Mansions, & (Chocolate) Milk

I hitched a ride with the hubby on his way to work on a Wednesday morning. All three kiddos were staying home with G'ma while I embarked on my longest run yet- 18 miles. The Hubster dropped me off at the intersection of Hampden & Colorado to catch the Highline Canal trail.

The first six miles weaved past million dollar homes, pricey private schools (ahem....Kent Denver), & beautiful open spaces. I felt great & loved seeing new scenery. Only once before had I been on this section of the trail: on a bike, towing two 40lb kiddos in the bike trailer, while 5 months preggo with Lily.

The second six miles took me from the intersection of the Highline and Orchard all the way to Broadway. Still felt great, and around mile 9 I had a fun little pick-me-up when I ran in to a friend from the Y who was on her long run for the week, a 12-miler. She is training for her first iron-man in May, about 2 weeks after my first marathon. It felt like an "only-in-Colorado" moment: running into a friend out on some crazy-long trail, who is training for some crazy-long race, while I am training for a (less)-crazy long race.

The last six miles was tough. I decided I didn't want to continue on the route I'd planned, afraid of what running the steep downhill for the last two miles would do to my already tired legs. Instead I jumped off the trail to meander around the streets near Heritage High School in an attempt to do an even 18 miles. This was the hardest part of my run- watching the GPS slowly tick off the final two miles as I ran up one road (only to find it dead end) and down another road. My feet felt like I'd tied 5 pound weights to them. My ears were tired from almost three hours of non-stop music. My mind was tired from counting down the miles, minutes, and seconds.

I wanted three things when I finished: to sit down, to take a hot shower, and to drink some chocolate milk. 18 miles- check!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Finding Rest

In motherhood, like in marathon training, consistency is important. Having an established schedule, fitting in all the pieces you need to fit in, and finding the craved balance between work and play and learning and rest.

Rest. More than any other aspect of my training, resting is what I struggle with the most. Only after I've done my intervals, pace work, cross-training in the pool and on the bike (tri season is approaching, afterall) and clocked my long run, will I allow myself to have a rest day. If I still have things unfinished, speed workouts un-run, hills un-climbed, then I feel like there's a little stress ball sitting on my shoulder and chiming in my ear all day, "You know you still need to...."

The same is true with my children and home life. There are meals to be prepared, minds to be schooled, parks to be played on, books to be read, laundry (mountains worth!) to be done, and dishes to be washed.

Last week, some horrible decisions were made in my home. The dog, after rolling in the mud (followed by the dead grass) decided to sit on my white couch. Thomas, armed with a sword and Hulk-hand, decided to thwack his sister with all his might. Anna decided she'd learned enough math to suffice for the rest of her adult-life and then decided to throw an all-out fit to let the world know of her decision. And Lily, sweet Lily, decided she would spend the morning sitting on the floor (next to the newly muddied couch) and scream....and scream....and scream.

It was in the midst of this noise and mess and chaos in the living room, that I declared a Rest day for the Watson clan. The little stress ball, attempting to protest, said, "But you still need to.....and they still need to...."

"No." I calmly (can you believe I stayed calm through all of this?)said. "Today, we will rest."

It was a lesson learned the hard way, but it was a lesson learned none-the-less.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lonely Sprints

In terms of March in Colorado, yesterday was as gorgeous as it gets. The sun was shining, the temps were in the low 60's, and the wind was on hiatus for the afternoon. I usually do my weekly speed workouts on the treadmill, but I decided the spring weather was too nice to pass up and headed out for some hill sprints.

Hill sprints always bring back memories of high school cross-country for me. Our coaches had a gift for finding the steepest, most grueling hills the town of Steamboat had to offer. They were often roads with such a steep grade that they wouldn't pass current regulations or even ski trails that were difficult enough to earn a blue rating in winter months. The hills in my neighborhood are no where near this caliber, but by Littleton standards they are pretty tough.

I did 5 hill repeats (the hill was long and I was running late getting the kids fed and to swimming lessons)and found myself feeling pretty lonely. I longed to be back in cross country where I had teammates to battle the hill with me, help me keep pace, and dig down to the next level of exertion. Instead, it was just me.....and a few lone kids walking home from school....and one woman out with her dog.....and one boy long-boarding down the hill I was sprinting up. But mostly just me.