Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Path to the Half

In four days I will be running my first half marathon.  Huh?  Yes, I will be running my first half marathon in four days.  No matter how I say it - it's true.  I started running in January and just thought it would be a good way for me to lose some more weight.  Never in my wildest imagination did I think I would become a RUNNER! Over the last 10 months I have found a new identity.  I am a runner, I like to run, I need to run, I want to run, I run because I can.  For awhile there I just thought I had lost my mind, but I honestly do really like it.  I HATED running when I was younger - mostly because it was used as a tool or punishment for a sport I loved to play so it would stand to reason that I would resent running a little bit. 

The training for this half marathon was mostly accomplished by training to run the TC 10 Mile earlier this month. I have continued to run consistently over the last few weeks to make sure I am ready for the big day. I have also been seeing a sports chiropractor to help with my hip pain that I have been dealing with for the last couple of months. I met this doctor at the TC Marathon Health and Fitness Expo - he worked on my glutes for about 10 minutes and I was instantly convinced that this treatment was what I needed in addition to the massage that I was already doing. My pain is coming from the glutes, piriformis and tight hip flexors. The treatment is primarily soft tissue based - they use Transverse Friction massage - simply put - lots of elbows across the muscle grain that helps break down adhesions. It's glorious! I have had four treatments with Dr. James and it really is working. I have been doing some exercises and stretches that he gave me and they are definitely making a difference. In fact, this past Saturday, I actually was able to run for an hour and have almost 40 minutes of pain free running. I am going to see Dr. James one last time before the race on Saturday. I may see him again after the race to just make sure things are still progressing. The best part about Dr. James is that he doesn't want to be in my life forever - he wants to make me better and see me go on my way - and have the occasional check in if I have any flare ups.

I am so thankful that I met Dr. James at the Expo and asked for his help. A year ago I would never have let myself be that vulnerable and get up on that massage table and let a perfect stranger work on my glutes!!!! He has helped me so much and I know that I am going to be able to run a great race on Saturday because of it. I don't want or need this to be an ad for Dr. James and his practice - but I want it to be a testament for asking for help. If you are in pain, the chances are that there is someone out there that would like to try and help you. Just do your research and find the right person.

Now, I find myself getting psyched up to run 13.1 miles in less than a week.  I am looking forward to pushing myself beyond anything I have done physically.  On Saturday when I go past that 10 mile mark that will officially be the longest distance I have ever run.  When I cross that finish line I will have done something physically that I never imagined myself possible.  I can not wait to be able to say that I am a half marathon finisher! 
I have another post brewing with some of my plans for after this race.  This will be my last "long" race of the year.  I have a couple of 5Ks in November and December.  I plan to run this winter - outside primarily, but will have the gym as backup if need be.  If you want to run, let me know.  I also heard today that the Metrodome is going to be starting the indoor running sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in mid-November.  It would be more fun to do that with other people!  I will update again on that once it gets closer. 
Be happy and healthy friends!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Truth Will Set You Free!

The truth hurts sometimes.  My current truth is that I have not been to the gym in 2.5 weeks and I have only run 3 times since my 10 mile race about 12 days ago.  My old truth was I have not been to the gym in three years and I have not ran - EVER!  So, why am I beating myself up over taking a break from the routine?  Because I am struggling not just taking a break, that's why. 

I trained hard for the 10 mile - I was in the gym three days a week and I was running 3-4 days a week leading up to the race.  And that training paid off - the race went great, I achieved my goal and am so happy about that.  Ever since that Sunday afternoon my drive to work out and get up early to go running has been very limited.  On the flip side, my eating has been a little out of control.  I am making decisions that I would not have made a month ago and I am not sure why. 

I have a lot going on in my life right now that is causing added stress.  I had hoped that I would tackle extra stress by overcompensating with exercise but that hasn't happened yet.  By the time I get home from my day, have dinner with my girls, get them to bed, do some laundry - it's time for bed and the cycle starts over.  This time I am having a hard time getting up at 5:15AM and starting my cycle early.  I feel like I have lost my mojo or whatever.  I can't really put my finger on it.  But I really want to find it. 

Here is what I know:
  • I miss the fire in my belly that appears when I go running
  • I miss having the desire to get up early and get a run in before work
  • I miss wanting to cook for myself at home
  • I miss wanting to experiment with new healthy recipes
  • I miss having the desire to be healthy and active
So, now I need to figure out how to get all of that back!  I need a plan.  I need a schedule.  I need to be reminded how good it feels. 

I have a half marathon to run in 2 weeks.  I will be ready to run that race. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

TC 10 Mile Recap - Part 2

Ok where was I?  yes, I was RUNNING THE TC 10 MILE! 

The first 3 miles were great, I had a good pace, my legs felt good.  I knew that there were going to be a couple of people to watch for along the course - Rob's cousin Mike being the first one.  He was a race marshal around the 3.5 mile mark - there he was on the side of the road!  I yelled his name and he cheered and took a picture of me as I ran by!  It was so great to see him - he is definitely one of my running mentors.  Then just a short mile and a half up the road I knew Mike's wife Mary was going to be around as a race marshal as well.  I saw her on the right side of the road - I yelled her name, she jumped up and down and cheered - the BEST shot in the arm for me at that point in the race.  My legs were getting tired - it was a little hillier than I had remembered!  She is another one of my running mentors - whether she realizes it or not (come to think of it, I should probably tell her!).  I knew my family was going to be on Summit and Dale St., which I had figured out was about the 8.25 mile mark so I was looking forward to seeing them the ENTIRE race!

After I passed Mary I quickly recalled that there was a decent hill coming up as made our way to Summit Ave.  I fondly recalled this hill from the Get In Gear race in May.  This was the first moment of the first half of the race where I really wanted to walk - my left hip was tight and screaming at me and I was tempted to just pull off to the side and rest.  But, as I looked up the hill and straight in to the sunshine - I could hear the crowd, they were yelling, clapping and cheering for everyone as we ran by.  If not for that group of people I may have very well started to walk - which would have been fine, but I really didn't want to at that moment. 

The next thing I knew we were turning the corner and Summit Ave was in my sights.  I had ran this part of the course on a practice run several weeks prior so I knew what to expect for the remainder of the race.  Again, the crowds and support going up Summit were awesome - there were several cheer zones, which I am sure during the marathon were even bigger!  There were two large Powerade and  water stops - I took these two opportunities to slow down to a quick walking pace, trying to give my legs a little bit of a break.  I was keeping an average mile pace of 9:23 but once I hit mile 6 and 7 I could feel myself slowing down and my leg getting tighter.  But, I knew I only had a mile left to get to my family - to be able to see my girls, my mom, my dad, my in laws, and my husband! 

I stuck to the left side of the road knowing they would be on the north side of Summit Ave.  As I came up the hill, I could hear "there she is, I see her" and then the cowbell that started immediately after!  My mom had spotted me and I had spotted them.  I could feel my energy spike and I was so excited to see them and know that I was that much closer to the finish line!  As I ran by them, the girls were clapping - I yelled a quick "happy anniversary" to my hubby and kept on my way.  I had a time to make! 

After I passed them, I looked up the road and saw a familiar person on the course.  There she was about a 100 feet ahead of me - JEN!  I started yelling her name and sprinted a little bit to catch up to her.  My running partner, the one that had met me early in the morning to get our miles in and to get our gym time in all summer long.  We were going to run the last mile and a half in to the finish together.  We were both in a little pain but we were so close - it was time to finish this!  Jen knows I like to pour on some steam right at the end so she wasn't shocked when with a quarter of a mile left I pulled away a little bit.  I could see the finish line - I could hear all of the people yelling as we ran that last .25 miles down John Ireland Blvd and all I could think was "legs don't fail me now" - "keep going, you are almost there" - "come on, just get to the line"!  I crossed that finish line and I was so happy - it was actually really hard to avoid shedding a couple of tears.  I looked down at my Garmin and saw 1:35 on my watch.  I had done it - I wanted to finish under 1:40 and according to my watch I had done that.  (and according to official results it was 1:35:02!!)

It was a whirlwind after we crossed the finish line - medals, blankets, food, finisher shirts - OH MY! 
I managed to find all of my racing friends and celebrated briefly over finishing a great race.  Melissa, Sue and I made our way back up to Summit and Dale where our families were waiting for us.  I was really excited to get back up there and thank everyone for supporting us and also to hopefully see some of the elite marathoners come through.  We made it back in time to share hugs and to see the first men and women elite marathoners come through and some of the wheelers as well - talk about inspiring! 

Here are a couple of shots from post race celebrating!

Jen and I after the finish!

Melissa and I with Zoe

This race was one of the best things I have ever experienced. 
I have had many accomplishments as an athlete but to finish this race on Sunday was the best one yet.  I pushed through so many mental blocks and a couple of physical ones to get to this day and I couldn't be happier with the outcome.  I am looking forward to the end of the month when I conquer my next goal as a runner.  I am running in the Monster Dash Half Marathon in St Paul on Oct 29th.  I will be continuing to train over the next couple of weeks but I think the lesson this race has taught me is that I am ready.  I am ready to run 13.1 miles and to finish strong. 

Thank you to all of my friends and family that have supported me and my running aspirations.  My training takes a lot of time and it occasionally has taken me away from other things.  Thank you for understanding the importance of this race and the upcoming half marathon.  Your love and support means the world to me!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

TC 10 Mile Race Recap - Part 1

I woke up at 4:00 AM on Sunday morning - I was ready to take on the day.  I had laid my clothes out the night before because I was too worried that if I waited to "find" things in the wee hours of the morning something would be forgotten. 
A couple of my fellow TC 10 Milers were meeting at my house at 5:15 AM so that we could all ride together to St. Paul where we would park the car and then take the bus shuttle over to the start line in Minneapolis.  I wanted to be awake early enough to eat (half a bagel with peanut butter and water), get dressed, and be able to go to the bathroom (uh hum) before we left my house.  It was nice and quiet at my house and I was pretty relaxed. 
My girls arrived and it was time to take the last sweep to make sure I had everything - race bib, check - chip on shoe, check - Garmin and HR strap on, check - race belt for my beans and phone, check!  Out the door and off to the races! 
The drive to St. Paul did not take long that early in the AM, when we got off on Kellogg that quickly changed - you could see headlights and taillights for what seemed like FOREVER!  It was all getting very real at this point.  We found a great spot to park and headed over to the Kelly Inn to grab the shuttle.  All 6 of us were now together and ready to make the trek to Minneapolis for the start line. 
The whole bus ride over to the Dome I could barely speak - Tracy was setting up her music, Sue and Erin were chatting, Nicole and Missy were chatting in another seat.  For a little bit, I was in my head, attempting to pump myself up and focus on what was going to be happening very soon.
We arrived at the Dome - tons of people all around.  We made our way in to the Dome where there was heat, because even though the high for the day was in the 70s I am not sure it was 50 yet at this crazy early hour!  We went in an entrance to the dome where others had not discovered that there were bathrooms with no waiting lines - SCORE!  We started walking through the Dome - I was noticing all of the different manners in which people prepare before a race.  If I had not been worrying about my own race I probably could have made some pretty fun observations.  As it was, I was starting to get nervous - but not in the "I am not going to be able to finish" way, more in the "this is so awesome I hope I don't fall on my face in front of all of these people" kind of way.  My stomach was doing flip flops and I was starting to question if I had eaten enough or too much.  We made our way to the bathroom one last time and then snapped a BEFORE picture of our awesome group before heading out in to the chilly morning air.

Erin, Tracy, Sue, Nicole, Me, Missy
 When we got outside there were a ton of people all making their way to the corrals.  We were split up in different corrals - some in 3, some in 4 and some in 5.  We took the groups to the corrals - said our goodbyes, good lucks and gave hugs! 
I was alone (along with about 2000 of my closest friends) in Corral 3.  We could hear the horns going off to release the elite runners and then they started moving the other corrals through.  It felt like FOREVER for Corral 2 to get to the start and get going - but in reality it was 3 MINUTES or so.  Our corral got up to the start line, they shot the gun or blew the horn (honestly don't recall which it was) and we were off.  I wasn't sure how quickly all of us would be able to get to a running speed - but it was actually sooner than I thought it would be.  I crossed the start line, started my Garmin and I was running the TC 10 mile race - WOOHOO!

I have so much more that I want to tell you but this is getting long and I don't want to lose anyone!  Come back tomorrow for the rest! Stay tuned! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

More.com and less than 24 hours....

So, last week my friend Jen posted a request on her blog from a reporter at More.com.  She was looking for women over the age of 35 who had made a change and transformed their body and life.  I emailed her and told my story, ,attached my before and after pictures and honestly wasn't sure I would hear from her.  She replied back to me very quickly and asked me to answer a few questions about my journey.  Yesterday I received an email from her with the link to the piece she wrote on 9 women who had all found a "magic ingredient" to assist in their transformation.  You can find the article here: http://www.more.com/amazing-weight-loss-transformations  There are some other pretty amazing women there to check out if you have a moment.  The focus of this piece was really to debunk the idea that if you are past a certain age that weight loss is not possible.  At 36 I don't feel like my age was that big of an obstacle - having two young kids was more of a challenge for me than anything.  But, as we get older it does get more difficult to shed those pounds - but it's not impossible.  These women shared some really great ideas to tackling weight and food addiction.  I have always said that my best advice to anyone would be - start today.  Don't wait for Monday, don't wait for the New Year to make some resolution - just start today.  Make one change that you can incorporate to your daily life and start there.  I think most people would be shocked to find how easy it is to change things - one at a time.  Don't restrict too much or it will too be hard to sustain it and then you just end up resenting the whole process. 

I honestly think that this attitude has helped me with my running as well.  I started running with a program that really broke you in easy and slowly.  I think that if I had attempted to just go out and run by myself with no direction I would not be where I am today with running.  Tomorrow marks my longest race and by far the largest race that I will have competed in.  I am not an elite runner and will not be crossing the finish line before everyone else - but I will be finishing.  And I will have a great time, I plan to soak in all that the Twin Cities Marathon weekend has to offer.  My 10 miles will be over relatively quick when compared to what some of the marathoners will be doing.  I can't wait to join all of the cheering people after I finish to support the rest of the 10 milers and the marathoners. 

Don't forget - if you want to track my progress tomorrow you can sign up at  www.avtex.com/athletetracker.  You can search for other runners you may know as well - you can sign up to get up to three runners per phone number. 

I can't wait to report back to you all about my 10 Mile results.  I have a time goal in my mind but honestly will be happy and content with my finish regardless.  I have had a great ride training for this race and can't wait for it all to come to fruition tomorrow!

Good luck to all of my fellow 10 Milers - Melissa, Tracy, Erin, Jen, Nicole, Sue, Heather and anyone else I may have forgotten!