Saturday, December 31, 2011

Is Your Life a Sitcom or a Movie

As 2011 is coming to a close, naturally we start to think about what will happen to us in the next year. What goals will we achieve and how will we ever reach our goals? As I was driving home tonight, I was completely struck by a podcast from a company that I regularly listen to (thanks to Motivation to Move for the idea for this blog).

Is your life a sitcom or a movie?
Well by definition, a sitcom is stagnant. The characters are who the characters are, and nothing really changes. Events happen to the characters and the show is about how they deal with those events, but at the end of the show pretty much everything is back to normal, the way it was when the show started. Think about it, when does the sitcom get old; when the characters finally age because then the same stories cannot be told. The Simpsons is longest running sitcom …because the characters never have to age.
By definition, a movie has to change. There is a beginning of the movie when the hero reluctantly realizes that they are going to have to overcome some situation. Whether they want to or not, change is going to occur. The whole movie is how they deal with the change, and haven’t we all heard the phrase “nothing is ever going to be the same.” At the end of the movie, the main character is changed (usually for the better).

So is your life a sitcom or a movie?
My life used to be a sitcom. You could have made a laugh track for the poor job I did taking care of myself. Crazy job with crazy hours, check! No time for exercise, check! No lunch and living off of junk food, check! Massive weight gain, check! I devoted 100% of my life to my job … and situations just happened to me. Sure I tried to lose weight, but just like a sitcom I would fail and return to my old lifestyle of skipping lunch, cappuccino, and sitting around on the couch in exhaustion.
In 2010 my life became a movie. You see that job that I devoted 100% of my life to … well it left me. My practice was sold … and I was left without a job. I was the reluctant hero that was going to overcome the evil empire that screwed me over. I was going to triumph (well after I ate a cake and had some bon bons).
Luckily, even though it took me 3 months to find another job, it only took me a few weeks to put down the bon bons. I realized that it was time that I put myself first. I started working out regularly, and started running. Yep this heavy girl (about 270ish at the time) started running. I never thought I would be changed for life.
3 months later I started a new job and I agonized to my MFP friends about how I would continue to live the healthy lifestyle. How would I find the time to work out? How would I find the time to run? Well, one of my favorite phrases is “you don’t find time, you make time.” And that’s what I did… I made time to continue my healthy lifestyle. I was forever changed. Sure, I have times when I don’t always get a perfect workout schedule in, or maybe I choose the wrong foods, but just like a movie … this reluctant hero has triumphed with a great new job and a great new lifestyle never again to return to the old me.
Today I walked away from my job. My life had become too much like a sitcom and it was time to move on. I have done well in the job, and I have done my best, but it time to change my life around again. This time though, I have NO DOUBT that I will make time to get my workouts in.
I can officially admit that I am addicted to exercise. I am addicted to the high of making my body accomplish something I didn’t think it could. I spent last year working on running half marathons, and focusing more on running. I completed 8 half marathons in 2011 and plan on completing many more in 2012.  But accomplishing running goals is getting to be more sitcom than movie, so again it’s time to mix it up. I have added spinning, yoga, and dance classes and believe that, in the end, this will change me as an athlete as well. I may not be the best at any of them, but I LOVE competing with myself to do it just a little bit better … be stronger, faster, etc.
I refuse to let my life be a sitcom again!
So how about you; is your life a movie or a sitcom? … is it time for a change?...time to shake things up?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why I Love Running

About one week ago, one of my MFP friends decided to have a short essay contest. The topic was "Why I Love Running" and the essay was limited to 300 words. OMG 300 words to describe my favorite activity in the world... not sure its possible. I toiled over my essay and below are the results. 
I am happy to report that it took first place in the contest!! :) Thanks TopsKing2010! 

Why I Love Running 
When asked to write about why I love running, many different ideas came to mind. Sure, I could talk about how nothing is better than the solitude of a 10 mile run on a Saturday morning on the trail, or the feeling I get when I cross a finish line after a big race, or how awesome I feel to say the words “I’m a runner” and not have to giggle or feel like a liar … but instead I will just say simply… 

I love running because I never thought I could do it. Running reminds me that nothing in this world is impossible as long as I work at it and believe in myself. You see, even when I was a thin teenager, I was never an athlete. I was that skinny girl who got winded running a lap around the gym. I have clear memories of feeling like I was going to die during the mile run-walk and finishing in DEAD last in my class. 

Yet, many pounds heavier and many years older here I am running half marathons (eight this year) and still ready for more. The first day I tried running about 1 ½ years ago, I thought I was going to die during that first 30 second interval – it was hard! But what I wasn’t prepared for was that overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when I finished that workout. I have never felt that feeling of pride with any other exercise prior, only with running. 

Trust me; I am far from an elite athlete. But with running it’s not about how fast you are – it’s about finishing. Running has inspired me to eat healthy and make good choices, not because I want to lose weight, but because every good choice makes me a better runner.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Death of a Marathon Dream

Or is it the beginning of a bigger and better dream … well only time will tell.
This weekend was the long awaited Rock n Roll Savannah Half Marathon. It was cool because it was my third Rock n Roll this year (and my eighth half marathon this year), but it was even cooler because it was going to be an awesome meet and greet for a group of MFP friends. Yep, I was finally going to meet some of the awesome people who I have called friends (albeit sometimes imaginary) for the last year. I was super duper psyched … was gonna PR and have a great time.
But fate has a way of catching up with you. Sure set your goals big, but just make sure they are realistic. I have been nursing one injury or another since August … and when I say nursing what I really mean is flinching while I run through them without taking time off. The left leg quad strain had been getting worse, so I sought the advice of a great physical therapist. She diagnosed with very weak left side include hip muscles and glutes. We also talked about cadence and stride and determined that my cadence is way too slow and that I needed work on fundamentals. She strongly advised that I take a few weeks off running. But, being me (and being stubborn) I ignored her requests.
Rock N Roll St. Louis was 2 weeks ago, and it was a great HILLY race. Despite all of the hills, I finished 3 mins off my PR and I was happy with my performance. My leg pain went away at mile 4 and I felt better at mile 10 then I did at mile 3, surely a sign that these injuries weren’t serious and were all in my head. So onward I pushed … but last week despite vigilantly doing my PT exercises, my leg was NOT getting better, and in fact if I was being honest it was getting worse. I know was unable to walk without a quite noticeable increase in pain and an increase in limp.
I finally decided I had enough, and scheduled another ortho appt. She was wonderful and listened to everything, assessed me, and agreed with my diagnosis of a quad strain. She said I could run as long as the pain went away when I ran … that afternoon I had another PT appt. This PT appt was like an intervention. Two PTs attacked me (my usual and another PT who is a runner and a triathlete) and begged me to take time off. I finally relented and agreed that after this race on Saturday I would take 2.5 weeks off, with the next time I ran seriously being Thanksgiving, provided the pain went away.
But in my head, I still thought I could get away with the marathon in January. I could just push through it because I REALLY didn’t believe I needed to take time off. I thought I would show them … Savannah was going to be a great race and would PROVE that I was right.
Except I wasn’t! Don’t get me wrong, Savannah was a great race. Standing there with my MFP peeps before the race started, excitedly chatting. Seeing Mama J (FztFrog’s mom) cheering us on on the sidelines, and the people were SOOO nice. But what wasn’t nice, the pain in my leg. It hurt when I walked --- it hurt when I ran --- it hurt all of the time and it just kept getting worse and worse. I was actually in tears at mile 3 wondering if I was even going to be able to finish. I decided that since it did not hurt for the first 15 seconds of any activity (walking or running) I was going to change my intervals to 30 sec run and 30 sec walk. It was weird… but it allowed me to finish. Did I set a PR, nope not even close … but I finished with the exact same time at STL so I consider this is a victory. I had a great time with great people … in a great city.
The night before the race, I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in a full-length mirror. Not only was I limping, but my whole trunk had to sway wildly to the left side to compensate for the weakness of that leg. In the Savannah airport, I must have been limping badly because literally the courtesy shuttle pulled up next to me and asked if I needed a ride. I don’t need no damn ride (but thanks for asking)… Im a half marathoner!
I said I would base my decision about the marathon on how this race went … and it was a disaster. My body is screaming for me to listen – and I think I finally am. I have cancelled the Disney marathon (for now) … and changed to the half. I have a busy race schedule next year (with another couple of awesome MFP half marathon meet ups planned) and while I think I could finish the marathon … Im NOT trained enough and I think it would miserable. Plus I just wanna enjoy running again and just not be soo worried about everything.
So the marathon will just have to wait until 2013 … maybe by then we can make it an awesome MFP meet up (anyone … anyone… ). Im ok with this decision… really I am. And tomorrow (which would normally be a run day) will start the running sabbatical. I promise to do my PT exercise, my stretching, my swimming, and my yoga and not complain (too much) about it. But … if you love me can you remind me of this in about 1 week when I am BEGGING to run again. T minus 14 days until I can run 2 miles … T minus 16 days until I can run 5 miles … yes I have already started the countdown! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Here Comes a Breakthrough...

Anytime you wanna do something new, it’s gonna be scary right? Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail, but we always try our best. So when Coach informed me that this weekend he wanted me to run 15 miles, I initially was freaked out. I have never run that far, and I have no running partner this weekend. I was all alone and yet facing a challenge I had never faced before. Couple that with the variable pain in my leg and I was almost in a panic last night. And then someone posted on my wall … that just 2 more miles than what you went the last 2 weekend. Your right, why freak myself out over nothing. Sure there are people around me during the half marathons, but I also generally run alone. Although the people help, in the end it’s ME who pushes ME!

So with this in mind, I set my route last night, packed my stuff, and decided on my clothes (temp of 33 degrees – planned to increase to 45 by run end). I got up the morning, ate my breakfast, and off I went to the park that started my route. I got there, started to pack my belt and realized I forgot my Chomps (fuel). I looked through my bag and found 2 half packets. I thought long and hard and decided I had to go back to the house to get them because it wouldn’t be enough. And I was NOT failing this run because of fueling issues.

So finally after my return trip home… I was ready to start. The first few miles were just painful. I don’t have any other words for it; it takes a while for the leg to loosen up. But despite not feeling great, my miles times were pretty decent. At mile 4 the leg started to loosen up a little bit and it was off to the part of the run with a new trail. The trail went up and down … and up and down… and up and down. Mile 5 I stopped to stretch out my leg a bit and I noticed I was really, really thirsty. This is a very bad sign for me because I get dehydrated very easy. I drank an entire 8oz bottle of G2 and I felt better. The trail ended and mile 6.5 and it was off to the return I went. My speed had lowered quite a bit, and I was just dragging a bit (and I don’t really know why). Mile 8 was one of the worst ones. At mile 9 the trail ended … and I stopped at a Shopko to get more G2. Despite packing 32oz of G2 I was down only 8oz left. At Shopko I literally drank an entire 20oz bottle and then refilled my bottles.

After leaving the Shopko, my leg had tightened up a little bit. I was limping a bit too … I started to give mental thoughts to myself like … oh you can’t do it, maybe you should quit, what were you thinking? I had posted to MFP that I was on mile 9 when I first arrived at Shopko … I stopped for a second and looked at all of the great msgs on my profile page and I KNEW I could do this. I won’t say the next mile was completed in a time I was proud of… but it was completed. Mile 11 was much better. At mile 12ish I realized that all was left was a turn for home. Unfortunately I had planned this route poorly… the entire trip back home except for the last ¾ of a mile … was uphill. The park that I started is on a hill … so in order to get back to the park, yep you guessed it, I have to go up the hill.

I started off for home and just tried to focus on running … a consistent running pace, who cares if its slow at least I am running. When I got to the biggest hill at mile 13.8 I just had to walk up it, I didn’t see the point in killing myself. Just over the hill and over the 14 mile mark … the oddest song came on my iPod. I have never heard this song before… I believe it’s a Disney band called Lemonade Mouth. The lyrics are listed below…. (please read it’s inspiring).

(Here we go)
Sometimes it's raising your voice
Sometimes it's making some noise
Sometimes it's proving to the world it was wrong

Whenever you can't see the light
Whenever there's no end in sight
Keep on, keep on moving on
Keep on moving on

Here comes a breakthrough, here comes a day
Here comes a moment that you gotta go for it
So don't let it get away
It's time I breakthrough
Just turn the page
Cause everyday I'm getting closer
Life is just a roller coaster

Stop, still take another breath
Road block, move it to the left
Get around whatever is in your way
Heartbreak, pick up all the pieces
Don't stop dancin' in the bleachers
It's gonna be your turn to play
Gonna be your turn to play

Sometimes it's raising your voice
Sometimes it's making some noise
Sometimes it's proving to the world it was wrong

Whenever you can't see the light
Whenever there's no end in sight (Here we go)
Keep on, keep on moving on
Keep on moving on

Here comes a breakthrough, here comes a day
Here comes a moment that you gotta go for it
So don't let it get away
It's time I breakthrough
Just turn the page
Cause everyday I'm getting closer
Life is just a roller coaster
I am not a crier or an emotional person… but this brought literally tears to my eyes (and still does as I type this). I played that song over and over until I had finished the 15 miles … with tears in my eyes.

Holy crap… I finished all 15 miles. I was even able to run the entire last ½ mile including another hill without STOPPING. I was NOT stopping for anything! Tears are streaming down my face … and I’m doing my best to not make it obvious. Here comes a breakthrough… OMG yes! One year ago I was 27 pounds heavier and DREAMING of finishing the 5 mile Turkey Trot race.

I may not be the fastest, or have the best form, or even LOOK like a runner… but I am my own type of runner. I am me, and me just finished 15 miles today. Coach planned on 4 hours for the activity, and I even beat that and finished it in 3:41. Ok, I’m sure someone is going to think I am tremendously slow… and I am! My goal for the marathon is to finish… period!

Thank you to everyone for all of the support through this journey. I am sore, and I got to have my first ice bath today (quite miserable)! My blister held up but it’s not too pretty, and my leg got totally better during the run again. My right hamstring is super tight and painful and I don’t know why … I guess these things just happen!

But none of this matters because … I finished 15 freaking miles! 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Finally ... (my sixth half marathon)...

Today was the day of my SIXTH half marathon. Last week I was sick with pneumonia, and hadn’t run much in the week leading up to the race, so I wasn’t expecting anything too great. In fact, I secretly feared I wouldn’t even be able to finish the race.

You see, about 4 weeks ago I had a disastrous race. I was trained and ready … and got a bit of a stomach bug prior to the race and threw up twice during the race. Sure people cheered me on for even finishing, but I hated how I felt during that race. I didn’t feel strong; it felt like every mile was a struggle just to survive. At the end it certainly did not feel like I could have kept running; and that scared me because I am in the middle of marathon training. Everything I wanted out of that race, I didn’t get.

So yeah I wasn’t expecting much with the race today. Add to that, the weather was terrible. The weatherman called it a “blustery” day … 20-25mph sustained winds predicted for the entire race and the temp not expected to pass 45 degrees. Brrrr, makes me cold just thinking about it. And this was a trail run (my first ever) with like 10 miles of the race being on a trail.

I struggled mightily with what to wear! I have never wished I had more clothes on during a race, because I heat up pretty quickly. But dang, it was cold and very windy so I didn’t know what to do. My running partner was wearing 3 layers (a long sleeve tech shirt, a thin jacket, and a vest) so she thought I was darn crazy when I announced “I promise you I will cross the finish line in just my t-shirt and capris!” I did buy a cheap sweatshirt that I could throw away … and I made my own arm warmers out of knee socks.

Early this morning we got up, and drove 45 minutes to the race. As we got out of the car, I was shaking and shivering and started to second guess my clothing choices, but I just told myself “you never wish you had more clothing, you will be fine.” The line for the port-a-potty was LONG and I was running later than I wanted to be. I am quickly throwing up my fuel belt and stuffing my pack AS I am walking to the start line.

And we are off… and directly into the wind. Holy buckets, it is cold! First mile and I am feeling ok … second mile I feel like I am running through quicksand… third mile not much better. Oh no, I start freaking out. See, I can’t do this … this race is going to be another disaster. I pick a person in front of me and I try to focus on passing her. We jockey a few times, and finally I am able to pass her up. I settle down a little bit, until I see my mile split. It’s like 30 seconds off where I usually am at this point. Oh crap! This is going to be the slowest run of my life if I am that slow down, I usually only get slower from here. I try to push down the panic building inside me.

At mile 4 I find this amazing couple. They would run fast for about 1-2 minutes, but then walk slow. I would concentrate on trying to pass them every time I ran. It was working … next mile split was right about where it should be. I settle down and decide to stop worrying about time so much. I mean, after all, coach had reminded me that this is “just a training run not a race” because I have a bigger goal in mind. I stick with these guys until literally about mile.

About mile 5 I start to feel like I am running through quicksand again… so I realize I have not taken any salt tabs, so I take one. Within a few minutes I am feeling strong again.
At mile 6 I realize that I feel as good at mile 6 as I did at mile 1. This is pretty exciting to me. At mile 8 I realize I still feel as good as I did at mile 6. This is even more exciting to me. I focus on trying to keep the run intervals constant, matching my songs to the pace of my clodding foot paces. Somewhere around this time the Biggest Loser Theme Song Remix comes on my iPod “what have done today, to make ya feel proud?” blares out my speakers.

Mile 9 as we are crossing a footbridge, an odd rock song that I don’t usually listen to comes on. It’s by some band called Runner, Runner and the song is called Unstoppable. “We are, we are … oh a whoa, we’re unstoppable!” I giggle, as this is a pretty fitting song.

Breathing is going well, not nearly as much coughing as I expected – but my poor nose is running like crazy. Seriously, I must have had to do a million farm blows (and of course I always look around before I do) because I have no Kleenex and my sweatshirt and arm warmers were tossed a long time ago.

Do I have any pain? Sure … I have various moving pains. My hips flexors are a bit tight, but my quad strain has gotten a lot better to the point I don’t feel it anymore. I have intermittent periformis tightness on the right hand side, but it also goes away. I realize at mile 2 that my shoe is a bit too loose, but I do manage to forget about it after I while (I don’t wanna waste the time to fix it). I had a weird pain on the outside of my right lower leg, but I attribute it to the fact that it’s a trail run. I even remind myself at mile 9 “you are NOT in pain, you ARE tougher than this, and you CAN push through this!”

I hit mile 10 and I realize … I still feel ok. This is pretty much the best I have ever felt at mile 10 … and then mile 11 and I feel ok still. Sure my pace isn’t as fast as it was in the beginning but I’m not feeling like I want to die either.

Somewhere around 11.5 I start I struggle a little bit, and I realize AGAIN it’s been a while since I took a salt tab. I take another one, and I start to improve. I flip back and forth through my iPod trying to find songs that I can match the beat perfectly. I settle on a horribly stupid Katy Perry song Peacock, only because the beat works perfectly with me. But I am back in my groove and I feel like I could for a while. I barely even notice mile 12 and unlike every other race I have done although I was happy to see mile 12, I did NOT feel like I was ready to die…

I see one of my friends up ahead just after the mile marker (she had some GI issues and did not have a banner race for her). This is shocking because she is quite a bit faster than I am. I am very very happy to see her, and she starts coaching me to the finish. I am pushing it hard … she asks how I respond best to coaching. I tell her honestly, just scream and swear at me! She obliges (not sure some of people around me had a sense of humor)… and I pick up the pace. I even have enough for a decent sprint out to the finish … and its over! I cross the finish line and instead of feeling like I wanna pass out, I’m tired but otherwise ok!

This WAS the race I wanted 4 weeks ago. Let’s see 4 weeks ago my goal was to finish the race confidently and strongly, and maybe even feeling like I could have gone another few miles. Well I didn’t get it 4 weeks ago, but I sure got it today.  I felt much, much, much stronger during the middle of the race than I usually do, and certainly much stronger and miles 10 and 11 than I have before. I didn’t WANT to run another couple of mile, but I felt like I COULD have run another couple of miles (well before that last push to the finish of course)! I feel hope that I CAN complete the marathon, well with more training of course.

So the kicker… did I get the PR today… NOPE! I missed it by about 30 seconds… yet in some ways I am happier about this race than I was the day I PR’d. I FELT STRONG and CONSISTANT. In fact if I look at my splits … if I take the extra 20 seconds off my mile 2 and 3 and wouldn’t normally be there (they were artificially slow because of the wind) that would have been a PR! My splits are consistent (with the exception of mile 11 which was horrible, not sure what happened). Heck mile 12 was faster than mile 11 … 6 was faster than 5 and 8 was faster than 7. I had enough for a good strong sprint in at the end.

And best of all… my hydration and fueling was near perfect. This was the first race I did not drink a single drop of water, only G2 and when I was running low on my supply I did get PowerAde from the stations. Mental to myself that when I start to feel sluggish, I really do need salt …. It’s not just all in my head. I took salt tabs at mile 5, 8.5 (was going to wait until 9 but felt like I needed it) and 11.5 (should have taken it at mile 11 probably based on my poor split time)… every single time I took a salt tab I improved. When I finished, I was not dizzy or lightheaded (nor was I during the race). I did not cramp … and following the race I had energy (which is rarely the case). Hydration and fueling is a big battle for me since I don’t have a colon and get dehydrated very quickly. And today, it seems like I got it right!

So the moral of the story… expect the unexpected and stop selling yourself short. It doesn’t matter how fast you run, it’s the size of your heart and how stubborn you are that matters. It’s the time that you put in when you are not racing. And crazy enough, even missing a whole week of running, you body does remember! Thank you to everyone for your messages and support as I slog along on this journey. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Wise Man Once Said...

Such classic lines as: “Do your best and forget the rest” and “Bring it” … but another wise man once said “Some runs just suck!”

Today was the long awaited Fox Cities Half Marathon. Having done the 5K yesterday with my No Boundaries 5K prep group and leading my runner to an amazing PR, I was emotionally all charged with adrenaline and ready for this race. You see, one year ago I was running the 5K not even hoping to dream of running the half, and yet this year here I was, running my fifth half marathon.

Unfortunately, some days no matter how much your heart wants it, your body has other ideas. Yesterday I started to feel a bit under the weather, mostly just cold symptoms. I have also been battling a bit of a hip/hipflexor strain as well. But it was race day and I was ready to perform… my body however had other ideas.

I woke up feeling just a bit off. I tried not to focus on it, had my usual pre-run breakfast of toasted peanut butter sandwich with banana and I was off to the race. Stopped at the port-o-potty and while in there was quite ill … thought maybe it just the smell and tried to put it out of my mind.

The start of the race was awesome; standing at the start line with my friends who I trained with. A lot of them were running their first, or trying to better their first. The air was electric with excitement! And we were off… the first mile was pretty great. I took off fast like I always do, and settled in quickly and felt comfortable. By mile 2 I could not shake the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach …and before I knew it I was throwing up at the side of the road. Let me tell you, puking at the roadside does NOT make you friends. If I had a dollar for every single person who asked “are you okay?” I think I would be rich. While I appreciate the concern, clearly I was NOT ok and I was also quite embarrassed!

After I was ill, I forced myself to run up the big hill (bridge) because Coach Jim teaches us to conquer those hills and to try to make up time I tried to run super fast down the hill. I was able to make the third mile the fastest mile yet. I was feeling ok, and thought maybe all of that illness was behind me. Unfortunately I was wrong, and by mile 4 I again revisited the side of the road for more fun.

For the first time ever in a race, at mile 5 I seriously considered quitting. I mean not quitting, per say, but whether I should just give up on running and just plan on walking it in. There was no time limit for this race … but then I thought well I can’t give up on myself so I have to at least wait until the half way point before I walk it in.

At about the same time I thought, “What else can I possibly do to make me feel better” I was afraid to take any more G2 or Chomps, but I thought maybe I could handle a salt tab. I took it, was able to keeo that down, and soon I was feeling quite a bit better. I was able to cruise from the half way point all the way until mile 8.5 or so sipping on G2 slowly, but thankfully no longer sick to my stomach.

At mile 9, a welcome site was the FleetFeet Cheer station. My usual running partner Larry was taking pictures. He said something to me (don’t remember what it was) but my response was “I think I’m dying!” He said “you’ve got this, you’re ok.” Brenda, a friend and head coach for No Boundaries was also at the station. She hopped out and ran with me for a bit, trying to encourage me. I found out later she actually thought about running more with me, because she wasn’t sure I was going to make it. Apparently I didn’t look so hot!

Mile 10 I settled into a bit of a rhythm, and I noticed Heather (one of the girls from our training group) up ahead. I yelled out, and we ran together for a little bit. I hit a groove and was ok until about mile 12.

I really don’t remember much of mile 12 … all I remember is that I really should have ran more, but I just couldn’t make my legs move. I felt like I was running through molasses and oh boy was I dizzy! My thighs, hips, and butt were all cramped up … and the happy people walking were starting to make me mad!

Another one of our training partners was along the route towards the end. I heard her cheering for me, but really felt quite out of it. She later told me that I looked like I was daze. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know where I was at this point. At the very end, a welcome site at mile 13 was my best buddy Anna from the training group. There are a lot of special people that come into our lives, and I truly believe that she is a godsend. We have been close all summer, working hard to push through this training program and supporting each other. The site of her waiting for me brought me back into reality. Anna grabbed my hand and literally dragged me the last part of the race. When we got close to the finish line, I broke away in a sprint (because you always have to finish a race with a sprint). Funny enough, it was my fastest sprint in ever!

Across the finish line I was immediately surrounded by like 2 or 3 medical staff. There was one medical staff lady under one arm, and Anna under the other. I knew I had finished the race, but honestly I wasn’t sure of much else. I was able to walk it out, and then Anna tricked me into going into the medical tent. (She told me later she was worried because I was cold to the touch). Since she works for the company that was providing medical staff, she said she wanted to say hi to co-workers and introduce me. After arrival and much arguing, the convinced me to stay and lay down… I stayed for a bit, but eventually I did leave. I talked to the medical staff and said, yes I know I am dehydrated, and I know I am sick… but I’m an NP and I know how to take care of myself (besides I am the worst IV start in the world when I am healthy, seriously anesthesia has a hard time – there was no way anyone was going to get an IV in me).

So at the end of the day, despite being sick and fighting through a hip injury – I finished in 3:13:42 which is less than 2 minutes off my PR. If I take off the time for visiting the side of the road, well, it was closer. Was it the race I wanted… not on your life… but I guess there is something to be learned from every race … so here goes.

1.      Salt tablets are crucial for me. I need to pay attention to that and take at regular intervals, especially when I am sick or feeling sick.

2.      Pouring water over my head probably doesn’t really cool me off too much. I may feel hot, but when the air is cold it probably does more harm than good.

3.      My new $25 dollar socks worked like a charm. I put toe caps on the 2nd toes of each foot and for the FIRST time ever in a race I am blister free and chafe mark free as well!

4.      This weekend was my mini-Goofy challenge. 5K and a half marathon … I have a feeling some of the tiredness in my legs at the end was also compounded by the running yesterday, but that’s ok.

5.      My goal was NOT to PR, this was just a training run. I did not quit… even though maybe I should have (or would have had valid reason to). I was mentally tougher today than physically tough, which is a step forward for me. I was able to block out the pain and keep going.

So I guess some days are big victories. Some days are small victories, but part of being an athlete is trying to find the victory instead of accepting defeat. I know I am capable of better, maybe on another day, but now starts the marathon training. Yeah, secretly I worry I can’t do it. And on the surface there are things today that make me think that more, but yet there are also things in myself that I saw today that make me believe all things are possible. I am going to choose to focus on the positives today. I survived! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Journey - One Year Later (Fox Cities 5K)

I bet when you clicked on this blog, you thought it was all going to be about weight loss, how my clothes fit, etc. Well, the weight loss happened (down about 40 pounds) and yes my clothes fit better (a nice size 16 instead of a size 24), but todays journey is a fitness one. 

You see one year ago, I trained and ran my first 5K today. I wasnt sure I could do it, and I was struggling. I participated in a 5K prep class through the local FleetFeet FoxValley running store. That class gave me the confidence to not give up. Come race time, one of the coaches was nice enough to pace me for the race. I finished, confidently, and ready to start my running career. Since then I have run a ton of races -- too many to count -- and tomorrow at the very same event I will be running my FIFTH half marathon (and still training of course for my first marathon at Walt Disneyworld in less than 4 months)

Sure thats an ok story.... but thats not even the journey I am talking about today.  
A couple of months ago my friend Leah (and owner of FleetFeet) asked me to be a coach for the No Boundaries 5K class. ME, a coach! I thought for sure there was no way I could do this ... I mean Im just me, not an elite runner. But I trusted her, and I signed up.

I had a blast this summer coaching the walkers and runners and helping people to reach their goals.  In fact today was THEIR goal race (the same place I was one year ago). 
I decided to run the race and pace one of my runners to a PR. She really wanted to finish under 47 minutes and I KNEW she could do it.

I was soo excited for today. Wearing my big red FleetFeet shirt that says Coach on the back, I felt so proud! The first mile my runner was like a grosshopper -- waay to fast and I had to reign her in. People around me were looking at me funny as I was telling her to slow down. The second mile was alot better. She was struggling by the 2.5 mile mark, but I just kept trying to think of motivating things to say. I picked a target runner about 1 block up and said "We are going to beat her out at the end."

Around mile 2.5 we met up with another runner (who had the same name as my runner) and she said "Ive been imagining your coaching me, your really motivating!" That just totally made my day! Around the corner at 2.9 miles we went ... I started preparing my runner for the end. "As soon as we see the finish line, we are going to run it out, ok" We got to the 3 mile mark and all of the other coaches were at the sidelines (and some of the mentors too) and they all hopped off and ran it in with us!

I have never been soo proud to be part of a team. One of the other coaches said "who said running isnt a team sport. I was next to my runner, a couple coaches were behind so she couldnt stop. She PR'd ... finishing with a time of 43:08 almost a full 4 minutes off of her PR!

I knew coaching was fun ... but I am sooo fired up right now. Its almost more fun to help others reach their goals than to reach my own!

So the journey -- one year ago I was finishing my first 5K and feeling like I was going to throw up after crossing the finish line ... fast forward one year and I am strong enough to help others reach their goals, at the same race!
And last but not least ... one year ago when I was leaving the expo I ran into a girl from work who was running the half marathon. I remember her saying "maybe next you will be doing the half marathon with me" - I smiled and walked away thinking "no way in hades will that be happening...

Tomorrow is my fifth half ... Its gonna be amazing!  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Fourth Half Marathon

I thought about titling this “what else could go wrong?” but then decided that I didn’t want to focus so much on the negatives. This weekend was the long-awaited Rock N Roll Chicago Half Marathon. In addition to just being excited about being a member of team DetermiNation and giving back to the American Cancer Society, this race was all about showing myself what I could do and redeeming my last less than optimal race performance. The goal … a PR! My previous PR was 3:16 and I was thinking that I could beat it. I was hoping to come in under 3:15 and secretly I was dreaming of 3:11.

But before I tell you about the race … I have to tell you about the weekend first (trust me it’s worth the read for comedy sakes)!

So three days before the trip to Chicago, I find out my friend is unable to go. So, love that hubby of mine, because he worked late every night for the rest of the week so that he could get off work on Saturday to go with me.

Saturday morning we had big plans – get up early and head out to Chicago early. Ummm, we overslept and did not leave the house until 9am. We finally got to Chicago, checked into the hotel, and off to the expo we were … on a bus. Now mind you we are small city people … a lady on the bus was singing off key opera and the 1 mile bus ride took like 30 minutes! We finally arrived at the expo and had a FABULOUS time! Up and down all of the aisles looking at stuff, trying different bars and gels. Saw the Biggest Loser Team Orange again (met them in Miami 8 months ago) … and they actually remember who I was … and commented that I had lost even more weight (WINNING)!

After that back to the hotel to get on a tour guide bus … on the way back the skies opened up and it started down pouring with thunder and lightning (EPIC FAIL) so no bus ride for me. Back to the hotel to just rest and relax… I decided to get ready for dinner, and then it happened.

I was wearing capris with ties on the side… all I can tell you that all I remember is stepping wrong, getting my toe caught in the loop and falling backwards. I hit my head on the back of the bed frame, and then bounced off the side wall, and finally the back wall. Holy OUCH! I have a high pain tolerance, but I literally sat there laughing and crying at the same time. I have had a headache since that time … and I had double vision for a while that night as well. But, thankfully nothing broken (but my skull) and nothing injured (but my pride).

After the fall, it was time to head to dinner at Fogo De Chao. This was NOT a coach approved meal, but it was where my running partner wanted to eat. I have a strong stomach so I wasn’t worried. It’s a Brazilian steakhouse, so protein, protein, and more protein was on the menu. I was smart, I stopped when I even started getting full, but even still I was pretty stuffed. After a short walk to Ghirardelli’s (YUM) and a short walk back to the hotel, I finally made it to bed at about … uhh 11:30pm. Oooh but before I made it to bed I noticed a huge sign on our door that said “Rock the Windy City, Team Determination” – that made me smile! Man, 4:15am was going to come early!

**Beep** the alarm goes off and I stagger out of bed while hubby happily sleeps. I grab my stuff and head downstairs. There were other Team DetermiNation members downstairs. My running partner shows up and we walk over to the tent chatting with other members. We strike up a conversation with Jessica, a young college student from Minnesota, who was traveling alone. After arriving at the tent, we meet up with Coach Jim... who promptly grabs the 14min pacing sign. Panic starts to well up in me… I can’t do this pace. Jessica asks if she can run with us for the race, and of course say sure. Oh and Coach Jim is totally wearing a giant cheesehead hat!

The race starts, and I reach to turn on my Jeff Galloway run/walk timer (umm like the one thing I cannot live without, I have never run a race without it and only run one training run EVER without it) … and it won’t turn on. Well actually more to the point, it won’t turn off … it continuously vibrated on my shoulder for 6 miles until it finally died. I tried hard not to panic … OMG how was I going to know when to run and walk … and amazing enough it kind of just happened.

We were like a well oiled machine! Jessica would spot the mile markers ahead and call them out. Coach Jim would call out what our goal was by that mile marker and we would pick up our pace to hit those goals. At water stations he would let us keep running and he would get water and cytomax for us. We had a blast, laughing and hand slapping. People calling go “Go Cheeseheads” and asking where in Wisconsin we were from. Poor Jessica, she was an honorary Cheesehead for the day I guess (shh we won’t tell anyone in Minnesota). Oh and at the beginning of the race Jessica picked up the Team DetermiNation cowbell and carried it for the ENTIRE race. We were our own cheering section.

I knew we were doing ok, but it wasn’t until mile 10 that I realized I was almost 5 minutes ahead of my 10 mile PR… holy crap, I thought,  if I can just keep this together I am going to PR. Coach Jim hollers out “it’s just a silly 5K ladies, we can do a 5k without even trying.” Umm, I’m secretly thinking “oh man that’s another 40 minutes.”

At mile 11, Coach Jim hollers out “it’s not a matter of it you are going to PR it’s only a question of how much are you going to PR by. How bad do you want it?” Shortly after that, I just really pushed it hard … adding a long run section without walk breaks. It wasn’t long after that Coach Jim yells out to the surrounding runners “we are gonna PR … come on all aboard the PR train toot toot.” Seriously… what else could I do but laugh. We also picked up another couple of runners that were hanging with our group; one in particular really pushed me. Her friends had left her behind and she was struggling. She was less than half my size… and I was doing this and not struggling as much. At that moment while going up an incline, the song “Let's See How Far We’ve Come” by Matchbox 20 came on … I smiled, that was pretty fitting.

At mile 12 I was struggling but still pushing along. I was starting to cramp pretty badly and my hip was quite sore. But I was NOT giving this up. As we were heading down the homestretch I could see the finish line ahead. I was taking a short walk break and I saw Larry on the sideline … and I HEARD Larry scream “you and NOT walking it in” and that was all it took. I was off, as we got close Coach Jim yells out “let’s finish at the fastest pace you have ever done” and we took off – happily crossing the finish line in 3 hours 11 minutes and 56 seconds.

Yep … I got my dream! I managed to HIT my dream time! Oh and as I was starting that final sprint, the song on my IPod was the Biggest Loser Theme song “what you have done today, to make you feel proud?” I think I know the answer to that already …

More moments from the race that I want to remember …

1.      Jessica and her wonderful attitude: How amazing it was that I found her, and what a great race partner she turned out to be. At one point at mile 7ish I was struggling and bit and she grabs my hand and says “we got this; I am not crossing the finish line without you. How amazing to feel so much closeness to someone I just met.

2.      The amazing church group on the side of the road with the sign “You are anointed to finish” they cheered us all through the race.

3.      Team MGR (huge group of like 30 some people) … we don’t know who you are or anything about you, but we chased you down for the longest time. Coach Jim wanted us to pass you and I didn’t think we could… In fact I even said it once during the race “there no way we can pass them,” but slowly and surely your caller’s voice got quieter and quieter and I realized we were passing you. When we couldn’t hear you anymore, I knew we had success!

4.      Coach Jim “coaching” all of the runners at the end. Every struggler he found we just adopted into our group. He was coaching like 10 people and it was hysterically funny. There was a lady with a tutu on and she was struggling and Coach Jim yells out “come on tiny dancer you can do it” – seriously I almost choked on my water!

5.      Although Fogo de Chao was a fabulous restaurant, I would not recommend it for a pre-race meal. My running partner Larry found that out the hard way. He was well onto a PR for him… when the meal started to fight back. He gutted it out though, was within sniffing distance of a PR, he and beat Al Roker!

6.      Last but not least, how amazing it was to be a part of Team DetermiNation: I knew it was going to a good cause, but wow they made this race amazing. From the water/bananas/peanut butter in the morning, to the team picture with the beach balls, to all of the support all through the race, it was an amazing experience. Every time I turned around, there was a Team DetermiNation coach on the sidelines cheering us on and yelling “go Team DetermiNation!” Even at mile 12.5 when Coach Jim was just a few steps ahead, I must have looked like I was struggling because a coach not only cheered from the sidelines, but hopped off the curb and started running with me. The hot dog and cake at the end was the BEST food I have ever had (ok my husband had it and says it was not, but maybe food tastes better after running 13.1 miles).

Sorry for the length of the blog – and if you are still reading THANKS! I just wanted to document such an amazing experience. Next up… Fox Cities Half in 1 month (and after recovery week the famed Coach Jim marathon training plan begins)!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I feel amazing...

yep thats my description of this run today. I feel simply amazing...

Today was the last long run (well taper run) because my half in Chicago in 8 days. I have been fighting the heat, hydration, and hip injury! I think I have been also battling a mental games of telling myself that I cant do it... even though I know I can. I think I got caught up in the "race" worry... gotta PR etc.

So I told myself, self ... just finish today... dont worry so much about the pace ... just finish...

And I had an amazing run. In fact my splits for the run are a bit screwy: faster, slower, faster, slower ... its almost like when I stopped thinking about it my body took over. Sure I had moments when it was tough ... but overall I am ecstatic about my run today.

I also think I may have figured out my hydration issues. You see due to lack of a colon, I get very dehydrated very quickly. I have tried drinking more and more on a run ... and it doesnt seem to help. So I analyzed my runs and realized that my body probably cannot absorb 3 glasses of water at once... so today I sipped. Constantly... yes it got annoying... about every 4 minutes I would sip for 1 minute... and I took my Chomps at every mile.

And ya know what ... I feel amazing! Not only during the run ... but after! Instead of feeling tired and sluggish... I feel amazing. I wish I could bottle this feeling!

So looking at the numbers... my half PR is 15min/mile... my run today was 14:40/mile... and the after the run coach was talking about how close can I get to 3 hours... 3 hours are you kidding me.... I DREAM of breaking 3 hours!

I feel like anything is possible... this is such a great feeling. I will give my best ... and that is all I can do! :) Thanks to everyone here for all of the great support!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Run, Walk, Crawl, FINISH!

Today was the dreaded 12 mile hill run. I found out two days prior that my running partner would not be able to be there. Then I found out the night before that due to the few numbers of people running 12 miles (there is another training group that is up to 8 miles) I would likely not have a coach by my side for the whole run. As someone who ran alone for a LONG time, I have grown accustomed I have someone.

But I decided I needed to toughen up ... buck up and push on. Coach Jim had emailed me and said the original 12 mile route wasnt going to work ... and so he wanted me to run the 8 mile route with the other group, finish and then head back out. That seemed like a cop out to me... so I told him I was going to do the original plan, with or without my running partner. I asked if maybe he could come back and get me when the 8milers were done and he promised to do so.

So this morning... humidity was high and the air was thick, but temps were  supposed to be in the mid 70s and it was cloudy. This is my kind of weather! We started off ... and would you believe I was NOT in last (I am bringing up the rear every single week) I was holding my own ... heck I even passed someone. I felt STRONG untl about mile 7 ... I gutted it out through mile 7 but my mile 8 or not only were my calves cramping but I was starting to cramp in my back ... I stopped at the gas station to get some gatorade ... and just a few minutes later I see Coach Jim.

At this point, he offered me to run back to the park the short way ... and we could do laps around the park (lots of hills) but that felt like such a failure to me... I felt ok, I was still sweating and I was not cramping too bad, so I felt like I could honor the original route. I was able to hold in until mile 9 at the base of the big Josh's Hill. I made a mistake at the last water stop (one mile earlier)... I was wheezing so I took a puff of my inhaler. I always carry it, but I have never used it during a long run or race. And now I know why ... after that puff my heart rate was out of control... so at the base of the hill, Coach Jim made me lay down and put my legs up and rest for 5 minutes.

I made it up the hill ... walking it mostly (and wanting to die) and was able to run for another mile or so ... but at 10.2 I was done. It felt sooo hot, I was dizzy, I was cramping... and I just couldnt do it. We had one more big long hill to make it up. I asked Coach Jim if I could just wait in the shade and he could get the car. He said ok (pretty sure he was a bit worried about me) ... and before he left I spontaneously just started crying (I am NOT a crier) ... and said "I feel like such a failure."

Coach Jim then said... no im not getting the car you are going to make it home. We are just going to walk ... as slow as you need to. But you can make it home. You worked too hard up many hill for 10miles to consider yourself a failure... and slowly I walked home. The last mile was a 18min/mile, but yes I finished!
I cant help it though... I still feel like a bit of a failure. I know I shouldnt, but I wish I could have myself push through.

Including the walking... my time was 3h and 1 minute for 12 miles. My PR for a half is 3:16 ... up until the 10 mile mark I was ahead of my PR.

I know the hill runs are good for me... and make me a better, faster runner. But I am terrified now... terrified of how my next half marathon will go  ... terrified of the 13.1 run next week ... my confidence is really shaken...

But then I got home ... and even though I am disappointed with myself I had the best comment on my page "I dream of doing what you do" WHAT someone dreams of limping their way through 12 miles... and I realized no matter what the pace, the speed, or the time its about finishing. I also realized that I was in the sun from mile 6 on out (as evidence by my sunburn) ... and my mid 70's.... well the weatherman lied. It sure felt hotter than 70's ... turns out it was 84 degrees and with the high humidity the heat index was 91 degrees. Hmmm no wonder I felt terrible...

My headband today read: Run, Walk, Crawl, Finish!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Conquered the hills today .... what else should I conquer?

Hmmmm ... well just keep reading!

So this week has been an epic week for me. My class that I am teaching is finally over, IRB approval finally came, and I finally found myself a running partner!  Yep, I have been running alone for a very very long time, never believing that my prince or princess would come. Always believing I was too slow, and that no one would want to run with me. Thinking... "I think Im fun" but alas just too slow.
Well this week my prince came! So last weekend one of the guys in our training group Larry, decided that he was going to run the long run with me since he was recovering from Gramma's marathon. I was suprised, but glad for the company. The run, although hard, did go much quicker and nicer with a friend to chat to (or yell at)!

Imagine my suprise when he sent me a Facebook msg asking if I wanna run the hills AGAIN this week. I happily agreed. Monday I ran alone and struggled to do 3.5 miles but with Larry by my side I not only crammed out 7.5 miles .... it was 7.5 miles of hills, hills, and more hills. As we were running, he was talking to me about the races he is training for (including a marathon) and how we should start running the hills during the week too. I of course was game... running in the summer is really hard for me!
Unfortunately... I have this problem. I am a highly suggestible person! I cannot be trusted to watch infomercials because I am convinced whatever product they are selling is going to be the best ever. And yes... after 7.5 miles of discussing marathon training, I was starting to believe I could do it. Alas but what marathon to train for. Cellcom is in May ... and I figured to train with Larry for a race in January and then not run one would be depressing.

So off to MFP I went... and as usual my friends were full of nothing but encouragement. See I was worried that I couldnt run the Disney marathon because I will be out of the state the week prior ... but everyone just said ... go for it... so I thought about it.
And today ... was the 9 mile hill run. I laughed when I saw the route because in adding one mile Coach Jim managed to add FOUR MORE HILLS! The bottom of his email said it all "its time to push through another envelope guys."

It was hot this morning, with a bit of a breeze. My pace for me was blistering through 4 miles... mile 5 I struggled a bit. Mile 6 I struggled more... but I just kept pushing through. Coach Jim upped the anti this week by not only coaching us up the hills... but making us RUN up every hill.
Jesus Hill was at mile 8 and OMG I thought I was going to die. Huffing and puffing and just pushing it hard. Coach Jim is hollering "everyone driving by thinks you are f'ing awesome and they wish they could be you" Haha that helped a bit. The last hill of the day at Mile 8.75 I BEGGED to walk ... Coach Jim said "I dont care how slow you run, I care that you run it" I was literally whining like a child. Larry said "I KNOW you can do this" And slowly .... slowly... up that hill I went.

When we finished ... we finished at a pace of 14:35/mile ... light years ahead of what I have ever been able to do! I am feeling completely amazing about this run.

Ok so my news.... thanks to the support of my running husband Larry, my coach Jim, and my wonderful friends on MFP. Its official... I just signed up for my first MARATHON! I am going to run the Disney Marathon the first weekend in January.

We can do anything that we want to! And I am about to prove that ... so who wants to join me and "push through another envelope." What envelope can you push through?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bellin 10K Race Report

Before I tell you about the race ... I have to give you some history. On 10-10-10 I ran my first 10K ... I thought I was going to die. I ended up walking most of it ... in fact as I was walking with my friend (who was 100pounds less than I) she says "what a great day for a stroll!" Ha! A stroll... I was near death. I finished dead last at 1h47min....

On 4-2-10 I ran my next 10K ... it rained, snowed, and hailed on us. We got left out out on the course, got lost, and actually had to have a race official come and get us. I busted my butt -- finished in dead last again at 1hr30mins and 30 seconds!

Today 6-11-11 was my third 10K. The ellusive Bellin run. If you dont know what I am talking about - stop now and read my blog from yesterday.
Hubby and I are standing at the start line... and the excitement is building. The gun goes off... and we dont move... and dont move... and dont move. Finally about 20 minutes later we are at the start line (there were 18,000 runners this year)! I take off ... and I settle in quickly. There are a few light uphills and I am just cruising. I pick a runner ahead of me and concentrate on passing her. I even threw in a few sprints just to get past some groups of walkers! At mile 2 ... I try to get the water station ... and get blocked out by not one, not two, not three, but literally four strollers. I decided water is not as important as my PR ... so I refuse to stop or break my stride!

My first mile is under 14min/mile... and my second is pretty close too! I am feeling good - but at mile 2 the stupid foot pain starts. Thankfully... it went away pretty quickly. One downhill I decided that I was going to really "give er" for the downhill...... I ran my fastest mile ever during that stretch... 13:20/mile.

At mile 4 I was starting to tire... I realized that I had taken it out a bit too fast... but onward I pushed. Bands on the side of the roads and people cheering with signs made me laugh. Since the race was through neighborhoods, people had their hoses out and were spraying the runners!
Somewhere around mile 5 I notice Coach Jim standing off to the side of the course. I waved, he waved ... and when I looked down he was right next to me on the left side. I was suprised ... he says "well I came back to find you and run it in with you ... you want a PR right?" Onward we pushed... and pushed .... and pushed...

With about 3/4 of a mile to go, people along the street were holding signs saying "Go runner I dont know" so Coach Jim introduced us. Suddenly crowds of people on the street are screaming my name and cheering for me.... me ... I was in shock! Coach Jim told me to keep running... and he went to the water station and got me some more water.

At the very end, there was a hill..... the old me would have walked that hill. Afterall I cant do hills right... Coach Jim started coaching me before the hill. Little did he know I didnt need it... He said "thats a little hill you can do that" I replied "of course I can ... thats not even a hill we do worse than that."

I not only did not walk up the hill.... I didnt jog up the hill.... I charged up that hill as fast as I could. At the end, I saved enough for a full sprint (apparently a fast one too because Garmin said it was at a 8min/mile pace at the end)!

I finished in 1hr28min57sec .... PR baby! Im not sure which is better -- the PR or that fact that I know that I am one tough cookie!

(PS. I did NOT beat the husband. You know the husband who barely trained, who is 6'3. Apparently although he only runs a 15min/mile on treadmill out of NOWHERE he pulls out a 11:35/mile pace to beat me by 17 minutes. I could be bummed, but I am just proud of him... and maybe I will get there someday... )

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Year Ago

I was sitting on the sidelines watching longingly at all of the fit people.... the fit people who were going to run the Bellin.

You see, the Bellin 10K is a huge run in our area ... actually more people register for the Bellin 10K than for our half and full marathon. This year they are expected about 25,000 people to participate. Ever since I have been an adult, I have heard people causally say "oh Im running the Bellin this weekend." I never felt part of that crowd...

It was one year ago while working with Trainer Tyler that he again casually mentioned that he was going to "Run the Bellin" and I said ... did you train? and he says "nah its only a 10K." ONLY a 10K... I only dreamed of completing that. Trainer Tyler told me I should just walk it .... I sighed "no, I dont even think I could walk that far."

It was shortly after that that I started training for a 5K run. I trained all summer ... from June 21, 2010 to my first race on Sept 19, 2010. I dreamed of someday running the Bellin ... and set that as my goal to accomplish in 2011.

Tomorrow is the Bellin ... and guess what ... its no big deal. Since finishing that 5K I have went on to finish 3 half marathons... so the elusive "Running the Bellin" is actually pretty anti-climactic for me. The distance of the Bellin (10K) I run in my average training run!

And today ... it happened. Someone asked me what I was doing this weekend and I causually replied "Oh I'm Running the Bellin" and that person said ... OMG isnt that like 6 miles, I could never do that... and I just smiled .... and told them that I would be happy to help them learn to run!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Week Two with Coach Jim

Well ... today was the long awaited week 2 hill run with Coach Jim. Based on my previous blog posts this week, I was feeling like less than a rockstar... but of course I wasnt going to give up.
The temp is hot and humid - by 7am it was already almost 80 degrees. This week we were joined by 3 other runners (2 girls with a lightning fast 10min/mile pace and a guy who was always visible to me and ran about a 13min/mile pace I am guessing). We take off ... uhhh at a pace I cant maintain. After a couple of minutes I need to take a walk break ... and I fall behind.

Right away the negative self talk starts -- and I tell it to shut the &*^% up! There will be no negative self talk today. Its hot and I am feeling the heat and struggling a bit to get my heart rate down during the walk intervals. I decide right then and there that I am going to switch to 2:2 intervals but if I allow myself to do this there will be NO extra walk breaks. Myself agrees with this plan ... but my conscious reminds me that the rule remains "If you are running downhill you MUST run another interval.

Ok plan in place I push on ... Coach Jim checks in with me "how is my tough girl doing" I smile... Im a tough girl alright! I push on ... and over the major hills. The last hill on the way out was HUGE and I am pretty sure I am not moving but I keep pushing on and on ... look at the top of the hill... you must keep running... you can do anything for two minutes!!

Soon its time to turn around ... I get some Chomps from coach Jim. Suddenly I am on this amazing downhill.... I feel like I am flying... I run for 8 minutes straight, turn the corner and its back to being uphill.
This moment was crucial because I was struggling... and Coach Jim was up ahead. I seriously thought about taking an extra walk break ... walking up that hill because no one would know, right? But guess what I WOULD KNOW! And thus no extra walk break did happen!

I finished 6.1 mile today ... with major hills... I am a rockstar! Coach Jim kept calling me a warrior and "tough girl". Im so lucky to have found such a great coach who really, truly seems to believe I can do it!

I had to laugh near the end where we had our water - a extremely fit man with a bike was walking up the same hill that we ran up. Coach Jim says to me "wow if I was a mean guy I would tell him that you ran up that hill... but I wont" Haha!

I had another thought about P90X too.... you know what 25% is better than 0% right?
Most of the people of my size and fitness level would ever attempt it. So you know what ... if I can only do 20 or 30 minutes its STILL better than ZERO minutes! I am clearly sore... which clearly means that I pushed myself (for god sakes I am still sore today before the run) ... now if I only did 20 minutes and didnt feel it the morning I would argue I wasnt pushing myself... but I am ... and will continue to do so.

Thank you so much to all my friends for the awesome comments. I still see myself as weak ... and it meant so much to me to know that others see me as strong!

Week One with Coach Jim

Well today was the day I was waiting for (or dreading) - it was time for Day One with Coach Jim. I got up bright and early and headed out to the park. Coach Jim had promised that he loves hills and that this would be a hill run. I waited in the parking lot... and soon up ahead Coach Jim and Mariah come running up. Guess what? I was the ONLY one who showed up... perhaps the rain and wind kept people away ... but gosh I thought the weather was fine (I have run in much much worse).

So its just Coach Jim, Mariah, and myself. I pop my Ipod in ... and he shakes his head. "You can only wear that if you can still hear me." "Yep," I reply, "I have the awesome headphones with a microphone. See, I have never really run with people...

We take off .. a pace a bit faster than I am used to, but I was able to keep it up. The hills on the way out arent too bad, still more than I am used to. At about 1.5 miles there is a ginormous hill up ahead... I immediately think, wow I cant do that. Coach Jim is right there ... telling me I can, we cant walk until the timer goes off, one foot in front of the other, you can do it girl, etc. And you know what ... I made it up that hill (and several others).

In the last 1.5 miles there were two major hills ... I not only ran up them but I charged up them actually increasing my speed over the hills. Twice when my timer went off I said to Coach Jim "I just cant run right now I need an extra walk break" and he said ... "you know what we are going to do ... we are going to run real slowly because Jeff told us to and I know you can do it" and you know what ...
He was right! I didnt need any extra walk breaks... my 5 mile time WITH major hills was better than my best 5 mile time on flat ground...

Oh yeah ... one more thing... in the middle of the run he asks what my running plans are for the rest of the year, so I told him... and he says what about next year ... so I mention the one half I am planning on ... and he looks at me and says "so when you are gonna do a full?" I admitted that I fantasize about Disney 2013... he said that was a great idea. At mile 4 he starts talking to me about how great of a marathon Cellcom is ... and how he recommends your first half marathon be one at home.... and somehow by mile 4.5 he talks me into committing to the Cellcom Marathon May of 2012 .....

Its amazing what you can do if you just put your mind to it! :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sometimes Its About More Than Setting Records...

Today was the anticipated Cellcom Half Marathon... the ULTIMATE event that I have been training for for months and months. Many long runs were dedicated to this day ... it was going to perfect ... and I was going to PR ....

Unfortunately, Mother Nature had another plan for me! I woke up this morning to 44 degrees and HORRIBLE winds. No seriously like 20-25mph sustained with gusts up to 40 according to the weather guy! Sun was shining... and I was freaking out! I couldnt even decide what to wear ... but I knew one thing I was going to wear. An old sweatshirt .... well more about that later I promise!

 The race started off and we were doing great! At 3 miles we were at a great pace. The wind was noticeable but not too bad. At mile 5 I kinda started to slow down ... a mini wall if you will have it. I struggled a bit but pushed on. The wind got stronger... at mile 6.5 they gave us oranges. After sucking the juice out of 2 oranges, shortly after I felt completely and totally amazing. I cruised until about mile 9 .... the wind was getting stronger, but we were mostly out of it. That was until mile 10...
Mile 10 started a long stretch into the wind... one short turn at mile 11 and then back into the wind. I just couldnt do it... I had to add alot of extra walking... at one point I was soo frustrated I almost started to cry. However, my running partner said "seriously you better not be crying" and that was the end of my pity party. I decided then and there that I wasnt going to PR .... but I was going to finish no matter what.

At mile 12.5ish we ran into the tunnels and into Lambeau Field. The half marathoners were on the left being passed by the full marathoners ..... OMG they were sooo fast just breezing by us and not looking like it was hard for them at all. I ran a good portion in Lambeau Field... it was rather surreal by that point... and then back out of the stadium... and then it was over. 3hours 21minutes 56 seconds. Definately NOT the PR I was looking for (3:16:38) .... but then I started to think about some things.

Sure it wasnt a PR ... but it actually was faster than Miami my first half marathon... which was run in perfect gorgeous weather. I was growing... I dont think I could have finished before. Then I heard that the elite marathoner complained about the wind slowing her down by 6 minutes.... well geez if the elite marathoner was slowed down by the wind.... I guess I dont feel so bad! Besides ... less than 1% of the population has actually completed a half or full marathon. I guess I just have ever more to work on for August, right?

Now back to that sweatshirt..... that is the best part of the day. When trying to decide what to wear alot of people said get a sweatshirt that you can throw away. Well I didnt have any ... my husband didnt have any. He went into the closet and came out with my old fleece jacket from my former employer. You know the one... the one that threw my away after a corporate takeover. The one that devastated my life one year ago .... that fleece jacket used to be my favorite jacket (and it looked great) but since leaving the company I have not worn it. I ever tried to remove the embroidery to no avail.

Well that jacket ... that used to fit and look great ... looks sooo big its silly! I wore that for the start of the race... and somewhere around mile 1 I threw it off to the side of the road (to be donated to the homeless) .... and under that sweatshirt was the thinner, healthier me. Honestly I felt incredible after shunning that jacket. That jacket was part of the old me.... new me just completed my THIRD half marathon!

God I love my life.... I love all of my friends who tracked me during the race! I love all of the people who say that I motivate them. One year ago I didnt think I would ever motivate someone... and certainly not with my running. My career is on track ... my life is on track .... and life is wonderful!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oshkosh Half Marathon - In the Snow

... and did I set a PR, well you will just have to read down to the bottom to find out. (warning this might be a long one guys)

This morning the temperature was 37 degrees and it was pouring rain. I chose to wear single layer Nike pants and my half zip long sleeve shirt and my Winbreaker vest. I made my gatorade mixture and packed me Chomps! As I drove to the race I started to get nervous... could I do this with the weather? As I stood at the start line, the nervousness started to turn to panic. I dont see very many walkers... and the walkers I see look fit.  Will I get left or lost on the course again? I line up as far back as I can .... and off we go.
At about 0.5mile I drop my Ipod on the ground (this will NOT be the last time I drop something)... I tuck it back on my belt but about 0.5 mile later it drops again. I quickly shove it in the pocket of my vest (thank god I wore the vest or I might have been psyched out by this). I noticed my first mile time and think...hmm slower than it should be. Good thing I already abandoned any thought of a PR here, because this is just going to be about finishing. I had a hard time settling in, just didnt feel strong. Inserted an extra walk break at mile 2.75 and then started yelling at myself in my head ... you need to get tougher you have a LONG ways to go!

At mile 3, we headed through a rough stretch of trail. Oops yep TRAIL... they didnt tell us about that. Its rocky, and not paved. Just then FzyFrogs song "Go Hard or Go Home" comes on and I am able to pick up my pace ... just the words were motivating me! The trail is a mess... lots of water, mud, rocks, but I just trudge on. I know start to feel strong.... I finally pass the woman I have been chasing for 3 miles ... and I never see her again!

The trail continues for another mile or so, and then thankfully it is paved roads. Mile 5 a small hill, and back to the trail. I cringe ... but just like its meant to be Bratgrrls song "Fuego" comes on the iPod and I just smile. Time to push it I guess... I think its a sign!

Onward I go through puddles, lakes, mud, etc. I accidently drop my empty bottle from my fuel belt, not once but twice... and once in the mud. I just pick it up and wipe it on my pants (which are covered in mud anyways)! At the half way point I felt strong... I knew I was going to be able to do this. Just prior to the halfway point I look down and notice my 10K time... its not as fast as I usually do in training... and so I never think about it again. At the halfway point, I feel strong... a bit sore but otherwise strong. Unfortunately at this time the rain now turns to sleet (and we all know how much I LOVE sleet pelting me in the face while I run).

Mile 7 was completely into the wind... and sleet... yuck!
At mile 7.5 a large hill ... and I am just starting to fade... then DangerRanger's song "Im the Ish" comes on and I smile... just singing along in my head. I make it over the hill and continue to trudge alone. At mile 8 I notice that I am just faster than 15/mile but I still dont think anything of it... but I think I will likely slow down!

Mile 9 comes and I am still going strong... slow... but strong with my intervals no extra walk breaks, etc. As we turn into the park trail... and back into the wind Mandell25's song "Sun is Up" comes on. I giggle because there is no sun.... no good weather... but the song cheers me up.

At Mile 10 the sleet turns to snow, first light and kinda pretty than completely heavy and its evern hard to see because of thick snow. I happen to check my Garmin and notice that I am hitting mile 10 at 2:28 which is alot faster than I have ever hit that mark before. NanBar's song "Unbreakable" comes on ... and I honestly start crying a bit. Like wow... I am probably going to PR ... in the snow... how amazing is this? All I got left is a silly 5K baby!

The words from Unbreakable inspire me so much:
"God I want to dream again, take me where Ive never been. I want to go there, this time Im not scared. Now I am unbreakable, its unmistakeable. No one can touch me, nothing can stop me"
Shortly after this song, Alison2429's song "Reach for the Stars" comes on .. just to remind me that I have to keep up the pace if I want to PR, right? Then right after comes misssupersititious's song "Heart of a Champion".
Before I know it, its Mile 11. I am definately tired, cold, and wet right now. The snow continues. I can feel that I am starting to slow down .... and I cant let that happen. Emilysebastians song "Backseat" comes on ... I smile knowing I am not alone here and I continue on. At Mile 11.5 is the last water station, and I finally give in to take some water. I take my last Chomps. Slimyfishy's song "Take Over Control" comes on and I reminded that this is all mental right now NOT physical and I just need to keep pushing on .... just keep pushing girl. You dont wanna work so hard for 11 miles to blow it right? Kac7700 song "Shots" comes on ... and I imagine myself partying at a bar having a great time when I am thin and fit and not embarrased about how I look. I am freaking awesome for doing this... for being here I think my myself!
The sign for Mile 12 has blown down ... so I actually missed the sign. Mile 12 is back into the wind... and the snow. I am exhausted ... the wind is strong and making it harder to advance. Just then fuzzy's song "ET" comes on and I focus on trying to match my steps with the beat which speeds up my pace a bit. The race is almost over... I can feel it. Only one big hill to get over ... the bridge. I allow myself to walk up the bridge... almost at the top of the bridge AggieCass's song "Go Girl" comes on ...
"I party like a rockstar, look a movie star, play like an all star, *&^% like a porno star.. baby im a superstar" and I just push ahead.
The very last song to play was not dedicated to anyone ... but it it is a song again that I find the lyrics to be completely inspiring. The song is "You Gave Me a Promise" by Fireflight... and I would encourage anyone to download it... and remember the promise you gave yourself! You committed to YOURSELF no one is making you do anything... :)
"Waves are crashing down on me, but I know this can not be the end.
At times I feel like copping out, will you hold me up if I just say that I will stay.
I will hold on to this hope that I have.
You gave me a promise, you gave me a promise.
Ill push through this moment, Ill never give up.
You gave me a promise, you gave me a promise." 
This song was playing when I crossed the finish line... as I approached the finish line I got faster and faster. Yep I saved enough for a sprint out. They called me name and I just smiled. It was only then that I thought to look down at my watch....
3:16:38 officially ......
I not only beat my PR... but I shattered it by over 7 MINUTES!
How did I do this... with the weather... the drama..... I just kept pushing though!
Im still in a bit of shock ... but I know that I could not done it without my friends who support me so thanks. Amazing how I have changed so much in less than one year. Im the healthier, happier, fitter me. I still have a ways to go, but the old me wouldnt have dreamed of running 3 miles, much less 3 + another 10 miles!