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)

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!!