Wednesday, December 18, 2013

In the Midst of Trying Times...

We all go through rough patches right? When we just don't feel like trying anymore and we just can't make anyone happy? When we question whether we really can do anything right?

It seems this year that the holidays are really hitting some people especially hard and making them especially grumpy and sometimes just mean. (At least, I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt and giving them the holiday excuse.) All of this negativity, hardly well deserved, has about put me over the edge this December. I'm kind of getting tired of putting on a happy face and playing the Stupid and Cheerful card. Trying to be the "bigger person," act like a polite adult and not throwing a fit like a two year old is kind of starting to wear me out.

I think the negativity and anger are particularly hard for me to take during this season of Christmas in which we're supposed to remember the gift that Jesus gave us and love one another and all of that other good stuff. I just want the Norman Rockwell Christmas Card picture of snuggling with the kids reading a book in front of the tree with the fire roaring and Christmas Carols playing on the record player.

All that being said, I definitely needed an attitude adjustment today. So, I picked up a book that had been sitting gathering dust on the bookshelf forever.

The Bounce Back Book - Karen Salmansohn

It's a super quick read - I finished it while drinking coffee and watching cartoons with Jack.  I do think it's probably geared more toward people struggling with more than grumpy people, but I found it has some wonderfully profound nuggets of goodness for all of us.

It's changed my attitude this morning and I thought I should probably share it since it's likely more people than just me need an attitude adjustment.

People aren't evil they're weak.  
Who you truly are as a person is best revealed by who you are in times of conflict and crisis.  
You're either growing into a bigger, better person or shrinking into a lowly, bitter person.  
When you're tempted to indulge in a negative, regressive behavior, swap it for one that will move you FORWARD. 
Pessimists, who generally don't bounce back easily from bad times, see setbacks as permanent, pervasive and personal. - Dr. Martin Seligman  
Optimistic people tell themselves that setbacks are temporary, confined to that one situation and are usually about the other person, not a character defect in themselves.  - Dr. Martin Seligman 
Swap feeling like you're wearing a KICK ME sign to feeling like you're wearing a KICK ASS sign! 
If you are falling, dive! - Joseph Campbell 
In Buddhism, huge difficulties are thought to be a compliment - a sign you're an old soul being tested to see if you're ready to rise to the next level of enlightenment. View bad events as a test of your character. Now ask yourself... What the heck are you being tested for? Patience? Compassion? Improved communication? Resilience? Forgiveness? Open mindedness? {Side Note: I can easily relate this to my Christian faith as well. What "fruit of the spirit" is God challenging me to work harder on today? Kindness? Gentleness? Self-Control? Patience?} 

Forgiveness therapy - This is an interesting one. When a group of adults struggling with substance abuse were divided into two groups - one with traditional substance abuse therapy and one with forgiveness therapy - the ones with the forgiveness therapy had a higher success rate. {I can also relate this one back to the Christian faith. Doesn't this look a lot like Jesus on the cross?}1. Recall the hurt
2. Empathize and try to understand the act from the perpetrators perspective
3. Be altruistic by recalling a time you were forgiven
4. Put your forgiveness into words in a letter that is sent or never sent
5. Don't dwell

After starting and finishing this book, I've readjusted my attitude and will work hard today and the rest of the season to be the optimist and see the best in people and in myself. Control the things I can control, treat others as I want to be treated, etc. etc.

There. I feel better now. Thanks for indulging me this morning.

Friday, November 29, 2013

What 6 & 7 Year Old Girls Do When Bored...

It seems as if I'm always walking around picking up random pieces of paper with a few scribbles or doodles. Recently, I saved back a few because I realized it is a phase of their life that I wanted to capture. Usually Tessa is the one who draws, but she's getting into writing too. Josie hardly ever draws and has taken to writing as well.

Here are some samples from their most recent portfolios!

The first few are from Josie. I can't remember what these types of things are called. But, yes, yelling is actually fairly common in our household. It's not always bad, but the general noise level is usually pretty high.

I love the "Supersmart" and "Supernice." 

I found this in our office after they had left and never did get a chance to ask Josie what it all meant. Interesting to say the least. 

This is a favorite of mine that Tessa brought home from school after Veteran's Day.

Tessa wrote me this note in the car on the way home from Ohio. She thanked me BEFORE I helped her with her project. Smart little girl. :)

These are my favorites. Tom and I found these in our office after the girls had been there playing. Apparently, they were playing New Home Salesperson. :)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Race Recap - Indianapolis Marathon

I did it! Check it off the list! Full Marathon is DONE!

Official Statistics:

4:14:16 - 13th in my division - 284 overall

Official preparation for Race Day began on Thursday night. My mom and dad brought Jack back from Ohio and settled in for the weekend. Friday morning, I worked a little and then we went out to lunch. Finally, it was time to head to the expo. I will say this expo is not very exciting and pretty small but we got the important stuff and headed back home.

After entertaining the kiddos for a while, it was time for our traditional pasta and meatball dinner. Delicious as usual!

We set everything out for the next morning. I was laughing at the ridiculous amount of stuff we had to get together. We were also keeping a close eye on the weather. Last week, it was looking awesome. This week, it just kept looking worse. It went from only a 20% chance of rain to 80%. And, it was going to be chilly. Mom and I talked a lot about what to wear, where to put our bib, etc.

Friday night, the texts started coming in and I was browsing Twitter for inspirational quotes. My favorite one I found online was "It may not be easy, but it will be worth it." Here is one my brother, Matt, sent me.

By Saturday morning, we knew what we were in for... Cold and Wet!

I was worried about sleeping. I haven't been sleeping well since returning from our trip, probably because of the time change. I was able to turn off lights and sleep soundly by 11PM. I set the alarm for 5:30 and finally got up around 6. I decided on shorts and a running t-shirt with a long sleeved shirt overtop that I could pitch. And, a hat was a definite. 

Mom also came up with the brilliant idea of trash bags! We had some that were really thick from a fundraiser and they worked like a charm. After some peanut butter toast and some coffee, we were on our way about 7:10. We hit the parking lot right at 7:30 and left the car around 7:45.

We found my friend, Stephanie, in line for the bathrooms. Gear check was next on the list and we huddled in the tent there while getting the rest of our gear ready. I decided to not wear my long sleeved shirt. I was worried about trying to get it off and my hat and the trash bag. Turned out to be the right choice. I had my phone in my left pocket, three gels in my right pocket and four more in my little belt pack. 

I continued to get texts from family, members of my small group, my book club, MOPS girls and other friends. What a great showing of support for what I was about to undertake! 

With our gear checked, I wanted to go to the bathroom one last time. The lines were so long and NOT moving that I quickly changed my mind and we went to the start line. And, it was a good thing. We barely had time to snap this picture and we were off!

MILES 1 - 3

The rain had slowed down but definitely not stopped. We saw my wonderful friend, Monica, at the 1/2 mile mark and we smiled and waved big. I laughed and told mom that would be the happiest she would see us!

My feet were so wet and truly squishing. By the first aid station, around mile 2, we got rid of the trash bags. I will say the first two or three miles were hard for me. I wasn't feeling it. My shins were hurting and my legs felt a little like concrete. Our paces were a little slower than I would have liked and my mojo was gone. I will say there is a hill around mile 3 that didn't help with the pace.

I think I was tight. I should have run on Friday and I should have stretched better. Maybe if the weather had been better, I would have but there just wasn't a good place to do it. 


Seeing the 9:47 on my watch for mile 3 and not feeling great, I told mom I needed music. My plan was to run without it for the first half, but I was pretty miserable.

MILES 4 - 7

Ahh. Music does amazing things for the mind. I started feeling immensely better and our pace picked up a lot too. We saw Monica again around mile 4.5 I think and that was another boost of energy. At mile 5, I saw that our time was 46:30 and I started with the math problems. My watch only shows time and distance and, if I scroll, I can see my current pace. I cannot see overall pace which means I have to do the math. I knew were 90 seconds off of a 9 minute pace but couldn't for the life of my figure out how many 90 seconds was over 5 miles. Mom laughed about this later saying she couldn't even remember the first number I told her! I love doing math problems while running. It entertains my brain!

Mile 5 was fast and I told mom we couldn't do any more under 9. We were aiming for a 9:10-9:20 pace. A sub-9 felt fine, even good, at mile 5 but it wouldn't do me any good if I couldn't run at mile 15 or 25. We did end up with one or two more miles under 9. What can I say? :)


MILES 8 - 12.5

We entered the park around mile 7.5 or so. It was just as I remembered it even though I swore that the trees hadn't changed enough to resemble last year. Even with the rain, it was beautiful! 

We met up with two guys dressed as Superman. They were taking pictures along the way and one of them said to go his website for pictures. Well, I was just there - why didn't we get a photo!?!? He was running his 115th marathon of the year in his quest for the Guinness Book of World Records! How inspiring! 

Chatting with those guys sped up our pace. Mile 8 was 8:45 and we really needed to slow down! We did around mile 9 and the hill at 11 slowed us a bit too. During this chunk of miles, I kept telling mom, you can totally get under 2 if you take off now. She wouldn't go and it turns out it was OK. 

At mile 11.5, I practically made her go. I told her she could get it and if she had anything left to take off. I knew that she would have to run fast - at least an 8:45 pace. But, as I suspected, she had it left. As she took off, I yelled out "If you've got it, give it! Run run run!" And, she did. I think she said she clocked one mile under 8. She finished at 1:59:15. 45 seconds to spare! :) This won her a pretty sweet mug for 3rd in her age division. 


MILES 12.5 - 18

I saw Monica again at the split from the half to the full marathon. I had to call out her name because I'm not sure she was expecting me! I posed for some photos and took off down the hill to the full. This is the first time I got majorly choked up! I started to cry as I thought "Now, I am officially running a marathon!" 

Before leaving the house, I quickly wrote on my hand "BODY MIND SPIRIT." I read on Run Meggie Run that her husband told her the first third was about the body, the second third about the mind and the last third on the spirit. I think I would agree although it was more about the first three miles being body, then mind taking over until 18. Spirit will come later. 

Around mile 14, I received a text from Tom. 

I'm guessing you're about half way done! All downhill from here! Keep up a good pace!
Hebrews 12:1-3... And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

I responded with this blurry text. 

I thought on running with perseverance for about a mile and smiled a lot at the half marathoners coming close to finishing their races. I really liked seeing so many runners on this course. During the first few miles of the second half, I started keeping track of how many "ups" I was. If I passed someone, I got a one but if someone passed me, I lost one. I quit doing this around mile 18 probably but it was a good way to pass the time. Turns out, I hit the 5 mile mark in 316th place and finished in 284th so I passed 32 people total, or net people anyway.

I think it was also around this time when my phone starting acting bizarre. I found these two pictures on my camera roll that I definitely didn't take and one even posted to Instagram! I apparently followed someone new too during the whole thing. Who knows. 

I was really gunning for mile 17 where they claimed an aid station would have Gu Packs and bananas. Plus, the "marathon cheer zone" was supposed to be at the 17/21 spot. I started to get hungry at mile 14. Even though I taken 3 Gu packs (about 100 calories each) and gatorade at each aid station, I could feel the hunger setting in. I was debating on whether to eat the banana and mom and I had decided to try a few bits at mile 17 and then a few bites (of a fresh banana) at mile 21. By mile 14 though, I knew I needed to eat something. 

Well, mile 17 came and went and no bananas. And, no cheer zone. I never did see any bananas but the cheer zone came up around mile 17.5 probably. I saw Monica again (seriously folks, race spectators should get a medal for all of the support they offer - she was my beacon of hope!). Mom and Steph didn't make it there for the first stop, but I was hopeful I would see them on the way back at mile 21. The second half of the full is just an out and back. 

I remember passing the winners of the full on my way out to the half way of the second half spot. They looked good. Then, people started not looking so good. I saw one guy with the biggest grimace I have ever seen on a runner. I thought to myself, "I feel pretty good. I wonder how I'll feel on my way back." I would soon find out.


MILES 19 - 25

While I had kept up a pretty good pace through mile 18, I started to slow around 19. This didn't surprise me as that was typical of what I had done in training. (Funny too that I know that's what I did in my first few halfs - started slowing around mile 10.) Though I didn't feel out of gas as much as I had, I did start to have a hard time putting one foot in front of the other. My feet were burning for sure. Finally, mile 19 came around which was the turnaround point. From here on out, everything was a bit of a blur. 

I think it was around this point that I realized my sub-4:00 time was not attainable. I was truly OK with that. I did still think I could get under 4:10. Funny thing though - I couldn't remember if my next goal after sub-4 was 4:10 or 4:15. Either way, 4:10 didn't slip out of view until probably mile 22 or 23. 

I thought I might see a little boost of energy at mile 20 since I had officially not run that far before but it didn't really come. In fact, at some point in there, I started to let myself walk. I would give myself a goal time before I could walk and then started counting steps. If I hit the goal time before I was at 100, then I would tell myself to keep going until 100. If I hit 100 and I was close to a mile marker or half, I would tell myself to make it to there. By then, I was usually in the middle of a 100 count. Get the idea? 

I also received a text from one of the guys in our small group with more scripture.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~Isaiah 40:30-31

I tried to imagine myself soaring like an eagle and not growing weary. Powerful stuff! 

I walked most of the aid stations and then some during these miles. A girl with a gray hat and I kept trading places. I almost started to talk to her, but it seemed so awkward! :) I think we probably pushed each other. 

I didn't see Mom at the 21 mark so I grabbed two gels at the aid station. I did see Steph and Monica and gave them my belt since I had put the other gels in pocket. I told them "I think I may die" as I rounded the corner. I wasn't feeling awful, but the thought of 5.2 more miles was disheartening. They offered great words of encouragement and again, so wonderful to see them there!

I didn't see mom until right past where I was expecting her to be. She hadn't been able to meet up with Monica and Steph, but I was SO happy to see her!!!! I traded the Gu packs out with the caffeinated variety and mumbled "bite...bite!" She had a granola bar and I took a piece and was SO thankful. We kind of fumbled about but that granola really helped me. IF, and that's a big IF, I ever do another marathon, I think I will train with some real food instead of just gels. I think it will make a difference.

I sent Tom a text at 22 during a walk break that said "22. Fading." I somehow continued through the last of the miles and was only down to 3 left, then 2 and then finally, I saw mile 25! I will say that I was not the only one struggling during this time. The first 20 miles or so, I saw very few people walking. By 22 and 23, it seemed like everyone was starting to take breaks which did make me feel better. 


MILES 25 - 26.2

Another friend from my small group had been texting me along the way. Along with scripture and super encouraging thoughts, she sent me this one.

If you're on track with your goal of a 9:30 per hour pace, then you only have about 30 minutes to go... Woo-Hoo! 30 min... that's nothing... that's like an episode of Duck Dynasty. Just think how "Happy Happy Happy" you'll be to cross that finish line! 

I did think on that for a while and also kept going back to the thought that the last third of the race was about spirit. The full marathon (at least my first one) is all about gumption and a mental race. I just kept going. Really, I don't know what kept me going and not walking.

I was not returning any texts, but at mile 25, I simply said to Jamie, "Mile 25. Pray!" I saw a volunteer around that point who was so encouraging. I started to get all choked up again. Ugly choked up. :) In fact, people were probably wondering why I was sobbing. 

Finally, I came up over the last big hill (who puts a hill at the last 0.5 mile of the marathon anyway?!?!?) and saw Steph with one of Monica's signs. Somehow, I had the energy to wave. Seeing Steph was just the burst of energy I needed to finish! See the smile?

She was so encouraging and told me the finish line was just around the corner here. I asked how far down it was from the corner and she said less than a tenth. And then, she started doing the best thing ever. She ran with me. She, who had herself finished with a fantastic time of 1:44 on a very difficult half, ran beside me until the mile 26 mark when she peeled off to catch me at the finish. My mile 25 time was a little lower because she was there. Now, I was the one who had the terrible grimace on her face! 

Close up of the face. :) 

Close up of my calf muscle. :)

More crying ensued and I finally turned the corner to the finishing shoot. I saw mom and Monica and gave it the final kick that I could. (My watch claims it was a 26.5 mile course.)

Another smile (I think?) on my face though during the last 0.1!


I had wanted to throw my arms up at the finish so bad but didn't even have the energy. But, I didn't fall into a heap either. I took my medal, banana, water and foil blanket. Big smile now on my face! :)

You may notice that I wore gloves the whole time. Not only did they keep my fingers warm, they made for a good way to wipe my nose which was very runny. I stripped those things off first thing after the finish line! Gross!

By the time I was out of the finishing corral and saw mom and Monica and Steph, I was already joking and saying, "This is just like childbirth. 5 minutes out and you can't remember a thing!" And, it really is true. I was amazed at how good I felt. Don't get me wrong, I was tired, swaying a bit and very wobbly on my feet, but in general felt pretty good. More photos! (Monica has a bunch on her camera too which I'll save for another post.)

I stumbled over to gear check and to get my results. A long walk to the car was probably a good thing since as soon as I sat down, I started to cramp up everywhere. (Monica thought I was going to hurl in her car!) I am amazed that even the arches of my feet cramped up! How does that happen?!

Overall, it was a great race. Rainy and cold and hilly, but great. I am so sore today I can barely stand up once I'm sitting down. I know tomorrow will be worse, but it is definitely worth it. I have not ruled out doing another one but I do think that 4:14 is a great one for my personal record books if I decide to be one and done.

I cannot thank all of the people who helped me through it enough. I have the BEST friends - Monica who stood for 4 1/2 hours in 45 degree rain, made signs and took pictures, mom who ran the first half with me (and rocked it), and Steph who stuck around on an extremely busy day and after an extremely tough race to support me through the end. Then, there is my dad who stayed with the kids for six hours and took them to breakfast all by himself. A feat in itself! Finally, all of the texts from my small group, my family and the Facebook messages. It makes me emotional just thinking about it. 

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I feel so loved.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

It's Here! Pre-Race Jitters!

Two days. Actually 36 hours. I've never been more nervous for a race. Even when I actually was "competing" (in quotes because I was never anyone's competition) in high school track, I didn't get nervous two days before a race.

Here are the random thoughts bumping around in my head this week....

Can I do it?
How fast can I start?
How fast can I finish?
Should I take a banana at mile 17?
How about 21?
How bad will the hills be?
Am I drinking enough water?
Am I getting enough sleep?
Did I train long enough?
Did I train hard enough?
Should I run tomorrow?
Where should I set my goals?
Should I listen to music?
What should I wear?

Those and about 35 other random thoughts need to stop bumping around...enter this blog. Here is where I get it all out. I've been looking forward to this post all week and afraid I wouldn't have time to get it all out.

I've been doing all kinds of research on marathons for the last 10 days or so. Here are few of the sites I have poured over.

Tips for Your First Marathon
First Time Marathon Stories

I've also been digging through my favorite running blogs...

Another Runner Mother
I Drink Soda While I Run - Ran Chicago
Just A One Girl Revolution - Running Grand Rapids
Baby Weight My Ass
Deanna's Happy Place
See Meggie Run - Ran Chicago
Shut Up + Run
Tongue in Chic - Running Grand Rapids
Your Super Awesome Life - Ran Chicago
Chubby Chicks Run Too - Ran Chicago

You may notice they're all written by women around (10-15 years +/-) my age. I find them all so inspiring! I've learned so much from my running community of people that don't even know I exist. :) I've enjoyed watching them prepare for marathons during the same weekend, or one prior, to mine.

With all of that said, my favorite site this week has been the race site itself. It's a good race. I ran the half last year and PR'ed despite the hills. That doesn't mean I'm not nervous because, holy cow, I certainly am. The butterflies hit me on Tuesday morning on the way to the airport in California. I'm really doing this. Time to get ready.

I've really been struggling with how to pace myself. I've worked hard on negative splits in my training and I think that's the route I want to take. But, I'm just not sure how fast to start. I tend to start faster and then slow down. I think it does make good sense to start a bit slower and then speed up if I have it in me.

According the McMillan Pace Calculator, I should be able to run at  9:14 pace (or 4:01:42 finish time) based on my previous Half Marathon best.

I'm thinking we will head out at around a 9:30 pace. If I finish with a 9:30 pace, I'll finish at 4:08 and change. That would make me very happy.

With all of that in mind, here are my goals. I have become accustomed to setting a few goal times so that if one slips away within the first few miles, I don't have the wind blown out of my sails. Alternatively, if I'm having the perfect day, I have the chance to accomplish a big one.

D Goal - Finish - I keep reading about how the first marathon is all about finishing. And, I know I will have a huge sense of accomplishment regardless of my time!

C Goal - 4:30 - 10:18 pace - this should be attainable barring unforeseen circumstances

B Goal - 4:10 - 9:31 pace - if I finish here, this will be right at my very first half-marathon pace - this is the one I'm really gunning for and I think is within my reach.

A Goal - Sub 4:00 - 9:10 pace - this one is hard to even comprehend. I'm not even sure if I should go for this one because it would mean I have to start fast. I'm just so uncertain as to how much I'll have left at the end, I feel like if I take off shooting for this one, I may end up not able to achieve my "C" goal because I'm so tired.

I know my training has brought me to this point and I'm always nervous but I've even more so than normal. I know it's to be expected, but those 20 milers seem so much a part of my distant, very distant, past. I hope my legs remember what to do!

Mom and I will be running together for the first half and I'll have a friend spectating. Both of which are firsts for me! Who knows how much that will help as well.

I am excited.nervous.anxious to get to the start line. But, I'm also stoked. So excited to see what these legs can do and, more importantly, what my brain can accomplish. 4 hours of running is a long time, but that reminds me of a quote I love.

"The time will pass anyway."

Might as well pass it doing something remarkable. I plan to do just that on Saturday morning.