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, 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.