London Marathon

Running the London Marathon has been on my ‘bucket list’ ever since I first conceived the idea that I might one day run 26.2 miles. I watched the London Marathon unfold on the television year after year as a child, scanning the crowds visible on screen, looking for interesting costumes or perhaps the glimpse of the familiar face of a friend or family member. My Mum and Dad ran the event together in 1985. They returned home triumphant, walking unevenly on sore legs, telling tales of roaring crowds, cobblestone streets, and the friendly comraderie of like-minded runners. They told us how they huddled together clad in black bin bags before the event, and then after the event, crowded onto the tube wearing their medals with pride, wrapped in silver mylar blankets that looked like futuristic space-capes. The silver space-capes were the best gift a returning parent could present to us kids after the marathon, fuelling weeks of imaginative super-hero intergalactic adventuring.

I have entered the London Marathon lottery 3 times in the past 4 years, but had never managed to secure a spot. Still, I was determined to run it someday, somehow. I had a partially formed plan that involved running for a charity – most likely for Guide Dogs – and had a vague idea that I would pursue this plan for either the 2016 or 2017 event. Running a marathon in 2015 wasn’t on my radar at all – between a new job, an upcoming family wedding and a variety of other commitments and plans, I had decided that running the 3M half marathon and the Austin half marathon was going to be plenty for me to deal with this year. And then in early January, the chance to run the 2015 London Marathon appeared on the horizon. When opportunity knocks, you’ve got to open the darn door. Never mind that my “long run” was only at 8 miles and we were only 15 weeks out from the event. Never mind that I wasn’t sure how I would get the time off work to participate. Never mind that plane tickets to London don’t grow on trees. I’d figure all that out if it meant I got to run London. There was no way I was going to decline. I said yes.

A plan formed. Me, Teresa, Jill and Christopher would run London. I outlined a training plan to get us up to 26.2 miles in time. Jill came up with costume ideas. Teresa proposed travel itineraries. It was all very exciting.

We were going to run the marathon!

When the alarm rang at 6.30am on Sunday April 26th I was already awake, curled up in a ball on the bed, peering out from beneath my duvet at the gear I had set out the night before. I brushed my teeth and put on sunscreen and liberally applied body glide to all the bits that are prone to chafing. I put on my super-cute Princess Anna race outfit. I ate a peanut butter sandwich and had a cup of tea. I gathered my kit bag and headed down to the hotel lobby with Teresa to meet Jill and Christopher at 7.15am.

By 7.30am, we were all piled onto red London buses and headed to the Green starting area in Blackheath. The roads we were driving on were lined with silver barriers as teams of people closed the streets in preparation for the marathon. We drove past the 12 mile marker and I did a quick mental calculation of when I might see that point of the course again – I reckoned it would be sometime around 12.30pm, which was quite sobering given that it wasn’t even 8am yet!

We arrived at the Green start around 8am. It was cold and drizzling and the grass was wet. I felt excited and nervous. We went over to the Guinness World Record area where Jill had her picture taken and signed autographs as Cinderella. Then we were able to get access to one of the tents, which was super awesome because it was a lot less wet and cold inside the tent, and the loos had a much shorter line. Yay! So with 2 hours to go until the marathon was due to start, we settled in to our tent to wait. I fiddled with my gear. I redid my hair 3 times. I snacked. I chatted with my friends and tent-mates and took a bunch of pictures. Basically, I did everything I could to not think too much about the run itself. Mark came by the Green start and I ventured out into the cold to see him briefly. I put my kit bag on the gear truck so it would be waiting for me at the finish line.

Finally, it was time. We lined up at 10am for a 10.10am start time. Oh the nerves! Ahhhh! So awesome! So scary!

And then we were running! There were spectators lining the route beginning as soon as we exited the starting chute. Mark was at the very first corner, cheering us on and trying to take pictures in the madness of it all. I fell in beside Teresa and the two of us tucked in behind Jill and Christopher for the first couple of miles, following the wake of Jill’s Cinderella skirt. I tried to control my breathing and take it all in. My feet were completely numb from being wet and cold, but the rest of me felt pretty good. We ran through a residential area that had speed humps every few hundred meters, and each hump had a volunteer standing by it shouting “Hump!”. Eventually my toes defrosted enough to regain feeling. Unfortunately, once I could feel my toes, I realized my wet socks were bunched up and bothering me. I talked to Teresa and agreed that I would pull off to the side and straighten out my socks when there was an opportunity. We pulled over and I straightened out my socks as best I could, then jammed my feet back into my shoes and started running again. Teresa was right by my side, but Jill and Christopher stayed back to take a little walk break.

Teresa and I chatted. I was still feeling nervy. There were so many runners everywhere! Just an endless stream as far as I could see in front and behind! Then the Green start merged with the Blue start and suddenly there were even more runners! A river of runners, completely filling both lanes of the road, bouncing along on fresh legs. I tried to take it all in. There were just so many people. And even at this early stage of the course, there were plenty of spectators cheering us all on.

The next few miles are a blur of chatter and crowd watching. We saw all sorts of costumes – running beer bottles, running apples, running Spongebob Squarepants, a giraffe, a gorilla, all manner of sparkly dresses and tutus on both men and women. It quickly became apparent that as Princess Anna of Arendelle, my best audience was the under-10 girls set – they were the ones who called out and cheered for Princess Anna, tugging on their parents’ sleeves and waving enthusiastically as I passed by. It seems that the cult of Anna/Frozen has not yet reached the more mature masses. Ah, well. Teresa, dressed in an adorable Bambi t-shirt and wearing reindeer antlers on her head fared better with the crowd. She got a lot of “Go, Bambi!”, many “Go, reindeer!” and several “Go, Rudolph!”. Of course, Jill, running in a full-length hooped Cinderella dress complete with tiara and long white gloves was the smash hit! People loved Cinderella! As they should.

The London crowds were simply amazing from start to finish. They really cheer people on. Most runners had their names printed on their shirts, and the crowds then specifically cheer for “Fred” or “Mary”….or “Fat Paul” or “Baldy Bob”…..you get the idea. In the US there are lots of people with funny and/or encouraging signs, but they only really shout and cheer when “their” runners go by. In London, there were far fewer signs, but the crowds cheer for everyone, all the time. It’s like running through a street party at times – there were people dressed in tuxes cheering and drinking pints on the side of the road, there were families having barbecues and handing out sweeties. There was a non-stop soundtrack of pop music and brass bands and drum ensembles to go along with the cheering. It never let up.

We ran past the Cutty Sark and wound our way through the streets. We took a quick bathroom break and I took off one of my shirts, hoping to pass it to Mark sometime soon. I had no idea where we actually were, but I kept scanning the crowd and looking for a familiar face. Sometime around mile 9, I saw Mark and Derek and Indira cheering for us on the side of the road, but there were too many runners between us and them, so we just waved and kept on going. I took off my Anna cape and tied it to my flip belt, not wanting to wear it anymore, but unwilling to let it go. (Ha!). The mile markers kept ticking past until at a certain point things started to look a bit familiar. I realized Teresa had pulled directly alongside me and was looking straight at me. “What is it?”, I asked, looking around. And then I saw it. Tower Bridge was just ahead! Teresa knew it was coming up, but it caught me by surprise. The crowd on the bridge seemed to cheer even louder as we crossed. There was music playing and my heart just swelled with the enormity of it all. I was running the London Marathon. Right here, right now. And as I tried my best to drink in the moment, looking beyond the crowd and out over the Thames, my eyes filled with tears.

I felt a certain satisfaction as we hit the 12 mile marker just before 12.30pm, as I had predicted we would, and thought how slowly and yet how fast the time had gone between getting on the bus and getting to where we were. Almost half way! There were speedy runners going back in the other direction, going through the 22m mark as we approached 13m. They only had 4 miles to go. I had….a lot more…. But no sense in worrying about it. One foot in front of the other. More crowds, more cheering, more music. My Garmin buzzed and beeped and we steadily chewed through the miles.

Sometime around mile 16 we ran through an area that was just a wall of sound – drums beating, people shouting. Then I saw Mark in the crowd. He was holding up the sign Alexander and Suzanna made for me, and I just lost it. By the time I got to him I was crying like a baby. Naturally, he found this concerning. “Are you alright?”. “Yes. I’m fine! I’m great! It’s just so amazing and overwhelming!”, I sobbed as I lobbed my sweaty t-shirt at him.

We ran through more neighbourhoods, more street parties, more friendly supporters. I joined the crowd in singing along with “Hi ho Silver Lining” which was blasting from a stereo system along the route. I accepted a dollop of Vaseline to quell some potential chafing under my arms, I accepted half a banana from someone and a handful of Jelly Babies from another random stranger . I was starting to tire. Unfortunately, without the pink cape, it was harder for my already limited fan base to identify Princess Anna. Teresa suggested putting the cape back on, so as to draw from its super powers. I did. I felt better.

Around mile 21 we saw Jill’s husband Dick on the side of the road. He gave each a hug, told us we were looking great and asked me how I was feeling. Apparently I told him I was ready to be done. I don’t even remember that, but I was speaking the truth.

Then we hit the point where the 12 mile marker was on the other side of the road. There were still a few people on the course, marching onwards as the marathon crew started their clean-up operations, collecting all the discarded bottles and gu packets and scrubbing the blue course guide lines off the tarmac. Gosh, those people still had a long way to go! I just had 4 miles to go. Just 4 miles. Still 4 miles. Ugh. I was tired.

We saw a golden retriever puppy in the crowd. Puppy!

We ran into a tunnel and Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ was playing. “This is Suzanna’s favourite request in the car at the moment!” I told Teresa. I sang along. ‘Roar’ ended and “Eye Of The Tiger” started blasting. “This is Alexander’s favourite request in the car at the moment!” I told Teresa. “It’s like they are cheering you on!” said Teresa. And I thought about it and decided it was the Universe’s way of letting my children cheer for me from far away. And I cried. Again.

3 miles to go. Plod, plod, plod. The crowds were on fire with their enthusiastic cheering. We ran along Embankment, towards the picture postcard icons of London’s skyline – the London Eye, the Thames, The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. Big Ben struck 3pm. 2 miles to go. An airplane flew overhead through the postcard setting. We turned right in front of Big Ben, and ran past Westminster Abbey. The church bells were ringing. It was like the entire city of London was putting on a show for us. It was amazing. I took deep breaths.

1 mile to go.

As we turned onto Birdcage walk, I realized that Buckingham Palace and the finish line were both oh-so-close, and I totally lost it. I was about to finish the London Marathon and I was so happy and so emotional and the crowds were cheering so loud that I cried. Again. And the more I cried the more the crowd cheered and the more they cheered the more I cried. It was ridiculous!

Teresa and I rounded the final corner together, and I barreled towards the finish line with the last of my strength. We held hands, raised our arms high, and crossed the line together. We got our medals. We did it.

I’d be lying if I said it was easy. It was not easy. But it was amazing. It was fantastic. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

I am so thankful to Jill, Dick, Christopher, Teresa and of course Mark for the whole fabulous London Marathon experience. I’m thankful for all my AWDAT buddies who trained with me and made the long runs not just bearable but actually fun. I’m thankful for my parents for introducing me to the idea of the London Marathon in the first place and for taking care of my kids so Mark and I could be in London together for this. I’m thankful for my sisters and all my friends who supported me both in person and from afar with messages of encouragement.

And last but not least, I’m thankful for my children for bringing me cups of tea on the sofa after long training runs when I just didn’t want to get up. You’ll be pleased to hear that I brought back a silver mylar marathon blanket for each of my kids, and that the blankets are currently being used as props in imaginative adventures for superhero space travellers. Maybe one day they will run the London Marathon.

Check-In

I have run 152 miles year-to-date, which is *exactly* where I need to be to be right on track to accumulate 900 miles in 2012.

I have barely run at all in the past 2 weeks, but I have a little coasting room thanks to all the marathon mileage accrued.

Now my challenge will be to keep up some steady mileage even though I’m not training for anything in particular.

Or perhaps I should just pick an event to keep me on my toes!

Austin Marathon Race Report

I suppose I should go ahead and write this thing before I forget everything about the event.

Let’s just start by saying that I went into this marathon with a less-than-ideal lead up. I don’t want to make excuses for my slower-than-wanted time, but I also want to remember that I might be able to do better in the future. For a start, I went to Singapore for a jam-packed work week just 2 weeks before the event. When I got home, I was tired, run-down and my kids and husband were down with a cold. Which meant that 4 days after I got back, despite obsessive handwashing and using every prevention potion as my disposal (Airborne, Zicam, ColdCalm homeopathic tablets, multivitamins etc), I too came down with a cold. Which in itself was inconvenient. But then I managed to make things significantly worse for myself by coughing so hard that I popped a rib out of place just 3 days before the marathon. Except I didn’t know that I’d popped a rib at the time. I just knew my chest hurt a lot on my left side and I couldn’t take a deep breath without doubling over in pain.

Fortunately, I happened to have an appointment with an acupuncturist that afternoon (see what I mean about throwing every possible prevention and cure at my cold?!) and she quickly diagnosed me as having a rib out of joint (!) and directed me to the chiropractor. The chiropractor poked at me a bit and then swiftly put my bones back where they belonged. The relief was instantaneous. Unfortunately, I was left with some pretty painful bruising on my left side that ached when I took a deep breath. Not ideal.

But I was determined!

Day 47 of 365

At the marathon expo, I stopped by a booth that had a PT guy doing demonstrations with kinesio tape. He took a look at my ribs and poked at me and then taped me up and poked at me again. The tape solution was amazing! I could barely feel my injury once he taped me up. I slept significantly better that night as a result. Things were looking up! I would run this marathon!

Day 48 of 365

I laid out my outfit and all my gear the night before the race and set my alarm for 5.30am. I made myself a bowl oatmeal with a blob of peanut butter the night before too, and ate that in the morning along with a cup of tea. Then it was time to head out to the start.

The expected start time for the marathon was 7am, and I pulled up and parked in the general vicinity of the starting line at around 6.15am, which gave me plenty of time to meet up with Nora and her friend Luz and get through the portapotty line. Or so I thought. Turns out, the portapotty lines were very long and very slow! The starter’s gun fired just as I stepped out of the loo. Nora and Luz were right behind me and together we hurried over to the start. In our haste to join the race, I failed to take any notice at all of where the different pace groups were lined up and just jumped right in.

And then we were off! Whee!

My plan was to run the first 3 miles of the race without taking any Galloway walk breaks and then transition into my 3:1 run:walk ratio plan. And initially, things went pretty much to plan.

Everything was rosy for the first 9 miles or so. I ran the first couple of miles with Nora and Luz before dropping back and running alone. The weather was lovely, the crowds were encouraging, I was on pace and feeling pretty good in my Supergirl outfit.

I got a lot of Super comments from the crowd: “Go Supergirl!”. “Go Superwoman!”. “Nice job Superman!” and my two personal favourites – “Hey! Superchick!” and “Wooo! Supermomma!”. And I got a lot of comments and compliments from my fellow female runners about my sparkly skirt. So that was fun. I enjoyed taking in the crowd around me too. I ran behind a group of people with “Yeah. This is great!” written on the backs of their shirts. I couldn’t make up my mind whether they were being sarcastic or enthusiastic, so I asked them. They said it depended which mile marker they were at. I said I could relate.

My favourite signs from this section of the race were “You look smart AND pretty!” and a sign that had several pictures of Ryan Gosling on it that read “Hey Girl! You’re doing so awesome. Guess who’s waiting for you at Mile 12?”. That one made me laugh out loud.

But there were hills. Lots of hills. And although I knew this going in, those hills kicked my butt even more than I thought they would. The hills started at mile 9 (well, actually miles 3-6 were uphill too) and didn’t let up until mile 20. Which is a long way to run uphill. By mile 10 I was getting uncomfortable. And then I remembered I hadn’t eaten anything, and even though I really didn’t feel like eating, I shoved down a couple of ClifBloks. Fortunately, just as I started really drooping, my friend Jami was there by my side. She jumped in at around mile 10.5 and chattered at me the rest of the way up Winstead.

Austin Marathon profile

The half-marathoners split off at the top of Winstead, heading right towards the finish line as the marathon course heads left up Enfield and then up Exposition. As I watched the half-marathoners turn off, I desperately wanted to follow them. They only had a couple more miles to go, whereas I had another 15+ miles ahead of me. I was feeling pretty grim. The pack thinned out considerably after the half-marathoners escaped and the spectators were few and far between on this stretch. I was immensely grateful to have Jami with me, but even her excellent company wasn’t enough to keep the negative thoughts from creeping in. My legs felt heavy and my lungs were sore from all the huffing and puffing. I knew I was starting to fall behind my goal pace, and with every mile that crept by, it seemed less and less likely that I would manage to pull off a sub-5 hour time.

Still, I plodded on.

My friend Cherie jumped in for a mile or so joining me and Jami at mile 14 and although I was very pleased to see her, I didn’t say much. I was not feeling good and I was not feeling happy. And it sucked. Indeed, the next few miles were a complete suckfest. Even the sight of Mark, Alexander, Suzanna and the Karlis cheering me on at mile 17 on Great Northern wasn’t enough to perk me up.

And then Lennie found me in the crowd on Great Northern. She jogged with me and Jami to the top of Great Northern, talking about this and that and generally giving me some encouragement. Somewhere on that stretch of road, I realised that most of what was making me miserable was that I was off pace and would not meet my time goal. I was deep in thought when Jami said her goodbyes at the top of Great Northern, leaving me with Lennie. Then Katie showed up and shortly after that Billie was by my side too. They all told me I was doing great and gave me hugs and high fives all round as they chattered at me. My Mum was there as well, taking pictures on her cell phone and shouting about how proud she was of me. And it began to dawn on me that the only person my time mattered to was….me. And if I wanted to get through the next 9 miles and not be miserable, I should adjust my goals and my attitude. So I did.

Marathon mile 18ish

My sisters were only there for a short time, but when they left, I was immediately joined by my friend Deb who jumped in to keep me company for a few miles. By the time I hit mile 19, I was happy again. I had some Gu and a couple more ClifBloks and took some longer walk breaks. Deb did a great job of distracting me with little stories and light discussion. I felt pretty good as we trundled down Woodrow. Onwards!

Deb left me at around mile 22 and Laura jumped in to see me to the finish line. (Have I mentioned how awesome my friends are? Because they are totally awesome.). I was doing OK, but getting progressively more tired. I kept on trucking, mentally ticking off each mile that passed. I watched the crowds and enjoyed the support. I chatted with Laura. I saw a few familiar faces in the crowd – some parents from Alexander’s school, some TriZones people that I recognised but don’t know well, Amy Bush and her camera. My Dad was along this section of the route cheering me on too. My friend Shannon was working on the waterstop around this part of the race, and she was jumping up and down with a “GO KRISTEN!” sign just for me as I ran past! My own sign! That gave me a big lift! She gave me a quick hug and I kept on moving. Not far to go now!

Day 49 of 365

Except it felt like it was far. I was fatigued. Things were hurting. My left calf was threatening to cramp (fortunately it never did) and my hamstrings and hips were sore. My feet were getting tender. My lungs and ribs hurt. It seemed like the mile markers got further apart. There were some signs in km, which really irritated me because I wanted to know how far I had to go in miles, and I was trying to do the calculations but my brain couldn’t handle the maths.

We finally made it to San Jacinto and I knew the finish line wasn’t much further. But it was uphill! And I couldn’t see the darn finish! And GAH, I wanted this race to be OVER. I made it to the final chute and tried to pick up my legs and barrel on home. I crossed the line in 5hrs 15min and change. I was elated to be done.

Except then I had to walk all the way back to my car, which was about a 2 mile trudge because of all the race barriers set up. I waddled slowly, wanting to sit down, but afraid that if I did, I might never get up. It took a while, but I made it back to my car, did some stretching, got in and started to drive for home.

As soon as I pulled out of my parking space, I got pulled over by a State Trooper. I was apparently driving the wrong way down a one way street. Ooops! Fortunately, the Trooper was lenient and I got off with a warning.

Home at last.

Post marathon soak

I soaked my legs in the neighbour’s pool for 10 mins in an attempt to ward off or minimize soreness, and then ate a Kerbey Lane omlet and a blueberry pancake. Hot bath. Into bed. Nap time.

I did it. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but it was DONE, and I was happy. The end.

January Running Update


January running totals, originally uploaded by krisalis.

I ran 83 miles in January!

I have been thinking about my running goals for 2012, and came to the conclusion that I’d like to target to run 10% more mileage in 2012 than I did in 2011. My 2011 mileage came in at 815 miles, so 10% increase would be 896.5 miles, which rounds up nicely to 900 miles.

If I’m going to run 900 miles this year, my average monthly mileage target is 75 miles, so I’m just ahead at the moment. But of course, right now I am neck deep in marathon training and doing a lot of higher mileage long runs. The marathon is next month and I anticipate that I’ll want to slack off a bit after that. Then it’s gonna get hot. So…I don’t think this is an “easy” goal, but it should be manageable provided I stick with it.

3M Race Report

I was feeling very uneasy going into the 3M half marathon. I was on day 8 of a 10 day course of antibiotics, had been down with a nasty stomach flu the weekend before the event and endured a rough evening at the Dell Children’s ER with Suzanna and her split lip on Friday night. I felt over-stressed, under-prepared and generally not in the right head space.

And yet, the 3M race ended up being great for me.

The weather was perfect – cold, clear and sunny, with little or no wind. The course was kind – mostly downhill or flattish, with just a few hills here and there (it is Austin after all). My Galloway beeper and Garmin both behaved themselves properly. My race outfit was comfortably and, if I may say so myself, cute too.

My friend Catherine picked me up at my house a little after 5.45am and took me to the Embassy Suites up near the starting line. I was able to stay warm inside the hotel lobby and use a real bathroom before lining up at the start. I met up with Nora and Laura at the hotel and we all lined up together at around 6.30am and shuffled slowly towards the start.

The race started on time at 6.45am, and we moved forward with the crowd, crossing the starting mat around 6minutes after the starter’s gun went off. I hit my Garmin as I crossed the start, and wheee! we were off at last!

I stayed with Nora and Laura for the first 2 miles, running continuously, but opted to follow my Galloway based race plan when we hit the 2nd mile marker. I started my Galloway beeper, which was set to 3:1 ratio (3mins run, 1 min walk) and prepared to go it alone. But in a race like 3M, you are never really alone. There’s always something or someone to look at.

For example, I played my own game of “cat and mouse” with 3 girls wearing Minnie Mouse baseball caps (who I named Eeny, Meeny and Miney – Mo was nowhere to be seen) for the next few miles, where they would pass me each time I took a walk break, and then I would pass them when I started running again. That kept me amused for a while.

It was hard to make myself walk at the beginning. I felt good and fresh and I wanted to run, but I tried to throw that energy into making my running segments a bit faster, and it paid off. I was easily averaging under my goal pace of 10:40/mile, and with each mile that passed, I felt more and more confident that I could keep it going.

By the time I reached the stretch on Great Northern, I was nicely warmed up, running a decent pace and generally enjoying life. I had my first CliffBlok and finished off my water. Then I saw Mark, Alexander and Suzanna who were cheering me on near the Far West pedestrian flyover. And then Katie appeared like a tiny red-headed angel and ran the next couple of miles with me. She took my gloves and my buff, since it had warmed up and I didn’t need them any more and chattered at me which was a pleasant distraction, and then she took my water bottles and ran ahead to refill them for me so I wouldn’t have to stop at an aid station myself! Talk about good service! And I was on my own again.

Except, not for long! Shortly after I left Katie, I slowed down and started a walk break when I noticed my friend Deb running past me. I ran through my walk break and into my next run stretch with her, but quickly decided that I needed to stick to my own plan, because I needed to run faster when I was running in order to be able to continue taking my walk breaks. I was still easily hitting/beating my 10:40/mile goal pace and I was extremely keen not to mess that up! So I said good bye to Deb.

After I left Deb, my entertainment came from eavesdropping on the people around me and watching the crowds go by. There were some really fun signs this year. Some of my favourites were “Worst. Parade. Ever.” and the couple who had signs that read “Don’t stop now! Keep on going!” next to a sign that said “That’s what she said.”! Heh.

As I headed in to Mile 11, I decided that I was feeling good enough that I would just run the last 2 miles outright, without walk breaks. I could see that I was on track to run a good time, and I wanted to see just how good I could make it. Skipping the first walk break was easy. Skipping the second was not so easy. Skipping the third was downright difficult. But I pressed on.

At some point, I fell into step with some random guy and we ran alongside each other for about a quarter of a mile before one of us spoke, and we exchanged some mutual encouragement. And suddenly, I had my own personal running coach. Each time I slowed slightly or fell out of step, my new coach would tell me to keep on going. So I did. I stopped looking around and concentrated on just keeping up, putting one foot in front of the other. My self-appointed coach must be a Rogue runner, because all the Rogue people near the finish line were cheering for him. It felt a bit like running with a celebrity! At one point I said “If you’ve got gas in the tank, then please go for it. I can take it from here.” but to no avail, he wasn’t leaving me. We were in it together. So I pushed on towards the finish and crossed the line feeling fast and strong and…..ready to stop. My new friend turned and gave me a fist bump and a high-five and I thanked him profusely for running me in, and then we went our separate ways.

I finished 3M in 2hrs 17min, which is an average pace of 10.30/mile. I ran my last mile in 10.02, which is fast for me. My overall time ended up being a PR by 7 minutes! I was thrilled. I’m still thrilled!

I picked up my medal, got some water and a banana and made my way over towards the Bob Bullock museum to meet up with Catherine and head for home.

Good race.

Interview: Up and Running

Back in October of last year, Shauna of Dietgirl and What’s New Pussycat fame interviewed me as part of her Up & Running online 10k training program. The Up & Running blog is part of the program, so the content is not open for public viewing, but Shauna gave me permission to repost it here.

1. Your name
Kristen

2. Age (if you don’t mind sharing!)
36

3. Location
Austin, Texas

4. Occupation
I work in Sales for an Asia-based manufacturing company.

5. How did you “discover” running?
I ‘discovered’ running of my own accord sometime in 2002, which was the year before my wedding. I was looking for a way to shed a few pounds and perhaps some inches by squeezing in some exercise that didn’t require a gym and wouldn’t take up too much time. Running seemed to fit the bill. I would come home from work, pull on my running year and trudge round the block. Then my friend Andrea quit smoking and we decided to sign up for a race to celebrate. I think it was a 4k event. Then we signed up for another. And another.

6. How many days a week/kilometres do you train per week?
4-5 days per week, usually somewhere around 15-20 miles a week at the moment.

7. Can you describe your running history, particularly how/when you started increasing your distances. Did you have specific goals or just gradually started running further?
When I first moved to Austin in 2004, I didn’t know anyone outside my immediate family, and my job involved working from home. In an attempt to get out of the house, I joined a triathlon training group with the goal of doing the Danskin sprint triathlon. I met some really great people through that group, and we kept on hanging out long after the training group was over, egging each other on to undertake bigger and bigger challenges. First it was just Sprint triathlons, then someone upped the ante and we did an Olympic tri. At this stage, I was really only running because that was the part of the triathlon I had to suffer through to reach the finish line. We did a series of increasingly long bike rides, culminating in a 2-day 180mile ride (MS150) from Houston to Austin. And then came the Half Marathon challenge. But by then my attitude about running longer distances had shifted. I figured if I trained for it, I could probably do it. Inevitably, once I had a couple of Half Marathons under my belt, I decided to take a swing at the almighty Marathon. The progression from ‘OMG! I can’t run 10k!’ to “OMG! I’m going to try to run a Marathon!’ took around 6 years from start to finish.

8. How do you make time for running?
I get up early in the morning and creep out the house while the kids and my husband are still sleeping. It’s hard to wrestle myself out of bed, but I also know that if I don’t get my run in then, it’s probably not going to happen.

9. How do you feel during a run? What do you think about? How do you feel afterwards?
The hardest part for me is getting myself out the house. Once I start running, I usually perk up. I think about all sorts of things while I run – everything from my to do list, to where I’d like to go on some future dream holiday, to what I wish I had said to that rude old man in my neighbourhood who was horrible to my dog. Sometimes I just zone out and listen to my iPod. My favourite runs are the ones where I have company and someone to chatter endlessly with. After I finish my run, I feel accomplished. It’s a great feeling. I think that’s another reason I drag myself out of bed early in the morning to go for a run – because I know that once that run is done, I will have Achieved Something that day.

10. Do you do any cross-training? Does this help your running?
I swim a couple of times a week and sometimes I ride my bike at the weekend too. I don’t really think of those activities as cross-training though (although, I guess they are!). The swimming is just an enjoyable way to cool off after a run, and the bike ride is typically an excuse to get together with friends and combine exercise with some sort of social life. I do think the swimming helps prevent/minimize post-long-run aches and pains.

11. What does running mean to you? Has it changed your life and/or the way you feel about yourself? Were these changes surprising?
Running makes me feel strong and capable. Nowadays, I regularly run with a group of women, many of whom are in their late 50s and several in their early 60s. They are all strong, fit and they all look far younger than their years. I want that.

12. What’s your favourite fuel for running? Post-run fuel?
For longer distances, I like Gu (preferably the vanilla bean flavour). After a long run, I typically crave eggs. Eggs and pancakes. And a cup of tea. And a whole bunch of water.

13. What has been your most memorable running moment(s) thus far?
Crossing the finish line of the Austin Marathon in 2009 was pretty epic. I got all emotional about a mile from the end when I realised I was actually going to make it. Bizarre, no? I’d done all this training and made it all the way to mile 25 before I let myself believe I was really going to finish. My time was 5hrs7min, which was slower than I wanted it to be (I wanted to finish in under 5 hours), but I was so proud of myself!

14. Since your answers are going to be devoured by our 10K Course participants, we have to ask… what is your strategy for a 10K race?
I try to go out slow, try to pick it up at around the 5k mark, then bring it on home with all I’ve got left.

15. What’s next on your running agenda?
I’m signed up to run the Austin Marathon on February 19.

16. Do you have any running heroes that inspire you? (eg famous athletes, bloggers, authors, etc)
My family are constant source of inspiration to me. All three of my sisters are runners, and my youngest sister Lennie in particular is a truly gifted athlete. She also works harder than anyone else I know. She’s currently trying for a spot on the British Athletics team for the London 2012 Olympics. She’s a 3000m steeplechaser and the current UK National champion in that event. Did I mention she’s also in the middle of her PhD? Her work ethic is incredibly strong, and I really admire that.

Kris Howard (web-goddess.org, geekgirlrunner.com) has been a huge source of inspiration to me over the past couple of years. Kris has set some big goals for herself and then worked solidly towards achieving them. She completed Macleary River Marathon essentially alone and in the pouring rain. Hardcore! Kris set herself a goal of running 1100km in 2011 and invited others to join her. I put my name down and am currently working towards my 1100km for the year. (Update! I made it!) On days when I really don’t feel like going for a run, Kris’s challenge helps nudge me out the door for “just a short one”.

17. If we had a magic wand that would give you free entry into any race anywhere in the world right now, which one would you choose?
The London Marathon in 2012. Make it so!

2011 Running Summary

Hi there. Gosh, it’s been a while, eh?

Just popped in to let you know that I tallied up my running mileage for 2011, and I came in at 815.20 miles for the year, which is 1311.66 km.

The original goal was to get to 1100 km. So yay! I did it!

Here’s how my mileage broke by month in 2011.
January 52.2
February 48.04
March 57.71
April 70.15
May 61.7
June 50.8
July 57.75
August 77
September 92
October 95.15
November 71.05
December 81.65
Total = 815.20 miles

Thanks for the inspiration and motivation, Kris!

Of course, having been successful in 2011….now I’m thinking of what goals I want to set for myself for 2012.

I’m planning to run the Austin Marathon in February.
I’d like to do another tri at some point in time.
I’d like to ride my bike more.
I’d like to lose some weight. Those post pregnancy pounds are stubborn and aren’t going to budge until I do something about my diet.
I’d like to update the weblog more regularly again.
I’d like to sleep more and worry less.

Happy New Year everyone!

Running Update

I ran 57.75 miles in July and 11.9 miles in August month to date.

So, year to date, I’m at 410.25 miles or 660.1km on a target of 657km, giving me a teeny tiny cushion of 3.1km at present.

I was ill in July with what turned out to be sinusitis, so I was feeling pretty unwell for a couple of weeks and cut back my mileage somewhat as a result. I also spent a week in CA for work, and found it hard to get the miles in away from home. I managed a couple of shorter runs around the industrial estate adjacent to the highway where our hotel was, and those runs were even less picturesque than you might imagine. On the plus side, it was so lovely to run in the beautiful cool Bay Area weather!

I’ve been swimming and biking more recently (although those miles are not reflected in my summary above), and I am absolutely loving swimming in Barton Springs after running in the relentless Austin heat. It feels soooo goood to get into the cold water and swim a few laps as a cool down. Of course, adding swimming and biking back into the equation has my mind starting to think triathlon-shaped thoughts. Perhaps a wee Sprint tri on the horizon, just for fun? Hmmm.

Onwards.

Running Update

Gosh, it’s been a while since I updated on my 2011 mileage progress! It’s already halfway through the year. Definitely time to check in. The good news is that I’ve been pretty diligent about keeping up with my running, and I seem to be on track to hit the goal of running 1100km in 2011.

Here are my totals from April onwards:
April total: 70.15 miles
May total: 61.7 miles
June total: 50.8 miles
July month to date: 10 miles

So, year to date, I’m at 350.6 miles or 564.1km on a target of 554.5km, giving me a small cushion of 9.6km at present. Yay! I can do this!

Meanwhile, I’ve gone and signed up for a half marathon in October and the 3M half in January 2012. I also put my name in for the London Marathon 2012 lottery, but the chances of me being successful are slim. I’ll find out for sure in October whether I get to run London next year, or whether I need to keep on trying. I’ll find a way to do it eventually!

I’m enjoying running with my AWDAT peeps and I’m feeling motivated to keep on moving.