Sunday, April 29, 2012

Can I Bottle This One Forever (Jailbreak Half)

Well remember that half marathon that I was so excited for last weekend ... and remember how it did not quite go the way that I wanted. Well all of my friends were running this little "Jailbreak Half Marathon" in the middle of nowhere and they encouraged me to do it. Since I am perhaps the most easily suggestible person in the world, and after last weekend's run, I was dying for a chance to redeem myself, so I was really thinking about it. 
Finding out the weather was going to be 40s with light rain was just icing on the cake. You see, call me crazy but all of my PRs (5K, 5 mile, 10K, and Half marathon) have all occurred when it was cloudy. I have yet to have any PRs yet with the sun out...
So even though this would be my second half in 6 days (and will be my third in 2 weeks after next weekend), something told me I wanted to do this one. I asked my friend about the hills (one big hill that lasted about 1/2 mile) and checked out the elevation. Seemed doable ... so I signed up. 
This morning I drove out into the middle of no where to meet my friends. I got there JUST in time to see the marathoners take off and be able to give one of my favorite running friends Amy a big high five as she started her race.
 I steadied myself for the race start. Reminded myself of the plan -- go out slow, slower than you think you need to. Planned to take the first 4 miles about 10 seconds under pace and then hold the rest of the miles right on pace. No matter what ... slow down in the beginning. 
So we are off and it is a HUGE struggle to hold myself back. I swear I felt like I had to walk in place (not really but you know). Shortly after the first half mile I look back and there is one person behind me and I can only see one person in front of me. I had mentally prepared myself for coming in last for this race -- so I was NOT going to chase anyone down, I was just going to run my race. So I just settled in ... and for the first four miles I was right on my goals.
About 2 miles the rain started -- first freezing rain that actually hurt as it hit you (and froze your neck) but then switched to just a diffuse but light rain.
Mile 3 started the long trudge uphill. Usually when it comes to hills, I psych myself out, feel like I need to walk up the hills, etc. Not this time.... I refused. I continued my standard run/walk intervals REFUSING to take an extra break. After about 0.7 miles there was a huge downhill... I FLEW downhill because there was no way I was going to be able to stop and walk.
The miles just kept flying by.  And I just kept hitting my goals.  And the rain kept falling, and falling, and falling. And of course the music kept playing ... those of you who read my blogs regularly know how much music motivates me. You never know what song will resonate with you on what day ... today at about mile 7 it was Courageous by Counting Crowns ... yes its Christian rock but well sometimes those songs are motivating. 
we were made to be courageous
we were made to lead the way
we could be the generation that finally breaks the chains

we were made to be courageous
we were made to be courageous

we were warriors on the front lines,
standing unafraid.
but now we're watchers on the side lines,
while our families slip away.
where are you men of courage?
you were made for so much more.
let the pounding of our hearts cry,
we will serve the Lord. 
For some reason I just felt good with this song today! The miles and miles kept flying by. I felt great -- I was hitting my time goals and better yet I felt as if I could run forever. Around this time, the woman who was behind me passed me up ... and I let her. I was NOT running her race, I was running mine. I was single minded. 
Around mile 9ish I was struggling a bit and my favorite "get me up" song just happened to come on. Papa Roach .... to be loved. Now in MY mind I just skip that part of the song ... I like the never give up part!
Listen up, turn it up and rock it out
party on, I wanna hear you scream and shout
this is real, as real as it gets
I came to get down to get some fucking respect
taking it back to hardcore level
you better be ready, put your pedal to the metal
taking it back to hardcore level
you better be ready, put your pedal to the metal.


Whoa I'll never give in
Whoa I'll never give up
Whoa I'll never give in
And I just wanna be, wanna be loved

I was starting to fade a bit but I was determined to not give in. Mile 11 was a bit of a struggle, but I was only off of pace by 30 seconds. I knew I had a super fast mile 4 so those 2 offset each other. Beginning of mile 12 another odd song pops on Lemonade Mouth, Here We Go. 
Be heard, Be strong, Be proud
I wanna make some noise
Stand up, Come on, Be loud
We're gonna raise our voice
Come on, Come on, Come on
You gotta hear me now
You gotta hear me now
You gotta hear me now

Hey now
we no longer wait around
My team stronger than weights now
Keeps on growing
Our muscles keeps on showing

We came here to make a change
We came here to rearrange
We came here cause we believe
We came here cause we achieve, yeah
For some reason this song was resonating with my emotions, but also the beat was perfect for my sad tired legs. The last half mile I just had the same dang song on repeat. Rev Theory Hell Yeah
Gimme a "hell"
Gimme a "yeah"
Stand up right now
And gimme a "hell"
Gimme a "yeah"
Stand up right now
Get ready to go
She ain't movin' slow
She's takin' control
Pushin' the pedal to the floor
I'm beggin' for more
You better hold on tight
Ok, so this song is not about running but heck Ill take what I can get.
I knew as I was turning into the final turn, that the PR was within site ... and cracking 3:10 my miracle dream time was also a possibility ... At the last quarter mile, I thankfully see Boyd (my friend Amy's husband) standing outside the gates in his trnch coat. He starts running it in with me. With the finish line in sight I tried to run it out, but I was out of breath. I stopped to walk, taking two steps, yelled at myself (pretty sure it was swear words but dont remember what I said.... and sprinted it into the finish line. 
I crossed the finish line with a time I have only dreamed of. I finished in 3:10:18!!
PR BABY! Now here is a secret ... my PR in Chicago you will remember was with my running coach right next to me for the whole race pacing me. I secretly started to believe it was not a "fair" time ya know... that I was just not capable. My PR was 3:11:56 and in my other halves I had finished in 3:13, 3:14, and recently 3:12. See I dreamed of that PR but wasnt honestly sure I could do it.
But I did ... and then some. Smashing that PR by more than 1min and 40 seconds!! 
Another funny though -- although I told about the "one" hill, lemme tell you the whole course was just rolling hills -- up and down ... and up and up and then down a bit. Since I fear hills and never think I am "tough enough" had I seen the course prior to the race, I dont think I would have signed up.
And the last thing... I did not take ANY extra walk breaks up hills. No chickening out for me. For the whole race I took 2 non-scheduled walk breaks and both were to drink Gatorade from a water station! This is a huge victory for me....
Now its on to Pittsburgh next weekend (just for fun) and then Cellcom in 2 weeks and then it starts marathon training!
Thanks so much my great running friends who waited for me at the finish line despite the poor weather. Boyd gave me the trench coat ... and Luann for holding me up and walking around with me for 5-10 minutes after the race! I have great friends...
Then after I got to go to a friends house and spend a great afternoon with my running friends. Joined by my other friend and her friend who finished the FULL marathon.
I love my friends ... I am very proud of myself. I would have never met these people without my attention to a fit lifestyle. Friends just remember this blog the next time you are drama'd about the number on the scale. Living a fit and healthy lifestyle is MORE than that number -- its about sooooo much more! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Tenth Half (Oshkosh Half)

I really wish I could get to the point that I can see my sucesses instead of seeing the failures. I think that is part of growing up, gaining confidence, and becoming used to the new me. But, its a part that I continue to struggle with. More on this later... 
As I posted before, my husband has taken up running in the last few months and he runs about 3-4 miles 4-5 times per week. He decided last night that he wanted to try and run a half marathon without doing any of the training for it. I guess part of me is jealous. Everything just comes so easy to him. Of course without training he ran a 2:30 which is a time I will probably never see! I do love that man, but its not fair. And of course I am jealous that he doesnt have the medical ailments that I do (he has a colon, he doesnt have asthma, etc). But ... I am still proud of him all the same.
So husband and I take off ... at 6:15am. I am not happy about this because I specifically said 6am ... and he specifically blew off my time saying "I dont wanna stand outside forever." Well we barely made the start line and no one had time to use the bathroom. Apparently he had to pee for the whole race ... so after the race he told me "we will make sure to get to the races early in the future." LOL, he didnt admit I was right ... but close enough!
The race started and I was feeling strong. I noticed right away that I had lined up too far back, and that there really werent any runners around me. The field thinned out quickly and I settled into a pace. At mile 3 I realized that was the fastest 3 miles I had ever run. I tried to pull it back ... but didnt really have alot of success doing that. At mile 6.2 I realized I just PR'd my 10K and I again tried to pull it back. I REALLY need to do a better job pacing myself.
 At mile 9 I just crashed ... I could not make myself run. The super duper extra walk breaks started and I was walking more than I was running. The race seemed endless. This really upset me because usually at this point in a race I am feeling great! Mile 10 I tried to pick it back up, but then mile 11 I crashed again. I struggled to even move foreward. 
Mile 12 I turned the corner and headed for home. The road seemed just endless. I was trying to hold on the best that I could. I was slowing down ... slower and slower. I was doing everything I could to keep going ... one foot in front of another. The bridge was at mile 12.8 and I walked up the bridge but promised myself I would run down the bridge. 
 I ran ... and ran and ran ... last year I ran it out from the bridge but this year I just couldnt do it. I had to walk for a few seconds before the big sprint to the finish line. As I was approaching the finish line I thought I saw some friends holding signs, and through my dehydrated daze I remember thinking "oh those arent for me!"
I prepared for my sprint in. I set my sights on two walkers that had been ahead of me the whole race and I started to close the gap -- and yes beat them at the end. I crossed the finish line exhausted. And that was when I realized I had my own cheering squad. My husband was standing there with my good friend 42hockeymom (Lisa) and her daughter. And yes... the signs were for me.
There were 2 signs 
#1 made by her daughter said: AnnMarie sweat is the new black
#2 made by my friend said: I can because I can (the Team Opus slogan) with a picture of a penguin and on the bottom it said "Inspiring since 2011"
I literally cried at the finish line! I have never had signs for me ... or any friends who were not running the race who cared enough to come and see my finish... I am truly touched and blessed!  
Now the time ... my goal was to break the 3:10 barrier. And up until mile 10 I was perfectly on pace to break that. My next goal was to PR ... and I missed it by 14 seconds.
Now the struggle -- half of me is proud of myself. This was the second fastest half marathon I have ever run ... and the other half of me is devastated that I did not break my PR dangit. If I would have just taken a few less walk breaks I would have had it. My pacing was terrible though -- and in the end that is the what hurt me the most.
But I guess I have to be happy with it. It was truly my best ... apparently I am enough to inspire others even if I didnt PR! And ... I did beat last years time by 4 1/2 minutes!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

One Year Ago

One year ago I wrote a blog about running my second half marathon -- the Oshkosh half marathon. I dedicated songs to each of my wonderful MFP friends. And just like life ... lots of things have changed since then. Some of those people are no longer a crucial part of my life, other people I have met in the last year who are my world, and others who I have gotten even closer to in the last year. 
During the Oshkosh half marathon last year, there was freezing rain, sleet, hail, and snow along with the wind. I finished the race ... turned in an awesome time for me... and almost got hypothermia in the process. But I still finished.  
This year I am not going to dedicate songs to anyone, I am just simply going to compare last year to this year.
Last year I arrived at the start line 248 pounds. I was nervous if I could even finish the race. I had to dedicate songs to people because I needed a reason to run. I was scared ... so scared ... and nervous that I would not make it.
This year I will arrive at the start line 233 pounds. I am no longer nervous that I wont finish because I have run nine other half marathons. I am 100% in control of myself tomorrow. I am not just hoping to finish, but I am hoping to PR! I made a playlist of songs, not songs that make me happy, but songs that PUSH me to keep a faster cadence.
This last year has been a rough one for me. Just read my blog "Death of a Marathon Dream" that I wrote in October. I did the rehab ... I did the physical therapy ... and I am back stronger than ever. Ok so I have a bit of a shin splints problem, but I am working through it and I am NOT going to let that stop me! 
 Last year I was hoping to break into the world of running and this year I am firmly in the middle of it. I have friends that qualified and ran the Boston Marathon. I have a friend who won the 50 mile race last year, and yet texted me good luck tomorrow on my goal to break 3:10. Yes this is nothing to her, but a true friend recognizes the struggled of others. I have friends who actually pace for the Cliff Bar team. Seriously some of the most elite runners in our area... are my friends? Is this an alternate universe?... 
And what I realize, when I hang out with the wonderful people above, is that they are inspired by my struggle. They are inspired by my positive attitude, and lastly that they all started out slow and heavy too ... even though you wouldnt believe it to look at them now. This means there is hope for me someday too ... right?
For now I am just happy being me. I ran into a friend at the expo today who I have not seen in months and she texted me tonight and said "wow you look great -- and soo happy." And yes thats me ... I am becoming more confident in myself, my appearance. And that ... is even better than weight loss in my book!
Thanks to all of my friends for supporting me in my journey along the way. :)