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, 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.    



  1. Great haul on the loot!! Those are some great winnings :)

    I love that you decided to go with the flow on your 15 miler. You did SO well, Jen. The visualization of the finish line is PERFECT too. It will help you get mentally ready for the race.

    Nice shirt too! And congrats to your sister :)

  2. The shirt almost made me cry ... awesome! Please don't worry too much about the 21 miler ... I've had TONS like this. Some days you just don't have it. And when you are totally thrown by a moron on a moped (I mean he was riding a moped ... right???), it can really have a negative effect. You are going to be great! I think this will only sharpen you for your marathon! Have a great day!

  3. I love comeback stories like these! Thanks for the uplift, which I needed right now. I've had terrible long runs too. It's all about the lessons learned. Your race will be wonderful and you will meet your goal.

    The shirt is great. I hope the tag doesn't bug you. I always rip holes when I take tags out, too. Fingers crossed!

  4. those training walls are always so hard. I remember making it to mile 18 and thinking, how in the world can i do another 8 come race day. But then again, you are running for someone else. God will give you that strength. Way to go on your mental strength!!

  5. what a great post...and i think u need to know a little 'secret': we ALL have had those horrible runs where, for whatever reason it's just not clicking. it can be physically, mentally, or both, and what separates the gritty runners from the rest is if you can COME BACK. u did that and then some! in our sport there is always the element of 'what pair of legs are going to show up today?' which we can't when we have those horrible days, we have to remember that it is not an accurate reflection of the kind of shape we are in or the kind of runner we are; instead we shower off, and wait for the day we are ready to rock it. way to go on that 20 miler and what a beautiful shirt! :)

  6. Congrats on winning the Nite Beams! Shoot me an email at: jamesdavid (at) sbcglobal (dot) net with your address and I'll get them shipped over to you!