Friday, June 26, 2015

A Baker's Dozen (letting the cat out of the bag)

If there is one thing I have learned, it is that the biggest leaps in life bring the biggest blessings.

For the past couple of weeks I have been sitting on a pretty big secret… one that involved a lot of faith to "leap" and say yes, but one that has already filled our hearts with joy and excitement.


Lillian Pamela Xuan Henderson.

Lucky 13.

Lillian is in China and she is two years old. She was born with severe Spina Bifida so she is paralyzed from the waist down, but we think she is perfect. We hope to get to bring her home in December. Right now we are doing all of the paperwork as fast as we can and fundraising with faith that it will all come together.  I can't wait to have her in my arms!!!

We chose the name Lillian because we love it, and Pamela is for my mom. :)

We haven't added to our family for six years, and I really thought that we were "done". (I can hear my Dad laughing as I type that…) Although I haven't worked in adoption for a few years, I am still very much connected to many adoption groups, agencies, etc. and I literally see children EVERY single day that are in desperate need of homes and families. They all pull on my heartstrings. All of them. I know I could love and care for any one of them. But the moment I saw Lillian it was different. She didn't just pull on my heartstrings. I knew she was mine. We weren't even planning on adopting again, but her sweet little face changed everything. Josh said as soon as he saw her picture he felt like he recognized her and he knew she was ours. 

The thought of going through all of the paperwork and finding a way to come up with all of the money we need was overwhelming, but from the moment we said "yes" we have seen many blessings and confirmations. We know that we were lead to find her and that she is meant to be our baby.

When I told my Mom about Lillian the first thing she said was, "your arms were made for caring for babies." I love that.

This does NOT change my running goals, plans, or dreams. I am just as committed to them as ever. My kids and Josh are always my priority so that doesn't change. I kept up my running through Noah's adoption and his early months with our family (which were very challenging with his health) so I am not worried. My racing plans will change some for the next year… I was planning on going to the Disney Marathon in January and Boston in April (I even registered for Disney!) but I will defer Disney for a year and stick to local races until Lillian is home and settled. I am still going to the Suffolk Marathon on Long Island in September because I am registered, my ticket is bought, and I get to see my parents (and we definitely won't be traveling to China that soon). 

Josh says she is our bonus to make it a baker's dozen. :)

Thanks for letting me share.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

200 miles the fun way!!!

My last post was on how to get your butt moving and keep it moving. While I haven't done the best job keeping my blog moving these last two weeks, I definitely have been keeping my butt moving. :) I also have been having a lot of fun with the kids and Josh. Yay for summer!

This weekend was one of my absolute favorite running experiences - RAGNAR!! This was my sixth year in a row participating in Ragnar Wasatch Back - the biggest and toughest of all the Ragnar relay races. The race is 200ish miles in the mountains in Utah. The course is TOUGH. It is at high elevation (6000-7000 feet much of the time) and takes you over not one, not two, but THREE mountain passes. You run up, you run down, You run on dirt. You run on roads. You run up some more. You run all day and all night. There are over 1000 teams and the start is staggered… teams start as early as 4am on Friday and start as late as 4pm on Friday. Once a team starts, one person from that team is always running, until you reach the finish!

To add to the challenge of running 200 miles at elevation over mountains, my team and I do it as an ultra team (6 runners) instead of the standard 12 person team. That means you are running twice as much, resting half as much, and having a whole lot of fun. Team S.P.U.R. (Six Psycho Ultra Runners) had a total blast.

Since, as the mother of a small herd, I drive a 15 passenger van everyday, we have the perfect vehicle for this adventure. This year we also had one of our runner's wives offer to be our driver which was GREAT because it meant that we, the exhausted runners, didn't have to take turns driving.

Josh has run this with me the last three years and couldn't get off from work this year which was a HUGE bummer and he was greatly missed!!! It was not the same without him. We did have a super team though - four girls and two guys, all from my small valley.

I ended up running 37 miles total, broken up into three runs. My first run was 15 miles and I started at 6am on Friday morning (I was runner number 1). My second run started around 7:30pm on Friday night and was 12.5 miles, including eight miles UP UP UP a mountain canyon. Then my third leg was about 9 miles and I started around 6:15am on Saturday. I was SUPER lucky because the weather was brutally hot during the day and I missed the worst of it. My teammates were troopers!!!!! This was the best I ever felt during a Ragnar, especially as part of an ultra team. I felt strong on all three runs, passed people like crazy, and just felt great. (Generation UCAN and EnduroPacks helped a ton!!!)

(I am really sorry to have to say that a man died during the race. He collapsed on his first run (six miles) on Friday morning. It wasn't too hot yet and he was only 46 years old and in good shape so I don't know the cause of death. It was very sad to hear about though and his family is in my prayers.)

I love Ragnar. One of the best things about it is that you see people of all ages, all abilities, all shapes and sizes, all out there together. There are family teams, business teams, school teams, women teams, men's teams, etc. There are teams decked out in costumes, teams there to race and compete, and teams there just hoping to finish. And everyone cheers for each other and supports each other. It's a giant running party. I said "good job" to everyone I passed, and did lots of encouraging and cheering. I befriended a girl and helped her finish strong on the last mile up the mountain. I talked to lots of people and was inspired by many.

Two of my boys (Shane and Ryan) were out there as part of a high school team. They had 12 boys from their track team and one awesome uncle and one wonderful mom that drove the two vans. They also had a super time AND were super fast.

I am bouncing back from my "Ragnar hang-over" (no sleep for almost 48 hours, 37 miles of running, living in a van for two days… it's tiring). The soreness has been minimal and my energy level was almost normal again today after two decent sleeps.

Here are some pics from our adventure!

Shopping for food to load up the van with and look what I found!
Decorating the van the night before the race
Getting ready to start my first run. Reflective vests and lights are mandatory between 8pm and 6:30am. The first leg starts on the track at Utah State, but then quickly heads up and over some major hills.
Finishing my 15 mile run (first run)
Hanging out in the van with Lauri
Ready to start run #2. It got dark really fast!
Getting the hand off from Ross. Love the 80's style slap bracelet.
Hot, dirty, tired, but still smiling :)
Stay tuned… more soon. :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to get your butt moving and keep it moving (aka motivation)

I recently had someone ask me about motivation… about how I got so motivated and how I stay motivated no matter what life throws at me. I am definitely a very motivated person, but like anyone else I have days where I am more motivated than others. For me, the basis of my motivation is my commitment to myself and my goals and my determination to do my very best to achieve them.

- the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something  (including yourself!)

- the condition of being eager to act or work

- a force or influence that causes someone to do something

Motivation is a funny thing. With running, some days, some weeks, some months, you can be bubbling over with motivation, and other times you find yourself scraping the bottom of the motivation barrel trying to get yourself out the door (or out of bed!)

There are lots of reasons that motivation can lag. Here are a few -

- other life stresses (work, family, friends, finances, etc.)

-  being tired overall

- disappointing race results

- overtraining

- boredom

- less than ideal weather (cold, heat, rain, humidity, wind… anything besides 55-65 and clear skies!) :)

- laziness (keeping it real here)

For as many reasons in life as there are for our motivation to lack, there are just as many ways to get it fired back up. The "cure" for one's lack of motivation is largely based on the cause, but here are a few ideas!!

- Take a break. If you are overtired, overtrained or overstressed, forcing your running will likely do more harm than good and end in total burnout or injury. Sometimes a week or two of no running (or more if necessary) is just the ticket to get you missing it, feeling refreshed, and really WANTING to run again.

- Create habits and routine. If you get out of bed every day at the same time knowing that your running clothes and shoes are laid out and waiting for you, it becomes habit and not just something you do if you feel like it or get around to it. Plan, prepare, and make routines that make it easier to get it done on the days your motivation is lacking. 

- Try something new! If you run the same loop most days, run a new route. Or try running on the track or on the trails. A new place to run can shake things up and make it more fun and exciting. 

- Remind yourself of how great you feel when you finish a run. That only way to get that feeling is to get started. :)

- Find someone to run with, or a whole bunch of someones. A running buddy or a training group can be super motivating as it is a lot harder to skip a run when you know that there is someone waiting for you. And having someone to chat with can push you and make the miles go by a lot more quickly.

- Sign up for a race! Having a goal race to train for is very motivating and holds you accountable to getting your training done. 

- Set a goal. A goal that you set should be meaningful to you, and it does not have to be time-based. It can be a goal to maintain a certain mileage base, to lose five pounds, to run a race in every state, to raise money for a charity, or pretty much anything you can think of. 

- Go shopping. :) Sometimes a new pair of running shoes, a new running gadget, some new running music, or a bright pair of shorts are enough to get you excited about a run.

- Hire a coach! (I have a few open spots if anyone is interested). A coach can not only help you train smart so you feel good and don't overtrain, but they can also give you new workouts to keep your training interesting/exciting, challenge you in new ways, hold you accountable, encourage you when you need it, help you reach your goals, and get you back on track if you slip. 

- Remember why you started in the first place. Why did you go on that first run? To lose weight? To get in shape? To train for a race? To get out of the house? To challenge yourself? To find yourself? Remember your own personal why.

Those are some of my tips to stay motivated. How do you find your motivation when it is lacking?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Still Alive!

I am still alive!

And Hallelujah today was the last day of school!! In the past two weeks I have successfully survived seemingly countless concerts, programs, plays, ceremonies, meetings. team dinners, celebrations, etc. etc. etc. as well as two trips (over three hours of driving each way) to Utah for appointments for the kids at Primary Children's. I am ready for a break!!

We also had a birthday! Amanda turned 14. :) She is my "tiny but mighty" and I sort-of joke that she could run the house if I let her.

AND, Shane became the STATE CHAMP in the 800m and set a new school record!!!!!! He ran a 1:55!! His 4x800m team also won the state title and he took third at state in both the 3200m and in the 1600m. Two state titles and two third place finishes… not too shabby for a freshman. Oh, and he finished his first year of high school with a 4.0 GPA.

This is a running blog so it's easy to brag about Shane, but all of the kids did really well this year and I couldn't be a prouder mom. Some other highlights from the kids finishing up the school year today - Ryan also worked hard and had a good season in track and finished his junior year with a 3.8 GPA. Destinee finished her junior year and got voted as president of her elite singing group for next year. Ben had an awesome first year of soccer and finished his freshman year also with a 4.0 GPA. Maggie and Amanda finished seventh grade with straight A's, lots of friends, and getting quite good on violin and viola. Amanda also ran track and even though she is the tiniest one out there, she works really hard!! Marcus and Belane finished fifth grade with great grades and great attitudes. Belane started the violin this year and Marcus started the trumpet. Shorty finished third grade with super grades and got voted "funniest in the class". And Noah finished Kindergarten! The kid who we were told would probably never even sit up without support, walked off the bus today almost all by himself and waved and said "bye bye" to his bus driver. He has made incredible progress this year.

 And I am so so happy it is SUMMER and we can enjoy some down time as a family. AND… since I don't need to be home from my runs by 6:30-ish nowI get to sleep an hour later most mornings. YAY!!!!!!!

Running is going well. I took it easy for two weeks to fully recover from Ogden and this week I have been easing back into real training. On Saturday I did a 16 miler with the last three miles in 6:36, 6:31, and 6:26. Then yesterday I did a 14 miler with 8x45 seconds pick ups worked into the run and then a two mile tempo at the end in 6:24 and 6:16.

In two weeks I will be running Ragnar Wasatch Back as part of our ultra team!! This will be my sixth Ragnar in a row and I look forward to it every year. This year is a little bit of a bummer because Josh couldn't get off of work to run with us. It has been awesome to share the weekend and race with him the past two years and I will miss him! The good news is my dear friend Jenny will be with us for the first time in a few years so I am super excited about that. I will be running just over 35 miles in 24 hours. It's always tough but it's a ton of fun.

After Ragnar I will be running the Star Valley Half Marathon again on July 11, a local 5k the first weekend in August, and then the Suffolk County Marathon on Sept. 13. The Suffolk County Marathon is a first year race and has the potential to be warmer/more humid than ideal,  BUT, the timing is great, the course looks good, the race literally runs through my parents' town, and  I will have tons of family/friends/support. I will be running double days consistently this summer to get in some afternoon miles and get as acclimated as I can to running in warmer weather just in case. Here is an article about me and the race

So, that is what I have been up to. Now that things are slowing down I will post more often. I have a few posts floating around in my head I want to get written asap, so more soon.

I leave you for now with this, which I really needed this week. :)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fueling before, during and after your runs

Many aspects of running and training require trial and error to figure out what works best for you. You can get good advice on a starting point, but then you have to try something, see how it works, and continue to "tweak" until you get it just right. One of the areas that this is especially true is fueling. What to put into your body before, during, and after you run/race to make your body perform at it's very best is very individual.

I have struggled with fueling pretty much since I started running. I have a ridiculously sensitive GI system. I have many symptoms of IBS and food allergies and sensitivities. If I overeat or eat too late, my run in the early morning is guaranteed to require multiple pitstops.  I cannot eat any solid food before a run or race… even if I get up and eat it 3-4 hours before I start running. So knowing this, I tend to not eat enough, and then crash and burn in races. Often I can get away with less in training runs but it isn't enough in races.

So I needed to find a way to get in what my body needs, without it being too much and leading to GI problems.

When I started using GENERATION UCAN I knew I was moving in the right direction. It is a slow burning carb, so instead of the shorter-lived insulin spikes you get with many of the gels and other fueling products, the UCAN lasts longer and keeps your insulin levels much more even (no spike and crash).  It has never bothered my stomach and works well as a preface meal replacement. It's really good stuff. :)

After trying out different strategies for best using UCAN and talking with some other marathoners, I think I finally came up with my perfect fueling strategy. I mixed three scoops of tropical orange UCAN with water  and sipped on half of that starting from when I woke up until I was ready to start my warm up. Then when I had about 45 minutes until the race start I drank the second half of the UCAN. I felt well-fueled but not "full" which was perfect. Then I took three Powerbar gels with caffeine throughout the race (at about miles 7, 14 and 21) and just sipped water from aid stations. I finally have my "grab-pinch-sip-drop" routine down perfectly for aid station drinking and don't have to stop running to get in a good sip or two of water. This combination has worked great for me! I also drink the chocolate UCAN as a recovery drink shortly after every run and race (and then eat a full breakfast about an hour later).

If you want to read more on how runners use UCAN successfully you can read here. And if you want to purchase some UCAN, you can use this link to get a 10% discount!!

Another important part of my fueling is EnduroPacks. EnduroPacks is a daily system of vitamins and minerals that are designed for endurance athletes to help keep us healthy and to help us recover faster from our training. EnduroPacks include four products which are sold as a set in one month supplies. The four products are a liquid multi-vitamin, a concentrated electrolyte spray, Essential Amino-Acid patches, and L-Glutamine Recovery Complex. All four products are all-natural, gluten-free, and GMO-Free products, manufactures in the U.S. with only Organic and 100% Vegetarian ingredients.

You can find more details about the EnduroPacks system here, but in a nutshell you take the liquid multi-vitamin every morning, you add the concentrated electrolyte spray to your water or sports drink, you wear one Amino-Acid patch (which helps replenish muscles, increase lung function, and boost immune system performance) for 4-8 hours each day, and you take the Glutamine Recovery Complex (which replenishes nitrogen loss due to intense muscle training, speeds up recovery and reduces soreness) each night. I thought it might be complicated, but it was very easy to get into a routine and I had no trouble remembering to use my EnduroPacks products. The only additional supplements I take are Iron and a probiotic.

If you want to try EnduroPacks now, The promo code "MEMORIAL30" is good for 30% off of a 1-month pack from now through Monday, May 25 (the code will work all day Monday).You can also use the code "FULLHOUSEMOM" for 15% off your order anytime.  You can shop here!

Have you tried Generation UCAN or EnduroPacks? 

What fueling strategies and products work for you?

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Know Why

I believe in the power of positive thinking, and I can tell you that focusing on positive thoughts is what got my through the marathon on Saturday. But being completely honest, as I sat on the cold, hard ground at 5:45 in the morning (having already been up for almost two hours), at the top of a mountain, trying to stop shivering and relax so my muscles didn't waste any energy and trying to mentally prepare to race a marathon… I had one of those moments where I asked myself, "Why do I do this again?"

Later on in the race, after running for a couple of hours in the relentless freezing cold rain, my body was a frozen, soaked and numb mix of pain, cramps, tightness and exhaustion, and my mind was stuck firmly in between frustration, determination, and being really pissed off at Mother Nature. I cycled through mantras and power statements and positive thoughts, but once again I had a moment (or two… or three…) where I asked myself," Why do I do this again?"

I have those moments sometimes when I am dragging myself out of my warm bed at 4am, while Josh and the kids are sleeping soundly. Or when I am starting my first interval of a big workout, alone on a dark track. Or when I feel discouraged.

But the "Why do I do this again?" is always a fleeting thought for me, because I KNOW why I am doing it. I know why I am getting up super early to race hard and train hard in all kinds of weather and constantly pushing my physical and mental limits, even though (again, being perfectly honest) it can suck sometimes.

I do it because even when it sucks, it is awesome.

I do it because even when it is ridiculously hard, I love it.

I do it because it is a part of me, and who I am.

I do it because I am determined to keep pushing my limits physically and mentally and find out just how good I can be.

I do it because I believe running is a God-given ability that I can use to connect with, encourage, and inspire others.

I do it because my dreams and goals are important to me.

I do it because I am really, really stubborn (in a good way).

I do it because I have faith that I am on a journey I am supposed to be on and will lead to great things (and already has led to great things).

I do it because I know it is going to pay off.

I do it because to me, this is LIVING. Yes, it would have been easy to sleep in on Saturday and stay warm and dry inside instead of racing a marathon in the rain. But at the end of any given day do I want to say that I played it safe and comfortable or that I lived boldly? 

“Monochrome contentment or technicolor roller-coaster? No contest, is it?” - Catherine Sanderson

“When you settle for anything short of the best life God wants to offer you, then you have been tempted to remain safe and the accountability for not changing your life becomes your prison of regret.” - Shannon L. Alder

“So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” - Hunter S. Thompson

I choose the rainbow…not to settle… to brave the storm (literally and figuratively!!!)

One of the songs that I really love is "I Lived" by ONEREPUBLIC. This is my favorite part of the lyrics -

"The only way you can know is give it all you have
And I hope that you don't suffer but take the pain
Hope when the moment comes, you'll say...

I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived

Hope that you spend your days, but they all add up
And when that sun goes down, hope you raise your cup
Oh, I wish that I could witness all your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes, I'll say...

I, I did it all"

What it means to truly "live" is different for all of us. That is the beauty of it. For me, it means giving my heart to my loving, passionate marriage to Josh (almost 19 years now!), and raising this crazy awesome family of 12 amazing kids (through all the blessings and challenges), and fiercely chasing my dreams... even if it means getting up stupid early, dealing with some disappointments, and suffering in the rain sometimes. I know why I do it. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Ogden Marathon Recap

If you want the short version - it rained and it poured the entire race. It was freezing cold. It was windy. I got super tight. The conditions were miserable. I finished in 3:24:01. That was the best I had today. No excuses. That's all I had.

The long story for those that want details -

I had a perfect week leading up to race week. My taper went the best it ever has and I felt fresh and ready this morning. I got extra sleep all week and plenty of rest the day before the race. I can honestly say this time there isn't anything I would have done differently leading up to race day.

I got up this morning at 3am. I didn't sleep much at all, but I didn't let it bother me since I knew I had gotten loads of extra rest all week, including NINE hours of sleep Thursday night. I left the hotel at 4:30am and was on a school bus at 4:45am. It wasn't raining yet, but the forecast was saying 100% chance of rain for race time. It was COLD on the bus though. I wrapped up in a throwaway blanket that I brought and relaxed as much as possible.

The race starts at 5800ft elevation.

We got to the start area and had an HOUR AND A HALF before race start. Not my favorite, but I was prepared for it. And luckily the skies were pretty clear still, although the temps were in the upper 30's. Brrrrrrr.  I sat down on an old race sheet I brought, wrapped up in my blanket (and many layers of clothing) and tried to just relax for awhile while sipping on my UCAN.

When we had about 45 minutes until the start I got up and shed a layer, put on my racing shoes, and did my warmup. My feet and hands were numb, but warmed up quickly once I started moving. I got in line at the portapotties, stripped down to my racing outfit, decided to keep my running jacket on, shoved everything else into my bag and tossed it into the gear bag truck. We walked out to the start area and were facing a wall of black, ominous sky. 100% chance of rain indeed.

We started right on time and I felt super. Coach had wanted me to shoot for 7:05 ish pace the first section of the race to warm up and start off conservatively and the pace felt easy and very comfortable. He said I should have a sense of holding back and I did.

Unfortunately the rain started right on time too. We hadn't finished the first mile before the rain started coming down, and it just kept coming. And coming. It got to the point quickly where you stopped worrying about stepping in puddles. I was glad for the jacket and for the hat I wore (and I NEVER wear hats). There is nothing like a rain storm in the mountains in the spring.

I started to struggle around mile 11, but it was a hilly portion of the course and we were running around a lake and it was windy. I got to the half in 1:34 or 1:35 and so while I knew I was a little "off" the plan, I also knew that a PR was still well in grasp and that if I could hold strong through the hilly section of the course that we got a great downhill stretch starting around mile 17.

It kept raining harder and I was just so frozen. I think the high temp during the race was 44. My whole body felt tight and I was nervous about something pulling. I got to mile 17 and hit the downhill again and opened it up. Happily my legs didn't cramp up any worse, but all around my ribs did. I never get side aches and it wasn't exactly a side stitch, but all around my rib cage cramped when I picked the pace up. I tried to work through it but backing off the pace was the only way to keep the cramps at a point that I could still run. My whole body just felt so TIGHT no matter how hard I tried to relax.

I tried to will myself to be faster, to be tougher… but that was as fast and as tough as I could be today.

I am not going to lie… there were a lot of times during this race where the temptation was great to drop out… especially once I knew the time goal wasn't happening. Marathoning is never easy and certainly isn't supposed to feel good, but it was just so miserable and cold. The jacket I had been grateful for early in the race ended up super soaked and heavy and floppy. Water was squishing out of shoes. I had to consciously try to relax so I wasn't shivering while I was running. My body was not loving it. And it was frustrating to know that the PR wasn't happening. But I wanted that finish. I did NOT want to quit. I didn't feel good at all but I wasn't injured and I knew I could finish. So I did. I used mantras and tried to think as many positive thoughts as possible.  I thought about Josh and the kids. I thought about my 95 year-old Grandpa who had heart surgery yesterday. I thought about Coach Ray. I thought about my parents and Jennifer who are always cheering me on. I thought about the awesome people I coach. I thought about all the people who ran Boston in the rain. I thought about runners who inspire me.

I did have to stop and walk twice to take my gels. My hands were so frozen and numb after the half way point that I just couldn't get them out of my belt and get them open while running.  And I did stop once to use the portapotty. My stomach was really great though (I  FINALLY feel like I have that figured out…nutrition and fueling post coming soon) and if a PR race had been happening I would not have stopped.

I have never been "caught" after crossing the finish line but a volunteer grabbed my arm and kept asking if I was ok and a couple of medics grabbed on too. I was shivering violently and struggling to take a deep breath and my chest hurt , but after a minute I was able to relax, catch my breath a bit and told them I was ok. I have never shivered so hard in my whole life though and even after a long hot shower the shivers lingered.

It still hurts and makes me cough to try and take a deep breath and my whole body feels sore, but nothing feels injured at all.

It poured the entire rest of the day, which made for a rotten three-hour drive home.

Am I disappointed I didn't get that PR I wanted so much? Yes. Am I proud that I fought hard on a miserable, tough day? Yes. Marathoning is all about seeing how hard you can push yourself and I definitely did that today. Am I giving up? Never.

I don't have any pics because I don't run with my phone but I will share some race pics when they are posted.  Now… time to sleep.