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)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

14- Miler and Other Random Thoughts

So, yesterday, I had a 14-mile run on my schedule.  This is the farthest I have run so far in this training period (the farthest I've run in about 5 years, actually), so I was a little apprehensive.  I was telling my husband that, in training for my first (and only so far) marathon, I didn't remember having a "good" training run when the distance got to be longer than 13 miles.  There are many reasons for this: 1) - I was clueless as to the whole distance running thing; 2) - I was clueless as to proper hydration, nutrition, etc. DURING the run; and 3) - I was just CLUELESS.  I'd like to think that I'm going into this one a little more educated and, hopefully, just a little smarter. 

I began the run at 5:30 because I saw that the overnight low was only 65 (that's warm for here), so I knew it would warm up quickly.  It actually felt humid (weird sensation in Nevada), and by Mile 4, it was raining (another weird sensation in Nevada).  The rain actually felt good, but I suddenly started to wonder things like: Is my Garmin waterproof? Can my earbuds electrocute me if they get wet?  Will wet compression shorts chafe? (The answer to that is "yes"...ouch!)  Yes, the strange thoughts that go through your mind while running...  The rain didn't last long, though, and I actually finished the 14 miles pretty strong.  Only stopped running for two pit stops (HATE having to stop for that!  I know you're supposed to drink regularly, but is there any way to do that and not have to use the bathroom??  I'm open to suggestions).  Anyway, when I saw 13.1 on my Garmin, I thought, "Wow!  You just ran a half-marathon!"  That was incredibly motivating for me.  Made me think that maybe I can make it to a full after all.  We shall see.  Dramatic mileage increases (for me) in the next two long runs (16 miles next week and 18 after that...scary!)

I didn't run much otherwise this past week...only a couple of 4-milers.  It was a cut-back week, and, on this hike last weekend, I rolled my ankle on one of the last steep downhills.  I didn't want to say too much about that, because I was SO afraid I had done something serious which would stop my training.  I decided to completely rest it for a few days because it was a little puffy and somewhat discolored.  I still feel some twinges from it, but it held up yesterday with no ill effects, so I think it's going to be OK...phew!

Maybe it was the lack of running, or the fact that my husband was away on a hunting trip, but this week was pretty hard for me emotionally.  I think everyone must go through these phases of feeling OVERWHELMED by all that life throws your way.  That was me this week.  I go through these times of near-paralysis because of all of the things I feel I'm NOT doing!  Anything can trigger it.  In this case, something happened last week that shook me to the core (yes, on top of my son getting hit by a car) and really caused me to question my commitment to my family and making that my priority.  But, after the "triggering event", my thoughts tend to go something like this...  I look out in the yard and see weeds that need to be pulled.  There are things at my son's school that I should be involved in.  There are extra committees or events at work that I should volunteer for or attend.  I should help out at church more.  I should volunteer in the community more.  I should spend more time practicing my music.  I feel guilty because I feel like I'm short-changing my family, my job, my friends, and...well...everything.  So, what do I do?  NOTHING!  It becomes extremely difficult to prioritize when I feel this way, and I get laden with anxiety.  What usually gets me out of this funk is just a small little blessing (and, oh yeah, remembering that I'm NOT in control of everything...I pray regularly that God helps me to remember that). 

Yesterday afternoon, we were leaving the house, and a man was working on our neighbor's yard.  He asked us if we wanted him to cut our lawn.  My son was going to cut it that day, but we asked him if we could pay him to pull our weeds in the backyard (seriously...they were taking over).  He came by today while we were at church and did just that...and our yard looks beautiful!!

 We usually don't pay for luxuries like this, but it was WELL WORTH IT!  That's all it took for me to feel better.  I could cross one thing off my list, so it began to get easier to cross others off.  Now, my house is clean, the laundry is almost done, I'll take my son out to drive later (he has his learner's permit), etc. I guess the lesson is to just do something, realize you can't do everything, and fully rely on and pray to God to help you discern the things you can do that will most honor Him (and to please get rid of that self-imposed guilt for not doing the rest).  

Please tell me I'm not the only one that goes through this and that I'm not just mentally unstable. 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Different Kind of 6-miler

Today begins a cut-back week, so I only had 6 miles on the schedule.  My husband left on a hunting trip this morning, so I had decided some time ago that my 6 miles would be a hike in the mountains with my son.  SO HAPPY we did this! 
The hike up was a significant elevation increase of 1900 ft, and the trail is rated difficult.  Wow!  I think my 12-mile run last week felt easier.  :)  Coming down felt first.  By the time we got back to the car, my thighs and knees were begging to be on level ground again. 

We weren't sure if the hike was going to happen because last night my son was on a bike ride and he got HIT BY A CAR!!  I received a call from him asking me to pick him up.  Now, my logical mind was telling me that, since he was able to call me, he was OK.  My "mother" mind, though, was imagining all sorts of horrific scenes and I may or may not have driven faster than the posted speed limits to get there.  I was unbelievably relieved to arrive and find him walking around and fine but for some soreness and a scraped knee and ankle.  He was crossing a street and an older gentleman turned at the same time...I guess he just didn't see him.  I'm counting my blessings today that it wasn't a full-speed crash.  He woke up a little sore, and I made a deal with him that if it got too bad once we started the hike, we'd turn around.  But, we finished it.  Let's just say I cherished this time with him maybe even a little more than usual. 

I accomplished all of my scheduled runs this week.  I also reached a special (for me) goal.  My schedule has frequent 6-milers, and I try to make at least one of those a tempo run (not sure if I'm using that term correctly), where I warm up for a mile, run 4 miles at 30 seconds - 1 minute faster than my goal marathon pace (this is more difficult than it sounds, since I have no idea at this point what my goal marathon pace is...right now I would guess it's 10:30/mile), and then cool down for a mile.  I really don't care what my overall time is, but I've been trying for some time to break an hour.  On Wednesday, when I finished mile 5, I looked at my Garmin and thought that maybe I could do it this time.  I ditched the cool-down for the last mile and finished in 58:06:14!  I know some faster runners would scoff at that, but that is a HUGE accomplishment for me.  The breakdown was:

Mile 1 - 10:49/mi
Mile 2 - 9:11/mi
Mile 3 - 9:39/mi
Mile 4 - 9:47/mi
Mile 5 - 9:09/mi
Mile 6 - 9:29/mi

This run was just what I needed, as my runs on Monday and Tuesday just felt rough.  I finished the miles, and my times weren't worse than usual, but it was one of those phases of sluggishness that I think all runners go through occasionally (at least that's what I'd like to think). 

One last thing...
The husband of a friend of mine ran the Pike's Peak Ascent today.  That's 13.32 miles with a 7,815 ft vertical gain.  Congratulations on a great race, Randal!!  I'll just put it on the record today that this race will never be on my to-do list. 

Hope all are enjoying the weekend as much as I am!  Until next time...remember to cherish those moments.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beginning of School / Family Accomplishments

This past Wednesday, my son began school!  This is much earlier than what we are used to.  Usually, school starts the week before Labor Day, but my son's charter school decided on a different schedule to give more time off at Christmas and spring break.  They'll also end earlier, but it sure made for a short summer this year.  He is a sophomore in high school!!  How did that happen?  I still remember tearfully dropping him off for his first day of Kindergarten.  I have enjoyed every single moment of being his mother and, each day, I become more and more impressed at the fine young man he is becoming. 
I have been negligent in bragging about some recent accomplishments by members of my family.  First of all, a few weeks ago, my dad and brother completed a bike ride called RAGBRAI.  It is a ride across the entire state of Iowa!  It takes 6 or 7 days (I can't remember which), and they ride anywhere from 56 - 75 miles PER DAY!  I will not lie...I am not a fan of biking.  I'm not sure why...I would rather just lace up my shoes and run.  And, my butt hurts just thinking about riding this many miles for that many days.  SO AMAZED and in awe of my dad and brother for completing this!
Rock stars in my book
 Another huge event that I can't believe I haven't mentioned nephew Caleb's little league team won the CHAMPIONSHIP!!  I love this little guy (not so little anymore), and could not be more proud!!

What a sweetie
First week of marathon training in the books.  No extremely memorable runs.  However, I am VERY sad that the days where I have some daylight in my runs seem to be over (except for my long runs on Saturdays).  The other four early morning runs during the week are now almost completely in darkness again(sigh).  Back to gripping my "jogger fogger" (pepper spray) even more tightly and at the ready.  When I began Friday's run, I didn't feel like music for some reason, so I left it at home.  I've said it before, but, when I run with music, I can imagine myself running swiftly and silently down the street...just a passing shadow that nobody could notice - even if they were awake at that time.  The reality is that my feet are pounding heavily on the asphalt and the sound of my labored breathing would surely notify anyone within 1/2 mile of my presence.  I like living in ignorance, so it was back to music yesterday for my long run.  All in all, a good solid week, and my 12-miler yesterday felt strong.

I know there are strong opinions on this, so - all of you runners (or other athletes out there on the road) - do you listen to music?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Just to Catch Up

It's been a pretty uneventful week.  Work has been very busy, so by the time I get home, I really have no desire to get back on a computer and blog...hence, the lapses between posts. 

The only big thing that happened this weekend is MARATHON TRAINING has officially begun!!  I am following an 18-week program that looks like this (from

Marathon Training Schedule (Schedule II)

Week# Sun. Mon. Tue. Wed. Thu. Fri. Sat. Total
1 10 Rest 6 8 6 Rest 4 34
2 12 Rest 6 8 6 Rest 4 36
3 6 Rest 4 Rest 4 Rest 4 18
4 14 Rest 6 8 6 Rest 4 38
5 16 Rest 6 8 6 Rest 5 41
6 18 Rest 6 8 6 Rest 5 43
7 6 Rest 5 Rest 5 Rest 4 20
8 20 Rest 5 7 6 Rest 4 42
9 14 Rest 6 8 6 Rest 4 38
10 7 Rest 5 Rest 6 Rest 4 22
11 21 Rest 5 7 6 Rest 4 43
12 14 Rest 6 8 6 Rest 4 38
13 8 Rest 6 Rest 6 Rest 4 24
14 22-23 Rest 5 7 6 Rest 5 45-46
15 12 Rest 6 8 6 Rest 4 36
16 14 Rest 7 Rest 5 Rest 4 30
17 10 Rest 6 Rest 4 Rest 1-2 Opt. 20-22
18 26.2
Rest Rest Rest Rest Rest Rest 26.2

I modify this a little bit so that my long runs are on Saturdays.  I like the fact that there are three 20+ mile runs in this program.  I hope that doesn't hurt me, but, rather, give me a boost of confidence for running the actual marathon.  

As usual, I ran five times this past week.  I want to talk about two of the runs I had.  On Tuesday, I had an 8-miler on schedule.  I decided to throw some custom interval training in there (you know...pick out a point somewhere up ahead and pick up my pace for that distance).  I wish I could force myself to sit down and figure out how to set laps on my Garmin, but you'll just have to trust me on these "intervals".  My usual pace for non-long runs is 10:00 - 10:30 / mile.  On shorter runs (4-6 miles), I've been able to push it down to about 9:45 / mile.  I decided to set these intervals for between 8:30 - 8:45 / mile (super fast for me), and I was successful!  These "intervals" were very arbitrary, so I can't tell you the distance or the length of time, but it felt good that I was able to push myself. 

On my long run yesterday, I ran into an unusual situation for me.  I had a 10-miler on schedule.  For my long runs, I start out super conservatively, because I have it in my head that I just want to get the distance done, and the time doesn't matter.  I think I may have started out too conservatively:
Mile 1 - 12:04 / mile (warm-up / steep hill)
Mile 2 - 11:20
Mile 3 - 11:16
Mile 4 - 11:24
Mile 5 - 13:39 (pit stop and I didn't pause my Garmin...I go back and forth whether I should "pause"during training, since I won't have that option on race day)
Mile 6 - 11:45 (steep long uphill)
Mile 7 - 11:02
Mile 8 - 10:00 (I was thinking this was probably not correct)
Mile 9 - 9:45 (What?!?)
Mile 10 - 9:35 (I'm still feeling really good! How can this be?)

I'm not sure what to make of this...I try to keep my long runs between 11:00 - 11:30 / mile.  Granted, I've been running 10-milers pretty frequently as part of my mileage build-up program.  Maybe I'm just getting used to them?  All I know is I had plenty of gas in the tank at the end....maybe too much?  In a few weeks, my long runs will get much longer in a very short period of time, so I think I'll stick to my strategy for now.  Any advice?  

After my run, the family and I took our kayaks up to Lake Tahoe for a blissful afternoon of lazy paddling in the water.

Isn't it beautiful?  Every time we go up there, I am reminded of and so grateful for the unbelievable world God has given us to enjoy.  Hope you all had a good weekend, also!  Hard to believe how fast they go.  :(