Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goofy Goals

Resolutions. Goals. Plans. Changes. Projects. Reforms. Dreams. Aspirations.

Whatever you call them...
whether you chose to set them for New Year's or not...
whether you actually achieve them or not...

I am a big believer in having them. I think we should all have a list of resolutions, goals, aspirations, and dreams.

I am a firm believer that big things are achieved when people try. It is not very often that someone achieves something awesome on accident. Playing it safe rarely has inspiring results. It's when we aim high, dream big,  "shoot for the moon", step out in faith, and put ourselves out there, that amazing things can happen.

Sometimes we achieve what we set out to. Sometimes we don't. (And sometimes we learn more from the goals we don't achieve than the ones we do).  Sometimes life changes our plans, our priorities, and our goals. Sometimes we achieve even more than what we set out to...more than we ever dared to dream. 

So yup... I believe in New Year's resolutions. I like to set goals and have plans. I have big dreams and aspirations. And even if I don't achieve them all, I will enjoy the journey, learn, grow, and be better for it.

So lets talk about my (running) goals. I've got them. In the past, I would have been afraid of putting them "out there". But here goes. :)

For 2012 -
- stay healthy/injury free by keeping up core, strength, and flexibility training and listening to my body
- get our local running club officially started and help others get in shape and enjoy running
- safely increase my mileage
- race and PR at multiple distances (with my focus still being the marathon)
- do a good job representing Brooks so I can maintain my sponsorship next year
- shoot for a sub 3:00 marathon. This very well may not happen in 2012, but as of right now it's my "shoot for the moon" running goal and what I am ultimately working towards.

And now for Goofy next weekend!!
On Thursday I will be on my way to sunny Florida to run the Goofy Challenge! I remember when I signed up for the Goofy Challenge for my birthday back in March and it seemed SO far away. Now it is just days away!!

I have never raced two days back to back. I have never run 39.3 miles in one weekend. So there is definitely an element of the unknown. But, I have run A LOT lately. I ran 287 miles in December. I have run lots of 70+ mile weeks in the last few months, including back to back long runs. I have kicked butt on my speed work, tempo runs, and pace runs. I have stayed healthy and taken great care of myself. I have tapered just as my plan calls for. I think I am as ready as I can be, and I am going to give it my all.

My goals are -
- Run a sub 1:37 for the half marathon. A sub 1:37 will get me an automatic qualifying entry into the NYC marathon. Josh and I want to run it together this year, and if I can qualify, then he can run for Team MEB and we only have to fundraise for one of us. I ran a 1:38:18 half back in July, and am a lot faster now, so a sub 1:37 shouldn't be too hard. I want to run a competitive race, but not an "all-out" effort since I am going to race again the next day.

- PR in the marathon. I REALLY want a sub 3:20 in the marathon. (A sub 3:23 would also get me a qualified entry into the NYC Marathon).  But, since I am racing the day before I just don't know if my sub 3:20 will happen in Disney or not. I have been training at the marathon pace of 7:30, which would give me a finish time of 3:16:30 (not counting pit stops). I had a long run where I did 14 of my 18 miles at that pace and felt strong.  So that is what I am aiming for. If it's not my day or I don't have it in me after running the half the day before, then I will just run the best I can and get my sub 3:20 in Boston in April.

I do plan on doing NOTHING in between the half and the full marathon but recover, refuel, and rest like it is my job. I am going to do everything I can to put myself in the best position possible to run well two days in a row. AND, I am going to have a blast no matter what. I am so grateful to have this opportunity and that Josh is giving me the gift of this experience.

Hopefully I will feel like this...
and not like this...
Happy New Year everybody!

Where can running take you?

This morning, like many runners, I was totaling up my mileage for 2011.

I finished out the month of December with a fun 5-mile run with a new friend (who drove 1 1/2 hours to come run with me! Thanks Jill! It was great and I hope we can do it again soon).

I ran 287 miles in December, which is a new monthly high (and I have been tapering for the last two weeks).

My total mileage for all of 2011 is 2633. I remember being nervous at the beginning of the year about setting the goal of reaching 1500 miles. :)

I started thinking about how far I ran, and wondering how far running could have taken me (literally) if I had run all of those miles consecutively. After a little bit of playing around on Google Maps, I found that my 2633 miles could have taken me from my house in Wyoming, to my parents house on Long Island (NY) and then down to our dear friends' house in Virginia Beach. Cool!

Where could your 2011 mileage have taken you?

Happy New Year everybody!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A year of posts

2012 is almost done and I thought it would be fun to look back through the year of posts and pick out my favorites. If you are new to this blog it will give you a good recap of my year, and if you have been around a while, there is some good stuff to remember or reread.

There are lots of fun posts linked to below, but my two favorites are my post on limiting our potential and happiness and the one titled Strong. If you reread just one or two posts, reread those. :)

If you are interested about why I blog, I wrote about that here.

In January 2011, I started this blog. Yay! It's been almost a whole year of See Mom Run Far. I have had so much fun with this blog and really enjoy writing about my running and connecting with other runners. I would have to say my favorite post from January was the one about how I accidentally bought a treadmill. (TRUE STORY).
Yes, I use the very high-tech solution of putting a ladder in front of my treadmill to hold my laptop. It works!

It made me smile to reread my post from February about my true love and my response to an article that exercise can destroy marriages. I also giggled reading about my loaded oatmeal, because I still eat almost the exact same thing every single morning! (Although now I add strawberries too, switch out raisins for chopped dates sometimes, and drink Collagen Sport instead of Ovaltine).

March was my birthday month! My favorite posts from March were my letter to my body and the running play list game. I think of this post still often and smile every time Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys come up when I am running. I love it even though many of you wanted to take it off my list! :)

My favorite posts from April were my post on "How I do It" and my recap of the Salt Lake City Marathon. (SUCH a great race!)
I miss my parents!!!

May had a lot of fun posts! I loved the one about a change in perspective, the recap of the 5K I ran with two of my boys (and was first female finisher) and my announcement about getting to be on Team MEB and run the NYC Marathon.

June was a fun month and it was great to reread my Ragnar recap (I so so SO love Ragnar) and my recap of Josh's first marathon!


From July my favorite posts have to be my recap of the Star Valley Half Marathon (you ALL should come hang out in my beautiful valley this summer, visit me, and run this race) and my post with the pictures from the race.

August's highlight had to be getting chosen (and giving the opportunity to Josh) to run with Dean Karnazes in the Gore-Tex Transrockies Run! Cheering on Josh and Jenny at El Vaquero Loco, getting a phone call from Meb, and chatting with Bart Yasso were pretty dang cool too.
Josh and Dean!

In September, qualifying for Boston was a killer moment, as was PR'ing two weeks later at Top of Utah (in the rain, wind, thunder, lightning, and hail!), but playing with my kids was a total blast too. (Lots of fun kid pics in this post).
Top of Utah!

In October I had a moment doing laundry where I felt a bit like a superhero, and then I got interviewed by Runner's World! (Article is still a go for the "Human Race" section of the May 2012 issue. Woo hoo!)

November brought a little excitement called the NYC Marathon, and an incredible trip that included time alone with Josh, seeing my parents, meeting Meb, seeing friends and family, going to a Rangers game, and all kinds of fun.


We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I organized my very first race (a super fun and successful Turkey Trot).
Nate, who didn't really die, even though he thought he might :)

I opened up about a haircut that was just a haircut, and yet so much more than a haircut.


I also wrote about that nasty thing called doubt, and how I try to inspire others with my life.

My favorite posts from December were my post about being chosen to be on the Brooks ID Team (I am STILL on cloud 9 about being sponsored by Brooks!!!!) and my post from yesterday about what a difference three years can make.

It was really fun to look back through my training paces and race times and see how they improved throughout the year. It is really encouraging to see that paces I struggled with and thought felt super fast back at the beginning of the year are now super easy for me. That makes me excited for what is to come. There were lots of posts I had forgotten about, and pictures I enjoyed seeing again. It's fun to look back!

Thanks for reading along!

Did you have a favorite post of mine from 2011?





Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Three years ago...

Three years ago today I got on a Wii Fit.

Three years ago today that Wii fit told me I was obese.

Three years ago today I decided I was done being fat. I decided I was done being unhealthy. I decided I was done taking care of everyone but myself. I decided I was done with looking in the mirror and not liking what I saw.

When Josh and I set up the Wii Fit that night (that we had gotten as a Christmas present from his sister) I thought we would play a few games and have a few laughs. In fact, being 100% honest, I was eating Ben and Jerry's from the carton WHILE Josh was setting it up.

But when I stood on it, and it ballooned up the little cartoon version of me, made an embarrassing noise, and announced that I was obese at 208lbs (and 5ft 5inches tall), something inside me clicked. From that moment on, I have worked hard to change my body, my health, my attitude, and my priorities.

I started with baby steps. I didn't want to start anything that I couldn't maintain. I didn't want to go on a short term weight loss/diet plan, and I didn't want to do anything drastic. I started exercising five to six days a week for 30 minutes a day (in the beginning it was almost all on the Wii Fit).

I made baby steps in improving my diet as well. I stopped eating after 7pm. I started watching portion sizes. I added fruits and veggies to my diet (which I was eating almost none of at the time). I cut out soda and almost all liquid calories and started drinking water for the first time. I chewed gum when I was feeding the kids so I didn't pick off of their plates. Baby steps.

And sure enough the weight started coming off. I couldn't believe it at first! I averaged six pounds lost a month. The more weight I lost the more encouraged I was, the better I felt, the more I wanted to keep exercising and eat well, and the more weight I lost.

I did not set a goal weight. I figured I was making life-long changes... I wanted to continue with daily exercise and healthier eating habits... so I planned to keep doing what I was doing and assumed that my weight would level out at a healthy weight for me. In just over eight months I lost 50lbs. I felt like a new person. My weight leveled out at about 155 and I assumed that was my healthy weight, but after 6 months or so of leveling out, I lost another 20+ lbs and now I have been at about 131 lbs for a while (which is down 77lbs from where I started).

On April 25, 2009 I went for my first run. I was sick of the Wii Fit (although grateful for it!), the weather was warming up, and the sunshine beckoned me. A few ladies in my neighborhood had started going on short runs, and I figured if they could do it, so could I.

My first run was a 2.3 mile loop from my house.  When I started I was sure I could run the whole thing. I made it almost a mile before walking, and had to walk several more times before I made it home. It was one of the most humbling experiences of my life, and yet again... something inside me clicked. I loved being out in the world. I loved the feeling of my body moving forward (even though I was moving very slowly at that point). I loved the challenge of it. I was hooked. In my heart, that is the day I became a runner.

I had no idea three years ago when I stepped on that Wii Fit that it would be such a life-changing moment. I also had no idea when I went for that first run that it would an equally life-changing moment.

I woke up this morning and thought, "Three years ago today I weighed 208lbs, and today I am a sponsored runner." I am so grateful.




I know that there are many people out there who need to make a change in their life. They need to be healthier. They need to care for themselves. They need to eat better. They need to get active. They need to make themselves a priority in their own lives.

I know how overwhelming it seems at the beginning. I know how discouraging it is when it is SO HARD to do any little bit of exercise and the weight comes off SO slowly. But I also know how good it feels, inside and out, to make those hard changes. You can do it!

Here are my tips.

- Make baby steps and set small goals. As you make changes and achieve goals, add to them.
- Find an exercise you enjoy. Some people love running. Some like riding a bike. Some like swimming. Some love classes at a gym. Some need to keep it mixed up.  Find what you like, because that is what you will stick with.
- Celebrate small achievements!
- Find friends (in "real life" or online) who are making similar changes and can support you and encourage you. Having a friend to exercise with really helps too.
- Believe in yourself. Never doubt how far you can go and how much you can achieve. And believe in your heart that you are worth the effort.

Monday, December 26, 2011

I love Christmas!

I love, love Christmas. We had a wonderful weekend, especially Christmas Day, and I think we found a really nice balance of celebrating the true meaning of the holiday and enjoying the presents, food, and goodies. It is important to me that my kids remember why we celebrate Christmas, and that the focus isn't just on "getting stuff".

All of my kids were happy, loving, grateful for their gifts, kind to each other, and lots of fun to be with. I was so proud of them and said multiple times throughout the day how much I love them and how grateful I am for them. And Josh was super-dad and super-husband as always. He is a gift I get to wake up to every day.

We had a quiet holiday weekend with just our family. While we dearly missed family and wished we could have shared the day with them, it was a really fun, special, and stress-less Christmas. In fact, after the big (late) lunch we do every year of fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, crackers, dips, chips, little smokies, and other appetizers, we decided we didn't need a big dinner and instead skipped right to the dessert that we had planned. Yup, we had ice cream sundae bar for Christmas dinner. It was awesome. We had a big ham dinner Friday night and still have another ham and turkey in the fridge so we have plenty of "traditional" too.

We have some fun things planned for this week. Josh has to work but not too much and the kids all have off from school until next Tuesday. What's crazy is that they go back to school on Tuesday and then I leave on Thursday for Disney! With all the excitement of Christmas, Disney is coming FAST.

I have been getting all my miles in. I flip-flopped my weekend runs and did my 17-miler on Saturday morning so I didn't have to be busy that long on Christmas day. Yesterday, after two hours of present-opening and then making cinnamon and orange rolls for the kids for breakfast, I slipped out at about 10am for a quick five-miler. It was cold but sunny and there were almost no cars at all. It was quiet and beautiful and PERFECT. With only 12 days until the half marathon at Disney and 13 days until the full marathon, I am in taper mood which makes me crazy and excited all at the same time. I feel ready!

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and that you keep the spirit of the holiday in your heart and enjoy the rest of the vacation with family, friends, and those you love.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Favorites of 2011

One of my very favorite people that I have met through the online running community is "Miss Zippy". I have met her in person twice now and will get to hang out with her in Boston in April (yay!!!). She's wonderful!

Here we are back in August when her and her fun family were visiting Wyoming.

On her blog yesterday, Miss Zippy posted some questions that I thought would be fun to answer.

What was your best race experience? Oh man. I suck at these questions. I have no less than 87 "favorite movies"and just as many (or more) "favorite books".  My "favorite hoodie" is the one I am wearing on any given day. My "favorite food" changes often. Even when I was a little kid my Dad would tease me whenever I said something was my "favorite" or "the best". Every time I would get back from a movie he would say, "Let me guess. It was the best movie you ever saw." I am easy to please. Whatever. :)

So with that disclaimer...

The Walt Disney World Marathon in January was my best race experience of the year because I had an awesome long weekend with just my parents, and getting to run Disney was such a special treat and last minute surprise. I love Disney. I love Disney a lot. Disney does an amazing job and I loved every single minute of the experience. (And I got to ride the Rock n Roller Coaster with my Daddy!)


The Salt Lake City Marathon in April was my best race experience of the year because it was the first time I set a real time goal for myself and I achieved it! (I wanted to be under four hours and I ran a 3:57). On top of that, Josh, the kids, and my parents were ALL there which was amazing. I felt GREAT the entire race. I was literally grinning when I saw my family at mile 23. I love this race, loved the course, and felt amazing. This was when the spark of being competitive and wondering how fast I could be at the marathon was lit.

The Star Valley Medical Center 5k in May was my best race experience of the year because it was the first time I raced with my kids, and it was my first win. I was the first female (third overall) with a time of 22:00. Even better is that one of the two people who beat me was my rockstar son, Shane, who at 11 years old finished in 21:15. (In 2012, Shane is going down!) :)  Ryan (13) also ran it and set his own PR of 25:26. It was a very fun day being out with the boys and with lots of friends and neighbors.

Ragnar Wasatch Back in June was my best race experience of the year because Ragnar is so much dang fun! Seriously, it was two days of friends and running. I was super happy with how I ran, I got to wear a sombrero (and get a free dinner from Cafe Rio) and I had two days with my best friend and a bunch of ladies I love. To top it off, Josh's brother and his wife had a family team, so I got to see them, Josh's mom, my son Ryan, and others. I love love love Ragnar. Someone said it was like Woodstock for runners. Perfect! I am hooked for life (and can't wait to run it with Josh on our ultra team this year!)

The Star Valley Half Marathon in July was my best race experience of the year because it was just one of those days and races when running was AWESOME. I had a plan. I took off way faster. I felt amazing so I kept going. And I kept going. And I blew my PR out of the water and I did so much better than I thought I even could have. I finished in 1:38:18 and won my age group and was fourth female overall. This race was a blast, not just because I felt so fast, but also because I got to run it with my best friends and with Josh, and with tons of our friends and neighbors running and cheering. Running here at home was super fun and it was just a perfect race and day.

The Pocatello Marathon in September was my best race experience of the year because I QUALIFIED FOR BOSTON!!! I needed to be under 3:45 to qualify, my goal was to run under a 3:30, and I finished in 3:32:26. Before the race was a lot of fun as I got to meet and hang out with Cari, EMZ, and Dawn. The race itself I can't truly say I enjoyed a whole lot. I love Pocatello and they do a GREAT race (no complaints at all... love it!), but I was so so so SO sick during this race. I ended up in FOUR portapotties and felt like death. So I was extra proud of that PR and that BQ time.

The Top of Utah Marathon in September was my best race experience of the year because it was my PR (3:28:15)!!!! I had a super fun trip with Terzah and Alana, and got to cheer Terzah to a PR and Alana to a sub 4:00 finish on her very first marathon! The weather was truly terrible (pouring rain, hail, thunder, lightning, cold, etc.) but the course is great, I loved the race, and I felt strong the whole way. This is a marathon I want to do every year.

And the NYC Marathon in November was my best race experience of the year because... it was the NYC Marathon!! I got to go on an incredible trip with just Josh, we got time with my parents, we got to see other family and friends, we got to have lunch with Meb Keflezighi and Team MEB at the NYC Athletic Club, I got to meet Bart Yasso, the expo was a blast, and the race is just unlike any other and completely amazing. The very crowded and challenging course left me with a slower time than I would have liked (3:32:40) but it was a wonderful experience and I definitely want to run it again.

What was your best run? At first I was going to say that there was no way I could come up with a best run... I had so may fun runs with Jenny, killer track work outs, incredible long runs, super hard tempo runs, beautiful runs up the canyon, runs in sunshine, runs in snow, runs in the dark.... each one is a favorite in some way. But if I had to pick the run that left me on the biggest runner's high, I am going to say it was the track work out I did with Alana in August, when we both set out to do our 10x800 (Yasso 800's). It was a killer work out but I nailed my times and felt unstoppable afterwards.

What was your best new piece of gear? My Brooks PureFlow running shoes. I can't even say how much I love these shoes. You can read my super detailed review here.

What was the best piece of running advice you received? I have gotten a lot of great advice from a lot of great runners (both in person, through blogs, and through reading lots of books). I don't even know where it came from but the best advice I got this year was to not limit myself... not to put a ceiling on my dreams or my abilities, and not to limit what I try to achieve. 

Most inspirational runner? Ok, not even trying on this one. I am being honest and genuine when I say I am inspired by all runners. I am SO inspired by the incredible, elite runners who fly by at 5 minute mile paces (seemingly effortlessly).  Yet I am just as inspired by my friend Dani who ran her first half marathon this year. Watching her come into the finish line was SO inspiring and I was so proud.  And I was amazingly inspired by the older gentleman who I saw running at Ragnar during my 8-mile-uphill-killer leg. He gave me a big smile and thumb's up when I went by and I told him he was doing a great job! His grown grandkids had a big sign that said "Grandpa, you are our hero!" I am inspired by every runner I see in different ways. Fast or slow, old or young, heavy or thin, famous or not... I am inspired by them all. 

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?  Blessed. Amazing. Fun. Challenging. Exciting. Rewarding. Promising. 

Book winner!

The lucky winner of my giveaway of a copy of "The Jade Rabbit" is

Julie from Almost 40 Runner! Congrats!

Julie, send me an email at full house mom at g mail dot com and I will get you in touch with author Mark Matthews so you can get your book. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

weekend catch-up

WHEW.

It has been a LONG few days. It has been mostly good, but LONG.

Josh left at 6am on Friday morning. He took our 15 passenger van and eight of his friends and they drove (13 hours each way) to New Mexico to go to the New Mexico Bowl where the Wyoming Cowboys were playing. (The Cowboys got their butts kicked but the guys still had a fun trip. They are on the road home now and I expect Josh late tonight).

On Friday I had some errands to run, and then we watched Christmas movies when the kids were all home from school. Yesterday was busy, but fun. I took the kids to the free matinee at the movie theater and to see Santa. Then I left some of the kids home with two of the teenagers and took a couple of the kids grocery shopping, and when we got home we started baking and made lots of treats. I drove back into town to pick up pizzas since the kitchen at home was crazy, and then after we ate we put together 10 plates and then drove around and delivered them to friends and neighbors. The kids loved delivering the plates of treats and hopefully we spread some Christmas cheer. It was fun!

The little kids went to bed and then the big kids and I stayed up and watched Scrooged.  Love it! (Ok, I cannot tell a lie. I watched some of Scrooged and dozed on the couch.)

This morning there was lots of hair doing, getting everyone to church on time, etc. etc. and oh yeah... I ran 20 miles! I had a 6 miler on Friday, a 10 miler yesterday, and then my last 20 miler before Goofy this morning. It was a lot of miles to get done with Josh gone, but I started super early and was able to get it all done. (I got very little sleep last night thanks to Noah's alarm going off multiple times, my coughing, and getting up super early, but I did just fine despite that. I plan on sleeping hard tonight!)

This morning's run, even though it was on the treadmill, was one of my best 20 milers ever. I finished in 2 hours, 32 minutes and 40 seconds, which is a 7:37 average pace. My original plan was to do a workout I saw in Runner's World that they recommended as a fitness test to run three weeks before a marathon. The work out was to do 2x6 miles at a pace of 10 seconds faster than marathon pace, with a warm up, cool down, and a 10 minute recovery jog in between the six-mile intervals.

I did a four-mile warmup at about an 8:13 pace, and then did six miles at 7:19. Then I did two easy miles (at about 8:34 pace). Originally I was going to do six more miles at 7:19 and then two miles to cool down, but when I hit the last two miles I was feeling good and I decided I wanted to finish strong, so I kept up the pace. When I got to the last half mile I kicked up the speed at each tenth of a mile, so I finished at a 6:58 pace.

There is something SO satisfying about finishing that last long run and hitting that magic three-week taper window. I always feel like I have conquered the training plan. I am extra excited this time because my legs and body feel SO good (despite a lingering nagging cough which is slowly slowly improving). It feels awesome to have run multiple weeks at 70+ miles and to feel this great.

My taper isn't a crazy amount of taper. I have "reduced miles" but still high intensity, and "reduced miles" means 60 miles next week, and 50 miles the week after that. Then it's Goofy week!!! I am feeling awesome and I am feeling READY. I have a good feeling about Disney. :)

Ok... back to cooking, laundry, playing with kids, etc. etc. and then an early bedtime for little kids so I can crash on the couch early. I can't wait to be back in the arms of Josh tonight. Yay!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

5 Tips for Achieveing Balance during the Holidays

I think that all too often, the holidays become a time of stress for people as they get caught up in all that they "have" to do. Healthy eating tends to go out the window. People often feel they are too busy to exercise. The holidays become something that people try to "survive" instead of treasure and enjoy, and as a result, the true meaning and spirit of the holidays is lost in the hustle and bustle.

I have written on here many, many times about how important balance is to me in my life, and while it may be harder during the holidays to find that balance, it is not impossible. Here are my tips on achieving "FitFluential Balance" during the holidays. With a little effort, you can get to January 2 feeling happy and healthy.

1. NO EXCUSES. I am going to tell you plain and simple - if you only exercise on the days you are able to "find the time", chances are really good that it isn't going to happen. In life we make time for what is most important to us, and finding time to take care of ourselves (exercise) should always be on that list. On any given day you can be too tired, too busy, too sick, too stressed, or too WHATEVER to find the time to exercise. This time of year there are parties, concerts, programs, activities, obligations, shopping, dinners, traveling, to-do lists, etc. etc. etc. that take up time.  BUT, you CAN make time to exercise. You may have to get up extra early on an extra busy day. You may have to make time on your lunch break. You may have to sneak out after dinner or get something done once the kids are in bed. You may have to move around a training schedule for special days or do a shorter workout than usual. But you can always make time each day to exercise. Take out the "if's" and the "but's". No excuses. This is a gift you can give yourself, and if you do, you will find that your stress level is lower, your energy is higher, you are happier overall, and your clothes will still fit the same in early January. :)

2. Just say NO. I found that my life became a WHOLE lot simpler and a WHOLE lot less stressful when I figured out how to say "no" once and a while, and when I realized that the world wouldn't fall apart because I did. Maybe it's because when you have 12 kids, a husband who works a lot, and a demanding training schedule, that you only have time for the most important things in life.  Or maybe it's because I tried it once and realized how great it felt to say "no" to something that didn't really matter. Whatever the reason, cutting out the less important things has made a huge difference in a great way. Don't be afraid to say "no" to those little (rarely important) time demands that really, truly don't matter in the big picture (especially all the "extra" ones that are around this time of year). Ask yourself, "Would doing XYZ be the best use of my time?" If it is, go for it! If it's not, do not be afraid to say no.

3. Again, just say NO (most of the time). This time, I am talking food.  This time of year we are surrounded by treats. Cookies, candy, cakes, gingerbread, big dinners, egg nog, hot chocolate, and on and on and on. One or two treats a day can add up in the pounds in a big way (especially if combined with stress and a lack of exercise). And while a Christmas treat may make us feel good momentarily, it is not going to make us feel good long term. Try to maintain as close to your normal eating patterns as possible this time of year. Make sure your home is FULL of healthy and tasty options, so when you are hungry or tempted by an unhealthy treat, you always have a healthy option you enjoy. I used to feel like if there was a treat around I HAD to have it and somewhere along the line I realized it was ok to say no to food that wasn't good for me.

When I am tempted by something I remind myself about the big picture, and that being healthy and in shape is more important to me than eating "fill-in-the-blank".  That said, of course it is ok (and good!) to enjoy a treat once and awhile. I often ask my self is something is "worth it". I know what the calories are for a given treat and know how much I like it, and decide if it is worth the calories to me. Ice cream? Not worth it to me. Chocolate? Not worth it to me. Gingerbread? Worth it! Sugar cookie? Worth it! When I have something like gingerbread or a sugar cookie I take a determined amount, and then I eat it slowly and thoroughly enjoy it.

If you know you are going to a party or somewhere that there will be lots of tempting, unhealthy food, make a plan! Know (about) how many calories you have eaten prior to the party and about how much you want to eat at the party. Do NOT go to the party starving, and drink lots of water so you are well hydrated. Pay attention to "little bites" of things, liquid calories (which add up quickly), and how much you are really eating. Also, don't make the focus of the night out be on the food. Too often the focus of holiday get togethers IS the food. Focus on being out with your spouse, or visiting with friends, or having a fun night out. I went to a girls night out Christmas party a week ago. It didn't start until 7:30pm, which is after I am usually done eating for the day. I knew what they were serving and with my dairy allergy, none of it was food that would leave me feeling very well. So I ate a healthy dinner, went to the party full, chewed gum and drank ice water to keep my mouth busy, and focused on having fun with friends. I had a wonderful time, and at the end of the night I came home feeling great, instead of feeling terrible about overindulging.

4. Be kind to yourself. There is so much pressure on people, especially women it seems, to "do it all". And again, this time of year, the to-do lists are longer than ever. If you miss a day of exercising, or you pig out on Christmas cookies, don't beat yourself up over it. Talk to yourself the way you would a close friend. Keep in mind the big picture of your exercising and eating instead of focusing on what you did "wrong". No one is perfect and no one can really do it all, so don't make yourself crazy trying. Lift yourself up, don't beat yourself up.

5. Find ways to be Fit with your family. The holidays are all about being with the ones we love, and if you can combine being fit with family time, it is a win-win situation. Go for a walk. Go sledding. Go skiing. Go ice-skating. Do a family Jingle Bell Fun Run. Shovel snow for neighbors. Play a dancing game on the Wii. Do an exercise video all together (although this will likely end with much laughter!) Go to a gym and play basketball or find an indoor pool where you can all swim. Get active and have fun with those you love.

Those are my tips! Do you have a tip you would add? I hope you are all ENJOYING the holiday season and finding ways to be happy, healthy, and fit.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to get tough and fight injuries

I am trying to answer questions this week that people have emailed me and left in comments. (If you have a question feel free to leave it in a comment!) Yesterday I answered the "what do you wear to run in the cold question". I have had a few people ask me lately about what I do for strength/cross training. I admit that I am not very good at cross training. I hate riding a bike (sorry, it's true). I don't have anywhere to swim (closest indoor pool is over an hour away). I don't have the patience for workout DVDs, and I don't have time or money to go to a gym for classes. Excuses? Reality? Yes, and yes.

That said, I do believe that to be a strong, healthy runner you have to be strong and fit overall and that running alone is not enough to accomplish that.

I have really been building up my weekly running miles the last few months, and I believe that one of the biggest reasons I have been able to run 70-75 mile weeks repeatedly now and stay injury free (knock on wood) is because of the strength, core, and flexibility training I have been doing in addition to my running.

Three times a week I do a core routine. I get up early and do it before the kids are up and before I run. The core routine I do is a combination of exercises from Pete Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning book (this is the training plan I am using for Disney and Boston at least) and some exercises I noted from Runner's World and Running Times.

I do this set of exercises all the way through, twice in a row. (You can find details on some of these here). It takes me about 25 minutes.
50 crunches
20 leg pushaway's (this one REALLY works the core well. See link above for details).
6 lying bridges (10 seconds each)
6 "staff" pushups (5 seconds each)
6 standing knee hold's (three each leg, 10 seconds each)
6 Superman's, one arm, opposite leg raised for each  (10 seconds each)
2 side plank/hovers (one each side, one minute each)
1 prone plank (one minute)
1 back bend (20-30 seconds)

Twice a week, I get up early and do a strength routine. 
I do this set of exercises all the way through, twice in a row. It takes about 25 minutes.
20 pushups (the REAL kind. I am proud of that!)
20 bench dips
20 lunges each leg (40 total)
20 squats
20 V-sits (these things suck but have done wonders for my core)
20 glute kick backs (20 each leg)
20 donkey kicks (20 each leg)
20 fire hydrant kicks (20 each leg) love this one for hips!
20 side-lying leg lifts (20 each leg)

On my long run day and on my toughest speed work day I don't do any extra exercises before I run. (Yes, right now I am running seven days a week, but I take at least one or two days very easy). Every day after I run, I do a routine of stretching and foam rolling. I know that stretching is one of those "personal" things in the running world. There are runners that are religious about stretching and runners that swear they never do. For me, I believe stretching works and helps keep my body happy.

After every run I do this routine. I do each stretch on both sides, and hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds, release, then repeat it for another 30 seconds. It takes about 20-25 minutes (sometimes longer, because Noah is usually crawling all over me for this. He loves when I am down on the floor with him and thinks rolling/stretching time = play time. I tell him he is my personal trainer).
straight leg calf stretch
bent leg calf stretch (stretches Achilles)
kneeling hamstring stretch
laying on back hamstring stretch
kneeling hip flexor stretch
standing quad stretch
Lying glute stretch (ankle to knee)
Lying ITB stretch
Downward facing dog yoga pose

Then I roll my ITBs, quads, and hamstrings with my roller.

If I "find" any sore/tight spots while I am stretching and rolling, I pay them some extra attention. 

It takes time to do all of this. And being honest, YES, there are days when I would so much rather just sleep in the extra half an hour, or when I get done with my run and I just want to skip right to breakfast. But I am asking a lot of my body, and if I want it to continue to be healthy and strong, I need to take care of it. And the extra 25-60 minutes a day is way worth it if it keeps me healthy and injury free. Since I started this routine (about six weeks ago), I have felt stronger all over (especially my core and upper body) and my  hamstrings (which have always been tight) are feeling much better. So for me, the time is well worth it and it has become an important part of my training.

Along with this, I try very hard to eat well and get enough rest. Again, I am asking a lot of my body, and if I want it to do what I want it to do without breaking down, I have to take care of it. That means getting adequate sleep and rest (or as much as possible... adequate isn't always an option for parents!) and giving my body the nutrients it needs to be healthy and strong.

I can't ask my body to run lots of miles and be fast (and expect it to do so) if I am filling it full of sugar and crappy food. So I make sure I get the right amount of calories and that most of them are from the best sources (whole grains, fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, potatoes, fish, lean meats, eggs, soy milk, etc.) and I drink lots and lots of water. I definitely notice that I feel stronger as a runner when I am well-rested and am eating well.

How about you? Do you do strength/core/cross training? What do you do?

Do you stretch? Always? Never? Sometimes?

Do you notice a difference in your training when you eat and sleep well?

If you have questions about any of these exercises or stretches ask away and I will try to clarify. :)



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My exciting news!

I have been bursting at the seams since I got this news on Friday, but it wasn't 100% confirmed (in my mind) so I was afraid to say anything. Today I had it confirmed so here goes...

I am going to be a part of the Brooks ID Program for 2012!!!! Here is what Brooks says about the program-

"Brooks I.D. stands for Inspire Daily. These two simple words guide the principles of the program. Brooks I.D. is made up of over 800 members who are active in their running communities and share a passion for the Brooks brand. They are runners who are winners in their own right: Winning their age divisions, accomplishing their personal goals, pushing their own limits, and, by extension, encouraging others to do the same. They are coaches, mentors, and leaders. Brooks I.D. athletes members use their athletic talent to help carry out the Brooks mission: To inspire people to run and be active. We look for athletes who have a passion for Brooks, race and train in Brooks' shoes and apparel, and enthusiastically evangelize the brand. "

Seriously, I don't know that I could be more excited. I am a huge Brooks fan, and they are the only running shoes that I have worn since I started running. I love their slogan, "Run Happy!" To be a part of the Brooks team and to get to run, race,  and represent Brooks really is a running dream come true for me!

Here is how it came to be...

Early last year I connected with a Brooks ID member named Shannon Price. Shannon is an ultra runner and he is super awesome, and incredibly kind. (You can read an interview and learn more about Shannon here). I asked how he got involved with the Brooks ID program and he told me it was an invitation only program now, but that current Brooks ID members could submit new potential athletes at the end of the year for the coming year's program. He offered to submit me at the end of 2011 for the 2012 year, and he offered me some advice.

I really thought he was just being nice and that my chances were slim of getting selected. I sent Shannon my running resume and my bio a couple of weeks ago and have just waited anxiously ever since (trying not to get my hopes up).

Then on Friday afternoon I got an email from the director of the Brooks ID program telling me he'd love to offer me a contract for 2012! I heard from him again today and I will be getting the official invitation to the program on Monday (when the director is back in town). WOO HOO!!!

I posted my news on Facebook today and Shannon left a comment after one of my friends asked what it meant that I was going to be a part of the Brooks ID program. He said, "it means that Erin has worked herself silly and made it to the level of an elite with her dedication and ability. On behalf of the Brooks' team we are honored to have her. We are truly the lucky ones." Ok, so I definitely am NOT an elite in my ability, but it has been exciting to have my hard work pay off and to become more and more competitive (and I hope to continue to do so).


I certainly hope to also be able to continue to inspire others through this blog, through the running club I am starting here where I live, and in any other way that I can. Being a part of this program is definitely inspiring to me.  :)



My single digit wardrobe

I have had a few people ask me recently what I wear when I run outside this time of year.

I live in Western Wyoming in the Rocky Mountains. We are at over 6200ft elevation, and snow is guaranteed from November through April, highly likely in October and May, and quite possible the other months in between. (Not kidding... I've seen snow in July and August).


I like to run outside whenever I can. This time of year, I do my speed/interval work on the treadmill (since our only tracks are outdoors and covered in snow and ice), and I do at least a couple of my easier paced runs outside each week. 

Here I am, ready to go this morning
This week the temps have been in the single digits on my morning runs (I have been going at about 7:30am). This morning my friend drove by while I was running. She slowed down, rolled down the window, and informed me that it was -2 F. My phone said it was 8 F. Either way, it was cold.  I did six miles at an average pace and honestly, I was perfectly comfortable on my run.  Wearing the right clothes made all the difference.

So what do I wear to run outside in the cold?

My MOST favorite article of winter running gear is my Brooks Softshell Utopia jacket.
I have it in Cobalt and I wear it for all my cold weather runs. This jacket is SUPER warm, but very light weight and comfortable. (And it has thumb holes. I adore thumb holes). In the days I have run in rain and snow it has kept me nice and dry too. This is my one, must have, piece of winter running gear. (And I have washed it countless times and it still looks brand new).

Under my Brooks Utopia jacket, I just need one layer, so I wear one of my long-sleeved running tops.

On bottom, it depends on how far I am going and how cold it is. If it is single digits, I usually go with a base-layer of thin tights, and then my Brooks Glycerin Pants. If it is double digits then I usually go with just a thicker pair of compression tights or my Brooks pants. I haven't gotten new running pants in quite a while and I have my eye on these babies.

On my head I wear my Brooks Infinity beanie.  It is nice and warm without being TOO warm and fits perfectly. The fleece part around the ears and forehead feels great and there is a pony tail hole for people with enough hair to make a pony tail.  I love this hat. (And this is another thing I have washed over and over and over and it still looks new).
And my gloves are Brooks too... the awesome Brooks Adapt gloves. These have a great flap that goes around your fingers for an extra layer of warmth and wind/wet protection, but can fold back if your hands get too toasty. They are comfortable and WARM (which is what I need because cold hands are miserable). They are also MP3 compatible. Perfect!

I wear a good pair of socks and my usual Brooks PureFlow's. (You can read my very detailed review of the PureFlow's here.)
I know a lot of people use Yak Trax and other similar things to run in the winter, but I don't. I feel like they change my gait, and since I am marathon training, I don't want to mess with that. I find the traction with my PureFlow's to be just fine though. I try to avoid running on ice, but have had no problems in fresh snow, packed snow, and icy patches. This morning there was quite a bit of ice and I had no problems at all. The traction has been good and my feet have stayed warm, dry, and happy.

I think runners tend to need less clothing than they think they do for running outside in the winter, especially if you have a few good pieces of winter running gear (like a great jacket). Once you get moving you will warm up, and as long as your hands and head are covered, the rest of you will probably be just fine.
my Brooks gear is reflective which I love!

Someone asked me about breathing in the cold. I just breathe normally. The cold air doesn't bother my throat or lungs (and is not bad for you) and it usually feels really good to be outside and breathing fresh air (even if it is COLD). If it is really cold and I am going to be out for a longer run, I sometimes wear a Buff around my neck that I can pull up over part of my face if needs be, but I rarely feel the need for it (and rarely use it when I do wear it) and if it is THAT cold, I take the run indoors.

Those are my tips on winter running! Get a few good pieces of winter running gear, cover hands and head, try to avoid ice, go on a day when pace doesn't matter as much, don't over-think it, and have fun! I can't say how much I love going out on a cold morning when the snow is sparkling and the sun is coming up. I would take a cold, winter's morning run over a hot, summer afternoon run ANY DAY.

Do you run in the cold? What is your winter running "must have"?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Numbers!

I got my number for the Goofy Challenge this week. I am number 20309 for both the half marathon and the full. I believe the Goofy numbers start at 20,000 so I should be in corral A which makes me happy. I can't believe the races are less than a month away! I am hoping to kick some serious butt (details on my race goals coming soon).

I ran a virtual 10K this morning and set a new PR of 41:24 (a 6:40 average pace). My training plan called for a 10K race today (with 12 miles total including warm up and cool down). There are no races around here this time of year, so I just did one on my own. I did an easy three mile warm-up, ran my guts out for 6.2 miles and then cooled down for 2.8 miles. It was a big confidence booster for me to be able to run at an under 7:00 pace for over six miles. Tomorrow I have an easy-paced 17 miler on the schedule.

I am still coughing and coughing and coughing. I do ok during the day for the most part, but at around 8pm it just gets awful. Once I have been laying down for a little while it settles down and then I am able to sleep pretty well without coughing, but getting up in the morning and after a run are rough too. I AM SO SICK OF COUGHING. I get this bug most winters and it drags on and on and on for me. Looking on the bright side - at least it is now and not during the Disney races. I am trying to take it easy when I can.

We have a fun day planned today of decorating our Christmas tree and making gingerbread houses. I will take lots of pics!

Earlier this week I was tagged by the awesome, original Tough Chik, Shannon with the Versatile Blogger award.
I am really an open book so it is hard for me to try and come up with 7 things I haven't already shared about myself, but here goes. (Sorry if they are repeats).

1. I have never dyed my hair, I have never had a perm,  and I have never had my ears pierced. I also don't get manicures or pedicures. Not sure if that makes me a natural kind of girl or just boring! I do always wear at least eye liner (and usually mascara) and I can't stand to go more than two days without shaving. I like to be neat, clean, well-groomed and pretty, I am just simple about it.

2. I don't wear running skirts. I never have, and I never will. I have nothing against those that do and think a lot of runners look awesome out there in their skirts and socks, but it just isn't my style. I don't wear skirts hardly ever in "real life", so it just doesn't make sense to me to put one on to run.

3. 16 years ago this week I was 18 years old and a freshman in college and I found out I was pregnant. It was THE crossroads in my life. I broke up with my boyfriend (who was not ready to be a father) and planned to be a single mom. Josh was just a friend at that time, but shortly after he found out I was pregnant he told me he was going to marry me. A few months later we started dating, and a couple of months after that he did marry me. A lot of people thought we were crazy and a lot of people thought we'd never last, but here we are, almost 16 years later, and I don't know a more in love or more happily married couple.  He is my best friend, my true love, and my soul mate and I am grateful for every day I get to be with him.

4. I used to spend hours and hours and hours every day at a barn. I road horses, taught beginner riding lessons, mucked stalls, exercised other people's horses and did all kinds of work to earn my horse's boarding fees. I rode hunter-jumper and showed a few summers and loved it. I love horses and miss them a lot. I did get crushed by a young thoroughbred that I was riding when I was 17 and needed major surgery to repair a ruptured diaphragm, a hernia, and all kinds of resulting problems. They thought my hip was cracked too but luckily it wasn't. I HATED crutches. I have never broken a bone and have only had stitches once (besides my surgeries). Knock on wood. :)

5. I have given birth three times (one c-section, then two v-bac's.) Josh and I have adopted three infants, three toddlers, and three school aged-kids. We have adopted four kids from the United States, three kids from Ethiopia, one from South Korea and one from Vietnam. I made two trips by myself to Vietnam, I have spent over seven weeks total in Ethiopia, and I was "stuck" in South Carolina for over two weeks (waiting on a judge to sign some paperwork). I could never have planned my family more perfectly or beautifully than God has.

6. I am a chicken about some things. I don't like things that have a risk of falling. I am not afraid of heights or roller coasters (I love theme park rides!) but snow skiing, water skiing, roller blading down a hill, and things that like make me super nervous.

7.  I was a total nerd in school (although I had lots of friends, so I wasn't a geeky nerd). I graduated #5 in my high school class of over 500 students and got a $25,000 scholarship to an excellent school (Marist College in New York). 

I am no good at tagging, so if you are reading this and want to play along, consider yourself tagged! :)

And... I am hoping to have some super awesome news to share on Monday. I probably could share now, but I want to be 100% sure before I do. (Sorry to tease, but my hopes are so high and it will make it way worse if I share and then find out it isn't really happening).

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Find some time in all the holiday craziness to get some running in. You'll feel better for it! :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Jade Rabbit Review and Giveaway

I am still waiting for confirmation of the exciting news I was hoping to share today. I promise I will post as soon as I hear. I am bursting here.

Today was my sweet Noah's third birthday. Noah has been such an incredible blessing in my life. He has taught me so much about faith, strength, happiness, peace, determination, and unconditional love. I am SO so grateful that I get to be his mom. All of the other kids were very excited about Noah's birthday, and he was treated like the king all day, which he loved.

Here is a present for one lucky reader!


Author, runner, and adoptive parent Mark Matthews contacted me a while ago and asked if I would be willing to read, review, and give away a copy of his book, The Jade Rabbit.

I love to run, I love to read, and I am also an adoptive parent, and so I was definitely excited to read Matthews' book.

The Jade Rabbit tells the story of Janice Zhu Woodward. Janice was abandoned by her mother in China as a newborn, and then adopted by American parents. The story intertwines Janice's struggle with her abandonment and separation from her birth family and homeland, her job working with runaway and neglected youth, her passion for running, and her quest to train for and run a sub 3:00 marathon.

I read the novel in a weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. There aren't too many novels that have competitive runners as the main character, and I definitely could relate to a lot of emotions that Janice has on her runs, before and during her race, etc. There are a lot of emotions in this book and the characters became very real to me. It is definitely a story that sucks you in.

The book is not a training running book or a resource book on adoption, but it does tell the story of how a young adult that was adopted as an infant may feel, and how a marathoner may feel while trying to run a sub 3:00 marathon. I thought it was a very enjoyable read and think a lot of you would too. (And let's face it, winter is the best time of year to curl up with a blanket, warm drink, and a good book).

If you would like to win a copy of the Jade Rabbit, just leave a comment below and tell me you would like to enter.  I will use Random.org to choose a winner on Monday, Dec. 19.

You can learn more about author, runner, and father, Mark Matthews at his blog here and you can follow him on Twitter here.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hump day bullet points

- Noah is doing MUCH better. He is not 100% yet, but he is sleeping through the night again and is much happier overall.

- I however, am still not sleeping through the night, as I am waking myself up coughing. I have put myself out on the couch the last two nights so I didn't wake up Josh and Noah. I am not coughing too much during the day anymore though, and I am feeling much better overall. I was just a day or two behind Noah in getting sick, so I am hoping tonight I will get some good, solid sleep and this will be all gone in another day or two.

- Christmas time with 12 kids makes for A LOT of excitement.

- Today is Dec. 7 and I have run 77 miles this month. I like 7's!

- I am really excited about getting to go on a run with a new friend tomorrow! I haven't had a running partner in months and although I don't mind training on my own, it gets lonely sometimes and I miss the friendship of running with someone (even just once and a while), especially since I don't have much of a social life otherwise. We are planning a six mile run and it is going to be COLD (single digits) but sunny. And, we are talking about starting a running club here where we live. I am really excited!

- The first part of the Goofy Challenge (the Donald Duck Half Marathon) is ONE MONTH from today. WOO HOO!! That means the marathon is one month from tomorrow. I can't wait. :) I am hoping to plan a blogger meet up for Disney weekend. If you are going to be running either race or will be in Orlando for the January 7-8 weekend and are interested in meeting up, leave a comment and I will email everybody.

- I am going to a party tonight (for the first time in ummmmmm.... yeah, I don't know. A long time.) It will be a bunch of moms/friends from my church/community and it is a "favorite things" party, where everyone brings a gift that is one of their favorite things from the year and then we all switch. It should be fun! But I am wondering... is it funny or sad that all of my favorite things have to do with running??? I am guessing these ladies wouldn't want some Hammer gels or a Brooks beanie...

- My treadmill had it's annual "check-up" this weekend (included in the extended warranty through Nordictrack). The guy comes out, looks it over, lubes it, changes some engine belt, notes if it needs any repairs, recalibrates it, and checks the speed to make sure it is running at the speeds it says it is.  He said that some of the treadmills he sees on repair calls haven't been checked in years and a lot of time are off by MAJOR amounts of time in what speed the screen says and what speed the belt is going. He said just that weekend he was at a house and when the treadmill was up at "10" it was really only going at less than "8". How much would it suck to find out you were running way slower on the treadmill than you thought??? I am happy to report that mine was dead on... at 12.0 it was exactly at 12.0.  I usually do not buy the warranty for anything, but I knew I would be putting heavy miles on this treadmill so I am happy to have it. Do you have your treadmill serviced or checked up routinely??

- I watched the Biggest Loser Marathon last night. I was really impressed with some of the contestants and was so pleasantly surprised that Ramon won! I felt really bad for the athletes that were pulled off of the course, but understand that if they were seriously injured it would definitely hurt their overall health and weight-loss goals. And can I just say though, that that marathon course SUCKED??  Who picked that location? I think the dry lake bed may have been nice to run on (softer than asphalt), BUT the wind?? The blowing sand? No shade at all?  Running in circles in the dessert? No thank you.

- Stay tuned for a review and giveaway of "The Jade Rabbit" by Mark Matthews. It is a story about running, adoption, and children in crisis, all of which are topics near and dear to my heart. I have a couple of other product reviews as well.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

One year

One year ago today, I became a marathoner.

One year ago today, on December 5, 2010, I ran my first marathon - the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Marathon.

I had trained hard and put in all the miles that my Hal Higdon Intermediate 1 plan had called for. I had not paid much attention to pace on my runs. While I knew you were "supposed" to run your first marathon with the goal of just finishing, I really wanted to be under 4:30, and I really hoped that I might be able to even get under 4:20.

I had a total blast. Josh, my parents, and Noah were there. (Josh ran the half and then was there to see me finish!) I had not started this blog yet so I didn't know any of the bloggers and wasn't a part of any of that fun.

I was excited, slightly nervous, and cautiously optimistic and confident.

During the race I followed my plan. I didn't go out too fast. I stayed hydrated. I fueled well. I enjoyed the crowds, the other runners, and the sites. I never hit the wall. I never doubted I could finish. I never wanted to quit. I never even walked. When it got hard, I told myself, "You are doing it! You are running a marathon!" and "The marathon is tough, but you are TOUGHER." I took it one mile at a time. I remembered to smile.

I crossed that finish line (sprinting strong, with Josh beside me) with a time of 4:15:50. I was insanely happy. I was excited. I was proud. I was emotional. I was changed. I was hooked. I was a marathoner.

As we walked back to the hotel I couldn't stop smiling, and when my Dad asked if I would do another one I didn't have to think twice about saying "yes". 

I never could have imagined that being a marathoner would become such a big part of who I am, or something that I am so dedicated to, or something I am so passionate about, or something that I enjoy so much.  I definitely had no clue it would be something I would be good at!

I had no idea I would run five more marathoners in less than 11 months. I had no idea I would shave more than 47 minutes off of my time in nine months. I couldn't have dreamed that I would be able to qualify for Boston, or have the opportunity to run NYC.

It is kind of crazy that so much has happened in just one year.

I am excited to see what the next year brings.

One year ago today,  I became a marathoner.



NO excuses

This morning I ran 20 miles. On the treadmill. I ran on the treadmill because outside is a frozen tundra, and with the ground/roads as icy as it is, there was no way I was going to be able to get a good (or safe) run done outside.

Today was one of those runs that was a mental challenge. For one, Noah has been sick this week. There is no such thing as "just a little sick" with Noah, because any little bit of congestion is really tough for him to handle. There has been lots of coughing, gagging, choking, throwing up, etc. (especially at night) which means there hasn't been a whole lot of sleeping. I have been trying to take it easy during the day and lay down early, but six or seven hours of uninterrupted sleep is sounding pretty dang amazing right about now. (He was a lot better yesterday and last night than he has been, so hopefully a full recovery is just around the corner).

On top of the stress and lack of sleep, Noah shared his germs with me. Yesterday my throat was a little sore and it felt tight on my 10-mile run. Then I started losing my voice.

So as I lay there in bed this morning, it would have been super, super easy to just roll over and go back to sleep. I could have justified that I was "sick", that I already had a lot of miles this week, that I needed the rest, that 20 miles on the treadmill would SUCK...

But I knew I wasn't going to blow off the run. I grabbed my Hammer gels, mixed up some Perpetuem, and set up my laptop so I could watch episodes of season eight of 24. (Nothing like a little Jack Bauer to perk up your inner "bad-a$$").

The first couple of miles were icky. My throat wasn't sore and I wasn't coughing, but it just felt hard to breathe. (I was sticking by the rule that if your "cold" is in your throat or above it is ok to run, but if it is in your lungs or you have a fever, skip it. My lungs are good and no fever.) Things got better and I kept running, and as they always do, the miles ticked away.

I had to stop at about 8 miles to use the bathroom and it was tough to get right back on the treadmill. I wasn't even half way done yet, I was tired, it was still harder than it should be to breathe, blah blah blah. But I got right back on and kept on running, and soon I only had single digit mileage left.  With seven miles to go I knew I had less than an hour and that I was going to get this run DONE.

I ran the first 10 miles at an 8:13 pace, then ran the next five miles at an 8:06 pace, then ran three miles at an 8:00 pace, then one mile at 7:47 and the last mile was at 7:30. As I sped up throughout the second half of the run I kept thinking, "Take THAT excuses." When I finally saw 20.0 under distance on my treadmill screen, I was really, REALLY happy to be done.

I told myself that this was good training for race day(s). You never know how you will feel on race day. It definitely WILL be tough (mentally and physically). Your brain will try to talk you into quitting or at least slowing down. You have the choice to keep running and keep fighting or give in.


I want to be the girl that keeps fighting when the going gets tough. No excuses. I think training runs like today will help that happen on race day.

I am also really excited because this week I hit 75 miles, which is my highest mileage week so far. And my body feels AWESOME (besides this whole throat issue). It is a pretty big confidence booster to run that kind of mileage and feel good.

So now I am resting for the rest of the day. Comfy clothes are on, feet are up, and the kids are having fun passing on messages to each other from me since I can't talk above a whisper.

And, I am excitedly "cyber stalking" all of my friends who are running Rock n Roll Las Vegas today too! Last year, RnR Vegas was my very first marathon and it was an awesome experience. I hope that the "Strip at Night" is super fun for all of the runners tonight!!!

More soon!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Drive

Thanks everybody for all of your comments on my "Doubt" post. It made me feel better and sad all at the same time that seemingly everyone has times where they struggle with self- doubt. I am glad I posted the post when I did since it got the reaction it did. A few hours later I probably wouldn't have posted it.

The advice I give to you (and I guess to myself!) is to take pride in what you accomplish, notice the small steps of progress, and avoid comparing yourself to others. No matter who you are, there will always be someone faster. Find joy and pride in what YOU can do as a runner. (I am talking about combating self-doubt related to running, but I guess this would work with most areas of life).

I can tell you that for me, the "cure" to a bit of nagging doubt in the back of my head was to do some butt-kicking runs. Yesterday my Pfitz training plan called for  10 miles total, with 4x1200M at a 6:18 pace. I nailed that. Then for today the plan had me running 15 miles (on a Thursday!) and I finished that at an average 7:53 pace. I had to get up at 5am (after a night of very little sleep courtesy of a sick Noah) to get my running done before Josh had to go to work, but I did, and it was great. I have an easy six miles tomorrow, then 10 miles on Saturday and 20 miles on Sunday (giving me 73 miles total for the week - my longest week to date).

This week of challenging training has left me feeling strong, fast, and capable, which is just what I needed.

On top of that, before reading my post on doubt, Josh told me yesterday that he was proud of me for how much dedication, work, and effort I was putting in to my running. That meant the WORLD to me. I work very hard at keeping life balanced and not letting my running/training take away from my time or energy with my family, but it feels great to have Josh notice how much I do put into it, and be proud of me. His love and support are amazing and I am so grateful for him. (And I love being able to encourage and support him in all that he does as well. It's what love and marriage is all about).

I am reading "Running for The Hansons" right now by Sage Canaday, and I am LOVING it.  Here is a quote that I read last night that really sums up how I feel (Sage was talking about why he was training the way he was when his chances of making an Olympic team were slim).

"Why would you try hard at anything at life? Why would you play guitar if you weren't ever going to be a rockstar millionaire? The simple answer is you do it because you love it. You have a passion for it, you find meaning in it, and you are curious as to what you can accomplish in it. ...when push comes to shove,  the real motivation to pursue anything whole-heartedly has to come from within. It is the internal drive inside that beckons you out the door everyday, to push one mile, one step, further. Faster and faster. You need to see and feel that progression and change in your life; you have an instinctual desire to improve your "skills" in something that may help you survive." - Sage Canaday

Yes, yes, and YES. I have a passion for running. I find meaning in running. I want to see what I can accomplish in running. I definitely have an internal drive and I absolutely DO love it. And no matter what I do or don't accomplish, running has given me SO much. That's what matters the most on this journey. If doubt creeps back in, this is what I am going to read and remind myself of.

Ok, I have a product review, a book review, and a giveaway coming up soon, and I will also be answering some questions sent to me on what I wear when I run in the winter and about my core/strength training routines. Stay tuned!

On a totally different note, today is World AIDS Day. I know that this is something that doesn't impact a lot of people in the U.S. and is something that a lot of people don't think about much, but it is a topic near and dear to my heart. I ask you today to take three minutes to watch this fun but informative video and help spread TRUTH.