Monday, December 31, 2012

A Fresh Start

I've never been so excited for New Year's Eve.  And it has nothing to do with our plans to celebrate at midnight. 2012 has been full of challenges, heart break and hard times.  As hard as it has been for me, I can't even describe what a painful year it's been for Mark.  I think I will always refer to 2012 as Hell Year.  Several people have said to us that you get a year like the one we've had every 10 years or so.  I'm hoping we don't see another year this difficult for a very long time.  

It's not been all doom and gloom.  I love to travel and have been fortunate enough go to some fun places with our family and great friends.  I was able to set a new half marathon and marathon pr (hopefully, I'll be saying this again next year).  I love my job, and I've been blessed with an amazing year professionally.  Aside from Mark's hip, we are all healthy and I couldn't be more thankful for that.  And finally, our family also grew this year when my sister married the perfect man for her in April. 
My very wise and wonderful friend Daeon said to me earlier this year that if my family had a theme it would be "overcome."  I can't list the number of times I've reflected on this statement.  It's something Mark and I have held onto this year like it was some kind of armor.  I'm sure she had no idea how impactful her words were when she said them.  More than anything else, I'm thankful for all the amazing people we have in our life.  As hard as this year has been, there hasn't been one moment where we haven't felt well loved by so many people in our lives.

I'm so grateful for the symbolic fresh start that the New Year brings. The theme for 2013 is going to be a year of healing and strengthening for us.  Last week I spent almost a whole day writing out all of my goals - professional, personal and family.  I have some really big and exciting goals.  And I'm ready to get started on them tomorrow.  Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mark's Dad

On Thursday afternoon, Gail, Nicole and I were on our to Savannah, Georgia for a race on Saturday.  We'd only made it to Murfreesboro when Mark's aunt called and told me we needed to come to Knoxville and be with Mark's dad, RT, that he had been admitted to the hospital in serious condition.  We quickly turned the car around and I went back to pick Mark up.  All I could get her to tell me about his condition is that he has severe pneumonia.  But it was pretty obvious there was more to the story. 

I picked Mark up and we drove to UT Medical Center.  When we got here we talked to his dad for a little while and then sat down with his uncles and aunts.  They proceeded to tell us that his dad was diagnosed with lung cancer in June (yes, June!).  And that he hadn't really told anyone what was going on.  We think he wanted to decide on a treatment plan before telling us.  And yes, it was taking him a really long time to decide on a course of action.  Wednesday morning he had a doctor's appointment.  He had also not been feeling well.  They did another scan and found the cancer had spread to his liver and bones. 

Friday morning when we talked to the doctor she said it is stage 4 terminal lung cancer.  And there is really nothing that can be done.  If he recovers from the pneumonia enough we could discuss chemo, but it would only buy a little time and could make what time he has left very uncomfortable.  She also did tell us that even if he had taken action when he first found out, the outcome would most likely not be any different.  She called this cancer aggressive, ugly and evil.  I couldn't agree more.

Today has been a pretty good day.  He's currently sitting up in bed working on orders and other stuff for his store.  It seems like the pneumonia is getting better which is giving him more energy.  The whole experience has been a roller coaster of emotions.  Tonight we've been at the hospital for 3 full days, but it feels like a month. 

Jesse and Matthew came up on Friday afternoon.  I'm so thankful they got to see RT several times this weekend when he was feeling pretty good.  I'm also more grateful than I can put into words to Gail and Nicole.  They drove on to Atlanta Thursday night.  But on Friday morning, they came to Knoxville instead of going to race (did I mention they were supposed to be staying in a beautiful beach house?).  They were amazing with the boys.  They picked them up from the hospital and kept them all weekend.  Entertaining them and bringing them to the hospital when RT was feeling well.  Mark's aunt and uncle very generously got them a hotel room to stay in.  We've explained the situation and what the outcome will be to the boys.  They get it as much as they can. But I'm so glad they didn't have to be in the hospital with us all weekend. 

I love Mark's dad and my heart is breaking to think about losing him.  But it's absolutely heart wrenching to watch Mark.  Mark is an only child and his dad raised him basically on his own.  Thankfully, Mark is blessed with amazing uncles, aunts and cousins, but as for immediate family RT only has Mark.  They are very close and Mark is hurting so deeply. 

We have so many amazing friends.  I've had lots of calls, texts, emails and facebook messages checking in on us.  We are so appreciative for all of the support.  Most of all we are appreciative of all the prayers.  We are just asking for prayers of comfort and peace.  I've prayed so hard for the last three days.  Most of them start with Dear God Please...and that's about is far as I get.  After that it's all emotion.  I'm thankful he knows my heart and I don't need lots of words. 

We don't really have a good time frame for what is next.  We will talk to the doctor again tomorrow.  We've heard everything from it could be hours or days to a few months.  I would love it if Mark could have more quality time with his dad, but I don't want him to suffer. 

Life is so precious.  Please don't take it for granted.  Be sure everyone you love knows how much you love them.  Tell them often.  And all of those things you want to do, now is the time to start.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Chicago Marathon

The Chicago Marathon was the most awesome race experience I've had so far.  All the stars aligned creating nearly perfect racing conditions.  I was feeling the best I had felt in months physically.  The weather couldn't have been more perfect - overcast, 30's to start the race and never over mid 50's.  Of course, I did whine about it being chilly at the start (to answer your question, yes I always whine about some facet of the weather).  Even with an ideal race morning, I still had a few doubts and my less confident self tried to talk me out of doing the race...I'm so glad I won the argument over her!

Nicole, Jeanie, Gail and I were all doing the race.  I practically begged Nicole to run with a way that made it sound like I wanted to run with her.  Really, I knew it would be a better experience with someone than by myself.  Nicole and I had matching outfits for the race before we left home.  But with the chillier temps we bought very loud, nearly obnoxious capri pants to wear instead of shorts.  Thus breaking the first rule we ever learned from our coaches at Fleet Feet about racing - nothing new on race day! 

Wearing a matching outfit with the person I ran with was a great idea, making it a bright orange and purple outfit that you can't miss was a stroke of genius. Why?  Because for 26.2 miles, people commented on our outfits constantly.  Other runners, spectators, and volunteers all said something to us.  It was extremely encouraging.  And when you really want to punch something at mile 23, you can't help but smile when someone tells you they love your outfit.  We may never win a race, but I think we have best dressed covered.

It's no secret that I love the city of Chicago.  It's one of my favorite places to go.  Sometimes Mark and I daydream about moving there someday (as long as I can have a winter home at a beach).  The absolute best way to see a city is by running.  We saw so many parts of the city I hadn't been to before and I loved all of it!  My favorites were Lincoln Park and Chinatown.  At one point in the race, we ran past a large nursing home.  Lots of the people there were looking out their windows and waving.  I smiled and waved.  When I looked around every runner I could see was also looking up and waving.  It was a wonderful, heart warming moment.

The race had a vibe about it that I hadn't experienced before.  I've been to some well supported races before, but nothing like this.  I wore my ipod for the first three miles but never turned it on.  At mile 3 I took it off and put it away.  There was music through most of the course and the crowd support was astounding.  They estimated 1.7 million people came out to see the race. That just amazes me. 

And the crowd wasn't just there to cheer.  They were extremely giving too.  Many had extra water out and available for runners.  Some had tylenol or ibuprofen measured out in little cups, I had brought my own but loved the gesture.  I saw several people giving out pretzels - I did have some of those.  But my favorite was the man at mile 22 who had Nutter Butters.  I wanted to kiss him and propose at the same time.  Luckily for him, I'm already married, so he got the most heartfelt thank you I could muster.

There were so many race volunteers and plenty of water and gatorade stops.  I carried my water bottle, but would have been fine without it.  The water stops were also nice and long and great for walking.  The only downside was the stickiness from gu's and gatorade made it a little hard to walk through.  It wasn't terrible but by mile 20 or so it seemed like a lot of extra effort to get my feet off the ground.

Nicole was the best person to run this race with.  She enjoyed (or faked it) every part of the race.  Well every part except for the grated bridges, where she ran straight for the carpeted side.  I'm thankful they had it carpeted or I may have had to carry her over the bridges.  She sang and danced and high fived her way through the race.  Even when I was feeling like death (about mile 21) she kept singing and dancing with a little running mixed in.  It was infectious.  And it made me stop (figuratively, not literally, thank goodness) and think if you can't enjoy the race and have a good time then there's no reason to do it.

Going into the race my only goal was to finish the race and have fun.  With a couple miles left, I started calculating what I needed to do to PR the race.  Early on we had been moving along nicely, but I knew as we got closer to the end I'd probably slow down - not crash exactly, but close.  It was very hard to keep pushing it at the end, but I tried.  I finished in 5:21:35, which was a PR over my first marathon by just over a minute!  We were also able to finish the race in front of the man dressed like Captain Jack Sparrow, which was a small personal victory.

I'm so proud of Nicole and Jeanie who both finished their first marathon.  And also super proud of Gail who PR'd by more than 20 minutes!  Also, very proud of Mark, who was registered for the race but didn't get to do it (he didn't whine about that nearly as much as I would have). He managed to see us on the course 3 times on crutches - that is love! 

I loved the race and I will do it again. Before my first marathon I had said I would do one and be done. After it, I said I would do one a year. Now after Chicago (my second), I would entertain the idea of doing two a year.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Marahon #2 in one week

I can't believe the Chicago Marathon is one week from today, in fact, one week from right now I'll be running. And probably wishing I were blogging instead.  If you've spent anytime with me in the last four months, you know this training season has been long, painful and somewhat disappointing.  I've had to cut back my mileage several weeks and cut back my goal for the race.  I've spent lots of money and time in physical therapy trying to strengthen my core and prevent an injury.  I've felt sorry for myself and thought about quitting more times than I can count.  And sadly, I haven't been blogging about my training.  I was pretty sure I didn't want company at my pity parties.

Thankfully, I have amazing friends, coaches and running mentors.  Brandon, my PT, and Tammy, my running coach, have been telling me there is plenty of time.  I wanted to believe them, but struggled to.  Two weeks ago, I finished a 20 mile run.  And, they were right, trusting the training, I realized I am ready. I didn't worry about time or anything else and just had a fun run.  It was the first time I really, truly believed I would be able to finish this race.  And what a difference that little bit of confidence has made! 

Last weekend I ran the Women's Half Marathon here for the third straight year and had a blast.  And best of all it was pain free!  Last week and this week are both for tapering, dialing back the mileage.  I feel like my mileage has been dialed back all of training, but I'm still doing only what the training plan calls for and not more (even though more is really tempting).

I think marathoning for the second time is harder than the first.  This time I know what to expect.  I know at mile 13 I will wish this were just a half...that I could be satisfied with only ever doing that.  At mile 16, I will think there's not a chance in hell I can do 10 more miles.  Then I will quickly push that thought out and force myself to read signs and look at buildings and anything else to keep me from thinking about what's left.  At 20, I will be ready to curse the day I started running and every run since.  At 22, I will think 4.2 miles away might as well be Australia.  At 24, I will begin to think I might actually be able to do this.  At 25, I will say just 1 more mile - no 1.2 more miles, damn it.  At 26, I will pause (mentally, not actually) and just feel the last .2.  And at 26.2, I will feel on top of the world and ready to slay dragons!

Training for and running a marathon is the hardest thing I've ever done physically & mentally.  But it's also by far the most rewarding thing I've ever done for myself.  It's amazing how strong and confident you feel at the end of 26.2 miles. Now I'm just going to keep telling myself this for the next week.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Keeping Promises to Myself

One of my favorite things anyone has ever said to me about running was said by my friend Bill Evans, he said, "I quit 137 times in the first mile."  This statement describes exactly how I feel about the first mile of a run.  I despise it.  But when I get past it (or the first three miles, usually) the rest of the run is awesome.  That is except for the last few weeks.  I've developed a terrible pain in my hip/butt around miles 6 - 8.  I'm doing exercises, yoga, foam rollers, prayers and anything else I can think of to help it go away. 

Last year, training for the Dublin Marathon was easy (you know as easy as training for a marathon can be).  The additional miles came easily and I didn't really have any extra aches or pains.  This year has been an entirely different experience.  The Chicago Marathon is 60 days away.  It seems so close.  But in running time I know there's still lots of time to train.  I just need to get my body on board with this plan. 

I guess I shouldn't be terribly surprised by this training being more difficult.  The entire year has been has been more challenging than the last few. I would list all of the ways it's been difficult, but I'm trying to derail the pity party train.  I attribute some of my problems in my training now to breaking my arm in May. I broke it on trail run.  I swear runninng is not a dangerous sport, except for the two incidents this year that have lead to broken bones for me and Mark.  I had to take a few weeks off and pretty much went right into marathon training (not the way I suggest starting off your training program).

Check out some of my friend Paige's Fosterisms
On this past Saturday's 15 mile run, which was particularly difficult physically and maybe even more difficult mentally, I thought multiple times about quitting.  Quitting that run, quitting the marathon training, at a few desperate times I even thought about giving up running altogether.  I went so far as to talk to Tammy about riding back with her at the next to last water stop.  But there was something that wouldn't let me.  It was the promise I made to myself to train for this race.

I love to run.  It makes me a better person.  It relaxes me and energizes me at the same time.  These are the things I tell myself when I want to give up.  Keeping promises to myself is something our late pastor, David Foster said a lot. It's a motto I've adopted. And when there's something I don't want to do, it's what I tell myself. It's one of the reason I choose to start again when I want to quit.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Country Music Half Marathon

My first time to run the country music half marathon was in 2010.  It was my second half marathon ever.  It was hot and hilly and poured rain just as I was finishing.  I finished in 2:44:53 that day.  I promptly swore off ever running country music again.  I love the Rock n Roll race series.  I think their races are so well planned and runner friendly.  However, the course in Nashville is hard.

After Mark's surgery last month, I missed a race and was looking for a way to make it up.  I started thinking about running country music this year.  I kept hearing so many people talk about running it that it made me want to run it too.  And I wanted to see if it was as hard as I remembered.  Personally, I think races in the city you live in are harder because you know the course so well.  There is plenty of time to dread the next hill or think about how far away the finish is.

The race yesterday was hilly, hot and hard.  However, it was also beautiful, fun and inspiring.  I've done lots of half marathons and, by far, country music has the best crowd support of any race I've done.  I love hearing the people cheer, reading signs and high fiving kids along the course.  Nashville looks it's best when you are running it with nearly 40,000 friends. 

I know lots of people who completed their first half marathon yesterday.  I find myself getting just as excited for them as I do for myself.  I'm so proud of their race, but I'm even prouder of the hard work and determination they put in to train for their first race.  I've often read and heard people say the race is the reward for all the training.  It's so true.  If this was your first race, I suggest choosing another race in this fall of this year to sign up for.  After all you don't want to start over.  And being signed up for another race is great motivation to keep going.

My goal for the race yesterday was just to enjoy it.  I also wanted to finish faster than I did 2 years ago, which I knew wouldn't be terribly hard.  I didn't wear my watch, and I purposely ignored the giant timers (of course when you start in corral 20 the time is off anyway).  I focused on running the mile I was in and enjoying it.  When I found myself complaining or hurting, I refocused.  It was a great run.  And I finished in 2:34:43.

I really enjoyed seeing so many friends and celebrating their accomplishments.  It's been so fun to hear how everyone did either in person or on Facebook.  My favorite part of the race was seeing my family on the course.  Mark and the boys were near miles 5 and 9.  They were easy to spot because Mark was waving one crutch in the air.  I know it was physically hard for Mark to be there, and I'm so appreciative.  I'm also thankful for my friend Jeanie (and daughter Meg) who picked them up and wheeled Mark around all day.  It was great to see them cheering me on too!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Unexpected

Our trip to Dallas started out normal and uneventful.  We were so excited to see our friends Erin and Chrystyna who used to run with us before they moved to West Virginia and Texas, respectively.  We’d been planning to run the Rock n Roll Dallas half marathon for months.  We got there on Saturday just in time to attend the expo before it closed and go to dinner.  Sunday was a great day for a half with the exception of being a little too warm.  I’ll post another blog about the actual race, but everything that happened during my race pales in comparison to Mark’s race and what happened after. 

For about a week before the race, Mark had been having trouble with his leg.  He felt like he couldn’t get it stretched out or warmed up well.  He foam rolled, stretched and used the stick every day the week before the race.  But even with all that his leg was still bothering him.  After a couple miles, he decided to walk the rest of the way and was determined to finish.  He’s gone over and over his decision to keep going and wonders if he should have stopped.  But as I’ve told him, any runner, myself included, would have kept going too.  It’s ingrained in us.  We push ourselves and push through pain and discomfort. 

Around mile 11, Mark fell.  After talking to the doctors, we’ve determined his leg gave out and that’s what caused the fall.  He couldn’t get up on his own.  He was put in an ambulance where he convinced the paramedics to take him to the medical tent instead of the emergency room.  I tried to meet him in the tent, but was promptly escorted out until they could evaluate him.  Of course, being kicked out didn’t exactly make me happy.  When they let me in, they told me they thought it was a muscular problem.  After lots of massaging from a physical therapist and 8 cups of salted Gatorade they let Mark leave.  They told us it should get better, but if it gets worse go to the ER and if it’s not better by the morning to come to their sports medicine clinic. And they gave us a flyer with that information.

We took a taxi back to our hotel.  That morning we’d taken the train to the race, so everyone else took the train back.  When we got back to our hotel, Mark still couldn’t stand on his leg.  The taxi driver helped me get Mark out of the van and onto a bench.  Mark suggested we use the luggage cart to get him to the room (yes, this should have been a red flag).  He was never able to get up on his own.  We took several trips to the bathroom in the desk chair (darn that Gatorade).  Finally, Gail had the brilliant idea of asking the hotel for a wheelchair.

The next morning we went to the clinic listed on the flyer we were given in the medical tent.  It took a lot for us to find the clinic and get Mark inside.  Once inside, the receptionist informed me they couldn’t see him because he didn’t have an appointment.  I couldn’t get her to understand we hadn’t had a chance to make an appointment, and she knew nothing about the race sending people there.  Yes, I was in tears at this point.  It was so hard to watch Mark in pain and coupled with the lack of sleep from the night before it was too much for me. I was able to look up the doctors from the medical tent on my Ipad and finally, got her to listen to me when I showed him the doctor’s picture we’d talked to.

The clinic supervisor came out and talked to us and spoke with the doctor from the race (who conveniently wasn’t working), and he talked to the doctor working.  They decided to see Mark and sent him for X-Rays right away.  Mark tried to get the tech to tell him what was wrong.  All he got was that the tech was surprised Mark didn’t go to the ER the night before.  At this point, I gave up any hope I had that it was something minor.  While waiting for the doctor, the supervisor came back in and whispered his hip was broken.  A few minutes later the doctor came in and confirmed it.  The actual diagnosis was a femoral neck fracture.   Most likely, Mark had a stress fracture he didn’t know about.  During the race it broke, which caused his fall. It required immediate (our definitions of immediate are very different) surgery.  They also told us they couldn’t perform the surgery there, and they would transport him to a level one trauma hospital (nope, that doesn’t sound scary at all).
At this point, I lost it.  I was completely overwhelmed.  I kept thinking logistics.  We were in another state.  What about our boys?  How were we going to get home?  When were we going to get home? How can we afford this?  What about work?  Mine and Mark’s.   Poor Mark, he couldn’t think past the pain and getting it fixed.  After about 5 minutes, I was able to regain composure and tell Gail what was going on.  In addition to Gail, Chrystyna and Erin, our friends Jeanie, Nicole, Dee Dee, and Delaina were all on the trip with us.  Gail did a great job of communicating with everyone else.  Just as a quick side note, Gail was a lifesaver.  She cancelled her flight when we did to stay with us.  She thought of questions I should be asking and asked them for me.  She bugged the hospital personnel more than I did.  Mark needed me and I needed Gail.  I’m so thankful for her and her friendship. 

We were taken by non-emergency ambulance to Parkland Hospital ER.  The doctor at the first clinic assured us this was the best place in Dallas for him to have the surgery.  And it was a really good thing they’d told us to go there and highly recommended the surgeons there.  The ER was enough to make us want to run (well push Mark) in the other direction.  Before he could be admitted to the hospital we had to go through the ER.  The first thing our nurse said to us was that she’d have chosen to go to Baylor not Parkland.  I seriously thought (only briefly) about punching her.   Clearly, she had no idea what we went through to get there.  She told us many times that we were at the county hospital, a fact that was repeated to us many times over the next several days. After a few hours in the ER, Mark finally got admitted to the hospital.  At this point, we got to leave the ER and begin the waiting game. 
I have an uncle and aunt who live in Dallas.  They were awesome enough to visit and bring snacks.  Jeanie, Gail and Chrystyna all hung out with us too.  It was around 2 pm when he was admitted and the time of surgery kept changing.  Finally, around 10:30 pm they came and got Mark for surgery.  I’d been ok most of the day, but started to freak out a little internally.  Thankfully, Gail, Jeanie and Chrystyna stayed with me.  We chatted, played games on our phones, watched tv and waited.  I’m so thankful for these girls and their friendship.  I needed them there.  I never asked them to stay.  I didn’t have to.  They knew I needed them.

A couple hours later, the surgeon came out to tell me everything went fine.  I told the girls they could leave.  I went back to Mark’s room to wait for him to return.  They inserted four pins/screws into Mark’s leg/hip and expect him to recover fully.  He can return to running after he’s healed in 10 – 12 weeks.  We talked to the surgeon again Wednesday who referred us to a surgeon at Vanderbilt for follow up.  Mark also had to pass some physical and occupational therapy in order to get discharged. 
We finally got cleared to leave late Wednesday afternoon.  We had moved our return flight to Friday morning.  Chrystyna was wonderful enough to let us stay with her until then.  Thursday was a very lazy, relaxing day at Chrystyna’s.  Mark even felt well enough that he made us take him out to dinner.  Now it’s time for a quick side note about Chrystyna.  I couldn’t have made it through without her.  She rearranged her schedule to spend lots of time at the hospital with us.  She brought us food every day (actually, multiple times a day).   And she gave us a place to stay.  She, like Gail, calmed me just by being there.  Even though we were glad to come home on Friday, it was so hard to leave Chrystyna. 

The trip home was pretty easy.  Mark made it really well.  I’m glad we’d waited the extra day.  I think it gave Mark some time to get stronger and made flight easier for him.  When we arrived back in Nashville, Mark was surprised to see several of our friends at the airport to greet him.   Thank you so much to everyone who came and to Nicole for planning it all.  It meant so much to him.  And to me.
Mark has a follow up visit on April 13.  Until then he has to rest and do some physical therapy exercises.   He’s on crutches and can get around pretty well.  He can stand flat footed, but without putting weight on his right leg.  The doctor said the first two weeks it’s really important to rest a lot.  After that, he can get out a little more.  It’ll likely be at least 8 weeks before he can drive.  We are so appreciative to everyone who has reached out to us.  We have had calls, texts, prayers, emails, dinners, dinners planned, flowers, visits, help moving stuff, cards and so much more.  We feel extremely blessed to have so many amazing friends and family members.  We feel very loved and supported. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mercedes Half Marathon

My first half marathon of 2012 was the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham, AL.  It had been almost 2 months since my last half marathon and even longer since the last half that I "raced" and didn't just run.  I was so excited about this run.  Lot's of our friends and fellow runners were going to either do the half or the marathon relay.  There had been some discussion between myself, Gail and Jeanie about racing or just running this race.  We'd heard lots about the hills on the course and thought maybe it would be better just to run it and not try to PR.  However, I knew that between my kettlebell classes and my twice a week small group runs, that I was in really good shape.  The morning of the race Gail was asking us our goal for the race.  I kind of stuttered about mine, still a little unsure.  I knew I wanted to race it, but I wasn't sure I could PR.

I had decided that I would be leaving my watch in the hotel room.  One thing I know about myself is that I will hold myself back.  If I'm constantly looking at my watch (which I would do), I tell myself I'm going too fast for my pace.  I wanted to race this race based on feel and how my body was feeling.   Not sure it was a great idea, because I crashed the last 4 miles of the race. But I am glad I didn't wear my watch. 

It was absolutely freezing when the race started.  The wind chill was 15 degrees.  Luckily, our hotel wasn't far away.  We left 10 minutes before the start of the race and got in the corral just a few minutes before it started.  In the first mile I knew I was a little over dressed and took off my jacket.  My plan was to run from waterstop to waterstop and I did great the first 6 miles.  After that I added in about one short walk per mile.  This was a pretty easy race to run that way because there was a waterstop almost every mile.

The water in the cups was a little frozen.  But the scary part to me was the water on the ground was also frozen.  This made the waterstops at little hazardous.  From a waterstop and nutrition aspect this was the best supported race I've participated in.  There was water & powerade almost every mile and at least 3 Gu stations. 

Although I wasn't wearing my watch, I couldn't help but look at the giant clocks they have at every mile.  I knew I was going fast (for me).  I'm not sure how much that played into the wall I slammed into around mile 9.  It could have also been that I was actually going too fast at the beginning, but it's important to me to start strong.  When I looked up my pace, I was at a 10:14 average pace from the start through the 10k mark, from 10k to 15k my pace was 10:19, and then dropped to 11:23 for the final part of the race.  My overall average pace was 10:35, which is 20 seconds faster per mile than my previous best.  I finished in 2:18:39.  My PR before that was 2:22:51.  Overall, I'm extremely happy with my time.  I'm disappointed with my crash at the end, but I know I can improve there. 

Last year I did a half marathon this same weekend and set a PR of 2:30.  That course was entirely flat.  The Mercedes course was anything but flat.  I'm very proud of the improvements I've made in just a year.  Sometimes it feels like progress crawls, but to look year over year is very encouraging.  The other thing I noticed in this race was the hills.  Yes, there were hills, some big ones.  However, I didn't feel the hills like I usually do.  I was much stronger on them.  I guess those stairs and hill repeats my coach, Tracey, makes me do really do payoff.

Finally, I want to say how proud and amazed I am by Mark.  He set a PR.  His time this race was 2:26:31 and his average pace was 11:11.  His previous best was 2:37 and it was set in December!!  He really rocked this race.  Now he's signed up for speed sessions and very determined to be faster than me.  I guess some healthy competition is a good thing. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year Fresh Goals

2011 was an amazing year, so I've been a little slow to let go of it and embrace a new year.  It's a little scary when last year was successful in so many ways.  It would, in fact, be easy to sit back and bask in the glow of all that I accomplished and all the goals I was able to check off.  However, that's not moving me forward.  And I want to continue to grow and improve.

This blog has largely (ok pretty much entirely) been about running.  And I do love to run and to write about running, but I want to expand it.  I changed the name of the blog to Life on a Run.  I think the new name keeps running front and center but allows for other posts.  All name suggestions and feedback are welcome!

I have a lot of running goals for this year (not a surprise I know).  I also have more general health goals than I did last year.  The first goal I will share is losing weight.  Yes, I know how cliche this goal is, there's no reason for anyone to tell me.  I also know nearly everyone in America made the same goal.  For me, I want to be free of the constant thinking and feeling like I should lose weight.  I need to lose between 20 - 25 pounds. So it's not a huge number, but it's a number that sneaks in and steals happy moments from me, puts doubts in my head and slows down my runs.  On the first day of 2012, I weighed 179 pounds.  My ideal weight, according to my doctor is 145 - 160.  I'm aiming for 155 by the end of 2012 or sooner.

Nutrition is going to be an area I focus on more.  I've been doing a 12 week kettlebell challenge and they place a lot of emphasis on nutrition before exercise.  I want to adopt this way of thinking. It's going to be a long process for me.  It's the area I need the most improvement and I know it won't be easy or happen over night.  Luckily, I have good friends and mentors who are helping.

As for running, I plan to run half marathons in at least 5 states.  Those states are Alabama, Texas, Minnesota, Kansas and Indiana.  I'm going to run a half marathon in 2:15 or less and finish a 5k in under 29 minutes.  I'm also going to complete my second marathon.  I'm so excited about the marathon.  It's going to be the Chicago Marathon.  I was in Chicago last year when it was going on and the atmosphere was unreal.  I can't wait!  Of course, I want to beat last year's marathon time.  I'm going to log all of my miles this year, something I haven't done before and by the end of the year I want to be over 1,000 miles.

I have lots of other goals personal, family and work.  It would take too long to list them all here.  One of my goals is actually to read and visualize my goals everyday.  Most importantly, I realize my goals are constantly evolving and changing. 

Cheers to an amazing 2012!