Tag Archives: half marathon

And it begins…

image credit: http://imgkid.com/

Once, several years ago, I took a personality test.  It was in one of those corporate training sessions intended to help me learn about my personal style and how to work better with others.  I don’t remember much else from that course, but I do remember learning one seemingly important thing about myself.

I get more enjoyment/reward out of starting new things, than I do by completing them.

Ever since that day in training, I have over and over again seen this fact demonstrated.

Case in point: I have three knitting projects in process at the moment.  Scratch that.  Two.  I guess I did finish one last week.  Anyway, I keep finding myself looking at new projects I could start and wanting so badly to cast on a new one.  All while this blanket sits in a basket, taunting me with it’s semi-not-even-half-finished state.  I look at it and I just feel guilty for not wanting to work on it, although I do want it to be done.  It just seems like a never ending project – I know that I am not even halfway yet and already I am looking for something new to do.

Case in point #2: I just spent a half hour or more putting together a training plan for the Quad Cities Distance Classic in May.  I had no idea it was 12 weeks away exactly from today.  I have the plan all lined up, and will start tomorrow.  Right now I am excited about it and can’t wait to start.  I am definitely over-optimistic, and I know I probably have put together a much too aggressive plan.  I predict no more than 2 weeks before I miss a training day and start to feel burdened by the thought of following the plan for a full 12 weeks.  I completely wimped out this morning and didn’t go run with my friends.  On one hand I was feeling really guilty for not going (in my defense the windchills were -14 at 7 am this morning), on the other, now that I see this 12 week expanse of training I feel a bit justified in taking one more day off.  I see a lot of treadmill running in my future…and I dread treadmill running (Betty and I are not friends at the moment).  But I don’t know how else to do 400 m repeats in the dead of winter.  Almost all my favorite running spots are covered in snow or ice.  See?  I’m already questioning the sanity of the plan and I’ve only had it for an hour!

Oh, and let’s not go anywhere near the sanity of my goal to run 750 miles this year.  Let’s just not.  Perhaps in a few months I will be able to say I am on track.  Right now, not so much. And it’s only mid-February, there’s still time to correct, right?

How do you stay motivated to complete a long training plan or project?


Mother’s Day Racing – QC Distance Classic Race Report

The Quad Cities Distance Classic is a race that is near and dear to my heart.  It was the first half marathon I ever ran (during training for my “first” half with Team in Training in 2009).  Although I have thought about running it every year since, I haven’t yet been able to.  First I was pregnant, then it was the week after another race, and then last year I was in the clutches of marathon training and unable to think about anything else.

Last week I ran a half marathon in Indianapolis (I promise someday I’ll write a race recap).  I think it was last Friday on the drive to Indy when I asked my husband if it would be crazy for me to run the QCDC the following weekend.  When he told me to go for it, I started seriously thinking about it.

After the Mini Marathon, I didn’t want to think about running another half in a week, so I told him to ask me again in a few days.  And sure enough, after I felt good on Sunday and normal on Monday, by Tuesday I was thinking seriously about running again.

So on Wednesday, I made an executive decision that I wanted to run on Mother’s Day this year.  I decided that running is something I love, and something that I wanted to spend part of “my” day doing.  So I registered late – and I am glad that I did.

I wasn’t sure how well I would run given I ran a half last weekend and ran 6 miles yesterday morning.  So I decided to just enjoy the run and not try and push the pace (yeah.  famous last words…)

When the race started, we hit Mile 1 and I looked down to see a sub-9 pace.  Yowza.  I knew that was not sustainable.  Then we turned to go up the biggest hill in the race (no lie, this one is a killer, but oddly enough I love it!).  We then spend a few miles up on top of the river bluff before coming back downhill to spend the remainder of the race pretty flat.

elevation qcdc

I’m not going to lie.  This race was tough.  I definitely could feel my tired legs!  Somewhere around mile 6 I took my only GU, it was one I hadn’t used last weekend (I am so thankful that I didn’t, or I would have been left fuel-less this weekend!).  I also packed a few Jolly Rancher candies to help get me through.  It’s amazing what a little sugar can do.

Right at about mile 8.5, I think I almost cried.  I had forgotten that the race has two separate out-and-backs.  Actually I knew that the race did, but for some reason as I went out on the first one, I thought blissfully that they had changed the course and I didn’t have to go out for the second one.  I know I said something inappropriate when I saw the runners doing the u-turn to head back down the second one.  It’s funny because I knew how long the race was, and I knew how many miles were left.  I even told myself, “you have to run the same distance whether you’re near the lake or on the bike path…”  But the fact that I still wasn’t going to leave the marina area just hit me hard, since I had convinced myself it was time to get up on the bike path.  But in actuality, this was probably the best part of the race because I was giving high fives and cheering for the other runners the whole time.

Double out-and-backs

Double out-and-backs 

The wind was pretty brutal in miles 9-10, as we ran back up the river bike path right into the wind.  It was a beautiful day (it still is) but that wind was vicious!  I think that those seem to be two of the worst miles in a half marathon, and to run them into a cold headwind was like torture!

Somewhere around mile 8, I turned off the Garmin pace display because I realized I was checking it way too often.  So I was pretty surprised when I finished around 2 hours – would have expected it to be a bit slower, especially considering that I walked a few times. Oh, well!

splits qcdc

So there it is:  My 8th half marathon, complete.  Now:  time to relax and do nothing the rest of the day.

Oh, wait. I’m a mom of three. I’m sure I will have to do something. 🙂



In fact, it’s time to go round up the little one for a nap he doesn’t want to take.  Wish me luck.

Distance Mothering

When you’re a working mom, sometimes the easiest things are a struggle. And the hard things? They can feel impossible.

This has been shown to be true again this week. I’m out of town for work, and when I am out of town, nothing is easy.

Excuse me while I vent about how hard my life is. You can skip the rest if you want to avoid the whining… 

In order to even consider going on a trip, I have to plan ahead. Actually, any change in my schedule requires advance planning, but the amount of work required to prepare for a trip out of town becomes overwhelming.

First I have to figure out where the toddler should go. You see, I work part time, so I don’t work every day. If I need to travel on a day I am not scheduled to work, I have to arrange someone to watch him for that day.

Then I have to figure out how to transport this toddler to and from said babysitter. My husband is unable to take him in the morning, so I have to resort to recruiting the sitter (usually my mom) to come out to our house early in the morning. This way she is there before he has to head to work. This week I even had to ask Grandma to keep the toddler overnight, because there wasn’t a good way to transport him between her house and our house while I was gone.

Usually my husband can take the older boys to school. But sometimes, he has early morning meetings, and so then I have to recruit someone to come even earlier to our house before he leaves (like 6 am) and help get the boys on the school bus. Luckily that is usually only once a week.

But next, I have to figure out where my two older boys should go after school. You see, I work a compressed schedule so that I can be home each evening when they get off the bus. If I can’t be there, I have to figure out who I can bribe ask to meet them after school. This usually involves asking family members to be at our house after school.

Once I have figured out what to do with the boys after school, then I have to check and see what other activities we might have going on. Is there soccer practice one night? Do I need to make sure that any special school projects are done? Does my oldest know where his library book is?

By the time I’ve made all these arrangements, I’m mentally exhausted. And I still haven’t even thought about my trip. Many times I’ve done so much to figure out how to cover my absence that I no longer want to go on the trip.

That’s what happened this week. A week ago, I was convinced that I shouldn’t be gone. The stress of figuring out how to get everyone in the right place, at the right time, with adult supervision, was overwhelming.

But, after a gentle nudge from my boss and assurances from my mom that we were covered, I decided to go ahead and make the trip. And a few hours in, I was already regretting it. Honestly, about 20 minutes into the 6 hour drive, when I realized the rental car had no cruise control, I should have realized that was the first sign that this trip was not going to be “normal.” (whatever that is…)

Two days in and I had already had two crises at home. They were minor crises, nothing that required me to head home, but crises nonetheless. First, I spent 30 minutes on the phone when I should have been enjoying a baseball game. I won’t get into why I was on the phone, because that’s personal. But I can say that I definitely felt awkward having that conversation behind a major league baseball stadium, within earshot of all the smokers, as I tried not to cry and failed.

Then the next day, my meetings were interrupted by a phone call from my husband – my oldest son had been in trouble at school. It’s not an easy task, trying to parent from 425 miles away. I’m in the hallway trying to have a conversation with my 7-year-old, explaining how disappointed I am in him, while he sobs into the phone. So there I am, trying hard not to cry (and failing…there’s nothing quite like hearing your child cry and not being able to even put your arm around him).

Given all this emotional drama, I have been drained of energy. Last night, everyone else was going out for drinks, and all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and go to bed. So, that’s basically what I did.

I’m sure that all of this would not feel quite so stressful if I had been running regularly the last few weeks. Running always helps balance out my world, my mental state. It keeps me sane and gives me that time alone to work through my thoughts and emotions. But when I get stressed, all I really want to do is sleep. If I ever start complaining about being so very tired, chances are I am exhausted from stress.

So this week I have been extremely tired. The TV in the hotel room hasn’t come on. Nope, not once. I haven’t opened the book I brought. I haven’t even worked on the hat I’m knitting for my son. I have done nothing productive in this hotel room. All I’ve done is sleep.

Couple my stressed-out-tired-state-of-mind with this week’s conference schedule, and you can bet that I haven’t hit that hotel treadmill. In fact, I haven’t run at all since Saturday. Last week wasn’t exactly a great training week. And if you remember right, I have a half marathon on Sunday, so I’m kind of freaking out about that…

But in the end, I am not trying to win this weekend. I’m just running to have fun. So I don’t really care what my time is, as long as I enjoy myself. And to me, that’s the most important part: that I have fun. Someone remind me of that at mile 10, please?

Luckily, tonight I was able to go out with a few coworkers and have a little fun. I enjoyed some good beer (and no, it wasn’t Coors Light!), and I even got a few free t-shirts from a local sports radio station.

So, I’m more than ready to go home tomorrow. It’s only been a few days, but I miss my boys. I want to sleep in my own bed and wake up next to my husband. Right now, I wouldn’t even mind my youngest waking me up at 3:30 am. I was able to video chat with the boys tonight and all I wanted to do was scoop the little one up and snuggle with him. Every night I rock him before bed. Every night when I’m tucking in the older boys, I talk with them about the best parts of their day. I love hearing what they think was “awesome” that day. These are just a few of the little things I miss when I’m gone.

Luckily, tomorrow I will be able to do all these things, and I am already so grateful for that.

Reverse addiction

Some say running is like an addiction.  Once you start running, you can’t stop.  People get sucked into running and find they must run – every. single. day.  They go through withdrawal when they can’t run, a day or more out of their running shoes and they are going crazy.  They have to run.

It’s kind of true, I suppose.  But I’ve never been one that’s compelled to run every day.  Sure, I’d like to.  But I tend to run more at the opposite end of the spectrum.

You see, not running, for me, is the trigger.   It starts with skipping a run.  Then another.  Then maybe another.  By the time I’ve hit three days of not running, I’m not going crazy with withdrawal symptoms.  I’ve lapsed back into “I don’t wanna” syndrome.

I know this all too well.  Why?  Because it happened to me again this week.  You would think that less than two weeks from a half marathon, I would be trying as hard as humanly possible to hit all my training runs.  But apparently that is not quite how my brain works.  Let’s roll back in time to last weekend.

Initially I planned to head out for a long 11-12 mile run last weekend.  But due to life in general, I ended up with an almost-7 mile run Sunday afternoon instead: “The Run That Almost Didn’t Happen.”  I was literally sitting in the recliner getting ready for an afternoon of football, when I finally convinced myself to just go out for a run, however long or short it would be.

Then soccer practices (which started up this week) hit, and Monday and Tuesday evenings one of us was out with a child at soccer while the other one stayed home: fed, bathed, and put the little one to bed.  Then on Wednesday I needed to take the two older boys out for a walk so they could get credit for their “Walk on Wednesday (WoW)” program at school.  I took them out to the canal (where I usually run).  By the time I got home and they were in bed, the last thing I wanted to do was to drive back out to the canal again.

So I hadn’t run all week when yesterday rolled around.  I wasn’t really optimistic about a great run, but I knew that I wouldn’t be running today (Friday).  One of the jogging stroller tires blew last Friday, and I don’t have it repaired yet.  So running with the littlest one was out of the question.  And it’s not like I could leave him at home, you know?

So last night I headed out for a run, and I was surprised when I felt pretty good.  I typically am not a great evening runner, I just feel better in the mornings.  But it was working for me, and I was able to get a quick 4 miles in.

But again, due to the jogging stroller issue, a run was not in the cards today.  Sure, I could have gone to the gym, paid for babysitting, and run on the treadmill, but I haven’t been to the gym in months, and I just haven’t been able to bring myself to go back yet.  As soon as the weather is too cool or too rainy, I’m sure I’ll be back, but I haven’t hit that point yet.  Combine that with a 2 year old who woke up before 5 am today, and I am enjoying a(nother) day off.

I am not sure exactly where this post is going.  I know where it started, but I’ve already rambled on long enough.  Typical.  If you’ve read this far you must really like me 🙂  I’m not going to try and salvage it, I’m just going to publish and hope that it made some sort of coherent sense.

In other notes, I’m excited to be working on another shoe review, hopefully it will be coming early next week.  And I’m headed out of town on a business trip next week, so perhaps you’ll even get to see some posts from me about that.  Nothing like hotel treadmills to spark deep thoughts.

Half marathon next weekend…



OUCH! Race – (almost) Half Marathon

Yesterday, I ran my first official half marathon of the year, the OUCH! Half Marathon.  This was another of the LiveUncommon Race Team events, and it was awesome.  This was the second year for the event, which actually consists of three races (a 5k, a 9k, and half marathon).  In my opinion it’s pretty ambitious to put on a half marathon – this distance requires lots of support, volunteers, and hard work to do it right.  I like to think I kind of understand this, for a few years I have worked on the race committees for two local 5k events, and I know how hard it can be to adequately support and staff a 5k course with volunteers, let alone three separate races, one of which covers 13.1 miles.  But they did, and overall it went fairly smoothly. 

The goods: not bad for a small race!

The race started and ended at a hospital, and all money from the race went to their wound care/diabetes care center.  They raised over 18,000 dollars for the center, which I think is amazing.  Especially considering that this was a very small race – about 60 half marathon runners participated.  I have no idea how many runners did the 5k or 9k races.

At the beginning of the race, I started running with Emily, one of my LiveUncommon teammates, and a fellow Deere employees.  She mentioned that she had already run 7 miles (she had 20 on the schedule).  Note: she is a ROCK STAR.  She asked what my goal was for the race.  I told her my goal for this summer was a sub-2:00 half marathon, but that I wasn’t sure this was the race for it.  Emily volunteered to try and pace me, so I figured I’d go ahead and try for it.  We took off at what felt like an easy pace, and turned out to be sub-8:30’s for a while.  Against my better judgement, I figured I’d go ahead and take it, and bank a little bit of time for the finish, knowing there were crazy hills coming up.

There were plenty of water stations, I forgot to count to see if they actually had the advertised 7 on the course, but it felt like we hit one every 2 miles, so I think they were all there. Since this was a half marathon course through neighborhoods, there were several turns (which is always good to keep from getting bored).  The good:  it seemed they had a volunteer at every cross street to help to stop traffic and keep the runners safe.  The not so good:  Several times on the course we weren’t sure which way to turn, and oddly enough there wasn’t someone there to direct us.  Luckily there were a few runners ahead of us within sight so we were able to figure it out.  I’d recommend for next year that if they can’t have a volunteer at every turn, that they put up a few signs at the turns just so we can see which way to go.  It would have been easy to make a wrong turn in a few places.  Even a simple yard sign with an arrow would have been plenty.  A few times also, the police (there were so many officers on the course, this was GREAT!) had to tell us which way to go.  I am so thankful for everyone who was out there on the course, and I told each one of them thank you as we ran by.  (I hope that wasn’t too annoying to those around me…)

Emily and I actually talked and sometimes laughed the whole time.  Even the Belmont hill (which was as steep and painful as advertised) didn’t seem too bad once we were up it.  Several times I could hear fellow teammate and coach John in my head telling me that if I had the energy to talk and laugh, that I wasn’t running hard enough.  Thanks, John… 

During the race Emily kept asking how we were doing, and I was checking my watch.  Oddly enough, each time we’d pass a mile marker my watch was showing that we were 0.3 mile or so behind (when we crossed the 11 mile marker my watch said 10.7, for example).  But also each time, I would see that we were well under the 2:00 pace.  In fact, when we hit 9 miles, I looked at my watch and realized that even if we ran the last 4 at 10:00/mile pace, we’d be done under 2 hours.  That was a pretty good feeling.  Emily’s legs were starting to tire (undoubtedly!) and so were mine. 

We came in to the finish, and I was thrilled to see a 1:52 on the clock.  Later when I checked my Garmin, I realized it said I had run 12.77 miles.  A few other people also had a similar result on their watches, so I think it’s probably unanimous that the race was short of a half marathon (13.1 miles).  But…even if I had walked another half mile, I could have still finished under 2:00.  So I’m taking this as a PR, and hoping that I can repeat or do even better at the QC half marathon in a month.

I’m pretty proud of myself, and so thankful to Emily for talking with me for two hours.  Had I been running alone, I’m sure I would have slowed down.  I guess it’s just further proof that I am a social runner.

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