Friday, April 18, 2014

Heart in Boston

I was supposed to be on a plane to Boston today. I was supposed to be meeting up with my parents and my best friend in Beantown for a special weekend. I was supposed to be in the shape of my life, ready to run a big PR in the greatest and most historic marathon in the world.

But I am not.

And I am ok.

Yes, it has stung the past week or so whenever I leave the house and people ask me when I am headed to Boston, or the surprised look on people's faces when I tell them I am not going.  One guy even tried to argue with me after I explained to him that I wasn't racing in Boston because I got injured and have only been running again for five weeks. He said, "I see you running all over the place again!" It's hard for people to understand I guess when they don't understand how marathon training works.

Yes, I feel like the entire running world is on it's way to Boston for a marathon weekend that will be even more magical and meaningful than most years, and I feel a little left out. I truly believe that this weekend we will see the very best of the running community.

And yes, I have a VERY strong desire to race Boston. I don't just want to run it again, I want to race it. I want to show up to that start line and give the course and the race and all of it's history my A+ effort and the respect it deserves.

I got to Boston in very good shape in 2012, but Mother Nature threw a monkey wrench into my racing plans with 80-90 degree temps (after leaving snow behind in Wyoming). Last year I was planning on running it and then our family schedule made it very tough for me to go, so I ended up being home safe and sound when the tragedy occurred. As I watched the awful news footage, and saw the posts all over social media from friends who were there, and answered worried phone calls from family and friends who were worried I was there, I knew right away that I wanted to run Boston this year.

But sometimes God has other plans, and I have learned to accept that. Even though the injury was miserable and missing out on Boston this year is a disappointment, I am so grateful for the path my running is on right now and how well things are going. I am looking forward to Easter weekend home with my family. I am excited to watch the Boston Marathon on TV and cheer on the elites and friends alike.  And I sure as heck am planning on being there to race next year.

GOOD LUCK to all of you who are running in Boston on Monday. Enjoy the experience, and being a part of something so awesome. My heart, thoughts, and prayers will be with the runners and the city.

Me in my Boston jacket from 2012

The day before Boston 2012 at the finish line (this is as close as I got until the race!)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Seeping In

Coming back to running from being injured is a wild mix of emotions.

You are excited... so very, VERY excited to get back to what you love doing.

You are scared.... scared to death that you aren't really healed, that your injury is going to flare back up, and that you are going to be set back again.

You are hopeful... hopeful that you are recovered and that if you are smart you are going to be able to build back to the level you were at before, and then some. 

You are frustrated... even though you know you should be patient, it is tough to be far "behind" where you were not long ago. It's hard to be slower and to have your endurance not be what it used to be.

I have felt all of these things and more since my cast came off on March 6. Determined, impatient, thrilled, discouraged, joyful, doubtful.... In my first week back to running I could not have been more excited to be running again (seriously, I could not have been!) yet I was nervous about a four miler. FOUR miles. A few months ago I was running 12-15 miles a morning, and those weren't my long runs. The first time post-injury that Ray gave me a run that had a few miles with a pace that started with a "7", I was worried I wouldn't be able to hit it even though I have run 20+ milers at that pace, feeling great.

But I have noticed though that my strength, my speed, and my confidence have all been coming back slowly. At times it is almost like I can feel them seeping back into my body.  Each run, each day, each week, I feel myself getting stronger, faster, and more sure of myself. Something inside me is saying, "We got this!" louder and louder with each run.

The keys for me have been being patient, staying in the present, and having a plan I trust 100%.  One of the things Ray says a lot (that I need to hear!) is SITP - Stay In The Present. It's a good reminder for me. I shouldn't worry about what I could run a couple of months ago or a year ago. I shouldn't worry about what I will be doing next week. Of course you have to set goals, dream your dreams, and have a plan, but you also have to take it one day at a time. On my runs, instead of worrying "will I still be able to run this pace in an hour?" I am focusing on staying in the present and running in the moment.

The truth is, for quite a while before I got injured I was grinding along, training hard, trying to stay positive, but just not feeling great. These past couple of weeks I am remembering what it feels like to train and feel GOOD. I am enjoying workouts instead of stressing about them, my paces are coming more easily, and I am finishing runs feeling tired but great. Ray's guidance, expertise, and care have been truly incredible. I am learning so much from him and am so grateful for how much he cares and how much he is helping me.

Yesterday I had a 12 mile workout on the track. Ray said to run it as a stamina workout, not a VO2max workout. I had a two mile warm up, then 1600, 800, 1600, 800, 1600, 800 (with 800m recovery run in between) and then a two and a half mile cool down. I didn't run any crazy fast paces since the goal was to run it as one 12 mile run with faster intervals mixed in, but the 800's were all about 6:15 and the 1600's were all at 6:30 and I felt great. I was also really happy with my recovery pace and the cool down pace. I felt strong throughout the run, not like I was exhausted and on fumes as I have in the past.

Back on the track at 5:15am, alone in the dark, running fast, and feeling tough... it feels good to feel like me again.

And this week will be 70 miles. It also feels good to get that mileage building back up.

I plan to stay in the present, keep working hard, having faith, and letting that strength, speed, and confidence keep seeping back in. 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring Break Fun and a Running Update

You know you are a little worn out from Spring Break when you fall asleep sitting up at your desk... while reading papers... and in the middle of a conversation with several children. Yeah - I am a little tired.

We didn't have the funds to go anywhere too exciting for Spring Break, but we did make the most of it and had a lot of fun. We left on Friday morning and drove to Utah. We spent two nights in a nice hotel (three rooms!) and we ate at restaurants, swam in the hotel pool, shopped a little, saw a movie, and spent a full day at an amusement park. Sunday was my Destinee's 16th birthday, so we had fun celebrating that too. I woke her up at 6am on her birthday with a new phone and some bakery treats and she is having a big party this weekend.

It was a lot of family fun, lots of laughs, and lots of good times. Having ALL of us together is my favorite thing and I know that as the kids get older, these opportunities are fleeting.

The amusement park was great! The weather was chilly and the park was EMPTY. I think the longest we waited on line was less than five minutes. I rode all of the big roller coasters with the kids. :)

Here are some pics (and there is a running update after the pics).
Noah loved, loved, loved, LOVED the pool

We know how to fill a hotel pool!

Mermaid Maggie
Scared selfie!!! Nate and I in a haunted house. :)

Shorty picked the "Ethiopia lion" to ride. Shorty also rode EVERY giant roller coaster. This kid has NO fear.

Josh and Noah

Noah, Josh, Amanda and Marcus
This pic cracks me up. All the kids decided to go with Noah on the little kiddy roller coaster.
Noah and Marcus. Noah liked these cars ok, but he REALLY liked the fast go-carts he rode with Josh!
Shane, Josh, and Ryan did the Superman swing. They got pulled up almost to the top of those two poles and then dropped and swung back and forth.
Flying overhead!
Destinee and her chicken and waffles that she wanted for breakfast. :) I love Shane's photobomb.
It was a fun weekend, and completely worth the MOUNTAINS of laundry I had once we got home.

Running update - Running is going well!! I had my final appointment with the orthopedic doc and he was super happy with how the foot has healed and gave me the green light to raise the bar with my training (no limitations) as long as I was careful and smart about building things back up. Ray is being very cautious and smart with how we are moving forward and I am trusting him. The feet are not 100% but are really close. There is no discomfort, pain, or soreness at all on any of my runs. After the longer runs they are a little bit stiff later that day if I sit for a long time and a little bit sore to massage, but they are recovering quickly and feeling normal again the next morning. They are recovering more quickly each week, and the strength feels back to normal in the left foot and leg. I am still doing all of my PT exercises.

My mileage is still low for me (52 last week, 58ish this week) but I am feeling good and feeling more and more like myself all the time. Being patient and smart is paying off. I am enjoying every run, but I had two awesome runs last week. I ran a 10 miler at 7:29 average pace, with two 2-mile tempo sections. I ran the tempo miles in 6:58, 6:47 and 6:38, 6:34. The whole run felt amazing. Then on Sunday morning, while we were in Utah, I headed out for 12 miles. Ray had said to pick up the effort and pace a little for the second half if I was feeling good. I headed out with my Garmin and a vague idea of where I was going to go. I ended up running some BIG hills... twice I saw signs with 12% grade! I couldn't believe how strong and good I felt on those uphills. Then I turned around and had a blast running down the way I had come... sort of...! I ended up getting lost somehow and my 12 miler turned into a 14 miler. But I made it back to the hotel without worrying Josh (I went out super early so I could be back before the family got up each morning).

Tomorrow morning I get to go to the track! I haven't been on the track since November because of snow and the injury. I am not doing anything crazy but it will be great to be out there and doing a little bit of faster running. I will update again soon.

And now I am off to get some much needed sleep!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Follow Your Bliss

"When you follow your bliss, doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else." - Joseph Campbell

This is one of my new very favorite quotes.  Ray has sent me a few really awesome articles on running and training by John Kellogg, and the above quote was included in one of them. I love it

Bliss = perfect happiness/great joy.

Obviously Josh, our kids, my faith, our families, and my closest friends bring me bliss, (ok, and peanut butter!) :) and are the most important parts of my life and my heart.

But to me, this quote is talking about your own personal bliss. The part that isn't based on anyone else, but comes from within. It is a bliss that you find inside yourself... something that excites you, something that pushes and stretches you to be better, something that lights a fire within you, something that makes you feel alive... something that is your own personal passion.

I believe that we were all born with our own unique God-given passions, talents, and "bliss". For some people it is music, or art, or baking, or football, or dancing, or soccer, or sewing, or gymnastics, or swimming, or painting, or computers, or writing, or so many other possibilities. For me it is running. I also believe that we are supposed to pursue our gifts and talents. I believe we need to make the most of them, work hard to cultivate them, and use them for our own good and for the good of others.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” - Howard Thurman

It is absolutely true that since I started running and coaching, that doors have opened for me where I never would have thought there would be doors. I have met people and had many opportunities and experiences that I never could have even imagined. It is sad to think of all that I would have missed out on if I had never started to run or to pursue it the way that I have. Running definitely helped me to come alive, and to become a better version of me.

It is a beautiful idea - Follow your bliss, and find those doors that are ready to open only for you.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Updates, Pics, and Votes

I saw this quote and really liked it! I mentioned in my last post that I get accused of being "crazy" often (usually when I tell someone how many kids we have or when someone asks about how much I run).  It used to bother me when people would say, "You are crazy!" but now I take it as a compliment. :)

Running update - Running is going well! With Ray's guidance I have been slowly and carefully building the mileage back up. I have had two runs with some uptempo miles in them (an 8 miler on Saturday and then a 10 miler yesterday). I averaged 7:42 pace on Saturday and just felt amazing from start to finish. I ran yesterday's 10 miler on a hillier route and averaged 8:07, with the last three miles in the 7:15-7:30 range. We are being careful about not stressing out the feet too much and are easing back into things and rebuilding my base/fitness, so I am not running very fast yet but I was happy to run a little faster and to hit double digits yesterday.

The cast has been off for three weeks now and I have been running again for just over two weeks. The strength in the left foot and leg is feeling just about 100%. It is hard sometimes to not be frustrated with being slower than I was or to be running so much less, but on the flip side I am so grateful and happy to be running again and I know I just need to be patient and smart and I will get back to where I was (and beyond!)

For awhile there I was feeling pretty down on myself, a little burnt out, frustrated, and a lot of doubt. Lately, I feel like a big weight has been lifted from my shoulders and I am feeling excited and confident about my running again. I feel like the pieces are all coming together. It is a really good feeling. I love this sport and love being a part of it.

Family Life - It was my birthday on Monday (37!) and we had a fun family weekend. We went on a short day trip to Idaho and stopped to have "world famous square ice cream" and then played at a big play ground in gorgeous sunshine, had some dinner, and got back home in time to take pictures of my oldest son (who went to his senior prom that night!!!!)

Here are some pics.
Amanda and Marcus
Noah and Ben - yes, Ben's hair is out of control. He likes it.
Mercades and Noah
Shorty and Maggie
Amanda and Belane :)

These two were QUITE proud of their pile of plates. Yes, those were all theirs. Salad, pasta, pizza, dessert. Yikes. :)
Road trip selfie! Four of the older kids had plans for the day so we "only" had 8 kids in the Henderson party van! :)
Nathan and his prom date. :)  Parents of little ones - don't blink. Just a moment ago he was a baby.
Shameless plea for votes -  I don't normally participate in things that require you to ask for votes in social media, but someone nominated me for the Greatest Women's Running Blog contest on Salty Running. It is set up like the Sweet 16 college basketball tournament bracket and so to "stay in" I have to win round one. You can vote for me until tomorrow. It takes just a few seconds. You can vote here. Thanks!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Risk, Care, Dream, Expect

This is one of my very favorite quotes and it inspires me everyday with my running, and in how I choose to live my life in every way.

"RISK more than others think is safe.
CARE more than others think is wise.
DREAM more than others think is practical.
EXPECT more than others think is possible." - Cadet Maxim

I love with my whole heart. Once I make a decision, I jump into things with both feet. I am not afraid to work really hard. I am uber loyal. I dream really big. I take chances. I am an optimist. I set high expectations for myself. I have great faith.

When Josh and I have been presented with opportunities in this life, we haven't been afraid to say "yes!" even when it was scary.

I do lots of things that a lot of people classify as "crazy". (I hear "You are crazy" more times than I can count).  I got married at 19. We packed up and left New York and moved to the middle of nowhere in Wyoming. We have 12 kids (a few of which I traveled to Vietnam and Ethiopia to bring home). I drive a 15 passenger van. I get up at 4:30 (or earlier) each day and run lots of miles. I set really big goals.

Sure, sometimes there is hurt or disappointment. Life is full of trials and challenges. But I wouldn't change a thing. Safe is over-rated. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest. Love big. Dream big. Risk a lot. Expect a lot. Work hard. Be bold. Smile easily. Believe in yourself. Serve others. Be joyful.

It's a good recipe.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

On the Road Again!

Let me just say that there is nothing like starting the day off with a run, especially when that run is OUTSIDE and not on the treadmill.

I have been running every day again since my first run back, a week ago today! The last three days I have done five-milers and tomorrow I get to bump it up to six miles. All of the runs right now are just at easy pace, so I am not running very far or very fast yet, but that is ok because I am RUNNING and this left foot of mine is not hurting at all.

I stayed on the treadmill for Thursday's run and again on Friday morning, but when Ray had me do two miles on Friday afternoon and it was gorgeous outside with sunshine and blue skies, I asked (begged) to get the green light to run outside. It was awesome. Since then I have done all of my running outside... even this morning when it was 12 degrees and snowing.

At first my left leg felt really weak and a little "uneven" but the strength has come back really quickly. I have been doing all of the exercises the PT gave me twice a day. A week ago single leg hops (forward and backward) were almost impossible on the left leg, and now they are no problem. Progress is exciting!

I am still REALLY liking the Newton's. The feel super comfortable on my feet, and are just the perfect blend of cushioned and supportive, yet light and fast. And inside the shoes they say "Hello Better" which just makes me smile right now.

Women's Newton Distance S III
I feel more like myself every day. I am back to waking up EARLY (4:30am this week, although it will be 4:00-4:15 once the mileage increases). I am sleeping much more soundly at night. The headaches are gone. My whole body just feels HAPPY and better.

I know I still have to be patient and smart and I have a long way to go to be running high mileage, training hard, and racing fast, but I am on my way, and THAT is exciting.

Here are two of my new favorite quotes (Thank you Ray!)

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them." ~ Henry David Thoreau

"Diligence is the mother of good fortune." – Cervantes

We had a little fun here for St. Patrick's Day. I have always loved St. Paddy's day, as it marks one week to my birthday, my favorite color is green, and my name is Erin! (I am only about a quarter Irish). 

I made gluten-free Irish Soda Bread -
Not as good as the one I usually make, but still yummy and it didn't last long. :)
  A "leprechaun" died our milk green -
It was half gone before I was able to get a picture. They are quick!
Yeah, yeah... I know it is kind of gross looking but the kids LOVED it. Even the teenagers. This was the 16 year-old's breakfast.  :)

And I wore my new favorite hoodie. :)

It says "Kiss Me! I'm an Erin"
All the kids dressed in green too... even the African and Asian ones. :)

So far March is being a pretty great month. And YAY for spring officially starting this week!

I did get a little sad when I looked up my number for the Boston Marathon and saw that it is bib #9559. That's a cool number! But I can honestly say I am past the disappointment of missing out on Boston this year. This injury and the struggles surrounding it have all put my running and training on a new path, and it is one I am feeling really excited, hopeful, and confident about.