Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why Am I Even Doing This?

The last couple of weeks have been increasingly hard for me. I'm not sure if it's the lack of sunlight, the cold weather, all of my runs on a treadmill for weeks, a slight pain in my left leg, or my lack of time to prepare for Christmas with a large extended family and three little ones at home. Maybe some combination, but it hasn't been, "Hurrah, it's time to run again!" every time I lace up my shoes.

Last night, my first day "off" of running for eight days due to a slight training schedule change, I leaned my head against the shower wall and thought, "Why am I even doing this?" And, mostly, that thought was about running. So, today was my mid-week long run, followed by some striders after the finish. I procrastinated an impossibly long time, finally getting dressed a little before 10 AM. I decided to head outdoors, it looked to be warmer, and I thought, well, why don't I just not pay attention to time and just get out and try to enjoy the run? So, I did just that. I clicked my Garmin, knowing full well where 3 mile turn-around point is, and gently, easily took off on the rolling hills of Lake Lotawana.

The sun came out, and I warmed up quickly--too quickly, and I had to strip off a few layers and carry them along. I could feel the warmth of the sunlight on my back, and it felt wonderful. And I felt free again, not caring about anything except feeling relaxed and good about running.
I didn't look at my Garmin again until I was finished.

I also plugged in an older episode of Phedippidations I hadn't heard. I am generally caught up, but there were a few spring podcasts that I missed. This one happened to be Episode 90: The 2007 State of the Course: A tour of the Boston Marathon course. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. It's kind of like when you pray for God to show you a sign, something, anything to help you through. And, miraculously, you find yourself reading or seeing the answer right in front of you. As I listened to Steve and ran, I lived the first 16 miles of the course. The statues, the buildings, the elevations, the previous history as Steve and John ran the exact course earlier this year.

And it made me want to be there. It made me want to buy tickets and get on a plane just to go see the race next year, and be part of the excitement. And it underscored my desire to train and qualify for Boston all over again.
With those desires freshly kicked up again, I feel better. Better about running, better about everything. Thanks, Steve! You really helped me out today.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

2007 Sprint Thanksgiving Day 5K

Here's my usual preparation for a race of any distance: Three days to go: run 2 miles, easy, throw in a couple of 10 second striders. Two days to go: Do nothing and rest. One day to go: Do nothing and rest more. Maybe eat some pasta for a meal or two. Warm up on race day: Sit down by the edge of the starting line and rest the legs, expending no energy whatsoever. Only move when the gun goes off. The day or two after the race? Yeah, you guessed it. Rest and recover. (You can stop laughing now.)

So, imagine my eyes popping when my schedule says to run 4 miles the day before the "race," plus striders, and run about 2 miles just minutes before the race, followed by striders. And, wow, a cool down of another two miles after the race. But, since the concept was really race = tempo run today (not a target race), I thought, "Ok, it's just not a race, it's really just a tempo run in the middle of some slower miles." I get it, let's see how it goes.

The day began at 20 degrees F, 15 mph wind, leading to a 13 degree wind chill. At exactly 8:29 AM, I set out, bundled with a throw away jacket and began my warm up. I was only still (as in not running) from exactly 8:58 to 9:00 AM, during which the national anthem was sung. I carefully tucked in at the back of the 7 minute milers, just in front of the 8 minute sign. I figured I'd go out around 8:30 or so, but whatever felt pretty easy, and pick it up from there.

I never even heard the gun go off I was so far back (well over 5,000 participants), and we began walking slowly, I had barely broken into a jog a minute later as I punched my Garmin and crossed the starting line. Scrunched tightly and moving very slowly with nowhere to go at about a 12 minute per mile pace, I wondered if everyone around me really misjudged their running skills that badly, or if it were that crowded, or both. It took me well over a half mile from the starting line just to finally see my pace drop to 10:05 per mile. I finished out the first mile in 8:45, more comfortably than I should have for a 5K, thinking uh-oh, I should not feel fantastic at mile 1 with only 2.1 to go.

It was only as I entered mile 2 that I could even move by choice at all, and began to work hard to pass people and get some open space. Only by about 1.65 miles did I even glance down at my watch to think, hmmm ok, I feel a little bit uncomfortable at this pace and I'm more than half way done. Still gaining speed, I crossed mile 2 in 8:14. I considered that I had a little more than a mile to go, and still had so much to give. By 2.13 miles complete, I remembered I should now be focusing on racing those around me. I looked left, right, ahead, and kicked it up a notch, and focused only on position and passing. I finished mile 3 in 7:30 and kicked it for the last tenth. I was amazed I had a kick left (and a strong one at that), and I sprinted for the finish, punching my Garmin as I crossed for a total of 3.13 miles in 25:32.

Officially, it was a 5K PR for me. I actually ran faster for the nite flight back in the summer, but the distance was off there by a quarter mile (long), so my official time was slightly longer. But, it was a terribly exhilarating and exciting race today because I have never felt so powerful as a race went on. In my last mile, as I began pouring it out, I had no issues passing anyone I saw. And, psychologically, that felt incredible. When I crossed the finish, I was out of breath, but barely fatigued, and easily slipped into my 2 mile cool down, finished my day feeling refreshed and energized--never tired. And here, now many hours later, I have no whisper of even racing at all. I could run 10 miles right now--my legs were not even tapped.

Now, I really need to see a 24 in front of my official time in a 5K. Mabye on December 8. I think I have it in me. But what a fun day today!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Will That Be One Marshmallow, Or Two?

One of the greatest predictors of future success in life can be discerned at a young age: If you offer a very young child one marshmallow now, or two if s/he waits 20 minutes, you can conclude with a reasonably high degree of certainty that the child who will wait to reap the greater reward already grasps what it takes to be successful and will likely carry that trait into adulthood.

Marathon running is like that. There is a dedication to a long term goal that spills over into other parts of life. Perhaps it is the other way around. The connection is clear. If your hobby is running marathons, you are likely to be highly disciplined, full of integrity and faithful to a long term commitment and you are probably successful in life by most measures.

I was fascinated to read about the "business" of marathons. With some races drawing 10s of thousands of race participants in this highly sought after demographic, it is no small impact to the local economy of the hosting city. Having invested nearly $1,000 this summer just to race in St. Charles between hotel nights, meals, airplane tickets and other transportation is evidence enough. But, read on for some interesting facts.

Runner Profile Highlights from 2006 Runner's World Sub Study, Erdos and Morgan):
  • Gender: Women 47.4% / Men 52.6%
  • Median Age: 44.0 years old
  • College Educated: 93% Graduated College+: 74%
  • Married: 74.4%
  • Number of people in household: 2.9 people
  • 2005 individual employment income before taxes, average: $74,100 [$63,600 median]
  • 2005 household employment income before taxes, average: $139,000 [$113,000 median]
  • 2005 household net worth, average: $943,000 [$500,000 median]
This week, I am back in sort of a routine with real miles instead of my daily short runs. And ice baths only three times this week. Rick, your tip on getting used to the cold water BEFORE the ice could be the most valuable nugget of the month! Far more tolerable. Thank you! I ran 4 on Monday, 4 on Wednesday, 5 yesterday, 3 today and have 7 for tomorrow. My leg pain continues to wane, but lingers just enough to keep me edgy and a little nervous.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My First Full Ice Bath

I don't like being cold, and I really don't like being cold and wet. In fact, I'll go to great lengths just to avoid that combination (one reason why triathlons don't appeal to me). I'll wait until a hot summer day in late July before I'll even dip a toe in the lake where I live to be assured the water temperature is at least in the high 80s. So, to step into a large tub filled with cold tap water and a couple of large bags of ice... well... that should speak volumes of how badly I want my leg to heal.

It's been roughly six weeks since my right thigh started bothering me, an injury I got during taper before the marathon. Yesterday, it passed the annoying stage right into downright depressing. I feel like it's never going to heal. So, my running coach cut my runs dramatically and insisted I sit in a waist-deep tub of cold water filled with store bought bags of ice. For 20 minutes. And a few cups of epsom salt thrown in.

Oh, the pain and the agony of that first step. Indescribable, when I knew all I had to do to end it was just step out. Slowly I submerged. And sat. One minute ticked by, two, and I couldn't stop shivering. I had brought a magazine to distract me, but was shivering too badly and tensed too much to read it. But, magically, by the fourth minute, the shivering abated, and the pain of the ice started to go away. And, as promised, I became numb and no longer suffered. I actually completed this mission. And get to repeat each night for the rest of the week.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

I Grieve

Grief is a funny thing; it comes in waves. You find yourself walking on the beach, firm sand under your feet and suddenly a wave crashes into you, and the sand erodes and you are on your knees. And then it recedes, you recover, slowly picking your self up, as the tide gradually fades away from you.

I always thought my mother's death would be like a hurricane, furious impending doom, with plenty of warning. I pictured myself at her bedside, watching her slip away. Instead, it was a microburst, that surprised all of us--most of all, me.

Today, October 8th (the actual day of posting, I started this draft yesterday), is the day 9 years ago when my first daughter, Rachel Sheyenne was born. It is a bitter sweet day for me, as she died in my arms a few days later, again, an unpredictable event that shattered me.

In honor of my mother, and my beautiful daughter, Rachel, I chose this video, I picture them now both held and comforted by angels in heaven. As a human, I cannot release my grief, it fills me now, clouds my vision and I am able to focus on little else. I know Rachel is saying to me now, "Please don't cry mommy," and she's probably holding grandma's hand. I, however, am helplessly crying my eyes out.

Hug your kids, your loved ones today. And remember, you never know when they will be taken from you.

I picked up my training again on Friday, so I missed a total of four days of running. Friday were two services for my mother, so I figured I'd need to be exhausted rather than nervous and edgy. Finally, I was beginning to sleep again, and plans were simply being executed and not made. I ran 6 miles, not very fast, with 4 striders once that was complete. I ran 7 miles on Sunday, and 5 today, also followed by striders.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Goodbye, Mother

“Your mother passed away at 3:34 this afternoon,” I hear my father matter-of-factly announce. I look over and catch my husband’s eye more than 100 feet away where I had crept to try to find a quieter spot to listen to the message. We had just gotten off the Astro Orbiter at Disney World in Orlando. I don’t even hear the rest of the voice message if there is more. But I am suddenly sobbing on his shoulder in the middle of the happiest place on earth. She wasn’t supposed to die today.

Death is an ugly thing. My mother had been ill for sometime, but had beaten the odds again and again over far greater complications. I had eaten dinner with her on a previous trip to Florida just three days ago. I don’t know how it was supposed to be but this wasn’t it. I am stunned left trying to accept the unacceptable. And I wonder if I were the daughter I should have been. Did she die proud of me? I always felt that I somehow fell short of her expectations—a disappointment—and there is a deep ache inside of me.

It will be days before I run again. And I have plenty I’ll need to work out on the roads.

Life is fleeting. God Bless you mom, and God speed. It is my hope that you have now found everlasting peace and heavenly comfort in the presence of your Saviour, and you at last are released from your pain and suffering. Goodbye mom, I love you.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


A little over two years ago, I had a dream of finishing a marathon. My first blog,, called, "Marathon Dreams," chronicles that journey. In March 2007, I completed that goal by running the 2007 Olathe Marathon, actually placing first in my age division. Last week, I completed my second marathon, the 2007 Lewis & Clark Marathon in St. Charles, Missouri. I've run, I've finished, I've laughed and cried over my goals but I feel a new journey is in front of me. I think I can check that box of "Marathon Dreams."

This blog is about my dream to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Here are the rules: I must finish in a time of 3:50:59 or less in a qualifying marathon event. I'd like to do that this Spring (2008). The challenge? Well, my best marathon time is 4:16:52, run last weekend. It should have been a lot better, but you can read through my other blog to find out what happened. A marathon is long, no doubt about it. A lot can happen out there, no matter how much you prepare.

I've hired a professional coach now. I've realized this is a goal that is more likely to be achieved with professional help. No, I didn't say I'd hired a Psychiatrist, but yes, most of you would probably vote that's what I should have done! So here is the beginning of my next journey.