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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Run, Spin, Read.

This morning I went to the gym early again, and immediately jumped on a treadmill.  I did a quick 1.25 miles in about 13 minutes, to get my heart rate up and also get in my "daily mile"  - see, two birds with one stone?  After that, I got busy lifting some weights.  I did that for 30-40 minutes, then I went down to catch a spin class.  I went into the classroom about 15 minutes before the class was actually supposed to begin, but the bikes were already filling up, so I claimed mine and started riding.  I was sweating pretty good before we even officially started the class.  Another hour after that and I was done with my workout.

Today the mail was good to me, bringing me the first of the two books I ordered.  Unfortunately, as you can see in the picture, someone* else got their hands on it first...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

5.14 miles with my buddy.

My boy Sam has been on a bike riding kick lately.  He had me download MapMyRide.com onto his iPod so he can keep track of all of his miles.  :)

This morning he decided to join me on my 5 miler.  It's really a win-win situation: he gets to go on a bike ride on roads I normally don't allow him to ride on, and I get to have a "pacer" who motivates me to go faster!  I skipped the walking breaks today, since it was only 5.14 miles, and I did it in 52 minutes, which is a 10:07 min./mile pace.  I still have some tightness in my hamstrings, but for the most part I felt pretty good.  I'm definitely starting to notice the heat, especially since we didn't get out there until about 9am because I did about 40 minutes of Pilates before we left.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gym workout and running-streak challenge.

This morning I left the house bright and early, heading to the gym for some weights and a spin class.  I spent about 40-45 minutes doing weights.  It's kind of lonely doing weights without my husband, but since he is on day shift now, he spent his time at the gym today even earlier than I did!  After I finished with strength training, with trembling arms and abs, I went down to the spin room to catch the 8:30am class.  As always, it was another great sweat-fest.  I literally have sweat dripping into my face in a continuous stream. Does anyone out there have any suggestions for their favorite sweat/headbands?  I know some people like Bondi-bands, which I haven't tried, but are there any others?  I have a Sweatbands brand headband, and although it does well holding my hair back, it doesn't really absorb much sweat.  I'm tempted to go with the traditional, circa 1980's terry cloth sweat band, but I just don't know if I can pull off the Olivia Newton John look. ;)

When I came home from spinning, I sat down at the computer to enter in my workout on the various websites I use for that stuff, and came across an entry from one of my blogger-friends concerning a challenge she read about in Runner's World to complete a Summer Running Streak from Memorial Day until the 4th of July.  That means running at least a mile everyday, hence the "running streak" classification.  Even though I normally only run about 3 days a week, doing all kinds of cross-training on the other days, I figured it shouldn't be too difficult to throw a mile in there on my normal non-running days as well.  Yep, I'm going to give it a shot.  So far, so good.  Yesterday was the first day and I did that 9 miler, and today I just jumped on the treadmill this afternoon and did 2 miles.  Anyone else want to join us??

Read about it at Jan's blog, Running On Fumes!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day, back in the saddle...

And no, this time I'm not referring to spinning (you know, the saddle, haha!), although Chris and I did end up going to that spinning class on Saturday morning, which made it three days in a row of spin class for me last week.  Yesterday I enjoyed a nice, rainy rest day.  This morning I woke up, the sun was out and I felt ready to get back out on the road.  First I did 45 minutes of Pilates, then I went out and I did my favorite 9.2 mile loop, which took me about an hour and 40 minutes.  It felt good to run again, since it's been a week since the marathon and I've been taking a break from running.  My hamstrings were feeling kind of tight, but other than that I felt pretty good.  This looks to be a promising week of good weather, so hopefully the kids and I will get lots of time outdoors.  Hope everyone has been enjoying this holiday weekend with their families.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Another busy Friday.

The kids had their last day of school yesterday and I didn't have scout meetings to worry about today, but I did have a lot of other things on my agenda.  I needed to fix the kids their breakfast before I could go grocery shopping (which involved multiple stores for specific items), return some items to another store, go to the bank, and somewhere in there, fit in a workout.  I decided to hit it all in one trip into town, the gym being my last stop so I could be there for the noon spinning class.  I actually got everything else done and made it to the gym with time to do about 20 minutes of walking on a treadmill before spin class, which got me good and warmed up.  Spinning was awesome, as usual.  I try to put my all into every class, and today was no exception, but for the first time I felt like calling it good when there was still 15 minutes to go in the class.  I was completely spent.  I didn't though.  I just kept pedaling.  I know I would have felt worse later for quitting early, so I'm glad I finished.  Tomorrow morning my husband and I are either going to go on a run (our first since the marathon), or another early spin class.  We'll be deciding based on how we feel in the morning.

I'm finally starting to feel a little more like myself, almost one week post-marathon.  For a little motivation and inspiration, I've ordered a couple of new running books: "26.2 miles of Blisters and Bliss," by Dean Karnazes and "Running for Women," by Kara Goucher (thanks Jan, for the recommend)!  I am eagerly awaiting their arrival because I need a new focus, a new perspective and some fresh training ideas for a new schedule.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Back to spin.

I made it to a spinning class this morning and was granted my wish of a good sweat-purge.  Gosh, I love that class.  It's hard, but fun and such a good workout.  I was surprised I had enough energy to make it through the whole hour.  The first 10 minutes or so, I was feeling weak, especially in my lower legs.  Once I worked past that blood-is-just-starting-to-flow-to-the-extremities tingling stage, I felt pretty decent and was able to put in enough effort to get my heart rate up into my upper zone for most of the class.

Now I just need to figure out what I'm going to do with the rest of my day with my husband home.  Maybe I'll get out and do some yard work in between rain storms, and I'm pretty sure a date later this evening at the newly opened Buffalo Wild Wings in Pocatello is in store for us.  I also need to start working on a plan for the next couple of months.  The next marathon I will run is in just 14 weeks.  Should be a fun summer of training!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Running funk.

I'm allowing myself an excuse not to run this week, so I guess I can't really call it a "funk".  Recovery from this marathon has been tough.  On Sunday and Monday, my quads and hamstrings were so sore that I was barely able to go up and down the stairs.  On top of that, my digestive system has been all out of whack and I also think I pulled a muscle near my ribs because it's sore when I breathe or move a certain way.  With my husband out of town, I've been struggling to keep the household running smoothly while I feel miserable.  Thankfully, he returns home tonight.  Unfortunately, tomorrow is the last day of school for the kids and I will be thrust into that time of chaos known as summer vacation.

Yesterday I decided to start gradually working my way back into the world of the active.  I can't stand not being able to workout every day.  I think that's harder to deal with than the physical pain I'm feeling.  I started with 25 minutes of Pilates, then I rode the recumbent bike for about an hour and a half, not fast or hard, but just enough to work up a little bit of a sweat and get my legs moving.  In the evening I did about an hour of easy walking on the treadmill.  When I went to bed last night, my head ached and my shoulders were sore - I really needed my husband here to give me a back massage!

This morning I was feeling just a bit better.  I walked on the treadmill for almost an hour and a half, about 5.25 miles.  While my leg muscles finally feel like they're starting to recover, I felt completely sapped of energy just from walking.  I finally took a 5-hour Energy drink thingy this afternoon just to feel human again.

As I was talking on the phone with my husband last night, comparing race "wounds", I mentioned that I don't really get why I'm feeling so crummy after this marathon, when I've run the marathon distance several times now and never felt this bad afterward.  He reminded me to keep in mind all of the factors involved: going faster (than I usually do) for a longer period of time, the heat, the excitement of the day and not getting enough sleep, a different course than my muscles are used to running - so many variables.  I'm trying to not be so hard on myself, but I'm starting to realize this trend after all of my really long runs.  It's all part of the marathon experience, I suppose.  The actual race day, long runs, speed work - all of those things break us down, even cause micro-tears in our muscles - so that as our muscles rebuild, they are stronger.  I think the same thing occurs mentally and emotionally as we endure the hardest parts of our training.  Hopefully that means that in a week or two, I will feel stronger than ever.  I just need to keep moving to get to that point.

Tomorrow is a new day, Chris will be home from his trip and since he said he'd stay home with our youngest (who is already finished with his school year), I'm going to attempt a spin class and maybe some weights in the morning.  Maybe a good sweat-purge will boost my spirits!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest post: Chris' thoughts on the marathon!

I would love to tell you my Ogden Marathon experience, but it wouldn’t be complete unless I gave you the back story and the great inspiration that led me on this journey.

Just over six years ago when we had our 4th and last child, Priscilla and I were both over-weight and totally inactive.  I’m still overweight; it’s a work in progress.  I watched in amazement as Priscilla took up walking everyday to lose that weight.  It didn’t matter the weather or the situation, she made sure that she got her walking in every day.  She walked all that weight off until she was smaller than when we got married.  I on the other hand, remained in my sedentary lifestyle doing nothing to better my health.  I weighed 290 lbs, but would always use the excuse that I was tall and carried it well.

Then Priscilla did something more amazing.  She took up running and committed with her friend to run the RimRock Marathon in Colorado.  I thought she was crazy.  Being a police officer and going through the Police Academy, I did my share of running, including a 12 plus mile run.  Running was painful, I hated running with a passion.

As I saw Priscilla start training for a marathon, I started feeling motivated to run and lose weight.  I didn’t want to race; I just wanted to be healthy.  One day I stepped on the scale - I weighed 293 lbs, my highest ever.  I thought to myself, why should my wife work so hard to be healthy while I do nothing?  I decided to start losing weight.  Priscilla ran the Pocatello Half in the fall of 2010, then she ran the RimRock Marathon that November.  I never knew Priscilla was so mentally tough that she could complete something so difficult.  I lost around 30 lbs or so that summer and fall but then something happened.  It was called a southeast Idaho winter.  I hate the treadmill.  I gained most of my weight back that winter since I stopped running.

The next spring, Priscilla ran her second Marathon in Ogden, UT.  I watched as Priscilla crossed the finish line and they put the biggest medal I have ever seen around her neck.  I was never so proud of her mental fortitude in doing such great things.

Watching that stirred something in me.  I wanted to run, but I didn’t want to run to just lose weight.  I wanted to run with a purpose, I wanted to run to compete.  Being a three sport athlete in High School that competitive fire was already there, but was now starting to resurface.

So I started running.  I signed up for the Pocatello Half Marathon that September.  Now when I ran it wasn’t just about losing weight, it was about training to do something that would make me feel like I had accomplished something.  I remember those 7 mile “long runs” where I would come home and feel like my legs could fall off.  I had a purpose and a goal that I had committed to, so I kept at it.  I finished that Pocatello Half Marathon and signed up for another Half Marathon in November and finished that as well.  Both of those races felt very tough and I struggled during the last three miles.  I had gotten my weight down to 260 lbs at the time and was starting to feel so much better and had so much more energy than before.

At this time I had no goal or desire to complete a full marathon.  Priscilla and I had discussed the idea but I still thought running 26.2 miles was the craziest thing someone could do.  Well, somehow I got talked into signing up for the Ogden Marathon in 2012.  It was one of those things where you basically have to sign up the first day to get a spot and Priscilla was on the phone with our dear friend who said he would sign us all up and pay for it – I had to decide if I was I in, or out.  Talk about pressure!  Well I said yes and immediately regretted it, although I’d never admitted it to anybody.  I’d committed and so I was going to do it.

Since Priscilla and I were doing the same race, we tried to stay on the same training schedule and started training together.  I’ve never had more fun than going on long runs together and being able to just have fun and talk and be together.  I did notice a trend when running though.  I would always start out strong and energetic and urging Priscilla along and then as the distance dragged on, I would fall back and watch Priscilla put up with my slow drawn out pace.

I really felt like my training was going well and I was starting to see it was possible for me to complete this whole marathon thingy.  Yea, I would experience a little IT Band pain, but nothing I couldn’t fight through.  About 7 weeks prior to the marathon I started off on a planned 23 mile training run with Priscilla.  My longest run yet.  About 19 ½ miles in I experienced a sharp pain in my right knee.  It felt like I was literally being stabbed with a knife.  I could hardly even take steps to walk.  I told Priscilla to just run ahead home and come back and pick me up.  I just walked as best I could.  Eventually I just forced myself to start jogging and would stop and walk when needed.  I was so determined to finish that run that I called Priscilla and told her not to come pick me up because I wanted to finish it.

I did finish that run.  The problem was I was unable to walk for two days.  I called in sick to work and felt pain for a week.  Now I had this internal dialogue going on about whether I could finish this marathon.  I was scared.  I had committed to do this but wasn’t sure if I could.  From that point on, I only did short to medium length runs.  If my knee started bothering me I would stop.  My only hope was that if I let it rest I might be able to complete the marathon.  My longest run from that point on was only 12 miles.

Two weeks prior to marathon day I caught a bad chest cold.  I’m talking the kind of cold where it hurts to eat and talk and you can’t sleep at night.  In fact, I still had a couple coughing fits during the race.  The only exercise I did was a 1 hour spin class on the Tuesday and Thursday the week of the marathon.

There I was, facing a marathon with my last long run 7 weeks prior and coming off a sickness where I hadn’t been able to run for two weeks.  I had only one goal, I wanted to finish.  In my head I was thinking, “5 ½ hours would be great and I just hope I’m under 6.”

We were at the starting line an hour before the race start.  We used the restroom first thing, but since I had been hydrating so well the last two days, as the race was getting started I was feeling the urge to use the restroom again, but the lines were way too long.  As the race started, I ran with Priscilla for about a quarter of a mile but then I told her I was going to run ahead to the first port a potty.  When I came out of the bathroom, Priscilla was nowhere in sight, so I just started running.  I knew Priscilla was utilizing her 4:1 ratio of run and walk.  I figured if I used a 5:1 ratio I could likely catch her.  At about mile 3, I saw her and our friend’s distinctive gloves that they had been wearing lying on the side of the road, which confirmed to me that they were definitely ahead of me.

Trying to catch up to Priscilla, I was running at a pace I probably would not have chosen to start a marathon but I figured she could not be that far ahead of me.  As the miles passed by, I was getting disappointed that I had not caught up to her.  At mile 10, I started getting cramps in my right calf and I knew my pace was way too fast.  I was not wearing a gps watch and could only estimate my pace with my regular watch, mile markers and knowing when the race started.  When I reached the half way point, I looked at my watch and realized that as I was running my first marathon, I had just beaten my best half marathon time of 2:18.  My split was actually 2:20 but as I said, I couldn’t tell my exact pace.  At this point I thought that there was no way Priscilla was ahead of me because she had never run a half marathon that fast.  Those gloves I saw had to have belonged to someone else.

I knew I had to consciously slow and let my calf cramp go away.  I slowed to a 4:1 run walk ratio but continued to run at a fairly good pace.  Cardiovascularly I was feeling great and as I slowed my cramp went away.  At mile 14,  I stopped and posed for a picture with the Ogden PD and Weber County Motor Officers that were conducting traffic control.  This was right before the only big uphill of the race.  While on a scheduled walking break, I was observing a runner passing me exhorting a lot of effort to run up this hill but he was barely going faster than me.  I told myself that if running up this hill is that slow, I was just going to walk and save some energy.  It only took about 5 minutes to finish walking up that hill and all the runners I had been running with were still close and I easily caught up to them on my next run because I was so rested and they were exhausted from the hill.

By then I was wondering several things: where’s Priscilla, I ran that first half so fast and I feel pretty good, can I actually finish this thing in under 5 hours and at what point is my IT Band going to act up because I’m getting into the upper teens in mileage?  Some of these questions were answered at the 17 mile mark.  As I crossed the dam and was getting ready to head down the canyon I heard someone call my name and I looked and saw our friend Kent.  Kent took my picture and told me Priscilla and Marsden just went by about 5 minutes ago.  I was in shock, I couldn’t believe Priscilla was on such a fast pace.

The canyon is 5 miles down hill and I took off trying to gain some ground on Priscilla.  I went too fast because I started to get side cramps and at this time my legs were beginning to get heavy and I could feel the fatigue and pain in my legs starting to grow.  Around mile 20 I looked ahead and saw the most beautiful female figure up ahead of me that I have grown to love and appreciate.  I called out her name, but she was still a long way up and couldn’t hear me.  At this time our friend Kent was driving by on his way down the canyon to go wait at the finish line.  I saw him pull up along Priscilla and then I saw her turn around and make eye contact with me.  I was visualizing her pulling up and waiting for me but nope, she turned right around and started running again.  I knew Priscilla was trying to PR and I knew she was just strictly keeping to her run walk ratio.  I took off trying to catch her knowing she would take a walk break in another 4 minutes and I could catch her.  As I caught her I gave her a soft pinch on the back side and smiled.  She and Marsden asked how I was doing and I admitted I was not feeling well and my legs were hurting.  I had exerted so much effort catching up, that as they took off on their next run I fell back behind them again, feeling tired.

When I watched them pull away from me something clicked.  I don’t know if I was just lonely from 20 miles of running by myself and I wanted some company or maybe it was a little competitiveness - likely the latter.  I just took off as fast as my tired legs could go and passed Priscilla.  In my head I had no expectation of staying ahead because as I mentioned before when it came to long runs I would always fall back as Priscilla charged on. 

As I reached the bottom of the canyon and entered Ogden at about mile 22.5 I was somehow still ahead of Priscilla.  Both my calves were starting to cramp bad and the entireties of both my legs were in severe pain.  As I ran through a park portion of the race there were gentle short up hills and as I stepped up the hill my calves would cramp and force me to walk until the pain subsided.  I had really started to slow and figured Priscilla would catch and pass me at any point.

Looking at my watch I knew I had slowed considerably in the second half and that the 5 hour mark could slip away if I did not stay motivated and strong.  I left the park and was now on the last leg of the journey.  At mile 25 the race made a left hand turn at a busy intersection.  Ogden Police would stop traffic as runners turned to cross.  As I did I felt a sharp pain in my right calf causing me to stumble and almost face plant on the roadway.  An officer asked if I was alright.  I didn’t look back I just mumbled that I was fine, it’s almost over.  As I turned the next corner I was on the final stretch of road.  I couldn’t see the finish line but I could see the large crowds down both sides of the street indicating the end was near.  Soon after making that last turn, the 5 hour pacer passed me.  I was disheartened, but knew I started near the back of the pack and that my actual time would be faster than the pacer because I had passed them near mile 8.

A couple of things occurred to me then.  As I looked behind me and couldn’t see Priscilla, I knew she had to be close.  I thought it would be really cool to wait for her and cross the finish line holding hands.  I also thought, I was really close to the 5 hour mark and I wanted to make that cut off.  If I waited, I may be over 5 hours.  I passed the 26 mile marker and saw the finish line ahead.  I took off as fast as I could and almost stumbled and fell a second time with a sharp calf cramp pain. 

I crossed the finish line by myself and saw the gun time above my head at 5:01.  I waited only a minute to see Priscilla cross.  I gave her a big hug.  She showed me her Garmin and it showed a time of 4:58.  I was elated; we both broke 5 hours and she PR-ed. 

I cannot describe the emotions at the end of that race.  I was in so much pain and so exhausted I could hardly function.  At the same time I was so happy I had accomplished something so difficult that seemed, at one time, impossible.  To add to it all, I had never run at such a pace for such a long distance.  My 23 mile training run took about 5 ½ hours and I had just run 26.2 in under 5 hours.  I had no idea at the time how I was able to do it, but as I sat down and wrote about it, I think I’ve discovered the reason for my strength.

Priscilla is the love of my life and my inspiration.  She inspired me to do something I never would have considered on my own.  She showed me impossibilities are possible with hard work and determination.  I spent the first 20 miles of that race running harder than I ever trained for trying to catch Priscilla.  If I hadn’t seen those gloves lying on the side of the road, I am not sure I would have run as hard as I did.  Once I caught her, that loving competitiveness that we developed on our long training runs together took over and allowed me to move my body even though my body didn’t want to move.  Maybe that two weeks of rest let my body and IT Band heel and rest to allow me to perform but it was Priscilla who pushed me that day and continues to push me.

I may or may not run another marathon in the future but will definitely run more half marathons.  I weigh 245 lbs and will continue to run and lose more weight.  I will always credit my beautiful Priscilla for making me a better, healthier person and for pushing me to do great things, whether in running or other endeavors in life.  I LOVE YOU! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ogden Marathon 2012 Race Re-recap!

Well, we did it!  Another 26.2 mile adventure under our (hydration) belts. :)  This was my fourth marathon, my husband's first.  It never ceases to amaze me how different each race experience can be.  You truly never know how you will feel or how your body will respond.

Our trip began Thursday evening as we made the drive down to Salt Lake City to our friend's home.  During the drive, Chris and I talked about how we anticipated things would go on race day.  I felt so good, and while I hoped to have an official PR, I mainly wanted to focus on enjoying the time with my husband and just having a good race.  He on the other hand, was more concerned that how he had been feeling physically for the past few weeks might come back to bite him - between the IT band pain he had been having on his long training runs and being sick with a chest cold for a while, he just wanted to finish.

On Friday, we took the kids and went to the race expo in Ogden and picked up our race packets.  It was pouring rain and a little chilly, so we didn't stay long at the expo.  After we perused the vendors tables a bit, we headed back to Salt Lake, stopping at Brick Oven Pizza for lunch.  When we got back to the house, we spent the rest of the day relaxing, then enjoyed a nice dinner with all of our family and friends in the evening.  Surprisingly, we were all able to go to bed at a decent hour (9-ish), with alarms set for 3am!

A friend drove all of us up to Ogden (an hour away) to catch the shuttles that would drive us up to the starting area (another 30-40 minutes away).  I love race mornings.  It is so fun to be around all the other runners and listen to the chatter about their other races and running experiences.  There are always so many stories of inspiration.  When we arrived at the staging area, there were fire barrels spotting the field, along with rows and rows of port-a-potties.  Chris and I both jumped in a potty line, then found a barrel to hover around until it was time for the race to begin.

As soon as they announced the race was about to begin, we gradually made our way to the start.  I took off my jacket, tossed my bag onto a race truck and we worked our way into the crowd near the back of the pack.  Our plan was to do a 4:1 run/walk interval, I would be running with our friend Marsden (who was going to stay with me, whatever pace I ran), and Chris would stay with us while he wanted to, but just basically run his own race.  Since we were several minutes behind the gun start, I started my Garmin the minute I crossed the starting line.  Within the first couple of miles, Chris had ducked into a potty while Marsden and I kept going, and then we were off and on our own for a while.

I try not to look at my pace or mileage too often when I'm running.  It tends to get to me mentally.  I just ran how I felt, knowing that I was risking going out too fast, since the course is a lot of downhill.  My mental strategy for this race was to just keep reminding myself that I could do it - I had proven that to myself on my last long run with my friend Holly when we ran the 26.2 distance in 4:56.  Things moved along well for Marsden and I as we ran the first 17 miles or so.  The great thing about running with someone you love is that there is never a shortage of things to talk about, so the time passes quickly.  We just ran well on our run intervals, and walked at our walk intervals like clockwork, and slowed down through all the aid stations to sip some water.  Last year I didn't stay hydrated well enough and got very thirsty towards the end, especially with the heat.  I did much better staying hydrated this time.

I also felt a noticeable difference in my strength during this year's run compared with last year's Ogden Marathon.  I ran with Marsden last year, too, and even he noted the difference.  Around mile 17, the course crosses the reservoir dam and then starts to wind down into the Ogden Canyon - much steeper downhill at that point and for the next 5-6 miles.  After we crossed the dam, we were greeted by our friend who took some photos of us then said he would wait to see Chris when he made it to that spot.

A few minutes later, our friend caught up to us in his truck as he was driving back down the course headed toward the finish line so he could greet us there.  He pulled up along side us and said Chris was just a couple of minutes behind us.  I was very surprise and in fact didn't even believe him at first.  Marsden and I had been going at a really good pace for those first 18 miles - a little over 10 minute miles, and that's with walking breaks!  I couldn't believe Chris was keeping up so well.

Around mile 20, I felt someone come up behind me and pinch me on the back-side - yep, it was Chris - AMAZING!  While I was happy to see him, I was so surprised that it kind of threw me for a loop, mentally.  I had fully expected to finish before him and then be waiting for him at the finish line.  Not because I didn't think he was capable of doing it that fast, but because I was truly worried that his knee and leg pain would hold him back.  I guess I didn't need to worry!

While I was still feeling relatively good at that point, I had started having some side cramping.  I don't usually get side cramps, but we had been going down hill for a while and I had been keeping up that good pace for so long, and it was also getting pretty warm.  It took couple more miles for me to breathe through that dang cramp and just as it finally started to subside, my quads started cramping up.  Now Chris had gone ahead of me, not much, just enough that I could keep him in my line of sight.  I was actually feeling pretty frustrated as we exited the canyon and entered the town of Ogden, the last 3-4 miles of the course.  The quivering in my quad muscles was really painful and there were times I thought my legs were going to give out.  The only things helping me hang on were Marsden's words of encouragement and my own mental strength, knowing I would be mad at myself later if I didn't push through the pain - I knew a PR was totally within my reach, as long as I didn't slow down too much at the end.

Finally on the homestretch, I could see the finish line (man, that .2 miles is a long way) and I could also see Chris just ahead of me.  I had taken a couple of extra, short walking breaks during the last mile because I wanted to be able to run through the finish line.  When you get this close, the crowd of people cheering and calling your name really helps and gives you that boost of adrenaline to run it out.  Although I was in a bit of a mental fog, I watched Chris as he ran across, the clock reading 5:01 something, then I crossed the finish line with Marsden as the gun-time clock read 5:02.  At first I was feeling disappointed, I wanted to break 5 hours so badly.  But then I checked my Garmin and saw that I had done it!

It's hard to remember that the gun time and your chip time are different, and since we had started so far behind the official start, I was safe.  (My official race chip time was 4:58:10 and Chris' was 4:56:53 - less than 1.5 minutes apart!)  This was a race PR for me, beating my previous time by 14 minutes - oh, yeah! :)

I found Chris after receiving my medal and we hugged and cried together for a minute, holding each other up so we didn't collapse on our exhausted legs!

I am so happy for Chris that he was able to overcome the obstacles he faced during training to pull out such a successful race experience.  I think we will be reliving this runner's high for some time.  It is the best feeling to be able to share all the emotion of something so challenging with my best friend.

After gathering all of our stuff and the rest of our group, we all went to 5 Guys Burgers and Fries for a post-race meal and celebration.

Yesterday (Sunday) we traveled home.  The 2-3 hour drive home was uncomfortable, to say the least.  Both of us are very, very sore.  I don't think my quads have ever been this sore.  I'm not even sure what to blame it on.  I mean, the downhill in the course is probably partly to blame, but I train on hills a lot, so I'm sure that most of my soreness can be attributed to the pace we kept for the majority of the race.  While I'm not fast compared with a lot of runners, maintaining an average pace like we did means that during the running portion of our run/walk/run intervals I had been running at a speed of 7-9 minutes per mile the whole time.  The walk breaks bring the average pace down, but there's no way I could have run that fast without those little breaks in between.

Oh, and of course no marathon would be complete without a blister or two...

Now, 2 days post-race, I think I'll do a little Pilates or Yoga this morning.  I hope it will help with some of this soreness because it would be really nice to be able to walk up and down the stairs again. :)

If any of you are interested, feel free to check out my Facebook profile to view some additional photos from the weekend.

P.S.  Stay tuned, my dear readers.  I'm hoping that when my husband returns from being at work-related training in a few days, I can talk him into writing a blog post with his thoughts on the experience!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let the weekend begin!

Our weekend starts today!  The kids don't have school tomorrow, so as soon as they get home today we will be heading down to Salt Lake City to our friends' home to spend the weekend and run the marathon on Saturday!  Yee Haw!

Chris and I squished in one last spin class for the week this morning.  After the tremendous amount of sweat we expelled, he was concerned we may have used up too many precious energy reserves!  Haha!  Sorry, honey, but I think we'll be good. ;)  We have all day tomorrow to do nothing but go to the expo, pick up our race packets and relax.  The weather looks like it will be perfect for running on Saturday - sunny with a high of 70 degrees.  It should be nice and cool up in the mountains when the race begins.

I think I might be the only one in our group that is really looking forward to this run.  My husband is at the point where he kind of just wants to get it over with so he doesn't have to stress about it anymore.  With his IT band issues and being sick for the past two weeks, his training didn't go quite as planned.  I still think he will do well, barring any unforeseen problems.  I am praying that he has a good experience and isn't too sore afterwards.  He has to go out of town on Sunday for a week of training for work, so he won't have much opportunity for a restful recovery.  Bummer.

And as far as the other people in our group, two of them still haven't completely recovered after running the Boston Marathon in that record-breaking heat.  When I talked to them yesterday, I could sense that they just don't have their normal pre-race enthusiasm.  And another member of our group didn't get much of her training in - at all.  So she is only going to run the second half of the race.

It doesn't matter, though.  I am determined to enjoy myself and hopefully I can help everyone else have a fun and memorable experience.  Giddiness is contagious, right?! :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The taper continues and Mike's Extra Mile...

Today's workout consisted of 90 minutes on the recumbent bike and 30 minutes of walking on the treadmill.  (I had two episodes of DWTS to catch up on!) ☺

I have always been amazed at the strength and endurance of so many runners out there.  Today I'd like to share a story about one such runner, who happens to be the brother of a friend of mine.  Mike Evans is an ultra-runner.  He decided some time ago that he wanted to try and run across the entire state of Idaho, from the Oregon border in the west, to the Wyoming border in the east.  He has now put together his plan, to take place next month (June), and along the way he will be helping out an organization that aids local families who have children fighting cancer.  Another of my close friends (runner Holly) is the mother of one of those children, so this cause is dear to my heart.  I should also mention that Mike himself is a cancer survivor!

Please take a minute to read all about Mike and his quest on this website: www.mikesextramile.blogspot.com and then go to Facebook and "like" his page to follow along with him as he runs!

You can also go to the Idaho Fighters blog to read all about the courageous and sweet children from our area who are beating cancer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spin class and weights.

Continuing on with my taper, I decided to do my usual Tuesday morning spin class followed by about 40 minutes of strength training.  My husband's work schedule has switched to day shift, so I will be going it alone on Tues/Thurs now.  As much as I enjoy time alone with my husband, I'm kind of looking forward to being able to just "do my thing" for the next couple weeks...that is, until the kids are home from school for the summer.  That's a whole other topic...

This morning I was reading through the May issue of Runner's World (again), and came across a few great reminders in an article called, "Head to Toe."  So much of running is mental, these are some things to remember, whether we're training for races or new to running:

Run what you can - Any amount of exercise is better than nothing and you'll avoid the negative mind-set that comes from doing nothing.

Think walk, not just run - Frequent walk breaks improve your fitness by extending your exercise time.  Time on your feet builds strength and cardiovascular capacity.

Allow for no excuses - Runners claim a minor mishap as a reason to stop running, but usually something else in your life is going on.  If you falter, recommit by revisiting your original motivations.

(This is my favorite.)
*Understand discomfort - Running can be hard, but don't call it pain.  Pain is getting burned by a stove.  Some discomfort can lead to improvements in fitness.  What's hard today will get easier tomorrow.*

Monday, May 14, 2012

7.25 miles on the treadmill.

I can already tell this is going to be an interesting week.  The week before a marathon I always over-think things.  I don't know why I do this, since I am aware that I'm doing it I should just stop it.  I try to think of it as just another training week with a long run at the end, especially since I know that the marathon will not be a problem.  I'm not necessarily running for time, but just to enjoy the experience with my husband.  Part of me wants to "baby" my body all week and take things easy, but the rest of me still craves a good workout.

This morning I took my time getting around to my exercise, but then I went a bit long.  I started out on the treadmill with the intention of walking/running for a while.  I ended up going about 7.25 miles, and I threw in some sets of burpees at every commercial break of the show I was watching.

The other thing I over-think the week leading up to a race is my diet.  I know it's not a good idea to change anything at this point.  No need to freak my body out with some weird food or changes, but I want to make sure I'm eating enough carbs and protein all week without overdoing it.  Balance.

Anyone out there have any pre-race rituals or superstitions?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

9.5 miles.

This morning when I woke up, I was feeling pretty tired and I was second guessing my idea to go running.  I did about 35 minutes of Pilates, and once my blood was flowing, I finally got the motivation to just get dressed in my running clothes and get out there.  Of course, I didn't regret the decision.  I did a 9.5 mile loop leaving from my house, and with the sun shining brightly and the air warming slightly, I had a great time.  Some days, running is like therapy.  Today was one of those days.  I just wish I could carry that feeling through longer.  One week from today my husband and I will join our friends from Salt Lake City and run the Ogden Marathon.  I am really looking forward to it and hope this week I can keep things in balance and retain my energy reserves and have a good race.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Another busy Friday.

Another typical Friday for me, with cub scout meetings and kid-things to do all morning.  Before I did all that, I was able to get in about 45 minutes of Pilates.  Then this afternoon, we had a couple of hours to spend as a family before my husband needed to go to work, so we packed up a couple of backpacks and hiked up a dirt road/trail from our house.  We ended up going almost 5 miles.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Last night, as I made the realization that I would be more or less on my own this morning and could arrange my workout however I wanted, I decided to make it a tri-day.  Normally I go to spin class on Thursday mornings, but this morning I got up a bit early and went out for a 3.1 mile run before the kids went to school, then after I got them all out the door, I headed into the gym where I did an awesome spin class (with my favorite instructor-yay!), then after that I went straight into the pool where I swam 1/2 mile.  Here are my stats:

5k (3.1 miles) - 30:16 - 9:45 min./mile pace
Spinning, 1 hour (ave. heart rate during that hour = 170)
800m (1/2 mile) swim - 18 minutes

I'm really happy with how things went for me today.  Granted, I had a break between the running and the spinning, but still, I was glad that I felt strong doing my swim.  I don't know how many miles would be the equivalent of an hour of spinning, but I'm guessing it would be more than 20.  That guess is based on the fact that when I ride a regular upright bike at the gym for an hour, the distance readout is usually at least 20 miles, and I know I am working much harder and going faster when I'm in a spinning class.  Has anyone ever figured out how to gauge that?  I would be very interested to know.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

31.5 miles (on the bike, haha!)

This morning I had two episodes of the The Voice to watch, which I was eager to do before the final outcome was spoiled for me by reading something on the internet.  I pedaled on the recumbent bike for the whole time, but I also used my 5 pound hand weights to do some bicep and tricep curls for a while.  After a time of 2 hours and 23 minutes I had "gone" 31.5 miles.  It's not the same intensity as when I use a spin bike, of course, but I was pretty soaked with sweat by the time I was done.  After I finished with that, I went outside and helped my husband and little boy for a while where they were working in the yard and garden.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How I celebrate my birthday.

Today is my birthday, and it also my husband's day off and our usual day "alone" when we would normally go to spinning and then run errands and things like that.  Today, we decided to go to our gym's alternate location, which is an adult's only facility.  There are no classes at this location, and the atmosphere is a bit more laid back than the main gym, but they have a little pool/hot tub/sauna/menthol/steam room area that has a nice, relaxing ambiance.  We started out doing about 30 minutes of weights, then my husband (who is still sick and coughing like a madman) went to the pool area, while I did an hour and 15 minutes of cardio on my own.  I started with 30 minutes on the StairMaster, then 20 minutes on a rowing machine and finally 20 minutes on an elliptical.  Then I joined my husband in the hot tub for a bit before we headed to lunch, and of course, running a bunch of other errands.

Yes, I enjoyed all the cheesy goodness of these chicken enchiladas, at least until I got full and my husband helped me out. ;)

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Flu and 9.2 miles.

What a weekend.  After a pretty normal day on Friday, I woke up Saturday morning feeling nauseous, dizzy and achy.  I ended up staying in bed the entire day, I could barely move my body at all.  It was awful.  What made it worse was that my husband and a couple of my kids have been fighting a terrible chest cold and nasty cough, and I felt bad I couldn't do more to help take care of them.  I was glad when I woke up Sunday morning feeling slightly better, at least the severe aching in my joints and muscles had lessened and I wasn't as sick to my stomach.  I was actually able to eat a few things, which slowly helped me feel stronger.  By the time I went to bed last night, I was feeling optimistic I might be feeling well enough to work out this morning, but I wasn't sure how much strength and energy I'd have.  After all, I had only consumed about 600-700 calories for a 48 hour period.  That's not too good.

So this morning I did about 45 minutes of Pilates after I got the kids' school lunches made, then once the kids were off to school, I decided to go ahead and try to run.  The sun was out, the high's supposed to be around 65 today, so I wore just a tank top and some capris and figured I'd be fine.  Yikes.  The wind was blowing - hard.  I should have known better.  My arms and hands felt frozen.  I did a 9.2 mile loop, and thankfully the 2nd half of the loop heads back towards the sun, so I was able to defrost a bit.  I ran slowly, doing a 4:1 run/walk ratio.  My average pace was only around 11:50 min/mile, but I was just happy to get out there and do something.  That was my first run back out on the road since I ran 26.2 one week ago.  I had done a bit of running on the treadmill and of course all my other workouts, but there's nothing like being out on the road.

On another note, this was today's Runner's World Quote of the day:
(Why does it not surprise me that the creator of the world's best vacuum cleaner is also a runner.  Hmmm.  Oh, how I love a good vacuum and a clean carpet.  A Dyson is on my forever "want list"!)

Running focuses my mind and allows me to think around a subject. I still need a workshop to make discoveries, but on a run I might think of a new avenue to explore. Another thing I learned from running is that the time to push hard is when you're hurting like crazy. The moment you should accelerate is the moment you're the most tired. I found that to be so in life as well. ~ Sir James Dyson, founder and chief engineer of Dyson

Friday, May 4, 2012

4 treadmill miles.

I wasn't able to get to my workout until this afternoon, since I had cub scout meetings to attend.  I did get in a little "extra" workout, in the form of raking and yard-work helping with the annual spring city clean-up for about an hour, though.

Once I finished making homemade chicken noodle soup and juicing some vegetables and fruit for my sick husband, I had some time to get on the treadmill.  Of course, as you can see through the door in the picture above, the sun decided to appear and warm things up, after a gloomy, windy and cool morning.  It would have been perfect running weather.  Oh, well.  Tomorrow.

So, I started out doing a few sprint intervals, to get my heart rate up and the blood flowing.  I wasn't sure how my legs would react to some faster running, but they actually felt okay.  Then I put the incline up on the treadmill and did some "hiking" at 3.5 - 4 mph.  I also jumped off the treadmill a few times to do some burpees.  That whole workout lasted a little over an hour.

Question:  What are some of your favorite running/inspirational books?  I need something new to read to get me motivated and excited for a summer of training, post and pre-marathon.  I'm thinking of Dean Karnazes' new book "Run!: 26.2 stories of blisters and bliss", because his book "Ultra-Marathon Man" was totally inspiring and fun to read.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Spinning, weights and time.

This morning after the kids were in school, Chris and I were able to go to the gym to take a spinning class and spend some time lifting weights.  While most of the soreness in my legs has diminished, spinning was no piece of cake.  I guess that's why I love it so much, though.  We even did a little over an hour today because just as the class was supposed to be finishing up, the instructor came upon one of her favorite motivating songs on her playlist and asked if we could do one more working song.  Of course, we all groaned in agreement. ;)

After class, as we lifted weights for about 45 minutes, both of us were feeling pretty tired and worn out.  And hungry.  When we left the gym, we ate the lunch I packed for us, then went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things.  After that, we enjoyed a little time "window shopping" at Dick's Sporting Goods, one of my most favorite places, then went to TJMaxx and paid reasonable prices for some new running gear.  My husband got a couple pair of Nike running shorts and a Nike shirt, and I got two tanks, a long bra and a pair of capris - all for only $79!  That's like the price of 1 1/2 running shirts at Dick's. ;)  My slump is officially over. I'm ready to go out running again.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Oh, the (mind) games we play.

So far, this day has been a bit of a drag.  I dragged myself out of bed this morning, then dragged myself onto the recumbent bike for 90 dragging minutes, then I dragged through 35 minutes on the treadmill trying to walk some of the kinks out of my legs.  (Please don't judge me if I am totally using that word wrong! Haha!)

At least I can say I did do something today, even though I don't feel that great.  In a way, I'm not even sure it's completely due to my physical fatigue and soreness that I feel this way.  It's hard to explain, and I even tried to have a conversation with my husband about it last night, but I still don't feel like he "gets it", so I'm hoping that someone out there will be able to relate.  See, after all of my marathons, and now I can also say after each of my three 26+ mile training runs during the month of April, for about 2-3 days following I go through this slump.  It's more of a mental slump than a physical one, at least I think it is.  There's something about the prospect of preparing myself to do something difficult or great or admirable, however it may be seen, during the time leading up to those long runs, which is so exciting and keeps the adrenalin flowing, that is then completely gone the moment I finish the 26 mile distance.  It's like a deflation of spirit.  Like, okay...I just ran that far, now what?

The stupid thing is, it's not like I'm just so good at running long distances that I need to move on to harder things.  It's hard, every time!  Every run I (still) feel as though I'm fighting against my natural tendencies to do this running thing.  Obviously in some ways I have improved over the past couple of years, like an increase in endurance, less joint pain, fewer GI issues - all those problems I had when I first took up running have certainly decreased in intensity.  And I can't say enough about how following Jeff Galloway's Run/Walk/Run method has made it possible for me to go farther and longer.  But as I sit and think about each run after the fact, I still can see where I need to improve, how I would like to do better, where I'd like to be stronger.

Another stupid thing about all of these thoughts going through my head is that I honestly tell myself (and others) all of the time that I don't really care about my "times" or how fast I am, I know I'll never be a very fast runner, and that's why I like to go long - because I truly enjoy being out on the road, moving along at whatever pace my body feels comfortable, enjoying the excitement and adventure that comes with traveling so far away from home and then back again, carried only by my own two feet.  And that is really, truly how I feel.

But then, every once in a while, apparently near and around races, that little flicker of competitiveness kicks in, even though I'm really only ever competing with myself.  For example, I knew going into my run on Monday that my friend would "push" me to run a faster pace than what I'm used to, but I had prepared myself for it and actually accepted the challenge.  When my legs were aching with miles to go, I knew I was going to be more sore than usual and my recovery might be a little tougher.  And even when we were at mile 25, and she seemed to have boundless amounts of enthusiasm and energy and I was shuffling along, completely knowing it was all mind over body for me at that point, I was trying to internalize what she was saying to me about how proud she was that I had pushed myself past my own limits, maintaining a consistent pace that was faster than my legs were accustomed to, that I was doing something I hadn't done before and I was about to have my best 26.2 mile run ever, even if it wasn't in a formal race setting.

And now what does this mean for me?  I don't know.  I really don't.  I felt pretty stoked about having finally broken through that 5 hour barrier, and it was sure fun to share that excitement with my running friend who really seemed to understand what it meant for me.  But when I tried to share the enthusiasm with my husband, and with another friend, and even through other social outlets, I didn't quite get the same response - instead, more of a "Wow.  You ran another 26.2 miles.  Cool."  This short-lived feeling of satisfaction made me realize that I must stay in touch with those intrinsically rewarding feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction and growth.  It really doesn't matter who ran what, when or how fast.  We each have our own journey.

With all of that said, I'm looking forward to May 19th and the Ogden Marathon (route pictured above) as an opportunity for me to spend time with my family and some close friends whom I love dearly, sharing with my husband in his first marathon experience and what will hopefully be a beautiful day to "Get Out and Live," just as the slogan for the Ogden Marathon says!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Post-run recovery?

There is no doubt that I pushed myself yesterday, at least so my quads are telling me today!  When I got up this morning, and limped downstairs to make the kids' school lunches, I considered taking a day off from exercise.  Then I went back upstairs and did 30 minutes of Pilates, sent the kids to school and headed to the gym for spin class. :)  It was tough to even pedal the bike, so I spent most of the time with my eyes closed, working on my mental toughness.  About half-way through the hour I started to feel better and stopped regretting the decision to go to class.  After spinning, I did 30 minutes of upper body strength training, then I went and sat in the hot tub for about 15 minutes.  Maybe tomorrow I'll be easier on myself, then again, maybe not.