Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Week 10

Week: 10
Total Miles Run: 16 (3 miles, 3 miles, 13 miles!)


No, not in the "George Bush on an aircraft carrier circa 2003" kind of way. (Sorry, George)

I really did it!

The week leading up to race day was a good one.  In just a matter of a couple days, I went from begging and pleading for people to help make a miracle happen with my TMC fundraising (I had more than $350 to go as of last Sunday), to watching the money pour in.  After an extremely generous donation from a couple that ultimately made me reach my $1000 goal early in the week, a lot of the extreme anxiety I had over blowing it on race day, or failing in my own eyes was washed away.  I realized that if God could make big bucks get raised in a matter of days, He could help me run big miles.

As great a blessing as it was, it didn't stop me from having some serious pre-race jitters come Saturday.  All I wanted to do was jump on the course and get this thing done with!  Thankfully a lot of the jitters got channeled into pumped-uped-ness when I reached the Running Expo at McCormick place Saturday afternoon. All the runners, all the cool exhibits, all the swanky gear, and I felt like becoming a die-hard runner (as if I haven't been enough of one already).

 Getting to sleep that night in our Congress Plaza Hotel room was pretty difficult, as you can imagine.  In part, due to highly engaging episodes of Lock up , also in part to too much fun on AntiJokes.com (Q:Why did the airplane crash? A: Because the pilot was a loaf of bread.)

Morning came nice and quickly and I proceeded to force feed myself breakfast, get all gussied up for the run, and head to the starting line a mere blocks from our hotel.  I have to say it was an awesome boost of confidence to have both my parents and two good friends in my entourage.

 Once at my corral, I was already sweating from the humidity (hello, 80 degree morning!) and the anticipation.  But the energy was awesome, the view was incredible, and the race got off without a hitch.

There were only a few things on my mind as I got going.  One, I wanted to go at a pace where running the whole thing would be feasible. If it meant I had to run 15 minute miles, I was prepared.

Two, I could only hope and pray not to get an upset stomach from undigested food.  Let's just say my stomach hasn't always been my friend on some of my training runs, and though I had access to the facilities, they were only every mile or so and with big lines (a lot of small bladders in this race!) so I told my intestines to hang in there!

Three, I did not want to face the humiliation of passing out in the middle of the race and spending the rest of the day in a hospital with an IV and then have to come back, tail between my legs, with such a report for all of you.

Well, clearly none of these mishaps would have been the end of the world, but in my high-achieving mind, they basically were.  My goal and two disasters to avoid were accomplished.

Mile 2, This is TOO easy
I have a few things/people I would like to thank for that:
-The shade of skyscrapers (also something amazing to look at while running)
-The copious ice/water/Gatorade stations
-The girl with the sign that said "Katniss Could Do It"
-My awesome playlist on my iPhone that had me mouthing the lyrics while I ran I was so into it
-The girl with the side that said "Ryan Gosling is at the finish line"
-Linda jumping in with me at mile 7 until the end to keep me distracted and to fetch me supplies
-Carissa and my parents cheering me on along the way

Mile 7, feeling great!
Mere feet to go, and not feel so hot. Fake smile for the crowd!

Oh yeah, this sucks

I honestly don't know if I could have gone 10 more steps the way I was feeling when I crossed that finish line. Maybe it was just my body reacting to my brain's knowledge that I was at the end and it was okay to shut down.  There wasn't an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride when I finished. Even managing a fist pump at the end was a lot of work.  I was in major leg pain, my eyes were drowning in sweat, and my intestines were in the beginning stages of rebellion. But gosh darn it, I had done it! 13.1 miles, no running, 2 hours and 22 minutes.

Again, because of my high achiever hard wiring, I'm having a hard time soaking up the congratulations and lauding right now.  (Though, admittedly, I did already slap the "13.1" sticker on the back of my car and went out today in my official half marathon race shirt.  *Gloat*)  Instead, I can turn it to gratefulness for the people who supported me whether through fundraising, prayers, words of encouragement, or however else.  Throughout this process I tried to make this as little about me as possible, and more about what was being done through me, and what I could do for others.

Will I do this again?  Talk to me when I've fully recovered the use of my legs.  Probably, though.  I've already got plans to do a 10K in the coming weeks (pssh, 6 miles is a cakewalk now.) Hopefully I will continue running regularly because I've come to enjoy it and all its benefits.  

But first, I'll have to get a new set of shoes. :)

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Week 9

Week: 9
Total Miles Run: 12 (3 miles, 3 miles, 6 miles)

"You're going running?...Right now?...Out THERE?"

I've received that inquiry in some variation from several of my friends each time I've declared the need to get in my miles.  My blanket response to them:


There have been few certainties along this 10 week journey:

1) I must get in my designated training miles at some point
2) I must do it outside
3) It must be no cooler than 90 degrees with glaring sunlight

Perhaps it may be wiser for my health and wellbeing to wait until the twilight hours, or perhaps 2 o' clock in the morning when Lake County gets its only relief of the day.  But, I've just been facing the realities of the "real thing" approaching in less than a week. 

Sunday's weather report is a BIIIIG shocker.

Are you sensing my sarcasm?

Now, my saving grace is that I start running at 6:30 A.M. and should finish no later than 9 A.M., so the 6 miles I did at 2 P.M. yesterday in 93 degree heat with no shade was probably excessive (as excessive as the steady stream of sweat into my left eye that had me looking like a one-eyed pirate the whole route). Yeah, that didn't feel so good.  But I guess I would liken it to a baseball player taking a few practice swings with weight on his bat before stepping up to the plate: It'll make the real deal feel pleasantly effortless...for the first 10 miles or so. Ahem.

Race week is upon us.  I would lie if I said I wasn't full of anxiety about the whole thing, even though I'm well conditioned and in optimal health.  I suppose it's the fear of the unknown. But I'm glad to have the support of some good friends and family cheering me on in the early morning madness.  It's a crash bang start to my 27th year of life, that's for sure!

Admittedly, I've had a lot of unfounded fear and anxiety about life in general lately, and my first line of defense has been going to prayer and scripture.  It'll be no different on Sunday when the going gets rough and the mind starts playing tricks on me. 

I feel blessed to have been able to reach this week relatively uneventfully (save a pogo sticking debacle that could have ended it all this weekend. Yikes.) and to be able to enjoy the growth in strength and determination gradually and with relative ease. 

I appreciate all your support and prayers and encouragement and I'll take all I can get this week!


In the day when I called, You answered me; and You strengthened me with strength in my inner self. Psalm 138: 3

Monday, July 9, 2012

Week 8

Week: 8
Total Miles Run: 15 (4 miles, 4 miles, 7 miles)

Surprisingly, on a training week that required 5 less miles than the previous, I found out about going past my physical limits.

A little change in schedule and extra work out opportunity had me working out 7 days in a row with no rest day as the training guide calls for.  In between my second 4 mile run and 7 mile run, I took up a friend on the opportunity to join a one-time Body Attack class for free. I haven't done high-interval training in awhile and I love the sweet pain I feel afterwards in all my under-worked areas, along with some quick trim down.  How I felt DURING the class was a whole different issue...

On par with the likes of Insanity and P90x (though I've never done either of those) I certainly got more than I reckoned for and, come Sunday morning, I found some new muscles I'd never known could be exercised by way of pain whenever I so much as breathed.

But I still had my long run to work in before the training week was up. So, feeling pretty energized and about 20 degrees cooler outside, I went for my 7 mile run. The result was not so good.  I was dehydrated, super sore, and super low energy, having to actually WALK a bit, catch a drink at the Dominick's along the way, and then hobble-run the rest of the way home.

The commandment I offer, for anyone who may be inspired to follow suit: THOU SHALT TAKETH HEED OF THY REST DAYS.

You don't have to do the workouts and rests in the exact order provided, but don't do more than 4 cardio/run sequences in a row without taking a rest day.  They're not just suggestions or pats on the back for a job well done. They're necessary to let the muscles and joints recover and for energy to build up again.

I, above everyone, should be savvy about the dangers of not taking advantage of the margins offered for refreshment and recuperation. I've certainly hit walls before in other ways, and athletic training is certainly no exception.

So, taking it easy for a couple days with an even easier week of runs and training planned to help accommodate my recharging as I head towards the finish line...of the starting line. :)

Hebrews 4:9-11
There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Week 7

Week: 7
Total miles: 20 (5 miles, 5 miles, 10 miles)

If there was a word to describe this week, it would probably be Extreme.  Unfortunately, some of that extreme had to do with my eating.  I am really good at taking healthful foods and making them not so healthful by eating them in mass proportions.

However, I was plenty active, too. I suppose the apex of the week was taking part in the Dirty Girl Run: a 5K with about 10 insane obstacles in between including scaling a vertical wall, army crawling under a net about 6 inches off the ground, and lots and lots of mud baths.  I went full out on the course and, as a result, am having trouble lifting my arms to so much as get dressed in the morning.

To keep the insanity going, I had my longest run of the training regime--10 miles.  Besides the rabid thirst I always experience in the last few miles, it was a success!  I'm pretty confident that I am going to be able to run the full 13.1 come race day (God willing)! The funniest thing: about half way through my run I ran by a guy I recognized as "Mr. Magic" from Runner's Edge.  How appropriate he be apart of what he helped happen with my fantastic shoes! I did not bother to try to talk to him as I was dead set to keep running, and thought it'd be mighty embarrassing if he didn't recognize me dripping sweat and looking like death. I just internalized my surprise and ran on.

Summer has definitely treated me well thus far--plenty of friends, fun, and plenty of sunshine and that's all I can ask of my summer. 

It's officially race month!

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]. Philippians 4: 13

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Week 6

Week: 6
Total miles run: 14 (4 miles, 4 miles, 6 miles)

Well, I'm throwing in the towel on tracking my weight loss because it just doesn't seem to be happening despite more running and no real changes in diet.  I continue to celebrate changes in how my clothes fit and am feeling good, so that satisfies the vanity aspect for me.

With a pretty mild week of training, the real highlight was the bonus work out I received Saturday evening at the wedding reception of my friends, Jason and Christi.  If there was an inter-church freestyle dancing competition, I'm pretty sure the honors would go to mine.  I was among some good company to rock the dance floor.  I've taken a lot of joy in dancing since my 2007 weight loss, since it prevented me from even venturing onto a dance floor in the past.  I may look like a spastic idiot dancing--and many of my friends can vouch for that--but I sure don't feel self-conscious anymore about it.  My conditioning  only contributed to the idiocy because, with something like 87 miles under my belt in the last 6 weeks,  I could have danced to House of Pain all night.

Week 7 is the climax of my training, with the longest run of my life in store.  I've been feeling a little tight and achy lately, but feel blessed to have had no major obstacles to my health all this time. 

Less than a month until the big race!

Psalm 149:3
Let them praise his name in the dance:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Week 5

Week: 5

Total Miles Run: 19 (5 miles, 5 miles, 9 miles)

Weight loss: Yeah, not so much

The scale is giving me numbers again that I don't like so much. But more importantly, I accomplished a 9 mile run at one of those rare sub-90 degree weather moments of the past few days (which makes it hard to believe I gained 5 lbs. over the weekend, Mr. Scale).  It was a long one, but not horrible.  There were two things in particular I gleaned from that hour and a half of physical challenge. 1) There is a lot of uncollected roadkill on the highways of Mundelein/Wauconda  2) There's nothing like a gruelingly long run to clear your mind of every little trouble and replace it with just one thought: WATER.  I think Americans should spend more time putting themselves in survival mode so they don't forget how trivial most their problems are in the light of basic needs getting met.  Needless to say, when I finally reached home, I destroyed a bottle of Gatorade and nearly destroyed the hungry cat that tried to get in between me and the fridge.

It was definitely a good week of running. It blows my mind that, with all the miles I've put in at this point, I might actually be able to label myself a runner.  I like the sound of that, and if I continue to feel this good, I imagine it's something I want to continue pursuing even after my half.  I always love new pursuits. :)

Therefore my heart is glad and my glory [my inner self] rejoices; my body too shall rest and confidently dwell in safety. Psalm 16: 9

Monday, June 11, 2012

Week 4


 Total miles run: 17 (4 miles, 5 miles, 8 miles)

Weight loss: -2 lbs.

This weekend I ran my first race in 19 years.  The last time I crossed a finish line it was last place in the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot at 7 years old.  Luckily, my first ever 5K this weekend was pretty low pressure.  I won't even count that 3.1 miles as part of my training because I ended up walking most of it. 

No, I haven't regressed catastrophically.  I was actually a volunteer buddy at the Girls on the Run event at Soldier Field--a program designed to promote self-confidence in young girls.  It was an early morning, a hot day, and there are about 5 teeny-bopper songs I will never listen to again as a result (sorry Carly Rae Jepsen, I'm calling you NEVER.)   I was assigned the Speedy Gonzalez of the group and was a little bit intimidated that this 11 year old was going to leave me in the dust.  She did--for about the first mile--then petered out the rest of the race, save a couple desperate sprints in between despite all my cajoling to go at an easy, maintainable pace.

It was fun to be apart of a run that I approached as a piece of cake in the grand scheme of things because of all my hard training.  I also particularly liked the moment when my runner was floored to find out I wasn't 17.

Another highlight of the training week was last night when I plowed through an 8 mile run in 90 degree temps.  Too anxious to wait until twilight to start it, I ended up running at the hottest part of the day (4 pm-ish) and only suffered a little for it.  Knowing what a mind game these long runs can be, I used the time well to do some prayer for other people and keep my mind off of me as much as possible. Had I brought water on the run, I think I could have kept going just fine. This is promising as I anticipate it can't possibly get up to 90 degrees at 6:30 AM on July 22nd even if it's the hottest day of the year (I think. Gulp).

With some more weight loss and people finally starting to notice (Thanks, Brittany!) I'm definitely starting to feel how worth while this all is if only for a confidence booster. I even ventured to the pool in the ol' bikini this week *gasp*! It takes a really confident day to do that.  More than just my vanity, God has been sending lots of gifts my way to remind me of my value and I'm grateful for that.

Psalm 17:8  Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings