Monday, August 29, 2016

Caught in a storm

I'm working on a Howl post.  I promise.  But in the mean time I thought it would be easier to rattle off a quick little post about a recent running experience.

Yesterday I was scheduled for a 10 mile run.  Oh yeah.....because I decided to finally get in gear and train for the Chicago marathon.  I scribbled a plan on paper and so far have been sticking to it pretty good.  I wouldn't recommend to most people to train for a full marathon in 6 weeks, but you know....I'm not most people.  Do what I say people, not what I do.  haha!

We had a pretty busy day planned so I had to be very intentional and specific about getting out the door to get this run done.  I had a course plotted out and everything seemed to be falling into place, although I was not looking forward to the 100% humidity that was hanging around.  When I arrived to my run start/finish I noticed some cloud coverage.  Nothing too worrisome, but I still checked the radar on my weather app.  There was one little spot north of where I was running, but not over where I actually was.  The prospect of a few sprinkles didn't bother me & the little spot was moving north so I set out on my run.  The first portion of my run was going to take me on the main roads around the park.

I was only minutes into my run and the rain started.  Again, I could see the clouds to the north.  When I looked west it was sunny and blue skies.  I still wasn't worried about getting a little wet so I kept running.  A few more minutes though and the rain picked up to a lot more than a few sprinkles.  It was raining enough that I was beginning to worry about my watch getting too wet.  It's splash proof, but not water resistant.  And my clothes were beginning to get pretty wet too.  Plus running on the main road was getting dicey with the cars not able to see me well as I headed toward them in the rain.  At this point I thought "ok, I can wait for this little thing to pass through."  I clearly was not in any danger, it didn't appear to really be a storm, just a heavy rain cloud passing through.  So I veered off the main road and stood over by some trees by the park path. And I stood....and I stood.....and I stood......

I found the situation a little comical and tried to keep it in perspective.  I was getting a little bit wet, but for the most part the tree was providing me some shelter.  The rain was a little persistent and went from a little rain to an outright down pour.  Right about that time, the wind picked up a little and then the lightening and thunder began to strike.  By then I was actually getting a little worried.

I have to rewind to about 6 weeks ago when I was out at this exact same park and a storm came up out of nowhere.  I was out walking with a friend and we were fortune to be close enough to seek coverage in a picnic shelter, but also ended up underneath the picnic tables because the storm was so bad we could see and hear whole trees coming down from the wind and lightening.  That storm was pretty serious & had wide spread damage all over our town.  In hindsight though that storm was so much worse, but in the moment when I was stuck under this tree I was getting worried.

Before anyone says it.....I KNOW that standing under a tree or seeking shelter under a tree is not a good idea in a storm.  Ok?!?!  Really, give me some credit.  This isn't my first rodeo.  Except when I first went to the tree I thought I was just waiting out a little rain.  If I had known what was coming I would've chosen differently.  But I ended up being stuck between a rock and a hard place.  And before anyone else even says it: a little rain wasn't going to hurt me either.  I KNOW THAT TOO!  And when it started to rain maybe I should've just kept running to a safer place, which was about 1/2 mile in one direction or turned back to my van which was about a 1/2 mile in the opposite direction.  But I'm glad that I wasn't being stupid about running in this weather, I could've kept going and really put myself in danger.  There are lots of shoulda, woulda, couldas in this situation.  But there I was feeling stuck under that tree.

For the most part it was really weird because off the my right the sky was fairly blue, maybe just a big white puffy cloud or two lingering there.  But to my left the sky was gray and dark and definitely the worse of the 2 sides.  And of course, the direction of where my car was parked.  Finally after 45 minute of standing under this tree and by now thoroughly soaked from head to toe I decided to make a run for it and head to my van.  It was still raining hard, but at least the lightening, thunder and wind had died down.  I followed the park trail to my van and some of it was barely passable because so much rain was rapidly covering the path.

I never felt in danger, but I WAS worried at a few moments.  I know I tend to come off as this super strong, independent, I can do anything runner, but I am also very much human.  I don't always make the best in the moment decisions and then am left trying to make the best of what I've done.  And sometimes weathering a situation alone can make it 100x harder. (Although I never felt truly alone as as I knew God was there with me, probably the only thing that helped keep me at peace.)  So this left me in a very vulnerable spot.  In hindsight though I'm chalking it up to another wild, crazy running adventure.  One I won't soon forget.....although for the time being I don't plan to run out there any time soon!!

 The bottom rain pictures were taken when the rain had just began to start.  I had my phone put away during the real heavy rain.  Top pictures were taken toward the end after I was completely soaked.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Race Recap: BIX 7

Last Saturday, my 2 sons & I ran the BIX 7 held in Davenport.  There's a bit of a story behind me running this race, but for now I decided to not indulge you with the History of Carmen 101.  Long story short I'd say that I long resisted running this race and now I look forward to it every single year.

The BIX is always held on the last Saturday in July.  The offer packet pick up on Thursday evening & Friday all day.  It has a decent sized expo, although having run this more than once it's kind of the same thing every year.  I still usually browse around though just to see if I find anything new.  In past years I have not liked the race shirt they have given.  It's always white and usually has a small logo up in the chest corner.  Plain and boring.  They say it's a dri-fit shirt, but it's one of those that resembles a plain white t-shirt.  Personally I prefer a more tech feeling shirt.  Anyway, this year I actually liked the shirt.  At least the design & the fact that it consumed most of the front of the shirt.  It's still plain white.  But I'm not meaning to nit pick.  I mean on one hand this is a BIG race that draws world wide competition.  Can't they up their game a bit on the shirt front?  On the other hand for it being such a big event, the pricing of said event is relatively low and reasonable.  So, hey tit for tat.  It's obviously not a deal breaker with me doing this race. 

It's a bit of a tradition to lay out our running outfit the night before the race.
I typically don't wear my race shirt to the actual race.  It's a slight no no in my running book.  Since I actually liked this years shirt AND since my boys were planning to wear theirs I decided to match them and throw my running rules out the window (at least for this race).

The BIX is often times met with really hot, humid weather.  We lucked out this year and had good temperatures.  It was far from the ideal 60's (hello it IS July in the midwest), but we stayed in the low 80's.  A  nice break from the otherwise 90's we had been having.

Since we live less relatively close to the race we always get up race morning & drive over.  Even with a planned bathroom stop before going to find a parking spot it takes maybe 1 hour tops to get from home to race site.  If you know the area finding a close parking spot is pretty easy.  I took us about 5 minutes to walk from the parked car to the starting area and that included stopping for pre-race pictures.

My son (on the right) who is in high school gets to line up with the other declared high school students, which is directly behind the elite runners.  When you sign up for the race you enter your estimated run time and that is what places you in your start coral.  Other than the elites, they in no way verify your race time, so it's an honor system and I know that most people don't follow it anyway.  Heck, even I didn't this year.  But there are advantages to being in the corals closer to the start, especially when there are 15,000 other runners/walkers involved.  I learned this a long time ago.  Doesn't make a wrong right when it comes to a honor system, but I won't be drastically set back and extremely frustrated by most others not being honest about their coral placement either.  While they don't verify your time when you sign up they are extremely strict about what coral you enter.  They have them color coded and you ONLY are allowed in the section you are signed up for.  Shoot, I came within 25 feet of the high school entrance (I was walking my son up there) and was greeting by 3 volunteers firmly telling me I could NOT enter here!!

I wish I had more time and a better view to take pre-race pics.  But being a *little* on the short side I'm easily engulfed by the crowd once I'm in the coral.  And between picking a long bathroom line and car trouble I was dealing with when I arrived to park left me short on time.  By time my other son & I entered the coral they were playing the national anthem and then we were off.

The beginning of the race is going up the infamous Brady Street hill.  It's slightly what sets this race apart from others.  Here is a good pic looking up from the bottom.
So you can see what  I mean by good coral placement!!

My son & I set off to a good start.  I'm not a lover of running hills on any day, doing so surrounded by thousands of others people isn't much more ideal either.  But I've learned a few tricks of the race along the way that make navigating it fairly manageable.  And really for this race I was following my son's lead.  While I have run this race several times for myself I decided to make this year about him.  He's 10 and been begging for the last few years to run this race.  I'll be honest, I can be so driven and competitive that it's hard for me to not run a race all out.  After all I'm there to at least compete with myself so that always means my goals and my race.  And, of course, he always waited until the last minute to tell me he wanted to run too.  So last year I told him he could run this year and that for a change I wouldn't worry about myself.

So on a personal level I had no goals other than to stick with my son.  Which actually worked out very well since I've been injured and not up to par with running anyway.  I hadn't even run 7 miles in many many months, but I knew this was do-able, especially since I was doing it with Andrew.  There was that chance that he'd really take off and I'd struggle to keep up.  My boys do tend to naturally take on running, but this turned out to be a very good set up for both of us.  

Andrew did pretty well.  Despite his intentions and eternal promises to train really hard, he didn't.  But considering he's a 10 year old kid with little to no training he didn't do too bad either.  He also wanted to have fun and enjoy his time.  So along the way we stopped to look at things.  Talk to people.  I saw my friend Cathy and stopped to chat with her for a few moments.  Scream & cheer as the elite runners went by.  He was mostly looking forward to the slip n slide.

In theory I wanted to partake in this craziness as well, but it took him 10 minutes just to wait in line and go down, I didn't want to add to that as well.  I had great pleasure watching him go down and simply have fun.  After all he is 10.  Yes, I'd love for him to eventually be some fierce competitive runner, but for now I'm ok with him just being a kid too.

Honestly I don't even know what our finish time was.  I think it was about 1:25.  I really didn't stress about the time.  When it came time to finish I simply celebrated the fact that he had done it, he had finished.  Little punk though, earlier in the race he talked about holding hands and we finish together.  Then at the very last minute he sprints ahead a beats me!!  Haha, he's got that competitive spirit in there somewhere....probably gets it from me too!!

The BIX has an excellent post race.  Lots of food and drink afterwards.  I've seen no better after race party than this one.  There's always a costume party, lots of music and other entertainment.  Of course, the last several years I've come to look for one thing: the award ceremony.  Not because of anything I earn, but because the elite runners are there.  And one in particular I've pretty fond of:  Meb Keflezighi.  He's such a great guy and well awesome runner too, but very nice & humble when it comes to greeting the pubic, signing autographs and taking pictures.  Next to Ryan Hall, he's my #1 guy when it comes to professional runners.  I get all excited and crazy.  So I do a little stalking and make sure I get to talk to him and take some pictures too.



When it comes to running and role models, this is exactly the kid of man, personally and running wise that I want my boys to look up to!  Although I also hope that these moments and memories that we share together as mother and son will carry them a long way through life too.



Sunday, July 31, 2016

Broken-ish

I really want to get back into blogging on here.  I miss it a lot and still think about it quite often.  I still compose posts in my head all the time while I'm running.  I just need to get back into the habit of getting on here & putting pen to paper so to speak.  It's really just a computer issues.  Not a lack of computer, just the opposite.  I'm on a computer quite often at work and spend my day getting things done electronically.  By time I do come home I have so much to do within the home, if I even am home because my kids and coaching keeps me very busy too.  The last thing I want to do while I'm home is be on the computer.  I even tried putting the app on my phone.  But I spend enough time on my phone, I don't need to add to that habit either.  So that's what lead to my slow drift away from blogging.  But I feel like I have so much to say & share about my running and/or life in general.  Even if I don't have a lot of followers or become a big name in the world of social media/blogging, I still want to blog.  I need to be doing it for myself anyway and not others.

To kick off this come back, of sorts, I actually started a post almost a month ago.  Here is what I had started:  I’m going to attempt to jump back into my blogging.  It’s like riding a bicycle, right?  Once you learn, you just never forget.  We’ll just overlook the fact that it’s been over a year since I’ve posted anything.  It’s not like I haven’t THOUGHT about blogging.  I still compose posts in my head all the time.  I just never take the time to get on here and get it done.  I have no “good” reason as to why I haven’t…..I just haven’t.  As much as I love social media ie my blog, it has taken a back burner during this time of my life.  In hindsight what I didn’t realize when I ceased to be blogging that it would kick off a completely different time in my running life.  A time for me to be BROKEN.

This has been months in the making and I’ve been through a lot of denial, tears and what seems like endless frustration to come to this conclusion of being broken.  To clear up what I mean when I talk about being broken, let me be blunt.  I am no longer running.

I haven’t been broken all these months.  In fact, my running came to a screeching  halt almost 3 weeks ago.  Again, insert a lot of denial, tears and frustration.  This came about after many difficult months of injury and almost non existent running.  But I was hanging on by a thread,  a very weak one and it finally snapped.

Well, I'm happy to report that I am back to running.  Although I'd still say I'm kinda broken.  Broken-ish.  That meaning that I'm not 100% whole and healthy with my running.  There's just so much that's happened in the last year that I can't even sum it up in one post.  Regardless and perhaps not surprisingly, if you know me well, I'm fighting my way back into things.  Yes, I took 3 weeks off.  Yes, I broke my 4 year runningstreak.  But I'm not giving up or walking away for good.

In the mean time, hang in there as I get back to blogging and build myself back up from rock bottom.  I promise, it's going to be an adventure!!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Boston goals

I used to write a post before each race laying out my goals for how I'd like to finish, etc.  Going into my training for Boston I had definite goals.  Big picture I wanted to make this my best marathon ever.  My previous marathons I had raced well, but as soon as I finished I knew I had more to give. That I could run faster, push harder, do better.  So what better race to leave it all out there than Boston.

My previous marathon personal best was 3:29:50.  I wanted to run faster than that.  With basic training I firmly believed that I could drop that down to 3:20 no problem.  With really good, consistent training I thought I'd be able to drop that even more & run closer to 3 hours.

I indicated in a previous post that my training started to fall off course about 6 weeks ago.  I knew my 3 hour goal was slipping away.  There was still plenty of room for a completely awesome run.  However once I hurt my foot I had to reassess everything.  I began to focus on just being able to finish.

I'll admit that I've had a few moments of questioning if I'd really be able to finish Boston.  While my break could've been much worse, it's not something I've ever dealt with before.  And regardless of the brave face I was putting on my foot really REALLY hurt.  A lot.  I'd like to believe that nothing could stop me from one of my top passions, but I do realize that I am also human & flawed & have some kind of breaking point.  And sometimes God has other plans that I just don't understand.

In the almost 3 weeks since I injured my foot I've been very very good at taking care of my foot. Maybe to a point of overkill, but I didn't care.  If I truly was not going to be able to finish the Boston marathon it was not going to happen without a fight. I did see an orthopedic doctor to get some good, solid professional input on my injury.  In a nutshell, if I can withstand running for 26 miles then good luck.  Hearing that was the nod I needed to press on.  I did add in some running.  Basically some very slow easy miles.  

Things have slowly, but surely been improving.  I'm not back to 100%, but I wasn't expecting to.  My goal remains the same & that is to finish.  Yeah, it's a bummer that my perfect, ideal marathon won't happen.  But I've been able to still fully experience this special achievement.  And in a few days I plan to be able to say, I finished & that's all that matters!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Keeping tabs on me!!

I've been asked many times about giving updates while I'm running the Boston marathon.  While I will have my phone on me and you know I'm one to put it all out there on social media, I may be limited with timely or effectively posting all the details.  However, there are many ways in which you can get up-to-date information on not only me, but any other athlete you may want to track.

First off a few details.  I thought these were no brainer facts, but I've been asked several times these questions & many people don't actually know them.  Which makes sense. I mean in my brain that revolves around running, and for the last 7 months Boston, this stuff is etched into my brain for life.  I could probably recite them in my sleep.  But for the rest of the human race they just don't know and ask these questions with best of intentions of wanting to know.  Here are the highlights of the Boston Marathon:

DATE:  Monday, April 20, 2015
WHERE: Boston, MA
TIME:  While there are some earlier start times for the mobility impaired (8:50), push rim wheelchair (9:17), and hand cycle (9:22) the first wave of elite women runners starts at 9:32 a.m.  (No, I will not be in this group.  Yes, people ask me this all the time.)  At 10:00 a.m. the elite men will start followed by the first wave of runners.  I am in the 3rd wave of runners to be released and in the 1st corral.  So I should be starting at 10:50 a.m. EST

Once I am running there are a few ways you can follow my progress and/or have updates sent to your phone or email.

You can sign up & receive email updates:  Continue to the registration page for the AT&T Athlete Alerts on the race website. Sign-up using your mobile phone number for SMS text message updates, or by entering an email address for email updates. Click HERE to sign up now.

You can sign up & receive texts directly to your phone:  Simply text the athlete's Bib Number to 234567 using your US mobile phone. You will then receive an sms text response with instructions on how to submit a runner’s bib number. You will receive up to 6 texts per bib number.  

Or you can download the Boston Marathon app & track my every move.  Simply search "Boston Marathon," or update the 2014 version on your mobile device.  This year, fans will be able to get six AT&T Athlete Alerts on up to 10 people on race day. 

MY BIB NUMBER IS: 16665

You can watch television footage of the race which will be broadcast on the Universal Sports Networrk.  I don't know what channel that is on and more than likely you won't see me on television anyway, but you can have fun trying anyway.  You just never know!!

So there are plenty of opportunities for keeping track of me on race day!  I can fill in the gaps with my Instagram account and facebook.  I don't know what the day will bring and it doesn't matter if you're following me via text or just thinking about me during the process.  I'm excited to take you along with me on my adventure!! 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Plot Twist

Since the beginning of this year I've had one goal in sight:  The Boston Marathon

For the most part my training has gone really well.  At the beginning of March I began having problems with getting my speed/interval workouts done.  This is my hardest area of training.  My weakest too.  I'm way too guilty of just wanting to run and not put a lot of effort into targeting a very specific pace.  I naturally run an ok pace (depending on who you ask or compare me to), but I'm ok with how my pace falls.  It's fast enough to be competitive in almost any race I run, but not necessarily enough to be in the top.  I can almost always place in my age group in larger races.  In smaller local races I often win.

I see many areas where it would be easy to improve my pace.  I see a lot of potential within myself.  Not that it's going to do a whole lot, other than give me more personal satisfaction.  But I'm a pretty competitive person by nature and I have yet to run certain races giving 100% and knowing I've done my absolute personal best.  I usually finished feeling like I had more to give.  I want to change that!

Eventually my training fell off of pace.  Or rather my pace training fell apart.  All of my other training was going well.  Long runs were happening every weekend, hill workouts were taking place (Heartbreak Hill has nothing on me!) & plenty of other conversational pace runs were happening without much effort. I was still very optimistic about how things were going to play out for finishing Boston.  I had little doubt that I would go and run my personal best.

And then....well, I'm not 100% sure what happened.  There was no hole, no crack, no stick or rock.....nothing, as far as I know caused my foot/ankle to give out.  I didn't fall.  That's exactly what I was trying to prevent because I was running toward traffic and a truck was coming at me.  So instead of falling or even stumbling a little bit I snapped my foot back up in one quick motion and immediately I was feeling pain.  This (my foot/ankle buckling and me maneuvering to prevent a complete fall or injury) has happened plenty of times, probably once a week or at least a few times a month.  Normally I shake it off, take a few more steps then get back into my pace.  But this time was different.  I did keep running, trying to "shake it off", but I quickly realized this was no pain like I've ever felt.  I walked a little bit and tried to run again, but with no luck.  I walked back to where my van was in complete pain.

In case you've forgotten, I could write a book on any given subject.  I love to hash out all the details.  But, long story short.....I broke my foot.  Which was not listed anywhere in my training plan for a successful Boston!!

I've been left to just deal with this plot twist that has been thrown at me.  I've been completely blindsided with this turn of events.  There are worse things that could happen & yes, I believe, even worse timing that it could happen.  So I'm choosing to see the bright side of things and continue to be optimistic.  It's been a process though as I've had plenty of moments of frustration & doubt.  But I still keep coming back to being positive.

Big picture, I'm still going to be able to run Boston.  Yes, with a broken bone in my foot.  I have a pretty high pain tolerance and have really come too far and *this close* to Boston to not run.  Of course, my doctor has advised me not to run.  Once I made it known that I was running no matter what he gave me some tips of how to lessen the pain or any potential damage and then wished me good luck.  He seemed very skeptical that I'd be able to endure to pain & discomfort for 26 miles.  He apparently doesn't know me very well!!


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It is what it is

I've had this post in my mind for a very long time.  I've written it in my head a million times over.  I just don't sit down and pound all those thoughts into this keyboard for you all of you to read.  It's not like hundreds of you even realize I've been MIA, but even if it's only a few of you I feel bad for not keeping things updated on this blog.

Recently I've told a few people about my blog.  Mostly to explain why I'm so attached to using #sherunseverywhere so much.  And then I realize.....eek!  what? I have a blog?!?!?!  Which is true, but why tell anyone about it if I don't keep it updated??

Well, I didn't plan to stop updating le blog.  I just kind of happened.  On the running front things have been moving along nicely.  Well, until last week, but that is a whole other post!!.  But the rest of my life has been cra-a-a-a-a-zy!  Which is no news flash, my life always has been.  I think a lot of it came down to my job as well.  My job, that I dearly love, has kept me SO busy & I spend a lot of time on the computer doing that job.  Leaving me with no desire to come home and be on the computer even more.  I literally go days & don't touch my home computer.  Now I did install the blogger app on my phone, but that can be a little tedious to use for posts.  And, I, no doubt, already spend plenty of time on my phone, why add to that too?

So, it is what is it.  I have a blog.  But at this point I'm just not updating it very much.  Although that might change in the next week or so.  And last for about a week or so.  Because the Boston marathon is in 11 days & boy do I have so much to keep you all informed & posted on.  Take it for what it is for now.  It might last a week, maybe longer.  Either way, I'm still a blogger & hanging on full force to She Runs Everywhere!!