Thursday, December 29, 2011

Looking Back, Ahead and Other Weighty Matters

I'm going to take Miss Zippy's format from a few days back for my 2011 year-end review.

Best race experience? The Top of Utah Marathon; it was a big PR, it was my return to marathons after six years, it was a road trip, it had crazy weather, I got to meet Erin, and it showed me how close to (and how far from) my goal I stand.

Best run? Because I don't really think I can call it a race.....that crazy Rock Canyon Half-Marathon in the snow and wind earlier this month. I love a good story, and that one involved Kathy and Jill (yes, we're all mad, MAD, I tell you!), as well as an epic drive and the nutty weather.

Best new piece of gear? My CamelBak; no more carrying bottles on long runs.

Best piece of running advice you received? “Patience, grasshopper.” This was in a Tweet from Greg McMillan, who wrote my training plans for both Top of Utah and the upcoming Houston Marathon. Though I often wish this were easier for me, I’m not going to be an overnight BQ person–I have to work for it. And that’s OK. By the way, let me put in a quick plug for McMillan's custom training plans here. They are FUN and varied. They make you feel strong. They've been worth every penny to me (and I don't have a lot of extra pennies).

Most inspirational runner? My friend Kathy (see link above), who went from zero to marathon in a year and a half. She has fallen in L-O-V-E with running, and who doesn't like to witness a good love story?

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? A slow comeback. That said (and this next bit makes me happy) I set PRs in every distance this year except the 5K. And I just realized....I didn't run any 5Ks in 2011. Not one!

Which brings me to....looking ahead to 2012.....

My husband Dan has asked me not to train for a marathon again until the summer. He's been doing kid duty on Saturdays during my increasingly-long long runs for six months now. It's harder in the winter because I don't get up as early as I do in the summer, and thus don't get back as early. He's fine with me training for half-marathons and anything shorter...but he doesn't want any more 24-milers until the weather and the light favor earlier starts again.

After some initial worry about the possible impact on my hard-won endurance, I decided that not only is it a perfectly fair thing to ask (he's been a total trooper!), it might even be the case that a scale-back and a change of focus would be good for my body.

I don't know yet exactly which races I'm going to do this winter and spring (though of course the Bolder Boulder 10K will be in there and almost certainly a half-marathon nearby). I don't plan to sign up for anything until after the Houston Marathon. BUT.....I'm wondering if it's possible for me to topple that 5K PR. Could be tough....22:34, set in 2005....the last 5K I ran, the Colder Bolder in December 2010, was almost 2 minutes slower than that, at 24:24. But I think it's a good spring goal. And Lord knows there are plenty of 5Ks to choose from, so I can just keep hammering at it until it's time to go back to distance training starting in June.

Jill tells me that a focus on speed will likely help my fall marathon plans, too. If you put it that way.....yeah....shorter distances could be good......stay tuned for more on this later......

Finally (and then I promise I'll stop this interminable ramble), I wanted to check in with the weight and nutrition side of things. Despite immense quantities of cookies and champagne consumed over Christmas, my weight and body fat on Tuesday were sitting semi-pretty at 127.4 and 21% according to my home scale. This is the good side of marathon training through the holidays. It does make me wonder where those numbers would be WITHOUT all the extra sugar and fat.

My pledge for the last three weeks before Houston is to eat in nutritiously. I'm not eliminating all treats (for Christmas Dan gave me some yummy French chocolates, which I'm using as day-end rewards for eating impeccably otherwise). But the focus is on lean Mario Lopez recipes, good carbs and lots of fruits and vegetables. In addition to being the best kind of fuel for a marathoner, these foods will hopefully have the added benefit of helping me stave any cold viruses and other nasties that might assail me during taper. Fingers crossed! With Houston so close, watching my food is easier and less boring than it usually is for me.

Any foods that are your must-haves when you're close to a big marathon? How do you avoid colds ahead of key races?

Any advice for my Spring of Speed? Do you think I can beat that old 5K PR?