Monday, January 28, 2008

Week # 11

I started my running week off with one of the most enjoyable runs I’ve ever been on. I woke up early Sunday morning to frigid temperatures and drove to Forest Park to meet Jenn (pandajenn19) from RA for a loop around the park. She was running her weekly long run (which turned out to be 18 miles) and I was doing a shorter recovery run. I instantly felt so comfortable and relaxed around Jenn. She warned me that she’d be slower than me, which I didn’t mind at all. It felt great having a friend to chat with on the run, the miles just flew by. It was so cold, but very enjoyable. At one point Jenn’s hair was frozen solid and we were both stunned and slightly horrified. Neither of us could believe how crazy we were to do this to ourselves and laughed about it. I couldn’t believe it when we were finished and I was back at my car. I thought about doing another loop with her but figured that I shouldn’t push myself that much…one long run a weekend is enough. But I really hope we can run together again very soon!

The rest of my weekday runs were all on the treadmill. I really hate that damn machine, but it’s a life-saver when it’s this cold and dark outside. Wednesday I did 8 miles on the treadmill, which was the most horribly boring run of my entire life. I can’t wait for the longer warmer days of spring. Bring on the sunshine! Saturday’s long run was the 4th race in the St. Louis Track Club Frostbite Series, you can read all about the details in the race report below.

Thursday night Ryan and I went to see the documentary “Spirit of the Marathon” at the Mills Theater. What a great movie! The documentary followed the training of 6 people running the Chicago Marathon. Two of them were female first time marathoners. I couldn’t believe how similar their experiences have been to mine. Everything they said, I could relate to. And more than once, Ryan nudged me and said, “You do that.” I can’t tell you how encouraging that was. If these ladies could do it, so can I!! The movie also followed two elite runners, bronze Olympic medalist American Deena Kastor and super-fast Kenyan Daniel Njenga. Deena’s story was absolutely amazing. An injury kept her from doing much running in preparation for the marathon, so she had to rely on intense cross-training. Once she started running again, she was fierce (as they would say in Project Runway). At one point she said that she had run 145 miles that week!!! That’s more miles that I’ve ever run in a month!! And despite all the hardships, she ended up winning! Great movie, even for non-runners.


I also had an amazing surprise this week -- the corporate sponsorship of my TNT team from our friend John. His company, Lenny’s Sub Shop donated $1,000 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in support of my marathon!! How incredibly generous!! Thank you John for all your support!! And if you (readers) haven’t tried a sandwich from Lenny’s, you MUST! They have a shop in Creve Coeur and in Webster Groves! Delicious!

I also wanted to give a little shout out to Jewell - Happy 30th Birthday, old man! A big "way to go" to Kirsten for planning such an awesome Dirty Thirty birthday party. We had such a great time! It was so nice to meet all your Columbia friends - thanks for having us!

Weekly recap:
Sunday: 5.75 miles
Tuesday: 4.4
Wednesday: 8.0
Friday: 4.1
Saturday: 13.1

Total: 35.4 miles

SLTC Frostbite Series - Half Marathon

I had been pretty excited for this race all week. After another good week of running and feeling very inspired by "Spirit of the Marathon," I was ready for this race. A week ago I had just planned on running this race nice and easy for my weekly long run, but as it approached I started getting a little greedy and wondered, “Could I possibly set a new PR for the half marathon?” (For any non-running readers, a "PR" stands for personal record (time-wise) on a course/distance.) Hmm…this could be interesting. It was a very hilly course, but I ran it well two weeks ago for the 20k – and if that time was any indication, I could beat my previous PR (which was 2:14:50 from Lewis & Clark in September 2007).

I woke up Saturday morning very cold and incredibly tired. I didn’t sleep well and seriously considered just staying in bed. The weather was supposed to be 28 degrees with a strong wind and mostly cloudy. Not ideal conditions. I bundled up, ate two English muffins with jelly and gathered my gear. I should have gotten everything ready the night before, but obviously forgot or didn’t think about it, which was a big mistake. My ipod was skittish and not working properly, my headphones were missing, my gloves had a hole in them, and worst of all, my Garmin’s batteries were dead (noooo!!). What else could go wrong? I woke up Ryan and we got in the car, late. Then we were not paying attention and missed our exit, had to drive through construction and then missed another turn. Ryan dropped me off at the visitor’s center and I picked up my race bib with not a second to spare and ran outside and down the block to the start line just as the gun went off. I had learned my lesson from the last race and this time I started myself at the very back of the pack. My friend Rick suggested that I kick some old people and walkers in the shins to ensure that I didn't finish last, which I was seriously considering at the time (thanks for that Rick).

Within the first few minutes I knew I was wearing too many layers. I had a neck gaiter, an extra pair of gloves and a hat all in my windbreaker pockets, which all had to go. What was I thinking wearing so much clothing? Obviously I was too cold when I got dressed that morning. I saw Ryan at mile 2 and handed off my windbreaker and all my extra gear and immediately felt much lighter (see picture). Then I began to pass a couple people! This was a real confidence booster and I was feeling great. My picked up the pace a little and thought of that PR. The first big hill was nothing! I didn’t even slow down…I couldn’t believe it!

Around mile 6 my stomach was growling and I really wanted the Sport Beans that were in my windbreaker pocket. I kept going and still felt pretty good when I passed the aid station and heard the volunteers offering words of encouragement. At the beginning of the second loop, Laura (from my TNT marathon training team) yelled hello to me and I shot back a hello and a happy birthday to her. She was so far ahead of me…speedy girl. Hope you had a great brithday Laura, just in case you read this! I met Ryan and Mally again around mile 8 and got the Sport Beans. I ate those beans so fast I barely chewed them. Wonderful!! I loves me some jelly beans. Then I saw my new running buddy Jenn (from RA) and was so happy she was there. Go Jenn!

I finished the beans and prepared for the hills again. By this time my legs were aching and burning so bad I didn’t want to finish. I tried stretching a little as I ran, but it didn’t seem to help. The hills kicked my ass this time around. I didn’t walk but slowed down so much I barely felt like I was moving at all. Some little old woman flew by me and I nearly gave up! I wished I would have kicked her in the leg at the start line! I wanted to sit down and pout. My Garmin was dead and I had no watch on, but I knew I was moving “very slow” had blown my chance at a PR. Oh well, next time. Damn little old ladies.

Step by step I made it to the final turn-around and saw Ryan up ahead. I ran over to him and asked if I could please have a kiss. He was so sweet and encouraging and told me I was doing awesome. I asked if I was in last place because I felt like hundreds of people had passed me in the last mile and was very discouraged. He ran alongside me a little bit, which helped a lot. He told me how excited he was that he would be running a little of the marathon with me in April and how proud he was. That was pretty much all I needed to feel better. I couldn’t wait to see him at the finish line.

Close to the end I started getting passed left and right again. I hate that!! With half a mile to go I tried playing my Power Song on my ipod to get pumped up and give me that little extra push at the end. Stupid ipod wouldn’t play it, so I ended up with some cheesy Jimmy Buffet song (which I love but was not “inspired by”). I rounded that last corner, cursing every step and waited until the last possible moment to look up at the clock. I couldn’t believe it! The clock read 2:09:50!! A new PR!! I beat my previous time by 5 minutes!! Woot!!!

Well, of course, then I felt GREAT!! The pain in my legs seemed to disappear instantly. I couldn’t believe I did it. Ryan ran up to me and congratulated me on my time. He even used the term “PR” (which is adorable because he thinks I’m a running dork using all these running terms and sayings). We walked very slowly back to the car and went home. I wore a “perma-smile” the rest of the day. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Week # 10

Brrrrrr.........baby it's COLD outside.


What a chilly week here in St. Louis! No snow, of course, but below freezing temperatures for most of the week. I was "lucky" enough to brave the elements for three of my five runs this week. Talk about miserable - I now understand where the term "blistery cold" comes from. I actually broke out in hives it was so cold!

I started out the week pretty sore and achy from my race last Saturday. I guess that was to be expected from pushing myself a little too hard for my weekly long run. I must remember to slow down next weekend. (yeah right.) I took it pretty easy Sunday and took Monday as a rest day to recover. Tuesday and Wednesday I was back at it - unfortunately, on the treadmill, as I was actually expected to do some work this week and put in some time at the office. Ryan has been so supportive and understanding about my training. He's gotten use to eating dinner super late so I can run after work. And he's been great about making us dinner or getting my favorite carryout dinners so I have time to relax and calm down after my run. I can't thank him enough for taking such good care of me.

Friday's run felt so great! I ran outside and although it was chilly, I felt better than I had in a long time. I ran all the way through downtown Webster Groves and had to force myself to turn around because it was getting dark. At that point I felt like I could run for days without stopping. Unfortunately, the return from Webster is mostly uphill and I wanted to die by the time I got home. But it was good while it lasted.

Friday night I could barely sleep in anticipation (dread) of my extremely freezing cold run Saturday morning run. First of all, I don't do mornings. Secondly, I hate eating breakfast b/c it makes me sick to my stomach. Third, I don't like to be cold. So, you can imagine my concern about getting up around 5:00 a.m. to eat breakfast (must have fuel) so I have time to digest and process the carbs into energy for my 7:00 a.m. 12 mile run. YUCK! I thought about skipping the group run and running by myself later that day, once it warmed up a little bit. But, one of the major reasons I signed up for TNT was to have people I could run with and make some friends in the process. So, I drove to Grant's Trail...and I was the only person there. Seriously! I was a little peeved. My coach Rhonda (a total sweetheart who completely felt my pain) told me to go ahead and get started. So I started running...by myself. The plan was to do 12 miles, but half way into the first mile I wanted to cry and turn around and go home. It was SO COLD! What the hell was I thinking?

The temperature was 9 degrees with a negative windchill that stung my face so bad it felt as if my face was on fire. I could not believe I was running in this weather. I was wearing Under Armor Cold Gear tights, with Nike Cold Weather thick running pants, two long-sleeved technical t-shirts, fleece zip-up sweatshirt, North Face jacket, hat, headband, two pairs of gloves and Smartwool socks. And I was still freezing!! The very thought of me being this "hard-core" about running made me laugh out loud. When did I become a real runner?? I was amazed - and pretty impressed with myself, actually. I spent the next two miles smiling (with my lips closed so my teeth wouldn't freeze) and thinking about my RA friends who have convinced me to HTFU!!! At mile 6, as I ran by the beautiful Anheuser Busch clydesdales, I was cold, but was on top of the world! And then I came rapidly crashing back down to earth when I turned around and ran the 6 miles back directly into the bitter wind. With one mile left to go I was convinced that my legs had turned to ice and would shatter with any excessive impact. I even thought about running on my tiptoes. I think perhaps the cold had gotten to my brain, at that point. I went home, took a shower so hot that my skin nearly turned purple and went back to bed for a four hour nap.

I also had a nice surprise with my fundraising efforts this week. I received a very generous check from my friend Brooke's (and Johnston's) parents for $500!! That put me above my fundraising goal of $2,500!! YIPPEE!! I'm so excited to have met my goal and to be able to help fight cancer and hopefully find a cure. All of my efforts have been in the memory of Ryan Brown, who deeply touched so many people in the short time he was here. I'm very honored to be able to do this on his behalf. I'd like to keep the fundraising going - let's try to get to $3,000!! Every little bit counts. Thank you SO VERY MUCH to every single person that has helped me in my efforts - you all are fantastic and I could not have done this without YOU.

Sidebar to my friends and co-workers: I would like to apologize for not being able to do as much fun stuff with you all lately. I know I've upset a few of you because I haven't gone to happy hours, or basketball games, or dinners, or movies or out for drinks because of my training. I know! I'm not fun anymore right now! I'm sorry! I get the feeling that everyone is getting a little tired of my excuse that I can't do things because of my running. I just want you to know that the training is NOT an excuse - I'm not trying to avoid anyone or purposely not have fun. Running this marathon means so much to me and I want to do it "right." When I made the decision to do this, I knew it was going to require a lot of hard work, time and dedication. I'm sacrificing a lot of thing I really want to do, and I hope you all understand that and appreciate the fact that I'm devoting myself to meeting a goal and reaching a dream. Don't worry, you'll have your friend back in April!

Weekly recap:
Sunday: 3.3 miles
Tuesday: 7.0
Wednesday: 5.0
Friday: 6.25
Saturday: 12.0

Total: 33.6 miles

Monday, January 14, 2008

Week # 9

"The pride you gain is worth the pain." -- Dennis Ogilvie

I saw this quote on Saturday, on the back of the shirt of a girl I "chased" throughout my race on Saturday. I thought about it a lot as I was running (plodding) up those killer hills, grasping for breath and watching everyone run past me with lightening speed. I was still getting over my illness and struggled with this run from the very beginning. With an aching knee, burning quads, screaming hamstrings and a throbbing toe blister, I was pretty sure I knew the meaning of pain rather well at that point. So why do I do it? Why put myself through the pain? Because "proud" doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling you get at the end of a race. Elation, euphoria, pleasure, happiness, excitement, satisfaction…getting a little closer. And if I felt that good at the end of a 12 mile race…just imagine the finish line of the marathon…the culmination of months and months of training. Bring it on!!

And so the quest towards marathon continues. All in all, it was a good week. I ran a total of 27 miles, with 5 runs, three of them outside and away from the dreadmill. On Monday I took Mally with me on my run. That dog is so fast!! I’m usually reluctant to take her with me because she’s much more interested in chasing squirrels and barking at passing cars than paying attention to speed, splits and heart-rate. But she did well and seemed so incredibly happy afterwards that I’m going to have to start taking her more often. I downloaded a new book from iTunes for my treadmill running (Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert), in an attempt to keep myself motivated despite the boredom. And I finally feel like I may be kicking this illness once and for all (knock on wood). Today is the first day my lymph nodes haven’t felt like the size of softballs in my neck.

I also celebrated my 29th birthday this week with the best friends a person could ask for. You guys are the BEST!!! I was so incredibly surprised with an unexpected birthday celebration with my bestest and closest friends. Bowling, beer and birthday cake…what more could a girl want? A big fat huge THANK YOU to Kasey, Jacquie, Heather, Kirsten, Julie and Ryan for everything! I am truly blessed...my cup runneth over!



Weekly recap:

Sunday: 4.1 miles
Monday: 3.3
Thursday: 5.2
Friday: 2.0
Saturday: 12.4

Total: 27.0 miles

Saturday, January 12, 2008

SLTC Frostbite Series – 20k

I woke up this morning in a good mood and ready for a run. Unfortunately, I’m still a little sick (swollen lymph nodes), but I was determined to just enjoy myself and have a nice long run without pushing too hard or trying to “go fast.” I printed out the course map for Ryan before we left the house and looked it over. Being a huge fan of running in Forest Park, I was familiar enough with the course to be a little intimidated by the hills.

Despite my nervousness that we would be late (I’m always nervous I’ll be late), we got to the Visitor’s Center with plenty of time to spare. Ryan brought Mally along, so I had my own personal cheering section and hunky waterboy. The St. Louis Track Club does a great job organizing these races, but with only 1 water station along the 2 loop course, I knew I would need a little more than that. We ran into my friend Alice at the start line (who, by the way, is an incredible marathoner) who was running the 5k that morning and nearly missed her start. It’s always good to see a familiar face to calm the nerves. Finally, the buzzer went off and away we went!

I knew I was running too fast from the beginning (thank you Garmin), but I just couldn’t seem to slow down. (**Be advised that “fast” for me is a snail’s pace for most runners.**) I think it was because I accidentally started the race towards the front of the pack and was getting passed left and right like you wouldn’t believe…I might as well have been standing still!! Once things cleared out a bit I attempted to slow down and find a steady consistent pace.

Alice passed me going the opposite direction just after 2 miles and yelled words of encouragement, which made me smile. J I knew she was close to finishing the 5k and I was so jealous! I was already struggling and wished I was running the 5k instead.


Around mile 3 came the hills. Damn, running up hills is awful! At the height of the course was the turn-around, where Ryan and Mally were waiting for me. Talk about being happy to see them! Ryan was actually sitting in a tree! He told me I was doing great, which cheered me up immensely. The next few miles w ere better (i.e. downhill) and I finally started getting into a groove. I saw Ryan and Mally again around mile 6 and got some Gatorade and again at mile 8 before heading back up the hills. I told Ryan I was still running too fast and I was worried about crashing any time now. Of course, he said I was doing great and he was proud of me -- that was all I needed to hear to keep going.


Some how, in the last hour, the hills had grown into mountains. Seriously. The second loop seemed like it was longer and hard than the first time around. I just wanted to be done, so I put my head down and took it one step at a time. And finally, I slowed down!! I wasn’t sure they would ever end, but at the top of the hill (about mile 10), my pit crew was waiting for me with water and big smiles. With 2.5 miles to go, I was fine. On the way back down, as if my iPod knew, I heard ’50 Cent singing –“Hey shorty, it’s your birthday,” and I literally laughed out loud!!

I finished the race with a time of 2:04:15, which averages out to 10:00 minute/miles. That’s pretty good for me (yes, I’m slow)!! And more importantly, I ran the entire distance -- no walking! That felt great, especially since I was worried that my recent illness had taken a toll on my conditioning. Although it felt much much longer than 12.4 miles, my Garmin said the race was actually 12.6 miles...hmmm. I don't know about that. My splits were as follows:

1 9:24
2 9:42
3 9:54
4 10:01
5 9:54
6 9:35
7 9:42
8 10:16
9 9:56
10 10:18
11 10:19
12 9:43
13 5:25


All in all, the last 500 yards were the worst;my legs hurt pretty bad. Approaching the finish line, some guy I remembered passing half an hour before blew past me. I couldn’t imagine having that much energy left! It was the end of the race and I was completely spent! I guess it’s better to run your hardest and be empty at the end of the race than to have energy left over and know you could’ve done more, but this worried me a little. I’m going to be running more than TWICE this distance for the full marathon in less than three months! Yikes! But, of course, if was easy, everyone would do it. I can’t wait for the challenge!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Week # 8

This week was all about trying to get back into the swing of things. I picked up my training again last Wednesday after a miserable two weeks off while sick. My first run was to be an easy 5 miler. With wind-chill temperatures around -10 degrees that morning, I opted for the treadmill in my toasty basement. Unfortunately, it was a struggle. I couldn’t believe how sluggish, tired and winded I was. I didn’t even make it the whole 5 miles. I became terrified that my hiatus had caused me to lose my base and all the conditioning I’d been working on. After some chatting with the ladies at RA I decided that perhaps it was just a bad day and I was still recovering from my illness. It was bound to get better…right?

Thursday’s 7 miler was a little better, but certainly not great. Freezing temperatures and an early morning meeting caused me to be back on the treadmill that evening. I took it nice and slow with a few walk breaks in between, but still felt tired and sluggish. I couldn’t believe it when I realized that my average pace was 11:40/mile. Talk about feeling slow and lethargic. Perhaps another "off-day"?

Friday I was up bright and early to catch a flight to Phoenix. I’ve been looking forward to SUNSHINE and warm weather for weeks. I couldn’t wait to run outside again without having to wear at least 4 layers of thermal gear. When we landed it was beautiful and sunny. The cab could not go fast enough! I practically sprinted to my hotel room to change and get out there. And it was GREAT! Sunny, warm, green, with a nice breeze. Although I still struggled to keep up the pace and had to take a number of walk breaks, it was wonderful to be back outside and warm! I took my time and enjoyed it.

I was really looking forward to a nice and warm long run early Saturday morning. That didn’t happen! Guess what…Phoenix can be pretty chilly…especially with a strong wind. I ran 10 miles, on an out-and-back course along the canal, which was pretty deserted and lonely. And again, I struggled the whole time with tiredness and getting winded. I just don’t think I’ve completely gotten over this illness yet. I took a water bottle, but ran out early on and really needed some Gatorade towards the middle of my run. And then, low and behold, a Gatorade aid station appeared out of no where! Labeled with signs for the Aztec Training group, I felt terrible using their Gatorade, but really needed it. I drank two little glasses and left them $5 under the jug, so I hope that was ok. Thank you Aztec Training!!

I finished my run and generally felt terrible. My throat was still sore and my head was congested. My quads were on fire and cramped up back at the hotel. I took a warm shower, a quick little nap and then ate enough food for 6 people at lunch!! Seriously, training for a marathon is NOT the way to lose weight!! My easy 4 miler on Sunday was a little better. At least it helped eliminate some of the soreness in my legs (for a while).

Otherwise, there’s not much going on in my non-running world. I’ve been very slow at work for last few weeks, which is a blessing and a curse. I’m REALLY looking forward to my birthday festivities! My birthday is Frday, and we've got all kinds of fun stuff planned this week: Blues game, dinner with Ryan, surprise event with the girls...I just can't wait!! I’m a little apprehensive about turning 29, but I love birthdays and I guess you can’t help but getting older if you want to keep having them. I’ll be running the St. Louis Track Club Frostbite Series 20k (12.4 miles) this Saturday, so I hope to have a race report afterwards. Our unseasonably warm weather will have disappeared by then and back to January coldness. This will be my longest run since September. Wish me luck!!

Weekly recap:
Wednesday: 4.6 miles
Thursday: 7.0
Friday: 6.2
Saturday: 10.2

Total: 28.0 miles

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Week # 6 and Week # 7

SICK!!! SICK!!! SICK!!!

I’ve been miserably sick for two weeks now. I can’t believe it took so long for me to get over this cold/flu illness. I woke up last Tuesday with horribly swollen lymph nodes, a sore throat and a fever. I was terrified that this illness would ruin my holidays and screw up my marathon training, so I immediately made a doctor’s appointment for Thursday and hoped I could rest up and “cure” myself before then. No such luck. Work (as usual) had horrible timing and things got busier as I got sicker. My blood-work and tests at the doctor’s all came out negative (no strep, no mono), but with an elevated white blood count, they put me on antibiotics and told me NOT to run for at least a week.


And so it went for the next two weeks. The holidays made it pretty hard to get a lot of rest. I still had to finish my Christmas shopping, clean and decorate the house, plan, cook and host the gift exchange, travel back home for Christmas Eve, cook for 3 families on Christmas day, and throw another dinner party a few days after Christmas. Through all of that, I was feeling terrible, tired and just completely worn slick. Even though I wasn’t running, I was wearing myself out. Ryan finally ordered 4 full days of bed rest for me and forbid me to leave the house. We rented about a hundred movies and ate so incredibly unhealthy it was disgusting (and great!). The animals were so happy to have us there every single day. Turned out that was exactly what I needed. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed and healthy for the first time in weeks. That boy should have been a doctor. :)

But despite the illness, my holidays were fantastic!! And busy!! The week before Christmas I hosted a gift exchange with the girls, which was so much fun! I loved having everyone over together. We had lasagna and everyone brought great gifts! And Tracy, it was great seeing you again! A few days later Ryan and I had a great time at dinner with his brother Justin and his girlfriend Christine. We had an amazing Italian meal at Lorusso’s on the Hill. It was an eventful night (to say the least) and I just want to say that I had a great time bonding with you guys! Thanks for everything! I can’t wait to come to Chicago and visit soon.

Christmas Eve dinner at the grandparents’ was great. I loved going home, visiting my grandparents, seeing all the cousins, and bowling, of course. We got home late and exchanged our gifts to each other. Ryan got me diamond earrings!! They are so beautiful. And I got him a survival pack for his upcoming Alaska trip. Ryan and I then hosted our first-ever family Christmas dinner on Christmas Day. We had my entire family and his family over for a late lunch and gifts. I was SO nervous that it would be disastrous. I was terrified that the food would be bad or the company wouldn’t get along or I’d be too sick to enjoy myself. But, I think everything turned out perfectly! The food was great and I think everyone had a good time and liked their gifts. And, of course, New Year’s Eve was a blast! Thank you to the newlyweds John & Brooke for hosting and throwing such a fun and crazy dance party. It was great hanging out with everyone.

So, now that I’m feeling better and made it through the holidays, I have to jump back into my training schedule with full force. I’ve missed a few weeks, but I hope to be back on track soon and pounding out the miles. 2008 is going to be a great running year for me! I can feel it. My running goals for the year are as follows:

  • Run my first marathon
  • Run a 5k consistently under 30 minutes
  • Run 1000 miles this year
  • Run a sub 3:00 half marathon

I'd like to wish a big happy 21st birthday tomorrow to my little brother Timmy. Keep up the good work in school – I’m so proud of you!

And I hope you all had fantastic holidays as well. Please keep in touch! I’d love to hear from everyone. Let me know what you’re up to!