Saturday, May 2, 2015

Boston Dreaming

Remember when I thought things would slow down after the STAAR test? I'm not sure what I was on, but it seems as though things have picked up the pace. But that could be because finals are right around the corner, and I'm realizing just how much I have to do between now and then so that my students are adequately prepared to take it. Anyway, I am actually not going to talk about school in this post. What I meant by bringing that up is that I have been off my blogging game lately. It's getting harder and harder for me to squeeze in a weekday post, which is why I have yet to get back to you guys on the exciting fitnessandfroyo news I promised you in this postSo, let's first talk weather. The weather in Texas has been absolutely wonderful this week. I'm in full-on sandal mode these days, but when I walked out the door to go to school this week, the words "Oh, it's chilly out here!" surprisingly escaped my mouth. I mean, come on, it's May in Texas. And while I truly don't mind the heat, I'll take temperatures in the high 60's any day of the week.

Which leads me to the next item on the agenda - running. Before I get into the good stuff, I ran a race this morning! As a faithful Texas Ex, whenever I received an email about the 2015 Lone Star Stampede happening at the Houston Co-op, I immediately signed up. I always love a good 10K - it's easily my favorite distance - and the money raised goes towards scholarships for students attending UT. I can get on board with that. So, I woke up later than I do on a school day and hopped on I-10, which led me to 610, which led me to Uptown Park. I easily found the (free!) parking, and met my friend Cheyney in front of the Co-op before the race began.

As I mentioned above, the weather has been an absolute delight all week. This morning was not a disappointment, and I'd venture to say that the 55 degree temperatures at the start of the race were just about perfect. I started off fast - really fast - as my first mile came in at 7:22. Actually, the first four miles were under 8:00, and the last two came in at just over 8:00/mile. Certainly one of my fastest 10K races.

And as for the race itself, I had an absolute blast out there. I loved being among a sea of fellow Longhorns, many of them sporting burnt orange, and I saw quite a few familiar faces along the way. A perfect morning for a run through a beautiful Houston neighborhood.

And while we're on the subject of running, let's talk marathons. Some of you probably saw my Instagram post earlier this week, which talked of my recent marathon registration, and you knew what the exciting news was that I had to talk about. If you didn't see it - surprise! I registered to run a marathon. Yep. When I was much, much younger, and we still had a desktop computer, I remember sitting down and creating a Bucket List - things I want to do before I kick the bucket. Fingers crossed that I have a while before that one happens! And while some of the items on this list were somewhat silly - getting my driver's license and attending my high school prom, for example - some of them were a bit loftier. Travel to all 50 states. Skydive. Run a marathon. I haven't yet finished the first, I have crossed off the second, and earlier this week, I made the first move in crossing off the third. I signed up for my first full marathon. 

I know, I know. I'm crazy. That thought most definitely crossed my mind as I was reaching for my debit card to pay the entrance fee to this race. Which, by the way, was far cheaper than the entrance fee to running the Houston HALF Marathon. It pays to run a smaller race. So, let's move on toward the logistics, shall we?

The Race: The Woodlands Marathon
  • When I first decided that I really and truly wanted to start training for a marathon, my first thought was to change my Houston half registration into a full. And then I realized that had me training throughout the entire volleyball season, and let's be real, there's no way I will be running more than even 6 miles during volleyball season, and the training plans I have looked at call for a couple of 10 mile weekday runs. Sorry, but that's just not going to happen. Volleyball is the extracurricular priority in the fall. But, I did know that I wanted to run my race before it got too hot outside. Which brings me to my next point.

Race Date: Saturday, March 5th, 2016
  • The weather in Texas is very fickle, to use one of last week's vocabulary words, so there's really no telling what the weather will be like on race day. I've got my fingers crossed for temperatures no higher than 60 degrees, but realistically I've got to be prepared for anything. I really didn't want to travel for my first marathon, as I have read horror stories about the change in routine throwing people off their running game, so I knew I was going to stay in the state. Houston happens too early in the year, and Austin has too many hills, but a flat Woodlands course in the beginning of March seemed just right.

Training Plan: Hal Higdon's Marathon Novice Training Plan
  • I haven't solidified this one yet. Which I think is acceptable, seeing as I still have about ten months before race day. I have, however, looked into some different race plans. The one that seems to be the most popular is Hal Higdon's Novice Training Plan. I can't decide whether I'm going to go with Novice 1 or Novice 2, but I think his is the winner. It's 18 weeks long, and typically the midweek distances are equivalent to the weekend long run. I shudder to think of the day I venture out and run 20 miles, but I'm leaning towards finding a running group to join. I know Houston is full of them, and not only will it make those long runs easier (or so I hear), but I'm sure to meet some top notch people along the way.
But this training plan is where it's going to get tricky for me. I know I've talked on the blog before about how hard it is for me to truly take a rest day. Even on the days I intend to be rest days, I often end up doing something. However, I've read enough and I've heard enough to know that I have to take these rest days seriously. I can't only run, and what's even more important is that I make sure I am adequately fueling my body. I learned firsthand what it's like to run a long distance without enough food and water in my body, and it was not a fun experience. While I can't eat whatever I want - I've read that one over and over again, too - I also can't deprive myself of what my body needs and craves. Overall, I think this will be really good for me - both physically and mentally. I know that I have to rest in order to be successful, so unless I want to crash and burn the way my English classes did when I had them attempt to act out Shakespeare, I had better take those days seriously.

I have mentioned to a couple of teachers at school that I signed up for a marathon. Almost all of their first responses went something like this, "Oh, that requires a lot of discipline!" But then they followed it up with something encouraging, ie, telling me that I seem to be a very disciplined person. And I am. The reason I was so successful in the classroom is not because I'm naturally smart. It's because I knew the amount work that I would have to put in to it to get the results I wanted. It was the same thing with volleyball. Sure, some of it was athleticism. But it was repetition after repetition that allowed me to play at the level I played. So I'm not too worried about the discipline aspect of this. I know there will be times that I have to say no. I know this is going to be a lifestyle. But a girl can only run so many half marathons before she starts to crave a new challenge. And what better time to do it than when I'm young, right?

And I have a lofty goal for this first marathon of mine. I desperately want to run Boston one day, and I would love to knock it out with this first marathon. I know it's not a good idea for first-time marathon runners to have a goal time in mind, as the biggest goal should be to finish. And mine is, I promise. But I'm too competitive a person to not give myself something to aim for. I've got a lot of work to do, but that's never stopped me in the past. Obviously, Boston is the high goal for so many runners. And it's one that not everyone meets. In fact, for the age group I'm in, only 7.9 percent of marathoners - male or female - qualify to run Boston. So, while odds aren't necessarily in my favor, when have I ever let that discourage me? Getting a job at Bellaire my first year out of college was a longshot, but here I am, surviving each day (barely, some days). And I remember very vividly what happened on Marathon Monday in 2013. It shook me to my core and affected me more than I ever would have thought it would, because running means something different and special and personal to each individual runner, and to qualify for Boston the highest honor, and I couldn't believe that someone would try and take the joy and accomplishment away from so many. Ever since that day I knew I wanted to run Boston one day. Because I can run, and there are so many out there who can't. Because I'm not one to back down from a challenge, and I've learned that no dream is too big. Because I'll have to rely on strength that is not my own to get through this one, but I wouldn't want it any other way.


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