Saturday, February 11, 2012

Running for Sherry

This morning was the Virtual Run for Sherry Arnold.  Melissa and I had 11 miles on the training plan for our long run today.  It was cold this morning in Minnesota.  We have had a pretty mild winter so far but the temps were low and the wind chill was negative today.  But, we had a bigger reason to get out there today - it was more than just logging the training miles.  It was so we could help make the Earth move in honor of our sister runner Sherry Arnold.  There were people all over the world walking/running/spinning/etc in her honor today.  This story has touched my heart from the minute I heard about her disappearance, so it was important to me to get out there!

Our run this morning was pretty tough - we ended up running 6.75 miles (distance of two of the Mpls lakes) outside and then decided to head to an indoor running track to finish off the 11 miles.  Our hands and faces just could not be spared from the wind and it got harder and harder to keep warm.  Frostbite was not on the agenda so we made the choice to head indoors.  We finished our mileage off strong.  We had a lot of time to reflect and talk this morning.  We talked about Sherry and how it was a good feeling to know that we were part of a larger movement running in her honor and to remind the world that we are runners and we will not be scared away from our passion. 

I had a major fail this morning and we didn't get a picture taken.  But, I do have a picture of the two of us from a run last month that I will share - you get the idea! 

Beth at Shut Up and Run has posted an update today - I encourage you to head over there and read about the run they had in Colorado today.  She also has several pictures up from the run in Sherry's town in MT. 

I never met Sherry - but my heart breaks for her family and friends who miss her dearly.  Today and everyday I will remember her and not take for granted my ability to get out there and run.  I will take the measures possible to ensure that I am as careful and safe as possible each time I head out to pound the pavement.  Get out there and move people - in any way that you can!

Be happy and healthy my friends!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Beautiful Girls - Turner Syndrome Awareness Month

If you know me in real life and have met my daughters you know that my husband and I were blessed with two perfectly healthy little girls.  I had no complications while pregnant and in fact, rather enjoyed the experience so much so that if we could have afforded another child, I likely would have been just fine being pregnant for a third time.  We have been so fortunate that our girls are healthy and we have only had a couple of scary moments with them in their young lives.  Zoe got croup a few days before her first birthday and required an ER visit and Ava got a UTI at four weeks old that required a three day stint at Children's Hospital.  But, when I tell you that those things are so minor it's because I have friends that have experienced far greater with their children.  I know that I am lucky and I try to never take that for granted.  To fear for your child's health is something no parent should ever have to go through. 

Which brings me to the reason for my post today.  I have a friend that I met through this wonderful blogging platform.  She is my Weight Watchers idol - she lost over 100 pounds and reached her lifetime status last year.  She also just had her second baby about 4 months ago.  She had a rough pregnancy and she blogged all about it - I would read her entries and my heart would just ache for her.  However, Sarah ended up giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, Lily, who was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome at birth.  I did not know a whole lot about TS before and I think that is the case for a lot of people.  I will not attempt to tell you all about the statistics of TS (Sarah does a great job on her site with all of the facts) - but, I will tell you it only affects one in 2,500 female births. 

February is Turner Syndrome month and Sarah is blogging every day in February to help bring about more awareness of TS.  I wanted to link to Sarah's blog today so that we all can gain more awareness of these adorable and beautiful girls. Please go to her site and read her posts this month and tell all of your friends to go there too. 

Click here for awesomeness! 

Sarah - You are one of the strongest women I know.  You were tested all through your pregnancy and I am so happy for you and your family that you have Lily in your life.  And the TS community is so lucky to have you in their corner and bringing awareness to these beautiful girls and their journeys!  You are a wonderful mom and a wonderful example of strength - even if you don't always feel that way! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

The reasons I run...

I have begun reading many a running blog.  I have seen a few bloggers post about the reasons why they run.  I really hadn't thought about it much before, I started running because I had weight to lose and it was the quickest and most effective way to burn the most amount of calories possible.  But, I have kept running for many other reasons.  Without further ado: my list of why I run! 

  • I run because I can.  Until about a year ago, I honestly didn't think I could run.  I didn't want to run.  But now that I know I can, it seems silly not to.
  • Running makes me a better mother, wife, sister, daughter, employee and friend. - my mood is much improved after a few miles - just ask my husband!
  • I want to be faster.  It's a lot to ask for, but who knows, it could happen!
  • Running makes me feel strong - I like to feel strong
  • Running has taught me things about myself that nothing else ever has before
  • Running helps me to be healthy enough to chase around my children and hopefully my future grandchildren!
  • When other people talk about running marathons, I would like to be able to participate in the conversation.  I can't wait until I can call myself a marathon finisher!
  • I really want my daughters to look up to me and want to be like me - there is nothing that makes me more proud than when one of my kids says they are proud of me and love me!
  • I really like making new friends that love running too - they get the madness that is running
  • I run so I can inspire others to do the same - I had someone that inspired me and I hope to be able to return the favor someday
  • I run to have quiet.  To quiet the voices in my head that tell me I can't do things and that I am not good enough.  Running reminds me that I can do anything I want and that I am indeed good enough.
  • Not one time have I ever regretted getting up and going for a run - not once!
  • Running is my time to be just Jen - I don't have to answer to anyone.  I can reflect on what is going on in my life or I can talk to my girlfriend while we are out for a long run on a Saturday morning.  Just be me.
  • Running has become the one true thing that I do for myself.  Running keeps me sane.  It reminds me that I can do anything.  It reminds me that I am a strong woman.

Two of the best reasons I can think of to keep running and fighting for my health!

This is just a spattering of why I get up at insane hours of the day and slip on my running shoes.  It would be impossible to be able to capture all of my thoughts on "paper" because some of them are not easily articulated.  Anyone that has been out running knows exactly what I mean.  Everyone has their own connection to running - why they do it, why they started, why they keep going. 

What's yours?  Tell me why you run. 

Be happy and healthy my friends!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mother Runner Sherry Arnold

For several weeks I have said prayers and thought about a woman who is/was a complete stranger to me.  But, for many reasons she really is not a stranger.  She was a mother, a runner, a wife, a teacher, a daughter, a cousin - she was so many things that so many of us are.  She was a woman who loved to run, loved her family and on a Saturday morning headed out for a run in her small town in Montana.  The part where it becomes different - she never came home.  She was abducted by two men about a mile away from her home.  One of the men has confessed to killing her but all they have been able to find from that dreadful day is one of her running shoes. 

I have prayed on more than one occasion since I heard about her disappearance that there would be a miracle and they would find her safe and sound.  Unfortunately that is no longer the case and they have officially declared her deceased.  It breaks my heart that she will never be able to tell her kids and husband how much she loves them and hear those words back.  From what I have read about Sherry Arnold - everyone in her life knew just how much they meant to her. 

A year ago this story would have made me stop and think for a day or so and then I likely would have moved on and not thought about it again.  Now as a fellow mother runner, this story has touched me very personally and has actually made me second guess my own training habits and running alone in the dark.  I never met Sherry Arnold or her cousin Beth who writes at the blog Shut Up and Run - but I have cried for them on more than one occasion. 

Beth has set up a virtual run in Sherry's honor on Saturday, February 11th at 9AM MST.  I will for sure be running in honor of Sherry that morning - I have a long run planned already but will definitely be printing out one of the bibs and wearing it as I run.  One thing I have learned over the last year is that runners are a tight bunch - and one of our fellow runners needs us - we show up and do what we can do.  I am proud to call myself a runner especially when I know that it means I get to be included in this amazing group of people.  I have met so many wonderful and supportive people over the last year and the least I can do is dedicate my run next Saturday to honor the amazing and caring woman that Sherry Arnold was.  You can find much more information about Sherry and the run on her cousin Beth's blog at Shut Up & Run.  Beth is an amazing writer/runner/mother and has done a wonderful job of spreading the word about Sherry and the virtual run. 

For me, one of the biggest take aways from this tragedy will be to more careful when I run and always that much more grateful when I am able to go out and return safely from a run.  I have never run outside with music and this cements that decision so that I am more aware of my surroundings.  I refuse to completely change my life because of the evil that exists in this world, but I will most definitely always put my safety first and make smart choices when it comes to running alone and/or in the dark. 

If you end up running/walking in honor of Sherry on the 11th - take a picture and send it to me or send it directly to Beth at  She will be posting pictures on her blog so that Sherry's family can see all of the people that went out for a run/walk in her honor. 

Be happy and healthy my friends! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Marathon Training and Running Outside

I have successfully completed two full weeks of marathon training!  Can I get some streamers and balloons here!?!?!  But, seriously, I have done two weeks of my training plan and I feel great.  I am feeling so good that I was able to shift last week's PT appt to this Friday so I can maximize my time with Dr. Pete (that's what I like to call him!)

I had already been running about 12-15 miles per week so I felt that my base mileage was decent going in to the training program.  If you will recall, I am doing the Higdon Novice 2 - 18 week training plan.  I like to affectionately call it - "please just let me cross the finish line on both feet training plan". 

The first week of training I completed 18 miles.  Tuesday and Thursday are what I refer to as my "shorter" days, Wednesday is the mid mileage day and then Saturday is my long run day.  So, I am running about 11 miles during the week and then adding the long run on Saturday.  I wasn't sure how I was going to like the three days in a row of running - but so far so good. 

I have been running on the treadmill a lot more than I had anticipated.  Some things have happened that have derailed me from the early morning outdoor running.  First, my early morning running partner, Jen,  had some major surgery and she is starting from scratch on running again so I am on my own in the AM.  My friend Melissa has offered to run with me but because of our schedules we would have to go even earlier than I was already going and I am having a hard time figuring out how to swing that.  I am already not really getting enough sleep as I typically do not go to bed until after 10PM, sometimes closer to 11PM and then having to get up 5.5 to 6 SHORT hours later is just HARD.  It's plain old hard, and I realize that this is a form of an excuse but I also have to remember that training for this marathon is not the only thing I have going on in my life. 

I wanted to conquer this marathon now because I felt that the older I got and the older my kids got it would just be that much harder.  Trying to shuffle schedules around to make sure I had time to run, get the kids where they need to be, etc.  Right now they are young enough and sleep late enough that my early morning trips to the gym/outside before work don't interfere with their lives - and that was the way I intended it to be.  My Saturday long runs cut in to some of that time - but they are home with their daddy, I am not having to put them in daycare on the weekend to accomplish what I need to do.  Geez, can you say mommy guilt, yes, I suffer from it, A LOT! 

I also have a full time job that requires me to be conscious while I am there - I know, the horror, Right!  The best part is that I actually feel so much better on the days when I have been to the gym or got a good run in so I really think my training helps with my energy level - as long as I get sufficient sleep!

The other thing that has thwarted my early morning (in the dark) outdoor running is safety.  I had been going for my morning runs with someone until the winter hit.  Now I am on my own.  In the dark, on decently lit pathways, but still alone.  I don't know if you have heard about Sherry Arnold, she is a 43 year old wife and mother, who left her house at 6:30AM on Saturday January 7th to go for a run.  She never came home.  She was abducted and killed while out for a run in her small town of Sidney, Montana.  All they have found of her so far, is her running shoe.  I am going to do a full post about this story today - Sherry's cousin is actually a well known blogger that I follow and she has put together a virtual run to honor Sherry on February 11th.  I want to dedicate an entire post to this - because I feel very strongly about the importance of this topic. 

I can honestly tell you that since I heard about Sherry Arnold, I have not been able to go running by myself in the AM again.  I don't know if it's fear, common sense or what.  I know plenty of people that run alone in the morning darkness.  I just have not been able to bring myself to do it since January 8th.  I don't know if it's because I now realize that this kind of sick and twisted thing can happen ANYWHERE and to ANYONE and I don't want to become a statistic.  I don't want these evil men that did this to her to scare me out of doing something that I love, but I want to be safe too.  I want to be able to come home to my kids and know that I will get to kiss and squeeze them again. 

I have been thinking a lot about this lately - and keeping it mostly to myself.  It's hard to talk about what scares you sometimes.  And to admit that you are scared.  But it definitely is affecting my training - as I had hoped to be outdoors for the majority of it, instead of just Saturday mornings.

Some final thoughts on marathon training - my second week I ran 20 miles total for the week, putting my two week total at 38 miles.  Now, when I was training for the 10 mile and the half marathon I didn't keep very good training logs - but I am pretty sure that I was not running that kind of mileage.  I am just overjoyed that my legs are feeling good and that this third week of training has started off strong as well. 

My biggest challenge right now is figuring out a way to get the majority of my runs done OUTSIDE!  If anyone has any tips or advice about running in the morning dark I would greatly appreciate it.  I have a headlamp to help with being able to see.  My fear is not related to not being able to see where I am going - it's being vulnerable in the dark, morning quiet air. 

Be happy and healthy friends!