On the Eve of My Second Marathon

Ok, Ok, technically it is not the eve of the marathon…I have two days until the Duke City but I feel like everything I do from here on out is going to effect my performance on Sunday so let’s take a look at where I am at.

After getting over strep throat four weeks ago, I went out and kicked some serious a$$ on my 20 miler.  I averaged a 9:53 and felt pretty decent when I finished…and by decent I mean completely spent but think I will be able to push for the last 6.2 at something close to that pace.


Now, I know that running race pace for a long run is frowned upon, but I had such a horrific 19 mile run two weeks before that I really needed a confidence booster.  So I did it.  Race pace on my longest run.  And then I decided to not follow conventional wisdom the next week either – 16 miles at 9:30 pace.


 Yes – a long run at FASTER than race pace, but it gave me the ego boost I needed and made me feel like I was ready to tackle the race.

Then came speed bump number one: Achilles Tendinitis.

While out on an easy 4 mile run two and a half weeks from race day I was stopped in my tracks by a pull in my calf.  I knew right away it was my achilles and it did not feel good.  I hobbled home and rested for a few days, iced, road my bike like a crazy person around town and yes, perhaps cried, because I was again going to have to DNS another marathon I had signed up for just like last fall.


Circa 1994 Schwinn Mountain Bike that weighs 1,000+lbs. It gets the job done, though.

I immediately went in for an assessment with a PT and it was recommended I get deep tissue massages, rest, ice and take some time to let it heal.  After all, I was two weeks from the race and my training was done – I wouldn’t gain anything by pushing through long painful runs now.  I had two fabulous massages that loosened both my achilles and my bum hamstring that has been bothering me since March and followed the strict PT directives to take it easy and am feeling so much better.  I also went out and bought a new pair of shoes.  About two weeks before the achilles strain happened I switched to a new pair of Mizunos – a type that I had never worn before because they discontinued my current Mizuno line.  I just had an inkling the switch might have something to do with my injury.  The minute I put on the new Brooks Adreneline I felt almost immediate relief.


Shoes sent from heaven to save my achilles.

They are much more supportive, and while heavier than the Mizunos, I feel like these shoes are going to get me across the finish line.   If you are a runner you know that I am about to commit one of the cardinal sins of running: switching to a brand new brand of shoes days before the marathon.  I know.  I know.  I have run in them for my short taper runs this week and they just feel so good on my achilles.  I have to do it.  Stay tuned for the race report next week when I am either going to be praising Brooks or posting pictures of my blistered and battered feet.  Lets hope for the former.

Speed bump number two: Sickness (again?!!!)

Our household was hit with another round of sickness within a months time. I started with the kids and then, as most moms do, I came down with it right after they got better.  The dreaded cold with congestion in my head and chest.  It caused me to skip my long run three weeks out from the race and couple other runs and suffer through my last long run of 8 miles with all sorts of walk breaks and nose blowing.   After 10 days of complaining and barely running and taking every supplement I could find, I have turned a corner.  Congestion has cleared, I have slept well and I feel like I have my strength back…JUST IN TIME!

Race day in Sunday.  I am monitoring everything I eat from here on out.  I have the world’s most sensitive stomach so nothing but white bagels, plain chicken, potatoes, and oatmeal for the next two days.  I also have some Immodium tablets in the waiting for Sunday morning.  The weather is calling for low of 49, high of 75 with ‘sun and clouds’.  I am super excited about the ‘clouds’ part of the forecast because we don’t get a lot of cloud cover in the Land of Enchcantment and a little shade will be nice on the trail, which is mostly exposed for about 24 of the 26 miles.  I plan to wear a tank top with my new Oiselle Roga shorts (don’t worry. I have tested these out on a couple long runs.  Wasn’t going to make a second cardinal running mistake by wearing new shorts!) which I absolutely love!  I have a pair of knee socks that I cut the feet off to wear as arm warmers for the first couple miles when it is freezing out and then can toss in the garbage when I feel I don’t need them any longer.  I plan to fuel with GU along the way and will pack one bag of honey stinger chews just in case my stomach can’t take another GU after 20 miles.  I have three salt tabs to take each hour to ward off cramping and will take water and powerade along the race course.  The pace plan is to start slow for the first 3 miles at 10:00/miles and then pick it up at four to race pace of 9:45.  There is a particularly hilly part to the course from mile 10 to 14 that I would like to really hold on to race pace, and then if I am feeling good at 14 I plan to push a little faster on the way back (the course is out and back).  This is all  hypothetical of course, because with my last marathon being a total bust (due to mono) I really don’t know how I am going to perform.


A: 9:45 pace for the race.  This would translate to a 4:15 completion time.  This is a big stretch, but maybe if the stars align I can get there.

B: Beat my first marathon time by an hour.  This would be a finish time of 4:39 or a 10:15/mile pace.  This may be the most realistic goal.

C: Not walk.  Have fun.  And remember that this is just the start of my marathoning journey, because I already have my eye on some 2015 races.

Happy racing this weekend everyone!


#342! If you see me on the course give me a shout out! I am certainly going to need every good vibe I can get!

The Run Down on My Fall

Do you ever type up a post and forget to publish it? Well here is a little something I put together a couple weeks ago….

My running journey this fall has been a whirl wind. Since the La Luz Trail Race I refocused my training on the Duke City Marathon on October 19th.  I completed the Rio Grande Half the middle of August with so-so results.


I finished in 2:07, which was a minute faster than my spring half marathon, but I was hoping for a little more improvement.  I tried to remind myself that I hadn’t tapered at all for the race, using it as a training run for the full marathon, and the weather was hot, hot, hot by the end.   What the race did do for me, though, was motivate me to  train harder.  I signed up for the Chips and Salsa Half Marathon in September and was really excited to run this race.  I have had really good luck on this course in the past and the weather always seems to be beautiful on race day…and it was going to take place on my birthday this year. What more can you ask for?  The stars were aligning and my training was really strong the weeks leading up to the race, and then I came down with strep throat.


This was the sickest I have been in years and instead of racing a fantastic race, I spent the weekend in bed.   Strep throat moved it’s way through the family, but we are all back to good health, and I am back to training with the big goal still ahead of me: the marathon.

Last weekend I had my longest run of the training plan: the dreaded 20 miler.  I decided to try some new things nutritionally that I haven’t done before and they worked out great.  I read an article from Runner’s World that discussed prerace meal and timing.  It talks about the amount of carbs you should ingest and that, ideally, you should eat 3-4 hours before the race.  Because I aim to get out on the road by 5;00am on my long runs, that meant I had to set my alarm for 2:00am to eat.  I downed a white bagel with peanut butter and a whole bottle of gatorade which contained about half the calories and carbs RW recommeneded, but just couldn’t choke down anymore.  I attempted to go back to sleep for a couple hours before running and was able to eat a small banana on the way to the start of my training run.   While I didn’t enjoy getting up in the middle onf the night to eat, I have to say that I felt stronger over all throughout the run and eating that far in advance helped me not feel too full before running. I am definitely going to try this again during my 16miler this week and see how I feel. The second new thing I tried during the 20 miler was salt tabs.  This fall it seems like any run over 12 miles my quads have started to cramp up.  While I am very careful on getting enough hydration, I felt like something must have been missing.  I took one tab every hour and my legs, while tired, did not cramp up during the 20 mile run.  I am going to try them again this weekend as a second test before committing to them for race day. Over the next few weeks I plan to stick to the training plan and take it easy.  September and October are fantastic times to run in New Mexico and with a slew of 5k and 10k races out there it is hard not to want to get out and race, but I have come to far to mess this goal up.  Eye on the prize.


Valles Caldera 10k Race Report


This last weekend I tackled something that scared me.  Something that I have always wanted to do, but have avoided because I didn’t think I could do it.  I’ve always kept my running on the road – preferable flat roads.  Something in the back of my head kept nagging at me, though – I live a mile from a beautiful mountain range filled with trails and beauty and I hadn’t explored them.   I kept thinking about this quote:

Screenshot 2014-05-08 11.14.20

So I signed up for my first trail race – The Valles Caldera 10k – a short 90 minute drive from my house to the Jemez Mountains.   My main goal for this race was to just enjoy the scenery and take in the differences between a trail race vs. a road race.

The first difference:



Wow.  The altitude.  I live at 5,600 feet in Albuquerque, so altitude is the norm on a run, but I certainly could feel the 3,000 feet difference when we arrived.  I was winded walking around the parking lot, which is not a great confidence booster before the race even started.   I was really nervous which raised my heart rate before the race start, coupled with the altitude difference – my heart was beating out of my chest.  Luckily, once we got a half mile or so in to the run, I settled into a rhythm and the butterflies went away.

Second difference:


Up, up, up, up, up….

As you can tell from the altitude profile and the above picture the first three miles were pretty much straight up.  Something new to me: walking during a race – or as I prefer to call it “power hiking”.  The first couple inclines I tried to run it slow and easy up the hills, but as the hills kept coming I noticed others were power hiking the hills and thought I would try it out.  I love a race where you get a little ‘break’.  I was even able to get a couple pictures while hiking those hills.


Beautiful blue sky. I wish I could have bottled the smell of the pines – so clean.

Third difference:


Down, down, down…

I had to throw caution to the wind and pray to the running gods that I wouldn’t bite it running downhill – because there were rocks, stumps, branches, bushes, and more rocks.  I figured this is where I would make up some of that ‘hiking’ time and pass as many people as I could, and it worked.  After the 3 mile mark I never got passed and I picked off several runners before finishing.

Fourth difference:


The ‘usual’ race fuel.


The good stuff!

The race fuel along the course and after the race was awesome!  I have never had such a variety of things at a race.  They had the standard bananas, bagels, and oranges, but then there was ‘the good stuff’.  I didn’t get a picture, but at the 5m aid station they had bacon and coke (along with gatorade and water).  What?!  I have never known a runner to crave a piece of bacon during a run, but maybe these trail race people know something we road racers don’t.  Once I finished the race I wasn’t disappointed either.  Fruit and carrots on one table – cookies, chips and nuts on another.  I could get used to this.  There was almost a party like atmosphere afterwards.  People pulled out their cooler and folding chairs to enjoy a beer and picnic in the wilderness.  Note to self: pack beer next time.

Fifth difference:


No finishers medals, but if you placed in your age group you received a beautiful handmade piece of pottery from Jemez Pueblo.  Tom was lucky enough to place 2nd in his age group and receive one.  I placed 4th, narrowly missing my own piece by 2 minutes.  Next year, no stopping to take pictures along the route – I’m going to be all business because I want one!

We had a fantastic time at this race. It was well organized, communication was clear, aid stations were well stocked, and the trail was well marked. We will certainly be back next year.




Where I Have Been and Where I Am Going….

Wow.  It’s been almost two months since my last post!  Life got busy and while writing about running may have fallen to the wayside, my running workouts and races did not!  Since my last post:

1. I ran the Shamrock Shuffle 5k with my 6 yr old daughter.  And she ROCKED it!  In Albuquerque and the surrounding suburbs there seem to be some standard 5k and 10k routes that all the race organizers use and the one the Shamrock Shuffle uses I try to avoid….because it is uber hilly.   But I had these great new socks

Screenshot 2014-05-02 12.04.39and they needed to be used in a St Patty’s day race – surprise, surprise New Mexico has only one such race on the uber hilly course.  We decked ourselves out in as much green as possible and headed across town to the race.  Not only did I have to run the hilly course, but it was my turn to push the stroller with our almost 4 yr old.  Ugh.  I could barely keep up with my daughter in the race, she stopped several times to let me catch up and finally at mile 2 had to tell her to go on ahead, “Just follow the rest of the people, ” I panted.  And she did.  She PR’ed the race by around 10 minutes, with a finish time of approx. 34min.  Wow.  Just wow.  I have to give props to the guy dressed a green chili pepper costume.  He started out in front of us and Cate had a fire in her to “beat the green banana!”.

Screenshot 2014-05-02 12.03.53

The Green Chili Costume looked something like this…

She passed him by mile 1 and only needed to be reminded that he was gaining on her near the finish line for her to kick it in to high gear for the last 100 meters.   Cate ended up winning her age division for the race and was so proud of herself to get the special 1st place medal.  I didn’t mention to her that she was the ONLY PERSON in the  girl age 6-9 division.



My Irish lad ready to rock the 1k.


Sweet victory!

2.  I ran the Albuquerque Half Marathon on April 19th.  About two weeks before the race a tweaked my hip during a tempo run, and being the type A person I pushed through the training plan instead of taking a few days off to rest it.  Resting when I am injured is really, really tough for me and something I need to work on.  So needless to say, on race day my hip was still bothering me – so much that I couldn’t push myself to keep the pace I had been training for.  That morning I thought I would try taking two ibuprofen to see if it would dull the pain, but by race time my hip was still hurting AND my stomach was upset from the medicine.  Double whammy.  I should have learned my lesson from Ragnar DC that ibuprofen and I don’t get along….


Where’s the Immodium?

By mile 3 or so, I resolved myself to just getting to the finish line and to take in the scenery.  And that is what I did.  I finished – 16 whole minutes slower than my 2013 time – but I finished.  Lesson learned: Not every race is going to be epic and it sure is nice to let the pressure go and enjoy the commeradery of other runners out for a race on a beautiful spring morning.



Where I am going:

1. Tomorrow I will undertake my very first TRAIL RACE!  I have signed up for the Valles Caldera 10k which takes place at 8,000 feet above sea level.  Weather is predicted to be beautiful and I am excited to wear this shirt that I received from my friend Aimee:



I think “My Pace. My Peace” will be the perfect mantra for me tomorrow.  There is something really exciting to me about doing a race that I have never done before because there is no pressure to ‘do better than last time”.   Whatever I accomplish tomorrow will be a PR.  And maybe that is why starting to trail race will be a new goal.  Every trail is different – different altitude, different obstacles, different elevation gains/losses.  And short of doing the same race year after year, I won’t be able to compare say a 10k in the Valles Caldera to a 10k in the Sandia Mountains.  I like the thought of that…


2.  Ragnar ChicagoScreenshot 2014-05-02 12.07.04Ragnar Chicago is just one short month away and my team and I are getting really excited.   We are being sponsored partly by Breadsmith, so we thought we would pay tribute to them in our team name: This Is How We Roll.  We’ve ordered t-shirts and magnets to tag other vans and have finalized which leg will be run by which runner.  I’ve been assigned Leg 9 and be in Van 2.  This will be different than my last Ragnar (Washington DC) when I was in Van 1 and was able to sleep from midnight to 6am.  I personally think Van 2 has the harder job in a Ragnar because they have to run from noon-6pm, midnight – 6am and noon-6pm roughly – running through the hottest part of the day and the dead of night.  If anything, some really funny stories will probably come of it due to serious sleep deprivation.  Here’s a picture of my sis and I doing some Ragnar practice while she was visiting last week!


3. La Luz Trail Run.

Screenshot 2014-05-02 12.02.15



Sign on the first 2 miles of road leading to the trail head.

I’ve signed up for the lottery drawing for an entry into what 2001 Trail Runner Magazine selected as one of the “12 Most Grueling Trail Races in North America”.  Yes.  I voluntarily have signed up to run 9 miles and 5,000 feet elevation gain up Sandia Mountain.  I kind feel like it is a right of passage as and Albuquerque runner to complete this race.  And that is all I will be doing if I get in: just making it to the finish line.  The lottery takes place May 8th.  We will see if this is my year.


So that is what I have been up to these last couple months and my plans for the summer.  What are your summer racing plans?  

My Weekend Run in Photos

6 mile tempo run on an early, cloudy, drizzly Saturday morning.  Here are a few of the pictures I took along the way:


Love when the clouds curl over the top of the mountains.


Image Image


First signs on spring. Flowers growing in the medians.


Loved the contrast of the chartreuse of the tree against the blue and purple clouds.


Run This Year 2014 Update!


It’s been two months since I decided to join the Run This Year 2014 challenge.   After falling short of my 1,200 mile goal in 2013 due to injury, I decided to set my goals high for this year …and stay injury free…. 2,014 km in 2014 (or 1251 miles). So, how am I doing?

January was a little bit of a slow start.  I had the Phoenix Rock and Roll Half Marathon on January 19th, which called for a taper for the first two weeks of January before the race and then a little RnR from the RnR (Rest and Relaxation from the Rock and Roll).  

Total miles for January: 70.82 running (50.3 biking)

In February I picked up the pace.  My next big race on my calendar is the Albuquerque Half Marathon on April 19th and I jumped onto the Run Less, Run Faster training plan as soon as I felt rested from the Phoenix RnR Half.  Because the Run Less, Run Faster (RLRF) book emphasizes three quality runs a week and two cross training workouts, I was a little concerned I wouldn’t hit my 100+ mile goals, but was surprised when I logged on this weekend to get my Feb. totals:

Total miles for February: 101.86 running (74.90 biking)

and the grand total for 2014 so far: 172.68 running (139.20 biking)!  

Ok, so I am a little bit behind to achieve 1,251 miles for the year.  I should be at 208 running miles by the end of February, but I am going to keep plugging away.  Maybe I will have to adjust my goals to include my biking totals since I am spending so much time cross training and my number one goal for the year is to stay injury free.  I am really pleased with the RLRF program after 5 weeks of being on their half marathon plan.  I haven’t hit all the pace goals for every single run, but I have gotten the miles in and feel like my body isn’t getting too broken down as I near the thick of the training miles.  I do miss an ‘easy run’ every now and again – one where I don’t have to constantly be checking my Garmin for pace and mileage, but I did have one little ‘cheat day’ last week when I skipped a 30min easy spinning bike ride and ran outside without my watch for 30 min.  It felt good and I look forward to pulling back for a week or two once this race is over before my next race…. 

And I am so excited to share that I have signed up for my first trail race – The Valles Caldera 10k on May 3rd!  I have had my eye on this race for a few years but it always seemed to be in June when I was on vacation.  This year they moved it back to May which could be a little cold, but will probably be better to avoid the heat of summer and forrest fire closings.  Here are a few pictures from the race website:




Doesn’t it look wonderful!?!  Now here is the scary part:

ImageIt’s a little fuzzy, I know.  If you squint at the above elevation chart you can see the race starts at 8,200 feet and climbs to nearly 8,800 for the first three miles! Yikes.  I live at approximately 5,600 feet, so at least I am not coming from sea level, but it is still going to be a huge stretch.  My plan for the race: leave my watch at home and take a lot of pictures on my first trail adventure.  Now for the technical questions: What type of race gear do I need?  Shoe suggestions?  Any other trail racing knowledge you would like to impart?



Rock and Roll Arizona Race Recap

Finish Line! (I'm too cheap to buy the photo…)

Finish Line! (I’m too cheap to buy the photo…)

Rock and Roll Arizona Half Marathon is in the books with a finish time of 2:04:43.  Last post I created my A, B, and C goals for the race:

A: run the whole race and  finish (CHECK!)

B: Sub 2:20 (CHECK!)

C: Closer to 2 hrs (CHECK!)

So, why am I not over the moon with my results?  Well, I always make a super-secret goal to myself before the race…a Goal D – and mine with sub 2hrs.  And I could have hit that goal if a two things would have gone differently:

1) I was unfamiliar with how ‘big races’ work.  I have never run a race with corrals and for some reason I thought corrals were just a way of lining people up in the appropriate finishing time areas and when the gun sounded everyone took off at the same time.  So, while I was in line for my third porta-potty stop before the race began (I have to nervous pee multiple times before every race I do), the gun went off.  I panicked and left the potty line and ran to the corral…. only to stand around for another 23 MINUTES for my group to start.  By mile 3, I had to stop and pee – and lost 1:55 minutes (which would bring my finish time down to 2:02:48).

2) My garmin.  I love, love, love my watch.  I am obsessed with my splits and elevation charts and compare and contrast runs on Garmin Connect like crazy.  So at mile 10 when I was getting so hot and tired, I rolled down my arm sleeves and apparently touched the bezel and it switched to some crazy screen that I have never seen before.

"Crazy Screen".

“Crazy Screen”.

I stopped to walk for a second and pressed every button and spot on the bezel to get it to switch back, but with no luck.  I couldn’t see my overall time or my split time…I was lost.  It really broke me.  I ended up walking two more times (just 50 feet or so each time) because I just couldn’t get over my watch not working and wondering how fast I was running.  (Note to self: start working on running more by feel than the watch in the future!)

As I reflect on the race a few days removed, I am happy.  I am happy that I have a great base going into training for the Albuquerque Half Marathon (April 19th).  In April I will be on my home turf and familiar with the course.  There will be no corrals – just 200ish people total.  I will have 12 weeks of solid training under my belt and have a better idea as to a reasonable goal should be.  On to the next race!

A few pictures from the weekend:

My first 'big race expo'.  Loved all the free stuff to sample and the great deals on running gear!

My first ‘big race expo’. Loved all the free stuff to sample and the great deals on running gear!

Weather was PERFECT for the race!

Weather was PERFECT for the race!

Tested out the light rail from our hotel to the start line on Saturday - then took a tour of ASU campus.  Loved the orange trees and seeing flowers in the middle of winter.

Tested out the light rail from our hotel to the start line on Saturday – then took a tour of ASU campus. Loved the orange trees and seeing flowers in the middle of winter.

Race day attire. I chose well - shorts and tank top were perfect.  Arm sleeves kept me warm for the first 10 miles.

Race day attire. I chose well – shorts and tank top were perfect. Arm sleeves kept me warm for the first 10 miles.

Beautiful sunrise from the starting line.

Beautiful sunrise from the starting line.

Getting a little tired...

Getting a little tired…


Finishers Medal – happy to be done!

Happy couple!  Tom completed his first full marathon.

Happy couple! Tom completed his first full marathon.

Everyone got a fortune cookie in their swag bag.  I saved mine for after the race and I think this speaks to making sure I rest and recover from this race before I start training for my next race.

Everyone got a fortune cookie in their swag bag. I saved mine for after the race and I think this speaks to making sure I rest and recover from this race before I start training for my next race.

I am in LOVE with these 110% Play Harder compression socks.  They felt soooo good after the race.  Next running gear item I want: The 110% Juggler Knickers.

I am in LOVE with these 110% Play Harder compression socks. They felt soooo good after the race. Next running gear item I want: The 110% Juggler Knickers.