Monday, November 14, 2011

Getting Married

Mark and I have been dating for 6 years. We got engaged this past February at the Rock n Roll Mardi Gras half marathon (if you missed that blog post click here to read it).  We've spent a lot of time talking about getting married.  How and when we would do it. We agreed we wanted it to be simple, special and inexpensive.  So we just needed the when.

My sister, Sarah, and I made wishes when the clock said 11:11 growing up.  So the idea of doing it on 11-11-11 sounded perfect to me.  Mark and I talked about a couple different ideas for what to do.  Usually, our discussions got pretty expensive.  So we decided to keep it as simple as possible. 

On our first date, we went to dinner at Sunset Grill and then took a walk on the pedestrian street bridge downtown, so the bridge has always held a special place in our hearts.  I know you can rent the entire bridge, but we were having a very small ceremony so there was no need for that.

We should really have started planning a couple months ago, but we started planning the details just before we left for Dublin.  We wanted to be sure our pastor, David Foster, could perform the ceremony and that his wife Paula could attend.  They have been great role models for us in what we want our marriage to look like. We also wanted to be sure Sarah  and my future brother in law, Jeff, could come.  That was our entire guest list.

Sarah and I went shopping for my dress the Sunday before we got married.  Luckily, it wasn't hard to find the perfect dress.  And being the sweet sister she is, Sarah bought it for me as a wedding present.  I tried to convince her that Mark and I would be happy to get married in running clothes.  She was not going to allow that to happen.  Sarah also did my hair and make up the day of the wedding.  It was so nice have her do it for me.  In fact, I think life would be much easier if I could convince her to do it every day.

Even though it was a small, simple ceremony, I really wanted to have a photographer.  I also wanted the photographer to be someone I know (this shouldn't be too hard, I know several).  I asked my friend Beth first, because we grew up together and have been friends for a long time.  Thankfully, she was free.  Click here to see her facebook page and our picture preview.  As you can see from the pictures, it was definitley worth it!

We got married at 11 am - hey, we had to stay true to the theme.  The actual ceremony was short, sweet and perfect!  We had so much fun taking pictures before and after the ceremony.  When we were in Dublin, we saw lots of locks on the Ha'penny bridge.  I remembered hearing about this tradition before.  Lovers put a lock on the bridge and then throw the keys into the river.  We thought it sounded like a perfect way to celebrate. 

Lots of people have asked us if we had the boys there.  And, of course, we get curious looks when we say no.  Our main reason for not having them there was because we wanted it to be about us as a couple and as a partnership.  We love both of the boys more than anything, but we also know our relationship has to come first if we are going to be good parents.  We were a tiny bit concerned they'd be disappointed.  But, they were fine.  We told them at dinner Friday night.  Their reaction?  When can we get a bigger house and a puppy?  Truthfully, I think they would have been bored with the actual ceremony, and I know they would have been tired of taking pictures before we were.  We took them to the bridge on Saturday and let each of them add a lock to our lock.

The wedding was perfect.  Yes, we would loved to have had a huge event and celebrate with all of our friends and family, but the reality was it wasn't something that we wanted to spend a lot of time and money (and stress) on.  We just wanted to be married.  It was everything we wanted it to be.  And now we are excited to live happily ever after. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dublin Marathon - Race Day

It felt a little strange not to get up before dawn for a race.  But the marathon wasn't starting until 10 am and our hotel was only a couple blocks from the start line, so there was no need to get up extra early.  This is the first race I've participated in with such a late start.  I must say, I liked it.  

After we got ready, we met some of our Team in Training Teammates for breakfast in our hotel.   This gave us plenty of time to go back up to our room 7 times for all of the things we'd forgotten or changed our mind about taking with us.  We walked over to the start line about 9:30. 

As we are standing there waiting for the race to start, I had a thousand different thoughts.  Everything from admiring the great city to sheer terror and panic.  At the expo I had picked up a pace bracelet to finish in 5:30.  Honestly, my main goal was survival, and by survival I mean crossing the finish line upright and smiling. And I really hoped for less than 6 hours.  I kept looking at the bracelet wondering if I could really finish and if, by some small miracle, I could do it in 5:30.

Next thing I know the gun is going off, and we are running.  I'd planned on running 3/1 intervals for the race.  But I wanted to warm up with just a slow jog. It was several minutes after I'd crossed the start line that it dawns on me I haven't started my watch yet.  Well crap...the usefulness of the pace bracelet is pretty much gone now.  I knew I'd started with about 14 minutes on the clock already.  But I had no idea how long I'd run before I started my watch.  Geez.  Not the best way to start the race.

It was easy to forget about my timing problems as I'm running by Trinity College, the place Bram Stoker grew up, and all sorts of other beautiful places.  As I see the first mile marker, I remind myself my goal is slow and steady. I spend the next mile going deliberately slower.  I didn't even look at my pace until around mile 4.  Surprisingly and a little concerning, I was under the pace I needed to be at to finish under 5:30. 

Mile 4 also started the part of the race that was in Phoenix Park.  This is easily one of the most gorgeous parks I've run in.  Two other things happened at mile 4.  I turned on my ipod for the first time, and I finally felt warmed up.  Feeling pretty good, I ran through most of my intervals miles 4 - 10.  I was also still pacing to finish under 5:30.  Which is great, but I didn't put much faith in my projected time at this point.  I was sure the end was going to kick my butt.

One of coaches said she would be between mile 11 - 13 and would run with us some.  So when my feet cramped and I really wanted to take some pain medicine (no lectures here please, I needed this), I bargained with myself that I would wait until after I saw her or at 13 whichever came first. At mile 13 I hadn't seen her yet so I took some Tylenol knowing it would give me a little boost.

At some point here or just after several of the water stops were running out or had run out of water.  The previous stops had been giving out bottles of water and sports drinks, so I had some fluid.  I ran through 3 stops that were out of water.  Just as I was getting really concerned and thinking about ducking into a store and buying some, the next stop had water (thank goodness). 

I tried very hard at mile 13 not to think about the fact that I was only halfway through the race or that if this was a half marathon I'd already have my medal and be on my way to breakfast/lunch.  This is also the point in the race, where I know I have to start sticking to my intervals and not running extra because I'm afraid I'll burnout otherwise.  Sometime between 13 and 17, I pass a building that has a sign advertising Tennessee Fried Chicken!  What?! I was so excited.  I stopped to take a picture (the picture didn't come out, ugh).  The owners of the building came out and I'm pretty sure I babbled something about being from Tennessee.  I think they were a little surprised by my excitement.

Around mile 17, I found our coach, Sami, and she ran with me for a mile or mile and a half.  It was so great to have her run with me and distract me from the fact my feet and legs were yelling at me to stop.  And it was so much better having her here than it would have been having her at 11. A funny, unexpected thing happened here.  I passed two of my teammates who I thought were way ahead of me.  This gave me a much bigger boost than I could have anticipated.  I was feeling great and still pacing to finish under 5:30. 

At mile 20 it started to rain.  I can't complain too much.  I did choose to run this race in Ireland, rain would most certainly be part of it.  I was ok with a little rain.  At first, it felt pretty good.  Then it kept raining.  Then it rained harder.  I'm not going to lie the last 6.2 miles seemed really long.  The rain made it even longer.  But I was still feeling pretty good. 

I'm not sure I ever hit the infamous "wall".  But when my watch died at mile 24, it was pretty disheartening.  I was mostly disappointed that I didn't have set intervals anymore.  So I would run and then walk. Then walk some more, then run.  I'm quite certain at this point I'm kissing 5:30 goodbye.  The last 2 miles were ridiculously long.  As I mentioned our hotel was only a few blocks from the start and even closer to the finish.  So imagine my surprise when I pass our hotel only to see the mile 25 marker.  What?!  NO.  I know exactly where the finish is and I'm moving away from it!  This was the worst feeling I had during the whole race.  But it didn't last long.  The reality and emotion knowing I'm just a mile away from finishing my first marathon set it. 

Elation is what I felt for the last half mile or so.  I'd gotten some great advice a few days before the race.   It was to pause when I'm sure I'm going to finish, to take a couple minutes to reflect on my accomplishments, the work and sacrifices that has gone into preparing to meet this goal and to really be in the moment of realizing I'd met my goal.  I'm not sure I have words to describe crossing the finish line.  It was amazing and possibly the best feeling I've ever had.  And I finished in 5:22.  I'm not sure exactly how that happened.  But I'm so happy with my time!

It pretty much stopped raining about the time I finished.  I walked back to our hotel hoping I could change and get back down in time to see Mark come by our hotel.  The timing of it worked out perfectly.  He came by the hotel just as I walked out.  I was worried I wouldn't be able to get back to him at the finish line.  When I told him I would meet him at the hotel, I could see the disappointment in his face.  So I decided to go back to the finish and see if they'd let me in.  Luckily, I got a great spot and where I could see him finish and actually crossed the finish line with him.

I'm so proud of him!  He finished in 6:09 and he'd been worried he'd need more than the allotted 7 hours.  He'd also been injured during training and didn't get in as much training as he'd like to have done.  But he was able to run his intervals the whole race, and he finished strong!

A few things I want to mention here.  If you are running a race in a different country or far from home, I strongly suggest you do it with a team (preferably Team in Training).  They had staff support people along the course cheering you on and they had supplies if you needed anything.  They also had coaches on the course.  Two coaches, in addition to our coach, ran with me during the race.  It was a huge mental boost. 

There were definitely places I think the race officials could improve.  In my opinion, there is no reason to ever run out of water.  Also, when I finished they only had small and extra small finisher shirts left.  There was almost 2 hours of official time left at this point.  When Mark finished, they'd already taken down the backdrop for the official finisher photos.  It was a little disappointing.  If the race has a 7 hour time limit, I'd like to think the people who finish in 6:59 get the same as the people who finish in 3:00.  But, I'm definitely not focusing on these things. 

The spectators were awesome!!  They yelled out "well done" as we passed them.  It was great.  It helps that I love their accent so it was fun to hear the whole time.  There were lots of kids along the course giving high fives and a few really great kids with fruit and cheese. 

I was under the false impression that the course was flat.  It was definitely not flat.  They even had signs printed and posted as we were going up the hills.  However, the hills weren't as bad as they could have been.  Strangely, it was kind of a nice break to go up and, especially, down. 

The race course was awesome.  It was beautiful. And it helped that I was (mostly) unfamiliar with the course.  I think the new things to see around every turn made great distractions.  Before the race, I was sure by the end I would swear off ever doing a full marathon again.  But I actually had the exact opposite feeling.  I'm excited to plan my next marathon.  And maybe someday an ultra marathon. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

How hard can it be to get to Dublin? & Pre-race

We were supposed to leave Nashville on Thursday, October 27 fly to Philadelphia, catch a connecting flight to Dublin and arrive in Dublin Friday morning.  However, our flight to Philly was delayed - officially due to fog in Philly, but we aren't convinced that was the real reason.  After much talking and negotiating the reps for US Airways on the phone told us to get on the plane when it finally boarded.  However, the people boarding the plane told us not to that we'd miss our connecting flight.  To keep the story short, we got on the plane and missed our connecting flight, which left us stuck for the night.  The next flight we could make would be the same time Friday night.

Team in Training was awesome and got us hotel rooms for the night.  The airline said we could have our luggage but was never able to produce it.  Which was a little concerning, but several people had told us to pack our race gear in a carry on.  So we at least had some clothes.  

The most disappointing thing to me was potentially losing a day in Ireland.  I've never been to Philadelphia and was happy to spend a day there, but not at the expense of a day in Ireland.  While we were still at the airport, I asked Mark what he thought about asking the airline to extend our trip a day.  He called, worked his magic and they agreed to change our return flight to Friday instead of Thursday.  Awesome!! Now we could enjoy our bonus time in Philadelphia.  We really had a great day there. 

Our flight to Dublin was problem free (thank goodness!).  We got to Dublin on Saturday morning and went straight to our hotel.  The staff at our hotel were great and the hotel itself was awesome!  After taking a little nap, it was time to go to the expo.  It was a lot smaller than I'd hoped for, but it was still a good experience.

On Sunday morning we participated in the international breakfast run, which is open to all runners from other countries.  It was a really cool experience.  They started the run with flags from all the countries who had runners.  It was a short 2.5 mile run.  At the end of it, I felt crappy and was seriously questioning the race the next day.  But I had a few minutes of positive self talk and reminded myself that I'm not even warmed up at the end of 2.5 miles, so I can't make a good judgement of how I feel.  I also told myself that this run was just to get loosened up for the marathon (oh my word, a marathon!!!) the next day. 

Sunday night was our inspiration dinner with Team in Training.  Our teammate, Jim Asker, was the speaker.  He told his story of being diagnosed with a blood cancer and fighting through it.  He did a great job speaking and it was moving to hear his very honest story.  One thing he said really stuck with me during the race.  I don't remember it word for word, but basically it was this - when he was going through treatment and his body was so weakened, he would have given anything to be able to run or smash a tennis ball.  He said he can't imagine having a healthy body and not using it.  Wow!  There were very few dry eyes in the room at the end of his speech.  He made us proud!  It was also a great reminder of the reason we were there.  And that all of our hard work in training and fundraising is making a difference.

We were careful to go to bed early the two nights before the race (even though it was so tempting to stay out and explore and enjoy the city).  We also ate lots of carbs and tried to be as ready as possible for the race.  After the dinner, we went back to our rooms and got all of our stuff ready for the race the next morning.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

See You Soon Dublin

I can't believe that this time tomorrow I will be in the air on my way to Dublin!  And in just over 4 days I will be running my first marathon!  It's finally starting to sink in that this is actually happening.

Mark and I are so extremely grateful to every single person who contributed to our fundraising efforts to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through Team in Training.  Whether it was a dollar or $350, each donation meant a lot to us and fueled us to continue fundraising and training.  We are waiting on the last batch of checks we mailed in to be posted but our total should be just over $11,000.  We could not have done it without so much support from so many people.  There is no way to say thanks enough.  And most importantly we are $11,000 closer to curing blood cancer!

I also can't say thanks enough to all of the positive comments and all the encouragement we've received.  Just thinking about how many people have reached out and encouraged us in the last 5 months astounds me and gives me so much confidence.

I'm a bundle of nervous energy right now!  I'm, of course, nervous about the race itself.  I'm also a little bit of a nervous about the flight. My goal is to sleep through most of the flight, which will be helpful since when we arrive in Dublin it will be 8:45 am.  And in order to get my body on Dublin time I'm not going to sleep until that night. 

My mantra until and during the race is - "I'm trained. I'm ready. I am an endurance athlete."  I throw the last one in because, while it's true, it also makes me smile and think about all the fabulous training I've had with Fleet Feet and my great running friends! 

Our race is on Monday (Halloween).  It starts at 10 a.m. Dublin time.  Which should be pretty early in Nashville.  My main goal for the race is to finish it smiling and to soak up the experience.  I'd like to finish in 5:35 to 5:45, but I'll be happy with anything under 6.  Sometime after the race is over, I should be able to post on Facebook that we are finished.  Also, I hope to update here too.  

We are thankful for any prayers, happy thoughts, good vibes and other mojo you want to send our way during our trip and race.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Out of My Comfort Zone - into a Personal Record

On October 1, I did Winchester's Southern Plunge Half Marathon.  I chose this race for two reasons. One - it was a free race from active advantage.  Two - I was going to be in Winchester for a girl's weekend and I needed to get a long run in. Strangely, I like running alone in a group, but I'm not so good at running all alone.  So the race was the perfect way to make sure I got in a long run and stayed on track with my marathon training.

The night before the race, I tried to think of excuses not to do the race. Here are a few. I don't want to leave my friends (this would never work, they were all sleeping when I left).  I "overslept" (ugh, i thought about this one but really I couldn't do it). Then I discovered the perfect reason not to do it, I'd left my watch charger at home!  Aside from my shoes, my watch is the one thing I depend the most on to get me through the race.  However, as much as I thought I wanted out of the race, I really didn't want out.  I was just afraid.

Every race I've done has been with a group or with Mark.  This was to be my first race without someone else running it or at least cheering me on.  Also, I knew it was going to be a small race.  I'm always terrified of being last.  This fear was confirmed when I got to the start and there was hardly anyone there.  Although a small race means no lines for the bathroom!  And, of course, I was extra nervous without my watch.  The race would definitely be a chance to grow as a runner. 

Of all the thoughts I had swimming around in my head, setting a personal record was not one of them.  After all, I had just PR'd the weekend before.  And I seem to average a PR every 6 months or so.  Not mention all of the reasons I listed above.  Once the race got started, I was in the back of the pack - quite literally.  The first few miles were hilly.  And to be honest, I hate the first 3 miles of every run.  I tried not to panic and to just trust that I could finish. 

At mile 8, after finishing what was two steady miles mostly uphill, I asked the girl beside me if we were ever going to go downhill.  She said yes, but not for long.  Which was fine with me, all I needed right then was a small downhill.  I had wanted to run waterstop to waterstop, but I'm guessing I walked about 30 - 45 seconds every half mile.  So when the girl beside me looked at her watch and said I'd finish in less than 2:30 I was shocked.  Shocked and motivated to keep my butt moving!  I told her I'd PR'd the weekend before finishing in 2:25.  She replied that if I kept on pace I could beat that. 

I kept running though I still think I walked briefly every half mile or so and through the waterstops.  I felt really good.  And my conversation with the other runner had changed my confidence.  I knew the race had started close to on time.  A little ways into mile 12, I looked at my phone for the first time to see the time. It was 9:14.  I knew I could PR if I could just keep it up for less than one mile.  I finished in 2:22:51!!!  I was 100th out of 137 (see I told you it was a small race).

I'm amazed I could PR on another hilly course without my watch.  Or maybe it's that because of my watch and how fast I "think" I can run, I've been holding myself back.  I'm running the Middle Half this weekend, which had been my goal race to PR at (the last two PRs were happy accidents).  It's a flat course.  I still think I can PR.  Now should I wear my watch or not?

*The Dublin Marathon is 3 weeks from today!!  This Friday is our fundraising deadline.  We are so close to our $10,000 goal/minimum.  Please help us reach our goal!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Still Glowing - Women's Half Marathon

To be totally honest, I expected to get through the Women's Half and to enjoy it.  However, I didn't expect to PR and certainly not by 5 minutes.  My PR before this weekend was 2:30 on a very flat course in New Orleans.  You can say a lot of things about the Women's Half course in Nashville, but flat is not on that list. My official time for the Women's Half was 2:25:02!   

Gail and I started the morning with a 2.15 mile warm up run. Now before anyone gets too upset, yes we used to make fun of the people who warmed up before a half marathon too.  What can I say, we've become those people - feel free to make fun of us.  The warm up was great because I was able to start the run and not feel completely miserable at first. 

Before the run, there was a moment of silence to celebrate Lynn Manzelmann, a friend and amazing woman, who died after last year's event.  It was a touching and very classy moment.  Great job to the race organizers for including this moment.  It was perfect.  It was also great to see so many people wearing the purple "Celebrating Lynn" ribbons.  Just as the race started, I looked to my left and saw several mutual friends of mine and Lynn's waving at me and cheering for me.  All of these things together was very moving and got my race started off great! 

I started the race a little fast, and I knew it.  But amazingly, I was able to maintain a steady pace.  This is my first half to run without intervals. I was a little worried about not having that security.  My plan was to walk through the water stops and maybe a few other times.  I walked the water stops and about 8 more times.  But I was ok with it and still maintained a good pace.  According to my watch my average pace was 10:55, but my official average pace was 11:03.  My goal during the race had been to keep it under 11.  I feel really good about how I was able to run and really excited about how I'll be able to do at future races. 

The last mile of the race includes going up a bridge (of course you get to go down it too, but you have to climb first).  Before I got to the bridge I was greeted by the Fleet Feet cheering station.  It was awesome and so motivating to see your friends cheering for you.  This is where Mark spent the race, and I'm fairly certain he enjoyed this just as much as running a race.  Following the Fleet Feet station was the Team in Training water stop...yea for more familiar smiling faces! 

Then comes the hill...the hill that has been named "I Will Hill".   Major credit to the Women's Running Half staff for making signs for the bridge.  It started with a sign that said "I Will..." then there was an assortment of signs that said things like achieve, succeed, overcome, dominate and more.  The last sign said "celebrate".  It was awesome and really great distraction.  

The night before the race Nicole planned a dinner for us.  When we all got to the restaurant, she had ordered us a cake and made everyone goodie bags.  It was an awesome way to spend the night before the race.  One of my favorite things about running is the amazing friendships I have made.

Showing our FF pride
It's no secret that I love Fleet Feet.  I think it's the best store in the world (and I'm a girl who loves to shop).  I love going in there because everyone is so knowledgeable and encouraging.  I'm able to run, because of their fabulous training programs.  Mark wanted to go by there after the race and pick up something.  When we walked in, everyone congratulated me and knew my time and that it was a PR.  Talk about warm fuzzy feelings, I was full of them.  It was the perfect way to celebrate my race!

*Mark and I will be running our first marathon on October 31st in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  So far, we've raised just over $9,150 so we only have $850 to go! Please help us get there!  Our deadline is October 14.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Visit our website to make a donation and for more information.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Runner's Rite of Passage

An alternate title for this post Black & Bruised

If you've been a runner very long at all or ever looked through an issue of Runner's World, you've probably heard of runners getting black toenails.  (yes, I know it sounds awful, and lucky for you fabulous readers there will be no pictures in this post.)  Seasoned runners have tons of stories about how their toenails have turned black and eventually fallen off.  When you hear these stories, you can't help but detect a certain hint of pride in their voices.

My first experience with any sort of toenail problems was in the spring after our double half marathon weekend (miss that post? read about it here).  The second race of that weekend was hilly and wet and very hard on the toenails.  After the race, several of my toenails were bruised underneath.  A couple of them recovered, but 2 turned black and eventually came off over the summer. I will admit I felt a tiny bit of pride knowing I'd hit this milestone...but mostly I felt annoyance and pain.

Last weekend near the end of the long run, I started to notice that my toes felt tender.  Upon inspection, two of them have blisters underneath the toenail - who even knew that was possible? Worse than how bad they look is how bad they hurt!  I'm not exaggerating when I tell you it hurts when the sheet touches them when I go to bed.  I'm taking it easy this week and hoping they stop hurting by the Women's Half on Saturday.  I know in another week or so they are not going to be pretty.  At least it is almost time for boots!  I'm thinking I might need a new pair of boots to console myself.

* Mark and I will be running our first marathon on October 31st in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  So far, we've raised just over $8,000 so we only have $2,000 to go! Please help us get there!  Our deadline is October 14.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Visit our website to make a donation and for more information.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Today's Run & a Clothing Note to Guys

Today we ran our longest run ever, and our longest run before the marathon.  Gail, Mark and I decided to run with the Nashville Striders.  Gail and I were going to do the full 21 mile route and Mark was backing his mileage down a little since he's still recovering.  Going into the run, we knew we would be at the back of the pack.  And we were.  We were the last 2 people to finish the run, but we had prepared to be at the end and were ok with it.  Thankfully, there was still water and Gatorade at all the stops.

We started at the Kroger on Del Rio in Franklin and ran to Grassland Elementary and back.  If you've never been there, you should drive it sometime.  Not only to appreciate how far it is, but also because it's a beautiful route.  There are beautiful farms and views of the Harpeth River. 

This sweet guy cheered us on

The course is really hilly. The first 18 miles were pretty great, but the last 3 were really tough.  I'm sure a lot of it was just mental.  However, doing 21 miles today makes me certain I can finish the full in Dublin in 6 weeks and one day (not that I'm counting).  If nothing else I gained lots of confidence today.  My average pace was 12:28, which is awesome, considering over half of my half marathons were at this pace.  It makes me think I've either gotten faster or I've been holding back too much on my halfs or maybe some of both!

Now for the most entertaining part of the the water stop at mile 8, well 8 for me Gail, we see a guy who's already turned around and is on mile 14.  Clearly, this guy is really fast.  And I know everyone wants to optimize their speed and some people do this by wearing less clothing.  And I'm fine with guys running shirtless (some of them, I'm really ok with them going shirtless).  However, I do think men should wear shorts that are an appropriate length.  This man's were not.  They were really short and his junk was hanging out the bottom of the shorts.  Thankfully, there was a liner, but still.  Guys - we do not want to see your stuff hanging out of shorts during a run.  It's not an attractive look, ever.

Probably the second most entertaining thing that happened (and probably karma for me talking about the man in the small shorts) was after the run.  When I got back to Kroger, I went inside to change and to get chocolate milk.  I went into the bathroom and thought to myself that it looked different than before the run.  Yes, you guessed it, I was in the men's room.  Luckily, no one else was in there!

Next week is a drop week and I'll be running the Women's Half on Saturday.  My goals for the race are to have fun and to beat last year's time.  I'm also trying to convince myself to let this be my first half without intervals.  I'm planning to walk through the water stops and give myself permission to walk 3 other times during the race. 

Mark and I will be running our first marathon on October 31st in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  So far, we've raised just over $8,000 so we only have $2,000 to go! Please help us get there!  Our deadline is October 14.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Visit our website to make a donation and for more information.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy, Hopeful & Humbled

This is a picture of a sticker I bought for my car in March to celebrate my decision to do the Dublin Marathon.  Of course, I'm not putting it on my car until after the race.  I can honestly say there have been many times over the last few months that I was unsure if I would get to use the sticker.  However, I'm very excited to be able to confidently say, we will be going to Ireland and running the full!
Why have I been unsure until now?  $10,000 is a lot of money to raise.  It's been difficult.  It's always been very rewarding.  Right now we are up to $7600 raised.  A big thanks to my company, Home Warranty of America, for matching $2500 of the money we've raised.  Their donation made a huge difference! I feel sure we can get the remaining $2400.  Want to help us raise that last $2400?  Visit our website for more information.

We had a great weekend of fundraising and training last weekend.  We set up a bake sale after Fleet Feet's Women's Half Marathon Training on Saturday.  My original plan was just to have chocolate milk (by far the most popular thing we had), Gatorade, water and a few cookies.  But then something unexpected happened - several people started offering to bring things.  So we had drinks and a huge variety of baked goods.  Thank you so much to Gail, Delaina, Jeanie, Angie, Rene, and Nicole for contributing yummy snacks! 

The response to our sale was amazing to say the least. Including a generous donation we received after, we raised over $900 Saturday.  And we had tons of baked goods left.  As important as the donations we received, was the encouragement and stories we heard.  Everyone was so positive and motivating.  It was also moving to hear people tell us about their loved ones who had blood cancers.  With the baked goods we had left over we set up a smaller sale at our Monday night Tin Roof 2 run and raised another $300.  Wow...we are amazed and humbled that so many people are supporting us. 

Because we were fundraising on Saturday, Gail, Mark and I did our long run on Sunday.  18 miles on the Natchez Trace.  We've not run the Trace before.  Which means we had no idea, it would be so hilly.  Gail and I were doing 3/1 intervals and almost every run felt like it started out uphill!  But I'm definitely not complaining, because it went as well as I can imagine 18 miles going.  The weather was perfect.  Mostly overcast and the temperature stayed in the 60s and 70s. We even had negative splits.  If you know me, you know pacing is not my gift.  I almost always start out too fast.  But we started out in the mid 13s and at the end of 18 my average pace was 12:32 a mile.  And the last mile was my fastest at 9:30. 

Mark has been battling several leg issues since we've been training.  He was able to finish almost 17 on Sunday.  And he was beaming at the end of the run!  It's been awhile since he's been this hopeful that he could finish the race. I'm so proud of him.

One great thing about Sunday's run was that David (Gail's other half) picked us up at the end of 18 miles, so we could run out 18 and not do an out and back.  It was great to run out straight, but driving back you realize 18 miles is a long freaking way! 

Gail has been the most amazing person to train with.  Not only does she let me whine and complain and talk her into crazy ideas, she's also planned and set up all of our water and refueling stops.  My advice to anyone training for their first full is to find a partner like Gail (but not Gail, because I've already taken her).  Speaking of my crazy ideas, this week's run went so well, I was actually entertaining the idea of an ultra marathon.  Of course, I'm tabling this idea until I've survived my first marathon.

Mark and I are so thankful to every person who has helped us fundraise and made donations.  Our fundraising deadline is October 14.  Please visit our website if you want to help us with our final fundraising push. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Franklin Classic

On Monday, Mark and I participated in the Franklin Classic.  I ran the 10k and the 5k.  Yes, I know it seems a little ridiculous to run both races, but it was only $5 more to do both and since I'm training for a full, it seemed like a good idea to do both.  Luckily, I was able to convince Gail that she needed to do both too, so I didn't seem like a total crazy person, well at least I wasn't the only crazy person.  I'm also so proud of Nicole and Jeanie who did both races too!

The race was fabulous.  I've been training to run this race without intervals.  Although I did walk some the majority of it was all running.  And I beat last year's time for the 10k by 4 and a half minutes!  The weather for the race was absolutely perfect.  It may not have seemed perfect when we started since it was raining, but the light drizzle felt great during the run.  Or maybe it felt so nice, because Saturday's run was insanely hot and humid.

While, my runs were really good and I'm excited about my own accomplishments, the best part of the race was seeing and cheering for the new runners who have been participating in Fleet Feet's No Boundaries Couch to 5k Program.  Seeing those runners cross the finish line was the highlight of the race.  I'm so glad I went and cheered for them after I finished. Tracey and Drew did an outstanding job coaching the group. 

This program is how I got started running two year's ago.  I remember very well how excited and nervous I was on my first race.  Most people in this program have never run before and never imagined they would be a runner.  It's amazing and motivating to see the participants transform and their confidence soar from the start of the program to race day.  If you've ever wanted to start running or know someone who does, Fleet Feet is about to start a new Couch to 5k program.  Go to Fleet Feet Nashville's page for more details. 

Special congrats to my friend and running mentor Joe who took over 11 minutes off his 10k time from last year!!  Amazing!  And this gives me hope that I can get faster too.

Mark and I will be running our first marathon this October in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which is a charity we've actively supported and volunteered with the last few years.  Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer.  Please help us find a cure.  Visit our website to make a donation and for more information.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2 months, 61 days or 1464 hours

Two months, 61 days or 1464 hours from now Mark and I will be running in our first full marathon. I'm not sure if I should jump up and down because I'm excited or throw up because I'm so nervous. We've run as far as 16 miles already. I'm sure I could go a little more, but I'm not sure I could go 10 least not yet. I know that's the point of training.  But it's still so hard to believe we'll be running 26.2 continuous miles that soon. 

We must raise a total of $10,000 in order to go to Dublin for the race. So far we've raised $3,226. What I'm learning is that fundraising a large sum of money is also a marathon. It has all the same highs and lows. A lot of people have asked how much of the money we raise goes to costs associated with the race. The answer is less than 25%. So more than 75% of your donation goes directly to fund blood cancer research. 

Please help us reach our goal and participate in the race, but more importanly help us find a cure for blood cancer.  I'm sure if you don't have to think long to start making a list of all the people you know whose lives have been turned upside down by cancer.  Choose to make a difference and fund cancer research.

If you've already donated - thank you so much! If you haven't donated yet, here's your chance! I know 2 months is far away...but the more we raise now the fewer gray hairs I have on race day!

Please click here to help us. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Make a Difference

Mark and I are running the marathon and fundraising in honor of a sweet, spunky little girl named Tanner. I fell in love with her right away. I asked her mom Beth to share with everyone a letter of what your gift means to families like hers...

I thank God every day for the people who have come before us who raised the money that funded research that got my eight-year-old daughter, Tanner, where she is today -- exactly four days into our new life without chemo.

How cute is Tanner!?
On June 1, 2009, a nervous young resident at Vanderbilt Children's fumbled through an explanation of abnormal white cells that led me to finally ask the question, "Are you trying to tell me she has leukemia?" Tanner was a normal, healthy five-year-old who had just finished her kindergarten year and was looking forward to a summer of swimming, ballet camp and vacation bible school. In one awful day, everything changed for the worse.

Tanner endured two years and three months of grueling, constant chemo treatments -- not because she had any complications, but because that is the normal treatment protocol for a girl with ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia). Boys, sadly, endure an extra year of treatment.

In the first month of treatment, Tanner had a port surgically implanted, two bone marrow biopsies, four doses of IV chemo and 30 days of high dose steroids. My feisty daughter could no longer walk up the stairs, couldn't get herself up off the floor without help, and needed a cane most of the time. She lay for long hours staring at the ceiling, completely robbed of her personality by the steroids.

She eventually watched as all her friends returned to school, held a virtual prisoner by her compromised immune system. She missed birthday parties, playdates, trips to the skating rink, and simple pleasures like eating out in a restaurant. She lost her hair not once, but twice. She gained fifteen pounds from steroids, only to lose it all, and then some, two months later. At some points, she became so overwhelmed by anxiety, that she needed anti-depressants to just help her function.

I'm so inspired by her!

But, through it all, Tanner fought... and Mark and Emily ran. Because we all believe there is a better way; that no child should have to give up two or three years of their childhood to a disease we could potentially cure. We met Emily and Mark when Emily chaired the 2011 Man and Woman of the Year campaign for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Tanner was honored to serve as Girl of the Year. Tanner and Emily immediately hit it off -- kindred silly spirits -- two people with boundless energy and hearts of gold who have a great desire to help others.

I'm so proud of my daughter for what she has accomplished, and am eternally grateful to people like Emily and Mark for all that they do to help families like ours. I'm ever mindful of my obligation to "pay it forward" and be sure that we are paving the way for more humane treatments for blood cancers, or, better yet, a cure! Please know that should you decide to support Emily and Mark by donating to their Team in Training run in Dublin, you will not only be supporting two wonderful and selfless people, but will also be helping to assure no family ever has to endure this nightmare again.

Thank you,
Beth Page

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Progress - Look How Far You've Come

It's easy for me to get caught up in my next goal and forget how far I've come. This can be true for lots of areas in my life, but most of all it can be applied to my running life.  It's also easy for me to be disappointed in myself when I'm not where I want to be in relation to my goals.  It's harder for me to take a step back and appreciate the progress I've made.  But when I do, it's truly motivating. 

I began running 2 years ago this month with Fleet Feet's No Boundaries program.  On our first group run, we ran 1 minute and walked 2 minutes.  We did this for 30 minutes.  I was sure I would die from the effort.  We did this to train for my first 5k.  A 5k is 3.1 miles.  On the first night of training, I remember feeling like a 5k might as well be to the moon because it seemed just as impossible.

Today, I am training for my first full marathon. I've completed 10 half marathons.  I've ran in all sorts of other races from the Ragnar Relay to several local 5ks.  I've also always run intervals.  Every race I've ever run was as an interval runner. I'm training to run my first race (Franklin Classic 10k) without intervals.  On Monday night at Tin Roof 2, Gail and I ran 6 miles without intervals. 

It was an amazing feeling to complete that run.  There have been many days when I was absolutely sure I could never give up my intervals.  There also days I was sure I could never run more than 5 miles or 13.1 miles.  On Saturday, I will run my first ever 16 miler! 

I'm a slow runner - back of the packer.  I've consistently run my miles in the 12:30 time range.  Recently, I've been able to run in the 11s!  But it's easy for me to forget that I started at 14 minute mile. 

I have so many more goals as a runner.  I want to be faster.  I want to run a half in each state.  I want to run a half without intervals. I could go on and on.  But right now I think it's important that I pause and look back and appreciate the progress I've made.  When I think about the progress I've made, I'm excited.  I feel strong and capable.  If you find yourself struggling, take a step back and appreciate the journey that's brought you here.  It's helped me.

Mark and I will be running our first marathon this October in Dublin with Team in Training.  We have to raise $10,000 in order to participate.  All the money we raise benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which is a charity we've actively supported and volunteered with the last few years.  Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer.  Please help us find a cure.  Visit our website to make a donation and for more information. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Guest Post from my Sister - My Sister the Runner

*Unsolicited writing from my can see how lucky I am to have a fabulous sister!

Sisters are the best!

If you know Emily and myself you know we are pretty opposite.

Since she found her love for running I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I’m now running too. Well I’d hate to break the opposite trend we have going so no I’m not a runner. I have to say that Emily has found a focus and a discipline with her running that I can’t help but admire.

Admiration is a feeling I’ve know all my life growing up with a older sister like Emily.

No matter where life takes her, no matter what her busy schedule demands of her she has always kept one eye on me. She has always looked out for me and guided me through many of life’s troubles.

Two years ago when Emily was campaigning for Women of the Year I quickly realized it was not for the title or any perks that came with it. She was spending hours of her time planning events, networking and seeking donations for a much greater cause. When you see a sick child there is no reasoning that can make it make sense. And for Emily there was nothing that would stop her form helping in any way she could. Her continued support of the cause shows how deeply it touched her.

My fiancĂ© often tells me I have a “bleeding heart.” I so quickly feel the pain and suffering of anyone around me and want to do whatever I can to help them. Well here is one characteristic where Emily and I couldn’t be more alike. I got my compassion from her and her “bleeding heart” is calling her to help children with leukemia and lymphoma.

I am happy to support Emily and Mark while they raise money for such an amazing selfless cause. We all have healthy children in our lives; let’s reach out our “bleeding hearts” to those that aren’t as healthy.
Please use this secure link to make a donation 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Longest and Hardest Run Ever and Why It Matters

Mark and I were planning on running 14 miles today.  We were going to run at River Park where Team in Training was meeting, but our plan was to start at 5:30, an hour before the rest of the group, to avoid the heat and because we were going a little farther. Seems like a great plan, right?  Well nothing went according to plan.

Instead of getting up at 4:30, we turned the alarm off and slept until 5:30.  My stomach very much did not want to participate in the run.  After 2 bathroom stops, we finally made it in time to start after the group.  But it was overcast and not yet ridiculously hot, so there was hope. 

When we got to 2.5 miles we saw lightning and took cover just before the storm hit.  On the radar it looked like it was going to quickly pass, but then it appeared to move right on top of us for a long time.  We waited about 30 minutes and after the most severe weather was gone we took off.  Which, of course, was hard after not moving for so long.  It rained on us for the next 8 or so miles. 

I'm so familiar with routes at River Park that I didn't do much to prepare for this run.  Big mistake.  When we got to Ravenwood, we'd only been 4 miles.  So we went down Raintree and then back and then through Oakhall.  Then we came to Crockett Park. 

At mile 8.5, I realize we are only 1.5ish miles from our car.  What to do?  We both really wanted to get 14 in (ok maybe me a little more than Mark), but our car was so close.  And our conditions had been so bad for most of the run.  My shoes felt like they weighed 10 lbs each.  It seemed so easy to just go back then, but we decided we were committed to 14 so we, somewhat hesitantly, turned around and ran the opposite direction of our car.  

This was a big moment for me - it was a mental win.  It was a moment where I recommitted myself to the full the marathon in Dublin, to fundraising $10,000, to training on a set schedule no matter what, to eating properly to fuel my run and to my goals.  It's also the moment that reminded me why I signed up for this to begin with.  Because I have a choice to run, and people cancer have no choice.  They don't choose to be sick.  I choose to help them.

making silly faces with Tanner
For the next several miles I thought about sweet Tanner Page.  And how I would gladly run this far everyday if it meant she didn't have to have treatments for over 2 years and that she could just be a sweet, spunky little kid.  I also thought about my friend Jennifer Dunn who lost her son Chase to blood cancer.  I can't even imagine what she's been through.  When I wanted to quit today, thinking of Tanner and Chase and their families kept me going. 

When we got back to Ravenwood, we should only have had 4 miles to go.  However, with the detours we had taken it was really 5 miles.  At this point, my ipod was doing crazy things.  It had a mind all its own.  I couldn't turn the volume up or down or change songs.  This isn't tragic, but somehow it kept playing Christmas songs, which got really old when the sun came back out and it felt like it was a million degrees out.

The last few miles were by far my fastest - yes I'm surprised too.  I ran ahead of Mark with only about 4 miles to go.  Which was probably a smart thing to do, especially because I'm sure he wanted to kill me when he realized we were going to run 15 miles instead of 14. 

Since it's been a few hours since we finished, I can say it was a really good run.  It was hard, but empowering.

Our full marathon is just 3 months (holy crap) from tomorrow!  Our running only makes a difference if we also fundraise.  Please consider making a donation.  Visit our website at  Thank you so much for cheering us on and supporting us!