Welcome to Carb city

Well here we are, one week out from Marathon day.  According my training plan, it is time to up the carbohydrate ante,  lower my protein and fat intake, and stop looking at the scale until next week.

Unfortunately that does NOT mean all the cake, cookies and ice-cream I can eat.  No, the idea is to eat pastas, rice, starchy veggies, and fruits, along with smaller quantities of lean meats.

This is foreign territory for me.  I am a certified carnitarian.  My idea of a happy meal is a big steak, with a side of bacon…maybe a small side salad if it contains more bacon, hold the bread and dessert.  What can I say, its just how I roll.  I try very hard to get in at least one small serving of veg. at each meal…but its an effort.  I have no problem passing up the bread basket at dinner…because that allows for a larger portion of meat.  For breakfast I am an eggs and sausage and bacon-hold the pancakes- and toast- and bagel- kind of gal. Nutritionists shall shudder I know, but just being real yo.

So, you can imagine how strange it was to fill my shopping cart with 90% carbs today.  So far the menu for next week will consist of:

Breakfast: a thin cinnamon raison bagel with peanut butter and nutella, with a banana and coffee.

Snacks of apple slices and cheese sticks, low fat  yogurt with fruit, raspberries, strawberries, and a few potato chips tossed in for good measure( because I like them that’s why).

Lunch : likely leftovers from dinner the night before

Dinners:

  1.               baked peppers stuffed with orzo pasta, tomato sauce, shredded            zucchini and parm cheese, salad and bread.
  2.               Spaghetti with meatballs and marinara with italian bread
  3.               Chicken picatta penne pasta with a salad and bread
  4.               Chicken fried rice with asparagus sushi and spring rolls

Right now this looks like an overwhelming amount of pasta, bread, etc…but we’ll see how it goes. I need to figure out a few good veggies to add in for sides…but that will take some thought. I’ve picked recipes that have lean meats and little fat to balance out all those carbs.  It still makes me nostalgic for a big juicy ribeye, or rack of ribs, or a big fat bacon burger…but I think I’ll survive my week.

Overall, the carb loading helps…it gives me something to focus on other than the journey ahead.  Our sermon at church today was Luke Chapter 5.  Its a favorite of mine.  Its the one where Jesus tells Peter to venture out into the deep waters and cast his nets.  Peter is out of his element in this story.  He’s tired from a long night of doing his best…fishing his heart out and coming up not just short, but completely empty.  I’m sure his confidence was a bit shaken at this point, and the very last thing he wanted to do was take his tired body back out into the depths and try to catch anything.  But he did.  He ventured out on faith and went even tho he was tired and a bit discouraged.  He was rewarded with not just a bountiful harvest, but one of amazingly supernatural proportions.

Right now I find I can identify with this Peter.  I’ve been training for 7 long months.  I’m tired…I’ve had some confidence shaking runs…and I’ve had some hugs and encouragement from the almighty.  Its still taking more effort than I would like to run the taper runs. I admit to being a bit scared…there is weariness and a desire to just put my nets away and be done.  I have been called out to deeper waters tho, and I will go.

If I really think about it, my harvest has already been supernaturally bountiful.  I have grown much stronger in faith and in my walk with God. I’ve had hours on my feet to have quiet time with my Savior.  I’ve learned how to truly commit to something even if I’m not sure its within my realm of ability-to get up and run and try even if I was tired, or sore, or discouraged.  I’ve learned to follow through with plans even when they get unbelievable hard.  I’ve learned to lean on God’s strength and the strength of friends and family when I was afraid that I couldn’t continue. I’ve learned that I have amazing friends and family who will support me through even my craziest endeavors. I’ve learned that hard work and perseverance really do make you stronger.

It was almost 3 years ago when I first managed to run for a whole 5 minutes at a time.  The person I was then would NEVER have believed that she could, and eventually would be able to run for 5 HOURS at a time.

So….lets load up on some carbs, get into the boat, and head for deeper waters.  Its time to throw out my nets and see if I can catch a finish line :).

Amazing Grace and Taper Tantrums

So I thought tapering would be awesome!  In reality, its been down right hard…kind of sucky really. I read all the posts abut how you can expect to feel anxious, jittery, and feel like you need to cram in extra miles…get twitchy from a need to run.  Yeah well for me not so much.  I got anxious aright, but it was because my legs and body just up and quit.  Apparently they didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to feel strong and raring to go.  I was supposed to feel bored and anxious to get out and run run run….I was anxious alright,  because I was literally dragging my booty through a sad slow panting mile at a time.

I ran 12 miles last Friday and those were hot, swampy Florida miles…nothing unusual there.  It was hot, it was humid, I sweat buckets, walked a bit to keep from dying…but finished per usual.  Sunday I ran 4mies.  I ran them at a moderate pace…and felt like I was going to keel over.  I was sweating like a snowman in a hot air factory and puffing like a freight train by the time I was done.  Hmmm. NOT the usual 4 mile run…I mean really…a week ago I had slogged through 23 miles and was breathing almost as hard at the end of this 4 mile run as I had been then! Fast forward to Monday.  I set out for a short ( ha…love being able to say that) 6 mile run.  Not even a full mile into said run, I was doubled over wheezing and puffing like I had just run a half marathon at a sprint….Hmmm…not good at all.  Well I tried run/ walk intervals and finally gave up on those by mile 2 and simply WALKED a full 5 miles.  No running…just walked.  REALLY NOT GOOD. UGH!

Needless to say I was worried.  I had a Marathon to run in 2 weeks and here I couldn’t run a MILE????!!!! What in the heck was I doing even trying to do this?! Had I imagined training for 7 months and putting in  a 21 mile, and two 23 mile runs in the very recent past?  First I panicked, and then I scheduled some blood work to make sure my hyperactive thyroid wasn’t going crazy on me.  The blood work all came back right as rain…no physical reason for my taper tantrums…just my body deciding its had enough or my brain giving out on me.  I wasn’t sure which, but I was WORRIED.  I prayed ( granted that should have been step one…but I am stubborn and slow in that department).  I asked family and friends for prayer too and tried not to wallow.  As it is, the plane tickets are purchased and the hotel is booked…we ARE going to the Flying Pig regardless.

So…Today ( Friday) I had an 8 miler planned.  I was actually a bit scared to suit up and even try today.  I knew it would be unbelievably discouraging if I did poorly…but a bacon runner’s gotta do what a bacon runner’s gotta do.  I prayed last night.  I prayed this morning.  It was a simple prayer: “God please give me Hope and a Hug out there today”.  I wasn’t praying for easy…just for possible…just for a hope and a hug from my Almighty Father..that was really what I needed most.

Well I got Hope.  I got a Hug…and I got an Big Hero 6 style fist bump from God himself this morning ( badaladaladala).  The first 3 miles hurt..I won’t lie.  My calf muscles were really screaming…BUT I told myself I absolutely HAD to run the first 3 miles…NO EXCEPTIONS…unless I was puking or unconscious.  It was tough, but I did.   Through those  3 miles, my heart rate stayed stable and I was only sweating cups not buckets…no freight train showed up to puff my breath away.  After 3 miles I just kept going.  Eventually my legs gave up the crying game and fell in line.  I never did stop to walk except for a couple of brief water breaks ( I don’t drink and run…not pretty).

I ran the ENTIRE 8 miles people.  And here’s the cool part…I wasn’t trying for any kind of pace or time…just trying to run, BUT I almost matched my race PR for the first 10K ( 6.2 miles) of the run…I was only about 3 minutes off of my best race pace for that distance.  And I finished running strong.  I was able to negatively split and run the last couple miles at a nice satisfying clip.

So here I am…sitting and sweating as I type this…tears still welling in my eyes.  I sit here in the midst of Taper Tantrums with the refrain of Amazing Grace echoing in my mind.  Yesterday I was empty but today I am full to the brim, my cup overflowing with grace, and hope, and holy hugs…all I had to do was ask.

Shake it off

I was supposed to run 6 miles on Sunday and then 5 today.  As you know, I ran my last Big Kahuna 23 mile run on Friday.  My legs laughed at the thought of running on Sunday, and tried to give me attitude today.  Sunday we went to Megacon, so I walked a TON and went up multitudes of stairs.  I decided that was enough punishment for my aching legs and scrapped the 6 mile Sunday run.

Today Superhusband was able to run with me.  I knew right out of the gate that 5 miles was going to be too ambitious for my still exhausted legs, so we set out for a 4 mile run.  Well a half mile in, and my calf muscles literally cramped up into a solid block.  Hmmm…that was a new and successful form of rebellion…I had to swallow my pride and walk a bit.  Once my legs gave up and started working again, we decided to run sprints.  Oh my that was fun!:)

Turns out, I have been running such long slow miles for so many months that I had forgotten I even COULD run faster.  If felt so amazing and so very FUN to just let go and run as fast as I could for a short period.  Of course, we took a few walking breaks in between since we were running so hard in the sprints…but it was FUN! I haven’t had FUN running in….well I actually don’t remember when.

My fastest mile was a 9:21…I CAN still run when I need to!  I felt like a kid again, just running for the pure joy and fun of feeling the pavement pound by and the wind in my hair.  It. Was. Glorious!

I have to truly thank Superhusband for running this morning.  If he hadn’t been with me, I would have likely turned for home when my calves cramped up.  I certainly wouldn’t have taken off in a blind sprint to race him to the next light…I would have missed reconnecting with the joy of running, and missed the fun :) ( I know…fun and running in the same sentence…who have I become???).

Anyway, here’s to the run that almost wasn’t.  To giving myself the grace to run 4 instead of 5 miles, and to have some fun out there for a change! Here’s to running partners who push you, and who know when to just take off and race you to the next light! Thanks baby!

Welcome to Taper Town

I had my last looooooong run before the marathon  Friday.  A) YAY!!!!! WOOOHOOOOO! I ran ANOTHER 23 miles! WHOOP-WHOOP!…and B) It was a terrible horrible awful very bad no good run AGAIN. BOO. HISS.

Hitting the wall in my last 23 miler really threw me for a loop, so I did what I do so well…researched the heck out of it.  I learned all about glycogen depletion and fueling properly, etc etc…Most of the “experts ” out there say that bonking…or hitting the wall is due to fuel depletion and or dehydration.  A proper fueling strategy is supposed to help you avoid that dreaded wall. This next run was actually scheduled to be a 20 miler, but I really wanted to try to run the 23 just one more time and see if fueling and hydration could make it better.  Yeah…I should have stuck with the 20.  Note to self…STOP PUSHING YOUR LIMITS ( anyway…that was foreshadowing  y’all)

Well that’s all fine and good.  I planned ahead for this run.  I had enough GU to refuel every hour and shot blocks to toss back every  half hour or so.  I had 3 water stops built into my run…at mile 6,10 and 15 ( one more than I had last time).  I also carried Gatorade and had money to purchase more at my last water stop.  I generally don’t eat before a run, but that is a big no-no for a super long run. THIS time I got up at the ungodly hour of 5AM to eat an eggo, nutella, peanut butter and banana sandwich ( oh happy carbs).  The day before the run I ate good food, a sub for lunch with some pickles and olives ( salt content to help with electrolytes), and a reasonable portion of spaghetti for dinner.  I did everything the way I would like to do it for race day. I did everything I could to prep my fuel reserves and to support my body through this run. Again..I did everything I COULD to make this run better than the last.

The morning of the run I ate my breakfast, took Super Son to school as early as I could, downed a GU and some water and headed out the door.  Because of school drop off I got our the door at 7 AM…not as early as would be ideal in the Florida heat, but it was as early as I could get out, and it was 2 hours post breakfast, so I was on track according to Dr. Google.

I actually felt pretty good for the first half ( which is usual for me).  I was dreading mile 15 because that’s when I usually start feeling the run.  I was drinking a good bit more than I had for my last 23 miler, and fueling on schedule.  My stomach wasn’t loving the GU and Blocks, but it wasn’t queasy either.  By mile 15 I was still feeling pretty good.  I took a pit stop at the 7-11 and then happy happy joy joy…I got stuck behind some guy who was trying to buy a prepaid phone and had 50,000 questions that the sales clerk had no clue about.  I stood there, time tick ticking on by…until finally she got tired of my sweating all over her floor and decided to check me out while he went back for phone choice #3.  It was like getting stuck behind an SUV full of undecided people in a drive thru when you are starving….AARRRRRRRGGGGHHHH!

Anyway, back on the road and at mile 15…I was feeling better than I had last time so that was a plus.  Between mile 17-18 it got HOT…now it is Florida and mid morning so it was already hot…but it got HOTHOTHOT.  I looked at my weather app and it had shot up to 82 degrees with a heat index of 86! It was a completely cloud free breezeless day.  I started to realize that no matter how much water/ gatorade I took in…I was going to be loosing more than I could replace.   I had been running for almost 4 hours at this point and I was starting to feel it.  I was tired of the crappy GU and blocks and would have given my right arm for a cheeseburger.  MY feet were just starting to bark, and my legs were getting heavy…BUT I still felt better than I had last time…so onward! At mile 18-20 I got jumpy because this was where the WALL hit last time around.  I remember the very spot on the pavement where it hit too…this time I passed that spot and kept going.  I didn’t feel remotely good, but I wasn’t feeling mostly dead yet.  I managed to keep going fairly well-although at a very slow pace- until mile 21…and there my friends it hit…the WALL.  I just ran out of gas.  I managed a very slow kind of shuffle-walk for most of the final 2 miles.  I ran maybe 20% of the final 2 miles…if you can call my Quasimoto like shuffle hop-lunge a run.  It was ugly…again. In spite of all my careful prep and strategy, I ran this 23 miles in an incredibly slow time of 4:55. That is just 5 minutes less that I ran the last 23 miles….REALLY????????  And 4 hours and 55 second is really really depressing…I was hoping to run this marathon in 5 hours or less and that just seems impossible now.  Oprah with her 4 hour and 30 second time may as well be an elite runner compared to my snail’s pace!

So on the one hand, if I had just stopped at the 20 miles that I was scheduled to run, this post would be quite different.  I would be all smiles telling you that this run was so much better than the last and I am super confident I can finish the marathon that is looming in 2.5 weeks.  Instead, I pushed myself to see if I could do better and ended up feeling quite nervous and scared of the up coming race.  I really don’t know how I’m going to manage 3 more miles AND a section of course that is a 5 mile hill…I have had such a hard time running this distance, even with the best of preparations, AND its been a flat course.  The race has that one giant 5 mile hill and several rolling hills to tackle too.  I feel like I am in pretty deep water here.

If I weren’t a woman of faith I think I would be tempted to call it off and just admit defeat without even running.  I am faithful tho that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.  I am so much stronger than I was when this all started.  I was able to run for a whopping 2 and a half hours when I signed up for this marathon, and now I am running for almost 5 ( ugh).  When I first started running, I couldn’t run for 5 minutes…so that is really amazing and miraculous progress.  It’s easy to forget how far I have come in the midst of the pre marathon panic.

I also know that this is how God works.  He doesn’t want me to run this in my strength, but in His and His alone.  When I DO cross that finish line…no matter what my time…it will be clear that God got me there, not my own two tired wall hitting feet.  I won’t lie though…I am disappointed.  I really wanted to see progress.  I wanted to be more confident and sure at this point.

But as Mick Jagger said so very well,” you can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes…you might find…you get what you need”  I needed a better fueling strategy.  I needed one more long practice run before race day.  I needed to dig down and find Faith at the bottom of my failings and fear.  I needed to turn my eyes away from what I can or can’t do, and toward my heavenly running partner.  I needed to let go of my self-reliance and take His hand and face the starting line. I needed to let go of me  a bit…Yeah, I got what I needed after all.

“Phidippides died after 26 miles. But he ran 140 miles twice just days before. Overtraining got him, not the marathon.” — Kevin Strehl

Well its down to the wire time! In 4 and a half weeks I will be running a marathon.  Last post gave you the 411 on my first run of 20 miles ( 21 actually but who’s counting).  I did pretty darn well after that, all things considered.  I was surprised to be able to run at all on the Sunday and Monday following that Big Kahuna.  As this post will tell, I haven’t done nearly as well since then.  There have been a few road blocks among the way, an encounter with the dreaded WALL, and a milestone reached.

The following Friday, Sunday and Monday runs were small in comparison.  I only had to run a 14, a 7, and a 10.  I laugh now to use the term “only” and “14 miles” in the same sentence…but relatively speaking it WAS a light schedule. Friday I dutifully suited up to run the 14 miler…and ran into technical difficulties by mile 4.  From out of the blue, I began to have a stabbing pain in my lower inner right knee.  I slowed down, I walked a bit…no pain when walking, but stab stab stab when running.  No bueno! I had a schedule to keep darn it and this is make or break time!!!  Well, several prayers and 2 miles later I conceded that the pain just wasn’t going to quit.  Apparently I had out run my knee’s good humor and it was drawing the line.  After a consulting with Dr. Google, it looked like I had a mild ( hopefully) case of bursitis/tendonitis…a common overuse injury( thank you 21 mile run).  I cringed and made the decision to scratch the two remaining runs for the week, replacing them with walking sessions, ice, and rest.  This did NOT make my type A- schedule- following- Hulk-self happy.  I did my best to appease my inner she-hulk with prayer and a heavy dose of faith.  My mantra for the weekend was ‘God’s got this, he’s got you, and he knows what you NEED to run’.  So here, at the most critical, crazy, hectic training point…I found myself missing valuable miles.  I had a calm spirit and a very nervous mind.

Fast forward to this week. This was to be my BIG GIANT 23 MILE RUN.  I had this big boy to run, and one more 20 before tapering.  I had my Gu and shot block fueling strategy laid out, my water stops carefully planned at miles 10 and 15, My gear had been carefully washed and assembled for days.  Wednesday afternoon I started to sniffle and sneeze. I felt a bit tired and just plain fuzzy.  By Thursday I was feeling worse.  My temperature was hovering around 99 ( and I usually run low).  Things did not BODE WELL for my big 23 mile run the very next day.

Now I must say, usually this is the point in the story where I just Lose My Stuff.  I don’t do well in situations like this…you know, you plan and plan, taking every precaution you can…and things just fall apart.  Yeah historically this is when my inner she hulk just comes unglued.  I don’t know if it was divine intervention, or just congestion on the brain and lack of oxygen, but I managed to hold it together for once.  I prayed like crazy, rested as much as I possibly could, and simply went to bed hoping for the best but prepared to reschedule this mega run.

Lo and behold, I woke up the next day and felt human. I didn’t feel like a million bucks, but I felt a heck of a lot better than I did the day before.  So with high hopes but realistic expectations, I set out to run as far as I could.

I ran the first 10 miles really well.  My knees had enjoyed their little spring break vacation and were happily going with the flow.  I made it to my first water and bathroom break feeling great over all.  Miles 10-14 were pretty good as well.  Round about mile 14.5 My body  realized we were running for the long haul and started to send in complaints.  It was also starting to get really really hot…the kind of heat where you can feel it radiating up from the sidewalk.  It seemed to take  forever just to get from mile 14-15.  At mile 15, I had another break and filled up my water bottles.  It had taken me 10 miles to empty them for my first stop, but I had drained them dry in only 5 miles this time. Like I said…it was getting toasty!  The next few miles were noticeably harder…and my pace had slowed a bit. I was nearing mile 18, and realized my watch battery was NOT going to make it.  I texted super hubby to let him know and realized my phone was ALSO giving up on me!  Bottom line: I knew my route was close to 23 miles…but I would have no way of verifying that.  My longest run to date and I would have no recored of it…now that just hurt!  Round about mile 18.5 I thought I saw a car I recognized.  I figured I was just getting slow and fuzzy headed, until the car pulled over in front of me. My heart jumped for joy as I blearily realized that said car was Super Husband coming to my rescue to give me HIS GPS watch, fully charged, so I could finish out my run with certainty!  Super Husband indeed!!!  He was literally my hero in that moment!!!!

Thank heavens for Supper Hubby, because my watch DID give up the ghost right at mile 19.  At mile 20, so did I.  My body just started slowing down and there was nothing I could do about it.  Every step was painful.  My hip joints, knees, and feet were jarred painfully with each step.  To make matters worse, I had run out of water and my last GU packet had fallen out of my belt somewhere along the way.  I have honestly never been in so much pain while actually still running.  I finished the last 3 miles in an awkward hunched shuffle step/jog/walk kind of combo.  I think I averaged a painful, plodding 15 minute mile at the end of the whole thing.  It was no joke.  They say that a marathon begins at mile 20 and now I am getting an inkling of just what they mean by that.  I felt emotionally and physically empty by the end of the run.

So that whole circus of fun was on Friday.  I am incredibly happy to have been able to go 23 miles!  Its hard for me to wrap my brain around that distance even tho I was the one who did it. I did not think I would be running AT ALL on Friday and I managed to complete the longest run of my life!  On the other hand, I am sobered by just how hard that was. I couldn’t have walked 5 more feet if I had been on fire on Friday. I still need to tack on 3 more miles to finish the marathon…and 5 miles of the marathon will be a very long hill climb. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried.  I certainly respect the distance…as a matter of fact I have become a bit scared of it at this point.

I was scheduled to run 7 miles on Sunday.  How in the world anyone could EVER run almost a marathon on Friday and turn around and run again on Sunday is beyond me.  I tried…and managed one very painful mile.  It just wasn’t going to be possible.  In addition, I was supposed to run another 8 on Monday.  I managed to walk close to 5, but running was just not possible yet.  Here is where my work schedule is shooting myself in the foot.  Ideally I would be able to run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Well I can run Mondays, and I can run Fridays, but Wednesdays are a 7:30 to 7:30 kind of day.  There just isn’t time to squeeze in an hour to 2 hours of running before 7:30 or after 7:30 on Wednesdays, therefore I have a Friday, Sunday, Monday schedule.  Now that I am running the big miles, there just isn’t enough recovery time to manage the Sunday, Monday runs effectively.  Between my knee and the long run fatigue, I worry that I am losing too many of those smaller base mile runs.  Its a sad reality that I just may not be able to get in enough base miles to make this all logically work.

So my brain is worried.  I know I need more base miles at this point than I have been able to amass in the last 2 weeks.  I am trying hard not to listen to my brain.  I am trying instead to listen to the quiet faithful voice in my heart.  My brain is screaming about base miles and minimum weekly miles not being met, smaller runs missed, and how much harder the marathon will be than even my toughest training run.

Underneath my brain and its screaming antics, there is a quiet whisper in my heart. It quietly agrees that I am not enough, my training is not enough, the miles are indeed so very very long, the race so very hard. In those same calm steady tones, the whisper reminds me that I am not running this alone. I may not be enough, but He is…I am not trying to run this in my own strength. It reminds me that was never the plan from the beginning. God has been my running partner in this from the beginning and He will be with me to the finish line and beyond.  I was never designed to do LIFE alone, much less a tiny thing such as a marathon.

So I have a choice as to which voice I will listen to.  In the end the outcome will be the same.  I am at a point where I can only train as physically hard as my body and schedule will allow or I will get injured and not be able to run at all.  My race entry is paid for, travel arranged.  I am going to run this marathon God willing.  The only variable in the equation is whether I spend the next few weeks wrapped around the axle of my worry over things I cannot change, or resting in the arms of Faith.

And so again I repeat my mantra “God’s got this, he’s got me, and He knows what I NEED to run”

Wishing you all a restful week my friends :)

“Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible”…

So, milestone reached!!!!

Last Friday I completed a 21 mile run! I even actually RAN 99%of it. I only resorted to run/walk intervals for a few miles near the end ( more on that in a bit).  I have now managed to complete all but 5.2 miles of the marathon distance. I have reached the ‘Marathon Possible” zone!

Friday’s run started out well enough.  I was stocked up with GU and Shot Bloks for nutrition, water belt full, GPS watch fully charged.  I set out feeling pretty good.  I had mentally broken the run up into four sets of 5 miles each, planning to refill water and take bathroom breaks at designated stops along the way.  I kept a nice comfortable pace for the first 13 miles.  Around mile 14-15 it started to get tough.  It was a really hot humid day ( 82 even in mid morning), and the wind was picking up to an uncomfortable level.  I was sweating buckets but hydrating well.  At mile 16, I stumbled and stubbed my toe.  When you stub your toe in toe shoes, you take notice my friends! I knew it wasn’t broken, but man did it smart. Combined with the heat, the wind, and fatigue and I was a sad little runner-puppy for sure. By mile 18 I resorted to run walk intervals. In spite of the heat, the sweat and wind factor were combining to give me chills.  We were approaching 4 hours at this point, and my phone’s battery gave up the ghost.  I made it to mile 19, and my GPS watch was threatening to mutiny as well ( so much for the 5 hour GPS mode battery life…thank you Garmin ).  At this point I was beyond tired, but so close to home.  I mustered the energy to pick it back up and run the 2 miles home in hopes of out lasting my watch battery.  I made it with probably 2 seconds to spare, but the bottom line is that I made it!

The next day I had to work, so I limped around and managed.  I iced my knees that night, and got up the next morning to actually run- yes run people- a brisk 3 miles before walking around Legoland for the remainder of the day.  The following day ( today) I got up and dropped Super Son off for school. I ran a slow 6 miles ( my legs were exhausted), showered, hopped in the car, and drove to Cocoa for chaperone duty for his field trip.  I MAY have possibly fallen asleep for a BRIEF moment in the middle of the planetarium show…but it was JUST a moment, and there was no drool ( that I will admit to anyway).

And that my friends, was my Friday through Monday in a nut shell! Whew!

I will admit, Its getting hard.  I feel like my life runs around my training schedule now.  The hours on my feet are getting to be overwhelming, leaving little time for grocery shopping, much less any semblance of a normal life. On my longest run days, I am on my feet for 4-4.5 hours at a time, followed by a cool down period of about a half hour, then icing down my complaining joints for another half hour, then showering and hydrating ( another half hour), and finally some form of lunch ( I can’t run with food in my stomach, so I am starving soon after a long run).  All in all, the entire process from long run-to cool down-to refueling, takes around 6.5-7 hours from start to finish…and THEN I get to start my day! I generally spend the next 2 days exhausted, ravenous, and stiff.  My knees have started to swell and complain for any runs over 15 miles, requiring icing at night as well.

I know, I know, it sounds awesome right???:)

And YET, I find myself praising God more and more for every run that I take.  There is Joy hidden in there, in the completion of these long days.  I am tired, but I am THANKFUL.  I really don’t have room to complain, because God has taken me right where I have asked to go.

( warning…it may get a bit preachy from here on out…so hold on to your hats folks).

I am utterly, completely, thoroughly exhausted.  My house is a wreck, I am a wreck,  I have exhausted my emergency clean clothes stash…and YET…This Marathon is becoming Possible.  So many months ago, when God put the idea in my head, it was an absolutely impossible dream, one I couldn’t dare to expect to achieve.  At the time, I could barely even drum up a wisp of hope, but I threw myself out on faith.  I asked God to run with me, to make it Possible to finish a marathon…run, walk, crawl, whatever it took.  Little did I realize when I flung myself out on faith, just what was in store. God laced HIS shoes up and ran right along with me, every single step.  As a result,  I have had more quiet time with God over the last few months than I have had in the last year.  It turns out that running is one of the only times when my brain is tired enough to be still and listen to what He has to say.  I’ve been in spiritual training as much as I have been in physical training.  I’ve graduated from listening to music when I run, to just Listening period.

It hasn’t been EASY.  As a matter of fact, its been downright HARD-physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. And  I realized as I was running some of my  hardest, grittiest runs over the last few weeks, that it SHOULD be hard.  All those months ago, I prayed for this marathon thing to be possible.  I knew it was a really tall order, and I was going to be ecstatic if I could even crawl across that finish line.   So why in the world should I expect it to be EASY?  Easy was never part of my prayer…I simply prayed that the impossible be possible.  He’s answered that prayer.  How in the world could I possibly gripe about how much time or physical effort it has taken, when He has given me exactly what I asked for?

How many times in our lives do we pray for the seemingly impossible…’if only You could fix my broken heart, broken marriage, broken _____’…and in the midst of that prayer, we simply care about it being possible…you know those ‘please God if only’…moments.  Yet, when He comes through with a miracle and actually makes the impossible possible, we gripe because it is hard work getting there.  Every once in a while God WILL make it easy as a bonus, but most of the time, He is going to require some physical or spiritual sweat people!  I believe he’s a hands on,in-the-trenches-kind-of-God, who is in the middle of all the messy stuff in life, getting his hands dirty to help his children…but he wants us there, beside him, getting messy too.

So yes, My life is whirling chaotic dustball of crazy right now.  That’s OK. To be honest, it was pretty crazy and dusty before all of this running nonsense.  In the middle of it all though, I have Joy.  I am doing the physical work and God is making it possible.  He is equipping me as he has promised, and I am grateful for every minute of this crazy exhausting schedule.  He is making the impossible possible, and for that I will drag my tired butt out and run!

Faith can move mountains…and muscles!

So its “keep it real confession time” again! I promised when I started this blog to tell you the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

So here’s the deal: I had an awful week of running last week.  I had really pushed hard the weekend before: new record 10 K race Saturday, 13 mile run/race the very next day, and the I walked 4 miles Monday because I just couldn’t run the 9 miles that my plan called for.  I had an awesome trip on the horizon, so last week I had to squeeze in major miles with no rest time.  I had a 13 miler on Thursday, a 10 miler Friday, and a 5 K race scheduled for Saturday in Tennessee ( I got to fly up and visit my sisters, brother in law, and brand new nephew….yaaaaaaay).  That was a pretty tall order.

The Ugly:

Thursday I started out my 13 miler in a rough, herky jerky trot that just felt off.  I hoped I would relax and run better after a few miles, but nope….it was just a horrible, gritty run.  My legs were just run out…no gas.  I ended up running and walking intervals just to get through.  I was so tired that I had to run the last 3 miles by running  a quarter mile, walking a quarter mile, etc.  When I finally did finish I was crushed physically, emotionally, spiritually.  13 miles took me 2 hours and 55 minutes to finish! That is a 13:21 pace y’all!  I ran the 10 miler two days earlier in less than 2 hours at an easy 10:30 pace!   Not only was I slow as molasses in January, but I was SORE! I limped around all day and evening wondering how in the world I could possibly run 10 more miles the very next day.

The Bad:

Friday,I woke up still sore, but determined. I tentatively shuffled down the road and started ticking off 10 more miles.  This run sucked too, although a bit less than the day before.  I still had to use run/ walk intervals, but this time I was able to walk a quarter and then very slowly run 3/4 of a mile.  I managed to finish this run at  13:00 pace.  This was marginally faster than the day before, but I was still horribly sore and very discouraged at not being able to run the whole distance.   I went from feeling like a finely tuned running machine to a broken down busted hot mess of an old VW bus flopping along on 3 flat fires and a bare rim. Dang! Not only had I lost my Mojo, it felt like I had never HAD any in the first place.

That afternoon I was hopping a plane to head to Tennessee ( happy dance happy dance! ). I was so excited to get there and relax and see the new addition to our crazy family, but there was an hour and a half drive to the airport….NOT fun on my poor swollen knees in a stick shift, and then the plane ride itself.  Needless to say I was rather stiff and sore by Friday night! Alas, I had signed up to run a 5K while up there.  I needed a few more  miles for my training plan, and the race was called the “fainting goat 5K” how could I resist that???!!! I was not at ALL sure how I would be able to walk, much less run the race on Saturday, but I decided not to cancel.  I limped to bed, hoping for the best  on Saturday morning.

Saturday morning dawned with a frigid 20 degrees! I could walk just fine though, and felt relatively pain free for the first time in 2 days, so went ahead and bundled up for the race.  My sister and brother in law bravely bundled up the new baby and we headed to Knoxville!

The Good:

My brother in  law gamely decided to run the race too ( his first 5 K…way to go Bro!!!) so I had company at the starting line! By the time we got there and the race started, it had warmed up to a balmy 30 something.  I gamely pointed my poor numb feet ( toe shoes are COLD in the winter time) toward the start, took a chilly breath and took off!

After a couple of moments …I realized I felt GOOD!!!! No pain AT ALL!  Now Tennessee is hill country, and when we got to the first hill I waited for my legs to just have one final tantrum and give up- period… NOPE…I just kept chugging. Inexplicably, I was actually managing a brisk pace. I kept looking at my watch in disbelief as 3 or 4 more hills passed me by.  Not only that, but by the half way point I was speeding up a bit! I was actually able to run well, tackle the hills, and finish strong!  My average pace was a 9:30. To put that in perspective, I generally run a 9:20 pace for my 5 K’s on FLAT terrain with rested legs.

That race was like a big hug from God Almighty Himself.  It was like a warm hug, an atta girl, and a pat on the back all at the same time.  I was just blown away and amazed…there is NO WAY I could have run THAT well, as sore as I was, and as crummy as I had run on Thurs/Fri. That was pure God Power simple as that.  In spite of my feelings of disappointment and discouragement, in spite of aces and pains, I faithfully showed up. I put my toes to the starting line and God filled my gas tank…vroom!

It was an amazing learning experience and confidence boost.  I know God’s got me, even when I stupidly run myself ragged and over reach my abilities. When my body has given in and given up, he is there.  As long as I am willing to try and have faith, he’ll lift me up.

I was so discouraged, but I showed up anyway.  I am so very glad that I did.  God obviously had something to show me on Saturday.  If I had let my disappointments and doubts cancel that race, I would have missed something amazing.  In the wake of physical pain and defeat, He had a priceless gift of confidence waiting for me at that race.  It makes me wonder how many times in the past, discouragement or self doubt have kept me from seeing what amazing thing God had in store for me if I’d just had faith and kept trying, kept showing up.

Running Down a Dream

Ok, so I decided to run the 10 K race as an actual race and not a training run.  I know, I know, it WAS a good idea to run it slow and easy…it really was.  I am not much of a competitive person when it comes to most things.  I know I will never come close to those speedy elite runners who take all the shiny medals at the races.  I AM however extremely, brutally, obsessively competitive with myself.  If its a race, then I just HAVE to see if I can beat my former time.

You see I had run the Eye of the Dragon two years ago as my first ever 10 K.  I was prepping for my first half marathon at the time.   At the time, I was happy just to finish the darned thing.  The causeway portion was brutal and I made it, but it was tough…I ran it in 1 hour, 11 minutes, at an 11:30 pace.  I just HAD to see what I could do two years and 3 half marathons later.  This year, I managed to finish in 59 minutes, 11 seconds, at a 9:32 pace…OH YEAH!  I actually felt pretty good through most of the race too, only really struggling on the first trip over the causeway, running into a VERY stiff headwind.  BOOYA!  WHOOP WHOOP! Apparently all of the tortuous miles of late have made a difference:)

Now as you recall, I also had enrolled in a 10 mile race the very next day ( not my brightest idea, but I did have to log 13 miles for my long run this week and it would at least help with the boredom of miles 1-10).  Super Husband had also enrolled.  This was to be his longest race yet.  I decided to help him pace throughout the run.  We settled on a 10:30 pace and toed up to the starting corral.  The first 5 miles were a slog I won’t lie, my legs were beat and were confused as to why we were running again so soon.  Once I hit mile 5, my legs gave in and started working properly.  I started to feel good, runner-like even! I kicked up the pace a bit, and was able to slowly increase it a smidge each mile from here on out to about mile 8.  At mile 8 I reminded myself I was pacing, not racing.  I had set my sights on the pace group in front of us and was intent on slowly running them down and passing them…once again I reminded myself, pacing not racing and settled down a bit and focused on getting Super Husband to the finish in his pace window ( yes, I had been slowly creeping farther and farther ahead…BAD form for a pacer apparently).  Anyway, I got my head back into the pacing game and Super Husband and I ticked down the remaining miles.  Lo and behold, we managed to cruise past the finish line at 1 hour and 45 minutes, at an average pace of 10:36… woohoo!:) I was and am so very very proud of him!  He’s become quite the runner in his own right this past year!

After getting our finishers’ crowns, Super Husband entertained Super Son at the finish line while I pounded the pavement for 3 more miles to round out my long run of the week.  I felt fairly good at the finish, but I was BEAT by the time those last 3 miles were done! Everything hurt…feet, quads, calves…even my back was barking.  Apparently a 10k,10miler, and 3 miles all in 2 days is my limit at this point!

The following day was Monday, and my running plan called for a 9 mile run( running plan is Evil).   It called, but my body just couldn’t answer.  I was sore, no lie.  I had once again, over done it.  Instead of running 9 miles, I managed to walk 4.  It was a brisk walk mind you, but I am still a bit upset at having to forfeit those other miles.  At this point, every mile in my training schedule COUNTS.  I only get 3 days a week to cram in what most runners manage in 5 days of running.  I have only missed a very few runs here and there, and never a long run, but its scary to miss any at all at this point.  I have to remember though, as bad as missing some miles here or there is, it would be far worse to push into an injury at this point.  Its a fine line between fit and broken from here to the marathon.

I have exactly 6 weeks of running left before my 2 week taper.  Its getting harder and harder to fit in Family, Work, and Running.  I am now running on average, as many hours as I am working in a week…and my running hours are on the increase.  Even my shortest runs are 7 miles at this point.  In addition to the actual hours spent running, there is cool down time, shower time, and refueling to be done after a race.  I have a lovely travel opportunity on the horizon, but in order to go and manage my miles, I will have to run a 13 mile run, followed by a 10 mile run the very next day, and  still have running to do at my destination.   Its become one big exhausting puzzle from week to week!  I will confess that running is becoming a chore as of late.

On one hand 6 weeks is a fairly short time.  I just have to tough it out and then I will be in taper town.  On the other hand, its 6 weeks of the most grueling, scary, demanding running schedule I have yet to run.  I two mind numbing body breaking 20 milers to go, and one beast of a 23 miler in addition to countless filler runs of 7, 10, and 14 miles.  I try to only look at one week of my schedule at a time because looking at more than that just makes me want to get fitted for a straight jacket and reserve a padded room…

And yet, I am so close. If I squint I can see a hazy horizon line ahead.  Yes, it will be a very very difficult and trying 6 weeks. Yes, I will have to give up even more time to squeeze in the schedule. Yes, I will have to carefully listen to my body and try to push far enough to complete my miles and yet not so far as to get injured.  Yes, it will be insanely tough, but it will, in the end, help me to run over that finish line 26.2 miles in the near distance. I have come so very far.  I am so very close.

I’m running down my dream

Just the Facts Ma’am…

No words of wisdom today.  I just thought I’d give an update on how my Marathon training is going. The start line is marching closer and starting to loom in the visible distance.  I have all of 2 months and 1 week before I suit up and go toe to toe at the start line of the Flying Pig Marathon. That means 7 more weeks of heavy running before I hit Taper Town. YIKES!

To that end, I am starting to tick off the ‘BIG RUNS” of the program.  I am following the Hal Higdon 3 program that is set up for 3 days a week of running.  Its a stretch to be able to get in enough miles in only 3 days a week, but its what I have so there ya go.  I generally begin the week with a modest run, end the week with a long run, and get in a shorter run ( 3-4 miles) a day after the long run. The Big Daddy runs were made up of a 17 mile run, 18 mile run, 20 mile run, 23 mile run, and a final 20 mile run before taper.

Last week I ran 6 miles, 6 miles, and then on Saturday I ran 2 miles at a race, then came home and ran 17…it was a nasty run, and I had o run intervals just to finish, but I ran a grand total of 19 miles for that day.

This week was supposed to start with a 9 mile run, but I felt good and ran 10.  Friday was to be my 18 mile run.  It was 34 degrees that morning and I really had to pry myself out of bed.  Once I got going though, I ran really well.  Apparently I am a cold weather runner trapped in a tropical climate zone…who knew???  My legs revved up from the beginning and I ran well.  I felt great until I hit 14 miles.  From that point on, I felt every inch of every last mile.  My feet started to feel bruised, my quads and glutes and hip joints started barking. At mile 17 I got a small second wind and decided to go just a bit farther and make it a 19 mile run instead of the prescribed 18.   Not only that, but I managed to slice 10 minutes from last week’s long run! Once I got home, I had time to quickly stretch, shower and limp on through my day.  No rest for the weary, or the mother runner!

I cannot deny though, that I was feeling really beat from mile 14-17. It makes sense, my body has been trained to run 13.1 maximum miles.  Once I run over that it tries to send up a white flag.  The trick from here out, will be to let my brain override my body’s desire to quit, but not to push myself past my actual ability to run.  This is a razor’s edge line once the miles pile up past 18.  I am in that yellow zone of training where many runners’ bodies break down rather than continue to build up.  I am trying to run my long runs at a relatively easy pace, and listen for any serious pings or engine knocks along to way.  These are uncharted  shark filled waters, and I have to be careful not to get injured this close to my goal.

I am still a bit sore a day after that long run.  Honestly though, I am no more sore ( and perhaps less) than I was after my first half marathon race. It used to take me 3-4 days after a half marathon before I could even think of running again, now I am feeling run ready in 1-2.  I am however, sore in different places.  It used to be my calf muscles and shins that seized up after a long run.  Now I find its my upper legs, quads, glutes, and hips.  I hope this means I have conditioned my lower legs sufficiently and am now moving on to whipping my upper legs into shape.   At any rate, its a familiar ache and day-after limp…just in new places.

Next week I get a nice lower mileage week.  I have a 6 mile run, then a 10 K race ( which I am planning to run slowly as a training run), wrapping up the week will be a 10 mile race followed by 3 additional miles that day. I will follow that with another week of similar mileage before I tackle my very first 20 mile run (eek!).

So far I have only missed a run or two here and there, and never one of my long runs. The mileage is getting long, and it is getting tough to find enough road to run on in familiar neighborhoods…and convenient yet clean public restrooms to use.   It is also a challenge to engage my brain for 3-4 hours at a time.  I have however conquered 2 of the 5 big runs in the plan, so that is progress!

Anyway, enough of my ramble! Gotta run :)!

These are Not the Droids you are Looking For…

“Quitting isn’t your body giving out, but your mind giving up.”

This is such an important quote for runners.  You see, the mind is biologically designed to tell your body that it has to quit long before it really has to.  That is a biologically sound over ride system built into each and every human being.  Yes, there IS a time to stop pushing your body, there IS a danger zone, beyond which lies injury and worse…BUT this line is much farther away than your mind would have you believe.  Your mind generally wishes to stop any physical activity as soon as it becomes the least bit uncomfortable, but it is precisely in that zone of discomfort where you build muscle,  stamina, cardiovascular strength, and character.

As an athlete of any type, it becomes very important to know your body, to understand the line of discomfort, vs training, vs true injury or overexertion.  I want to be clear that I am not advocating pushing your body to dangerous limits, but rather training your mind to understand the TRUE limits of your body.

Distance running is all about this.  My mind used to push the panic button at 2 miles…literally, “all stop, we are going to pass out or puke if we run one more step” type of panic button.  As I trained my body over time and mileage it learned that I would not pass out or puke with one more step, or mile, or miles.  I have gradually built up to running for 17 miles at one time and 19 miles in a day with more to come, and I can honestly say that I have not, as of yet, either passed out or puked in spite of my brain and its panic button’s promises.

I say all of this because as you know, I keep it real here.  Some runs are harder than others…even the relatively short ones.  I have found that there are a few mind tricks that can be played, that can help on days when your mind is screaming, and your body really wants to give in.  Lots of people have mantras, songs to sing to themselves, etc… the bottom line is, you need to have a few tricks up your sleeve for days when your mind wants to hijack your run!

A few weeks ago I had a rather short run to complete.  I had only 6 miles to run before I could hit the road, bound for a relaxing cruise vacation.  Now I had run a low mileage week the previous week, so this 6 miles should have been no big deal.  As my foot hit the pavement for the very first step I knew it would be a fight.  I felt clumsy and wrong, more so than usual.  Knowing this was going to be a fight, I set out on an out and back route…I mentally told myself I only had to run 3 miles.  I only focused on getting to those 3 miles.  Three miles felt so much better than 6.  Of course when I got to my 3 mile point, I had to turn around and run 3 miles back home…BUT I could congratulate myself at that point on completing my run.  If you run an out and back course, once you reach your half way point you know you’ve got this…after all, you have to get home right? Somewhere around mile 4, my brain stopped yelling at me and my legs showed up and I RAN.  I ended the run feeling great, but had I stopped when my brain told me to, I would have left for vacation kicking myself about cutting my run short.  As it was, I left feeling great and also proud of myself for sticking it out.

Breaking up a run into smaller chunks is a helpful trick.  Once onboard the cruise ship, SuperHusband and I had yet another 6 mile run to complete. Now running on a cruise ship has its challenges.  Besides the yaw and pitch of a ship, you also have to contend with a very small track to run on.  In our case, this track was 11 laps to a mile.  With 6 miles, we were facing 66 laps…THAT was daunting. No WAY could my brain run 66 laps!!! Here’s how we broke it down: The track was surrounding the mini golf course, so SuperHusband collected 6 golf balls. I ticked off 10 laps as we went around.  When I ran out of fingers, we walked lap 11 and chucked a golf ball in the bucket.  I only had to count to 10 and focus on that many laps and then we took a walk break.  The disappearing Golf balls were a great visual aid that we were reaching our goal, and the breakfast aromas wafting up from the Lido deck spurred us to run faster…mind over matter and bacon in my belly! Winner!

Last but not least, on those days that I can’t run past my own feet and things just don’t shape up…I bribe my tired body with the promise of a short walk break.  Run/walk intervals are nothing new.  Jeff Galloway has a whole tribe of followers that run/walk entire marathons with great success.   Walking intervals throughout an entire run doesn’t work well for me, BUT I have found that it can help to scatter them throughout a really hard gritty run.

Last Saturday I ran the Zebra Zoom at the zoo with SuperHusband and SuperSon…we ran as a family and didn’t push it too hard.  It was a great warm up ( so I thought) for the long run that I needed to complete.  I had a total of 17 miles to run that day, and figured I would run the Zoo Zoom and then finish up with 15 miles at home.  Well as soon as I started out on my 15 mile loop, my brain hit the panic button.  My legs felt like lead, and I felt like I had bricks on my feet.  I tried to relax and told myself I would feel better by mile 4, but it just didn’t happen this time.  Turns out joy of joy, that this was one of THOSE runs.  My legs never did shake out and show up…at least not for a LOOOOOONG time.  I had no option but to run the 15 miles before me, so in desperation I started run/walk intervals.  Because I’m being real, I will admit to walking more than running for the first 6 miles…it was gnarly and tough.  My brain wanted ever so badly to call SuperHusband and abort the run, but I dug in and swore to finish even if I had to walk the whole darned thing!  I picked visual milestones…”just have to run to that mailbox, fencepost, intersection, and then you can walk”…kind of thing.  I finally started running more than walking around mile 7 or so.  Even then I allowed myself to walk for just a couple seconds at every large driveway.  Once I managed to get to mile 13 ( yeah, mile 13!!!) I started to get a second wind.  In spite of it being a VERY hard run/walk/whatever…I was able to finish out not 15 miles as I had planned, but 17 miles…making the grand total for the day a staggering 19 miles.  All on a day that I wanted to call home by mile 4!  Had I given up I would have never known just how far I could go.  I started the run defeated, and ended up elated and encouraged.

So what I am trying to say really, is don’t give up.  Yes, you need to know your body’s limits, but make sure you know your ACTUAL limits and not your imagined limits.  Don’t listen when your brain hits the panic button and tells you to quit. Instead, take physical stock of where you are and what you can do and find a way to push through if you can.  Break that run up into small chunks and celebrate as you conquer each one.   Give yourself visual milestones and just ‘run to the next light, mailbox, fencepost”.  And don’t be afraid to bribe your legs with a walking break or to use run/walk intervals.  Even miles walked are miles in the bank!

Find out what you need to do to pull the plug on your brain’s panic button and realize your body’s true potential.