Tag Archives: aramcohoustonhalfmarathon

Not what I expected…

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This was not the result I was hoping for when I registered for Sunday’s half marathon last spring. That’s a DNF (did not finish)…or more accurately, a DNS (did not start). If you’ve been following along, you already knew I made the tough choice to sit out the race following my injury flaring back up in November.

I’ve had to work through some emotions during that time, and the past few weeks were pretty tough watching everyone else get excited about their races. It felt like when you got passed up by the cool kids in middle school. I wanted to be happy for all my friends, but I’ll be honest that some days, I had to work at it more than others.

I began to wonder if this was a sign that my days of longer distance running were over. “Maybe I should stick to 5k and 10k races,” I thought. This was the result of having a challenging training season prior to the injury’s re-emergence. I was doing well until October, when I had all the car drama. That took me away from the Houston Fit group on Saturdays as I was consumed with selling the old car and buying a new one. Solo runs on Sunday felt harder. I tried to follow the plan of running without music, but that is hard on your own, and without the neat routes they select for us. By the time I got through that, the injury flare popped up.

And then this weekend happened. Thanks to all the activities I was still a part of due to my Ambassador duties. I felt a part of the running world again. It started with hearing Meb Keflezighi share how hard it was for him to sit out of a race when he was injured, and using that to come back (and then having him tell me personally that I would come back…and to focus on my cross training and what I could while I heal).

Saturday’s EXPO reinforced this. Seeing the joy of so many people gearing up to race the next day began to give me hope that I could be among them. A quick spin around the booths led me to find a race in Galveston in April that not only looks like a lot of fun, but has a 5k option.

So I thought, “Hey, I can do that. Even if I don’t start training in earnest until Charity Ball is done in 3 weeks, that’s about the same amount of time I trained for my very first 5k.” And the bonus? I have running experience I didn’t have 7 years ago. I have the backing of all I learned in physical therapy to improve my form and work to prevent further injuries.

But it was today, race day, which really brought me back to thinking I could do longer distances again. I decided to cheer from the finish line, instead of sitting at home and moping (Thank you Eileen for the pass!) To see the runners crossing the finish line took me back … to my first half here in Houston 3 years ago, and even to my second in Galveston 2 years ago. The sense of accomplishment, mixed with exhaustion and all kinds of other feelings, is just awesome.

And I want to feel that again. And I will.

Church tonight reinforced it. This week’s readings included the ones where we are told our bodies are not our own, and that they are a temple. I felt it was God’s way of telling me that I need to do all I can with the body I have been given, while I’m young and healthy enough to do it!

Other than the 5k in three months, I’m not sure when or where I’ll attempt a half, or maybe even (gasp!) a full. Houston is high on my list…you can’t beat running in your town with friends to cheer you on. But I’ll have to see how my return to running goes. When I’m closer to getting ready, I’ll make a decision … but it would be great to be running one of those distances a year from now.

Sounds like I may have just come up with my first Before 40 bucket list item.

Important training tip: listen to your body!

I’m a bad Houston Fit member … I’ve missed three Saturday morning runs this month! But while I may not have run with my group, I haven’t totally abandoned ship, either. 

So why didn’t I make my training appointments? Because I chose to listen to my body and feed its needs versus pushing myself and possible injury (or making the one I’m already recovering from worse!).

The first time I didn’t make a run, it was a game time decision. I still set my alarm to wake up in time, but two things felt off: 1) my leg was a little sore and achy from a training session earlier in the week and 2) I just felt tired. So I decided I would get at least another hour or two of sleep, and would run the 8 miles closer to home. What I actually did was sleep 3 more hours and only run about 4 miles, but I felt more prepared for it. Plus, I had a work event that day which had me on my feet for about 3 hours, so it worked out for the best.

The following weekend, I made the group, and my 7 miles went great! A little slower than the last time I did 7, but not too far off.

Then there was last weekend. I had been dealing with car troubles all week, on top of a packed work schedule, which all exhausted me. Plus, I needed to free up my Saturday morning to do some car shopping … having a working vehicle is such a priority in Houston! So I decided to do my 8 miles on Sunday. This didn’t work out as swimmingly as the first time, as I slept later on Sunday, and it was a bit warm … plus Terry Hershey Park is a bit hillier than the routes our group runs near Memorial. So I did 7 miles, of which I walked most of it. But still a win for getting activity and maintaining most of the distance.

And now we are up to this week. Again, I’m exhausted from week 2 of the car drama, which means the weekend will again be devoted to visiting dealerships (this time hoping for some good offers on my current ride). After the week I’ve had, I just couldn’t stomach a 5 a.m. start time … start time meaning the moment we set foot to ground to start our route! I lucked out in that my trainer is off this Sunday, so that opened up time in my schedule to move my 9 mile route to then. I’m hopeful that I’ll get up earlier so I can enjoy some cool weather.

I’m glad that while I’m adjusting my schedule to allow for care of my physical and emotional health, that I’m not giving up on my fitness goals entirely. It’s a good reminder that life happens to us all, and it’s up to us to maintain our priorities, even if they have to shift slightly for a period of time.

Fortunately, we have a good 12 weeks until the half marathon for me to recover from these dips!

New gear!!

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One of the best parts about being a runner is getting new equipment! I treated myself to a Camelbak hydration system and Spibelt, as seen above (thanks Sun and Ski for the birthday coupon! Note: reflective light not included, but look how nicely it clips on!) I was beginning to notice on my long runs that the 16 oz. of water my Fuel Belt holds just wasn’t enough for some hot, humid mornings. So in search of another water holder, I went. 

After trying several on, I settled on the Hydrobak model, pictured above. it is technically a biking model, but I just didn’t like the feel of some of the running models, plus I also didn’t need one to hold 100 oz. of water! This holds 50 when full (1.5 liters). There’s a “bladder” which lives inside the backpack, and a straw system which makes drinking on the go a breeze, way easier than fishing the bottle from my previous belt. Here’s a look at what’s inside the pack:

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I estimate I filled it 2/3 full for this morning, and had enough water after my nearly 6 mile run to drink on the way home. One note though: if the sloshing sound of the water will bother you, this isn’t for you. I found that and the slight sound the straps made rubbing against my shirt kind of soothing, but it may not be for you. Also have had friends recommend using Body Glide around the straps if you are in a sleeveless shirt.

The small zipper pouch at the bottom holds one of my humongous AdvoCare Rehydrate Gels. Very easy to get to without removing the pack. (By the way, I totally recommend these gels. They don’t have the nasty taste of Gu, are lower in calories and are cost-competitive. Only downside is they are only available in lemon. Happy to send anyone a sample to try!)

Now as for the Spibelt there are definitely some pros, but I’m not as in love as I am the Camelbak. Pros: easy to tuck phone etc. into it, bright color is another reflective piece of wardrobe, very easy to whip around to get to the pouch (I rest mine on the small of my back), not as heavy as the Fuel Belt.

Cons: it soaks up every bit of sweat…my photocopy of my license & insurance card (which Houston Fit requires us to carry) was wet, as was the emergency $5 I carry. Also, it pretty much held those two things and my phone, though I could probably leave my phone in its case where I couldn’t in the Fuel Belt attachments (which would help with the sweat issue). And, I could easily take my pouches from the other belt and slide them on here for extra gel and other storage. One other bummer is a problem I have with the other belt of it sliding up a little. I just need to fit it to my waist and not lower.

Overall, I was happy with the new gear. I was nervous about the Camelbak and how my form would be with a backpack, but I actually think it made it easier for me to remember to lean forward and strike midfoot with the weight up there. I also felt a little faster without so much weight on my waist/hips.

Have you tried either of these? What’s been your experience?

Dealing with Detours

I’ve strained my hamstring. It started about a month ago during a training session in the gym. I was doing back extensions, and my abs and back weren’t strong enough for the last few, so of course my hamstrings tried to jump in and help. I could feel the ache as soon as I finished, but hoped it wasn’t anything serious.

It was. Zumba the next day did NOT feel right. So I spent 2 weeks doing mostly upper body workouts and resting. And I felt fine. So I ran. And kept training.

Mistake. I wasn’t ready yet. I started aching again…at least this time it was not the full right hamstring, but just the base of the muscle. I did a little more running for our National Running Day event that week and called uncle. Massage helped, but I skipped a 5k I was hoping to do that weekend. So I sent myself to the stationary bike. I could do just 7 minutes at first, then 15, then 20. I was feeling good.

Then I went to my training session last week, and my trainer felt strongly that I should see a doctor (I also think I pushed a few too many things in the session and ended up a little more achy, but that’s another story). 

So Thursday, I saw my first sports medicine doctor ever. Seemed like the right choice for my newfound athletic life. A few X-rays and an exam confirmed it was a strain (at least it’s not a tear!). Here’s what he prescribed me:

  • Cardio: stationary bike level 3 or less, elliptical (ski style not climber style), treadmill 2% incline or less, swimming (but watch the leg)
  • Weight training: upper body only
  • Meds: I can keep using Advil but he gave me a stronger NSAID for nights or weekends if I’m hurting badly
  • Physical therapy: A few sessions to learn stretches and exercises I can do on my own. My first session is Friday.
  • Other treatments: heat and ice are both OK, gentle stretching is fine and keep wearing a compression sleeve on and off for my leg, especially when active. KT tape is OK too.

The good news is he thinks I’m on the right track, and can likely start my Houston Fit training program next month (my follow up with him is the day before to be safe). I’ve put massage and personal training on hold for now. 

The hardest part is how much you miss something (the running and lower body weights) when you can’t do it. But boy I am grateful he at least cleared me for some activity or I would go nuts!

I know this is the right thing to do. I don’t want to mess myself further and not be able to run the half marathon in January (not to mention, try to achieve a new record!)

I’m hopeful that I come back even stronger from this 🙂

Review: Garmin Forerunner 620

It’s been almost 6 years since I’ve upgraded my running technology. I know, bad for someone who used to work for a college of technology! But I like to use products until they are broken or no longer useful, and it was just in the past few months that the band on my Garmin Forerunner 405 finally began to rust. 

So after getting my budget back on track after my move last winter, I decided to splurge and see what was on the market now. If you want to read up on all the features, check out Garmin’s site. What I’m planning to do here is tell you about some of the nifty features I discovered on my first run with it, and show the improvement over the last model I had.

You can see from the photo above that it reports a lot of data post-run. It even tells me if I hit any records (2 since it was my first, longest run and best pace, haha!), as well as my VO2 Max, which I have never known before:

It’s a wee blurry as the screens go by fast (and my phone clearly focused on my shoe!), but I’m at 34, which is towards the top of the good range for my age. This was just an easy run though, my first since straining my hamstring training last weekend, so I was just happy to have a baseline for my future runs.

Speaking of data, the amount of data available in the Garmin Connect app (yes, they finally have an app for that) is also pretty amazing:

It’s nice to get a read on the fastest pace during my efforts, as I want to improve there this year. In fact, it has that data from the runs uploaded from my previous device too! (My run a few weeks ago I had an 8:40 in there!) But the Running Dynamics section is new. I look forward to reading up on that. I suspect my cadence is decent but I could use to get the stride closer to 1.

For the device itself, here are some comparison photos. The heart rate monitor chest strap is up first. Old one on top, new on bottom. New one has a smaller contact and the strap is easier to throw in the laundry:

Next is the actual unit. New one is nestled inside the old. It’s MUCH lighter, and the design of the band allows for a tighter fit. No more jiggling on the run!

Even the chargers are an improvement. Old is on the left, new on the right. Old one you had to plug into the wall, new one is by USB so can plug into computer or my iPhone/iPad chargers and plug into wall. They sell an adaptor for that too if you don’t have such an option.

Other neat features I noticed: easy start (just hit the run button and go, hit again when done to stop), the watch notifies you your pace of each mile as you go, and it also tells you if you’re recovering well on your interval breaks. I still need to program in different training programs, possibly the only negative of this versus the old one which had some built in. I may also just keep the old one if I get a bike, as it had bike tracking where this one seems to just be runs.

All in all, I’m happy I upgraded and am really looking forward to training!

I’ve fallen in love again…

…with running! I have to admit, I had burned out on running after 2 Januaries in a row of half marathons. The spark was gone. Instead of excitement, a look at my sneakers or the thought of miles brought me dread. 

So I took a break for most of 2013. I took dance classes. I became a Zumba instructor (though I am still mainly in student mode). I kept up some fitness, but I didn’t really run. I didn’t race. 

With true love, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I ran on Thanksgiving morning, and really enjoyed it (the scenery at Terry Hershey does not hurt!). But I had moved into my new place 3 days before. The time wasn’t right to get back together. But the possibility of a reunion was there. I felt hope.

I began to daydream about a goal that would spark my return to running. And then, 2 random sightings led me back to my love. First was a post within our AFP International Conference app … another attendee posted about a half marathon the opening day of conference. I knew I wasn’t in shape for a half (plus didn’t want to miss the morning session), but saw there was a 5k option. Better yet, my fellow AFPeep Paola (the Peeps are a flock of social media mavens deputized to spread the association and conference love!) was willing to run it with me. And there were donuts at the finish line. SOLD.

The race was lots of fun, and I had my best 5k time in a while, just under 42 minutes. (Here’s me and Paola after the race having a little fun in front of the Alamo.)

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Around the same time, I happened to see a Tweet from the Chevron Houston Marathon promoting the ambassador program. If my application was selected, I would be part of a team of runners who agree to promote the races through blogs and other social media. I love using social media for good. And for someone who presents on social media (including the latest presentation with AFPeep Dave featuring a baker’s dozen of up and coming apps!), it seemed like I’d be a fool not to apply. So I did.

And here I am, an official ambassador for 2015! I like to think it’s a blend of fate and faith that has brought me back to my love. They say if you love something, set it free…if it comes back, it’s yours.

On my run this past weekend, it felt like everything just clicked. Sure, it was hot out. It wasn’t my best 4 mile time. But it just FELT right … especially those moments when I could feel all the muscles I’ve been working so hard in personal training sessions the past 3 months starting to collaborate. 

I’m not the fastest runner. I take walk breaks. But I give it my all. And that’s all you can ask for in love, to give it your best shot and know that this is what matters.

I look forward to sharing the courtship in the coming months leading up to the big race!