Thursday, August 30, 2012


I have never been afraid to put myself out there - to set big goals and to say them out loud. I would rather be a person who aims high and has big dreams and works hard to meet them (no matter the outcome), than someone who plays it safe and sets the bar low so I know I will get over it.

No sandbagging here.

On the flip side, I am not a smack-talker or unrealistic. I think good goals are ones that are BIG and stretch what you think you can do, but aren't so far out there that they are setting you up for disappointment. I try to be realistic and at the same time, I am not afraid to take risks and reach for the sky.

So what are my goals for the Pocatello Marathon?

In regards to time on the clock, my "perfect day", everything goes right, totally awesome ideal race-day goal is to be sub 3:10. I would love a new PR that starts with 3:0?. Would that be easy? No. Is it possible? Heck yes.

I have trained at a marathon goal pace of 7:15, which is a 3:10 marathon. Unless I have a marathon miracle, I will likely lose about 4 minutes on the clock because of my stomach. Things have been much improved lately since I have gone gluten free and the longer I go, the better things seem to be, although the issues are not completely resolved. I have run one half marathon where I did not need to stop at all and I had one 20 miler where I only needed one pit stop. I am doing all that I can to set myself up for as little GI issues as possible and am hoping for very little (or none!!) but I will control what I can and not stress over what I cannot. Reading "A Life Without Limits" by Chrissie Wellington and learning about her own GI struggles helped me put this into perspective a little and not stress about it quite so much.

I have been saying my goal is to be sub 3:15, which would be running my goal pace of 7:15 and then taking into account 4 minutes or so lost in the portapotties, but my workouts, my coach, and some fast friends have all indicated that they think a faster time is very, very possible.

All I know is that my current PR of 3:27 (set in January the day after I set a PR in the half marathon at the Goofy challenge) needs to be blown out of the water.  That sucker is way out of date.

The Pocatello course is a unique one in that the first half is all downhill and the second half is mostly flat - it loses about 150 feet elevation overall and has two moderate uphills. (The first half is also significantly cooler in temps because it is earlier in the morning of course and because it is up a canyon). So it is not a course set up to negative split, but at the same time you have to be smart and can't blow it out on the downhill first half and have nothing left for the second half.

I ran this last year (my first Boston Qualifying time!) and I ran the half marathon (which is the second half of the full) the year before, so I am familiar with the course. I have a plan that I will use and adjust according to how I feel.

My plan is to run aggressively but to also run smart. Finding that balance is the key to marathoning!

Some other goals I have for this race -

- Be on the award stand
- Have a strong mental race
- Enjoy the process
- Finish feeling that I ran my best

I have done the work. Now I have to take all of the training, all of those miles, all of that work, and put it together into a great race. 

I am ready to give it my all.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mental Fitness

There are now four days until the Pocatello Marathon!

At this point, the physical preparation is done. I have done the work. I have done A LOT of work. In this training cycle I have done high mileage weeks, killer track work-outs, and long runs chock full of miles at race pace and faster. I have not skipped a run or a workout (or even a mile). I have run a lot of hills, up and down. I set new PR's at the 5k and at the half-marathon distance. I have stayed healthy. I have seen and felt progress.

At this point there is nothing to be done for my physical fitness before Saturday except to rest, elevate my feet, stay hydrated, eat well, and respect the taper.

But there is plenty I can still do my for mental fitness.

Since I started running, I have be proud of mental toughness, and I have seen it as one of my biggest strengths as a runner. I have gotten out of bed every day to get my runs in, no excuses. I run by myself on almost all of my runs, and always on all of my tough runs/workouts. It is just me, my Garmin, my internal drive, my dreams, and my commitment, out on the roads or the track. I push myself hard, even when no one is watching. I never quit.

Very little sleep? Freezing temps? Rain? Head cold? Family stress? Busy day? I run anyway. I do work hard, and I am proud of that, and at the end of the day I think it will make the difference in my running.

I have always been confident in my running, excited about racing, and had a great mental game for marathons. But somewhere in the Boston Marathon, I got shaken. I know that my 3:37 finish, a Boston Qualifying time in 90 degree heat, was a decent run. I know that the crazy heat that day affected everyone and that for me to PR in those conditions (especially when I had been running in snow the week before) was not realistic. What bothered me though was that somewhere in those final miles - somewhere in between the six times I had to stop with a sick stomach and the times I let myself walk because I was so hot and sick feeling - I felt like I had been mentally defeated. I couldn't push myself any harder. I was not confident. The heat beat me, and I doubted myself.

I tried not to let that seed of doubt plant itself in my head. I tried not to water it or feed it. Despite that, it sprouted. I trained hard after Boston. I had many successful workouts and training runs. I had no reason to doubt myself. I believed that Utah Valley was going to be an awesome race for me, and a huge PR. And yet it didn't happen. High winds, a sore hip that came out of nowhere, and deep down, I think a lack of confidence and mental strength led to my first DNF. Choosing not to push through a race that was going terribly was probably the smart choice (especially with Ragnar Ultra a week later and Pocatello three months later), and yet I hope I never again feel, physically and mentally, the way I felt on the course that day.

So I have been putting a lot of work into my mental fitness, along with my physical fitness. I have read "The Mental Edge" and "Mind Gym", both of which I highly, highly recommend for athletes. Instead of ignoring the sprouted seed of doubt and pretending it wasn't there, I have ripped it out and thrown it away. There is no place for doubt in my mind or my heart.

This week I have been looking over my workouts since Utah Valley, and letting myself SEE and soak in how very much I have accomplished. 95 miles in a week? 20 mile run with 16 miles at race pace or faster? 8x800's on an 18 mile day, with all of the intervals in 2:57 or faster? Yeah, I DID THAT.

I have been reading all of my old race reports and absorbing the excitement, joy, and accomplishment.

I have been thinking about how full of gratitude I am for all of the love, support, and encouragement that I get from Josh and for how amazing he is and how much I love him. To have Josh and my family and friends supporting me, encouraging me, and believing in me is a powerful thing.

I have been so grateful for the love and support I get from my parents, family, and friends.

I have been taking the feelings of nervousness and transforming them into excitement and joy about the opportunity to race this weekend with my Jennifer and other friends.

I have been thinking about how much I truly love to run. 

I have also made a list of positive statements, thoughts, mantras, etc. that I have used while running and that give me a mental boost. I have been reading through the list several times throughout the day and will use a few of these at least during the race on Saturday.

Here is the list. (Some are parts of quotes, parts of scriptures, lines from a book, lines from songs, things people have told me, etc. Some I have modified a little.)

- I want to see you fly. (from my sweet Josh)
- Breakthrough!! (Thanks Rick)
- You are built to run fast. (Bart Yasso told me that!)
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
- I am not afraid.
- I was born to do this.
- I am ready.
- Your best is good enough.
- Victory lap!
- Seabiscuit
- Heart Power
- The hard work is done.
- Fun turns pressure into pleasure.
- Awake and Alive
- I want it more.
- Be the Dream
- can-do attitude
- Trust in my talent
- Running is a gift from God
- Let me be brave
- The hard makes it great
- Attitude is everything
- run in the moment
- in the present there is no pressure
- nice and easy
- Relax - breathe - focus
- dissolve the pain
- Go with the flow
- I am a fighter
- Enjoy the moment
- Find love and joy in what you do
- Let your light shine
- This train don't stop
- Never give up
- Warrior Mentality
- Run Happy! 
- Results will take care of themselves 
- Give it all you've got
- Trust in my body
- Just run your race
- Bring it on!
- I freaking got this!
- Be the lion.
- Thoroughly enjoy the process

What would you add to the list? Do you work on your mental fitness along with your physical fitness?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fast Friday

It's Friday! I survived the week. Here is what has been going on around here.

- These four started high school on Monday. Somehow, at the ripe old age of 35, I have FOUR KIDS in high school. Crazy. My kids are growing up way too fast and there doesn't seem to be a way to make them stop or even slow down. We have two freshman, a junior and a (gulp) senior this year. The  five elementary school kids and two junior high kids start back to school right after Labor Day, and Noah gets to stay home with me. :)

Good looking bunch, no?
- My awesome Ben turned 12. If you don't know Ben, you are missing out. He is the kind of person I want to be like. He came home to us when he was five years old and every day he has been in our family has been a blessing. His most favorite things are chocolate and soccer, so you can guess what we have had a lot of this week.

- SPORTS, sports, and more sports. Nate is playing high school football. Sadies is one of the team managers. Josh is coaching middle school football. Ryan is running high school cross country. Des is the team manager. Shane is running junior high cross country. They are BUSY. That said, I am a fan of busy teenagers. I think teenagers are like puppies - they are best behaved when they are kept busy all day and then all they want to do is eat and sleep. Keeps them out of trouble.

- August is the toughest month for me stress wise. Back to school for 11 kids is stressful emotionally, financially, logistically  and every other way you can imagine. We have had countless sport physicals, well checkups, dentist appointments, eye appointments, hair appointments, and ortho appointments on top of all the "usual" medical stuff for Noah. And don't get me started on what it costs to get shoes, clothes, back to school supplies, backpacks, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Do you hear that hollow, echo sound? That is my bank account.

- I hurt myself this week, but I am ok. :) I did something I do a hundred times a day - I picked up Noah. Noah is almost four years old, about 35lbs and has cerebral palsy and other special needs. His doctors have warned me that a lot of parents of kids with special needs like his end up with back injuries from lifting and carrying tall and heavy kids, and I am always very careful when I am lifting him. (And I do lots of core/strength training exercises to keep my core and back strong). I have never had any type of back pain at all, but I was hurrying and Noah was not cooperating... I lifted him quickly and OUCH. I had a sharp, blinding kind of pain like I have never had.

My first thought was to panic, but I stayed calm. It hurt to sit down, stand up or bend over, but I was comfortable once I got into a position. Josh worked on it for me that night, I stretched it gently and rested, and I hoped for the best. I got up the next morning and did a gentle warm up and stretching and decided to see what happened when I ran. It was fine! My back actually felt better after the run than it did before. There was still some stiffness and soreness throughout the day, but better than the day before and I didn't feel it all when I was running.

This morning I had my last long run before the Pocatello Marathon on Sept. 1. I had 14 miles, with two warm up miles, two cool down miles and 10 miles at 7:05ish in between. My back was much improved when I got up this morning from yesterday, but still not 100%. I was hoping to be able to do this long run and feel good. My back, legs, and everything else felt great the whole way. Whew. I was very relieved at the end of the run to be able to run a longer run and to run at a faster pace and feel good, and I am confident that this will won't be an issue for my race and will resolved completely in the next couple of days. Never a dull moment!

- One week from today I will be hanging out with my BFF Jennifer!! She is flying in to Salt Lake from Florida on Friday morning. I will pick her up - there will be much shrieking, laughing, and tears, and then we will drive to Pocatello to pick up our packets, meet up with some other friends, and have a restful night before the race the next morning. Besides rocking the marathon, we have big plans to get fun new pics of us together and she is coming home with me to spend the weekend at my house and get to meet Josh and the kids. YAY!

In Disney, January 2012
I have been blessed with some truly wonderful people in my life, including a couple of very special friends. For a few years though, I was really missing having a best girl friend - someone that is there for you day or night, that you can tell anything to, who completely gets you, who tells you what you need to hear, who you can laugh and cry with, who you can vent to and share secrets with, who supports you and believes in you, who is crazy fun and who you can totally be your real self with. Josh is my very best friend and my true love and soul mate, but I was really, really missing having a best girl friend. Jennifer has been an incredible blessing in my life and I am SO so excited for the days we will have together next week. And I can't wait to see her with Josh and the kids too!

- My awesome husband and son went on a 12 mile trail run this morning with our black lab, Jazz. Here is a pic of where they were running (trails a few miles south of our house.) Yes, that is still snow. These mountains we live in are high.

 and here is Jazzy cooling off after the run

- This weekend will be busy with a church pig roast/party tonight, birthday parties and family tomorrow, and church on Sunday, but it should all be lots of fun.

I will have a post coming up in the next few days about my goals, hopes, and thoughts about the race next weekend.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Monday, August 20, 2012

2 points of view

(Quick training update - last 20 miler is DONE - 95 mile week is DONE and I am officially in taper. I am feeling strong, healthy, free from injury, and excited for the Pocatello Marathon on September 1!!!)

This is one of those posts that has been rolling around in my mind for a couple of weeks. I have been thinking about how in almost all areas of life, there are at least two ways to look at things.

Half full or half empty?

How we choose to look at ourselves, our spouses, our children, our lives, our challenges, our blessings, our abilities, our struggles, and other people, shapes the way we feel, the choices we make, the way we treat others, and the way we live our lives.

Some examples -

- I can look at my body and see all the "flaws" - the ugly varicose veins on one leg that appeared during pregnancy, the scars from surgeries, the almost complete lack of boobs, the super pale skin - and focus on them and be disappointed with my body, OR, I can be grateful that the varicose veins don't hurt or bother me and be proud of the body that carried three babies, that lost 80lbs, that is healthy and strong and getting faster all the time, and that can run 95 miles in a week without any injuries.

- I can look at my life and be frustrated with insanely tight finances, used cars with lots of miles, necessary house repairs, etc. or I can be grateful that we have our big, beautiful family, that our needs are met, that we have cars to drive, and we have a safe and comfortable home in a beautiful place.

- I can look at my husband and kids (and others in my life) and see their "imperfections" and let myself be annoyed by the little things that don't really matter, or, I can choose to see and treat people the way that I hope to be treated by others - with unconditional love, respect, forgiveness, kindness and realistic expectations. I can focus on all of the inspiring qualities that they have, all of the amazing things that they do, and all the good that they bring to my life. I can choose to be grateful that my life is so filled with incredible people - the love of my life, 12 awesome children, wonderful and supportive parents, the best friend ever, and so many other family members and friends that I am grateful for.

- I can look at a rare tough run or race and let it hurt my confidence and get frustrated and discouraged, or I can tell myself that everyone has tough runs and be proud of myself for pushing through and finishing when it was hard, and knowing that I will be that much tougher next time.

- I can be annoyed and complain that I am rolling out of bed at 4am to get my cross training and running done each day, or be grateful that I am able to fit it in to my day, that I have the opportunity to chase my dream and do something I love, that my body is strong and able to do all that I ask it, and that my awesome husband is so supportive.

- I can let the challenges, hurts, and hardships I have faced in my life define me or I can focus on all of the blessings, miracles, and joys instead.

And so it goes with all things! It is guaranteed that life will provide bumps, challenges, and disappointments. Guaranteed. How we handle them, how we look at them, how we deal with them, will color our lives. Of course no one wants challenges or hard times and no one is happy and grateful all the time, but every day we have a choice on how to live, how to act, how to treat people, and what kind of attitude to have.

I have always been a "glass-half-full-look-on-the-bright-side" kind of girl. Sure I have moments where I get sad, discouraged, and frustrated. I let myself have those moments and then I move on, and move forward. I choose to be proud of my imperfect body, to enjoy the life I am living and really SEE all of the blessings, to not sweat the small stuff, to be truly grateful with all my heart for Josh, the kids, and our family and friends, to accept the tough runs (and other challenges) and move forward, to enjoy my early mornings, and to live every day as best as I can with a spirit of gratitude and joy.

I choose to see the best in people and to believe that good things will happen (and not in an unrealistic sort of way.) I don't dreamily walk around assuming we will win the lottery and having that solve our stresses, but I do believe that things will work out and we will be ok, as we always have.

Most of the time I am hopeful, I am optimistic, I am grateful, I am happy, and I am faithful. I am too blessed in life to feel any differently and life is too short to live any other way.

Life is good. :)

"For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others. For beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness. And for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone." - Audrey Hepburn

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." - Maya Angelou

"It is very important to generate a good attitude, a good heart, as much as possible. From this, happiness in both the short term and the long term for both yourself and others will come." - Dalai Lama

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens." Khalil Gibran

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” - Helen Keller

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” - Seneca

"There is no end to the good we can do, to the influence we can have with others." - Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Process of Perseverance

Every time I sit down to write a post I either fall asleep or need to eat something. Running 90+ miles in a week makes a girl tired. And hungry. Really tried. Really hungry. And you would think, or at least hope, that in a peak training week (third week in a row of high intensity and high mileage) that life would cut you some slack in some other areas, but, no such luck. Life goes on...busy and demanding.

Yesterday and today were the meat of my training week (along with a fast 20 miler coming up on Friday). Yesterday was an 18 mile day, with an 8-mile work out in the morning with 8x800 Yasso repeats, and then 10 miles at an easy pace in the afternoon.

I got up yesterday morning to a text from a friend who was supposed to go to the track with me saying she was sleeping in. I was tired. I wasn't looking forward to hitting the track by myself. I was uncharacteristically unmotivated. But I went through the motions, got ready to run, and headed out to the track just before 6am.

Even in to the warm up mile I was feeling somewhat hesitant and concerned about the workout ahead. But I started that first 800 and managed to flip a switch mentally and physically.  I ran by feel (not checking my Garmin) and focused on my form, my breathing, and running fast through each 800. I jogged the rest intervals nice and easy and then hit it again.

I got into a groove, and while I was working REALLY hard, I was enjoying myself too. I found joy in pushing myself, and while it is tough to push yourself so hard when you are alone on a track, I also found it satisfying. It was me and the track. The trepidation I had felt earlier in the morning was completely gone and I was feeling confident, fast, and strong. I knew I was hitting the 800's and I knew I was having a great workout.

My splits were 2:57 (5:58 pace), 2:57, 2:56, 2:54, 2:56, 2:51, 2:53, and 2:47 (5:36 pace). I finished the last one feeling like I was going to barf and collapse, but after a few seconds, before I even let myself check my splits (I never look until I finish the workout), I was smiling. Those are the fastest 800's I have ever done, and they were in the middle of an 18 mile day and a 94 mile week. I feel like I am peaking at just the right time and that all of my training is coming together for a great marathon on September 1.

There were 10 easy miles yesterday afternoon, and a tough 12 miler this morning with eight miles between 6:20 and 7:00 pace. Tonight, my legs are tired! I have 10 easy miles in the morning then a fast 20 miler on Friday, 12 recovery miles on Saturday and then I will finally be at taper time. Whew. I am definitely looking forward to taper.

More soon. Time to sleep (after a quick snack).

"Runners lesson number one: Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did." - @RunAddicted

"That's what running does to lives. It's not just exercise. It's not just achievement. It's a daily discipline that has nothing to do with speed, weight, social status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, where you live, what car you drive, or whether anyone anywhere loves you. It's about the slow and painful process of being the best you can be." - Martin Dugard

Monday, August 13, 2012

A few of my favorites

Wow! Long time, no post. Life is a wee bit busy around here. 90 mile running weeks, high school sports starting, husband's first 50k, getting 11 kids ready for back to school....whew. :)

Josh ROCKED his first 50k this weekend in just a few seconds over 8 hours. And even though the course looked like this...

(that is elevation over 10,000 feet four times, since he started at one end of the course, ran to the other, and then had to turn around and run BACK)

 he finished looking like this...
Love this guy!!! And I am so proud.
Josh's mom ran the 25k and did an amazing job too. This is a tough (beautiful, but tough!) course, which we are blessed to have right outside our door. I love where I live.

Ok, as promised, here are a few of my favorite (running) things.

One of the best things about running is that you don't need much gear - you can just get up and go as long as you have proper running footwear (and if you are going more than a certain distance, especially in the summer, you should have something to drink, or somewhere to get a drink a long the way). However, there are lots of things that can make training easier/more enjoyable and some of the best products I have discovered I have come across at the recommendation of other runners. So I thought it would be fun to do a blog post on some of my favorite running "things" -shoes, clothes, gear, etc. I have included lots of pics and links for you too.

My favorites!

- shoes - For most runners, the right shoes are essential, and hands down my favorite running shoes are the Brooks PureFlows. You can read my very detailed review in this post here. I have them in every color and love, love, love these shoes. They are light and fast for track work and have enough to them for my longest runs and races. They are the only shoes I wear (and have been that way for just about a year now). Here I am rockin' the purple pair in my half marathon win in July. :)

Since I am sponsored by Brooks I wear lots of Brooks gear, but I truly do love and stand by Brooks shoes and clothes, and I wore Brooks almost exclusively before they sponsored me.

- My favorite shorts are the Epiphany Stretch Short II. They are just the right length and weight, they move with you perfectly and they feel amazing. Brooks makes them in all sorts of cute colors.

- Running tops! My favorite tank, for hot summer runs or running on the treadmill in the winter, is the Epiphany Support Tank II. I have a couple of these and wear them A LOT.

There are many GREAT tops for men and women by Brooks, but my favorite (new this fall)) piece is the rockin' Utopia Thermal 1/2 Zip. I LOVE THIS and know that I will be wearing it tons once the weather cools off (which will be soon here). So warm and soft and cute.

- When it comes to socks, I am a double tab kind of girl. Low enough to be low profile, but not so low that they slip into my shoes on long runs. My favorite are the Infiniti Double tabs.

- I used to run with a Garmin 305 (trusty old Bob) but as Josh says, I ran him into the ground, and now I have been using a Garmin Forerunner 610 for about six months and I love it. I named this one Flash and it locks onto the satellite super fast (and has all over the country), I have never had trouble with losing the signal up in the mountains or in busy cities, it works super well for track workouts, the battery stays charged for a long time, it is very easy to use, and the optional velcro strap is great (and comfortable) for my little wrist. :)

not my stats :)

- Fuel! It has taken me a long time and a lot of trial and error, but I have finally found the fuel that works best for me. You can read my full review here, but I have been thrilled with Fluid Performance and Fluid Recovery. I have been using nothing for fuel but Fluid Performance for my fast, long runs and it works amazingly well - my energy is great and my stomach is calm.

- To carry my Fluid Performance on long runs and races, I run with the Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Thermal-Lite 20 ounce bottle. It is comfortable on my hand, has a nice-sized pocket, is easy to open, close, and drink from, and is a cool color.

- I don't always train with music and I never race with it, but I do enjoy my music at times and I also have listened to several audiobooks while running and that has been nice. I have tried all sorts of earbuds and headphones and the only ones that are comfortable in my ears and do not fall out when I am running are Yurbds. And they sound really good too. :) I am a fan!

- Whenever I run by myself, I carry a small handheld mace. I have never used it, but between the Wyoming farm dogs, the wildlife, and the unknown, I feel better having it.

- I never have been a fan of compression socks while running. I am a huge believer in compression for after a hard workout/run, but I never liked the way the compression socks fit on my feet and feel in my shoes. Last fall when my mileage started getting high, one of my shins started hurting me. It did not hurt at all when I ran and I did not feel it walking, jumping, going up or down stairs, etc. however if I pushed on it, it was very tender. I decided to try some calf sleeves, and they felt awesome and I think they really helped heal my calf. Now I use them all the time! I have tried a few brands and SKINS are my favorite.
- As I said earlier in this post, I am a believer in compression after a tough run. After every long run/tough track work out (over 14 miles or so), I roll, stretch, ice bath, shower, then put on compression tights. I had several pairs that I liked, but my BFF Jennifer sent me a pair of these 110% Clutch Tights and they are incredible!!!! These tights have the best compression out of any pair I have tried (and it is quite entertaining to watch me get them on!) AND, they have pockets and fancy ice packs so you can ice while wearing your compression tights. I believe that these have really helped with my recovery times from races and tough long runs.

- I use my Powerpoint grid roller and my Stick after every run. They hurt so good and keep my muscles happy. :)
 - Bodyglide is your friend. Enough said.
- My Grandma always said that you can't love "things" you can only love people. But I kind of do love my Oakley's. They fit my face perfectly and are so light and comfortable and do not budge while I am running. Plus, they make me feel a little extra tough and cool. :)
I am in denial that the dark mornings and snow covered roads are coming, but here is a post I wrote about my favorite cold weather gear back in December. :)

That's my list! What are some of your favorite running "things"?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Our own pace

One of the things that I have learned as I have gotten older is that everyone has to do things in their own time, at their own pace.

Let me tell you about my Noah. Noah was born in Ethiopia, and suffered brain damage at birth when he was born in a rural area without medical care available. When he came to the United States (with his first adoptive family) he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, Cortical Vision Impairment, feeding disorder, and several other major diagnoses.

When he came home to us, his forever family, at nine months old, we were told that he likely was almost completely blind. That he may never progress physically - may never even be able to hold up his own head, or sit up, or swallow. That he may never interact with us, and that we likely would never get his seizures under control.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, with great medical care and endless amounts of patience, encouragement, hope, faith, support and love, Noah made progress. Seizures were stopped. He started following things with his eyes. He started smiling at us and vocalizing. After months and months of therapy, he rolled over. Then he sat up. One day he pulled up to stand. He FINALLY figured out how to crawl and started getting in to everything. He started to get (too) good at climbing. And perhaps the biggest miracle of all - a month or so ago, he started WALKING. Yes, the kid who we were told may never even hold up his own head now walks and walks and walks.

Noah is three and a half years old. I suppose I could compare him to other three year-olds and be sad and discouraged. He only says a few words and knows a few signs, when most kids his age engage in full conversations. He still wears diapers and is nowhere near ready for potty-training, when most kids his age no longer need Huggies. He has a slow, staggering walk, while most kids his age can run all over. He is still dependent on a feeding tube for all of his nutrition, where most kids his age eat full meals with a fork. He can't tell you his colors or ABC's. He doesn't sing songs or ride a tricycle or color with crayons. Yet.

But we don't focus on the things that Noah can't do, or the things he doesn't do yet. We don't compare him to other three year old boys. We aren't sad or discouraged. We see the miracle that he is, and find joy in every accomplishment and every milestone (the ones most parents take for granted). 

It may have taken him two years longer than "the average" child to learn, but he is walking! I tell the kids that Noah will be able to do much in life (and won't be defined by the things that he can't do) - it just takes him a little longer to learn how to do things. Like everyone else he has his own strengths, gifts, potential, and challenges, and he is doing it all at his own pace. This would be true even if he never learned to walk, even if he never crawled, even if he still could not hold up his head.

Maybe it is easy to accept differences and encourage individual strengths when you have a family full of kids from a variety of different countries, backgrounds, and genetic makeups. We have kids who are athletic. We have kids who are musical. We have kids who don't want to be still a minute of the day. We have kids who curl up with a book for hours at a time. We have kids who get straight A's with almost no effort at all, and kids who have to work very, very hard to get C's. We have kids who take to new things and new challenges right away and kids who take time to warm up. We had kids start to walk at nine months old, and a son who took off at three and a half years old.

And each one of them is amazing. Awesome. Wonderful. Inspiring. Perfect.

We don't compare, we don't allow them to be competitive with each other. We celebrate each one's accomplishments, successes, adventures, talents, and interests.  We want each one to reach their full potential, whatever that may be. We let them all go at their own pace.

Back in May I wrote this post about comparing ourselves to other runners. I was thinking again recently how important it is to not compare, and to understand and embrace that we all progress at our own pace, and we all run at our own pace.

Some runners are naturally fast. Some runners have natural endurance. Some runners have to work very hard to make progress. Some runners find it comes more easily. Some runners are challenged with injuries. Some runners are thin without trying. Some runners have to work hard to lose weight. Some are natural sprinters, some are marathoners, some are ultra runners. Some are at home on the track, some on the roads, some on the trails. Some thrive with the challenge of a race, others just run for a little peace each day. What is slow for one runner is fast for another. What constitutes a short run for one runner is a long run for someone else.

I don't think any one is better than the other. We all have our own strengths, our own challenges, our own potential.  My goal is to work, strive, push, and live in such a way that I can try to reach my full potential as a runner and as a person. The best we can do is the best we can do, and we all need to move forward - to run and to live - at our own pace, and to find joy and satisfaction in it.

“Part of the problem with the word 'disabilities' is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” - Fred Rogers

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Do not bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”- William Faulkner

“there is no planet, sun, or star could hold you if you but knew what you are.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, August 6, 2012


There is an older man (he is 76 years old) that goes to church with us who I just love. He is as busy, hard-working, and active as anyone you know, he has a great sense of humor (and tells awesome stories), and he still runs regularly. Last year he even ran our local half marathon, wearing a shirt that said, "Stupid", with his two daughters, who each wore shirts that said, "I am with Stupid".  :)

This year he did not run the half, as he said he was too busy working to train. But he was out on the course, and was my FAVORITE cheerleader. I saw him at about mile 8 or so, and he went crazy yelling and cheering for me, and then started hollering at the guys up ahead of me, "Look out boys! There is a tiger coming up behind you!"

He makes me smile.

He loves to talk about running with me, and whenever I see him he asks about my running and training, and sometimes tells me about an article he read related to running (the last one had to do with how your mitochondria has a big part in determining how good of a runner you are). He thinks I have great mitochondria. :)

A couple of weeks ago we were having one of our little chats, and he put his hand on my shoulder and said, "I want to ask you to do me a favor." Of course I agreed right away.

Then he said, "People always say to me that they don't believe that people can love running because when they see people out on the road running they never look like they are enjoying themselves. So do me a favor, and make sure you smile when you are out there running."

I promised I would, and his words have stayed with me.

The truth is, I DO love running, and I AM enjoying myself when I am running.  I thought about it when I was fighting out the last few miles of my 18 miler on Friday, and I thought about it during the 5k on Saturday, and I have thought about it on most of my training runs since our conversation. And whenever I think about it, I smile.

And it feels really good.

Of course during much of my running I am working hard, focusing, concentrating, and in a groove, but I have found that a big smile once and while not only is relaxing, but helps me feel good, reminds me how much I love running (even when it's hard!), and helps me think positive thoughts. Try it!

Like Brooks says, Run Happy!

Here are a couple of smiling pics I found of myself running.

I was just about to high five Goofy in this picture :)
This is from Ragnar 2011, and I had to finish one of my leg's with a sombrero. :)
Do you smile when you run?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

5k win!

After my really tough 18-miler yesterday (8 of the miles at goal marathon pace and 6 of the miles faster than goal marathon pace) I was feeling tired, but good overall.

When someone mentioned that there was a 5k today I was doubtful that I would do well and wasn't sure I wanted to do it, but then I knew  racing on tired legs has training benefits, that a 5k would be a decent fitness gauge, etc. So I decided "Woo hoo! Let's do it!"

I didn't have a lot of time to stress and there wasn't much to do to prepare. I had done my usual recovery routine after my long run yesterday (Fluid Recovery, stretch, roll, ice bath, compression tights, healthy breakfast, eating well, and drinking lots of water) so I knew that all I could do was sleep, get up, and run the best I could.

After a decent sleep I did my usual core work out and then ran to the start of the race (just under five miles) for a warm up. My legs felt tired, but I could feel them loosening up over the five miles. Josh had gone on a long, very hilly, trail run the night before so he was not racing, and Shane was sleeping at a friend's house so he wasn't racing, but Ryan (14) had signed up to race as well. Josh and Ryan drove in to the start and arrived just as I did. I put on a jacket to stay warm and we got our numbers and had fun chatting with friends.

This race, the Swift Creek 5k, starts up a canyon. It has lots of downhill, although there is a decent climb in the middle of the second mile and a smaller hill towards the turn to the finish line. They shuttle you up to the start, and the problem was that once we got up there, it was freezing! (Although we saw a moose which was super cool!) I shivered and shivered and shivered. I jogged around and did a couple of strides in hopes of warming up, but my teeth were chattering even as I was jogging. I knew I would be fine once we started racing, but I felt really "tight" since I was so cold and I was a little worried that between that and having tired legs from the day before that I may not be able to run 3.1 fast miles.

Despite the shivers and a little doubt, I was smiling and calm overall. I didn't really have a plan except to run as fast as I could, and I decided right before we started that I would start my Garmin but not look at it until I crossed the finish.

We took off and about 12 people passed me in the first few hundred feet. I could feel that I had taken off FAST, and my goal was to feel for a pace that felt fast, but also felt like one that I could maintain for the whole race without bonking. After about half a mile I realized that I was in for three miles of hurt to get the result that I wanted and wondered if I had it in me today. I told myself I could do it and would do it, and I actually started to feel better as I got into a groove and kept pushing on.

Within half a mile I started passing some people back and I fell in with a young guy who made it very clear he did not want to be passed by a girl. He would try to block me and was being a big pain. I could have sprinted around him, but didn't want to waste the energy and decided to just bide my time. The road was dirt and there were a lot of rocks, bumps, and ruts, so I really had to watch my step. I was also being conscious to run the tangents.

My Garmin beeped for one mile and we were nowhere near the one mile marker on the course. Josh always says how great my "internal Garmin" is, as I have a really good judge of distance run without any aids, and I knew that when we finally had gotten to the first mile marker on the course that the first mile had been long.

In the second mile of the course there is a decent uphill climb. It sucks! I pulled back my pace a little bit (by feel) and the guy I had been running shoulder to shoulder with blew past me up the hill. I was glad just to have some space and not have him right by me. I got to the top of the hill and surged and then took advantage of the downhill, and quickly passed the guy right back, and never saw him again.

Again my Garmin beeped for two miles a considerable distance before we hit the two-mile marker (and the same thing happened with the three mile marker).

The last mile of the course is out of the canyon, on the road, and mostly flat, with a small uphill with about a quarter mile to go. I picked off a few more people in this last mile. At this point every muscle in my body was screaming to stop or at least slow down, but I willed myself forward and did not let myself ease off the effort. I felt my pace slow on the uphill, but then turned the corner and saw the long (longer than hoped for!) straight away to the finish line. I gave it everything I had left - sprinted for all I was worth. I was running in to the sun so I couldn't see Josh, but I could hear him whistling and I loved knowing he was getting to see me cross a finish line.

I finished as the first female and third overall, with an official time of 20:18. Both of the men who had finished ahead of me told me right away that their Garmin's had read 3.22 miles, and sure enough, mine read exactly 3.22 as well.

My splits were 6:07, 6:31, 6:17, (and 6:24 average pace for the last .22 miles), with an average pace for the race of 6:19 a mile.

I was happy for the win, but I was most excited about how I ran this. Being able to run the splits I did the day after such a fast/tough 18-miler and at the end of a tough training week overall was a big confidence booster. Also, being able to push myself mentally and run strong was a big confidence booster as well. This was a very hard effort and on this day, I truly feel that I ran this race as hard and as fast as I possibly could have. I finished knowing I had not held back and had given it all I had that day. That feels really good!

Lots of my friends ran very well today and Ryan set a PR of 23:xx. I got a set of hot and cold water bottles, an ITUNES gift card, and a medal for the win, and we all got shirts.

We didn't get any pics, but here is a short video clip of me crossing the finish line.

I also used this for Adam's Sweat Your Thorns Off Virtual 5k. :)

More soon!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Embrace the hard

I love running.

This week running has pushed me to new levels, given me time alone to think, pray, and reflect, challenged me, given me an opportunity to be there for a friend going through a hard time, given me time alone with Josh, and given me lots of fun. On top of that, I am SO excited to watch track and field in the Olympics starting today!!

This morning's run was the last hard run in a tough training week.

I was excited for the challenge, and even though I was a little nervous looking at the schedule  I was confident I could and would finish it. I decided to take it just one day, one run at a time.

The mileage was in the low 80's which is not the highest I have done, but there was a LOT of intensity. My shortest/easiest days were 10 miles at an easy pace. I had a fast 14 miler, a double run day (one run of which was a track workout), a 10-mile tempo, and then this morning's 18 miler.

The days of long, slow runs are gone for me. Today's long run plan was two miles of warm-up, eight miles at goal marathon pace (7:15), four miles 15 seconds faster than marathon pace, and then two miles 30 seconds faster than marathon pace, followed by a two mile cool down.

Splits were -  (8:20, 8:09), 7:08, 7:07, 7:16, 7:10, 7:06, 7:05, 7:08, 7:03, 6:52, 6:53, 6:50, 6:54, 6:40, 6:51, (8:32, 8:34) cool down.

The only fuel I used (and needed!) was Fluid Performance.  (And my stomach was better than it ever has been on a long run).  If you have not checked out Fluid yet, I encourage you too! You can find it on their website, and it is also sold on and

I enjoy long runs. I went into this one as well-rested as possible at the end of a tough training week, well-fueled, and excited for the challenge. Josh rode his bike along side of me for the last 10 miles, and with the exception of the last mile and a half, I felt really strong and good the whole time. That last mile and a half was a grind, but I got it done. I enjoyed this run. My body, mind, and soul were happy.

Even when it's hard - even when it's REALLY hard - even when my body is screaming for a break - I still love running. I enjoy the challenge. I embrace the hard. I love it.

Recently I saw a quote that said something along the lines of "Don't complain about the results you did not get from the work you did not do". I usually don't like things that come of snarky like that, but lately there does seem to be a lot of people who are unhappy that they haven't magically gotten faster, thinner, stronger, etc. I have had people tell me that I am "lucky"that I am fast and fit. There are many, many reasons I consider myself lucky in life, but losing 80lbs and being where I am at with my running is a result of three years of hard work, commitment, dedication, and persistence.

The truth of it is, that you aren't going to get thin and toned from eating well for just a couple of weeks or from doing a "cleanse" or taking a pill. You aren't going to become a faster runner with inconsistent training, or without pushing your body continually past what is comfortable. It takes consistent hard work and commitment, day in and day out. To lose weight or to improve in running (or at anything) you have to want it, and you have to be willing to do what it takes to make it happen.

I love the Olympics. I love seeing the passion in the athletes and see them achieve greatness in the sports they love. I love reading/hearing/watching about how hard the athletes work, and how much they put in to their training. I especially love seeing how other moms (and dads!) do it. I know I will never be at that level of performance, and yet I know to reach my own goals and my own best, it will take (continued) consistent hard work.

I enjoy it. I love it. That's why I get up every day at 4am. That's why I ensure that I am eating healthy foods and putting good fuel into my body. That is why I value the rest that my body needs and take my recovery after each run seriously. That's why I do my core and strength training, and why I always stretch and foam roll. That's why I continue to push myself and strive to be better. That's why I get excited instead of intimidated when my awesome coach tells me that he is going to give me a super challenging training week. That's why I welcome the challenge and embrace the hard.

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies is from Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own.

"If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great."

The men's marathon is on Sunday! Check out this wonderful video that shows a typical day in Olympic Marathoner Meb Keflezighi's life. (I ran on Meb's team for the NYC Marathon last year and got to spend some time with him and his family. I literally bumped into him in Boston, and have stayed in touch with him and his brother, Merhawi. They are two of the nicest people you could ever know). Go Meb!!

Happy Friday everybody! Good luck to everyone racing this weekend and I hope all of your runs are good ones.