Thursday, September 29, 2016

Less than two weeks to go...

So why haven't I started to get excited yet? On October 9th I'll run my sixth marathon, with this being my fourth Chicago Marathon. Usually at this point I'm obsessively checking the weather, and coordinating the events of the weekend with friends and family. This year it just feels like another long run.

Don't get me wrong - I'm still in shock that my legs can carry me that far, and it's an honor to raise money for Ronald McDonald House Charities. But training hasn't gone that well, and I'm dealing with a brand-new foot pain issue. So now I have to wait until I see the doctor to find out what's going on.

Maybe this mood is because I really feel like this will be my last least for a couple of years. I had a vision in my head of this being the best marathon experience to date. We were going to stay down at one of my favorite hotels, enjoy a great meal that evening after running, and I'd see lots of people I know on the course. Now it's morphed in to driving down early that morning, and heading back home after I finish.

I just need to take a step back, recollect myself, and lower my expectations. I also need to remember that I'm able to do something that many may only dream of doing. It's never easy, and it'll hurt. But I'm determined to run smart and finish strong.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hitting my stride

This year's marathon training has been a series of ups and downs. I started off strong, and hoped the momentum would carry on. But with Matt having basketball games in June, and Tom playing baseball up until last week, my midweek runs were pitiful. To top that off I missed a long run, and had to throw in the towel less than 5 miles in to a 10 miler.

I have to keep reminding myself that life happens, and some miles are better than no miles. So last week I gave myself a mental pep talk, and got back out there last week. 

Tuesday I joined the Dick Pond group for a hot and sweaty 4.3 miles, then ran the Summer Sunset 5K Wednesday night. That race was a bit eventful for me - I wiped out before the first mile, and I'm still sporting tons of bruises along my right side. But I got up, brushed myself off, and finished strong. I even got my butt out of bed early Thursday morning to run with the Fox River Trail Runners!

Even after a good week I was still nervous about the Fox Valley Marathon training run this past Sunday. I was supposed to run 13 miles, but in my head I was saying that I'd be happy with 11 miles. 

I was by myself from about the second mile in, and fell into a great rhythm. The miles flew by, and before I knew it I was 7 miles in. I turned back around at that point, and knew I was at least 5 miles away from DP. But I really did feel pretty amazing at that point.

As it warmed up I had to work a bit harder to get through the last few miles. I made it back to St. Charles, and I was at 12.4 miles. I was so happy with knowing I would make it 13 miles! And I added an extra 0.1 miles to get my personal half marathon distance. 

This run gave me back my confidence, and showed me that I'm stronger than I think I am. I've been lucky enough to have Christine join me on her bike for a  couple of my long runs, and that's helped me tremendously. But I'm having to get through this mostly on my own, and stay on track for the next 9 weeks. 

This week I'm supposed to do 10 miles, but since the 15 miler would fall on the weekend when we'll be moving my oldest into his dorm at KU I'm swapping the weeks. This way I can knock out the longer miles early Saturday, and save the short run for the day before we leave. 

Thank you so much to all of my friends and family who are supporting me through yet another summer full of long runs, weekday runs, and my mini-freak outs! It means the world to me.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Chicago Marathon training - week 1

Today marks the completion of week one of "I'm not even sure how many weeks", and it went pretty well. Not great, because I didn't get as much crosstraning in as I'd like, and I was a day late on my long run. That was thanks to one too many martinis after a lovely night out with some of my favorite women. When I woke up on Saturday at 5:00 a.m. I just knew that long run wasn't going to happen.

I'm following the run/walk virtual training plan created by our Team RMHC Coach Brendan. This week was pretty tame - I had two midweek run days along with my long run, and I am happy that I got all of them in! However, other than a walk yesterday I haven't done any other exercise - not good! I know there are areas I really need to work on, like my core and hip strength. So this week I'm committed to getting to the gym three times for strength training and conditioning. 

Today my plan called for 5 miles, but I was taking it slow and easy and felt great so I stretched it to a 10K. The weather was wonderful, even though I didn't get out until this afternoon. It was about 80 degrees, with a nice breeze and low humidity. With the heat coming this weekend I took full advantage of being able to run later in the day today. 

Since this will most likely be my last marathon, I am more focused and committed to train strong, train smart, and eat well. It's going to take a lot of willpower and determination, but I'm ready to tackle this challenge.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

In a rut

And I really need to get out of it and find my groove again. I'm still running (although not that often), and completed the Rockford Half Marathon last weekend. I survived, and it wasn't my worst half so far. But I haven't stuck with anything consistent lately, and it's frustrating me. I also have that pesky 15 lbs hanging around that I can't seem to part with, and that's bugging the heck out of me, too.

As we inch even closer to June I'm both excited and dreading starting up marathon training again - and it has to do with that rut. I'm not as concerned with endurance, since I've managed to pull off 13.1 miles during s run. But I'm so tired of being mediocre....being the one that everyone is waiting for to finish. I always say my expectations are low (namely finish and don't die), but since this will most likely be my marathon I want to be proud of my effort. 

Now I'm not going to to go all crazy and say I want to qualify for Boston, but I'd like to shave some time off my PR of 6:11. I know with some hard work, cross-training, and dedication I can do this. I've already signed up for Coach Brendan's virtual training, and I'm planning to join the Fox River Trail Runners Fall Endurance training. I also signed up for the Dick Pond Fast Track team, so I'm finally adding in speedwork.

It's time to step out of my comfort zone and put some effort into my training. And healthy eating has to become the priority as well. Hopefully with the right foods and training this will be the year I've been hoping for.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

And so it begins...again

So it's about that time to start marathon training for the fourth year in a row. It's so hard to believe we're already into May! When I decided back in January (oh, who are we kidding?...I decided about 10 minutes after finishing last year) to run the Chicago Marathon, it seemed like it was soooooo far away. But after a less than stellar few months of running, it's come flying back at me, and pretty much smacked me in the face. 

The positive note is that I really haven't been dealing with any injuries this year. Fortunately I've been able to keep running, but it hasn't been that consistent. Sure, I've run almost every weekend, but my midweek runs have been pretty much non-existent. Most days during the week I'm not getting home until close to 7:00, and I've only been able to run in the mornings a couple of times. But with school wrapping up soon I should have a bit more flexibility. 

In the meantime I've got to get back to cross training. It definitely has helped, so I need to make it a priority on my non-running days. And the healthy eating is getting back on track right now - lots of fruits, veggies, and healthy protein are now fully stocked! After all, swimsuit season is just around the corner - and I've got a loooong way to go to get back to my goal.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When life gets in the way

I knew it had been awhile since I last posted, but I had no idea it had been over six months. To say things have changed a lot during that time would be an understatement, at the very least. Training for my marathons went really, but about a week or so before the Fox Valley Marathon my dad became critically ill following a surgery to repair a fracture in his back. Life then became a haze of taking care of the kids and trying to work when I could, in between spending time at the hospital. Honestly, I was so worn out that I debated running FVM. But I knew he would want me to follow through, and luckily he was doing a tiny bit better that weekend. I shared all 26.2 miles with my amazing friend Christine, and my dad was on my heart every step of the day. That afternoon I presented my dad with a marathon medal of his own, and it hung in his room in the ICU.

Unfortunately, the day after the marathon it became apparent that my dad sadly wasn't going to pull through this battle. He fought so hard, but his body just couldn't take it anymore. On Friday, September 25 my dad passed away, surrounded by family. It still hurts my heart to even type that.

What followed afterwards was a flurry of services, traveling to North Carolina for his burial, and trying to figure out how we were all going to go on. Running during this time became my therapy; my time where I could process the grief a tiny bit and find some sort of peace. I decided to follow through with running the Chicago Marathon, and dedicated my medal to my dad. 

Surprisingly enough, it was probably my best marathon performance to date. I actually PR'd at FVM by 7+ minutes, and was just about 3 minutes slower than that for Chicago. I ran the whole time with a wonderful woman who is one of my sorority sisters, and Christine jumped in with us for miles 21-25. Even though my foot was pretty jacked up when I finished, it will go down as my best run so far.

Life post-marathon has truly been a blur. I ran one final half marathon in November (Naperville Half Marathon - loved it!), but since then my running and exercising had to take a back seat for a couple of months. We helped my mom get settled in a townhome right across the street from us, celebrated the holidays (that was a tough stretch), and hoped that 2016 would be a better year. Unfortunately that hasn't been the case.

Since late December my mom has been in terrible pain in her back and legs. She's had cortisone shots, a kyphoplasty procedure, chiropractic work, and the pain just escalated. After the electric shock sensation became unbearable, my brother convinced her to go to the ER. This was back on Super Bowl Sunday, three weeks ago. Finally a neurosurgeon was able to show us exactly where her nerves were being smashed by her back. An extensive surgery was planned for her, and she should have had that over two weeks ago. However, through some pre-op testing they discovered that my mom also had pericarditis. It's a minor issue on its own, but if surgery had occurred it could have been very dangerous.

So now we are in a holding pattern, praying that they might be able to operate on Friday or Monday. The reason I wrote about all of this is to show that there are times when life truly gets in the way when you're trying to reach your goals. I'm still running, sometimes around 9 miles a week...sometimes I'm lucky to get in 3 miles total. Between not running as much and having to eat on the go so often, my weight is not where I'd like it to be. I managed to make it through marathon season without gaining, but sadly that hasn't been the case the last two months. 

When I have a chance to go to the gym (by the way, we joined Planet Fitness and I LOVE it!), I'm trying to focus on cross-training and weights. My eating has been about as far from clean eating as you can get, so I'm trying to focus on making at least one or two changes each day. So if that means I eat a handful of chocolate chips instead of a Nutty Bar, I'm counting that as a win. Trying to keep everything else afloat only leaves so much space in my brain to make decisions, so yes...I'm sometimes picking the easy choice over the healthy choice. I know this too shall pass, and I'll be able to get back on that horse when I can.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chicago Marathon 2015 recap

Six days ago I ran the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the third time, and this one was definitely a test of my will and strength. My dad, one of my biggest supporters (even though he thought I was crazy), had passed away 16 days before I was set to run another 26.2 miles. I kept finding myself getting choked up just even thinking about how I would have loved for him to have had a chance to watch this amazing marathon.

My training this summer had been so much better than in previous years, and I had PR'd at the Fox Valley Marathon three weeks before. But with everything going on with services and having to drive 1800 miles total, I was exhausted and had run a total of two times in between marathons. I knew I could cover the distance, but I figured it was going to be ugly as sin. Luckily for me, I had a special angel watching over me.

The weekend of the marathon was a little crazy, between managing the boys schedules and figuring out how I'd get downtown for everything. It all worked out, and I made it to the expo and then to the hotel with time to spare. After a great meetup with my sorority sisters who were running for Team RMHC, we  joined several hundred other runners for a wonderful dinner. Afterwards I headed back to the hotel to relax and unwind. 

Marathon morning dawned without a cloud in the sky, and with the prediction for warm temps I knew it could be a long day. However, I've trained in the heat and humidity all summer, so I felt ready for it. Plus, I was hoping that would mean there would be even more spectators - and I was right!

I ate a quick breakfast in the Team RMHC tent, and after some pictures with Team ADPi we headed off to our corral. I was blessed to meet another sister who was about my pace, and we decided to stick together. Finally, after a long wait in the corral we crossed the starting line and just had 26.2 miles in front of us.

The miles seriously just flew by...I've never had an experience like that in a marathon. I saw Chad at mile 1 and mile 12 (where I told him my foot was killing me but I was having a blast), and also caught sight of Andrea and some friends volunteering at aid stations. 

My awesome friend Christine found us at mile 21, and joined us for the next four miles. Having her there helped more than she'll ever know!! We had slowed at that point, but I knew I'd still beat my best Chicago time. Before I knew it we were turning onto Roosevelt Road, and were less than a 1/2 mile to the finish line. I turned the corner onto Columbus and there it was...the best sight ever! I was just steps away from completing my fifth marathon! My time was 6:14:03, so over 4 minutes faster than my best Chicago time.

There were many tears shed as soon as I finished. My dad was on my heart and with me every step of the way, and I know he's the reason I made it through. The pain in my foot (most likely some angry tendinitis) was rough, but it wasn't until I stopped that it became extremely painful. Had it felt like that during the marathon, I probably wouldn't have made it.

Back at the Team RMHC tent I was greeted by Jen Webb, our amazing ADPi supporter, and my husband. And just as I got in to get food I was joined by two amazing friends - Christine and Cindy. I was beyond thrilled to see them! I know waiting on a slow runner like me isn't the most fun, and I hope they know how much it means to me.

So...less than a week has passed and I have already said I'll be there again next year. The only lingering issue (besides peeling thanks to the lovely sunburn I got)  is my foot...but I know with time that will heal. And who knows - maybe next year I'll finally come in before the 6 hour mark!