Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Being out there

When you write a blog or put yourself "out there" in any way and share yourself, your story, and your life (to some degree), you are opening yourself up to judgement, and sometimes criticism, by others.

On my blog and by email I have gotten comments judging me for adopting transracially, for adopting children with HIV, for adopting children with special needs, and for having "too large" of a family.

I have gotten comments judging me for running too much, for racing too much, for not wearing modest enough running clothes, for running on Sundays, and my own personal favorite, for overestimating my potential.

The "old me" used to care too much about what other people thought. I have always been, and probably always will be, a "pleaser". I like to make people happy. I do want people to like me, and I do care about what people think (to a point). I have gotten to a much better place in life where I care a lot less (especially about what people who are not significant in my life think), and I can take criticism and let it roll off my shoulders. My skin has gotten thicker. I have gotten to a place where I can truly say, "I am happy. I am doing what is right for me. I am doing what is right for my family. Nothing else matters." Or, as my awesome Dad says, "No one else gets a vote."

I can click "delete" on a comment or email and move on with my day.

All that said, it doesn't make it any less discouraging to open an email and have some hate mail from someone who read the blog and thinks that you are all sorts of wrong for doing "fillintheblank", and I have had times where I had the urge to just shut it down and write a journal for myself.

But on the flip side of that, I have met so many incredible people through this blog. I have connected with so many runners that inspire me. I have made true friends. I have gotten wonderful opportunities. I get comments and emails from kind and caring people who write just to say something uplifting, or to share their own successes, or to thank me for sharing my story. Some people write and ask for advice and I always write back thoughtfully and give as much help as I can. And I have learned a great deal from the writing of others.

Best of all, I get so much support and encouragement with my running through people I have met through this blog. Most people in my life don't care much about my running. They either think I'm nuts, or the running is unimportant, or they just don't care, or all of the above. It's really nice to have people ask about how your run was on any given day, or ask how your training is going, or care about how you feel or what your goals are. It's nice to have people who ask about and care about something that is important to you.

Also, almost all of the "good luck" and "congratulations" messages I get before and after races are from running friends I have made through this blog. And those messages mean so much! (Especially when I am alone in a hotel, as I often am for races).

I started this blog because writing is how I best process my feelings and express myself, and because I wanted to write about and share my journey as a runner. Becoming a member of the online running community, making so many fun connections, meeting so many great people, and finding so much support was a very unexpected bonus.

So for me, putting myself "out there", and writing this blog is well worth it. And thanks so much to all of you who make it that way.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fearlessly

We have had a lazy weekend - lots of laying around together, lots of snuggling (Maggie especially has been glued to my side), lots of laughing and silliness. I love weekends like this. It was nice to have Josh home too, since he will be gone for three days at the end of this week for state indoor track.

We went and saw "This Means War" at the movies on Friday night which was a lot of fun and we watched Tower Heist here at home last night which was also a fun movie (and I stayed awake for BOTH!)  Last week brought some work stress and a night of almost no sleep courtesy of Noah's alarms, so a weekend like this is just what I needed to recharge.

We did have a bit of a miracle happen here at home this week. Noah walked across our whole front room with a walker! He has now done it lots of times, and his physical therapist thinks he will be walking independently in the very near future. Pretty dang amazing for a kid who they told us may never even hold his own head up. Who says miracles don't still happen?

My kids bring me SO much happiness and joy. They say and do so many little things in a day that make me laugh and smile. They are the most amazing bunch of kids ever.

I have been reading "Young at Heart - The Story of Johnny Kelley, Boston's Marathon Man". I won it from the awesome Caroline, and since I love to read, I love books about runners, and I am getting super excited about the Boston Marathon, this book came at the perfect time. :)

Now since I have been busy training hard and running lots of miles, being a full time mom, wife, and housekeeper, putting extra time and energy into my job, and being shortchanged on sleep, most of the time when I sit down to read my book I make it a couple of pages and promptly fall asleep. But I have been carrying it around a lot and making slow (for me) but steady progress.

Today I sat down on the couch with my favorite turquoise blanket and my book and Marcus (7 years old) came over and snuggled with me. He looked at my book and said, "Mom! YOU are going to run the Boston Marathon!" and I agreed and told him I was excited. Then he said, "And then they are going to write a book called Erin Henderson - Boston's Marathon Woman." Ha! What a kid.

(I did explain a little about what made Johnny Kelley so great and that no one would be writing any books about me, but he didn't seem convinced).

Only seven weeks (tomorrow) until the Boston Marathon. It's crazy how fast time goes. A few of you have asked about my goal for Boston - my goal is to be under 3:15. Coach Ray thinks I am right on track for that, so I am feeling pretty confident and excited.  This week I ran 78 miles, and now I have a scale back/recovery week ahead that will be 69 miles I believe (I will get my work outs for the week from Ray tonight). I just keep putting in the work and believing it will pay off, and most importantly, I truly am enjoying this journey of pushing myself and seeing what I can accomplish doing something I love.

I leave you with a few quotes -


"There is only one you for all time. Fearlessly be yourself. " - Anthony Rapp

"You have a masterpiece inside you, you know. One unlike any that has ever been created, or ever will be. If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it. Only you." -Gordon MacKenzie 

"You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through." -Rosalynn Carter

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Three Thursday Smiles

It has been "one of those days" today, so since I am lacking the time and energy to put together a real post, I thought I would share three quick "smiles" from three awesome people.

 1. - A dear sweet friend that I met through adoption and now is also a runner sent me an email the other morning saying she had read a quote and thought of me. (How cool is that? I love when people do little thoughtful things like this). Here is the quote -

"I see myself as an artist. Running is the way I express my talent. I wish I could paint or write music, but running is what I do and I feel great joy from it."- Joan Nesbit, distance runner

This quote is definitely me! Those of you that know me well know that I can't draw or paint to save my life, I am not "crafty", and I really do not have any classically artistic skills. I do have a little musical talent, but I do not do much with it and I get so nervous that it is not very fun for me.

But when I run, I am me. I feel strong, happy, free, and artistic in my own way. I do not get nervous. I do not mind people watching me (and I normally HATE being the center of attention). Running is my art. :) (Thanks C!!!!)

2. - Another sweet friend was reading through old posts on my blog and found a post I wrote about my first 5k. She pointed out that I wrote, "wow, I did 18 miles this week!" and then pointed out what a difference that is now to my 80 or so mile weeks.  It was nice to remember for a minute how far I have come in less than three years. (Thanks A!!!!!)

3. And finally - those of you who are parents know that there are no better compliments or kind words you can get than ones from your teenaged kids.  Especially daughters!

The other night I posted something on Facebook about my mileage (and resulting HUNGRINESS) and got lots of fun responses from friends about my mental stability, etc. that made my smile. But my 16 year old daughter also commented (and she never comments on my Facebook stuff) and said, "MY MOMS CRAZIER THAN YOUR MOM NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH HA HA! LOVE YOU MY CRAZY MOMMY HEHEHE!!!"

Yup, that made my day for sure. I love that girl. ;)


Happy Thursday everybody. More soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Listening and Life Lessons

One of the things I have had to learn how to do to lose weight, get healthy,  and become a runner is how to listen to my body.

I used to just eat whatever and whenever I felt like it, just because I could. I used to eat way past when I was full just because food tasted good. I used to stay up way too late. I used to let myself get exhausted. I used to get sick a lot. I used to never exercise. I used to put little thought or care into taking care of myself. My body felt tired, slow, fat, uncomfortable, unhealthy, unhappy, and worn out. But I didn't listen to it.

I was really good at taking care of everyone else. I made sure the kids got meals, naps, sleep, medications,  and everything else done on a schedule. I took care of Josh and kids and the house and clients... I gave and gave and gave to everyone but myself.

When I decided to get healthy, one of the first things I had to do was pay attention to myself. I had to figure out what I needed. I had to learn how to eat when I was hungry and stop eating when I was full. I had to make sure I got enough sleep. I had to make sure I didn't let myself get worn out emotionally or physically (as much as that is possible). I had to make some time for myself and put some energy into myself.

I had to figure out how to make myself a priority in my own life.

It was a totally foreign concept at first.

As I got into running casually, then more seriously, and now really seriously, I have had to get even better at listening to my body and taking care of myself.

Am I getting enough to eat? (Running 80+ miles a week makes a girl HUNGRY). Am I eating too much? Am I eating good food and fueling my body well?

Am I getting enough rest? Am I worn down? Am I overtired? Do I have plenty of energy for the day?

How does my body feel? Any sore spots? Are my legs fresh? Am I hitting my paces without too much effort? Am I having successful workouts? Am I stretching, rolling, ice-bathing, cross-training, and doing all that I can to stay healthy and free from injury?

And maybe the most important - Do I feel happy? Do I feel strong? Do I feel confident? Do I feel content? Am I smiling (inside and out)?

It took me quite a while to find the right balance in life. It took me a while to figure out that I could do a first rate job taking care of my family and home, and do my "work" job, and take care of myself and chase my own dreams too. In fact, I fact I realized that I am happier and better for the people in my life since I figured that out.

By giving to myself, I have more to give to everyone else.

"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



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Success

I recently came across (forget how!) a great article by Greg McMillan called, "Traits of Successful Runners". It is a really good article, and was featured in Running Times Magazine in 2010.

I read and really enjoyed this article, and then started thinking about how McMillan's Traits of Successful Runners also could be applied to "Successful People" in life in general.

Don't Dwell - McMillan says how successful runners know that running is hard, that everyone has bad runs once and a while, and they don't dwell on them, don't get discouraged, and keep a positive mindset.

Doesn't this apply to all of life? Life is hard. We all have bad days once and awhile, no matter who we are, what we are doing, or what stage of life we are in. But we can't (shouldn't) dwell on them. We can't get discouraged. We should focus on the big picture. We should be optimistic and hopeful. We have to keep a positive mindset to be successful (and happy!).

Find Your Sweet Spot - McMillan talks about the importance of finding the "sweet spot" and the right balance in your training and rest cycle so that you have positive workout after positive workout and successful training week after successful week. 

Life is the same way. We have to find that "sweet spot" and balance between family, work, friends, hobbies, sleep, and everything else that keeps us happy, healthy, positive, and successful. If we work too much we will burn out. If we don't work enough, we won't make progress.

Focus on Consistency - To reach our full potential as runners, McMillan advises "stacking" successful week of training on top of successful week of training and says, "A year of consistent running is more beneficial than a few stellar weeks of training."

That is how I feel about life too. One or two grand gestures for my kids (or anyone I love) don't do near as much good as many small, consistent, dependable, gestures of love every single day, week after week, month after month, year after year.  Doing an over-the-top good job on a project at work once and a while won't do as much for you as showing up, giving a good effort, and being dependable every single day will be. Consistency and commitment will take us far. We are what we do every day.

Running has taught me that putting in hard work and effort every day will pay off.

 Be Tenacious -McMillan says, "Successful runners are tenacious (some of our loved ones would even say stubborn). Success is about keeping on keeping on. Put one foot in front of the other for long enough and the finish line will come. You have the ability to go to greater heights than you ever dreamed of -- just by sticking with it. "

I love this! I have said many times on here that what I lack in running talent, I make up for in determination and stubbornness. :) If you sit back and wait for life to happen, chances are good that not many wonderful and amazing things are going to happen. You have to get up and go after your dreams, big and small. You have to fight for what you want in life. You have to work hard to achieve big things and can't expect them to come easily. Be stubborn in a good way. Never give up. Don't be afraid to fight for what is worth it.

 Build Your Confidence Constantly - According to this article, confidence is the most important key to success for a runner. McMillan advises that we do workouts that build our confidence as we get close to race day.

I will add, if we don't believe in ourselves, in running or in anything else, who will? In running you often hear the advice to "trust in your training." I often use the mantra, "Courage, Faith, Strength" over and over when I hit a tough spot in a race.  The mental aspect of running, racing, and life is HUGE. You have to believe you can do it.  You have to be confident. You have to know you are strong and have faith.

Here are a couple of things I would add to this list of traits of successful runners, and successful people.

Have and Give Support - In running and in life,  no matter what we want to do, we can not do it alone. Everyone needs advice, help, support, encouragement, and people to believe in them. We all need and deserve someone to lift us up on our rough days and cheer for us on our victory days. On the flip side, we have to always have time and energy to give love and support to others around us, as that is what life is all about.

Don't be afraid to fail - I think that all too often people are afraid to set big goals or to go after their dreams because they are afraid to fail. We can't succeed in running (whatever "success" means to you) or in anything if we let the fear of failure keep us from trying and keep us from going after what we want. I would much rather go after a lofty goal and fail than to never even try.

"Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently." - Henry Ford

"Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." -Anonymous

"It is not failure itself that holds you back; it is the fear of failure that paralyzes you." - Brian Tracy  

"What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down."- Mary Pickford  


What would you add to this list? Have you found that lessons learned in running apply to the rest of your life?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Training update

I promised a training update today, so here goes!

There is now less than nine weeks until the Boston Marathon and that is exciting! It is crazy to me to think that a year ago I was training for the Salt Lake City Marathon, and was scared to death to try and run a sub-four marathon (and wasn't completely sure I could do it). I ran a 3:57 in mid-April last year (and was THRILLED) but remember saying that I could never qualify for Boston because I "knew" that I had run as fast as I could. Ha! I never, ever would have guessed that I would take almost 30 minutes off of my PR in five months, and that I would be running Boston this year and setting a goal to qualify for the Olympic Trials in 2016.

But here I am! (So learn a lesson from me, and never doubt or limit what you can do/achieve).

Training is going great I think. This week I will be up to 78 miles and after a scale back/recovery week last week, I enjoyed some speed work today and am looking forward to my 19 miler on Friday. I am still getting up at 4:30 am to get myself awake, get my strength/core work done, and then be running by 5:30am. It is working out well, although there is very little hope of me staying awake past 10:30pm any night.

With the snow, ice, and dark combination we are stuck with right now, almost all of my runs are forced on the treadmill. It is definitely not my favorite, but it is getting the job done. I am looking forward to things hopefully warming up a little in the next few weeks so maybe by early to mid-March I can take my runs outside. (We will get snow at least through May, but the icy roads should stop being a constant issue in the next few weeks). Fingers crossed!

Coach Ray and I are working really, really well together. There is a lot of communication back and forth that I think is really helping this training benefit me as much as possible.  Today was a new work out for me. It was a 3.5 mile warm up, then 5x8 minutes at 6:58 pace with 1 minute jogs in between, then a 3.5 mile cool down (it was just over 13 miles total). It was a great run! It was fun to run faster. It wasn't a maximum effort and I could have pushed the pace, but I am following directions. :)

My training plan is only a 12-week plan, but I came into it after months of high mileage and regular speedwork and long runs, so I have a very sturdy base to build on.

I do really love the high (for me) mileage and I am very happy with how well my body is responding to the training and how great I feel. I am excited/optimistic about Boston.  But for now, I am just going to keep working hard and doing all that I can to stay healthy, so I can get to that start line ready to run fast and strong.

What are you training for? How is it going?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

I love holidays. I don't care if they are "commercialized" or anything else - I enjoy days that are extra special and extra fun, and give us a reason to celebrate and do nice things for people we love. And what could be better to celebrate than love? I am very, very blessed.

I like to really DO holidays for my kids, and I hope that when they are grown and they look back, they remember these things.

Every year on Valentine's Day they wake up to a table full of love and treats. Each child has their own special "pile" from me at their seat, and then there are big bowls and piles of treats for all to share. This year I had some cute "love" themed t-shirts for the girls and beanie hats for the boys and of course, cards and candy.

The kids woke up excited and it was a fun morning. I hope they all know how very much I love them.

I have had several requests already to share pics of what the table looked like, so here it is right before I went to bed last night.

big table from above :)
Two of the kids sit up at the counter, so this gets just about everything in one pic!
lots of shiny chocolate!!!

 
How cute are these???? I love Peeps (but will resist!)

And because I am corny like that, I put on my red tank for my 8-mile run this morning. I didn't think anyone would really notice but me, but the kids loved it.

Tuesdays are busy at work for Josh, but we are going to go on a lunch date with Noah this afternoon, which will be great. Then I am making pink pancakes for dinner.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I hope you all are as blessed as I am with people to love and people that love you, and I hope you have a special day.

I will post a training update tomorrow, but all is going really well. Today and everyday, I love running! Less than 9 weeks until Boston! :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday inspiration

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” - Abraham Lincoln
"You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. " - Christopher Robin
"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality." - John Lennon
"Man, alone, has the power to transform his thoughts into physical reality; man, alone, can dream and make his dreams come true." - Napoleon Hill
And if you haven't watched it yet, make sure you see this beautiful video that Beth put together about the run for Sherry this weekend. It is very powerful.
 

 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

For Sherry

Today, runners all over the world united and ran in the name of Sherry Arnold.

I organized the first group run of our new running club for this morning. We printed out a pile of the Sherry bibs made by Races 2 Remember and brought them along today with a bag of safety pins.

I felt very emotional all day yesterday. I am so very heartbroken for what happened to Sherry, and what her family is going through. I am sad that her life was ended so tragically, and that it was taken from her while she was doing something she loved.  I am scared to think about there being people out there that would hurt and kill so senselessly. I am mad that my own sense of safety and well-being doing something that I love (as do so many others) has been shaken.

I am not usually a worrier, but I was worrying yesterday. I was worried I would try to talk to the group before the run (Beth asked that we all started with a moment of silence), and that I would start to cry. (Once I start crying, I literally can't talk.) I worried I wouldn't say the right thing. I worried no one would come. I worried about the roads. I worried about the weather. I really wanted things to go well and to honor Sherry in a special way.

All the worrying was for nothing.

It was a beautiful (cold and foggy!) morning, a beautiful run, and a beautiful tribute to Sherry. I got some much needed inspiration and support this morning and was feeling good as we left for the run. Josh, Ryan (14), and I got to the high school and found there were already a few runners waiting. We started handing out bibs and more and more people showed up. There was a wrestling tournament and some other things going on so we were missing several people who wanted to be there, but we ended up having 23 runners when we started, including some brand new runners/walkers that I was so excited to see show up.

I talked a little about Sherry, and what a special day this was to be a part of, and how amazing it was to think about runners all over the world coming together today to honor her with our running. I held it together and didn't cry (only choked once) until it was all said and done.

Just before the moment of silence. You can see in my face I was emotional.

Here is the group minus Josh, who was taking the picture, and one other person who came a minute later. I am in the front in the green gloves and Ryan is behind me in the red hoodie.

The roads were snow packed and icy in spots, but it worked out just fine. We had a 3.1 mile loop, and some people opted to do it once, and some of us did it twice (I would guess about half of the runners did the 10k). I ran with a few friends for awhile, ran alone for awhile, and ran with some people I was meeting for the first time. Many people thanked me for starting the running club and for organizing this run, which was really nice.

The sun peaked in and out of the fog. The mountains were clear at times, and hidden at others. It was COLD when we started (12 degrees) but I warmed up as soon as I was moving. I thought about Sherry. I thought about people I love. I thought about running. I prayed.

We waited around for the last people to finish and enjoyed talking with some of the other runners. I had Josh snap this picture of me before we left (and the fog was thickening up again) and then we headed home, feeling really great about how it had went.
Me, just before we were leaving. It was so foggy that you can't even see the mountains that are right behind me!
It was inspiring. It was peaceful. It was lovely. I think it was a day of not just unity, but healing for the running community, and I pray that Sherry's family felt the love and support coming from so many.

We came together. We united. We did what we love. We honored Sherry. We showed how awesome (and strong) the running community is.

As Beth said -
We did it. Bad, mean people can suck it.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Run for Sherry today, both here, and anywhere else. I know that her memory will live on in the hearts of many of us. Be safe runners.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Quick smile

This made me laugh and smile today.

I had the book I am currently reading (Running With  Joy by Ryan Hall) sitting next to my computer on the counter.

My six year old (Solomon) came walking in to the kitchen and looked at the cover picture and said, "Hey! I know that guy! It's Ryan Hall!"

I gave him a high five and told him he was right (and super cool for knowing it!) and then asked him how he knew it was Ryan Hall. Solomon said, "because we watched him on TV running the marathon. Remember? Meb beat him, but he is still my favorite." Then after a quick pause he added, "And you. You are my favorite runner too."

How cool is that?

Yup, I am raising my kids right. :)

(here is a pic of Shorty -aka Solomon)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why run

I get asked fairly often "why" I run, and what my motivation is to run/train like I do. Why do I keep setting challenging goals for myself? Why do I get up at 4:30am every day? Why am I running over 70 miles a week? What is my motivation?

The easy answer is, because I love it. I love running, and it is a part of who I am.

I often write about my love for horses, and how inspiring it is to watch a horse run. A baby horse is up on it's feet almost right after it is born, and can run at a gallop by the next day. I don't know why it took me so long to find this part of myself. I don't know why I didn't go for my first run until I was 32 years old. All I know is that when I went on that first run, I unlocked a part of myself, an instinct, that was just waiting to be found, and even though running was HARD and I was slow, I knew I loved it, and I was hooked.

What motivates me? Since I started running I have often claimed that I may not have a lot of natural physical talent (although Bart Yasso and Coach Ray have made me reconsider that!), but what I know I have going for me is that I am stubborn and determined. I don't ever give up, I don't ever back down, I don't ever make excuses, I don't ever quit, and I have an inner drive to be better at whatever I am doing. In fact I think that one of my biggest strengths when it comes to running is my mental toughness. I never (ever) would have described myself as mentally tough a few years ago, but through running I have found out that I AM tough. And I like it.

So yeah, I am pretty darn self-motivated. At first, my motivation was definitely weight loss. Then once I got to a healthy weight, there was this constant, underlying fear that the weight would all come back if I slacked off at all on exercising and that fear was a big motivator to keep running. Then I fell in love with running because of how it made me feel, and then came the love of marathons, and the  drive to keep pushing to see how good I can be.
 
Races are motivating to me. I love to race. And when I race, I want to do well and beat my previous times. I want to be fast. I want to be the best runner I can be. I want to make my goal of qualifying for the Olympic Marathon trials in 2016. So I have to train, and train hard.

But I know without a doubt, that even if I could never reach my goals, even if I could never run another race, even if I could never be fast, I would still run.

For me, running helps keep me in good physical shape, and it also keeps my mind and spirit in good shape.

I think the biggest motivator for me is just that I love running and I love being an athlete and a runner. I hope to be able to keep running for my whole life. I run because it has helped me get into (and stay in) shape. I run because I want to get faster and achieve my goals. I run because it clears my head and calms my soul. I run because it's fun. I run because I love the "me" time. I run because I love a challenge. I run because it feels good, and because I have found it is one of the best things I can do for myself, physically and emotionally. I run because it makes me a better wife, a better mother, and a better person.

I run because I happily dedicate my life to caring (physically and emotionally) for others, and this is what I do to care for myself.

But all of that makes it sound more complicated than it really is.

What it really comes down to, is that I run because it is a part of who I am. I run because it is in my blood and in my spirit.  I run because it is what I do. I run because I love it. I run because there is something inside of me that tells me to "go". 

Running is freedom, a challenge, fun, powerful, humbling, revitalizing, adventure, sweat, smiles, sacrifice, discipline, focus, personal, dedication, passion, satisfying, peace, rewarding, a journey, energy, play, pure, spiritual, enabling, sport, necessary, happiness, therapy, physical, exciting, natural, healing, courage, faith, strength, Me.







Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Virtual run for Sherry Arnold

This Saturday, no matter where you live or where you run, you have the chance to be a part of a very special run.

If you have not heard, Sherry Arnold, a beloved wife, mother, and teacher from Sidney, Montana was kidnapped and murdered just a mile from her home during her early-morning run on January 7, 2012. The story is heartbreaking and scary in so many ways, and hit especially hard because Sherry was the cousin of Beth from "Shut Up and Run", who is well known and liked in the online running community.

To honor Sherry's memory, Beth is hosting a virtual run on February 11. There is a beautiful bib that can be printed out (thanks to Races 2 Remember) and lots more details are on Beth's blog here. In Beth's words, "My goal is to get the MOST love, momentum and energy moving in honor of Sherry. This run symbolizes the beginning of healing and honors a woman who was courageous, strong and loved by so many."

 

I would be lying if I said that Sherry's tragic story didn't shake me up. For most of the year, I leave my house between 5:30 and 6am and run one of several possible routes. I almost always run alone.  I worry about traffic, pot holes, and farm dogs. I haven't (before now) worried much about a person or people hurting me. I have a little "runner's mace" that I have carried sometimes (when I run where I know there are mean dogs), but now I will be carrying it whenever I run on my own.

It is easy to feel helpless when a tragedy like this happens. What can we do? I think what we can do, what we have to do, is to keep running. We have to hit the road. We have to get out there. We can't let the "bad guys" keep us from doing what we love. We have to be careful. We have to be as safe as we can. We have to make sure that Sherry is never forgotten. We have to unite.

My very newly formed running club will be having our first group run on Saturday morning, to honor Sherry's memory and to be a part of this very special run.  The story has been featured on the Runner's World website and runners from around the globe will be running in Sherry's honor on Saturday. Please join us, wherever you may be.

For more information  (including how to make a donation to Sherry's family) visit Beth's blog here.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's me

When Marcus (who is now almost 7) was little, any time he saw a picture of himself he would say "It  me!" over and over and over. It was so cute and so funny that we would all show him pictures of himself just to hear him do it, and now we all do it just to be silly.

Before the photographer came, Runner's World asked me to send a picture of me at my computer so they could see "the space". I think they were hoping I had a nice office or something, but nope... I have a corner of counter space all to myself. I thought it would be fun to show you where I do most of my reading/blogging/emailing/working (although at night I take my laptop in the front room so I can lay on the couch). :)

The rest of that counter usually has kids doing homework, kids eating, kids talking to me, kids' papers, etc. etc.

So, "it me!" :)


Monday, February 6, 2012

I don't believe in coincidences

First of all - WOO HOO!!!!!! GO GIANTS!!!! SUPER BOWL CHAMPS!!!! I knew they would win. I knew it! Woo hoo!! (I love sports. I really do!)

Now that that is out of the way -

10 weeks until Boston!!!

I thought I would give an update on how my training is going. In a nutshell - really, really well! I finished up my second week of training yesterday, and I truly have never felt better. I am hitting my paces, nailing my workouts, and enjoying how good I feel. I am being careful to pay attention to the little things that matter too - I am stretching and rolling, I am eating high quality foods, I am getting as much rest as I can, etc.


Some thoughts on life and blessings -

I believe that all too often in life, people tend to write off blessings in their lives as coincidences. And I believe that the biggest and best blessings we can be given in this life are people.

The way that Josh came into my life when he did, he may as well of had a big red bow on his head with a note that said, 'To Erin, You are welcome. Love God." Here we are 16 years later, and I have never doubted a second that we were meant to be together, and I wake up every morning grateful for the greatest gift God has ever given me.

The way that each one of our children has come into our lives and our family is truly a miracle (and each one has such an amazing story where you can so clearly see God's hand in how they came to be with us), and I know with all of my heart that each one of them specifically is meant to be here with Josh and I.

It is the same with Pam (who is technically my stepmom but I hate that word).  I know that she was meant to be my mom for this part of my life. Seeing someone love and care for my Dad (who I was lucky enough to start my life with), and make him happy, was a huge blessing. Then to have Pam give unconditional love and support to me and my family, and to have a loving mom in my life, was more than I ever hoped for.

I know with all my heart that it wasn't just coincidence that these people I love came into my life when they did. I have a small handful of other special people throughout my life that I feel the same way about...people that were there for me when I needed them, people who have had huge, positive, and lasting impacts on my life, people that I felt like God had stuck a bow on their heads and delivered them right to me at just the right time.

I am so grateful for the good people in my life, as they are my greatest blessings.

Here are a few more quotes I am loving lately. Hope you enjoy them!



"Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome."
    --Arthur Ashe
 

"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."
    --Steve Prefontaine


"I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
  
--Thomas Jefferson


"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
--Robert Frost

 
 "The world belongs to the energetic."
    --Ralph Waldo Emerson
 

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'WOW What a Ride!'"
    --Unknown


"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
    --Henry David Thoreau



"Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean."
    --Christopher Reeve


"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try."
    --Beverly Sills
 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Why I love long run days

For this (Boston!!!!) training schedule, my long runs are on Friday mornings. The kids have school, it is Noah's one day without therapy, and Josh is home to hang out with Noah (he usually leaves for an overnight track meet around 11am or so), so this works really well with our current schedule.

This morning I started on the treadmill just before 5:30am, and finished my 18 miler before 8am. (I watched the Pre movie "Without Limits" while I ran. Loved it!!!)

I love long runs. I love the feeling (usually around mile 8 or so for me) when my body gets into that groove where I feel like I could just run and run and run. I love the feeling when you are done with a long run - that feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction. I love that feeling of full body tiredness, where you know you have finished a great work out. And as I noted today, I love that these long runs, that used to be so hard to finish and left me feeling like I had been hit by a truck, are now just part of the routine and I am not even sore when I am done.

And as much as I love long runs, I also love long run days. I love the hot shower after the ice bath (ok, don't love the ice bath), and putting on compression shorts and socks under my sweats. And then I love a day of self-permitted lounging, resting, and taking it easy.

I am not usually one to take it easy. I am usually go, go, go from the minute I get up, until I lay down on the couch in the front room once the little kids go to bed. I make phone calls for work, answer emails, do the laundry (up and down the stairs all day), do the dishes, vacuum, sweep, do Noah's therapy and all his routine and medical care, schedule/attend appointments, pick up and drop off kids from various activities, help kids with homework, read with little kids, and a million other things that I get done on a typical day (often two or three at a time).

But on long run day, I let myself stop. I make myself stop. I believe in the importance of recovery. I do what needs to be done, keeping it as simple as possible, and I let the things that can wait... wait. I ignore the crumbs and the beeps of the dryer. I lay on the couch during the (gasp) day time! I stay home. I lounge. I rest. I put my feet up.

The kids love it too. They gather around me on the couch, with their IPODs, books, Gameboys, board games, and blankets. We talk. We snuggle. We watch movies. They tell me stories. They take advantage of having me still...their captive audience. Noah climbs up and down and up and down and up and down, on and off the couch, on and off of me. On Fridays there is no where to go, no homework to get done, no preparations for the next school morning. Fridays are the perfect afternoon/evening to do nothing much at all but recover, relax, reconnect, and recharge.

I love my long runs, and I love my long run days.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thoughts

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." -  Calvin Coolidge
"If something is important to you, you will find a way. If it isn't, you will find an excuse." - Unknown
"To be a runner is to learn continual life lessons. To be a coach is not just to teach these lessons but also to feel them in the core your marrow. The very act of surpassing personal limits in training and racing will bend the mind and body toward a higher purpose for the rest of my runners' lives. Settling for mediocrity - settling for good enough - becomes less and less of an option. And with so many in the world all too happy to bask in mediocrity - settling instead of pushing - those who learn to be the best version of themselves know the secret to a full life." - from the book "To Be A Runner" by Martin Dugard 
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." - Winston Churchill 
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain
 
 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Strength and Fueling

Ok. my "Day in the Life of Me" post led to some questions in the comments, so here are my answers.

Jamie in Arkansas asked - "Tell me more about your core strengthening routine! I'd love to know details! Seems like my core strengthening is always at the END of my weight training and not very intense."

Jolene asked- "Can you do a post on those killer arms of yours? I can get my legs/buttocks toned up but the arms I just can't seem to get to cooperate. How did you get such killer arms? Any suggestions for those who have no access to the gym?"

First of all, thanks Jolene for calling them killer arms. :) I do not have access to a gym (I am lacking the time and funds to get a gym membership), and I do all of my core/strength training at home. At this time I am not using any weights either. I started seeing a lot more muscle definition in my arms/shoulders (and everywhere else) when I lost weight and increased my running mileage, but adding in my strength and core training definitely helped in this area a lot, and I believe has helped keep injuries away as well.

 I wrote a very detailed post back in December outlining what exercises I do and how often, and you can find that post here. I know lots of people do lots of different things when it comes to strength training but this is what has worked for me the past six months or so.

Jill in Oklahoma City asked, "I was curious about your eating habits. How do you "fuel" yourself with so much running each week? Three meals? Six smaller meals? Snacks? I know you've mentioned you don't count calories, so how do you make sure you have enough energy for running? (And sleeping only 6 hours - yikes!!!)

Fueling and eating is an area I am constantly working on. Just over three years ago I was eating HORRIBLY. Then I started to get rid of bad eating habits and adding in some healthier eating habits, with the focus being on weight loss. Then my weight leveled out and I got serious about this running stuff, and I had to shift my focus away from weight loss and on to fueling my body as a high-mileage runner.

I did not count calories when I was working towards losing weight, however I do often count calories now. Most days I eat 1,900-2,200 calories, which I am guessing is about right because I haven't lost or gained any weight in a few months, and at my last check up my doctor said my BMI and body fat were on the low side of normal, which he was happy with. Maybe I could/should lose a few more pounds to get faster, but I haven't made that decision yet.

So what do I eat? I warn you, I am not very exciting. I don't love to cook and I don't have a lot of time to cook, so I try to keep things pretty simple. I am lactose intolerant, so I avoid dairy. (Please note that I am not a dietician or anything, this is just what works for me).

I like breakfast. I like to eat a big breakfast. Then I usually have a mid-morning snack, a medium-sized lunch, an afternoon snack, and a small dinner.

Pre-run - nothing. I run so early and my stomach gets so cranky with solid food in it when I run that I don't eat anything before I run.

During the run - If my run is less than 13 miles or so, I don't take anything (except water if it is warm). If I am doing a long run, then I use Hammer gels every five miles generally, sometimes with water, sometimes with Hammer Perpetuem (depending on how long I am running and how hard).

Post run - as soon as I am done running (before I stretch and foam roll), I drink a bottle of Hammer Recoverite or Neocell Collagen Sport.

Once I have stretched and rolled, I eat breakfast. I eat the same thing every, single morning. It makes me happy. I eat a big bowl of oatmeal (seriously, it's enough for at least two people) and it is loaded with good stuff. Most days I add cinnamon, a banana, sliced strawberries, blueberries, diced almonds or walnuts, and a couple small handful of dark chocolate chips. If I run out of strawberries or blueberries (I have to buy frozen most of the time) I pout a little and then substitute dried fruits (cranberries, raisins, dates).

Morning snack - Some mornings I skip it, but usually I have an apple and peanut butter. Honeycrisp apples are my most favorite, and Adam's Peanut Butter is wonderful.

Lunch - I like big salads. A typical salad for me is lettuce, a whole tomato cut up, half of a cucumber cut up, two celery stalks cut up, some broccoli cut up, half an avocado (when we have them), and then either some tuna fish (plain), chicken, or turkey added. Sometimes I will fry an egg or two and put that on top instead of tuna, chicken or turkey. I don't use salad dressing but sometimes I add some salsa to it.

If I don't do a salad I have a variety of sandwiches and pastas that I like. Again, nothing too exciting. 

Snack - My favorite snack is dry cereal. Right now cinnamon chex mixed with some plain chex varieties is my favorite, but I also love Life cereal and pretty much any kind of cereal. I also love plain popcorn and any kind of bread, and I usually eat an orange or another banana with my snack.

Dinner - I usually keep dinner pretty small, and it varies depending on what I had for lunch. Josh is almost never home for dinner so I don't make anything fancy. Since I can't have dairy, I often can't eat what I make for the kids, so I usually just make myself a wrap, a peanut butter and jam sandwich on good wheat bread, a baked potato with something healthy on top, pasta and veggies, rice and beans, etc.

I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, bread, pasta, rice, nuts, beans, potatoes, waffles, etc. and I try to think about what I am eating and choose things that nourish my body and gives it the fuel it needs to do all that I ask of it.

Josh recently brought home some frozen sweet potato tots, and while they are definitely not a health food, whoever created them must have looked directly into my soul. I really love sweet potato everything. I do try to eat "real food" and don't eat a lot of nutrition bars or things like that (although I like them when I travel). I try not to eat "junk", but when I do, I don't feel guilty about it. My friend (who ran the half at Disney) made these AMAZING caramel/chocolate covered apples shaped like Micky Mouse for me last week and you better believe I had some! (The "ears" are marshmallows. Genius!) Life is too short not to have sweets sometimes.


I don't drink coffee, soda, or alcohol. (After a marathon I do sometimes treat myself to a real Dr. Pepper at the first sit down meal).  I would rather eat my calories than drink them. :) I have two insulated water bottles that I always have filled up. I usually have one in the fridge and one with me and I drink lots of water during the day.

I do the best when I don't let myself get too hungry (which can happen pretty quickly). I like to have the house stocked with healthy/easy foods so when I get hungry it's not hard to find something. I do take a multi-vitamin and extra calcium since I don't eat dairy.

And that is how I fuel! I am a work in progress and I am sure there are things I could do better (feel free to leave suggestions in the comments), but my energy level is good and I am not losing or gaining weight, so it seems to be working.

And, to answer my own question about what I was watching on the treadmill, a couple of you guessed it! Hell's Kitchen! While I don't love to cook, I do love cooking shows (especially Chopped) and right now I am watching the old seasons of Hell's Kitchen on my treadmill runs (I did not watch this show when it was on TV).  Previously I have watched all of the seasons of 24, Alias (my most favorite), and Chuck.

What do you watch when you are running long miles on the treadmill?

Do you have any strength training or fueling tips for us?

Happy Wednesday!