Saturday, September 20, 2014

A New Runner

Right before Christmas 2002, I fell in love.

I fell in love with the face of a little girl who was an orphan in South Korea. She had a laundry list of "special needs" and concerns, and when I first contacted the adoption agency to ask about her they told me that the powers that be had decided that she was "unadoptable" and were going to be moving her from foster care to an orphanage. I didn't care.

We brought our Amanda Mee Yeon home four months later, shortly before her second birthday. Two of her medical concerns were the fact that her legs were extremely crooked and that she had two different heart conditions. Neither have ever slowed her down the slightest bit. She may need heart surgery at some point, but as of now she is doing great, and it has been decided by experts that since her crooked legs don't slow her down or hurt her at all, that the horribly invasive surgery to straighten them is not warranted.

This year Amanda started middle school. She is top of her class in grades and very popular with her peers. She had talked for months about going out for the volleyball team. Amanda is super athletic and has more spunk and determination than anyone you have ever met, but she is tiny. She is the smallest kid in her grade by quite a bit. I say all that time that she is "tiny but mighty". I knew that her size would go against her when going out for the volleyball team but I didn't tell her that because I didn't want to give her any doubts.

She came home early on the day of cuts, and I knew even before she fell into my arms sobbing that she had not made the team. Amanda rarely cries, so I knew how upset she was and how much this had meant to her. I hugged her and comforted her some. I told her it sucked and gave her some encouragement. She went downstairs to do homework, change, etc. I expected her to be upset for the rest of the night, but about an hour later she came upstairs and announced that she was joining the cross country team. This is a plan she came up with all on her own.

The cross country team had already been practicing for two weeks but welcomed anyone. I worried that she would find it hard or not enjoy it or be as excited about it as she was about volleyball, but she came home from that first practice and kept telling me how much fun cross country was! She said she had finished last but didn't care because they all had more practice than her and she knew she would get better and faster if she stuck with it.

About a week later she came home and was super excited that she had finished the workout ahead of 10 people. Then she ran in her first meet and came home all pumped about how exciting it was and how well she did.

Every day she has come home from cross country feeling happy, confident, and excited. She tells me about the workouts she does and how hard it is but how great it is.

It has been so wonderful for me to watch her over the past couple of weeks and to see her confidence grow and to see the power of running working it's magic on her. And it's awesome to watch those little crooked legs run.

I don't have a pic of Amanda running yet but I will get one soon. Here is one of my favorites of her.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

20 miles and pics

This morning I had a killer awesome run. It was MUCH needed. I haven't felt great since Pocatello. I have been fighting headaches which I normally don't get, and my stomach has still been off. Things have been slowly getting better each day though and this morning they came together for a really super workout.

The plan was for 18 miles with the first 6 miles easy, then 4 miles at/near goal marathon pace (Coach said to shoot for 7:10), then 2 miles easy, then 6 miles at/near gmp. That's 10 miles total at marathon pace. Ray made me promise to NOT over run the paces (especially early on) and I promised I would stick to the paces as assigned.

I did the six mile warm up at 8:20 average pace, and then the first four gmp miles at 7:04, 7:07, 7:02, and 6:56. It felt super comfortable and I was really holding back, which was a great feeling. Then I did two easy miles at 8:06 and 7:57, and then went into the six gmp miles. I hit those at 7:09, 7:08, 7:04, 7:06, 7:03, and then I let it rip (controlled) for the last mile and ran a 6:36. Once again, I was running the paces pretty comfortably and felt super good. At that point I was at 18 miles (the prescribed work out) and I decided to add on a two mile cool down to hit 20 miles for the day. I ran those in  8:04 and 7:05. Total was 20 miles in 2:32:18. AND, that made for an 86 mile week. Not too shabby.

It was so so cold. It was 28 degrees when I started (slightly warmer than yesterday morning!) and I ran in my fleece jacket and track pants until the last few miles when the sun FINALLY came up and it warmed up slightly to low 40's. I posted on Twitter that you know a run is long when you need a head lamp and sunglasses on the same run. :)

I had Josh pick me up at the track and asked him to snap a few pictures because it was such a pretty morning. They came out really well I think!

This one is my favorite!
Hartford is four weeks from today. I can say that I have put Pocatello fully behind me and am ready to keep working hard, moving forward, and getting ready to rock it in Hartford.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and good luck and congrats to everyone racing!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where to Hang your Bling

As an Ambassador for Gone For a Run I get to share with you so super cool stuff for runners. Gone For A Run has all kinds of awesome gifts for runners. They have everything from shirts to jewelry to socks to headbands to mugs to home decor and everything in between.

For those of us that run races, the question of "what to do with the bling" is bound to come up. Do you put your medals in a sock drawer? Stuff them in a box? Hang them on a door knob?

Gone For a Run has a huge variety of fun designs for their Hooked on Medals Medal Hangers and many of them can be customized with your name, saying, PR's, etc. You can check out all of the options right here.

I had a super hard time choosing one, but I ended up picking this one, which says, "She Believed She Could So She Did".

It comes in four different colors (gray, pink, blue or brown) and features a high quality wood board that is professionally printed with an exclusive Hooked On Medals Hanger design. Board measures 15 3/4" x 6 1/4" and has 9 hooks. Each hook can hold 4-6 medals. It is very well made and very eye-catching. I am super happy with it!!

I also really liked this board that has a dry erase feature so that can add and update your PR's. How cool is that?

They have quite a collection of hangers with inspirational settings, race themes, and customizable options. This picture frame one really caught my eye too.


If you are looking for a way to proudly display your race bling, check out all of the fun Medal Hangers at Gone For a Run. :) 

*** I was given this Medal Hanger by Gone For A Run because I am an Ambassador for them, however this review is my honest opinion of the product and I am not being influenced or compensated in any other way.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Back at it

I gave myself one week after the Pocatello Marathon to be discouraged and work through my feelings. Coach gave me one week of easy/short running for recovery. During that week I had a headache often which isn't typical for me and I was starving all the time, even though I wasn't running very much. (My stomach was awful the entire week after Pokey... even on short easy runs. It is finally getting better.) This weekend I told myself that time was up... no more pouting, no more eating everything in sight, and back to business with training.

Ray gave me my schedule for the week and I was really happy to see it. I know from experience that the best way to get past self-doubt is to get out there and RUN... run long, run hard, run fast. I eased back into things with a short workout this morning. It was 10 miles total with four sets of 3 minutes on, two minutes off, 2 minutes on, 2 minutes off. I ran the 3 minute intervals at a 5:50 average pace, and the 2 minute intervals at a 5:48 average pace. It was supposed to be a 5k pace effort so I was fast, but it felt pretty good overall (even though I started this on the track at 5am).  I am headed out for my second run (four miles total, one mile at 6:20ish pace) here in a little while.

It feels good to get back at it. I have been reading "The Champion's Mind" by Jim Afremow again, and really doing the things he recommends. I know at this point that my mental side of racing needs a boost and so I am doing all  that I can to work on that. I have been reminded of how much I love this sport and love competing.

In family life - we survived the first week of school and everyone is doing well. Maggie and Josh went to Utah at the end of last week so Maggie could get her radioactive ion treatment for her Grave's Disease. She took a quick drink of the stuff on Thursday morning and then they were free all day to have fun and relax (she felt fine through all of this). Then the next morning they went back and did a quick scan to see how much radioactivity was still in the thyroid and calculated how much more to give her. She took a pill and then was on her merry way! She wasn't supposed to be within six feet of anyone for more than a few minutes for three days which wasn't very fun, but she had books, movies, music and her room all to herself (and room service for meals!) and she handled it like a champ. I will take her for bloodwork in two weeks and from here out she will just need monitoring (and most likely medications). Phew.

Ryan, Shane, and Ben are all running high school cross country, and Amanda is running middle school cross country! She went out for the volleyball team and really wanted to play volleyball, but didn't survive the first round of cuts. She is super athletic, but also super super tiny which I knew would make it hard for her to make the team. She came home, had a good cry, and a few hours later announced she was joining the cross country team. I was so proud of her for choosing something else to do! She has loved it so far and is really excited. Maggie got the job as manager for the volleyball team as she also really wanted to play and since medically she isn't allowed to do much physical activity for now, the coach let her be manager. She is really enjoying that too.

Noah is loving Kindergarten and all the other kids are liking school and settling back into the routine. It has been nice, although it makes my mornings even earlier than they already were.

I saw this the other day and love it. Although when I step outside, it is almost always to go for a run. :)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lots of pics and RACE ENTRY GIVEAWAY!

First, a bunch of pictures. We had a wonderful weekend with Jennifer, although it went way too fast. I picked her up in Salt Lake City on Thursday and we stayed the night there. Then we had a fun, relaxing girls' day on Friday, and headed to Pocatello on Friday afternoon. We picked up my race packet and had a restful night in Pokey, then the race on Saturday morning. The hotel gave us a late check-out so we showered and rested in the room until 2pm, then had lunch at Costa Vida (my favorite), and then drove the two and a half hours home.

That night J took everyone to dinner and on Sunday we had a fun day all together, spending the afternoon at a beautiful local spot (Cottonwood Lake). Monday morning I took three of the girls and we drove Jennifer back to Salt Lake for her 2pm flight. I drove about 15-16 hours from Thursday-Monday but it was totally worth it. :)

Then on Tuesday the younger kids went back to school. Noah had his first day of Kindergarten, Solomon started third grade, Marcus and Belane started fifth, and Maggie and Amanda started seventh. (The high school kids went back on August 25th). 

At the bottom of all these pics is a giveaway to an awesome race (Big Cottonwood Canyon Marathon or Half, next Saturday, Sept. 13!!!!)

Thursday night. :)
Friday morning. I am standing on something... we are the same height!

This is at the top of the South End - the mountain pass we drive over to get into Star Valley - home sweet home. J and I always stop and take a pic up here when she comes to visit. It was windy!!!
Ben, Maggie, J, Belane and Shorty at dinner
Jennifer with Belane and Noah

Me and my BFF at Cottonwood Lake

Josh and I at the lake :)

The whole crew plus Jennifer at the lake. Jennifer played with the pic and made everyone look like oompa loompas, but whatever. :)
Shorty, Belane, Maggie, Amanda and Marcus on the first day of school
Noah waiting for the bus on the first day of Kindergarten!!!

               And here are a bunch of race pics.

NEXT SATURDAY (Sept. 13) is the REVEL Big Cottonwood Canyon Half Marathon and Marathon and I have one entry to give away to either the half or the full (your choice). This is a GORGEOUS race on an incredible downhill course. Check out the course profiles here.

Some of the perks of this awesome race are -

- FREE race pics and personalized videos
- huge, high-quality medals
- a gender-specific race shirt (and you can exchange your size to get the perfect fit if needed)
- a super fun swag bag that includes items such as window decals, temporary tattoos, gel bands, and gloves & blanket for the start line.
- a super fun and festive finish line with food for runners, music and vendors

If you want to win the free entry (which I will draw on Saturday morning) just leave a comment below and tell me you want to be in the giveaway!!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Not Ringing the Bell

THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to send me support and encouragement after the race. I have gotten a few messages that really lifted me up and I am truly grateful. Having Jennifer with me this weekend was an enormous blessing. Ray is the best coach ever and knew just what to say. I was worried that Josh would want me to take a break since he worries about me when I am disappointed and of course he doesn't like to see me upset, but he has been a rock for me... he has been incredible and has given me the support and encouragement I need. And my parents have been wonderful as always too.

I have taken a lot of time to think and reflect and contemplate since Saturday. It is very unlike me, but I was so discouraged and disappointed that my usual desire, fight, and determination were nowhere to be seen. Neither was my confidence. And I would be lying if I said they bounced right back. I was on the verge of tears a lot, and it didn't help that my body felt like I had been hit by a train (not terribly sore anywhere, just exhausted).

I have been running still (mentally and physically I have needed it more than ever) but just short (for me) easy runs until Ray gives the green light for more.

So where am I at? Of course I am not giving up. It isn't what I want to do, and it isn't who I am. I don't want to quit, take a break, change gears, move on, turn the page, or anything else. I know that 100%. For the next five and a half weeks I am going to put my all into getting ready in every way for the Hartford Marathon and believe that it will be the race I have worked for.

I am still feeling somewhat bruised emotionally... I am not ready quite yet to be full of fight and confidence... full steam ahead "I got this"... but my resolve is absolutely still there and growing again every hour, and I do believe will ultimately be even stronger because of this weekend.

“Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes, courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow’” -Mary Anne Radmacher

 I am still working on answering emails and responding to everyone but here are a few bullet points to address questions/comments.

- I was not trying to shave off a lot of time in this race and in fact thought we were being conservative with the goal. My PR before this race was a 3:14 (GI issues that day cost me about 6 minutes, so that day I "ran" about a 3:08). So trying to run 3:05-3:08ish was not an overly ambitious goal, especially with how my training has gone leading up to this race since the cast came off in March.

- I don't want to focus on half marathons. Or 5k's. Or Ultras. The marathon is what I love, it is what I am training for, and is what I want to do.

- I was not overtrained. In fact this training cycle was incredible and could not have gone better. My coach is super attentive and very in tune with how I am feeling and what I am doing and I have never had a better training cycle.

- The GI issues are not just on race day and I do struggle with GI issues during many training runs. That said I have gotten better at managing them and when I raced the half marathon in July, I was able to run the whole thing without any stops so I was really hopeful this race would go well too (or that I could get by with just a quick stop or two and not stress it). Getting as sick as I did on Saturday was way out of the norm though.

- I don't think it is the nutrition. I eat super carefully (not too much and bland stuff the day before, etc. etc. etc.) and the Generation UCAN has worked really well for me throughout training.

- Of course I do get nervous before a race, but not out of control nerves and I was in a pretty good place mentally before Pocatello. And, the problems didn't start until around mile 8, once I was well into the race, feeling great, and passed those race morning nerves.

I have plenty to work on between now and October 11, but I am definitely not ready to give up and am not going to let my experience on Saturday ruin my love for this sport or my desire to achieve my dreams.

Admiral William H. McRaven recently gave the commencement speech at his alma mater, the University of Texas. This is how McRaven, a former Navy SEAL, opened his address: "Every day during training, you were challenged with multiple physical events. Long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics, something designed to test your mettle. Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell - a brass bell that hangs in the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit - all you have to do to quit - is ring the bell. Ring the bell, and you no longer have to wake up at five o'clock. Ring the bell, and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT, and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. All you have to do to ring the bell to get out. 
If you want to change the world, don't ever, ever ring the bell." (There is an awesome three minute video that goes with this you can watch here. Do it.)

Simply put, I am not ever, ever going to ring the bell.

I have lots of pictures to post tomorrow and a giveaway to an incredible half or full marathon, REVEL Big Cottonwood Canyon on September 13!!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The short and long

 If you want the short version of my race, here it is. I started off awesome, then got sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, sick, miserably sick over and over, then got dehydrated, almost passed out a few times, struggled, wanted to quit, didn't, and finished extremely frustrated in 3:46.

I have the Hartford Marathon in six weeks. I am not signing up for any more races at this point. I will run Hartford because everything is paid for, and see how it goes but as of right now I am thinking I just may not be cut out for this no matter how badly I want to be.

If you want the details...

Everything went great this morning before the race. I have had an awesome two days with Jennifer and I got 6 1/2 hours of good sleep and a good two hours of rest before going to sleep. Before I went to sleep, when I woke up, and any time I felt anxious I reminded myself to be calm, focused, positive, and confident and it really helped and I felt great overall. I ate well but not too much yesterday and was hydrated and rested. I got up at 4am and got on the first bus at 5am, which got us up to the start line with exactly an hour to go. This is probably TMI, but it turned out to be the wrong time of the month to be a girl running a race, which often makes my stomach issues a lot worse, but I was feeling good so didn't let it get in my head. I drank my UCAN with 45 minutes to go and then started a short and easy warm up. I just jogged for about 15 minutes and did four easy strides and everything felt good. I was able to rest for a little bit and get back into a portapotty, and then lined up and we were off.

I felt great! Within a half a mile or so I was running in third place (female) and it felt easy and relaxed, as Coach Ray wanted it to. The pace came very easily and I was not going too fast... I felt super. It was a lot of downhill but with some rollers so I just relaxed on the uphills and then let my stride lengthen back out on the downhills. I was smiling, relaxed, thinking super positive thoughts and really felt like this was my day!!! Those splits were 6:39 (really downhill), 6:53, 6:50, 6:56, 6:51, 6:49, 6:55, 6:53. Felt awesome.

(My goal for this race was 3:05-3:08ish. The first half of the course drops a lot in elevation and the second half is hilly so it isn't a negative split kind of course and we had a pacing plan to handle it well).

Out of nowhere in mile 9 my stomach cramped BAD and there was no way to run through it without embarrassing myself. I got into a portapotty and that split was 9:44.

I came out and was frustrated to be behind so many people, but slowly worked my way back to where I had been... not working too hard since it was still early. I still felt fine and tried not to let the lost time worry me since I knew I was still ok. Mile 10 was 6:53, 11 was 6:56, 12 was 6:55. I was still thinking positive, and still feeling good mentally and physically. I really believed I was going to finally have a great race again.

Around the end of mile 12 my stomach started growling again and then cramped and again - I HAD to stop. It was quick though (and I was hoping that would be the end of the stops) and mile 13 was 8:32. I passed the half at 1:35:46 which was a little behind where I wanted to be, but considering the time I had lost I knew I was still running well and could still PR and have a time to be proud of.  It was REALLY frustrating to once again be behind people I had been ahead of, then worked hard to get ahead of again, but I really tried to keep my head calm and just do the best I could do and keep running strong.

Mile 14 is where the uphills started, which felt tough after all the downhill, but I was ready for it. Mile 14 was 7:07. I drank my UCAN during this mile too... little sips to try and keep my stomach from getting upset.

In mile 15 I started to just feel off... it was an uphill mile but my stomach was cramping again and I just started to feel bad. I told myself it would pass and hoped it would, but it didn't. This mile was a 7:28. It all went downhill from there... I ended up in a portapotty again in mile 16 and from there it felt like someone pulled the drain out of my energy bathtub. I felt tingly, light-headed, exhausted, wobbly... I took small sips of water at each aid station and even ate two little pieces of banana hoping it would help. Maybe it did a little. Everything cramped though... I am sure from being dehydrated. Nothing felt injured but my hip flexors and calves got super tight and my whole body hurt. I had a headache. It was miserable. I don't even remember how many times I ended up being sick.  A couple of times I even felt like I might just fall over and I really didn't want to struggle to the finish, but I sure as heck did not want to quit either. The last 8 miles or so were a walk/jog.

Jennifer was all along the course in my giant 15 passenger van. She cheered for me, she passed on messages from Josh and Ray, she gave me sips of her Diet Coke, she told me I was strong, she cheered and yelled, she told me to quit crying and get running. There are no words for how much I love this girl. (When I finished she said, "Now you can cry." She said lots of other great stuff too). Everyone should have a BFF like Jennifer. But you can't have her because she is mine.
A pic from yesterday
I laid down in the grass when I finished... when things stopped spinning I ate some, drank some, walked around. My legs and feet feel ok now (tired, but fine...nothing injured) but my whole body kind of feels like I have been hit by a truck.

I don't know what else to try or what else to do with this dang stomach of mine... I do think the downhill courses are a bit rougher on it and maybe it was just bad luck with getting my period but it's hard not to feel like I am just not cut out to do this no matter how badly I want to. I have changed my diet, am super careful about what I eat, have tried every type of fueling, have tried over the counter medicines, have tried prescription medicines... some things help some but nothing has made it so that I can run and not worry about needing the pit stops. I knew it was a possibility today and I had told myself that if I had to stop I just would and wouldn't stress over the lost time, but I didn't anticipate getting SO sick and so dehydrated.

It's hard not to be discouraged at this point, or to not think about the people who have told me I can't and won't get better or reach my goals.

Time to decide which voices in my head to listen to...