Monday, December 23, 2013

Rocket City Marathon: The Marathon That Was!

26.2 many miles!

December 14th, 2013 will forever be an important running date for me. It marks the date of my first full marathon!

I have to honestly say, crossing "Run a marathon before I'm 30" off my bucket list isn't something I thought I'd actually accomplish. Not because I didn't think I could physically do it, I just never thought I'd get to this point - the point where I mentally knew I could finish my training; finish the race.





But I did, and I am SO glad I did! I don't think I've ever accomplished something so challenging. During the run I kept referring to it as the "longest. WOD. ever!" Sure, there were times during the run when I thought "I'm never doing this again." Just like I said for my first 1/2 marathon. And rightfully so, I had good reason. I was in so much pain. I kept negatively thinking "I don't want to do this anymore!" But I pushed through and finished, and it's because it didn't go the way I wanted it to go, that I know I want to run another. And even though I don't know when that will be, I'm already excited about it. As runners, are we ever satisfied?! I'm way too competitive with myself to be content with how this race went. But I digress…for now. 


In case you didn't know, Rocket City Marathon wasn't supposed to be my first marathon. St. Jude in Memphis, the week prior (December 7th), was supposed to be my debut. However, that unfortunately did not work out. During the week after the cancellation I had choices to make. And I am NOT good at making decisions. I weighed my options, but still didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew getting to run Rocket City on December 14th would be ideal, because it was only one week out. I would still be ready, I would have just tapered for two weeks. But the race was sold out. Long story short, a good friend of mine, who was also running RCM, got a hold of the director and persistently asked him to let me in. Luckily, they had a bib available! I was excited, but anxious since the last time I had run long was 4 weeks ago. However, I was reassured that I would be fine. And I knew I didn't want to have to wait any longer to race. This was finally going to happen! It was finally sinking in. 



                           


Race Day: 

Since Huntsville, AL is only about a two hour drive from where we live we decided to get up early and drive the day of. Now, had Chris and I both not wasted a day off work last week to go to Memphis we would have driven down the night before. THAT would have been ideal. Riding in a car for 2 hours right before you run a marathon isn't the best choice. But it was either that, or not race at all. Obviously, we had to go. We arrived about an hour before the race started. I met up with Lauren, who had picked up my bib for me, then sat around, drank some water, ate a power bar and before I knew it it was 30 minutes before go time. I started to stress a little, because it felt like I wasn't about to run a marathon. Just a short 10k or something. I went off to find a bathroom, and ended up waiting in line for nearly 20 minutes! I kept looking at my watch thinking "I haven't even stretched or warmed up!" By the time I got out of the bathroom, and started heading to the start line, I had roughly 5-10 minutes. Did I warm up? Nope. Did I stretch? Hardly. Now, I normally spend a good 15 minutes stretching, so for me not to stretch or warm up before a MARATHON?! Stupid. Very, very, stupid. Live and learn. 


Even though this was my first marathon, and just finishing should have been my main goal, I was stubborn and had a goal of 4:10. I knew I could probably maintain a 9:30-9:45 pace for the first 15-20 miles, (just judging from how I felt during my long training runs) and then planned to pick it up if I was feeling decent. Yeah, that didn't happen.

I started out with the 4:10 pacers. Their first mile was slow, obviously due to weaving in and out of everyone. But then they picked it up and were averaging around 9:20. (They were still slightly ahead of me, so I wasn't running quite as fast, but planned on staying right behind them.) I didn't realize we were going that pace until about 5 or 6 miles in. My immediate thought was "Well, crap, there goes my negative splits." I immediately slowed it down, knowing I could not maintain that pace if I wanted to run strong. So now I was by myself. 

Then, all of a sudden - out of no where - my back started to hurt. Hurting to the point that it was causing me to stop. This was off and on from miles 8-13. After that it was pretty much all down hill. I wish I could just blame it on "the wall," but I can't. It wasn't my legs that were the problem, it was my back. I have not had back pain like that while running in a long time, and to have it for 10-13 miles is extremely discouraging and frustrating. It got to the point where I was just trying to get from one water station to the next. By mile 22 I was holding back tears it was hurting so bad. I just wanted it to be over. I could barely run 1/10th of a mile without having shooting pain in my lower back. I walked every water station. Stopped a LOT, and tried to ignore the pain. I was mad at myself for not stretching. I was mad at how I felt. I was mad at my pace. I was mad that I had to keep stopping. I was mad to see my pace go from averaging 9:30 to in the 10's. I was mad that I couldn't run through the pain. I was trying to sort through all the different reasons why this was happening. I trusted my training. My training was spot on. My training felt better than how I felt right then. But there was nothing I could do, but keep going. There was no way I was not going to finish. I'd walk if I had to, but I'd cross that finish line.


I'm so grateful Chris was able to meet me at different mile markers and take pictures and videos. Each time I saw him was a surprise. Because of how the course was laid out, I wasn't sure when (or if) I would see him at all. Since I wasn't with my pace group anymore I was even more relieved to see him. 


Mile 4: This was before my back started to hurt. And the only time I think my smile was sincere. (center of pic with purple shirt & pink shoes)



Mile 7: This is where my back started to get tight. Too early to be in pain. 





Mile 13:
Chris: How do you feel?
Me: Not how I should feel at mile 13! 






Mile 20: I'm not sure when Lauren and Katie caught up with me (they were running with the 4:20 pace group.) but it was shortly before mile 20. I ran off and on with them for a little while, but lost Lauren on a hill not too long after this picture. I have to say, I was really glad I saw them, even though it didn't  make my back feel any better. I was feeling surprisingly okay in this picture. We were on a down hill and it was taking the pressure off of my back. Didn't last long, though.



Miles 20-26 were brutal. I expected them to be brutal, but it's hard not to play the "what if my back wasn't bothering me? Would it still have been THAT brutal?" game. I guess I won't know until next time. 


Finish line! Just glad to be done. 




MARATHONER!




My biggest supporter!!! Couldn't have gotten through this without him. So thankful he was there for me, and keeping everyone updated, too. <3  



Looking back at my splits, I know when I felt decent and when I felt miserable. Unfortunately, most of this race was painful, and I hate that I couldn't really enjoy it That's okay, though. It makes me excited to race again, because I know, had my back not given me problems, I would have been much closer to my goal. And I will reach that goal some day! I'm proud of myself. I know this is a huge accomplishment, no matter what obstacles I faced along the way. I don't regret it one bit. I did something that few people set out to accomplish, and for that I am proud. Nothing can take this title away from me. :)






Have you ran a marathon? Did it go the way you wanted? Did it make you want to run another? 




Tuesday, December 10, 2013

St. Jude: The Marathon That Wasn't

December 7th was supposed to mark the day I ran my first marathon, St. Jude, in Memphis, TN. Instead, due to icy road conditions (somewhere), a large percentage of medical staff, personnel, and volunteers were no longer available, which resulted in the race being cancelled. Needless to say, I was (and still am) pretty bummed. But here's my story, anyway. I'll try not to be too bitter:

Chris and I left our house on Friday around 11:00 in the afternoon to drive to Memphis (about a 4 hour drive) - earlier than we had planned, for fear of roads getting icy. We had been keeping an eye on the weather before hand, and they were predicting freezing rain throughout the state. But this is Tennessee. We tend to over exaggerate a bit when it comes to winter weather. I wasn't worried. The drive wasn't bad. It rained, but nothing that caused a headache.

When we got into town we went straight to the Expo to pick up my race packet. It was so crowded I didn't really care to hang out that long, so we grabbed our gear, took some pictures, and left. I was starting to really get amped up. It was starting to really hit me that I'd be running a marathon in the morning! The roads seemed clear, and I thought for sure we were good to go. I had nothing to worry about. We drove to the hotel, rested for a few minutes, and then met up with some friends for a light dinner. 

A bittersweet moment (well, sweet at the time; bitter, now)


We got back to the hotel at a reasonable hour, had planned on maybe ordering a movie and then going to bed. Then all of a sudden I got the text. I don't even think I read the whole text I just saw "...difficult, but necessary decision..." and immediately put my phone down. I kind of went into shock. I didn't yell or throw my phone like I thought I would have. I just sat there in silence; not knowing what to think or say. I automatically started thinking "What now? 18 weeks of hard work and now what?!" I was pissed. I didn't have a back up plan, and at the time I didn't know what I would do. I'm already an indecisive person, so I knew this was just going to cause a huge headache. When I'm frustrated I cry, so that's what I did. Then I just felt numb. If you've ever worked your butt off for something and then had it taken away then you'll know how I felt. I didn't want to be selfish. I knew this was for the kids, but it was for me, too. This was my first marathon. I had envisioned it in my head so many times during training runs. I was ready to tackle this mountain. I was determined and excited. All of those feelings slowly went out the window after reading that text. I didn't want to get into a negative mood, but at the moment I couldn't think of anything else. And I didn't care. 

We decided to go ahead and make the most of our trip and stay the two nights in Memphis. We had a lot of fun with Celena and Lance Friday and Saturday. It kind of turned into a mini vacation for the four of us. But the thought of not running was still in the back of my mind.

My support crew :)


We went to lunch at Hard Rock on Saturday where we saw a group of runners in their finisher shirts, wearing their medals. That irked me a bit, seeing as how they didn't run the race. I'm planning on donating my medal to St. Jude's Hospital. If I didn't run the race I don't want (or deserve) the medal. We also saw a lot of people running in their St. Jude's Hero singlet. I kind of wish I had gotten out there Saturday morning and ran, too. 

Now that I've had some time to let it settle. I've realized I had no control over what happened. If it wasn't the weather it could have been something else. I just wasn't supposed to run. I'm very grateful for how St. Jude handled the cancellation. I know it was not an easy decision. I'm also grateful for their generosity. They are allowing all runners to choose either to donate their race fee, get a full refund, or have their registration transferred to one of the following races: 

P.F Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona (January 19th)
Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans (February 2nd)
St. Jude Country Music Marathon (April 26th) 


First one is out. I could care less about going to Arizona.

So, as of right now it's between the last two. And, just like anything else in life, there are pros and cons to both. 

NOLA pro's: 

  • Um, it's in New Orleans! (another mini va-cay?) 
  • I have another friend who is running (the 1/2)
  • It's a flat course (I think)
  • It's only 7 weeks out. Gives me time to take a break and then build back up in January.
  • The weather would still be nice and cool.
  • It sounds like a lot of fun. 

NOLA con's:

  • We'd have to purchase plane tickets & find a hotel. (stress)
  • It's on a Sunday and I don't know if I could get off work, if needed. I don't know when we'd fly in or out.  
  • Weather could play a problem - AGAIN, which would only cause more travel headaches. 
  • 8 hours is too long of a drive, so driving is out of the question. 

CMM  pro's: 

  • It's local - only 30 minutes from our house. Meaning no airfare, no hotel, no days off work needed.
  • I know a handful of other people who are running either the full or the half. I'd have a good, local support crew. 
  • It would be less stressful; I'd get to sleep in my own bed! 
  • I can train on the course with a group of people. 
  • Even though it's a slightly different course than my first 1/2, I could say I ran my first full at the same place I ran my first 1/2.
  • It's still a St. Jude sponsored race. 

CMM con's: 

  • HILLS!!! 
  • It's in April, which means there's no telling what the weather will be like. Could be cool, but more than likely will be warm. Very warm. 
  • If I choose to train on the course I have to drive to Nashville instead of just stepping out my door and running on the greenway, which means I'd have to get up extra early. And I'm not a fan of that. 
  • It's 4 months away! I don't know if I can go back into training mode for that long. It would suck to have built up my mileage, let it drop, then have to build it back up again. 

So, it's either that or get a refund and find a completely different race within the next month or two. 

The temperature is the main factor that is holding me back from CMM. I absolutely despise running in the heat, and by the end of April I know it will be warm, because last year in May for See Spot Run 5k I was absolutely miserable!!! 

I tried to get into Rocket City, which is this Saturday in Huntsville, AL. At first I had already gone into shutdown mode and didn't even want to consider it. Then I realized it falls on the one year mark of the Sandy Hook tragedy (December 14th) and all of a sudden I really wanted to run. I remember people running 26 miles for the 26 lives lost last year and wishing I could. This would have been the perfect race for that. Unfortunately, it's sold out and they won't do bib transfers.


Whatever I decide, I WILL run 26.2 miles. I'll just be going a different route than I had originally planned.



Have you ever had an important race that was cancelled? What did you do about it? 


Friday, November 15, 2013

Three. More. Weeks!

December 7th is almost here, ya'll! That might not mean much to any of you, but to me it means the end of 18 weeks of hard training. I'm happy, and excited, and anxious, and almost ready. Almost. I'm not done training quite yet, but I'm nearing the end. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! 

Training so far: 
Days: ~55
Miles: 361.7

Training to go:
Days: ~12
Miles: ~70

It seems like I just started training for this thing the other day. These past 15 weeks have flown by, as I'm sure the next 3 will, as well. It still seems so surreal. If you would have said two years ago (this month), when I ran my first 1/2 marathon, that I'd be running a full in the near future, I would have laughed in your face and probably told you to shut up. Well, never say never. 

Chris and I after my first 1/2 marathon, probably shortly after saying I had no interest in ever doing another.


I haven't blogged about my training because, honestly, there hasn't been a lot to say. My weekly mileage amped up, which took some getting used to. I pretty much come home from work and run out the door in less than an hour. I rarely have time for CrossFit during the week, which I don't let bother me. Training comes first right now, and I know I'll be able to attend more regularly in a couple weeks. I'm running longer distances than I've ever run before, and it's been fun reaching those new milestones. It really wasn't until I hit 17 miles that I thought, "Whoa. I am no longer "half" crazy. I'm only 9.2 miles away from 26.2; I can do this!" Then I hit 18 & 19, and thought the same thing. Training hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be, physically. Maybe it's because I haven't strayed from my training plan, but once or twice. Maybe it's due to CrossFit. I don't know, but I'm relieved my training has gone so well. I consider myself very lucky to have not been injured. I've been sore, and had some little aches and pains, but no serious injuries. I started running in my Adidas Adistar Boosts back in September, and I think they have helped a lot with my hip/knee/IT band issues. They have held up well with all of this mileage, and will take me across the finish line, too!














20 Miles:
This weekend I have my first (and only) 20 miler - my longest-of-long marathon training runs, and I'm really not all that nervous about it. I just keep telling myself "It's only one more mile than you did last week." The worst part of these long runs has been waking up and getting out the door. Once I'm out the door, I tend to zone out and forget I'm even running - even if it's for 3 hours. All of my runs - short and long - have been by myself. It hasn't been easy; I've woken up frustrated at times, because I didn't want to go at it alone, but I'm actually proud to have done this on my own. I've proven to myself that I don't always need that extra push like I did back when 8-10 miles seemed long. I've learned to push myself, both physically and mentally. I can tell myself to keep going; I can pep-talk my way through the hard times. This training has caused me to grow tremendously as a runner, and I've learned a lot about myself along the way. The mileage doesn't scare me. There are times when running long seems easier than racing a 5k. Of course it's nice to have that outside support - I love the times Chris has come out to meet me on his bike (even though it's been because I should have already been back home, and he was starting to worry) ;) - it's helped push me those last couple of miles, and gets my head out of the clouds, but there's something about proving to myself that I can do this on my own that makes me feel like I've accomplished something special.

Goals: 
Being a stubborn and competitive runner, I obviously wanted to set a goal for my first marathon. To finish strong, and not fall apart at the end, is a goal, but to break 4 hours would be amazing, too! Unfortunately, that is not the kind of training I've put in. It's all going to come down to that stupid, so-called "wall." I've heard all about it, read about, dreaded it, and honestly it doesn't scare me as much now as it did prior to my training. Every long run I've had has felt good. Not great, but good. The second half of every run has felt better, and been faster, than the first - not on purpose, but it's just worked out that way. I credit a lot of that to the core and leg strength that I get from doing CrossFit. Before CrossFit I had runner legs. Now, I have runner legs and CrossFit legs. And they. are. strong. They don't tire as quickly as before, and they aren't as sore after long runs. However, I know after the race it will be a completely different ballgame.

Tapering:
I have to say, I'm looking forward to tapering. I've been battling a cold/sinuses/allergies off and on for about 3 weeks, now. It hasn't really affected my running, but I am feeling drained. If I'm still feeling icky next week I will probably find my way to the doctor to get this cleared up. I refuse to be sick on race day!

While my mileage goes down these next 3 weeks, I have a feeling my anxiety is going to ramp up. I have a lot of emotions going through me. I'm anxious, but also really, really excited to prove to myself I can do this. I'm excited to be able to run for such a great cause. Don't forget, I'm still trying to raise money for the children at St. Jude! If you feel inclined to donate, please do so! Every little bit helps!

A marathon no longer seems like this far-fetched, out-of-reach goal that it used to seem like. It's becoming more real, and it's becoming more attainable. After all, after Sunday's 20 miler I'll only be 6.2 miles away from trading in my 13.1 magnet for a 26.2. Priorities, people. 






Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Middle Half Recap 2013

Warning: This is long and there are no pictures. Okay, there are two pictures at the end. Sorry, not my fault. Well, it's kind of my fault. 

This morning I ran my 5th half marathon, The Middle Half. It's a local race with a flat course, so it's very popular seeing how it's the only 1/2 marathon the city has. Because of their quick sell out last year, they added 500 more spots to registration for a total of 3,000 runners, and it STILL sold out in two hours! It's kind of a big deal. The Middle Half, and Tom King in Nashville, are the only flat 1/2 courses in this area (and I've run both), so I was eager to race the course for the 2nd time.

Back in March I ran a 1:57:xx at Tom King, and decided I was going to aim high (very high) and go for a sub 1:50 at The Middle Half...7 months down the road. Dream big, right? Well, I thought if I put the work into it I could manage. And maybe I could have, had I not started training for a marathon. My mileage went up, but my pace went down. I had off and on ankle and calf issues for a few weeks (it's always something!) And I'm fine with that. I know that I have not been training for a sub 1:50 1/2. I've been training for a marathon. There's a big difference.

Anyway, here's how today went: 

Alarm went off at 4:00. I did NOT feel like running. Nothing physical, just mentally did not want to get up and do anything. Was in a major funk. Like one of those moods where I just want to cry for no reason. Women, right?

But I knew I couldn't go back to bed. I couldn't NOT race. I had lots of people that were going to be wondering how I did, and I couldn't disappoint them by saying I gave up before I ever left the house. 

(By the way, Chris is out of town, so that just made me less motivated. I didn't want to do this alone. Meh.)

So, I made some eggs, but had no appetite. I tried to force down as much as I could without having it come back up. I thought, "Great, I'm gonna bonk, because I didn't eat." Whatever. At the time I didn't care. I grabbed a granola bar and made myself snack on it while driving.

I got to the parking lot earlier than I needed, but after all the races I've been to (mine and Chris' combined) I'm used to it. If I had gotten there much later I probably would have had an anxiety attack. I don't like to be rushed. 

I sat in the car for what seems like forever. Walked around and chatted with a few people. Went back to the car. Walked to the bathroom. Went back to the car. Stretched. Sat around, zoned out, thinking about the race. Went back to the bathroom. Went back to the car. Called Chris. Stretched some more. Went to drop my key off at the drop-off place. Then went back to the bathroom one last time.

You might think "that sure is a lot of trips to the bathroom in a 30 minute period!," But seriously, you're not a runner if you don't have a nervous race bladder. If you think you have to go, you go. If you don't think you have to go, you better go anyway. Hey, I've never once had to stop during a race. 

Apparently, I got stuck in the slowest port-a-potty line, because afterwards I had to sprint to the start line to find my pace group with about 5 minutes to spare. Talk about STRESS!

I weaved my way through the crowd and found the 1:55 group. I had decided to sign up for a pace group, so that way I would not have to worry about looking at my watch or keeping pace myself. I was really looking forward to just chilling and following someone. The gun went off, I looked up, and my pace lady (I really wish I could remember her name, so I wouldn't call her pace lady) was way ahead of me! The thing I HATE most about races are the crowds. It is so hard to weave in and out of people. That's why it's so important to line up with your pace, so people aren't having to go around you. Sorry, side-rant. Anyway, I caught up with her and stayed right behind her most of the time. I figured I could stay behind, at a slightly slower pace, and as long as she stayed just ahead then I wouldn't worry about any specific pace. 

There were a few times when I got behind (stopped twice to tie my shoe, slowed down for water, got trapped behind some old folk who crop-dusted me), but I easily caught up. This was before we got to mile 10. 

Mile 10. I don't know what it is about that mile, but that's when the wheels usually start to come off for me. I had decided before the race if I felt good at mile 10 that I would push the last three miles. Yeah, right. I was barely able to hang with my pace group at that point. Normally, I only take one PowerGel during a race (around mile 7), but today I took one at mile 5 and another at mile 10 hoping it would help me during those last few miles. At mile 11 was the first time I actually stopped and walked with my water cup. I knew that my pace lady (Angela! That's her name. I remember, now) was not stopping. At all. For anything. Dang! Was kind of hoping she'd slow down and wait for me. And also be able to pause the clock. 

But she didn't. She looked like she was getting further and further away (probably because she was.) I kept trying to catch up, but my legs were slowly giving out, and my breathing was getting labored. I was getting a side stitch, and I started doing that cry/whining that I do at the end of races when I just don't have much left in the tank. I heard Chris' voice in my head telling me to focus on my breathing and to just get through it. I'm almost done. At mile 12 Angela was still at least 1/4 mile or more ahead of me. I stopped and walked for about 10 seconds and told myself "NO. You can't walk. If you walk you will only get further behind, and you didn't run all that way to throw it in the bag at the very end." So, I kept pushing. I focused on my breathing, and the fact that I was almost done, and would, without a doubt, set a new PR. I hadn't really looked at my watch all that much, so I had no idea how much time I had before I hit 1:55. As soon as I turned left onto Greenland (which confused me, because I still have no idea how we ended up there? I must have really been out of it for 1/2 a mile) and with about 1/4 of mile to the finish line I CAUGHT MY PACE GROUP! Not only did I catch them, after spending the last 2 miles chasing them, I sprinted PAST them to the finish line. Seriously, y'all, that was the highlight of my run. Not the fact that I ran a 1:54:45. Not the fact that I had a solid race and wasn't hurting. The fact that I dug deep and kept after it, not giving up when I wanted to - THAT'S what I'm proud of myself for. I know without a doubt if I had not had that group to chase after I would have thrown my hands in the air at mile 12. I still would have finished, but I would have stopped a lot more. And I definitely would not have finished in the time I did today. 



Blurry, yes, but there's a smile underneath all that blur! At least I think there was. Maybe not, yet. P.S. Can you even see my shoes? Looks like I'm just running in pink socks.  



Aside from the times that Chris has paced me, this was my first time running with a pace group - and I absolutely LOVED it! I'm not one to talk when I run, but hey, if you want to talk I'll listen! I wish I could run in a pace group for every race - even for 5k's. It took the pressure off of me constantly having to look at my watch. I just followed that pink sign, and went wherever it went. If you have a specific time you are aiming at, I encourage you to jump in with a pacer!


Have you ever run with a pace group? Do you think it helps or hurts your race? 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

1st World Problems are NOT Problems

“Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I've always believed that if you took one tenth the energy you put into complaining, and applied it to solving the problem, you'd be surprised by how well things can work out." Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture


Excuse me while I get on my soap box for a few minutes.


I want this post to make you THINK. Know what that means? My kindergartners each year know what it means. They know it means to "use your brain"; to "solve a problem"; to "not jump to conclusions." If a kindergartner can "think", surely an adult can as well, right?


But how, when, or even IF people "think" is not what this post is about.  It's about WHAT our society thinks is important, and what they should think is important instead.


Here it goes:


We complain. A lot. About the most trivial things. Agree?


I teach kindergarten. 21 five year olds complain. All day, every day. "Mrs. Haaaanson, he looked at me funny!", Mrs. Hanson, I can't see!" "Mrs. Hanson, I'm hungry!" But they're FIVE! They are allowed and expected to whine.


Grown adults? Not so much. But it happens. And you know it's true. You might not be one of the complainers, but I guarantee you either know someone who is, or have been one at some point in your adulthood.


And the majority of our complaints are tied to "first world problems." 


- My phone charger won't reach where I'm sitting.
- I told them no tomatoes, and they still gave me tomatoes.
- Our internet connection isn't fast enough.
- This waitress has not checked on us in five minutes. There goes her tip.
- !@#$%^& TRAFFIC!!!
- There's no milk and I already poured my cereal.
- THERE'S NO CHOCOLATE MILK!!!

Am I guilty of these? Yes. Am I proud to be guilty of these? Well, no.

We've all seen the memes. They crack me up, because they are so true. But they make me shake my head at the same time. 







We are impatient:


I know kids who have more patience in a toy store than an adult does waiting for a page to load on the internet. 



And we're lazy:



We've grown so accustomed to our fast-paced, tech-savvy society that we rarely take the time to "stop and smell the roses," so to speak. We aren't grateful, we don't show appreciation, and we can't just sit and enjoy someone's company. Some people are so attached to their phone they don't even notice the people around them. I saw this video on Facebook the other day, and it's sad how true it is.




We complain about the negativity in the news, yet refuse to see there is good out there as well. It seems there's always someone needing to say something negative at all times. People can't just do good things. The bad has to be picked out. Shouldn't it be the other way around?


I try to think back to how things were when I didn't have a smart phone, or fast internet access - any internet access for that matter. It's hard to remember, but I bet I was more productive. I bet I spent more time socializing with people in person. I bet I had more patience. 


These complaints should make us think. They should make us think about other countries' issues, and how blessed we are to have our so called "problems." The things we spend time complaining about are the things that people in third world countries are praying about.






Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Facing Your Fears and Giving it Your All

Fears:

People say you should face your fears in order to overcome them. Well, in some aspects I think that's stupid, because I've faced plenty of spiders and cicadas, and we still aren't friends. And never will be. End of story.  

But have you ever thought about your fears when it comes to running and/or CrossFit?

Everybody plays the "What If?" game with themselves.

What if I can't keep up the pace?
What if I can't run that far/lift that amount of weight?
What if it takes forever to see results?
What if I get injured?
What if I look stupid?
What if I fail?

Notice all of the negatives?


Now, what if you changed those "what ifs?" into a positive outlook?:

What if I could run faster/perform better?
What if I could run further/lift more weight
What if I were more patient with the results I want?
What if I'm smart and pay attention to my body's needs/perform proper technique so I have a lesser chance of getting injured?
What if I realize that everyone makes mistakes, but no one looks "stupid" for trying?
What if I put all doubt out of my mind and just go for it?

I like that "What If?" game better. 

I'm applying this post to CrossFit, as well as running. I have lots of fears when it comes to CrossFit, because it's still somewhat new to me. I'm comfortable with running; I know running. I don't fully "know" CrossFit, yet. Proper techniques are frustrating; not being able to do a certain skill is frustrating; not being able to lift a certain weight is frustrating. See the pattern? Running is frustrating too, sometimes. Whether you've been running for 12 days or 12 years, everybody experiences their frustration and fears when it comes to running (or whatever it is you are applying this to.)

Even through all the frustrations, I can see improvements in CrossFit. I'm getting stronger - mentally and physically (probably more so physically than mentally. I still have that mental block that gets in my way.) I just need to find a way to carry that over into running, when I'm not feeling up to par with my success. 

Sometimes (okay, a lot) I let my mind win. There are times when I know my body is capable of something, but my mind says "nope," and I listen to it. As an extremely stubborn person, I hate "giving in" to mental weakness. Sometimes it's due to heat, illness, or fatigue. Other times the only excuse I have is "I just don't want to." That normally comes about due to burn out and/or a negative attitude. It happens. 

For the past few months I had been working on speed work. Recently, though, I've stopped. Not because I don't want to improve my speed, because I do. I always do. But because I mentally (and physically, because of the heat) can't seem to push the pace right now - no matter how hard I try. A 9 minute pace feels like 8, which means when I'm doing speed work at a 7:15-7:30 pace it feels like I'm running a pace I've never even held before. All because of the weather. 

And I'm okay with that. 

I'm okay with slowing down the pace right now, so my body can acclimate to the rising temperatures. 

I'm okay with knowing if I were to race right now I would be so far from a PR it wouldn't even be funny. 

I'm okay with knowing other people are able to suck it up and have successful speed work in this heat. 

I'm not giving up, I'm just not there right now. I'm still running, and I plan on slowly starting to pick up my speed once I feel like I can again. I'm not scared that I've lost my speed. I know it'll come back. I'm not afraid of not being able to push the distance when I start marathon training. I'm not afraid of failing. 

I'm afraid of not giving it MY ALL. 

That's what I'm afraid of. Every time I cross a finish line I think to myself: Did I give it all I had? Could I have run faster? Smarter? I know if I go out there and do my best, I can't be upset about my results. Same goes for training. 


Fears and doubts are natural, but ignoring them will just cause you to lack improvement. How are you going to know what you are capable of until you step out of your comfort zone and try? Find out what it is that's keeping you from that next level, whether it's distance, speed, technique, a mental block, or just starting your journey altogether. Write that fear down, conquer it, and prove to yourself you are fearless. 



What scares you most about running/working out in general: Failure? Pushing the pace? Increasing your distance? Being injured? How have you overcome your "fears"? 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Running Q & A


I came across this fun little running Q & A (from The Hungry Runner Girl) when Evelynn, a fellow runner on Twitter and RunChat, posted a blog about it. 
1.  On average how many races do you run a year?
It varies from year to year. This is only my third year running (and I didn't start racing until October of 2011.)  My first year of running I raced three times - from October to the end of the year. By the beginning of 2012 I was HOOKED! I ran 9 races that year (I think?) So far, in 2013, I've run 5.  (P.S. If you are a runner and don't have an Athlinks account, sign up. It keeps track of all your races and results. Well, most of them. Some you have to put in yourself.) Anyway, my goal is usually to average one race a month, but I've gone from focusing on "how many races" to "how well I race." And sometimes that means stepping back from racing and just focusing on training. 
2.  Head accessories, things you have to run with:  a hat, a visor, sunglasses, chapstick, sunscreen, head band, ponytail, braids, sweat band?
My hair is in one of those messy buns probably 70% of the time (and that includes when I'm not running.)  I just throw it up and go. But when I'm running, it takes three ponytail holders to keep my hair up. No joke. If I leave just one out, my bun will start flopping around and eventually fall down, because when you have thick hair the ponytail holder will only wrap around your hair so many times, ya know? It's a complicated procedure. And REALLY annoying. I would braid my hair but then I'd have to put 50 bobby pins in it to keep all the layers tucked away. Plus, I suck at braiding. Anyway, enough venting about my hair. I wear sunglasses, even if it's cloudy. And sometimes I wear my JUNK headband, to keep sweat out of my eyes, but I don't normally have that problem. 
3.  Where do your workouts come from?  A training plan, a coach, whatever you feel like doing that day or what your training partner is doing that day?
My husband makes my schedule for me. He always has, from day one. Lately, I haven't been consistent (because I'm not training for anything) so, I get a little lazy sometimes and skip. Or I just do 3 miles, because that doesn't take much time.  I try to stick to whatever he tells me to do, though because I have to have structure when it comes to running I can't just go out and do whatever I want to. Although, sometimes that's what happens. 
4.  How many miles on average do you put on a pair of shoes?
Around 400 for my Saucony Kinvaras.
5.  Cell phone: do you bring it with you on your run or leave it at home?
I never run with my cell phone. Knowing me I'd drop it. I have one of those arm band things that my phone fits in, but it weighs my arm down, so I don't wear it. Sometimes I see things on my run and I wish I had my phone to take a quick picture, though. (Someone should invent sunglasses with tiny cameras in them!) 
6.  What was your last running related injury or have you been an injury free runner?
I was "injured" right before my last two half marathons (and I still set a new PR both times!) I say "injured" because I don't really know what was wrong. Something to do with my hip/IT band. All I know is I couldn't run without limping. And I couldn't run for 4-5 weeks.
7.  Is your current running goal about running a farther distance (adding more mileage) or getting faster or BOTH?!?
I have multiple running goals at all times. I was working on a sub 23 minute 5k, but am having to acclimate to the heat instead. I'll start training for a half PR (sub 1:50) pretty soon and also, in August, I start training for my first MARATHON, which is in December! 
8.  Speed work – at the track, on the treadmill, on the roads or never do it?
If you want to get faster you have to incorporate speed work into your run schedule. I like it, just not in humid weather. And I do it on the same course I do all of my runs. No treadmill for me, ever. 
9.  Stretching after a run:  hit the ground after a run and get stretching, stretch in the shower, stretch once you get to work/school, skip the stretching?
I used to be really bad about forgetting to stretch after runs. That's why one of my injuries occurred, though, so I'm pretty adamant about stretching right after a run, now.
10.  What was your reason(s) for starting to run?
See here

Thursday, June 6, 2013

26.2: The Road Ahead

As a runner, I feel like I'm never completely satisfied. I'm always reaching for a new goal, no matter how far-fetched it may seem. Yesterday was National Running Day, and while I hate to admit I didn't run, I did do something even more monumental (in my opinion.) I did something I would not have even considered two years ago when I first started running. I decided to go out on a limb and reach further than I've ever reached before. 

I stepped out of my comfort zone, as a runner, and signed up for my first marathon. 

That's right, people, on December 7th I will be running A FULL MARATHON!!! 26.2 MILES! The longest distance I've ever run is 13.1. And sometimes there are days when just 6 miles seems long. I'm not going to wuss out, though. I'll probably complain along the way, but I won't give up. Promise. 

Over the past year I've come in contact with a lot of inspiring runners via Twitter, who I can honestly give credit to for helping me take this leap. It wasn't until I started reading stories/blogs/tweets about other runners taking on this 26.2 mile adventure that I thought I could do it. And wanted to do it. 

I had been contemplating running a marathon for awhile. Originally, I told myself I wanted to run one for the same reason I ran my first half: Just so I could say that I did - to cross it off a list. But within the past few months my thought process changed. I didn't just sign up to say "I ran a marathon," I did so because I'm confident that I can. Because I legitimately WANT to. And that's a good feeling.

Registering was the first step I needed in order to commit. And that took FOREVER. I sat at my computer for nearly an hour debating on whether or not to do it. The fact that capacity for the race was already at 85% made me even more nervous. Finally, something just clicked. I thought, "You said if you ran a marathon you wanted to do it before you were 30. If you don't sign up are you going to regret it?" And the answer was yes. (Seriously, was nearly crying at this point.) That's when my decision was made. 

What I'm racing for: 

I signed up for St. Jude Memphis Marathon on December 7th. Not only is it a flat course (yay!), but I registered as a St. Jude Hero, which means I will be raising money for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital prior to race day! I'm really excited about participating in this. Once I receive my username and password I will be able to activate my personal fundraising website and start raising money. I'll go ahead and say you can expect lots of tweets/posts about this in the upcoming future. And I hope some of you are able to donate! These kids are the true heroes, and I want to do all I can to help them. This race will be about two things: accomplishing something I never thought I would do, and running for someone other than myself - these kids. Every other race I've ever signed up for has been all about me. This is a selfless race. I have to remind myself that no matter what kind of physical and mental pain I might go through during those 26.2 miles, it's nothing compared to what those kids have gone through - sitting in those hospital beds.






Training:

1st step: sign up.
2nd step: make a training plan. 

Luckily, I don't have to worry much about that. I'm pretty sure the only reason I'm still running, and have improved with my running, is because of my husband. He was there for my very first race (a local 10k) and from every race then on out. He ran right beside me, pacing me every mile for my first two half marathons. He is the one that has kept me running. I honestly can't say I would be a runner if it weren't for him. Plus, he makes my day-to-day training plans - no matter what it is I'm training for. Know what my plan would be if it weren't for him? Me, either.

Anyway, when I first thought about running a marathon I told Chris that the only way I would be able to do it was if he ran it with me. He said okay. Then I thought "Maybe I can do it on my own..." But then I realized I am much more likely to give up without him by my side than I am with him right there pushing me along. And I don't want to give up. Plus, he said he wanted to run it with me. And coming from someone as competitive as he is, that is probably the most selfless thing he's ever done. So he signed up, too :). He came through the door yesterday afternoon after work with a tentative 18 week training plan (one he had used for his first marathon) in his hand and ready to go. He's just as excited and anxious as I am, possibly more.

Even though this race is about the kids, I still want to set a goal. Chris said a good goal would be 4 hours, but depending on how my training goes, I want to try to break that.

I'm going to blog about this journey, in hopes it will inspire someone to aim high in life; to dream big and go after whatever it is they want. Don't make excuses; don't think "it's too hard," or "it'll never happen." Just do it. The first step is the hardest. Everything else will fall into place.



"Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on, to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.

- John Bingham (running speaker and writer)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

See Spot Run 5k Recap (Kind of)

Saturday I ran the See Spot Run for Humanity 5k. Nothing fancy about it. Just a fun, local race in which participants are encouraged to run with their dogs. I did not. I'm way too competitive to be running and have to stop and wait on a dog to poop. Sorry, maybe another year. Anyway, the course is flat, fast and easy to set a new PR on. Sometimes.

Last year at this race I set a 5k PR and placed 2nd in my AG. I won a hammer. (I thought it was an odd award, too, but then realized the race benefited Habitat for Humanity.) This year I did not set a new PR, but I did place 2nd in my AG again. And won another hammer. However, I REALLY wanted that sub 23 minute 5k! I didn't improve my time AT ALL from two months ago, which is really frustrating. I don't like to make excuses, but will admit there were factors. 1. I had been under the weather (was still feeling pretty snotty and weak at the race.) 2. It was humid and muggy.  Those two things don't really scream "PR." With those factors in play, I can see why I didn't improve. And I'm okay with knowing it wasn't because my legs weren't ready to handle it or mentally I wasn't ready, because I was. I can replay each mile in my head and think of ways I could have run (ran?) differently - smarter, but I really don't think I could have run any differently. I even had to stop a few times, and I think I've only stopped during a 5k one other time. And that was because of hills. You don't have time to stop if you are aiming for a sub 23 minute 5k. At least I don't.

I have been working on speed for about two months, but I don't feel like I've been consistent with it, and I don't feel like I've pushed myself hard enough. I feel like I've given up too easily at times. I've got to learn to suck it up, even if it is hot as balls outside. Speed work is hard, but it's a different kind of hard when you're running in humidity. I always forget it takes awhile for my body to acclimate to Tennessee humidity. We pretty much go from 0% humidity to 80% instantly.  It's not fun. But I know if I can average 7:20-7:30 race pace in the blazing heat that when fall comes it will start to become an easier pace - boosting my race pace up once again. When that happens it just makes me feel so much better about my running. I want to be able to keep improving my speed. I know I still have a lot of room to grow - as long as I put the work into it. 


I'm not giving up on that sub 23, I know I have it in me. I'm running another 5k in June. I have no idea if I'll be any faster in a month, because the humidity is going to be even worse. I won't beat myself up if I don't meet my goal then. I'll just keep moving it forward. 


However...


I'm also really excited to start working towards a new half marathon PR. I haven't been running any long distances since March, so to start back into that will be exciting. I don't know what I'm going to be capable of come October, but my big goal that I want to work towards is sub 1:50, which would be an 8 min PR in 7 months. It's not going to be easy, but I've got to get out of my comfort zone if I want to see a major jump like that. The question is, am I ready to work for it?


And of course, the age old Marathon debate is still up in the air. The more and more I think about it, the more I think this could be the year... 

I'll let ya know :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

20 Things I've Learned as a Runner

Not sure why, but over half of these thoughts ran through my head during my easy 4 mile run today, so I thought I'd jot them down. The fact that I remembered them is even more impressive.

20 Things I've learned as a Runner:

1. It's normal to have to use the restroom 40 times before a race. If you think you have to go, you do. If you don't think you have to go, you do.

2. When running/racing, don't start off in a sprint. Unless you are running a 400 meter sprint.


3. You're probably going to bite the dust at least once while running. It's okay, nobody saw you. Except the five cars that drove by. And that cyclist. And three other runners.

4. It's okay to slow down and take a break if you have to. Just don't make it a 10 minute break. That's called stopping.


5. Cut corners on the race course. 

6. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Do this BEFORE you run. It's too late if you wait until you're actually running. 


7. Bad runs happen; good runs happen. But it's the great runs that remind you how much you love to run. And they also make up for the bad ones.


8. Running in 50 degree weather is ten times easier than running in 90.


9. Wear a headlamp when you run in the dark. There are sticks that look like snakes, leaves that look like frogs, and deer that look like deer. And trust me, they will dart out in front of you. Those sticks are everywhere.


10. Listen to your body. If you need to rest, rest; if you need to take it slow, take it slow. Injuries happen, it doesn't mean you will never run again. 


11. Keep up with the mileage on your shoes. Take advantage of buying new ones!


Like these pretty thangs:

12. Don't compare your success with the success of other runners. Every runner is different. This is a biggie for me. I am constantly reminding myself that I didn't run in high school; I didn't run in college. I've only been running for two years; I'm still new to this. I still have lots of room to improve. I can't look at someone else's running success and think, "Wow! I wish I was as fast as them!" when they've been running for 13 years. Patience is key.

13. Foam rollers are evil. But they hurt so good!

14. STRETCH! Like, really stretch. Don't just reach down and touch your toes.

15. Holding your arm up above your head will not help find GPS satellites any faster.

16. Don't let anyone ever tell you can't run a certain distance or pace. That's never happened to me (and for that I'm grateful), but I know people who HAVE had it said to them and that strikes a nerve. 

17. You don't need music to run 13 miles. Try it sometime. Or every time, like I do.

18. Everyone needs a running buddy. Whether it's one who is physically by your side when you need them (my husband!) or a virtual running buddy (my RunChat folks!)  

19. You don't need to run with a water bottle, a fuel belt, or one of those hydration backpack things every. time. you. go. for. a. run. 

20. Set your goals high. Train hard, race hard, achieve your goals. Then repeat.  Probably one of my favorite things about being a runner. 


I could have titled this, "100 Things I've Learned as a Runner" and I would have had no problem listing 80 more, but my adult ADD is kicking in, and I'm hungry. Maybe I'll continue it in another blog some day. 

What are some things you've learned as a runner? Are any similar to these? How long have you been running?