Back in the Saddle again…

Well it has been 4 weeks since the marathon.  I was hoping to run twice a week until half marathon ramp up begins in August/September.  Life has interrupted that just a bit.  I did not run on Monday since it was Memorial day and things just got in the way.  I was surprised to find myself feeling anxious and just plain antsy all week.  Thankfully I was able to run on Friday.

Super husband and I took off for a 5 mile causeway to beach and back run.  It. Was. Glorious! There was a breeze lovely sea breeze.  In addition, it was so so so nice to run a different route than I had been training on for months and months and months.  There were new sights to see, and a causeway to climb….ahhhhh:) We made it to the beach and took a brief break before hoofing it back over the causeway.  At the top we stopped to watch a long line of sting rays swoop under the bridge.  There was a beautiful Manta Ray in the lead…a sight I have never seen in the Indian River! In short, it was a really nice run. My legs felt strong, I felt happy and relaxed…I repeat, it was a Really Nice Run.

I was worried when I signed up for the Marathon, that I would lose my desire to run after such intense training.  I mean really…I went into training only marginally tolerating running in the first place.  I was afraid that so many months of intense training would burn me out and turn me off of running entirely.

Luckily, I have found the opposite to be true.   I enjoy running now even more than I did before.  I will admit to even…gasp…NEEDING to run.  I was all spun up this week after missing my Monday run, yet the stress just melted away as the miles flew by this Friday.

I will finally admit it…not only am I a runner…but I do really like to run…and part of me really needs to run on a regular basis.  Running has become my reboot button if you will.  Running is me time…God time…and when Superhusband joins in, its also us time.  Its the few times in the week where the phone, TV, to do list, endless demands, cleaning chores, and inner critique just shut off…I move, I run, I breathe…Ahhh.  No matter how inadequate I feel for the demands of my day…when I am running I feel strong, I feel capable, I feel like I am enough.  Its really nice to be reminded of that first thing in your day…it certainly sets the tone for the rest of the day!

I am a new creation from what I was when I started my running journey, and yet I know I am still a work in progress.   In August/September I will start officially training again, and ramp up into those longer, grittier runs…but for now I am truly enjoying running for the joy of it.  I can’t even imagine how strange that would have sounded to me 8 months ago!

A Royal Flush…

So this past weekend was my very first 5K since my Marathon of madness!  I ran the Booty run, beachside, at 4PM…in Florida…in the Summer.  Yeah, that was NOT my brightest moment I’ll admit.  Now for anyone up in the Arctic North, you may actually run past 8 Am in the morning.  Here in Sunny Sweaty Florida you don’t even venture out of the house past 8 Am without SPF1000, a gallon of water, and your own personal fan.  Its hot y’all. Too. Hot. To. Run.  I know this, but occasionally I get crazy runner ambitions and lose all common sense.  Anyway…4 PM…86 degrees in the shade…running my booty off at the booty run.

I will confess, I had fun.  I probably lost 4 pounds in water weight in less than 30 minutes, but it was so nice to be running for fun again.  The heat slowed me down no doubt.  There were sections of road that literally radiated heat up while the sun radiated it down, making me feel like a chicken broiling in the oven.  Heat aside, though,I felt good!:)  I ran an 8:56 minute/ mile, a 9:12, and finally a heat weary 9:59.  My legs felt strong and my cardio held out nicely.  If it had been cooler, I think I could have cut a good chunk out of my final time of 28:47.  That was not my fastest 5 K to date… but it WAS fast enough to net me my very first, first in my age group award and 27th over all out of 200 runners AND 12th place in the ladies group. Granted,  it was a smaller race and fewer elites showed up, it was a hot day and all of our times were a bit slower than usual…BUT that aside, I was for once ,near the front of the pack rather than the end of the middle where I usually huff and puff.  I’ll take it for the personal victory that it is :)

So here’s what things are looking like for me right now.  I’m working on starting a running group at my church.  We’ll be having our first group devotional and run in June.  In addition, I’m trying to stick to a pared down training plan…actually write mileage on the calendar and stick to it, just as I would if I were training.  I am letting myself slow down to 2 days a week rather than 3, and then will ramp back up to 3 days a week once half marathon season approaches in the Fall.  I’m shooting for a short, fun 3 miler on Mondays, then a longer run at the end of the week.  I’m going to  alternate a 5 mile causeway or 6 mile flat run, with an 8 mile or a 10 mile run on my long days.  I figure that way I’m switching up mileage and routes on a weekly basis so I don’t get bored or in a rut, but it won’t be too hard to ramp up to half marathon shape when I need to. I’m all hoping to get in a 5 K each month..that’s just fun for me.  I  really enjoy the all out dash to the finish and instant gratification that a 5 K holds.  That’s the plan anyway…we’ll see how it goes and what God has in store for my time…he may have other plans and that’s OK!

Right now I still feel like I should be out there running more than I am.  I miss the regularity and commitment that a focused plan holds.  I was worried that I would be burned out and not want to run again, but I find myself wanting to run more than my schedule will allow right now.  I was hoping to get back to a modicum of normalcy in my work/housework routine…but so far it hasn’t happened.  I am just so far behind from months of training that I am still playing catch up in a losing race.  I’m trying to chip away at the to do list and cleaning schedule one bit at a time, but as of right now I don’t feel as if I am making any headway. It HAS been wonderful however, to have my weekends for family time and not be tired or sore for most of my waking hours.

Oh, and back to the Booty run…I earned my very first first in age group trophy this weekend.  It sits in a  place of honor in my curio cabinet for all to see…and yes, it IS a golden, gleaming toilet bowl…makes me chuckle every time I see it.   Run happy my friends!

Don’t Stop Believin’….

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Well it is officially over and done.  I made it from starting line to finish.  I didn’t puke, pass out, get carried off the course, or die.  I am now officially a marathoner.  I will however, reserve the  Marathoner with an uppercase M for those who made it across the finish line hours before me.  I’m thankful, grateful. blessed…but not proud.  I know I finished this race on God’s power and not mine.  As we’ve discussed, I missed training runs here and there…did the best that I could, but this distance was much bigger than me and my jalopy engine…no doubt.  I give full glory to God on this one.  I did the work, put in lots of miles, and trained my booty off sure, but this was one tough race!

We arrived on Saturday afternoon, went to the never-ending expo, and ate at the pasta buffet in the hotel that night.  My feet were killing me by the time I went to bed at 9 PM.  I woke up at the insanely silly hour of 4 AM to choke down a bagel and banana ( side note: Super Husband had to work hard to find me a banana in a hotel full of marathon runners, but he heroically managed to track one down for me).  I dressed, greased up with Glide, and paced the hotel until we could walk to the start.  It was blessedly crisp at around 50 degrees…and I was nervous but hopeful as we walked to the starting line.  Once there, we corralled up.  I was in the second to last corral…the BROWN corral…ew.  We all packed in like sardines, listened to the national anthem, and were off!  Well at least Corral A was…it took us a solid 20 minutes to toe up to the starting line…and THEN we were off!

The start was insanely crowded, making it impossible to more than shuffle along for the first few minutes.  There were people in my corral who immediately spread out 3-4 people wide and started at a walk…ugh!  Now I am NOT judging at all…but if you are going to start at a walk, then please start in the last corral…and PLEASE do not spread out 3-4 people wide.  I’m just saying…

I finally got enough room to do a slow jog and turned the first corner….to see my fist hill of the course.  Now this course was supposed to have only 2 big hills, a very few rolling hills, and be  mostly flat other than that.  I quote from the FAQ section of the marathon web page:”The hills are in the first nine miles of the race. The first two are just going over the bridge into Kentucky and the one coming back. After several miles of flat there is a 300 ft. climb between miles 6-9 to a beautiful park with a panoramic view of the river and downtown Cincinnati. After that it is gently rolling and from mile 19 to the finish it is pretty flat.

I suppose if you lived in an above sea level state, you MIGHT say that.  For a Florida girl, this course was almost completely rolling hills with 2 very big monster hills, and one or two flat sections. period.  I was totally unprepared for THAT! According to my Garmin watch, I ran a total elevation gain of 943 ft and a loss of 911ft through the entire race.  Within the first 5 miles we had gone over 3 bridges and several whoop de do hills.  I was really worried.  My legs were really unhappy.  I made the choice to walk some of the hills right then and there.  I had wanted to run all but the 2 mile hill at mile 6, but it was a matter of survival at this point.  All in all I would say that I ran 85-90% of the total course…I did have to walk some of the hills, but I also managed to run quite a few.

I finally got into a rhythm around mile 5.  My legs untangled and I was running more than I wasn’t for sure.  I was managing a brisk 9:30-10 on the flat stretches, and even a bit faster  on the downhills.  At mile 6 we began the long 2 mile climb up, up and up to the park.  It was a nasty long climb, but it stair stepped a bit, so I could catch my breath and run here and there. Half way up, we passed an Elvis impersonator, singing Sweet Caroline…that was um surreal to say the least! The view from the top of the park was truly worth the climb! It was spectacular, and just the warm fuzzy I needed to spot the 5:30 pace group and pass them never to be seen again.  A few more rolling hills down, and I caught and passed the 5:15 pace group.  I kept looking for the 5:00 pace group, but never did find them.

Once we hit the split point where the marathoners peeled off from the half marathon pack things got real.  It was an amazing feeling to split off and follow the marathon group. The pack thinned out dramatically at that point, and you started to feel like you were part of something really amazing…a much smaller group who were sticking it out for the whole 26.2.  I was still running well here.

The crowd was amazing, and the weather was beautiful.  The water stops were generally every mile, so that really helped the miles slide by.  Even if I got tired, it was only a mile until I could catch my breath and get a drink.   The food was awesome too! There were fig newton stations, twizzlers, hersheys kisses, and even a bacon station!  I loved reading the signs people had made.  My favorites were “you’re chafing the dream”, I like pig butts and I cannot lie”, and “blisters are braille for awesome”.

Round about mile 19 I started to get worn down.  Everything was hurting.  My knees and feet were NOT prepared for the pounding down hill sections and that was taking the biggest toll.  I was getting hot and tired, but still in relatively good spirits.  From mile 20-23 I was getting slower and slower.  I got a boost though as I ran into mile 23.  This was it…deeper water…this was farther than I had ever run in my life! I had run past my training and into the unknown! It was here that I stopped briefly and called SuperHusband to tearfully tell him I had made it to the edge of my running map and was stepping out into the deep end!

Miles 24-25 were probably the worst of the race.  I was sore, tired and just wanted to be done.  Here and only here, I pulled out my music and listened to Thrive and Bigger Than Me.  This was to be my hardest and slowest mile of the entire race.  From mile 25-26.2 I put away the tunes and hauled my tired booty.  I had hoped to run this race in 5:15-5:20 based on my training runs and the hills on this course.  I had run 23 flat relatively easy miles in 4:55, so I figured adding in the hills and the race day adrenaline, I was hopeful for a 5:15 or 5:20. I never truly hit the wall this time.  I had hit it in every training run over 20 miles, but not here.  I was tired, exhausted, and everything hurt, but that I can run through.

By mile 25 I knew I had at least a chance of making it in under 5 hours…and that was just too good to be true.  I knew I’d have to really run hard for the last 1.2 miles so I kicked it in with all I had and just ran flat out. 

I crossed that finish line in 4:59:30! I just squeaked in under, but I did it! I tried my absolute best, and God rewarded it with a faster time than I had even dared hope for.  God is good!  I got my bling, and hobbled to find Super Husband and Super Son.  After a shower and some food, we spent the day walking ( hobbling ) around the Cincinnati zoo.  I was really, really, really sore.  My knees felt like grapefruit and my feet were pounding and sore, but I knew if I stopped moving I’d rust up like and old engine left in the rain…so to the zoo it was!

For those of you who like numbers, here’s how I did: 2:28:53 First half, 2:30:38 second half, last mile:9:43.

So I hobbled and limped around for the first few days I was back, but really nothing worse than I felt for my first half marathon, or for any one of my 23 mile training runs. It took me about 3 days to stop hurting.  By Friday I actually felt like running a little bit.  Super Husband and I went out for a slow 1 mile out and a fast mile back ( I ran an 8:40 on the way home).  I was really, really pleased at how not horrible I felt!  This Monday, I was able to run a pretty fast 3.1 miles ( a 10:06, a 10:04, and finally an 8:20).  I am so very glad to be off the crazy cycle of mega miles, but feel a bit drifty…its odd to not have a schedule to run when I have had one for the last 8 months.

Many people have asked me if I will run another marathon. I have to honestly say I don’t think so.  It wasn’t the distance so much as the training that was so hard to take.  It was just overwhelming in the amount of time such a thing demands.  I will admit though, to being curious as to how I could do on a flat course…but not curious enough to sign up for anything in the foreseeable future.

Which brings me to the next chapter in my running history.  It seems God still wants me to swim in deep waters.  He hasn’t called me to another marathon thank heavens…but he HAS called me to start a running and devotions group at my church.  Like the marathon, this is uncharted waters for me and I am anxious, but also excited to see what God has planned.

As far as my blog, I still plan to ramble on here, so please do check in from time to time! I have 3 more half marathons planned this year, so plenty to whine and chat about between now and then! Thanks to all of those who followed my journey.  And an even bigger thanks for those who lifted me up in prayer on Marathon Day.  I truly felt lifted up and surrounded by so much love and prayer.  It was an amazing experience, and I cannot thank you all enough.

Until next post: run angry, eat bacon, and dream for the stars people!

On your Mark….Get set…

Well here we are at 1 day and 18 hours before the big show.  I have stuck ( mostly) to my training plan, endured the endless taper, and stuffed myself with the requisite carbs.  I went for my last pre race run of 2 miles this morning.  It felt glorious.  God gave me a BEAUTIFUL 60 degree morning to run in.  That in and of itself is a miracle here in Florida in late April!  I ran really well and felt like I had lots to spare…so YAY!:)

I’ve been really terrified leading up to this week.  Everyone around me has been getting a nasty upper respiratory virus.  I have been bathing in hand sanitizer and washing my hands raw for days.  I have been endlessly worried…about the race, about getting sick, about life, the universe in general…you get the idea. As of yesterday evening though, I felt a switch flip…I am…drum roll….getting excited!  I’m still scared ( respect the distance and all that), but I’m feeling just a bit giddy.  My legs feel strong and I have gotten an unexpected energy boost ( maybe its all the hand sanitizer and vitamins).  I feel bouncy and just a bit jittery…caffeinated even.  I find I ready to GO!

I sat down and read all of my posts today from beginning to end. Its been quite a physical and spiritual journey.  Its amazing to go back and read where I was when all of this began.  To remind myself of how far this journey has taken me.  Its fun to see how I have changed and stayed still the same old me.

Turns out, I did finish most of my plan, I didn’t get injured, and I have managed to Listen to God along the way.  I think that has been my biggest surprise.  I feel much more connected spiritually than I did when I started all of this.  Hours on the pavement with no excuses and no one in the way have made me feel a true connection that just wasn’t there before.

I have gone from a love /hate relationship with running to at least a love/like relationship.  Even though I am tired of the long long miles, I DO miss running when I don’t get to run at least 2-3 times a week.  Running is still hard for me…and likely always will be.  I am stronger and faster than I was, but I am a runner by determination and intent and not by genetic ability. I was not born to be a runner, but rather choose to run. Running will never come easily to me, but that is one reason why I value it …I have to work for every mile gained. With that said, running has become an important part of my identity, it has become a part of me, of who I am,  and I am glad for that.

Along the way, SuperHusband has picked up a running habit…and I have really enjoyed running with him.  Its been a fun new aspect to our Marriage, and its nice that he will truly understand what I am facing this weekend. I have really enjoyed watching him grow as a runner right along beside me.  In the midst of this adventure, he has become a half marathoner and I am so very proud of him and his own running journey!  My friends and family have been amazingly supportive of this crazy endeavor.  I have has so much love and support along the way that its kind of overwhelming to think about!

So I am hopeful that I can complete this Marathon in 5 hours.  Less would be a dream come true, but I will be happy with just crossing that finish line darn it!   Part of me cringes when I admit to someone that I am going to take that long to run the marathon.  The elite runners will likely clock times of 2 hours and change.  Five  hours is slow…its well below the ‘average’ for people who run marathons.  I have never pretended to be fast though, and I am not about to start now.  I just need to finish after all.  I am not fast, but I am determined, and I am Faithful…and that will have to be enough!

A very dear friend pointed me to an awesome song by Tobymac that has become my theme song this week.  It’s called “Way Beyond Me”…and it really just sums up this whole marathon journey. It talks about God giving us tasks that are beyond our reach to remind us that we need Him.  How appropriate as I stare down that starting line! Here’s a sample:

Call it a reason to retreat
I got some dreams that are bigger than me
I might be outmatched, outsized, the underdog in the fight of my life
Is it so crazy to believe

That You gave me the stars, put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need
You keep on making me see
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
Yeah, it’s out of my league
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond

Anything that I got the strength to do
In over my head keeps me countin’ on You
I’m leaving the sweet spot, sure shot
Tradin’ it all for the plans You got
Is it so crazy to believe

That You gave me the stars, put them out of my reach
Called me to waters a little too deep
Oh, I’ve never been so aware of my need
Yeah, you keep on making me see
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me
Yeah, it’s out of my league
It’s way beyond me
It’s way beyond me

I have done all that I physically can…now its time to simply let go and let God get me there.

This BaconRunner is all packed and ready to GO.  There’s nothing left to do now but run the race that God has set before me. Just point myself down the course and do what He has trained me to do. 1)Pray. 2) Run….Really  Really far. 3) Collect Bling. 4) Eat Bacon…that pretty much sums up my plan!  Tune in next week, for the recap and further adventures of BaconRunner;)!

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!