Running for Anna

On December 12, 2010 our family was devastated by the loss of my niece, Anna Rogotzke, on her fourth birthday, to a rare cancer called Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. On December 4, 2011, I ran in the California International Marathon to raise money for the Liddy Shriver Sarcoma Initiative, a leader in the fight against sarcomas. This blog is created to update those interested in my journey and progress as I train for this event and events thereafter.

....And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Saturday, December 31, 2011


I can't believe that today is the last day of 2011!  I know I'm getting older, but I sure wish time would just slow down sometimes. 

I don't know where to start as far as updating you since my last post.  As I expected, there have been some post-marathon blues.  It's difficult to explain the "full" but also "empty" feeling after achieving a goal that only came with months and months of hard work.  I've explained in past posts that training for this marathon helped me deal with the grief I was experiencing after Anna's death, and I was a little concerned that, once this goal was achieved, that grief would hit hard.  There has been some of that, but the celebration of Christmas and the assurance that God fulfills His promises helped to alleviate those feelings somewhat.

 I've also had time to reflect on the true gratitude I feel for everyone who has helped me attain this accomplishment: my husband and son, who were on the receiving end of most of my incessant talking about all things marathon training, and who, in return, gave me nothing but support; all of those who donated to my cause (the donations keep coming in...only $78 to the $3000 mark!);  fellow runners I know who were always ready with just the advice I needed at any given time; and all those who would just ask how things were going on a regular basis.  I can never say enough to adequately express my appreciation.

Until today, I have done no running since the marathon.  Not because I didn't want to.  I felt like I pushed my semi-injured body far past what it was meant to do that day, and I knew rest was called for.  I promised my husband I would take a month off.  After limping around for about a week after the marathon, that seemed a reasonable amount of time to let myself completely heal and recover. 

I've realized some things during this month off. 

1) - Running is my anti-anxiety medication.  I am naturally an (overly?) anxious person.  No matter how many people tell me I'm good at something, my first reaction is that I'm not good enough.  Nobody made me feel this way.  My family has always been incredibly supportive and encouraging.  It's just part of my psychological make-up, I think.  For the past year, those feelings have been minimized.  Running releases my stress, anxiety, and feelings of self-doubt.  The only thing I have to watch for is comparing my running to other runners or those feelings of being "not good enough" start nudging their way into my mind.  

2) - Running gives me the "alone" time that I need.  I used to feel guilty when I would try to get time alone.  Shouldn't I want to spend time with family, friends, coworkers, etc?  I read something which compared introverts to extroverts and it said that extroverts recharge their batteries and gain the energy they need through other people.  Introverts need quiet and time away from other people to recharge and renew their energy.  Apparently, I'm an introvert.  It's not that I dislike spending time with other people...I just prefer to balance that with some time by myself, and running gave me that.  And, since I run before my family is even awake, there should be no guilt associated with that, especially since I feel that I'm a nicer person to be around because of it.  It's been difficult not getting that "me" time during this past four weeks, especially with office Christmas parties, etc., that occur this time of year.  Too many "social" situations and not enough quiet time to balance that.

3) - I am a "neutral" runner.  I finally had a gait analysis done at a local running store.  (Yes, I definitely should have done that BEFORE training for a marathon.)  Turns out I'm a neutral runner with a mid-foot strike.  The guy at the store asked if I had been working on that in my training (apparently, that's the way you should run)., I was just running to get the miles in, paying no attention to form.  The shoes I had been wearing are stability shoes, and he said I definitely don't need that.  In fact, he thought that may have caused some of my IT band problems, since my shoes were trying to correct something that didn't need correcting.  I tried on some neutral shoes and ended up buying some of these:
Saucony Progrid Ride 4 comfy!!  I bought these a couple of weeks ago.  Do you know how hard it is to have a nice new pair of running shoes and not immediately try them out?  It doesn't help that Reno has had one of the mildest Decembers in history, and the weather has just been perfect for running!

4) - Running helps me feel "fit".  Perhaps it was the lack of running, or the 534,212 Christmas cookies I ate, but I definitely don't feel "fit" right now.  

So, today - 27 days after the marathon (not quite a month...but I feel it is close enough) - I went for a run.  The first mile felt clumsy and awkward, but, after that, my running legs came back and I got my rhythm.  The endorphins kicked in, and I felt wonderful!  Ran 4 miles at a slowish pace, so nothing spectacular, but it was pain-free and I'll take it! 

So, what's next on my agenda?  Good question!  There are a few half-marathons I would like to sign up for in the near future.  I would definitely like to work on my speed a little bit.  But, the main goal is to just keep running.  I have said I probably wouldn't run another marathon after this one.  As a slow runner, those long training runs take A LOT of time!  But, when I analyze this past marathon and see that without the pit stops - even with the knee pain - I could have almost broke that 5 hour time limit that I was trying to achieve...hmmmm.  I guess we'll just have to see what 2012 brings.  :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

It Was a Great Day (and a PR)!! California International Marathon Recap

Did I meet my time goal I had set earlier in the year?  No.  Was my knee pain-free?  No.  Is my bladder bigger than the size of a thimble?  No.  Did I have one of the best days ever?  Absolutely, yes!!

We left for Sacramento on Saturday.  We dropped my mother-in-law off with my brother-in-law and his wife, and then headed for the expo.  The expo was very enjoyable to me.  While there weren't tons of exhibit booths, there also wasn't a huge crowd.  We spent about an hour there.  I broke the rule of not buying anything new for race day...bought some arm sleeves for the cold start, and an IT band strap (what could it hurt?).  I figured either one of those could be easily removed if they became bothersome during the race. After the expo, we went to church, and my in-laws once again provided a perfect and wonderful carb-loading dinner, complete with one of the best chocolate lava cakes I've ever tasted (it was my mother-in-law's birthday). 

I had reserved a room at the host hotel, the Grand Sheraton in downtown, and I am so glad I did that.  We had a beautiful room, and it made everything much easier as far as getting to the start, etc.  Can't say enough good things about this hotel.  They provided free fruit and water in the morning, and opened up one of their markets at 4:00 a.m. just for the runners.  The only thing that was a little confusing was the bus pick-up.  We were told it would be directly in front of the hotel, but they ended up in front of the convention center next door.  But, once we figured it out, the pick-up was seamless.

I had laid out all my clothes the day before, so getting ready was quick, and I was soon ready to go!

The ride to the start line seemingly took FOREVER!  I kept thinking, "How am I ever going to run back to downtown?"  It felt like we drove 60 miles.

At the start line, I immediately got in line for the porta potty.  Once that was taken care of, I ate a banana and started shedding the layers I had worn and putting them in my drop bag.  I received some encouraging texts and emails, which were so helpful.  I was all set to go at about 6:45 a.m., and that was perfect!  Not too much time to stand around and wait.  I still wasn't sure how fast I should try and run.  I was going to try and run the first 3 miles between 11:30 and 12:00 pace, and see how I felt after that. 

The location where I lined up was kind of up a hill from the start line, so I got an eagle eye's view of the start.  It was awesome!  I heard the horn and was able to watch the mass of people move through the starting arches.  This was the first time I cried...out of sheer emotion that this was really happening.  This was the day I had been working for!  I crossed the starting mat at 7:05 - I made a point to look so I knew approximately how much time I could deduct when I saw the various clocks on the course.  However, I forgot to look when they sounded the horn, which must have been about 7:01 instead of 7:00, so I was a little off in my estimates.  (Unfortunately, I forgot to stop my Garmin when I crossed the finish line, so that didn't help, either)

My knee started hurting immediately, and I thought, "Uh-oh".  I had taken 3 Advil prior to the start, and I just kept praying they would kick in.  Should I have been running this race?  Probably not, if you look at it logically.  But, logic wasn't playing any part of this marathon.  I had the feeling the entire day that someone else was calling the shots.  The night before the race, I was trying to plan when and what to eat, when and what to drink, what to wear, and I just finally asked God to let me know what to do and when to do it.  The last 20-miler I ran was on October 22!  The week after that was when I started having IT band trouble.  So, for five weeks, I've been doing only minimal running.  Truly, if I had relied on myself to get through this, there is no way I should have been able to finish. 

Miles 1 - 3
The first mile or so is all downhill, so I was concentrating on not going too fast.  The Advil started kicking in (or my knee was just getting numb) about halfway through Mile 2.
Mile 1 - 11:47
Mile 2 - 11:31
Mile 3 - 11:05

Miles 4 - 6
Really starting to feel good.  Loved the crowds and the music.  Saw some funny signs ("You are NOT almost done", etc.)  The atmosphere was charged with excitement.
Mile 4 - 10:54
Mile 5 - 11:09
Mile 6 - 14:56 (porta potty stop #1)

Miles 7 - 9
Still feeling good...although took a couple of more Advil (I was eating them like candy.)
Mile 7 - 11:19
Mile 8 - 11:23
Mile 9 - 14:25 (porta potty stop #2)

Miles 10 - 14
The hills were starting to annoy me (A LOT of rolling hills in this race), but I was used to hills in my training, so I was having an easier time here than a lot of other people. 
Mile 10 - 10:55
Mile 11 - 11:05
Mile 12 - 11:02
Mile 13 - 11:03
Mile 14 - 16:34 (porta potty stop #3) - UGH!!!

I had been running without music, but I plugged into my iPod about this point.  I was starting to feel my knee, again, and needed some extra motivation.  

Miles 15 - 20   
These were the gut-check miles.  I ran 15 miles about a week ago, but I wasn't confident about anything past that.  My brother had texted me the day before and he included words from Phillippians 4:13, which reads, "I can do everything through him who gives me strength."  Mentally, I was trying to find something to maintain focus through these miles.  Then, I saw a sign someone was holding, which said, "You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you."  I have no idea which mile this was ...just somewhere during this time.  A couple of miles after that, someone was wearing a shirt that said the exact same thing on the back.  OK...there was my focus and my mantra.  Did I mention I was having NO PAIN during this time?  I could. not. believe. it.  It was exhilarating!
Mile 15 - 11:14
Mile 16 - 11:06
Mile 17 - 11:01
Mile 18 - 11:33
Mile 19 - 11:14
Mile 20 - 11:08

Mile 20 was the second time I cried, because I knew I was going to make it.  It was also about this time when the song "I Can Only Imagine" came on my iPod.  Of course, this song always makes me think of Anna.  She is right now experiencing what I can only imagine!  The term "wings of an eagle" kept going through my mind - thanks to a very kind comment on my last post - and it truly felt like I was being swept along on the wings of eagles. 

Miles 21 - finish 
I'm not going to lie... some of these last miles were TOUGH!  At some points, it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other in some semblance of a running form.  I stopped at mile 25 to call my husband to let him know I was close...and it took about 3 blocks after that to start running again.  Why does mile 20 feel like you're almost there, but mile 25 feels like an eternity away?  It was only tough, physically, though.  Mentally, I was still feeling very strong.
Mile 21 - 11:25
Mile 22 - 11:28
Mile 23 - 11:36
Mile 24 - 12:23
Mile 25 - 12:14 - Saw my husband, my mother-in-law, and my brother-in-law and family...was WONDERFUL to see them and to know I was almost there!
Mile 26 - 13:01

Third time I cried - crossing the finish line.  All the training I had done this year, all the worry and stress of the last few weeks, all of the hard work in fund-raising, and all of the emotions of the day and in remembering Anna culminated in crossing that finish line!  I can't begin to describe the feelings I was having at that point.

Chip time 5:13:01.  Am I disappointed in not getting under 5:00 like I had hoped?  Not in the least!!  Considering that I was doubting that I was going to even run this race up until about a week ago, I am delighted with the outcome.  I finished strong, I finished happy, and ... well...I just finished! Oh, and it is a 27 minute PR from my first (and only up until this point) marathon about 5 years ago. 

Once I got back to the hotel and rested for awhile, my knee pain came back with a vengeance, and today I'm limping around and kind of feel like I got run over by a truck.  I'm glad I asked for the day off from work.  Just looking at my shot bloks makes me a little nauseous after eating so many yesterday.  Overall, though, I'm thrilled with what this whole experience has taught me about myself and other people.  I've learned that people are caring, generous, and giving of themselves.  People have donated close to $3000 for this cause.  People I haven't even met in person have donated, sent me cards, and given me encouragement through this blog.  I've learned that I don't have to be in complete control all of the time (believe me, that's difficult for me).  Sometimes, I have to let it go, give it to God, and let Him do the rest.  All the glory to Him!

Looking back, there were so many things that normally would have / should have bothered me, but I didn't even notice at the time.  For the first time, I wore a head band instead of a hat, and, when I was done, I noticed that it had shifted down over my forehead a little bit...typically, this would have annoyed me to no end!  I forgot my arm band for my iPod, so I stuck it in the front little pocket of my compression capris.  Now, I have a big sore there from where it was rubbing on my stomach.  When I got back to the hotel and took off my shoes, the toe area of one of my socks was all bloody, and I have about six blisters on my toes and foot.  I'm happy to say that I didn't even feel any of this. at all. through the whole race.

Just the sock...I'll spare you the picture of my foot.  You're welcome.
 See what I mean when I say it felt like I wasn't the one calling the shots?  Again, to God be the glory!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

California International Marathon

Not sure of official time...I think around 5:11. More details to come later.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Less Than 5 Days!

Is that right?  Less than 5 days to go before the marathon?  Yikes!

It has been a long time since my last update.  I appreciate SO MUCH the kind comments and caring words many of you have left on my last post.  After a week of vacation with family in Wisconsin (for my sister's wedding), I am feeling refreshed and a little more positive. 

Me with parents and brothers and sisters - I'm the one in the red dress

It's helped that I've been able to do some RUNNING in the last week.  Just a few bullet points on that front:

1) - Broke down and went to the doctor the Monday before Thanksgiving.  Went about as I expected...she said not to run and I said not gonna happen.  She was very understanding...her mom's a marathoner.  Of course, the best thing to do would be to get an MRI, go to physical therapy, etc., etc.  I was going out-of-town, so no time for any of that.  Hmmm...maybe should have gone to the doctor when all this first started.  I hate going to the doctor, but lesson learned for next time.  She prescribed a heavy-duty anti-inflammatory and said to rest at least a few more days.

2) - Bought a foam roller.  I'll just say, "Ouch!"  Wow, those things HURT!!  But, after the first time using it, I was a convert.  My leg felt better than it had in weeks. 

3) - Continued with my stellar cross-training program with Jilian (sarcasm intended) a few more days. 

4) - Once in Wisconsin, I tentatively attempted a 6-mile run.  Didn't feel too badly, so a couple of days later tried 10.  My knee was definitely talking to me the whole time, but I was able to push through.  This past Friday, I thought I'd try 15.  It seems weird that this should be the time I'm tapering, but I'm instead trying to amp it up a little bit to make sure I'm OK for 26.2.  The 15 felt great!  I took it slow, and I'm afraid I'm going to have to do that Sunday, as well, but there was very little knee pain (could have been the four Advil I took before...but whatever works). 

So, what's my strategy for Sunday?  I don't have one!!  Since my training has basically been derailed, my only plan is to take it slow, enjoy the day, and - above all - remember Anna, whom this is about. 

Her 5th birthday (and, as it turned out, her "birthday" into heaven) would have been coming up on December 12.  My sister said that, as the day gets closer, so many events of those last few weeks are sticking out in her mind more clearly, and I agree with that.  I'll never forget my sister telling us that they were stopping treatment, as it was not working.  I will always remember driving through a snowstorm in Minnesota to attend Anna's birthday party, only to be told upon arriving that Anna was "not doing well".  All she could talk about for months was her excitement at being four years old, and it looked like this was not going to happen.  At about 8:00 p.m., we were told that it could be any moment that Anna would leave this earth, but I think she REALLY wanted to turn four.  At only minutes after midnight on her 4th birthday, she left the arms of her earthly parents and ran into the arms of her heavenly Father.  She had fought so valiantly for so long and got to celebrate the best birthday party ever inside the gates of heaven. 

So, really, what's a marathon compared to that?  If a little girl could battle through all that Anna had to deal with, I can - with God's help - for sure run, walk, or crawl a measly 26.2 miles in her memory. 

We love you, Anna.  You will never be forgotten.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Trust Issues

I am where I am, and God will handle it for me.

I read these words on this postIf you don't read Raina's blog, you should.  And I don't know if she knows it or not, but she gave me the words for my new mantra these days.  I hope she doesn't mind the fact that I stole it for awhile.

I haven't posted in awhile, and I had a moment of panic when I saw the number of days left on the countdown to marathon I have in the upper right-hand corner of my blog.  Does that really say 22 days?!? 

When I've considered what to post, I've had a hard time deciding the attitude I wanted to convey.  Depressed that when I went for what was supposed to be my long run of 23 miles last Saturday, I was hobbling by mile 3?  Frustration due to the fact that this is NOT where I want to be 3 weeks prior to the marathon?  Just try to be positive that it will all be OK? 

You may remember that I decided to lay off running for a week.  This was two weeks ago.  Last Friday, I attempted a short 4-mile run.  My knee was killing me by mile 2.  We had some snow the night before, and the roads were icy, so I tried to tell myself that my form wasn't right and my joints were just "cold".  I set out for my long run on Saturday.  It was supposed to be 23 miles, but I was just going to go as far as what felt right, and I was OK with that.  I started out, and it actually felt pretty good for awhile (I tried wearing a brace).  At about mile 2.5, my pesky IT band just flared out of nowhere!  I stopped and turned around for home.  In case you don't know, I can run through a lot.  As many runners can attest to, you just get used to pushing through pain.  I cannot run through this.  So.....

This past week, I became friends with:

I don't like hanging around these "friends" (well, I do like to sleep, just not when I'm supposed to be up running.)  DVD workouts are pure torture, in my mind.  (However, I do feel that some muscles were worked that I don't work while running, so maybe that's a good thing.)  I like my old Garmin, my running shoes, exercising OUTSIDE, etc.  The frustrating thing about this IT band issue is that it feels perfectly fine while doing anything but I think I'm good and then bam!

Today, I have off from work, so I had some time for an attempt at a SLOW run.  I walked for about a mile to warm up, and then started to run.  I'm not going to lie....I felt some twinges all through the run, but it wasn't ever bad enough to make me stop.  I left my Garmin at home, so I have no idea as to pace or even how far I ran because I tried to run only on flat roads, which is nothing like my normal routes, so I ran a few circles here and there.  I'm guessing it was between 4 and 5 miles. 

So, that's where I am.  A friend from work who has run many marathons (her initials are P.R. - how cool would that be to have those initials as a runner?) tells me I'm OK.  I've built up a good base, I've run two 20-milers as part of training, and I have some time to heal before the marathon. 

But, of course, I have trust issues.  Do I feel entirely confident that I will be able to finish the marathon in a few weeks?  No.  Do I trust that I have built up enough base to counteract these weeks of drastically reduced mileage?  No. 

But, then I realize that when I think like that, I'm putting my trust (or lack, thereof) in the wrong place - me!  While it may sound corny, I do believe that, whatever happens, God led me to do this, and He has brought me to this point for a reason.  Maybe He's telling me to just lean on Him, and to not rely on my efforts.  Don't get me wrong...I realize that there are more important priorities in life than running a marathon.  I get that there are people who go through more extreme hardship than having doubts about finishing a race.  I understand that this is not a life or death matter.  But, I also believe that God understands our disappointment or anxiety when we've worked hard for something, and it may end up being for nothing. 

So, bottom line...will I be at the starting line for the marathon on December 4?  Yes!  Will I maybe have to throw all of my time goals out the window?  Yes!  Am I 100% confident that I will finish?  mmmmm.....maybe?  So, I just keep remembering.....

I am where I am, and God will handle it for me.

Sorry for the long, wordy post...see what happens when I don't run enough?

Saturday, October 29, 2011


This has definitely been an up and down week as far as running.  As I said in the last post, I was pretty on top of the world - feeling great - nothing's going to stop me now. 

Last Sunday, I was feeling some stiffness in my knee when I walked down stairs or stood up after sitting for a long time.  This is nothing new.  I've had IT band issues in the past, but they really haven't bothered me at all training for this marathon.  I figured a day of rest, some ice, and ibuprofen would take care of it just as it always has these past few months.  On my Tuesday 8-mile run,  it started really nagging me at about mile 5.  Wednesday, I cut my run in half due to pain.  I rested Thursday.  Yesterday (Friday), I ran my 4 miles I had on schedule, but my leg bothered me all day after that.  So............. I made the very difficult decision (with my husband's "encouragement"/ insistence) to rest for a full week. 

I have basically started training for this marathon in January and I think I can count on one hand how many training days I've missed up until this point.  In the past, I've been the type of person who would have welcomed a week off of running.  I was lazy.  I loved those slow recovery runs.  I looked forward to rest days.  Well, I am apparently not that person anymore.  The thought of a full week of rest is terrifying me.  Will I lose the effects of all that training?  Will I gain 20 pounds if I don't run for a week?  If I get to sleep past 4:00 a.m. for a full week, will I even have the desire to get up and run anymore?

I know these are silly questions (right?).  I also know that, if I pushed myself to run this week, I could make things much worse, and I do NOT want to do that.  All that counts is being healthy and ready on December 4.  This is a cut-back week, so I think if this had to happen, this is the right time. 

What this means for a week:
  • No hooking up my Garmin practically every day to check my splits, etc.
  • No obsessing about what I will wear on my runs or what the weather will be like (is it cold enough to wear my base layer?  should I wear a cap or a winter hat? capris, pants, or shorts?)
  • No falling asleep on the couch at 8:30 p.m. (who am I kidding?...I'll probably still do that)
  • Probably most stress reliever!!  
What will I do?  I'll have to clean my house, stain our fence, seal the concrete, or something.  OK...maybe not.  But, I can't remember the last weekend where I didn't do a "long run" (today my long run was only supposed to be 8 miles).  I'm feeling out of sorts, so I guess I'll start off the time by going to eat the ribs and corn-on-the-cob my husband is BBQing on the grill ( come those 20 pounds!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Mental Part of Running

Boy time flies!  Can't believe it's been so long since my last post.  Part of it is just a busy life...part of it is because I didn't want to write about running lately.

Saturday, October 15, I had a 21-miler on my schedule.  I wasn't really afraid of fact, I was kind of looking forward to it.  I really wanted to see what I could do with that distance.  I had run one 20-miler prior to that, and it went fairly well, so I was anxious to see how this would go.

As soon as I started out, I knew it wasn't going to be my day.  I just never got in a rhythm. As I've started to do recently, I did two loops with my house in the middle.  Before I even reached the half-way point, I wanted to stop.  My body wanted to stop and my mind wanted to stop.  I felt like I could push through it, though.  I wasn't hurting...I was just "off".  After a brief stop at my house to refill my water, etc., I started out for the second 10 1/2 miles.  About two miles in, I was running on the left side of the road (towards traffic).  The road is usually completely empty.  I heard a moped coming up behind me and turned around, but it was driving on the right side of the road, so I didn't give it a second thought...just kept running.  Well, the jerk misguided soul on the moped apparently thought it would be funny if he crossed over behind me and honk his horn.  Scared me half to death (and people think running in the dark pre-dawn is scary??? at least most  idiots people are in bed.)  After that, it was all over.  I half-heartedly tried to complete the run.  By mile 16, I was in a walk/run mode.  I took an early turn home, continued to walk/run (A LOT of walk).  Ended up with 19.6 miles, but I couldn't even count it as a run in my was awful!  I took a day off and started last week's training.  It could be that bad run, or it could be I'm at the height of training for the marathon and I'm just tired, but I was just mentally not into it.  I got up, put in the miles, and completed the distances, but the love wasn't there.  I. was. not. happy. to. run. 

Then, a few things happened:

1) - I received some goodies in the mail.  Some time ago, I was pretty lucky and won TWO giveaways hosted by some fellow bloggers.
Dorothy, from, hosted a giveaway, and I won all of that Gu, and April from hosted the Ultrafuel giveaway, and I won that, too!  These just both happened to get here this week, and I was so excited (it's sooo fun to get running stuff in the mail).  If you haven't checked out their blogs, you need to!  Dorothy just ran a 3:13 marathon (yes...3:13!!), and April is hoping to qualify for Boston in a few weeks at Savannah, GA.  They both set beautiful examples of strong, faithful women, and I learn a lot from both of them.  They are awesome runners, but are not afraid to give all the glory to God. 

2) - A few weeks ago, I ordered a customized running shirt from to wear at my marathon.  I was a little nervous about this, because I'm pretty picky about what I wear while running.  It turned out FABULOUS!
Back of the shirt
Closer look
What a great motivator and reminder of what started this whole process!  The shirt is very comfortable, and the design turned out perfectly.  The only thing I don't like about it is there is an actual tag in the back.  I'll need to run with this on at least one run long run before the marathon to see if it will bother me.  I don't like to try to remove the tag, because it never works for me...I either end up with a little annoying strip still left over, or I rip a hole in the shirt.  Hopefully, it won't be an issue. 

3) - My sister (Anna's mom) ran her first half-marathon yesterday at the Mankato Marathon in Mankato, MN.  I wish SO MUCH that I could have been there cheering her on.  I was texting back and forth with her prior to the start, and I was so excited for her!  She did AWESOME!!  Her official time was 2:14:23.  So proud of her!!  She said beforehand that this would be her last one, but I'm secretly hoping she decides to do more so I can run one with her.  Maybe she can pace me.  :)
She tried to tell me she didn't train enough beforehand...whatever!!
All of these things pulled me out of my running doldrums, and I couldn't wait to get out on the road yesterday.  I had 14 miles on schedule, but I wanted to do something to make up for last week's disaster.  I decided to try 15, but at marathon goal pace (somewhere between 10:30 - 11:00 / mi).  Well, I felt AMAZING!  At mile 15, I felt so good, I decided to tack on another five (I know, I know, I should probably not have done that).  But, honestly, I felt like I couldn't stop running!  I took those last five miles slower and finished my 20 in 3:46 (and I did NOT stop my Garmin for pit stops...of which there were THREE...and I didn't drink ANYTHING before leaving...but I digress).  Since my marathon goal is to finish with a 4 as the first number (sorry...I am not going to get more specific than that for my own sanity), I was very happy with this run.  I'm fairly confident that a sub-5 hour marathon is in reach!  In fact, at about mile 17, I actually imagined crossing the finish line at the marathon, and tears came to my eyes (I know...I'm a mess!). 

I know that the love and inspiration to run, for the most part, has to come from within (and maybe some prayers).  I know that at Mile 20 of the marathon, nobody's going to give me a shiny package or promise a reward for motivation.  I'm just going to have to dig down deep and find that part of myself that can push past the pain.  I'm going to have to find the switch in my mind that tries to tell me I can't do this, and flip it to the switch that tells me I CAN do this.  But, sometimes, along the way, leading up that point, it sure does help to get those external motivators, as well, and this week was absolutely PERFECT for that.    


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Shower, Family, Wedding, and Baseball

What a whirlwind weekend! 

It started on Friday when I flew to this lovely state:
Most of my family live in Wisconsin, and I visited over the weekend.  The main purpose of my visit was to throw a shower/brunch for my sister, who will be celebrating a wedding in November.  I also was able to attend my cousin's wedding, which was absolutely beautiful.  Turns out I had a surprise event thrown in, as well...more on that later. 

October in Wisconsin can produce all sorts of weather.  The few days I was there were GORGEOUS!  It was around 80 degrees, and the fall colors were stunning.
My two beautiful sisters
Perfect day for a wedding
Pretty country church
Fall in the Midwest
My cuty patooty nephew
More cuty patooty nieces and nephews
Picture from my 7-mile run before church on Sunday...yes, I did run while I was there!
Remember I said there was a surprise event thrown in?  I am a huge Brewers (and Packers) fan.  The last time the Brewers won their division was 1982, and I was 12 years old (please don't do the math).  I had a notebook back then, with which I tracked all the players and their stats.  I may or may not have shed tears when they lost in Game 7 of the World Series to the Cardinals.  My favorite athlete EVER is Robin Yount.  To this day, I would challenge anyone to find a better example of what a sports role model should be.  He spent his entire career with the Brewers and is a class act (no...I didn't get to meet him if that's what you're thinking).  Through my sister, who may or may not have a connection to the team, I was able to attend Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park in Milwaukee!!  To say I was excited is maybe the biggest understatement I could make. 
Miller Park
Almost inside!
Beautiful ballpark
Little sis
Me living out a can almost tell it's actually me.
Needless to say, this was an experience of a lifetime!  So awesome.  And, as a bonus, they won (good thing I didn't go to Game 2...that would have been disappointing.)  All in all, a wonderful, fun weekend!  Didn't sleep much, but time with family certainly outweighs that unimportant matter.  :)  However, it certainly was difficult to wake up and get back to work this morning...ugh!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I am a Runner

"If you run, you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. It doesn't matter if today is your first day or if you've been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run."
--John Bingham

"I often hear someone say I'm not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner."
-Bart Yasso

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at a time with a 3 being the first number.  This happens once a week.  For some reason, even when it's only 20 minutes ahead of when I normally get up, it feels more like the middle of the night.  This particular morning, I heard the sound of rain beating against the house and the wind battering the windows.  The first winter storm of the season had moved into the Sierras, and we were getting hammered even in the valley (thank goodness the snow stayed in the mountains... for the most part...more on that).  It was very tempting to snuggle back into my pillow and call it a "rest day".  Then I remembered I'm going out of town this weekend, and it might be difficult to get any running in, so I better get something done during the week.  For the first time this season, I donned a long-sleeved base layer and a winter hat.  Stepped outside...felt the rain on my neck...stepped back inside, but only to pull on an additional hooded sweatshirt.  I started slogging through the wet streets thinking that this wasn't so bad.  In fact, it was kind of cool running in the rain...a different world.  I thought to myself that I probably overdressed and would be hot by the end of the run (haha...silly me).  I headed north for about a mile...turned west for about another mile and 1/2.  Turned south...okaaaay...the wind had to be coming from somewhere, and it was definitely coming from the south.  By this time, the rain had increased in intensity and was now coming in stinging little arrows (that's really what it felt like) directly at my face.  I could barely see...there were literally sheets of water streaming sideways.  I stepped in more puddles than I care to count.  I was cold, I was soaked, I was....well, I was happy! 

You see, I sometimes struggle with calling myself a "runner".  I'm not the fastest.  I'm not the strongest.  I'm definitely not even the most "book smart" about running.  But, yesterday, it finally dawned on me.  I got out of bed at 3:45 a.m., stepped out into driving rain and howling winds, and ran 8 miles.  Yes, I am a "runner"...and I kind of love it. 

Of course, we won't mention how I felt when I stepped out THIS morning to a very light dusting of OCTOBER... 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Urban Cow 1/2 Marathon Recap

We left for Sacramento about noon on Saturday.  The weather was gorgeous and the scenery as we drove across the Sierras was, as always, breathtaking.  I was a little nervous, still, about the 1/2 marathon the following day, but I was mostly excited.

After we arrived in Sacramento, we went to the Fleet Feet Sports store downtown to pick up our race packets.  
I don't know anyone in this picture
Then, we went and checked into our hotel.  We rested for a little bit, and then headed over to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house, where we had a FABULOUS dinner of spaghetti with elk meat sauce, Caesar's salad, corn-on-the-cob, and the best bread EVER!  Perfect carb-loading for the race.

The weather forecast for Sunday was perfection.  50's in the morning...high of mid-70's.  With a starting time of 7:30 a.m., I figured it would be good running weather. We arrived at the starting line about 6:25 a.m.
Husband and Son

Me with husband
Me with son
About 20 minutes before the start, I lined up for the porta potty.  About 8 minutes before the start, I turned on my Garmin.  My Garmin searched and searched, but apparently could not locate a satellite.  Right before the start, it asked me, "Are you inside?"  I entered "no".  It asked if I was over 100 miles away from the location where I last used the Garmin (don't remember the exact words).  I entered "yes", at which point it continued searching and searching and searching some more for satellite.  When we started, all I could do was hit start time, but nothing showed up as to pace or mileage. 

My big, "probably won't get but could do if everything goes perfectly", "A" goal was to run 2:15 overall.  I wanted to stagger my paces a little bit by starting out slower, and getting progressively faster.  But, with my Garmin in satellite lala land, I didn't know what to do, so I just lined up behind the 2:15 pacer, and tried to keep him in my sights once we got started.
I could tell when we started that the pace was a little faster than I was expecting, but I also felt pretty comfortable.  Although the higher humidity (than what I'm used to) was obvious, the lower elevation felt AMAZING!  I kept the 2:15 sign in my view for about 4 miles.  Then, (this won't surprise too many of you who regularly read this blog) I felt the urge to take a pit stop.  Ugh!  I went right before the race, specifically so this wouldn't happen.  Anyway, there was a bank of four porta potties with quite a long line at about mile 4...and I had to make a decision...stop or keep going to the next porta potty (they had them approximately every 2 miles).  I - mistakenly, as it turned out - figured there would be a line, no matter where I stopped, so I just better get it over with.  The pit stop, itself, took 30 seconds.  The waiting in line PLUS the pit stop took over SIX MINUTES!  Oh, how I wanted those 6 minutes back!

I continued running.  Overall, I felt really good, except that I now had a mental obstacle of trying to make up that time.  I was desperately trying to just enjoy the race, soak it in, and remember that this was basically just a "training" run.  And, oh yeah, at about mile 2.6, my Garmin decided that it found a satellite it could get along with.  Now I knew down to the second just how far off that "A" goal I was.  And, of course, every porta potty I passed from mile 4 on was completely open with no lines.  I just told myself to relax and I could still reach my main, "I would be happy with", goal, which was to finish in less than 2:30. 

The course, itself,  was pretty nice.  Parts of it were on a bike trail which ran by the river.  Parts went through beautiful residential areas and parks.  In some areas, the trail was pretty narrow and crowded.  This made it difficult to get by people.  I ran on the dirt just off the trail pretty frequently just to pass other runners.  The closest I came to a mental "low" was on an out and back part of the course (I was about at mile 9) when I saw the 2:15 pacer pass by in the other direction.  I knew there was no possible way I was going to catch up.

But, honestly, I felt physically strong the entire race.  The race results show my average pace the first half as 11:28 (over a minute over my goal pace, thanks to the pit stop).  My paces for the last 6 miles were:

10:50 (I think this was at that "low" spot)
Overall official chip time:  2:23:50

My goal pace was 10:20, so I am really proud of those last miles.  I proved to myself that I can finish strong at this distance (I think I could become addicted to 1/2 marathons), and I'm hopefully one step closer to that sub-5 hour marathon. 

Yep, that's a cowbell cool is that?
My husband finished on his hand-cycle in 1:10:29 (2nd overall, but no award since he's on a hand-cycle)
My son ran the 5k in 28:18 (yeah, he beat my 5k time with no training...stinker!)

This was such a fun day, and I learned a lot (like DON'T use porta potties with lines during the race and I better turn my Garmin on at least an hour before). Sharing it with my family made it all the more special. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Tale of Two Runs

Two runs in one run, that is...

But first, thank you for all of the nice comments on my last post.  I'm a little less anxious for this half-marathon coming up this Sunday because of your suggestions and kind words. 

I had a 20-miler on the schedule for Saturday.  We had plans to go here,
Candy Dance in Genoa, NV
so I was up before 4:00 a.m. eating a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana.  I was out the door by 5:00 a.m.(seriously? on a Saturday? what kind of person does this to themselves? ...these are the questions running through my mind as I left).  My plan was to run two different loops again with my house in the middle.  Started out in the pitch black of night (this is not unusual for me, but it wasn't one of my usual, it just seemed wrong on a Saturday), and I was NOT feeling the run.  I was anxious and I had dogs barking at me and roosters crowing (it's pretty rural) continuously.  Did I mention that it was dark?  Imagine hearing dogs running up towards you barking ferociously, and you have NO IDEA if they're fenced in or not...pretty terrifying stuff.  My stomach was in knots and I just didn't feel well.  This lasted the entire first 10 miles. For my 18-miler a couple of weeks ago, I felt great and did not stop at my house.  This time, I stopped (I may or may not have considered stopping for good), refilled my water bottle, changed out of my capris and put on shorts (I love my capris, but they were really uncomfortable that day), and picked up my ipod (it had needed charging when I first started).  It took about 10 minutes, but I'm SO GLAD I did this.  Started out for my second 10 miles...sun was out (finally!), I had some music, and my stomach had settled down.  It seemed as if I had a whole day's rest instead of just a 10-minute break, and those last 10 miles felt like a completely different run. 

As always on my long runs, there were points when I felt like I could conquer the world and points where I wanted to stop and walk.  I apologize to the people who cheerily said, "Good Morning", only to get a twisted grimace in return (no, really...that was a smile).

Final result:

Yep...20 miles done.  My goal was 11:30 average pace, and it came out to 11:33 average pace.  I did pause the Garmin when I stopped at the house, but I'm not going to count that, because I'm very proud for finishing this run strong (and, by strong, I mean still "running"), especially after how it started.

I have not lost my original motivation for training for and running this marathon.  Whenever I feel tired or that I can't go on, I think of Anna and all of the other children who have had to endure the horrible disease of cancer.  They must have so many questions as the sickness and then "treatment" ravages their little bodies and causes them so much pain.  Some, like Anna, can't run because their "marathons" ended way too soon.  Some can't run because they are stuck in a hospital going through chemo.  Some can't run because they can't go outside for fear of germs that their suppressed immune systems can't handle.  I am sure that there are many times they don't want to go on and, yet, they are forced to endure.  I am blessed.  I am blessed with legs that can run (maybe not fast, but they can run).  I am blessed with a healthy son.  I am blessed with a loving husband that supports me through all of this.  Why not run for those who can't??

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Please take a moment to support those families who are dealing with this, whether it be to say a prayer, to financially support research, to volunteer in a children's ward at the local hospital, or whatever you are comfortable doing.  Kids are counting on us!



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Half-Marathon... Yikes!

In the last couple of days, it's kind of dawned on me that I'm running my first (organized) half-marathon a week from Sunday!  It's this race:

For some reason, I was still thinking that October is sooo far away.  Now I realize it's less than two weeks away!!  I'm SCARED TO DEATH  a little nervous about this, and I'm not sure why.  I've run two 14-milers and an 18-miler in my training, so I know I can do the distance.  I think it's because, other than a select couple of races, I haven't run in many.  I knew I wanted to sign up for a half, as I wanted to get the feel of a "race atmosphere" before the marathon on December 4.  This race fits in perfectly with my training schedule, as I'm scheduled for a 14-miler for my long run that weekend. 

Here are some issues that I foresee for myself:

1) - I am used to running alone.  The routes I choose are not crowded, and I pass few people.  When I do see people, I speed up, because know...well, I don't know why.  I know they really are not concerned about how fast I'm going, and I'm pretty sure they're not laughing at my slow pace or anything (and, if they are, I don't care about them, anyway).  So, I'm really trying to think about how I will keep my pace steady on a course filled with other runners and spectators.  They do have pace teams, so I'm wondering if I should at least start with one of those. 

2) - Being tempted to stray from my fuel plan during the race.  I rarely drink sports drink on my runs, choosing, instead, to use water and shot blocks or something similar.  It works for me most of the time, but I know as I pass the aid stations with other possible choices, it will be hard to resist thinking that maybe that particular item will help me more!

3) - I'm going to assume that some little thing that I haven't thought of will happen (tripping over someone, getting my arms tangled in my earphone cords, etc.)  I also know that, if it does, I will make a big issue of it and it will become a huge mental hurdle in preparing for the full marathon in December.  I need to remember to take those things and learn from them rather than let them affect my attitude leading into the remainder of my training. 

While I am anxious, I'm also excited!  My husband has also signed up for the hand-cycle division of this race, and my son will be running the 5k.  I'm glad they will be there for moral support, and that we can share this experience together.


1.  Have you run with a pace team before in a race?  Was it helpful?
2.  Any tips for a first-time half-marathoner?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Very Quiet

Remember when I posted this picture back in June?  This is the Reno-Stead airport where the National Championship Air Races are held.  I run by here practically every run.  It's about 1 mile from our house.  This past week, the air has been humming with the planes warming up and practicing.  You can feel the excitement in the air.  We look forward to this event every year.  My husband BBQ's about 20 tri-tips for one of the fundraising dinners at his church (which is almost on the airport grounds).  Sometimes, we drive out in the hills and watch the Thunderbirds or Snow Birds or Blue Angels perform.  It's truly spectacular. 

Then, yesterday, this happened:
One of the racing planes crashed.  This has happened before.  Unfortunately, this is the first time that spectators were involved.  9 dead so far.  The buzz of the planes and the roar of the fans are silenced. 

I had mapped out a different route this morning to avoid the traffic at the races.  No traffic, and nothing but eery quiet as I ran by the airport. 

I pray for the injured and for the families of those whose lives were lost. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

18 miles??? Piece of Cake.

Maybe it was the Green Bay Packers win over the Saints on Thursday night...maybe it was the morning I couldn't get out of bed because my hip was hurting extra "rest day" I took this week...maybe it was because I went back to wearing my CW-X capris instead of shorts.  Whatever the reason, when I began my run this morning, I felt strangely confident that I could do 18 miles today.  I was debating between doing the 16 I failed to finish last week or the 18 that was called for on my schedule.  I just decided to start running and see what happens.

Normally, I try to run a loop regardless of mileage.  I despise out and back (I think it's because I'm always looking for that turn-around point..."I'm not even half-way done" is the thought that keeps going through my mind).  Today, I tried a 10-mile loop I've done in the past and then added the 8-mile loop I run every Tuesday morning before work (2 different loops...2 different directions).  That way, if I needed to stop at the house for extra water, supplies, etc., I could.  I also thought that maybe there would be a psychological benefit to finishing up with a shorter run loop (like my body would think that I didn't just run 10 miles, and I could breeze through an easy 8 miles - ha ha).  

Miles 1- 4:  kind of slow and sluggish; I stop drinking water about an hour before I run, so why 2 pit stops in the first 4 miles???  This happens every long run (I know you don't really care about this, but part of the reason for this blog is for myself to keep track of what went right and what went wrong on the long runs, so I have to include these types of details).  I kept the Garmin going the whole time, so some of the mile times were downright depressing.

Miles 5 - 12:  I felt on top of the world; no fatigue, no aches, and had to slow myself down to keep in the 11:00 - 12:00 / mile range (I KNEW if I didn't do this, I'd be dead - not dead tired...just dead - before mile 18).  Stopped at a park briefly (to use porta potty - of course - and stretch) at mile 11.  It felt wonderful to pass by the street to my house at about mile 10 and not take it...I felt too good to stop. 

Miles 13 - 15:  Still felt pretty strong, but my legs started kind of doing their own thing independent of what my mind was telling them to do;  could feel some tightness in the ankles and achilles area.  Remember I gave myself the "out" of only having to do 16 if I felt like it.  The moment of truth came at an intersection about mile 14.5 where, if I went straight, it would be 16 miles...if I turned right, it would be 18, no matter what...whether I ran, walked, or crawled, it would be 18.  I turned right.

Mile 16:  The most mentally tough mile of the run.  Slowed to a walk in order to put on chap stick (my lips felt like they were glued together) and adjust my camelbak.  Walked for .25 mile...almost threw in the towel and walked the rest of the way home.  I had run 16 - the most I have done so far in this training - good enough, right?  Then I reminded myself that this is what I would feel like about mile 22-23 in the marathon (hopefully not before), too, and I NEEDED to get used to this.  Starting to run again was SO hard!  But, gradually, my legs started cooperating again and I was running.
 Mile 17 - tempted to more mile...1/2 more mile...1/4 more mile...DONE!  18 miles completed.

Yes, 18 miles completed...FEELS SO GOOD TO SAY THIS!!!


Monday, September 5, 2011

My Baby's 16!

First of all, Happy 16th Birthday to my son, Jacob!  When he was born, people would tell me to enjoy every moment because time would pass in the blink of an eye.  These 16 years have truly been "a blink of an eye".  I honestly don't know where the time has gone, but I have been so blessed in watching the years pass and seeing a baby become a toddler become a boy become a young man.  Pretty soon, he will be off to college, and my eyes already fill with tears thinking about it. 

Love you!  Can't wait to see what you do with the rest of your life!!

We spent a very enjoyable weekend camping (and eating too many s'mores, chips, and oreos).  I had a 16 mile run on my schedule, and had every intention of completing it.  On Saturday, I woke up at 5:00 a.m., ate a little breakfast, and set out about 6:00 a.m.  The route I took was absolutely beautiful...I may drive here for every long run.
The sun just starting to peek through the trees
My goal was to complete the run in 3 hours.  I packed my 20-oz hand-held water bottle to bring with me...does anyone see a problem with this plan?  I discovered that this is not nearly enough fluid to keep me hydrated for this long of a period (and, no, there were absolutely no spots for me to refill it).  I was really feeling depleted about mile 12, but figured I could at least finish.  I pushed it to 14 miles, got a raging headache and felt a little dizzy, so I decided to stop at a local picnic area.  My husband had been fishing at a pond close by, and I called him to pick me up.  I'm a little disappointed, of course, about not finishing (really?  I couldn't even go two more miles??), but I knew I had to stop.  I didn't want to run with my camelbak, anymore, as it starts to get uncomfortable after awhile.  However, I think this will be something I just have to put up with, since that is the only thing I have that carries enough water. (sigh) I have a feeling that every long run from here on out will be some kind of learning experience.  I'm trying to feel proud that I even got out of my nice warm sleeping bag and stepped out into the cold dawn to run!   

So, the last week was:
Monday - 6 miles
Tuesday - 8 miles
Wednesday - 6 miles
Friday - 4 miles
Saturday - 14 miles
Monday (today) - 6 miles

Now, the only question I'm facing is whether to do the 18 miles that's on the schedule for this Saturday or scale it back to 16 and adjust the following weeks.  I think I'll just play it by ear, and see what happens.

Hope everyone else is enjoying the nice long weekend!!