Tuesday, June 26, 2012

BEAST MODE

A sweet friend sent this to me this weekend -

My training started again on Friday with a 12 mile run. The goal was four miles at 7:30-7:45 pace, then four miles at 7:15, then four miles at 7:30-7:45. I  may have been a wee bit excited and my splits were -
7:05, 7:26, 7:16, 7:26, 6:58, 7:02, 7:00, 6:58, 7:04, 7:07, 7:09, 7:25.

Saturday was an easy day, and then the plan for Sunday was 8 miles with 2 miles @ 7:30 pace, 4 miles at 7:00 and then two cool down miles and five strides. It was a tough and hilly run. Splits were - 7:20, 7:25, 6:45, 6:43, 7:00, 6:48, 7:49, 8:14 plus 5x100m strides.

Yesterday was an easy day, and then today the plan was for 10 miles with 2 miles @ 7:30, 6x1 mile repeats at 7:00 with two minute rest intervals, then a two mile cool down. I knew before I started this run that I wanted the mile repeats faster than a 7:00 flat and knew I could do it.

Splits for today were 7:23, 7:20, 6:47, 6:33, 6:38, 6:39, 6:25, 6:16, 7:37, 7:43

This was the MOST fun run I have had in a long time. I felt strong and fast, and even though it was a harder effort the paces came pretty easily and I could have run a few more mile repeats at these paces. I had fun, and for the first time since the Utah Valley disaster I really FELT like I was fast and strong, instead of feeling like I was trying to feel like I was fast and strong.

I have not felt my hip at all the last two days, and I have started back doing a killer core routine (three times a week) and my strength routine (two times a week). It feels good to be back.

Yes indeed. Beast Mode is ON. :)


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Who I Am

My very thoughtful and loving mom (step mom, but I don't think of her that way) sent me this yesterday and it has had me thinking a lot.


Do you remember being a child and thinking about what you would be like when you grew up? Do you remember your hopes, dreams, loves, and fears?

Did you think you would be famous? Did you think you would be rich? Did you think you would be a football player or a singer or a teacher or a fireman or the president?

I remember wanting to be a mom and wanting to have babies. And I wanted to have lots of horses and be a "horseback rider". I wanted to be a writer, too.  I wanted to travel, and go and see lots of places. I wanted to have a lot of friends. I wanted to be beautiful, smart, and tough, and I wanted to have a handsome prince who loved me.  I never wanted to disappoint anyone and I hated being alone. I was afraid of falling and of failing (and was REALLY afraid of gorillas). I wanted to make my Daddy proud.
Me at about 3 years old
Little Erin
30 years and 12 kids later, and yes, I clearly still love babies and being a Mom. I have had horses (and hope to again) and love them more than any other animal in the universe. I have been a writer for a newspaper, enjoy writing this blog, and plan to write a book some day. I have been to many different countries and love to see new places, people and cultures. I have the very best friends in the world. I still really don't like to be alone and I am still afraid of falling, although I have gotten over my fear of gorillas. :) I have never stopped wanting to make my Daddy proud.

My "babies"
With my Daddy

BFF's :)

I love these girls!!
 And I sure as heck found my Prince Charming. :) Or I guess he found me.
My best friend and my soul mate
We've been married almost 16 years. I would not have this life without him.
Ooooooh, I love him. :)
I may not be "beautiful" by many of today's standards (I have short hair, I have super fair skin that I don't even try to tan, I have no boobs at all, and I have shoulders, arms, and legs that are muscly instead of super thin), but I am fit, I am confident, and I am happy with how I look.


I certainly am not smart all the time, but I was a straight A student, graduated at the top of my class, and got an academic scholarship to college. I left college to become a mom, but have continued to learn and educate myself on many things. I have made mistakes, but I believe that the BIG decisions in life I have made well.

I still don't like disappointing people, although now I really only care about what the people who matter the most think. My Heavenly Father and Jesus. Josh. My kids. My parents. My brother. My close friends. I used to care too much about what everyone thought, and tried too hard to get approval from everyone. And let me tell you, when you have 12 kids, when you adopt kids of different races and have a transracial family, when you adopt children who are HIV+, when you advocate for children who are HIV+, when you adopt children with significant special needs, when you run A LOT, when you become a marathoner and make lofty goals - there are plenty of people who don't approve and let you know all about it. But that's ok. I have the love and support of a wonderful group of people, and if I am doing what is right for me and for my family, then, as my wise Dad says, "No one else gets a vote."

I am happy to say that I am no longer afraid of failing either. Somewhere between the age of 5 and 35 I discovered and learned that it is ok to try and fail, and the trying is what makes life exciting and worth living. And even more importantly, "You have not failed until you quit trying." - Gordon B. Hinckley

So what would the child I once was think of the adult that I have become? I hope that she would be proud. I hope that she would think that I was kind of cool. I hope that she could see past the mistakes I have made. She would probably think 12 kids was wild (Brady Bunch times two!) and that 26.2 miles is really, really far.

I know she would be amazed with how blessed I am - not because I am famous or rich monetarily, but because my life is rich in what really matters. I have been blessed with the most incredible people in my life to love and be loved by, and with so many amazing experiences. And just when I think it can't get any better, I am blessed with another new key person in my life, or have another experience to treasure.

Discovering my love of running and finding a talent and my inner athlete was a fun surprise. I never dreamed of being a runner when I was a little girl, and I never could have dreamed of how much running would give to me and what a big part of me it was. 

My life has turned out so much better than I ever could have dreamed. Of course there have been challenges big and small and it has not been easy, but such is life. The challenges and the blessings have helped shape me into this adult that I have become. There have been many twists, turns, and surprises, but in a lot of ways I am the same little girl who doesn't like to be alone and who loves horses, hoodies, books, and babies. I am just older, wiser, and faster. :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back on the horse

I have one more day and one more run, and then I am getting back on the horse. What horse? The "training hard, chasing my goals and dreams, giving it all I've got" horse.

Training starts again on Friday.

I have had almost two weeks since Utah Valley Marathon and my DNF. Since that time, I have let myself be down. I was discouraged, frustrated, and sad. And then I picked myself up, brushed myself off, and knew that I would bounce back.

I took a day off from running completely. It was my first day off since October. After that I kept all of my runs to five miles or less, and kept the pace super, super easy. I had no pressure or expectations for any of my runs. I saw a physical therapist. I slept later than usual. I had a complete blast running Ragnar Wasatch Back with Josh and some friends. I have taken care of my body and my mind.

This week I read an awesome book called "Mind Gym" by Gary Mack. It is "An Athlete's Guide to Inner Excellence" and is just a great and valuable read for any athlete trying to be their best. It is not a "running" book - it is for athletes in any sport. (In fact my oldest son saw it and said that his football coach reads to the team from it regularly). Reading this book has really recharged my mental game and given me some tools I will use when the going gets tough.

I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone remotely serious about competing in sports. Here is just one of the many quotes I have highlighted. :)

"It has been said that thoughts become words. Words become actions. Action become habits. Habits become character. Character becomes your destiny."

Starting on Friday I am back to -

- following a killer training plan. Lots of intensity people. Lots of intensity.

- doing my cross training and strength training five days a week. I want to be as fit as possible.

- putting lots of focus on my nutrition and diet. I want to be healthy, strong, and lean.

- getting enough rest.

- believing in myself and being confident. Utah Valley shook my confidence. But I know that my mental game is as important as my physical game, and I want to be as strong and ready mentally and emotionally as I am physically. I believe in me.

September 1. Pocatello Marathon.  It's going to be big.

"The will to win is important, but the will to prepare to win is vital." - Joe Paterno

"Good things come to those who stay optimistic and are willing to persevere." - Gary Mack

"Attitude is a choice. Think positive thoughts daily. Believe in yourself." - Pat Summitt

"Setting a goal is not the main thing. It's deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan. The key is discipline." - Tom Landry

"Motivation gets you going.  Discipline keeps you going." - Jim Ryan

"It's all about the journey, not the outcome." - Carl Lewis  

"When you have fun, it changes all the pressure into pleasure." - Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr.

"Be the dream." - John Chaney



Sunday, June 17, 2012

197.4

Team S.P.U.R. (Six Psycho Ultra Runners) ran 197.4 miles in 33 hours in the Ragnar Wasatch Back relay this weekend.  The terrain was TOUGH and we had to climb and descend four mountain passes. I had done Ragnar twice before and loved it, but I had only done it as part of a team of 12 girls.

This year we decided to go ULTRA and did a mixed team (three guys and three girls). Josh and I ran along with four friends, and it was SO MUCH FUN.

My PT said he thought I would be fine running Ragnar as long as I didn't push hard on any big uphills. I was just really, really needing a break. I was so excited for a weekend with Josh, friends, and running, and put no pressure on myself for any time goals. My only goal was to have fun and feel good.

My first run was two legs of the relay that combined for 11.1 miles. It was HOT (around 1:15pm when I started) and temps were in the 80's, but I ran well. It was a challenge but it was fun. My second set of legs came just after midnight and this run was awesome. It was 9.1 miles total and it was nice and cool and dark. There were some rolling hills and a net uphill but nothing that felt significant/severe. It was super fun!

My last run was on Saturday afternoon and it was mean. The temps were about 90 degrees and the first half of the 14 mile run was steep uphill. At this point it was Saturday afternoon and I had only slept 3 hours since Friday night (and I had run over 20 miles since then). Fatigue was an issue. The heat was an issue. The hills sucked. My hip/glute had felt awesome for the first two runs  (in fact I hadn't felt it at all until this point) but on the steep uphills it started to tighten up on me. I had no desire to risk injury or push things, so I walked on the steepest uphills. I am pretty sure I was able to walk faster than I was able to run anyway! And the blacktop on the highway was so hot. I felt like I was cooking from above and below.

The second half of the 14 miles was mostly downhill, although I was about as exhausted as I have ever been. I ran tough and finished strong though and was really, really happy to be DONE. :)

Josh did awesome and our whole team just pushed and ran so hard. It was crazy to get done and look at the six of us and realize we had just run almost 200 miles! And despite living in a 15 passenger van together for two days and having almost no sleep at all, we had a blast and everyone was so much fun. We got home at 2am this morning, tired but super happy. It was an incredible experience and I am so grateful to have gotten to do this. (HUGE huge huge thanks to my brother Mark, who came out from NY for the week and timed it so he could stay with the kids so Josh and I could do this together.)

We did fail pretty miserably at taking pictures, but here are a couple.

Here is our van, decorated and ready to go on Thursday night.

Here is team S.P.U.R. right before we started on Friday morning.
Alana, Josh, me, Dave, Lauri, and Justin


Josh being cute  

This is me starting off on my first run (and that is my teammate, Lauri, behind me who just got done with her first legs).


Dave ran his final leg in hot pink shorts. Crazy awesome. :)
Two of our sons got to run on a team of 12 with extended family and they loved every minute of it, and we saw lots of friends out on the course which just made the experience that much more fun. (And HI to blog readers who recognized me and said hi. It was nice to meet you!)  The kids here all did great with my brother and the weekend was amazing all the way around. If you have never done a Ragnar, I highly recommend it. It is definitely my running guilty pleasure. 

Happy Father's Day everybody!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I am o.k.

I have wanted to get a post up before now but we were out of town for the weekend, we got home late Sunday night, I had 8 million things to get caught up on on Monday, my brother got here from NY on Monday night, and today has been one thing after another after another. Whew.

So let me say first, that I am o.k., physically and emotionally.

Let me say second, thank you to all of you who have left comments, sent texts, sent emails, called me, etc. I did not really expect such an outpouring of support and encouragement and it really made me very emotional. In fact, at first I couldn't read the comments because I was already over-emotional as it was, and I wasn't ready to truly "hear" anything or to feel anything but sad/disappointed/discouraged. But I am moving past those feelings and moving forward with renewed determination.

I needed a day or two to just feel bad, even though it usually isn't my style to do that. I had put SO much work into getting ready for this week and was SO confident going in to it and SO hopeful that I was going to do really well and have a great race. I was well-trained, well-rested, well-tapered, well-hydrated, well-fueled and in a great place mentally. And yet for whatever reason, it was a horrible race - a really terrible, difficult, awful day. It was so frustrating to feel like I had done everything I could and to have it turn out so badly. It was humbling and discouraging and just sad.

I took Sunday off and did not do anything but enjoy time with Josh and the kids. (And besides the race, we had a very wonderful weekend).

On Monday morning I decided to go for a short run and just see how I felt. I always run short and easy miles right after a marathon as I have found it really helps me work out the soreness and stiffness. Without running I was stiff all over and having a hard time feeling how I was feeling. So I headed out Monday morning and told Josh that I could be back in a minute or two (if things really hurt when I started) or I might go a few miles. I had warmed up and stretched and rolled first.

I met up with Jenny and another friend and started off really slowly. Things felt pretty good and continued to feel better as I went. We did five nice and easy miles and my upper glute/hip felt fine. (I did feel it when I was warming up and stretching afterwards, but not during the run). Today was a repeat of Monday, although everything felt even better. The good news is that since I only ran 16 miles and then walked 7 miles, the race did not take as much out of me physically as racing a full marathon would have.


I had the PT look at my glute today and he said he could definitely feel a tight spot in my gluteus medius (really high). He did not think that it would make it worse or hurt it to run on it now, especially since it was feeling better  during and after easy runs,  there wasn't any pain (just some tightness) and he recommended lots of stretching and rolling and only easy running until it goes away (and no pushing it on uphills). He thinks it is likely a result of pushing so hard on the uphill stretches in the headwind, and thinks if I had kept pushing that it likely would have worsened and become a real injury or thrown off some other muscles as well. Hopefully if I keep rolling and stretching and not pushing it, it won't be an issue in a few days.

My plan now is to keep running slow and easy this week with lots of rolling and stretching. I am captain of a team for Ragnar Wasatch Back this weekend (which I have been looking forward to for almost a year), and I am SO SO SO ready for some FUN. Josh is on my team as are some wonderful friends, and it will be a total blast. I am not wearing a Garmin and will just run easy and for fun (as long as everything feels good). I will not push it at all.

Next week will be another very easy/recovery week based on how I feel, and once my glute is 100% and I am physically and mentally ready to get back at it, I will be back to training. The Pocatello Marathon on September 1 is the next target. I love this race, and signed up the day registration opened. It was my first half marathon ever, it was my first BQ race, my BFF Jennifer is coming to run it as her first marathon this year, Josh and the kids will be at the finish line again, and you get a bag of potatoes as part of your swag. Seriously. What is better swag than a big of spuds?

I would be lying if I said that my confidence is not shaken, but I am only bent, not broken. I still love to run (which I felt very strongly the last two mornings). I am not giving up on my goals and dreams, and if anything, I am more driven than ever.  My desire and determination were significant before this weekend, so throwing that kind of fuel on the fire will be a powerful thing.

This weekend showed me how much I truly want to race marathons well, and how much I want to qualify for the Olympic Trials.  It showed me that I won't give up when the going is tough, that I won't let failure deter me, and that I am completely committed and willing to fight hard for what I want.

This weekend also showed me the people in my life that are truly there for me, and will stick by me on my great days and my terrible days (and everything in between). Josh was just amazing and I love him more than ever. The kids could not have been better.  Jennifer was the BFF that I needed this weekend, and that I have wanted for quite some time. My Dad and Pam showed me their unconditional love and support, as they always do. Jenny and other friends new and old rallied around me and lifted me up when I was feeling very down. I got really wonderful comments from many blog readers that I know, and some I have never heard from before. I have said it before and I will say it again - I have the very best support system ever and I could not be more grateful for the people in my life.

My plan is to learn from this weekend, and to use it to make me a tougher, smarter, and better person and runner. I will bounce back quickly and be stronger than ever.

Jennifer knows how much I love quotes and emailed me some, and a few of you have left a quote in the comments. I love the sentiment of these and am embracing this spirit completely.

"There is no straight line to success. The road to the top is a series of switch-backs, zigs and zags. Often times the road is racked with boulders you must move out of the way - as well as pebbles that get in your shoes. Sometimes there will be blood, bruising, breaks and blisters. Yet to the person who is fully on purpose, all the pain is pleasureable. Nothing is for naught; everything is for something. All encounters and experiences are leading the person with a goal to the top." - Matthew Furey 
"Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors." - African Proverb
 
"It is a rough road that leads to heights of greatness." - Senaca
 
"Triumphs without difficulties are empty. Indeed, it is difficulties that make the triumph. It is no feat to travel the smooth road." - Unknown

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt (I have used this one several times. LOVE it!)

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief...and unspeakable love.” - Washington Irving 
 
"Every adversity carries with it the seeds of a greater benefit!" - Napoleon Hill
"I am inspired not by those who float along and make it look so easy, but by those who carry you with them through the ups and downs of the journey that is so hard." - Laura Otting 
"Harnessing adversity is a discipline tailored to a world of unpredictable outcomes--a world where one can disturb, but not wholly direct, a living system. Because the unexpected--adversity--is guaranteed, this discipline is about routinely making lemons into lemon meringue pie." -  Richard T. Pascale 

"We never know how high we are/Till we are called to rise."- Emily Dickinson

"I get knocked down, But I get up again, You're never going to keep me down" - Chumbawamba

"Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others thin is practical. Expect more than others think is possible." - Cadet Maxim 


Saturday, June 9, 2012

DNF

I got my first DNF (Did Not Finish) today.

I slept well last night. I was in a great place mentally this morning. I felt GREAT for the first eight miles (nailing marathon pace with very little effort). Then the crazy headwinds started (and last for over 10 miles) and I hit a section of tough uphills. I was still doing ok with my time, but was working a lot harder than I should have been. At one point my whole body cramped up (which has never happened to me). I was fueling and hydrating well and went into the race well fueled and well hydrated, so I don't know why. (Some people were saying it was hot, but I thought the temps were great and I never felt too warm at all). I walked for a very short time to try and regroup, and got to running at my goal pace again, but the whole cycle just kept repeating itself.

But the third time it happened, I noticed that my left hip was feeling sore. (This is not something that has ever bothered me before). I tried to run through it, I tried to stretch it, I tried to walk it out... nothing was helping. My hip hurt worse as I went along, even when I tried to walk, but it hurt worse when I ran and the rest of my body just felt awful too.

Despite that, I was still doing a pretty good job staying mentally in the game. I was hoping to negative split, and even though I was a little behind on the clock, I was confident I could make it up. I kept telling myself over and over that it was "my day" and it was "my race", and I kept thinking about a bunch of the encouraging things that Josh had told me. I kept reminding myself that it was supposed to be hard and it was supposed to hurt and that it would pass and I would feel better.

But things just kept getting worse. At mile 16, I gave up. My hip hurt. My body felt awful. My time goal was out the window, and as badly as I wanted that medal and as much as I had sworn up and down that I would never not finish a race, I knew in my head that even though I could finish, it would not be the smart thing. I knew that I would likely be turning the beginnings of an injury into a full blown injury. I knew that there was little to gain and much to loose.

So I walked.

I would have gotten in to a shuttle right then, but I didn't find one until the aid station at mile 23. At that point I had walked most of 7 miles (occasionally I ran a little just to see if it magically felt better... it didn't). It was demoralizing and frustrating to walk.

Walking for seven miles in a race you thought was going to be a huge PR and a huge breakthrough race and a big stepping stone to your goals leaves you lots of time to think. (Mostly not good stuff).

I kept worrying about Josh and the kids and knowing that they were worrying where I was. When the race clock hit 3:15 and I knew that they all knew that I hadn't hit my goal, and I knew they were all anxiously watching for me, I cried.

I kept thinking about how much is sucked that Josh and the kids were waiting to cheer me on at a finish line that I wasn't going to cross. I finally had my family waiting at a finish line for me, and I couldn't get to it.

I kept thinking about how much I had wanted to make everyone proud and how bad it felt to suck.

I kept thinking about how Josh had told me over and over and over that I was going to "be amazing" and all I could think was "Definitely not amazing". 

And, in case you are wondering - as much as it sucks walking in a race and getting passed by hundreds of people and having crowds cheer at you to "Keep it up! You look great!" it sucks a million times more when lots of people recognize you while you are walking in a race and getting passed by hundreds of people.

I was so close to the finish when I finally found a shuttle at the EMT at mile 23 that part of me thought I might as well just keep walking and finish, but I knew that the extra three miles of walking were not in my best interest in looking at the big picture of my running.  So I gave up the really cool medal to try and do the smart thing, with hopes that it will benefit me in the future.

In the shuttle I had a guy tell me that I must be a marathon weather "jinx" since I got the hot hot weather in Boston and then the crazy headwinds today. Gee thanks!

It was just a rough day. Rough physically, rough mentally, rough emotionally.

I was going to wait to write this until tomorrow, but I know if I wait I won't be as honest and raw as I am right now... so these are my honest, unfiltered thoughts and feelings.

I am not sure what now. I am not sure what the deal is with my hip. It is definitely still sore, although not anything that is forcing me to limp while walking and it is only sore when I am walking (not when I am sitting).

I am sure that I have the MOST incredible husband, family, friends, and support system. (THANK YOU for all of the texts, facebook messages, phone calls, etc.)

I am sure that I am not giving up on my hopes and dreams and that I will not let today discourage me for long.

And I am sure that I am sleeping in tomorrow, and taking a day off from running.

To end on a positive note, THESE GUYS all rocked the kids 1k. Shane won by a nose, Ben was close behind him, and the younger crew represented well. They got "real" race shirts, numbers, and ribbons and are all feeling pretty big time.  They all loved the race (and Marcus was having a blast despite the look in this picture). My kids rock. :)



Friday, June 8, 2012

The night before

We are all settled into our hotel rooms in Provo, Utah. Rooms are organized. My stuff is set out for the morning and the 1:30am wake up call (ick). The kids are settled. We had a great dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory (yay for gluten free menu!) after going to the expo and doing a little bit of mandatory shopping. I am hoping to lay down for the night here in the very near future. 

Observation number one - There is a lot more work and a lot less rest the days before a race when you are taking the whole family with you. Whew. Josh has been a great help though and I got us all packed up yesterday, and we were out the door at about 9:30 this morning, headed to Utah.

We stopped and had lunch at Wendy's (I ate a banana and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on gluten free bread from the cooler!) and within a couple of minutes of getting there I was recognized by a family from the Runner's World article. I think having all 12 kids with me might have tipped them off. :) I got noticed by two people at the expo as well. Crazy.

Somehow, race day is tomorrow! The days and weeks have just flown by the last couple of months. I am feeling really good physically and emotionally. I found myself getting nervous and anxious at the beginning of the week - fueled by how very badly I want to have a really, really good race.  When I noticed myself feeling nervous and anxious, I thought and prayed and here are the things I realized.

- I have more than put the work in.  I looked back at my training log and I have not missed a day of running since before Goofy. No excuses. I did not miss a mile from my training plan, and I did not miss a workout. There were days I didn't feel as great as others, but I hit every pace in every key workout.  Track workouts, tempo runs, long runs, goal marathon pace runs - I did them all and did them well. I also was committed to my strength and core training and never skipped those. I ran several 80-90 miles weeks. I have more than put the work in.

- I am healthy! Along with making my strength and core training a priority, I made recovery after every run a priority as well. I always drink a recovery drink, stretch and do a flexibility routine, and roll with a "stick" or foam roller. I did ice baths after all of my long runs, and wore compression gear. I have taken care of my body and in return, I have been blessed to be free from injury through A LOT of miles and a lot of hard training. I have put a lot of focus on my nutrition, and after lots of tests and doctor appointments have gone gluten-free in an attempt to fix my continual stomach issues. (Things have been somewhat improved after three weeks of gluten free eating). I have gotten as much sleep and rest as a mom of 12 who has to get up super early can. I have stayed well-hydrated. I am healthy and in as good of shape as I have ever been.

- I have tapered just right. For me, a two-week taper seems perfect. I don't feel flat and stale but I do feel well-rested and recharged. I feel ready to race!!

- I love marathons and I love to run. I reminded myself that I love this! Yes, I want to do well, but I run because it is something I truly enjoy. I run marathons because it is "my distance". It is what I train for and what I do, because I love it.  

Some people would say that it is "just" a race. And I get that. It IS just a race. In the grand scheme of life and eternity it is not a big deal and there are plenty of other races to come. But at the same time, this is something that is important to me. It is something that I care about, and something I have put a lot of time, effort, work, thought, energy, heart and soul in to. It matters to me.

So let's talk goals. My A goal for Utah Valley Marathon is to be under 3:15. The goal marathon pace I have trained at is 7:15, which would be a 3:10, but since I have yet to run a marathon without needing at least two quick pitstops because of stomach issues (and sometimes more than that) and usually "lose" 3-6 minutes because of that, I add on five minutes. 

My B goal is to PR. My current marathon PR is 3:27, set in Disney in January on day two of the Disney challenge (so the day after setting a PR in the half marathon). I should be able to PR even with a rough day.The temps look like they should be nice, although people are worried it could be fairly windy. Even if it is super windy or my stomach is bad or both, I should still be able to PR.

That's it! I don't have a C goal.

I am feeling pretty confident. I am feeling like tomorrow is my day, and Utah Valley is going to be my race. You never know what race day will bring, and when it gets challenging I am not going to panic,. I am going to remind myself that I have trained for this. I am ready for this. I CAN do this. I love this. I am going to remember that it's not supposed to be easy and it's supposed to hurt, but I am stronger than the hurt.  I am going to trust in my training and believe in myself. I am going to draw strength from Josh, Jennifer, the kids, my parents, Jenny, and many other friends and family members who have given me love and support and believe in me.

Josh has given me SO much support and encouragement this week. His love and faith in me mean everything. I will be holding on to several of the things that he said and carrying them with me tomorrow.

I am ready. I am excited!!!

It's going to be fun. It's going to be tough. It's going to be great.

There is not any runner tracking for this race. I will have my phone at the finish line once I find Josh and the kids, so I will post results to Twitter, Facebook and to here as soon as possible. THANK YOU to everyone who has sent emails, texts, comments, etc. of support and encouragement. I appreciate every single one. More soon!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Changes

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -Marilyn Monroe

As of June 1, I am no longer working in my position as special needs adoption coordinator for Adoption Advocates. I had been in the position for six years and pretty much started and built the HIV+ adoption program in Ethiopia for the agency. I helped advocate for and find families for over 150 children with special needs. It was a demanding, rewarding, stressful, time-consuming, heart-wrenching, and wonderful experience that I gave much of my heart and soul to (gladly).

But things changed in the agency's staffing recently and the process changed in Ethiopia, and my position was eliminated. I was given a position doing something I had no experience with, and that combined with some other elements led to me resigning after a lot of discussion and prayer with Josh.

We are not really in a position to give up any income and so it was a difficult decision to make, however we both feel at peace about it and believe it was the right choice. I am hopeful and confident that I will find new opportunities, and with the way things have been going, I don't think it will take long.

First, I am volunteering to work with Project HOPEFUL, whose mission is "Educating, Encouraging and Enabling Families Adopting Children with HIV/AIDS". This is an organization that I helped start years ago and served on the original board, but then when I took my job with AAI, I stepped down. Carolyn Twietmeyer, the Founder and Executive Director, became a tireless advocate for HIV+ and special needs children after she adopted a sibling group from Ethiopia (that included an HIV+ child) that I had advocated for.  She and her husband were one of the very first families to pursue adopting an HIV+ child after I started educating and advocating for these kids, so it is great fun to be working with her again. And as she said, things have come full circle! I am excited to still be able to help advocate for and make a difference in the lives of orphans with special needs.

Project HOPEFUL has a team raising money and running the Chicago Half-Marathon in September! I can't be there in person but I will be there in spirit and will be cheering them on from WY. :)

And the other news is that I am now a USATF certified coach! I plan on continuing my training and education to become a higher level coach, and I am really really excited about this. As I was taking the courses I kept saying, "I love this stuff!"

I am hoping to find some beginner/intermediate runners that are looking for a coach to help them -
- get started as a runner, or progress from where they are at
- with advice, help, support, and encouragement in their running/training
- train for a race (5k-marathon distance)
- stay motivated and accountable
- improve their times in races of various distances

I am extremely well educated when it comes to running and I know what it's like to -
- be in the position of knowing I am unhealthy and need to make a change, but am not sure how to get started
- be a brand new runner and not be able to run 2 miles without feeling like I am going to die
- be the slowest runner in a group and wonder if I will ever be able to keep up with everyone else
- train for and finish my first race
- train for and finish races from 5k-marathon distances
- deal with injuries
- change to a healthy diet/lifestyle
- run high mileage
- make huge improvements in speed/pace
- run competitively
- find ways to make it work and find time for yourself while being a busy mom

I personally have benefited GREATLY from having a coach. I love having someone to learn from, to give me my training plan, to give me advice, to give me feedback on my running, to encourage and support me, to watch over my training, to push me, to help me reach my goals, and to be a mentor and friend.

If you or anyone you know are interested in having me coach you, you can contact me at fullhousemom at g mail dot com

Tomorrow is the last day of school for my kids (and it is just a half day) and we head to Utah on Friday morning. Only THREE days until race day. Woo hoo!!!  My post on goals/hopes/dreams/plans for the Utah Valley Marathon is coming soon. Happy National Running Day!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Drive

I can't really believe it, but after yesterday morning's run, I am "done" with my training for the Utah Valley Marathon. I ran 9 miles yesterday morning - a three mile warm up, 3x1 mile (6:24, 6:26, 6:15) and then a three mile cool down. I was pretty happy to hit that 6:15 mile, especially after the tough track work out the day before.

I had six easy miles this morning and there is nothing left before race day but shorter, easy runs and some strides. I have a post coming soon with my hopes and goals for UVM and reflections on this fairly short, but pretty dang awesome, training period.

I got the below question in an email and thought I would answer it here.

"So the question is….  you must be a very competitive person by nature.  How did you go from not running at all to running the high mileage you're doing now?  How did you convince yourself that you needed to qualify for Boston and keep setting personal bests?  That's an amazing turnaround….  what planted the seed?  Why didn't you just settle (like me) with running low mileage just to remain fit?  Just interested how it all started.  I just cannot imagine myself running that kind of mileage…."

First I need to say that I am not really a very competitive person. I am a very driven person though.  I have always been that way - if I am going to do something, I want to do it well. Really well. Not better than anyone else, but to the very best of my abilities. I graduated from high school fifth in my class of about 500 kids, with a generous scholarship to college. I always had straight A's in school. Whether I was showing horses, playing violin, or babysitting, I was dedicated and committed to doing the best I could.

Again, I have never really had a strong desire to beat others, just to getting the most out of myself that I can. I have always wanted to be good at what I do.

When I started running just over three years ago, it was because I was looking for a new "tool" to help me lose weight. I never, ever imagined I would enjoy running, and I really never, ever imagined that I would be any good at it.

I have written about how hard that first run was, but how hooked I was from that very first day. For a while I settled in at running three miles a day, five days a week. I remember telling my dad that three miles was the perfect daily distance and I couldn't imagine running more than that regularly. Ha! That didn't last long.

Then I ran a 5k and found that I really enjoyed racing. Then Josh and I decided to sign up for a 10k and we both loved it. Then I ran on a Ragnar relay team (and trained hard for it). Then Jenny and I decided to train for and run a half marathon. Then I decided to train for a full marathon, thinking it would be a one-time thing that I crossed off my bucket list. Each time I fully enjoyed the new challenge, the training, the reward, and the sense of accomplishment. Each time I finished satisfied, excited, and ready to push myself a little further.

When I ran that first marathon in December 2010, I just knew I had found my distance. We had not finished the short walk from the finish line back to the hotel before I told Josh and my parents that I wanted to do another one. I couldn't stop smiling. I wanted to run another marathon because I loved the training. I loved the actual race. I loved the challenge. I wanted to train better. I wanted to race faster. I wanted to see how good I could be at the marathon distance.  I truly enjoyed the 5k's, 10k's, relay races, and half marathons, but in my heart I knew that day that I am a marathoner.

I ran my first marathon in 4:15. After that, the first goal I set for myself was to run a marathon in under four hours. I signed up to run the Salt Lake City Marathon in April 2011 and stepped up my training. Sure enough, I ran a 3:57. I was on cloud nine. For the first time I realized that I could set goals, train for them, and achieve them. I remember thinking there was NO way I could shave another 20 minutes off of that time and qualify for Boston, but that thinking didn't last long either, and I decided to train for it and see what I could do.

Four months later, I qualified for Boston on my first attempt with a 3:32, and two weeks later I bettered my PR to 3:28.

Early this year I decided I wanted to try to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.  Just like when I decided to try and qualify for Boston, I know that hitting that qualifying standard will NOT be easy, and that I may not succeed. But I want to try, and I am willing to put the work in to do my best to make it happen. I love the training. I feel great.  I have the BEST support system. I am able to train without having a negative impact on the rest of my life. I am very much enjoying the journey.

When I set out on that first run three years ago could I have imagined that I would one day be running 90 mile weeks? When I was struggling to finish a mile without walking, and when I was dead last in our little group of neighborhood moms who ran together, and was slower than a 12 minute pace, could I ever imagined that I would be able to run miles in the 6-7 minute range? When I ran that first marathon could I ever have dreamed that just over a year later I would decide to set the goal to qualify for the Olympic Trials?

Heck No.

But the desire to push myself to be the best runner I can be has been there from day one. At first that meant running two miles without walking. Steadily my goals and dreams have increased along with my mileage and speed. I think a big part of it is my nature to push myself and my drive to do the best that I possibly can at what I put my heart in to. I also believe that running is a talent that took me a while to discover, but is God-given. That also makes me want to make the very most of it.

I am driven. I am determined. I am committed. I am faithful. I am a runner. I am a marathoner.

I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to encourage my kids and others to do the same. I want to see how good I can be at doing what I love. I want to squeeze the best out of myself that I can.

That's why I do what I do. :)

“When all's said and done, all roads lead to the same end. So it's not so much which road you take, as how you take it.” - Charles de Lint


“Try and fail, but don't fail to try.” - Stephen Kaggwa


“Whatever you are, be a good one.” - Abraham Lincoln

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” - Helen Keller

and my favorite -

"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Trials and track video clips

This morning I had a fun workout. (It is fun now that it is over... I was working hard during it!) Josh and I drove out to the high school track at 6am. I did a three mile warm-up with Josh, and then I did a 5x800m interval workout, and then a three mile cool down (again with Josh). I did my 800's in 2:57, 3:02, 3:03, 3:02 and 3:02. I was really happy with the times and with the consistency. 

Josh took some more video footage while I was running on the track. He really enjoys doing that! I thought that the camera was turned off when I declared after my fifth and final interval that "800's suck". :) You can hear/see that in the last clip below. Anybody want to come run with me? I would so love to have some other runners out on the track with me to train with.

Changing topics - 

I had a thought in church today. Our Sunday school lesson was about living with an attitude of gratitude. The teacher talked about how we should be grateful every day, even for the trials we have in our lives, because it is through our trials that we grow, learn, and become better. She said part of the reason we are here on Earth is to be tested, and that if life was easy all the time, we would never progress. And it's true... while we may never welcome trials when they come, almost always we look back on our trials and see that we learned an important lesson and/or that we have come through the trial as wiser, stronger, better, more blessed, etc.

I couldn't help but think that it is the same with running. If all of our runs are easy, at our same comfortable pace, we won't ever progress. It is through the "trials" - pushing ourselves on long(er) runs, tempo runs, intervals, and other challenging workouts (whatever challenging is for the level you are at), that we become faster, stronger, and better runners. All of our runs can't be "trials" (just as all of our life isn't trials), and the easy runs and easy times are important for our bodies and souls to refresh, recover and be ready to take on the next trial. But in running, and in life, it is through our trials that we grow and progress.

I hope everyone has had a great weekend. :)

Here are a couple of video clips from the track workout today.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Work!

Happy Friday!! Today our sweet Amanda Mee Yeon (who we adopted from South Korea right before her second birthday) turns 11 years old. Amanda is tiny but mighty, and she is the one who always tells me to "beat all the boys" when I race. Let's face it - in the world of "fourth grade playground", being able to beat the boys in a race is what makes a girl big time. :)
That is Amanda in the middle (in between Ben and Maggie) on the morning of the 5k Turkey Trot that Josh and I put on. Amanda ran the whole thing!!

I ran 358 miles in the month of May! Today was my last "long run" before Utah Valley Marathon, and it was just 12 miles (two mile warm up, 8 miles at goal marathon pace, two mile cool down). My splits were 7:55, 7:41, 7:08, 7:08, 7:10, 7:04, 7:04, 7:06, 7:04, 6:56, 7:45, 8:18. My goal pace miles were a little fast, but I felt great and just went with it. And knock on wood/fingers crossed/prayers said - after two weeks of being gluten-free I have now had two very encouraging days in a row with my stomach issues. 

There are now just 8 days until Utah Valley Marathon! I am pretty excited and don't think I could feel any better. I go into this race feeling loved, supported, encouraged, blessed, peaceful, and happy emotionally. I go into this race feeling as healthy, strong, and physically fit as I have ever been. And I go into this race with the confidence of knowing that I have put in the work and then some. One more week of taper and then I am ready to race. :)


Have a great weekend! I am off to bake a chocolate chip cookie cake for Amanda. More soon, including a post on two great books I just finished and the answer to a question I was asked on what motivates/drives me. Happy Friday!