chasing mommy

finish the race — 2 timothy 4

checklist

Hospital Hill is 13 days away.   Most runners are starting to taper.   Masochists like myself, finishing up the Heartland 39.3, don’t even know how to taper off of this crazy cycle we have been on for the last 6 weeks.    My training plan has been called “winging it”.   Every day I just try to fit in what I can: boot camp, yoga, a 3 mile run, an 8 mile run, whatever will work.   Focusing on hydration and sleep has seemed more important lately because those three half marathons were more exhausting than I counted on, mentally and physically.   But Hospital Hill is like the Big Dance, the pinnacle of my race season.   If I had to pick only one race per spring, this would be it.  Which leaves me feeling like a whiny child asking, “ARE WE THERE YET?”     And since I cannot make the time go faster, I am trying to prepare.

Mental Checklist:

1.  Shotbloks or Gu?   Shotbloks have felt like lead on my stomach the last two Halfs….may be time to go back to the tried and true (and disguisting).

2.  Shoes?  Still wearing my Newton Gravitys.   I think I can squeeze another couple of hundred miles out of them.

3.  Socks?  Cushiony, running socks work best for pounding hills over 10 miles.   My favorite running socks were actually SWAG we got at HH last year.

4.  Pre-Race Nutrition?  Peanut Butter Power Bar and water.

5.  Night Before Noshing?   Thanks to the Kansas Half, I have learned anything greasy or with the word “buffet” in it should be avoided the night before a Half.   And carbo loading doesn’t really work in 12 hours, so I am thinking fish and a salad.

6.  Hydration?  My friend Maribeth, who is a kick a$$ athlete AND a physician, says we ought to drink enough water the week prior to a race that our urine is clear the night before.   (I have never blogged the word “urine” before.   Felt kind of icky.)

7.  Clothing?  Shorts that have been tested not to chafe, ditto on a tank top if it’s hot.   Arm pit chafing is so distracting.  No new clothing on a 13.1 mile run.   BAD idea.   I do not need to be cute.   I need to be not bleeding.

8.  Shades?   Typically I steal my husband’s snug-fitting Oakleys for a run, but he’s doing Hospital Hill too.   Guess I’m going shopping.

9.  Garmin?  DON’T FORGET TO CHARGE IT THE NIGHT BEFORE.

10.  Pace Group?   I think I am going to go for it.   I have never ran with a Pace Group, but this will be my first race EVER without a girlfriend.   My husband wants me to run with him, but I am not allowed to talk.   (Yeah, I don’t see this working out…)   Therefore, I am going to make some new friends!   Now comes the bigger question, should I hang with the 2:00 pace group which will be slightly painful, and try to speed up at the end, or should I start with the 1:55 pace group that my husband wants to run with and risk the humiliation of him leaving me behind?   (Or run with the 2:05 pace group and actually enjoy the run?!)    So many decisions….so much pride…so much pain…..

To be continued…

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love/hate

I am 2/3 of the way through the Heartland 39.3.   For those who are blissfully unaware, this is a series of three Half Marathons over a four week period.  

This was a better idea in theory when a bored winter runner signed up.

It sounded easy enough.   When I have trained for Fulls I have often logged 15+ mile long runs every single week……so what’s the big deal, I thought, about doing three Halves?    The big deal, says my quads and hamstrings, is that when someone puts a timing chip on my shoe I lose all ability to chill and have a relaxing run, like the before mentioned training runs.     These Halves have hurt!

Like 7,999 other local runners, I was at Rock the Parkway—half number one.   Along with my friends, Maribeth and Jen, I set my first sub-two PR.   1:58.    I was pretty happy with that, but it was not much fun.   I felt like I wanted to be sick for the last 5 miles—I had shot bloks crawling up my esophagus—it was an ugly scene.     But I got my long awaited sub-two, so I really should not complain.    I did, however, retire from running after that Saturday morning Half.    Until Tuesday.   Then I started thinking about Half #2—The Kansas Half Marathon.    So I came out of retirement after eight days, and showed up in Lawrence.   Would it be another sub two kind of day?   At mile two I decided, ‘No, no it would not.’   Serious fatigue set in.   Fatigue that comes from overtraining.   I recognized it, I made peace with it, and I decided to have the best run that I could given the fact that all of a sudden I needed a nap and my garmin was reporting I had only ran 2.2 miles.   But I kept running…..until I walked.   This former jayhawk did not realize that I would be running up hills of that magnitude on a day when I did not bring my A game.    Hospital Hill has never scared me.   I have a crush on Hospital Hill.   We are BFF.  But that hill by the dorms on KU’s glorious campus?   That hill that I refused to walk up when I was 18 years old and made my parents shell out $90 for a bus pass?   That hill psyched me out.    I might have said a few unprintable things on that mountain, but then so did everyone around me.   So sadly, at mile 8, the Kansas Half became about survival.   Again, not much fun.  I ran a respectable but boring 2:08, got myself a chicken sandwich and a chocolate milk at the finish line, and I moved on, both physically and metaphorically.

The sad thing about these two races is that I am not feeling the love.   My runner’s high is absent.   And I think it’s because I have become so concerned about always running my fastest race that I am losing what I love most about running; the release, the freedom, the feeling of strength.    I am trying to make peace with that right now.   What kind of runner do I want to be when I grow up?   Running with the Cows is next week….what do I want to do here?   Do I want to have fun, or do I want to PR?   Because for this runner, the two do NOT seem to go hand in hand.

But I want to PR at Hospital Hill.   That’s a definite.   And then maybe after that I will retire—until Fall.

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mental

One of the things that I like about running is the psychological factor.   Running is equal parts mental and physical.  Our bodies are capable of absolutely great things, but often we hold ourselves back because of what we think we are able to accomplish. 

Where are you at in your training right now?

Would you believe me if I told you that you ARE ready for Hospital Hill?  It is 45 days out, but if you have been training you could run it tomorrow.   Physically, that is.  Our bodies are ready long before our minds realize it.  It took me 3 years of running before I realized that my body may be the muscle, but my brain usually decides how a race is going to go.   Now, sometimes my brain may want to quit because I have not trained and my body feels terrible—that’s legitimate.   But sometimes my brain just wants to be comfortable.   My brain does not like me breathing hard and exerting so much energy and would just like to lie down and quit even though my body is actually handling the physical stress quite well.

I had a breakthrough last October in Minnesota.   We ran the Twin Cities Marathon and it was the first race where I did not break down and cry when I was exhausted and pushed to my limits.  At my previous races (13.1 or longer), about 75% into the race, I would crack mentally.   I would keep going physically, but I would be on the verge of hyperventilating and occasionally even have to walk for a minute because I did not know how to push my body past what already felt like “too much” without becoming very emotional and upset.   I am an all or nothing kind of runner.  I am looking at scenery, chatting and laughing—totally dogging it, or I am on fire.   There is no in between.   (It’s my own little personality disorder—I have decided to embrace it.)

I tried a different tactic for Twin Cities.   I prepared for the race mentally.   I started days ahead of time.  I worked through every scenario ahead of time, and the response that I wanted to have on race day.   For example; ‘If I feel like I can’t go on at Mile 22, I will quit thinking, make my mind go blank, and only concentrate on what my arm and leg muscles are doing.’   Or, ‘When I feel like crying in pain, I will remember that it hurts just as badly to finish slowly as it does to finish fast.’    ‘If my chest gets tight, and I feel like I can’t go on, I will remind myself that I am strong, I can breathe just fine, and I can rest at the finish line.’   I know it sounds simplistic, but it worked.   I pride myself on being mentally tough during a race.   I will never be the fastest, or the best, but when the going gets tough I know I can quit talking, go inside myself, and do what I have to do to finish strong.   In 2011 I ran the Kansas City Half with pneumonia and a spiral stress fracture of my tibia—and while I don’t recommend that, I never doubted myself.  (I cried—I just never doubted that I would finish!)  That is why I love to run.  It makes me feel strong.   It teaches me how to eliminate self doubt.  With every race I learn more about what I can and can’t do.   A friend sent me a link last fall to a quote that read “She knew who she was in Christ, so she set her goals high.”   That is how I live.  I know who I am in Christ, and I am humble enough to know that I will never be a “great” runner.   But I love it, and I can do anything I set my mind to.  And so can you.   Believe it, and starting working on your sports psychology.   It is a big part of race day.

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boston

I have had the worst case of writer’s block—and that never happens to me. So last night I thought I would write a blog about race season beginning. I ran Rock the Parkway last weekend. I was going to discuss the fact that I wonder if always chasing a PR is taking the joy out of the actual race. I thought I would kick around the idea that maybe the reason I love training more than race day is because I never look at the pace on my Garmin while training. I just run, I walk when I am exhausted, and I finish when I finish. No pressure compared to race day.  I have a very competitive personality, and I am pretty much incapable of finishing with any gas left in the tank once a timing chip is put on my shoe.   Saturday morning I found myself feeling grateful that one of my running partners is a physician in case I passed out at mile 11.  I wish I was kidding.   We were hauling!—for us, that is.   (My 9 minute mile might feel like a leisurely stroll to some runners, but to me it might as well be Mach 1.)

And I did PR last weekend.  That was cool—until today put it all in perspective for me. What happened in Boston stunned me.   Those are runners and the people who love and support them.   Those are our people.   This is just unacceptable.  I am more than mad.  I am sad, I am angry, and I am concerned for the future.  I have  sat watching the news coverage with a pit in my stomach and horror in my heart.

But I now know what is going to happen at my next half marathon this Sunday, The Kansas Half.   I am not going to cross the finish line in agony so that I can PR again.   I am going to run for the love of it.  I am going to think about how alive running makes me feel,  how blessed I am to be healthy, how grateful I am to run with friends that I love, and how precious  every step that I take on this earth really is.    I am going to remember that even when I am feeling healthy and focusing on silliness like personal records and choking down Shot Bloks that everything can change in the blink of an eye.  I am going to thank God for the safety of my family and loved ones who support me.  And I am going to cross that finish line thinking about the finish line in Boston today.

Praying for our world tonight.

And running with love in my heart on Sunday morning.

 

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fuel

One of the advantages of being a runner is that I no longer have to admit to others, or myself,  that I am dieting.   I can say “I’m in training”.

Nooooo!  I didn’t load up on comfort food all winter long and gain 15 pounds and now I must get it off or tell my kids that we can’t join the pool this year.   What kind of sloth do you think I am???

I am in training.   Race season is starting.   I am all about nutrition.  I am a runner and therefore need to be at my lightest weight so that my knees don’t suffer when I am pounding the pavement for the next 6 months.   I need to properly fuel my body so that it can go the distance when called upon.  I eat healthy because I am just that super healthy person who runs and makes green smoothies for breakfast.

Whatever.

I am a serious junk food-a-holic.  And I routinely gain about 15 pounds every single winter as soon as race season ends—not because I quit working out, but because I can eat THAT MUCH!     How awful is that?!   It is very in line with my personality, though.   I can be crazy, disciplined, and driven when I have a goal, but there has to be a stopping point.   I mean, I really am making green smoothies for breakfast—I can’t live like this forever.   So I am pretty good about 8 months out of the year.   And the other 4 months I am fatter, happier, and probably much nicer.

My favorite tool for eating properly is Weight Watchers.   It is inexpensive ($54 for 3 months), it has a phone app, there is no special food, there are no supplements, and I can eat all of the fruits and vegetables that I want.     It really is a good program.   I can usually drop 15-20 pounds in 3 months.   Then I can say I “made weight”, like a wrestler!  Again, more mind games.   So if you need to start eating more healthily, this is a great option.   One of my good friends also  likes My Fitness Pal.   Very similar concept, but it is free.   If money is an issue, this is a great program.   However, I am never successful at free programs.   If I do not invest any cash, I seem to feel free to quit.   However, I am just frugal enough that if I give Weight Watchers $54, you can bet I am not walking away from that without “making weight”.

Drinking more water is integral for weight loss and “training”.   But I get bored with water.   It is hard to sip on it all day like I want to, when I could drink Crystal Light, or a diet soda.   My friend Jen introduced me to cucumber water.   I put two slices of cucumber in my water cup and voila!  Flavor.   Now I am averaging several glasses a day.  The two slices of cucumber will work for the same glass all day, so just picking up one cucumber a week at the grocery store is plenty.

Now, on to nutrition for races.  Fueling during a run is like a scientific experiment.   Every person is different and there is no magic formula.   You have to practice fueling during training runs so that you can learn what works for your body.    I have tried it all:  GU, Powerbars, Snickers Marathon Bars, Gatorade, gummy bears, filled Twizzlers, peanut butter sandwiches, boiled eggs….you name it.    Once I even ate a boiled egg with Lemon Lime flavored GU and I can still almost dry heave remembering that morning.    After 4 years of running I have settled on Clif Shot Bloks.   The texture is palatable, they do not make me want to vomit, and they provide more than enough energy during a race.   During a short training run (10 miles or less), I may only eat 3 Shot Bloks at around mile 5.   During a long run, or a race, I take a couple before the start, then 3 bloks every four miles.    The only con to Shot Bloks is carrying them.   GU is so much easier to tuck in a pocket, or a sports bra….Shot Bloks have to be carried.   Unless you are a fanny pack wearer—and I am not.  This doesn’t bother me, but I know some people like their hands to be free.

And about Gatorade……..please, please, please experiment with sports drinks BEFORE a race.   I have an iron stomach but even a few ounces of Gatorade can send me running for the port-a-potty.   You do not want to find out that Gatorade will give you stomach cramps during Mile 8 of Hospital Hill.   However, my running partners swear by it and drink some at almost every station.

This season I plan to experiment with salt tablets.   I can tell my sodium gets too low on 20+ mile runs and I am hoping this will be a solution.    What I used to call post-race endorphins, or euphoria, I am now starting to recognize may be the symptoms of hyponatremia: slowed thought processes, mild confusion, etc.    Ahhh, I love running!

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support

Remember when I was hunting for winter motivation?

10

Well, seek and ye shall find.

Can you run 100 miles in the month of March?    A friend at the local gym challenged a group of us on Facebook to run 100 miles this month, and the Facebook Club was born.   Runners want to be inspired.  They crave motivation.  They are always looking for the next high.   And I think runners also look for an outlet where they can discuss mileage with people who care.   Like any obsessed mile marker, I can talk running ALL DAY LONG.   And I try to cut it short once my cornered party’s eyes start glazing over, but it’s so hard!   It’s totally an obsession.    So we have created our own captive audience: each other.   Yea for social media!

Realistically, I doubt I will hit 100 miles in March.  I have had a tibial stress fracture in the past, and I have learned that cross-training is mandatory for me.    Running more than 3 days a week is usually not a good idea for this girl.   Quality over quantity, as my friend Jen tells me.  But it is so fun being a part of a community of runners that I look forward every day to seeing who has logged the most miles, even if I have to hang in the back of the pack.   Feel free to check out the group.   They are inspiring!

And moving on to my other recent inspiration—the Push Up Challenge.   I seriously heart the Push Up Challenge.  Upper body strength is just as important when training as building leg muscles.  With that thought in mind,  I have done 397 military push ups in the last few weeks.   This is monumental.   Prior to this, I had probably done, oh, maybe 14 push ups in my entire life?   The Push Up Challenge breaks it down into a very non-intimidating format.  If you haven’t looked at this website yet, I highly encourage you to give it a shot.

What’s next in my box of training tricks, for those with athletic ADD like myself…

Oh yes, coming in a close third is my newest love—yoga.   I just took my first class two weeks ago and I can totally see the benefits for a runner.   Improving flexibility and core strength will go a LONG way to keeping one from injury.   Last girl on the planet to test out a yoga class—I know.   But, learn from my mistakes.   My friends and I are going to attempt to rearrange our training schedule to make long runs on Sundays so that we can do yoga together every Monday.   And all seriousness aside, due to the constant overstimulation that is my life, I really enjoy being in a class where I get to take my shoes off and they turn the lights down.

So that’s where I am at.  I’m only averaging about 15-18 miles a week, but I’m strength training, biking, doing push ups, and even a bit of boot camp-type calisthenics.

13 weeks until Hospital Hill.   I can hardly wait.

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sins and confessions

In order to abolish any sort of hypocrisy from my blog, it is time to discuss the elephant in the room.   Being an official Hospital Hill cheerleader makes this seem sort of wrong, or dirty, so I feel the need to have a confession of sorts.   This is not meant to bring anybody down, but rather to let you know that it’s okay to hate running sometimes, and that does not mean you should quit.

I, Official Hospital Hill Blogger Cori, hate training right now.  I despise treadmills and have not stepped foot on one in 18 months — so no indoor running for me.   I also hate cold weather, cold being defined as any temperature cooler than 60 degrees.  And I am tired, and I am working a lot, and NO ONE IN MY HOUSE CAN STAY HEALTHY.  And running?  Not so fun either last week.   More than once, I have thought, ‘Why do I do this to myself?   What is so bad about being 20 pounds heavier than the weight on my driver’s license?   Do I really need to work out more than twice a week?   Instead of going to the Y after I drop my kids off, can I just go home and take a nap for heaven’s sake?!  And most importantly, should I order that track jacket in the size that I am, or the size that I KNOW I CAN BE if I can just get my *#$@ together?!’

I am pretty sure this is where I should turn it around and get peppy and go all “Jillian Michaels” on everyone.   Push through.  Stay strong.  Keep fighting.   Rah rah.

But when I am having winter blahs,  I like to roll around in them a while and feel all pathetic—so it’s a harder road back than that for me.  I hunt for motivation in bite-sized pieces:  a new song on my iPhone, a freakishly sunny and warm February day, a new pair of Newtons.

Enter bite-sized motivation:  This week I am starting the Push-Up Challenge.

My friend Breanna told me about this, and it sounds like a nice little activity that I can do INDOORS.    I will sweat, I will grow new muscles, and I can do it while listening to DVR’d episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.   (We’ve come this far—don’t judge me now.)    And the best part of this push up game?  Wait for it…………………….it has an app!

Apps make Winter Cori very  happy.

And I would really like to have “not flabby” arms in my running pictures this Spring and Summer.

Because there will be running pictures.  And ever since I showed up to a Christmas dinner in 2009 without makeup on, and got tagged on Facebook, I have learned you better bring your “A” game when you walk out your front door.   It’s a world full of tag-happy Facebookers.   And while I don’t know if I can PR this year, I bet I can make my arms stop jiggling, and look “taggable” for a pic or two.

See? I can already feel my push up program motivating me.   And just in time  for the Hospital Hill Kick Off this week.   It’s been a rough winter, but it’s always darkest before the dawn, and the valley always comes before THE HILL.

So if you have been down, and not feeling it—no worries.   Me too.

We’ve still got this.

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getting past excuses

It never fails.  I make a plan to hit the workouts extra hard, I am counting calories, I am super motivated….and the whole household gets sick.   And since it is generally frowned upon to leave my sick children in the car while I am at the gym, (kidding, totally kidding), I am left with only a couple of options.   I can work out at home with Shaun T., or I can do nothing.   Do you know Shaun T?  From Insanity ?   Yeah, well there is a reason they call that workout Insanity, and seeing as it is only January, and I am nursing a cold, I decided more rest and less exercise would not hurt me.    Things do not always go according to plan, and that’s okay.   I did not work out as much as I wanted, but I did what I could.

Here’s my first week of Pre-Training:

Monday—3 mile run (Snuck this in after lunch, right before the husband went to work)

Tuesday—Strength training x 30 min, Stationary bike x 20 min

Wednesday—Off

Thursday—Strength training x 60 min

Friday—Off

Saturday—6 mile run  (8 am, before kids’ sports started for the day)

Sunday—Off (Another sick kid)

That Saturday morning run….UGH!  I hate waking up early to go run, and yes, 8am is early for me.   It was Saturday!   By nature, I am a little too laid back.  I am also a procrastinator.   This does not bode well for morning runs.  Luckily I have accountability partners.   My hat is off to any of you who are self-motivated enough to train alone.   Without my two best friends, I would only be up for the occasional mid-afternoon run on a 65 degree day.     I like to be comfortable.    Therefore, I have developed a set of skills to to “manage” myself.

1.  Make all decisions regarding training ahead of time, and when I can be most objective, i.e., not in the morning!

Last minute decisions tend to become “what do I feel like doing?”   It does not matter what I feel like doing.   I need to do what is good for my health/training.   Once I make a decision, I stick with it.   No questioning my sanity of scheduling a 4:30 am, 15 mile run on Saturday morning when the alarm goes off.    If I thought it was a good idea when I made the decision Thursday afternoon, I just do it.

2.  No negative self-talk.   Matter of fact, no thinking or talking to myself at all before an early workout.

BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…BEEP

(Angry hand smashes snooze button.)

Inside my head:  ‘I don’t wanna…no, no thinking allowed.  STOP THINKING.’

This is my pathetic reality.   I am not allowed to talk to myself, even in my own head, before 9am.   Because if I think about the fact that I am about to get out of a warm, cozy bed and go run in 30 degree weather for an hour, I will send a punk out text to my pals.    What gets accomplished by doing that?   Yes, I will feel good for 2 or 3 more hours while I sleep, but then I will feel like a jerk at 9am.  ‘I should have run.  I’d be done by now.

3. Find accountability partners.

That above scenario?   Where I sent the punk out text?   Unless I was hospitalized, it would never fly.   My running partners would challenge me.   “You’re fine!   Get your a## out of bed or we are coming in after you!”   Thank God for these women!   Without them I would be 20 pounds heavier, and far less happy.    I know some runners that are chipper morning people who leap out of bed, grab their iPod, and go it alone!   Well, bless them for that.    But for some of us, it takes a village…

4.  You are usually not too sick to run.

Back to being sick…. don’t you find that you can usually run with a bad cold?  And actually feel better during the run?   (Or am I the only crazy person?)  Of course the fall out is bad….after the run, I am usually deposited back on death’s door, stealing puffs off of my son’s Albuterol inhaler as I cough up my lung.    But no lie, for a few brief miles, I do feel kind of normal.  My nose doesn’t run as much, and I rarely cough if I keep moving.    So, running while sick….usually doable.

5.  Work out at home.

Even if I am totally husband-working-nights-trapped-at-home-with-my-children, I theoretically could always find a way to get in a workout.   I do not need to leave home to do core strengthening.   I can always do push-ups and planks.   I have Insanity.   I can find exercise recommendations on the internet.   It is still doable.   But I am no hypocrite.   I will not work out at home 99% of the time.   I usually see being trapped at home as a sign from God that I need a day off.   I am a glass is half full kind of girl like that.

I like the flexibility during pre-training.  Pre-training is a time to figure out what works for  you, to learn how to “manage” any bad habits you have, to pick a training plan.   Because once it gets closer to Race Day, the stakes are a little higher, and we will need to push ourselves a little harder.   Make sure you get all of the bugs worked out ahead of time.

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the introduction

I am ridiculously excited to have been chosen as part of the Hospital Hill Blogging Team.  You know why?

Because I need motivation to push myself this year.  (More on that later.)

I jokingly told my husband, “The bloggers supposedly represent all walks of life, and all skill levels.  I must be the middle-aged mother runner.”    I’m good with that, though.  Got to represent my peeps!

I am a 38 year-old mother/wife/runner.  I am a nurse with two part-time jobs.  I have three children under the age of 10, and a husband who works a swing shift in law enforcement.   It is not always easy finding the time to work out.  Flexibility is key.  But the whole family has learned that I am a much happier person when I take that time for myself.

I did a triathlon back in 2009—didn’t care for it much.  Why do triathlons have to include swimming?   Blecch.  But that’s when I decided that running was my thing.  Running made me feel like the girl I used to be when I was 18 and thought I was the bada$$ of the universe.   Who knew a 12 minute mile could transform a woman from carpool queen to an athlete?   I have decided I can call myself an athlete now.   Anyone who has their own Physical Therapist and the phone number to at least one Sports Medicine doctor gets to refer to themself as an athlete.

In the last 4 years I have ran several 5Ks, 10Ks, three Half Marathons, and two Full Marathons.   I do not usually run alone.   God has blessed me with two best friends who run the same pace that I do—what a gift!   We talk the whole time we run, and we do not leave each other.  Ever.   If one of us sets a PR, we are all setting a PR.  If one of us has a bad race, guess what?  We are all having a bad race.  That’s just how we roll.

This Spring is going to mix it up a little though.   I am the only one signed up for the Heartland 39.3.  That is a local event that includes 3 Half Marathons in a 4 week period.   And Hospital Hill is not far behind that.   I need to learn to run alone.   And that also gives me four chances to go sub two hours on a Half.  That is my goal for 2013.

I am already Pre-Training.  Pre-Training means I am working on my nutrition program, fine-tuning my running schedule, and learning to strength train.  I have been stalled at the 9:30 min/mile for the last year, and I think strength training may be the key.   And in the interest of protecting my 38 year old knees, I need to drop about 10 pounds that I picked up over the Holidays.   Have I mentioned that I LOVE to eat?   That may be the real reason I run.

Thank you Beth, and Hospital Hill for letting me share my journey.   I am really grateful to be a part of this.

Now let’s do it.

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marathon day

Three weeks ago today we ran the Minneapolis Marathon.   It was my and Traci’s second full marathon, and Jen’s fourth.   It was amazing.   Go sign up and run this race.   Today.
First of all, Minneapolis, YOU are underrated.   The website for this marathon sucks.   The Facebook page is barely existent.   The orange maple leaf logo made no sense at the time.   If it weren’t for Ikea looming in our brains, we may never have given it a second thought.
This race is the best kept secret in the world of running.   There were only about 10,000 runners, I believe.   This is 1/4 of the number in the Chicago Marathon.   But the Expo rocked—gear galore!   And this course….wow.  On October 7th, this must have been the most beautiful place to be in the whole United States.   The leaves were red, gold, orange.   The hills were rolling.   The Mississippi River was stunning.   The architecture of the homes and buildings was awe inspiring.   And the spectators, all 300,000 of them, are now my very favorite people ever.   After my own friends and family, of course.  And the Finish line was epic.   The last 0.2 miles was downhill, with firetrucks, American flags, and screaming crowds.
It does not get any better than that.
Oh yes, and my endorphins are writing this story if you have not yet picked up on that.   Want to know why?   Because it was the first race ever, EVER, E-V-E-R, where I did not totally lose my s&*% and have a meltdown.   I ran 26.2 miles (26.5 by my Garmin—stupid corners we didn’t cut close enough), and I did not cry.   Hallelujah!
I was a bundle of nerves riding into Minneapolis, but the car ride was very fun.   Johnny and Marc were driver and shotgun, and at 4:00am they drove their three sleepy Miss Daisies from Kansas City, into Missouri, across Iowa (one Cracker Barrel stop), and finally into the Promised Land.

The night before the marathon we had dinner at an Italian restaurant with my brother Cliff, and his wife, Jill.   They live in Minneapolis, and I never get to see them enough.   We laughed and ate all night until we went back to the hotel to face the music—laying out race clothes and an early bedtime.
Oh, spoiler alert and red flag combined.   When you go to a race expo for packet pickup, and one of the swag items is a headpiece/earmuff thing, that is bad news.   Our last marathon was a life-sucking 88 degrees, so we weren’t exactly prepared to run in the Arctic.  I whine when it’s 50 degrees.   So Jen and I decided we needed warmer running clothes.   Where to go?   Oh, the Mall of America is here?   Really?   Well, how convenient.   And thank you, Nordstrom’s Rack for Nike Dri-Fit Thermals at $25 a pop.   Saved.

The night before the race I slept really well.   And I dreamed about the 23rd Psalm all night.   I have NEVER dreamed about a Bible verse.   But I fully believe that the Lord put this verse in my heart so that I would think about Him the whole race.   And I did.
Johnny and I shared a room with Traci.   I was a little scared because she almost punched Jen the morning of our last marathon.   Traci does not know when she became a long distance runner, and she’s not sure she’s on board yet.   But bless her heart, she lets us drag her along.   Sure enough, the next morning when the alarm went off, the first words out of Traci’s mouth, “This is gay!”  And I’m pretty sure she threw something.   I hid in the bathroom long enough to let her punch Johnny if she was that irritable, and then popped out with a pair of scissors and some athletic tape.   Officially I was taping my foot.   Unofficially, I was not putting those scissors down until Traci was nice and caffeinated, key word being “nice”.   But that girl surprised me.   Johnny left the room so she could dress, and she says to me, “Do these underwear look lucky?”   That’s when I knew it was going to be a good day!  (A good 26 degree day.  Holy moses.)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.   He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.   He leadeth me beside the still waters…
This verse jumped out as we ran past not one, but four lakes.   We just wound around one after another.   I smiled inside—“still waters”.   Oh, and funniest moment ever.   At mile 7 Jen’s daughter, Audrey called.   Jen answered.   She’s a good mom like that.   Aidan, Ava, Coop, Mommy loves you, too, but I’d have dumped that call.   Anywho, here’s what runners around us are hearing while Traci and I are cracking up!
Jen: “Hello?   Hi Auds….oh, just running a marathon…….yes, we’re winning…..no, don’t put Avery on…..Auds?……Auds,tell Avery I’ll call her later….I love you, too.”
Our cell phones were invaluable to us.   First race we have ever run with them.   But Marc and Johnny installed stalking, I mean, tracking devices on them, and every time they wanted to find us our phones would start beeping, letting us know they were looking for us.   It was the most encouraging thing, to be running along, fighting to stay motivated, and hear, ‘BEEP BEEP BEEP’.   We would instantly pep up.  “Where are they?   Can they see us?”    Those boys drove all over town.   We must have seen them 6 or 7 times.  Love them so much for that.
He restoreth my soul.   He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake.
Most of our run was on paths.   So in order for others to pass you—and there are always people passing us!—they run pretty close, and they usually speak to you.   Our shirts were all a shout out to our Creator.   As runners ran by, they kept saying things like, “Great shirts!”  “Love those shirts!”  “Amen!”   It was almost like we were worshiping as we ran.—“paths of righteousness for His name sake.”

We hit our Half marathon mark, and I was feeling high on life.   I have NEVER felt that good in a race.   Not that they needed me to, but I was encouraging the other two!   This is shocking in our world.   Prior to showing up that day, one of them probably could have guaranteed you they’d be begging me not to jump off the bridge that crossed over the Mississippi by mile 20.   I had my phone with me though, and at mile thirteen I turned on one of my favorite running songs to motivate us,(Click HERE to hear the awesomeness), blasted it out not caring who I irritated, and said, “Alright girls, we’re going to run a Half now.   Let’s do this.”  
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.  Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
The Valley of the shadow of death showed up about mile 18.   Our girl Traci was HURTING.   Jen called ahead  to Marc and Johnny with instructions to have some BioFreeze out and ready.   But they were still 2 miles away from us.   Traci was hurting so badly that I wanted to cry for her.   But she didn’t want to walk.   She insisted we keep running.   When we finally found them, Traci crashed under a tree, Johnny helped her with the BioFreeze, and then we were off again.  It was like having a support van.   Each guy had a backpack full of our “what if” essentials.   So helpful.  Johnny and Marc became the rod and staff to guide and protect.   Sent straight from our Father who loves us.

Pit Stop for BioFreeze

When you are running a marathon, I don’t care who you are, things get REAL after mile 22.   Nobody feels good at that point.   Your body just starts to break down.   And Jen saved my neck.  I started feeling like I was hitting a wall.   I didn’t understand what was happening though because I had been fueling with Shot Blocks every 4 miles and drinking water at every station.   But Jen knows me better than I know myself.   She just looked at me and said, “Your sodium has to be low.   You need electrolytes.   Get some Gatorade.”   So I did, and she was right.   I came right back.   (Gatorade upsets my stomach so I never take it.) So grateful she said that to me.
Though annointest my head with oil;  My cup runneth over.
As we ran down our last 0.2 miles, I kept starting to cry.   I was over the moon happy.   It was just the best feeling ever.   We were almost done with our self torture.   And people in the crowd kept yelling, “Way to finish together, girls!”  “Go Team Green!”  That’s what we do.   We do not leave each other.   If someone is having a bad day, we are all having a bad day.   Because what good is a P.R. if you do it alone?   Where is the glory in that?   These girls are like my family.   I am not in this for personal glory.  I am in this to run with my friends.   That’s it.    Crossing that finish line was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life.   My heart was filled with pure joy.   My cup definitely runneth over.

Finish Line!

Time:  4:40.   Not bad.
Until the next time, ladies…:-)

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