the wagon wheels came off

Whenever I use this phrase, I always feel sorry for Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I don’t particularly remember her family’s wagon wheels coming off, although I’m sure they did.  Life was rough for those pioneer folks.

I’m pretty sure this was EXACTLY how things were

Anyway, my wagon wheels coming off isn’t nearly as dire.  I’m speaking of marathon training.  I know, this probably isn’t a giant surprise to any of you who’ve been reading for a little while but STILL, I thought this training cycle would be different.  I WANTED this cycle to be different

After I got back from France, I was geeked about running.  I ran a fair amount while there – much more often than I’ve ever run while on some kind of vacation and I felt good about it.  I also ran with some very cool people so this helped motivate me even more.  Nevertheless, I know myself and didn’t want to come back and jump right into 26.2 registration.  I had my sights set on Detroit, since it was the race that got away last year during my sickness.  Not to mention, it allowed for a little longer of a  training cycle and considering I would be starting late, this was a blessing.  This 26.2 registration ended on Aug. 16th if you wanted to be able to cross the bridge into Canada, which, of course, I did.

So, I decided to be semi self aware of my lack of training abilities and use the 4 weeks to see if I could stick to the plan, most importantly hit my long runs.  I did it!  I didn’t miss any of my long runs by the time it came to sign up, which I did when I realized I was DOING IT!  Training like a good runner should!

Then the wagon wheels came off of my training cycle…  Here’s the deal:  I got back from France on Wed, July 15th.  I worked the next day (which I was barely conscious for so I don’t remember much about that day) and then took Friday off from work so I could actually read a computer screen come Monday morning.  Why?  Because training for our new employees started and one of my supervises is new this year.  Training only ramps up from here and reaches heights of intense exhaustion – I knew this.  There was also the added stress/work of opening a new building, which I oversee.  No, I didn’t manage the actual construction of the building (seriously, I would NEVER want that job!) but it’s under my supervision.  But I couldn’t completely foresee the future.

The last two weeks of August and the first week of September my brain and health were fried.  At this point, I’d been on call for 3 weeks in a row.  The work days were long and the late night calls were beyond frequent.  There were no long runs happening.  I knew I needed to do them and part of me really wanted to.  The other part of me laid on the couch and tried to convince Simon he was able to cook so I didn’t have to get up.  I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted and I paid for it with some health issues.  Migraines – ewww and a fire in my belly that wasn’t ambition… just pure stomach acid eating the lining for breakfast, lunch, dinner and couple of snacks.

Fast forward to today and Detroit is this Sunday.  When I signed up, I paid $10 extra dollars in order to be able to cancel my registration and still get a refund.  I wasn’t completely delusional with regards to what lay ahead of me in my work world.  This past weekend I ran a 5 miler and no, I didn’t blow that puppy out of the water.  I told my good friend who was running with me about the bailout contingency plan and she said, “yeah, but if you think like that then you won’t do it”.  Very true.

I already have my accommodations.  I want to do this race since last year, 4 days before it I was huddled up on the couch in so much pain I thought there was a gremlin inside my stomach trying to get out – and not cute and furry Gizmo but the one where it was fed after midnight and water was poured on it.  Yeah – the scary ones.

There won’t be a PR (I thought I might be able to pull one off originally) but I will finish.  Two weeks ago, I climbed on the treadmill and started freaking out at my lack of preparedness.  I’m certainly not a Doomsday Prepper in this scenario.  I suddenly remembered this is supposed to be FUN.  It took a massive boulder off of my shoulders, one of which continued to tell me how much I sucked at every footfall.  My inner lack of confidence and the rude voice in my mind are still providing a monologue consisting of a “you are probably going to lay on the side of the road and be picked up by the marathon version of the zamboni” but I’m getting better at quieting this sabotaging butthead.

And I am now the proud owner of some wicked compression tights too, so at least this will give me a boost.

There it is.  Another race I’m not ready for.  I talked to my brother about it while in NY.  He said maybe I’m not quite ready to really commit to training.  After my mom died, and the depression/anxiety took over, running was tough.  I said I “wanted to be ready for trainings since running is part of my identity”.  Kev said, “it isn’t WHO you are though”.  It has stuck with me.  Time to release the pressure valve, stop worrying about my slow pace and enjoy the moment.  And get excited!

how is it possible NOT to appreciate a snow day?!

Alright, I don’t have wee small children so I am guessing having the whole day to myself is probably a little different from attempting to entertain the kiddies.  Especially when going outside freezes their face “that way”.

I, on the other hand, embraced a snow day with open arms!  Yes, I still needed to work a bit but it was from home, on my couch, snuggled in a blanket.  It was wonderful.

this is how it felt  as I was working

Yesterday, I worked, cuddled with Simon while taking a nap and then did some running!  Wahoo!  The couch’s siren call is much greater than my treadmill’s but I got it done.  I did 6.2 miles and there were a few surprises:

1.  It was the longest I’ve run since Dopey.

2.  When I first started running, I almost felt like I had forgotten how!  I ran last week so this was a weird new calf learning how to walk thing.

or a dog in socks

3.  I did some running in my Hokas.  At first it was very strange.  I mean they are comfortable and not heavy at all, just different.

4.  After running in them for about a mile and half it started to feel more normal.  Usually, I’m a bit stop and go on the treadmill but I fell into a decent rhythm.  I’m going to credit the shoes.

5.  I did four miles in the Hokas, after doing the first two in my Brooks.  I don’t think I will run much more than that at a time until they are broken in a bit more so my feet and legs get accustomed.

used this to ice my ank
used this to ice my wonky ankle

6.  I can’t quite tell if the shoes are too big or not.  I tried them on at the Disney expo and the woman who fit me said “these feel about right”.  Is this a definitive answer?  Am I over thinking this?  They feel big but let’s face it, these shoes don’t look the most streamlined so I can’t tell.  I ordered a pair of 8’s so I can do a comparison to the 8.5.  At first, I felt my heel slipping out but once I tightened the laces it was better.  Enter some neurosis about wanting the PERFECT shoe.  Seriously, it’s an illness.

7.  I got to look at my beautiful organizational handiwork!

ooo - so pretty!
ooo – so pretty!

I know folks talk about how they lose fitness and whatnot if they aren’t running much.  Yesterday’s run felt great and the lack of pressure was welcomed with open arms.  I didn’t realize how much I fixated on the challenge with every run.  Many thoughts that consisted of, “if you can’t run x distance today how are you going to run 48.6?” or “if you don’t do this run you are never going to make it through the whole weekend!”  You know, lots of self-support going on there!

But things have changed.  As previously mentioned, Mile 14 changed my running world a bit and gave me the boost of ego that I needed!  Oh look, this picture just happened to fall into this post!

I might actually frame this
I might actually frame this

Happy winter y’all!

now 26.2? what a dopey idea

Did you know there is a handle in the porta potty hooked to the door to hold onto while doing your business??  I had no idea!  I was quiet Sunday morning thinking about what was ahead of me.   As we gathered at the porta potties for our last race, we were all talking about nerves.  Almost falling in the porta potty (again) made me even more nervous and I told my friends this.  They asked me why I hadn’t held onto the handle?  This was race-changing folks!

only 26.2 miles to go!
only 26.2 miles to go!

At the start line, I was freezing cold.  It was a chilly morning and I was happy as a clam.  We all knew it was going to be much cooler than the day before and I was thrilled.  I sat and chatted with a woman who was doing the Goofy and we talked running for about a half hour.

oooo - pretty! now RUN!
oooo – pretty! now RUN!

An even bigger set of fireworks exploded and the first group was off!  At this point, I realized I had to go the bathroom again.  I had time to run to the porta potty but I thought maybe I was just nervous and I wouldn’t need to pee anymore once I started running.  Plus I hate porta potties so I didn’t want to use it if I didn’t really have to.  Unfortunately, I overestimated my bladder and I had to stop even before I hit mile 1!  Great job, Aim! But the handle sure was helpful!

dopey marathon signI used the same strategy as the last three races and made sure to walk once a mile.  I used the water stops a lot and also walked any hills despite them not being very steep.  My legs were sore and at the start of the race I seriously questioned whether or not I could pull this off.  Five miles in, I knew I would finish.

it really helps with moral to have a giant mouse cheer for you
it really helps with moral to have a giant mouse cheer for you

The day before, I found some flat ground in the grass along side the road and since it was a similar course for the full I did the same thing.  It allowed me to get in a zone in many areas of the race and I could just run.  It was hugely helpful – physically and mentally.  My pace was pretty even and I felt more and more confident.  All of a sudden I completely believed I was a STRONG runner.

Mile 14 changed my race and my running future.  When I saw the mile marker I said to myself, “I only have 12 miles left!!”.  Last year?  “Oh my gosh, I still have 12 miles left”.  The difference between the words “only” and “still” is the best example I have of my strong mental attitude.  My  quads were tight and hurting.  My feet were sore, my left calf was irritated and I was more and more excited about this race and distant running as a whole!  It’s completely twisted.

race/game/life changer!
race/game/life changer!

I took some fun pics – Rafiki is my little zen master and last year when I saw this army guy I wanted to punch him in the face.  It was nice not to hate him this year!

rafiki and I sharing a zen moment
rafiki and I sharing a zen moment
he was pretty funny!
he was pretty funny!

The woman who brought the cups of Pepsi was back (tasted fabulous!) and another woman brought pretzels.  I love taking treats from strangers during a race!  I took another picture of the castle so I could completely take in the moment.  My new motto became, “it’s going to hurt anyway, so I might as well go for it”.  I would select something in the distance and run to the point and then walk a certain amount.  I stuck to these mini goals like glue.

once again, chills as I ran through
once again, chills as I ran through

My average pace was approximately 14 mins for the first half and a little over 14 mins for the second half.  I really owe all of my solid pacing to the treadmill, which I no longer hate with a passion.  I hit the medical tents for BioFreeze 3 or 4 times, was able to get 1 Tylenol (they were really strict about this), went through every water stop, and took advantage of the two banana stations.  They also had a cold wet wash cloth station and incredible volunteers.  I finished in 6 hours and 2 mins!  I crossed the finish line and started crying.  I truly had a good time the entire race.  I felt tough and ran through the muscle fatigue and the hurt.  I was/am so stinkin’ proud of myself!

wahooo!
wahooo!

I collected all of my medals, took a massively cheesy finisher picture and headed to the ice tent.  They wrapped my quads and I waddled out to our meeting area.  I was waiting for friends and then kind of forgot I had the ice on my legs for about 45 mins maybe?  It wasn’t until my friend asked me why my knee was turning blue that I took the ice off and noticed my numb legs.  I gave myself a minor case of frostbite!  It’s no joke!  I got a ripe ol’ sunburn and frostbite in the same day.  By the way, my legs are still kind of numb so take it from me and be careful when icing.

this wasn't my smartest move
this wasn’t my smartest move

Oh and right when I got to the meeting area I had to ask a stranger to help me sit down!  My legs were incapable of doing it on their own.  Once we had all of our team in, we took pics and I headed off for coffee.  Seriously, knowing an ice cold mocha awaited me was a huge motivator.  I did forgo activities in the evening as I was beat.  Just getting off of the bed to pack was an effort!

oooo - shiny!
lots of shiny!

I really am looking forward to my next marathon.  When I was running, I kept thinking about how lucky I was/am to participate in such a cool event.  I thought about how just 8 months ago I was so depressed getting out of bed was my accomplishment.  I remembered how I had to rebuild mileage and the love and support I’ve gotten from so many people.  Endorphins + feelings of gratefulness is some powerful stuff people!  Thank you all!

4 more sleeps until the race!

Once upon a time there was a kid named Kevin.  When he was in either 7th or 8th grade he decided he was going to run a marathon.  He ran a few shorter races, had done the STP – the Seattle to Portland bike ride and some other adventure-type things.  When he told his family he was going to run said marathon, pretty sure they doubted him.  Then the little tyke when and ran it in about 3 and 1/2 hours.  I know, crazy, huh?

baby Godzilla! the whole fam should have known NOTHING could keep this kid from getting what he worked for!

Yes, this was my little brother.  He has always said, if you can do half (whatever distance of the race) than you can do the whole thing in a race setting.  I’m holding him to this advice.  He rocked that marathon!  I talked to him the other night and he wants to another marathon at some point in time in the future.

Me?  I’m getting very ready for this sucker!  Pretty much, I’ve stayed off the blog because all I can think about is this run.  Oh, I’ve been able to work and actually, I’ve been fairly productive.  But now, on the eve before I leave (hey it rhymed!) I’m going a little nutso!  I probably should have taken the whole day off tomorrow but I needed to save some vacation for my DISNEYWORLD MARATHON!  Haha, yes, I got my first e-mail for that today!  I know… probably not too many ppl schedule their second marathon before even running their first.  Again, me=ridiculously confident.

I can DO THIS!!!

My brother was the same way though.  When he smoked everyone in his “age group” – yeah, there wasn’t anyone IN his age group, he just took out all the older folks, he knew he could finish.  He didn’t doubt that at all.  He just ran.  (uh-oh, I can feel some Forrest Gump quotes coming on!)

Okay, this post is really just me rambling because I am SO excited and SO nervous and absolutely every emotion in between.  Tomorrow I get to see my dear friend who ran the Chicago marathon a few days ago so it will be all run talk all the time.  I’m sure her hubby is going to offer to work late.

yep, posted this 10,000 times but I love it… I love the silhouette, I love the colors and I love the fact that the runner could be any woman out there – including me!

More mind-numbing, marathon crazy talk coming at you tomorrow!  Only this will be the thankful version!

i’m a runner

I will do a race recap in a day or two but I want to give my “photographer”, a.k.a. Emily time to post some pics.  At the race, I discovered a pretty awesome talent for relay photography!  I caught a couple of great shots of our high-fives, which was how we did our runner to runner exchange.

But let’s back up to Friday.  I wrote my “crisis of confidence” piece and then decided I needed to run to prove to myself that I was a RUNNER.  I hit up the treadmill for 4 miles and then did one mile of walking.  It went much better than I hoped for

why yes, those are sweaty bangs plastered to my forehead!

I still wanted to stop and even felt like I couldn’t keep running but I told myself not to quit.  So while it wasn’t fast it was much better than the last few runs.  I also had a self-therapy session while I was running.  Does anyone else do this?!  I asked myself why I felt like I couldn’t keep running – what was holding me back?!  Then I figured it out… or at least some of it.  As I have chronicled on this blog, the last several months have been HARD.  Sometimes I have felt that everything I care about or have confidence in has fallen to pieces – like the rug has been pulled out from underneath me. I care about running.  It has become part of my identity.  But I just felt like it has been taken away from me too.

Then yesterday happened.  A couple of hours before my leg, I got a facebook message from my former running partner:

“Amy – I have run many miles with you, and you are a runner!  Good luck today, have fun, and believe me – you can do this – Rob”

As you can imagine, I was truly touched.  Rob and I talked again later and he said he had been thinking about my confidence issue and how this isn’t unique to me; all runners go through this.  Rob explained it as “Bad Rob” on one shoulder and “Good Rob” on the other and each one has their say about what he is capable of.  I laughed when I read this because it is so true!  Haha, then I knocked out 6.5 miles, all because I BELIEVED I could!

So where do I stand now?  Today, I met up with a friend to go for a run.  We had made plans on Thursday and today I wanted to bail so badly!  My legs were tired and when I got to the track my friend said, “So, are you ready for speed work?”  Ummm… what?!  I decided what the heck?  It went really well and my non-speed miles were 10:26 warm up and a 10 min cool down.  My 400’s were a lot faster than I thought I could do.  My friend told me I had good fitness and I just needed to learn to control my pace better.  We are going to meet up again either Tuesday or Wednesday and I have a feeling now that he has seen what I can do, I’ll be crawling away from this weeks meet up!  My friend also said that all of this “I can’t run anymore” business is in my head.

Tomorrow I have yoga and trust me, my body is so ready!  After three days of hard running, I need a good stretch.  But I do love how fatigued I feel.  I worked really hard this week and am pleased it has paid off!  Of course it did, I’m a runner!

crisis of confidence

Here’s the deal… I’m completely mental.  Not in the mental health realm of the word but I get wrapped up in my head a lot.  Obviously, I have been writing about it lately but on my run the other night I REALLY thought about what is going on with me.  When I set out to run, my main thought is, “what makes me think I can do this?”

a less than stellar long run performance...

As I was thinking about what this has been doing for my actual running I tried to think how I USED to do it – I know, a phrase I swore I would stop using but hear me out.  I thought back to when I would go running and these are the things that were different from now:

1.  I would just go out and run.  I didn’t bother with a real timing system and wasn’t trying to hit a specific pace on a certain lap or mile.  Just ran, pure and simple

yes garmin, you are so pretty but sometimes I feel trapped by you

2.  Maybe I was just naive but after my first 5k it never dawned me that I COULDN’T do it.  I mean of course I could – you just keep running right?  I had gone from being overweight, unhappily sitting on the couch to running a 5k!  When I was younger I would swear I wasn’t built to be a runner.  I would also say I didn’t know HOW to run.  Well, some of these are still true.  At almost 5’2, I don’t have lengthy legs helping me cross the finish line but the rest is all hogwash.

first finish line!

3.  I was excited about being able to run.  This is probably the most important of all of them.  Running completely changed how I felt about my body, my mental health/anxiety had decreased and it was time that was all mine.  I was also still impressed I could even do it!  Shaky confidence in my athletic abilities is not a new concept for me and when I ran everyday I felt like an athlete.

Where am I going with this?  The other night on my run I stopped to walk a bit since of course I couldn’t make it up that hill.  I was thinking to myself how it had been easier before, and then I started wondering if it actually had been.  In my “miles were easier/faster in the old days” mentality I am pretty certain I have romanticized those training days.  In fact, I am almost positive getting up that hill was always hard.  I just didn’t give up as easily back then as I do now.  I believed I could get up that hill because I didn’t delve into all the reasons I couldn’t.

first 1/2 finished! oh yeah, I was excited!

Yes, I had been in better shape but I’m getting there.  My mental state on the other hand needs a full work up.  It did help to realize training is never easy.  We may have really good runs but I doubt anyone is out there saying, “this running business is a piece of cake – I don’t know why anyone struggles.”  We all have the runs that challenge our confidence, muscles and emotional stamina.  I will see improvement!  But by stopping to walk every time I hit a challenge I am depriving myself of said improvement!

So that’s where I’m at… I am determined to shake this crisis of confidence.  I want to start employing running without my garmin, enjoying MY time going out for a run and refusing to question my ability.  Haha, yeah, that last one will take some practice but being a cocky lil’ sh*t has always been one of my strengths!  I am set to make these changes/improvements now.  Today.  Tomorrow in the Kal-haven trail run.  And the day after that.  All of the negative talk is getting in my way of enjoying running and it’s time to relax and appreciate the sport that has given me so much.