Thursday, February 15, 2018

Streaking

As of 1/1/18, I was officially 4 years into my workout streak!  I nearly forgot about it when I unintentionally got caught up in my first ever running streak from 6/20/17 to 1/14/18, and Facebook memories gave me the reminder that I forget about it every year until sometime in February!  Funny, I am still more proud of my not-quite 7 month running streak than I am of this 4 year workout streak.

I began the streak on 1/1/14 when was struggling with an injury and couldn't run, to help me be consistent with cross-training.  I made my own rules, which simply require a minimum of 10 minutes per day of exercise to "count".  It's rare that I only exercise for 10 minutes, but that leniency came in handy when I was suffering through cryptosporidium, when I had whatever intense virus I had 11 days before the Prairie Fire Marathon in 2016, during tapers, and in the first couple of days after marathons.  Plus, when I started the streak and couldn't run, on days that I dreaded cross-training it was easy to think, "Just 10 minutes and I can stop", which would get me started on the spin bike or whatever, and once I got going I'd go for a longer duration.  Let's face it, 10 minutes of anything isn't worth the laundry so you might as well get in a decent chunk of time!

It's been very easy for me to maintain this streak, because even before I started it I pretty much always exercised 6-7 days a week...this just made it more official!  I looked back at my training log, and although I technically started counting the streak on 1/1/14 to make it easy, the last day I took off was 12/27/13.  So as of today the total streak is 1511 days - 12/28/13 through 2/15/18! 

I don't really think this is significant in any way, but I also don't think I'll be letting it go!  Hopefully I can be a 90-year-old lady still plugging away at this crazy meaningless streak.  If I make it until I leave this world, someone note my total streak days in my eulogy, please!
Happy Valentine's Day, one day late!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Recovery, not Resolutions: January in Review

January 2018 in review...Happy New Year!

Total mileage for the month:  207 - This should be my lowest mileage month of 2018!  Towards the end of the month, I did the math to see if I was going to make it over 200, concluded that I wasn't, and made peace with that (after an initial urge to add mileage) -- but I think I forgot to include Jan. 31 in the calculation, and that was the difference.

  • Jan. 1-7:  55.4 - taper
  • Jan. 8-14:  58.3 - marathon week
  • Jan. 15-21: 20.5 - recovery week (4 days off running)
  • Jan. 22-28: 48.2 - more recovery (1 day off running)
  • Jan. 29-Feb. 4: 57 (back to 7 days of running, but lacking pep)
January is cold
Races:
  • Jan. 14:  Chevron Houston Marathon in 2:54:06.  Although this was a far-cry from the time I went to Houston to chase, I was content with it.  I knew running this one was a risk, and I am glad I took the risk even though I didn't reap The Big Reward.  I learned a lot that I will carry forward, and it felt good to run my third fastest marathon and 5th consecutive sub-3:00 with joy.
Workouts:
  • Jan. 3:  3 x 2 mile tempos with 0.5 recoveries (2.3 warm-up, 2 cool-down), with splits of 6:06/6:03, 6:00/6:01, 6:05/6:04.  My goal pace ranges were progressively faster for each one at 6:05-6:10, 5:55-6:02, and 5:50-6:00, so my first two reps were right on and my last one was 5+ seconds/mile slow; however, considering the weather I thought this was solid.  It was 28*/feels like 14* with an 18 mph north wind.  The temperature was actually balmy compared to my other runs around this time and I don't think it hurt me one bit, but the wind ate me up.  I ran a loop course that is mostly north and south, and it's a fast course that I do most of my tempo and road speed workouts on, but it has zero wind block and going north was tough.  I fought to hit my splits on the first two reps, but because the effort was more than the pace showed I didn't have sub-6:00 in me at the end.  The last time I ran this workout on October 31, my first two reps were almost identical to what I did in this one, and the last rep was faster, but thanks to Gamin Connect showing weather data I looked back to see that the wind was 3 mph that day, so I am calling this one a win! 
  • Jan. 9:  2 mile tempo in 6:13/5:58, 0.5 recovery, 0.5 mile tempo in 2:51 (3 warm up, 2 cool down).  This was the same final tune-up workout I did the week of CIM on November 28, and have also done plenty of times before.  My goal paces were 6:10-6:15 for the 2 mile and 5:50 for the half mile.  Actual paces were almost identical to what I ran 6 weeks before, on the exact same course, so cheers to consistency.
  • Jan. 27 - 2 mile tempo in 11:39 via 5:49.8/5:49.7 (3.3 warm up, 3 cool down).  I included the tenths of a second on my splits because I was very happy with my even-ness!  This was done during my no training schedule recovery time, because I was dying to run something faster.  I rationalized this with wanting to try out a pair of new racing shoes while they were still in the return window.  I am almost embarrassed to admit that I bought a pair of Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%s - but I am not above trying them out for the purported performance benefit!  After this run I will say that either they really do give a performance benefit, or I was just rested, because I expected I would be more like 6:10 pace because of post-marathon de-training, post-marathon sugar binge weight gain, and the day's powerful wind.  Shoe review to be continued...
  • Jan. 30 - 5 x 3' on/3' fartlek (2.1 warm-up, 2 cool-down, 4.24 covered in the fartlek portion).  There was definitely a reason that my coach made this one short and effort-based, and it was nice to run a workout even though I still had some "out of gas" feeling going on and it was 16 degrees.  My paces for the ons were 6:01, 5:44, 5:55, 5:53, 5:54, which I was overall good with all-considering, but clearly I should have run a little faster on the first rep to keep them all sub-6:00 -- or really just warmed up better, because 2 miles easy is not sufficient at 15* (actually at any temperature some strides and drills sure help!).
  • No doubles - sadness, but it's not the time for them and I also know I would have struggled going out twice on the stupid cold days!
  • Strides on Jan. 3 (pre-workout), 8, 12, and 13.
  • Full body strength workouts on Jan. 1, 22, 28, and 31.  I did quite a bit of maintenance work (core, glutes, calves, etc.), nearly daily aside from right before and right after the marathon.  I've committed to strength training on my hard running days during this cycle, typically Wednesday and Saturdays, which is recommended but more difficult than what I've been doing with my life schedule.  I started on Jan. 28 with a strength workout on my long run day (it's much easier when the long run is only 12 miles) and continued on Jan. 31 on my midweek long run day (a little harder because running 10 miles + 45 minutes of strength work before work is a lot).  I know I won't be perfect on this every week, but if I can get at least one full workout of the strength routine my coach gave me every week (along with a little maintenance most days right before or after running), I will be happy.
  • Favorite workout:  Since the 3 x 2 mile split tempo was the only full-length workout, it wins by default!
Long Runs:
  • Jan. 6: 12 easy (7:22).  It was terribly windy for this one with Missy and Rebecca.  I love running farm roads, but our typical routes have no wind block, and after a few miles we all agreed that we should have run this one in town!  We went out against the wind for 6 miles, running around 7:40 pace.  Missy said, "This sure feels like 7:00 pace" and I agreed.  When we turned around, we were running 7:00 pace at the same effort.  We know our "feels like" paces!  It was also "feels like" 4* and my face froze for the first half of the run.
  • Jan. 21: 9.5 easy (7:15).  Eh, I'm counting it!  This was my first day of feeling more normal after the marathon, and I joined some of my favorite girls (Missy, Jessi, and Danielle) for part of their long runs.  I thought I was joining for 8 miles, but the loop I did was a little longer than expected.  I ran 1 mile later in the day with Albani, so split I made it to double digit miles for the day, haha!
  • Jan. 28: 12.2 easy (7:26).  This was one of those runs that just flew by with good company!  I was glad Jessi wanted to take it easy pace-wise along with me, because although I felt about as good as I could expect to post-Houston, my body wasn't ready for a fast long run yet.
  • Favorite long run:  I'm struggling with this because I can't classify any of these as actual long runs, but I felt the best on Jan. 28!
Highlights/thoughts/randomness:
  • This month I did a lot of record-setting in regards to the coldest conditions I'd ever run in.  New Years Day I tackled 3*/feels like -11* (in daylight) and on January 2 I ran in -1*/feels like -8* before dawn.  At the end of December I set some similar records, with a 10 mile hill repeat workout in feels like -3* on December 27 (my first time running double digit mileage at below 0 real feel), a 21 miler in feels like 6* on December 30 (my coldest long run ever) and a recovery run on December 31 in feels like -6* (my coldest run ever until I bettered it on January 2).  These are the kind of PRs I could do without ever improving on.  I used to not run outside if it felt like below 0*, so I've been proud of myself!  I hope February isn't terrible, though.
  • I am slower in the extreme cold.  It's easy for me to forget that the cold effects pace physiologically, as heat also does.  I run my easy runs by feel, and they were around 30 sec/mile slower when it was very cold - some of this is probably from wearing 15 lbs of clothing.
  • I heard my second mention on Lindsey Hein's I'll Have Another Podcast.  I'm a new listener, but it's safe to say I'm addicted to this podcast now.  I was listening to the Christmas special (late, clearly), and they talked a little about CIM.  The gist of my mention was on the topic of PRs at CIM, and something like "That Sara girl we met at Indy ran a 2:47...and she only ran a 1:20 half at Indy."  Hah.  I'll give them a much better "only" with my 5K PR!  2:47 and 1:20 are actually pretty equivalent performances, per the Jack Daniels calculator, but a lot of people can't pull off a marathon equivalent to what their half predicts.  I am the opposite and can't pull off the short distance times my marathon predicts.  The podcast I'm mentioned in is here.
  • I proactively ended my running streak on 1/15/18.  I ran every day from 6/20/17 to 1/14/18.  I never planned to streak, but I began running 7 days a week in my CIM build and it just happened.  It then became pretty hard for my obsessive personality to stop to stop streaking (I ran for 10 minutes/1.1 miles the day after CIM to maintain it), but I knew I needed to stop it both physically and mentally, and to stop it while I was healthy.  After all, I have to get prepared to build for a 2:45 attempt at Grandma's Marathon in June! 
  • Speaking on Grandma's Marathon...I applied for and was accepted as an elite!  I'll get have my own fluid bottles placed on the course which I am super excited about.  My official training schedule for it began Jan. 29 (although the first few weeks will be lighter), and if all goes as planned I will have another streak from Jan. 27 through race day on June 16.
  • Albani ran her first 5K!
  • Albani and my mom attended the OMRR (our local running club) banquet while I was in Houston!
Non-running life events:
  • We welcomed the New Year at home, with family game and movie time.  I tried to fall asleep during a movie around 10:00 p.m., but Jon and Albani were being loud and kept me awake until around 10:45 p.m.  At that point Jon sent Albani to bed, but then she came back downstairs at midnight to wish us happy New Year.  I only halfway awoke for that!  I love being old, haha!
  • We got some extra time with my parents after the Houston Marathon.  My mom stayed with Albani while my dad went with Jon and I to Houston.  We returned from Houston late Sunday night, and my parents were planning to leave on Monday morning, but due to bad weather they ended up staying with us until Wednesday!  Albani was also out of school due to the snow on Monday through Wednesday (then had a late start Thursday), and everyone had a great time.  I had to work but I also don't do well with not leaving the house for days on end, so it was alright. 
Our wild New Years

I imagine I made a similar face when I went
outside in this temperature!

Being spoiled by Grandma

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Ozark Mountain Ridge Runners

My local running club is amazing!  I originally joined OMRR in 2010 when I first moved to Missouri.  Every year that I've been a member, I've won far more in gift cards, prize money, race entries, etc. than I've paid in dues.  We have a yearly competition and an awards banquet, both which Albani loves just as much as I do.  We also give back to the community by hosting four annual races that benefit charities, adopting a stretch of road for trash pick-up, volunteering at other running events that benefit non-profits, and by holding fundraisers throughout the year for causes such hurricane relief, local special education programs and autism centers, etc.
We both love to enter ROTY
In 2017 I was elected to the OMRR board, and it really made me appreciate how much the board does.  I felt like I did less than everyone else on the board, but I still did a lot.  I loved serving on the board, but I felt like I wasn't contributing enough because of my other life activities, so I did not accept my nomination to stay on the board for 2018.  I would love to serve again when Albani goes to college and definitely when I retire!  My favorite board duties were designing marathon and half marathon training schedules for members training for a local race, organizing race entry give-away contests, and helping design the new 417 Quad Series.

2017 awards
I missed the annual banquet this year because it was the same weekend as the Houston Marathon, but my mom and daughter attended.  One of my fellow club members was kind enough to pick them up and drive them so my mom didn't have to drive in an unfamiliar city in the winter darkness!  I asked Albani to go up and get my awards, but she got shy and made my mom do it.  She did go up to get our first place parent-child team award, though.  I also won $100 for my overall ROTY win!  Albani won drawings at the banquet for a $25 Bass Pro gift card and for a 5K race entry.  My mom even got a t-shirt.  I'd say our $30 dues were worth it (it's $20 per person and then $5 additional for each additional person in your household, and Jon, Albani, and I all sign up)!
She was more proud & excited than this photo
shows
If you have a local running club that you haven't checked out yet, I encourage you too do so!  OMRR is welcoming to runners of all levels - from beginners who can't run a full mile to experienced marathoners - and offers something for everyone.  Runners are such positive and likeable people that you can't help but be blessed by all of those you meet!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

We can learn a lot from a child: Albani's first 5K!

Albani won a free entry to the Ozark Mountain Ridge Runners Resolution Run 5K.  She won the entry 2 weeks before the event, so had little time to prepare.  That little time yielded exactly one training run, a mile that I ran with her 6 days before the race.  Bad weather and busy work schedules kept us from getting any more in (when I drop her off at before school care before 7:30 a.m. and pick her up after 5:30 p.m., it's a long day for everyone and dark when we get home!).
She also looks gorgeous running!
She was confident that she wanted to run the race, and also that she didn't want me to run with her.  I tried to change her mind about me running with her multiple times, but in the end I promised to get great start and finish videos and sent her off!  I told her it was okay if she needed to take walking breaks.  I expected she would finish in 40-45 minutes.
Pre-race
I waited by the finish line, and saw her coming in much sooner than expected!  She finished in 34:42, and when I got to her in the finish chute she exclained, "I ran the whole way!"  It turned out she leap-frogged with a lady I know from OMRR throughout the race, which made me feel better about her being out there without me.  I was incredibly impressed that she ran the whole thing without walking after her non-training -- oh, to have youth on your side!  She decided she could do it, and she did!
Clock shot
She placed 2nd in the 19 and under age group, a hard age group when you're 10!  Results are here.  She really wanted a trophy or a "big fat check" (my husband's phrase!), but still wore her medal and bib number around all day after the race.  She told me that she kept saying positive things to herself during the race to keep herself going.  Oh, the lessons we can all learn from children!
Awards ceremony
She also told me, "It hurt but it was so worth it!" multiple times.  She was very proud.

I ran my first 5K when I was 11, so she has me beat on that.  I remember it seeming so long, and I was actually training (running 2 miles with my dad probably 5 times a week), which is why I was worried about her doing this.  In retrospect, my attitude was much like hers though:  it was so long but so worth it.  Now we know she can do it, and she enjoyed it, so it was winning all around!  She will have a lot more race options now that she's up for racing more than 1 mile.  I hope racing can be a family affair for us for many years to come!

The rest of her professional pics:




December's "What I'm Craving This Month" Post - just in time for the end of January!

Better late than never, right?

I didn't have crazy post-marathon cravings immediately after CIM (post-Houston has been a different story, but that's for January's post...maybe).  Training hard through the holidays reminded me of why it can be difficult to train hard through the holidays eating-wise.  I truly feel so much better when I'm fueling with nutrient-dense items and avoiding sugar, but wow is that difficult in December.  Thanksgiving meant having unhealthy options around for one day; Christmas meant having unhealthy options around for pretty much the whole month.

Here were my top December picks - I did not get many Christmas goodie photos, though.

My taste buds love Indian food, but my stomach and GI system often don't, so it is something I avoid for the most part during heavy training when I don't want to risk screwing up a run.  But I found an Indian restaurant within 0.25 mile of our hotel in San Francisco the day after the marathon, and it was amazing!  I cleaned my plate and then ate everything my mom and my dad couldn't finish from theirs, and had no digestive issues so this was a complete win.
Albani and I finished one container of these with one meal.  She also ate 4 kiwis with that meal, which made me proud!  This was also before her grandparents fed her a sugar IV over the holiday.
Frosting is my favorite sweet, but it oftentimes leaves me feeling icky, which didn't help my post-marathon slump...but I sure do crave it and homemade baked goods sometimes.  As my dear friend Missy said, "Sometimes I have to eat 4 sugar cookies to remember why I don't usually eat sugar cookies", and I could not have said that better myself!
I discovered coconut rolled dates this month, and wondered where they have been all my life?  They are simply dates rolled in shredded coconut, and you can make them with nuts included but I haven't tried those yet (I buy these already made so haven't actually made any).  These are healthy and delicious!
Peanut butter cravings are a constant in my life, but melty peanut butter on toast has especially hit the spot recently.  I've tried to love almond butter, but I just don't.
This is my favorite brand of protein powder, and I love sampling all of the flavors!  Orange dreamsicle here.
Cinnamon bun here.  I blend with almond milk and frozen fruit, and sometimes other add-ins such as spinach, flax seed, peanut butter, etc.  I have a smoothie nearly every night before bed when I'm at home; I believe it helps my recovery (several studies show that whey protein before sleeping helps build muscle, which was why I started this routine).

Goals for next cravings post:  on time and more extensive!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

On Marathon Recovery & Running vs. Not Running

Many people look forward to some down time after marathons, but I have never been one of those people.  If a marathon goes well, I'm on a runners high and anxious to jump back into training (also always thankful/never satisfied).  If a marathon doesn't go well, I'm ready to avenge it and put in work for the next one (big goals require big commitment).  I am very routine-oriented and running is part of my daily routine.  I also have quite the running endorphin addiction, which I am pretty sure means I am much less pleasant to be around if I'm not running (please tell me I'm not the only one with this issue!)!

Prior to Houston, I decided that I needed to take a week completely off running after the race.  I was feeling hot and cold about my running, and my performance between CIM and Houston was also up and down (the brutal winter did not help!).  I basically did a 30 week marathon training block, with a 24 week build for CIM then a 6 week addendum for Houston, which is a lot now that I think about it (perhaps part of the Houston problem was this being too long!).  My experience at Houston further confirmed that I needed some time off.  Plus, a week off is what you're "supposed" to do, right?

I'd inadvertently started a running streak on June 20, not because I ever planned to streak but because I was running 7 days a week for marathon training.  After CIM I continued the streak by running for 10 minutes and 20 minutes in the two days after the race, then I rolled into Houston training, making for almost 7 months with no days off.  This is nothing compared to most streakers out there, but I used to take a day off every week and had never come near this kind of running streak in my life!

Although I knew my body needed some down time, I had a hard time convincing myself not to run a mile the day after Houston.  My mind kept saying, "Keep the streak!" while my body said, "Break it!"  The snow on the ground and bitter wind chills on top of my post-marathon exhaustion (exacerbated by 11 hours in the car, an 11:00 p.m. return home, and minimal sleep after the race) helped me accomplish my streak-breaking goal!  After I didn't run that first day I suspected it would be easy to take off several more days.  I thought it would feel really good not to run and to eat all of the desserts that I'd avoided for months for the sake of best fueling my training.

On day 2 (Tuesday), I wanted to run, which surprised me!  I didn't, because I didn't want to badly enough to run on the treadmill (the roads were bad enough that schools were closed for 3 days), but the desire was back much sooner than I expected.  I made myself take a few more days off and continued to eat 7 months worth of sweets (eating crap food also helps you take more days off).  I figured I would run again on the weekend after 5 solid days of not running - but on Friday I was jumping out of my skin, the roads were clear enough, and it was warm out, so went out for 4 miles in a t-shirt and shorts at lunch.  I then ran with joy over the weekend.

When I'd asked my coach for no training schedule for 2 weeks after Houston, I fully believed that I wouldn't run at all for the first week and maybe not even for the whole 2 weeks.  I resumed running because I missed it and I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to train for something; in fact, I know that time off right now would certainly help me more than hurt me.  During my second week of "whatever", I've been running easy every day.  It's definitely a "want to" vs. a "have to".

It's also a good reminder that I simply love to run; even if I wasn't training for anything or racing, I would still run.  When I quit collegiate running due to repeated stress fractures, I didn't race again for nearly 3 years, but I consistently ran 4-5 days a week and even ran hard workouts when I felt like it.  The joy truly is in the process, but sometimes you need some time away - whether that is 4 days, 4 weeks, 4 months, of 4 years.  The thing about running is that it will always be there when you are ready to come back.

Everyone recovers in their own way, and I think it's smart to take time off after marathons.  A wise runner told me, "You never get that time back", which has me planning to be more strategic about this next time.  I don't think I did bad this round, but I can do better.  I've been reminded that I never want as much time off after a marathon as I think I will! 

I think it's healthy to want a break.  But I don't think it's unhealthy to not want one.  I realized that from following so many runners on social media, I was getting these thoughts planted in my head: that I should want a week to a month off, that I should be burned out on running, that I should be run down and sore, that I should want to eat crap food, etc., but those things weren't necessarily what I felt or wanted.  I need to recover but I always like to remember why I love to run and train in the first place!
Not really!

Monday, January 22, 2018

You never know your limits until you push yourself to them: More from Houston

I don't know if I can ever write only one post about any marathon I run!  My full Houston race report is here.
  • I liked the Houston course; it is certainly flat as advertised.  I'm so used to running on rolling terrain that flat terrain almost feels like decline!  I thought that after this race I'd know which type of course was best for me between a point-to-point net downhill with rolling terrain like CIM or a pancake flat loop like Houston, but because of how Houston went overall I am not sure.
  • Houston makes you earn the good shirt.  We received an average cotton t-shirt at packet pick up, followed by a tech shirt (along with a mug and finishers medal) after finishing.
  • Houston served a hot breakfast (eggs on an English muffin, with sausage also available) for runners after the race inside the convention center, which I really liked.  Eggs are my favorite post-long run meal!  There were also drinks available (water, coffee, chocolate milk), bananas, and ice cream.
  • The race was large but very well-organized, and you could tell they've done this before.  The expo overwhelmed me, as large ones always do, but it was well done.
  • I placed 30th female and 22nd American female, which I was happy about in this big of an event.
  • The elite field in the race was crazy inspiring; Molly Huddle set a new US record in the half!
  • My experience as a sub-elite was a little interesting.  We were given a specific location (intersection listed and marked on a map) to load into our corral, but we weren't let in at that spot.  I, along with several other ADP athletes, had to run around a bit frantically to get in the corral at a different location.  We were also told we could warm up in our corral, and while that was a little bit true, it required a lot of running back and forth over the same 50 meters.  A girl told me that the year before they had a few blocks to warm up, which is what it looked like on the map too.  Perhaps they forgot to update the map from the year before!  This all made me thankful I was running the full and not the half, because for a half I need a much better warm up. 
  • I learned that my strategy of always carrying one more gel than I plan to take is a good one, because I dropped half a gel during the race and it wasn't a problem.  In the end I ended up taking only 2.5ish gels instead of my usual 3 though:  one around the 10K, part of the dropped one around the 20K, and then the final one around 16.  I usually take my third around the 30K but took it early since I'd missed part of the second one.  I was planning to take the fourth, making it 3.5 total, around mile 20 but then I just forgot.  I don't think it would have made any difference.
  • Speaking of things I forgot, I made a pace band for the race but forgot it at the hotel!  I knew where I should be at given points well enough that I would have been fine without it even if I'd had a good race, and with how my race went I would not have used it.  I realized that I'd forgotten it during the first mile of the race.
  • Whenever I used to see people run huge positive splits in marathons, I used to wonder how that could possibly happen.  Now after splitting 1:23:27/1:30:39, I know it can happen even if you don't go out too fast -- clearly, I did go out too fast for what I had that day, but I ran my first half a touch slower than I did at CIM on a flatter course, so it was not beyond my capacity.  I also used to see splits like I ran and think, "that second half must have been so painful", but for some reason it wasn't for me; my body just wouldn't move any faster, but I was okay with continuing running.  I am not sure I'd have believed any of this had it not happened to me!
  • I have a difficult time running tangents on a curvy road.  My Gamin beeped right at the course mile markers through about mile 16.  As you can see on the course map below, the road became winding at about that point and then the final long stretch going east back to the finish was curvier.  After 16 my Garmin got farther off the course markers every mile.  If I run another marathon with a road like this I need to practice running the shortest route better!  In my post-race survey I noted that they should put a tangent line on the ground like I've seen on the marathon majors.
  • I learned that if I am really back and forth during the weeks leading up to a "maybe" race like this, it's possible I shouldn't run it even if I feel good about it at the last minute.  I second guessed this one a lot, and clearly my body wasn't ready for it.  I also already knew this, but the really good long runs I had kept me hanging on!
  • I also learned that the CIM + Houston double is not for me.  I will double dip off of a single marathon training cycle again, but one of the marathons will be a close to home race, and I will also not have a million life events between them.  Although I loved Houston, I don't know if I will run it again because of the timing with the holidays -- or if I did I would plan an easier holiday season, if that is even possible.  If I do run it again, I would probably fly instead of drive (it was a loooong car ride!), but the uncertainty of if we were going or not this year prohibited that.
  • However, I stand by being very glad and thankful I ran this race.  I learned some more about my limits, and with the fantastic race day weather I know if I hadn't gone I would have regretted it.  This was my sixth time running two marathons off of one cycle (I did multiple marathons close together on several other occasions too, but that was when I was just running a bunch of marathons while doing no actual structured training cycles, and was not surprisingly much slower -- stories for another post!).  It was the first time I haven't run faster in the second marathon.  I think it's clear that I had to chance it!
  • Sometimes you need a step back to fully appreciate how far you've come.  In retrospect, I didn't appreciate my 2:47:14 at CIM as much as I appreciated my 2:49:20 at Phoenix -- and I know that is because at CIM I did not accomplish my "big dream barely a possibility goal" of 2:44:59 for the race, but at Phoenix I exceeded my "big dream barely a possibility goal" of 2:49:59 for the race.  To steal a phrase I read here, I think the ignorant bliss of Phoenix was part of the magic!  Houston taught me to appreciate and be thankful for CIM more than I had been.  Instead of wondering why I couldn't have been one of 50 Olympic Trials Qualifiers at CIM, I'm going to be thankful that I have the opportunity to keep chasing a goal that sets my soul on fire.  Onto the next!