“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