Thursday, March 27, 2008

Please say a prayer...

Please say a prayer for my cousin, Brian Guthrie. Brian is a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps. Brian’s 22 years old and a newlywed. He leaves on Monday for Southern Afghanistan, his second deployment in two years. Brian’s been stationed at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, the world's largest Marine base for the last few years. Brian is an amazing man; he’s a great son, brother, uncle and husband. Brian is a proud and honorable soldier. He’s funny, sweet, smart, goofy, mischievous and most of all, he is brave. Brian is one of three Marines in my family, including my younger brother Chris. I am honored and proud to have such an amazing family with such strong values and integrity.





Please keep Brian in your thoughts and prayers.

And while you’re at it, please also say a prayer for Phillip Brown. Phillip is in the US Army. He is husband to Andrea and father to three beautiful children, Elizabeth, Lucas and Ryan Brown, my inspiration for running this marathon. Phillip is currently deployed for the third time to Iraq. He will be gone 15 months this time. Please pray for Phillip’s safe return and for his family.


And thank you to everyone who has served, is currently serving or will serve in our military. You are all heroes to me. We are all so grateful for your courage, sacrifice and service.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Week # 19

I was really surprised at how quickly my legs recovered after Saturday’s long run of 22 miles. I took an ice bath and a long nap, but I was out dancing in heels Saturday night! Of course, I was sore the next day, but not nearly as bad as I expected. That’s a good sign! And although my legs didn’t hurt, I was definitely tired and worn out. I couldn’t motivate myself to do much of anything over the next few days. I took Sunday off, and tried for an easy 5 miler on Monday on the treadmill. No such luck. After 2.5 miles I gave up. And I just couldn’t get motivated on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sad, I know. But it was taper time. Resting is more important now than running. It didn't take much to convince me that it was ok to skip a couple runs this week to make sure I was "well-rested." :)

The weather on Thursday was beautiful and I was determined to get a run in outside. I sat in my office all morning longing to go home and run. Finally, around 5:30 I bolted for my car and drove as fast as I could to get home and run. Traffic was horrible and it took me nearly an hour to get home, changed and out the door. I wanted to get in 6 miles before it got dark and Ryan started to worry. So I needed to kick it up a notch. After a few days of resting, I was finally ready to run.

There are some days, where the running gods align all the elements to create the "perfect run." This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it makes up for all the hundreds of long miserable miles of not-so-great runs. These "perfect runs" are what keeps a runner coming back again and again, through the rain, sleet, snow, hail, ice, heat, and humidity. Perfect runs happen when all the conditions are just right: the right weather, the right time of day, the right distance, the right attitude, the right songs on the iPod. For that one run, everything is perfect.

I have had maybe 2 "perfect runs" in my three year running career. They are definitely few and far between. I’ve had lots of "good runs" and plenty of "not-so-great runs," but the "perfect run" is pretty elusive. It usually happens when you least expect it – when you’ve had to force your fat tired ass out the door nearly in tears because you just don’t want to run that day. So you can imagine my surprise when I began running on Thursday night to find that everything felt really good.

I’m not fast. But for some reason, I wanted to run fast. I’m usually pretty happy with consistent 10:30 minute miles. Anything faster is reserved for races. I decided to see how fast I could push myself for a new 5k time. Anything under 30 minutes would be great. Surprise surprise, 5k time was 28 minutes. I felt like I was flying. And I felt great, so I kept going. I turned my 6 mile run into a 10 mile run. At the 5 mile turn around point I noticed it starting to get dark, so I picked up the pace again. I had no idea if or for how long I could keep up this pace. I figured I would crash somewhere around mile 7. But I just kept going. I repeated Rhonda’s mantra – I am fast, I am strong – over and over in my head. By the time I got back to the house, I was convinced…I was FAST…I was STRONG. It was a perfect run!



My mile splits:
1 - 9:30
2 - 9:20
3 - 9:03
4 - 9:10
5 - 9:15
6 - 8:57
7 - 8:51
8 - 8:40
9 - 9:05
10 - 8:57


Weekly recap:

Monday: 2.5 miles
Thursday: 10.5
Saturday: 12.0

Total: 25.0 miles

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Week # 18

I started the week off still in West Palm Beach, with a lot of work to do and very little time to run. I didn’t have a chance to take an ice bath on Saturday after my 20 mile long run, so my legs were incredibly sore and achy on Sunday. I tried stretching and walking around as much as possible, but it’s hard to read contracts and agreements on the move. Late Sunday night, I was lying in bed in my hotel room with screaming legs. I’d tried Advil to no avail. It was late, but I decided there was only one way to make myself feel better, so I laced up my shoes and hit the treadmill in the gym. I finished five miles close to 1:00 am. I felt better immediately.

The rest of the week was pretty uneventful. Work a lot, run a little. I had decided that I wanted to rest up to prepare myself for Saturday’s longest and final long run of training – 22 miles. Yikes! Mentally I knew if I could get beyond the 20 mile mark, I would be ready for the marathon. This would be a really tough run for me. Even though I’ve done 20 twice, I was absolutely ready to stop at the end of both those runs. I didn’t know if I would be able to work up the energy to keep going after that 20 mile point. It would definitely be my biggest challenge yet.

Friday was spent in mental preparation for the run. Ryan and I had a casual dinner with our friends Brooke, John, Megan, Robert and Michelle. I don’t know how John did it, but that was the best damn Boca burger I’ve ever had! Delicious! I went home early to hydrate and get my stuff ready. I laid out my clothes, checked the weather about a dozen times (rainy and cold), charged my iPod and Garmin, packed my Sport Beans and Gatorade, hunted for safety pins, decided on breakfast, and drank about a gallon of water. Ready.

Saturday morning I woke up the first time the alarm went off. That never happens!! I was actually wide awake, but I didn’t want to go! It was cold, dark and rainy outside. I checked the weather (again) and the forecast hadn’t changed – rainy, cloudy, cold the rest of the day. I was kicking myself for not running on Friday with sunny perfect weather. Just my luck. I would’ve given an arm to go back to bed.

I pulled up to Grant’s Trail, our TNT group training meeting place, with about 1 minute to spare. I was worried that they would send the other long distance runners out ahead of time, leaving me to run on my own. Or I was worried that there would be no one there running this distance with me and I’d have to do it by myself. With both my previous 20 milers done alone, I really wanted some company on this run. To my absolute delight, Abby was there. Yay!! Abby’s the girl I ran with a few weeks ago on my 16 miler. She’s energetic, happy, funny, and a great person to talk to over the miles. I couldn’t believe how much we had in common and we had a great time running together before. And as I signed in, I saw that she was doing 22 too. Perfect!!

So we were off. The first few miles I spent telling her all about Ryan’s proposal and our wedding plans. To me that’s the best thing in the world to talk about these days! Then we were joined by Jenny, who agreed to go the full 22 mile distance with us. And then the madness really began. We talked about nearly everything under the sun: boys, weddings, musicals, parties, books, weather, running, J-Lo’s babies, vacations, You Tube, dogs, jobs, kids, wine, friends, real estate, etc. It sprinkled on us a little bit, but luckily we didn't get the rain that was expected. It was overcast and cool, but the weather didn't bother us at all.

At mile 8, Grant’s Trail ends. Our options were to turn around and run back to the trailhead, and then tack on a 3 mile out and back (for a total of 22 miles) or run 6 miles around Kirkwood before getting back on the trail and running back. We opted for the latter. So we took off and made it all the way to Manchester, turned around, went through downtown Kirkwood, stopped at Kaldi’s for a water break and meandered our way back to the trail. It was a nice change in scenery and split up the run for the monotonous landscape of the backs houses and buildings. This also insured us that we would end up at exactly 22 miles at the end of the trail, with no out and back required. We thought this was a better approach because that last out and back would be unbelievably challenging to get through once we were so close to our cars.

We stopped for a water break around mile 17 and found it incredibly painful to start running again once we had stopped for a minute. My legs were feeling really funny, and not in a good way. But we plowed through. It got harder and hard to talk or laugh, but Abby asked us questions about our favorite movies, restaurants, books and TV shows to distract us from the pain. Our next water break was even more painful than the last one. We had previously seen the video clip of the screaming runner that week, so we thought we’d give it a shot. Any time we were feeling the pain, we’d just start screaming! It was hysterical and it worked!

Our coach Rhonda met up with us around mile 21 and ran us in. It was such an amazing feeling to be finished. I can’t even describe how proud of us I am!! I never thought I’d be able to run 22 miles – I’ve come a really long (literally) way to get here. It’s now time to taper and rest up for the big day. I’ve put in the time and miles – I’ve put my heart and soul into this challenge. I’m mentally and physically ready for this marathon!!! Bring it on!!!

Mile splits:
1 10:41
2 10:37
3 11:17
4 10:53
5 11:05
6 11:04
7 11:21
8 11:10
9 11:12
10 11:05
11 11:05
12 11:43
13 11:15
14 11:22
15 11:04
16 11:01
17 11:04
18 11:30
19 11:16
20 12:39
21 11:48
22 11:47

Weekly recap:

Sunday: 5.0 miles
Tuesday: 5.25 miles
Wednesday: 5.0 miles
Saturday: 22.0 miles

Total: 37.3 miles

Here's the video of the "Screaming Runner" - try it, it works!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Week # 17

My week started out with the news that I would be going to West Palm Beach, Florida for a week on a due diligence trip for work. Exciting!! I was thrilled at the prospect of running outside in the sunshine along the beach. And the trip couldn’t have come at a better time, weather-wise. Although the weekend weather in St. Louis was absolutely beautiful (70 degrees), it turned viciously cold on Monday and then dumped nearly 9 inches on snow on us within a few hours on Tuesday.

All flights in and out of St. Louis were canceled on Tuesday. With my flight Wednesday morning, I was spared the hassle of being canceled and rescheduled, but had to sacrifice precious hours of sleep to get up around 3:30 a.m. to catch the first flight out that morning. The roads on the way to the airport were a nightmare – I saw at least 15 cars that had run off the road and stuck in the ditch or median. The exit ramps were not plowed and dangerously icy. Fortunately, I made it to the airport safely, only to be shocked at the number of people in line for security! I got there at 5:30 am and had to wait in the line for nearly two hours, almost missing my flight! What a disaster.

After a two-hour delay in Tampa (for no apparent reason) I arrived in Palm Beach to the most gorgeous weather I’d seen in months. Palm trees, crisp breeze, and sunshine. All I wanted to do was lace up my sneakers and go for a run. Unfortunately, I had to go straight to work. I spent the next three days in a freezing cold (air conditioned) board room going through boxes and boxes of documents. Believe me, work related travel is not as glamorous as it sounds. However, my client’s CFO is a runner. A four-time marathoner, actually. We got along famously! With my long run coming up on Saturday, he suggested a few places for me to run and gave me directions and pointers.

I woke up early on Saturday to rain and clouds. At 5:30 a.m. I finished my breakfast and decided to just go back to bed for a while, hoping it would clear up. At 7:00 it was still raining. At 8:00 it was still raining. I decided to just get up and go anyway. While training for this marathon, I’ve run in sleet, through snow, over slick ice, in freezing cold temperatures with negative windchills. I could handle a little rain – it was still 65 degrees outside!

So I drove over to Palm Beach, parked the rental car and began my run. Palm Beach is an island; on one side of the island is an inter-coastal waterway and on the other side is the ocean. This picture is from the start of my run, at a little park, looking over the waterway towards West Palm Beach. I began my run along the inside of the island, running north along the Lake Trail, a paved pathway running in between the gorgeous mansions and their boat docks. Right away I knew this was going to be an amazing run – just the change in scenery was enough to distract me mile after mile. I figured that 18 miles in the rain wouldn’t be nearly as miserable as it sounded.

My first trip up the trail was adventurous. Nearly every house was completely hidden by high shrubs and fences. I peeked through as many as possible to try to see what I was missing. These places were amazing! There was one place (maybe an inn) that was completely open and had couches and lounge chairs sprawled out on the lawn. The place was so open and warm. The trail itself was also gorgeous. Lots of knotty palm trees, sprawling banyan trees, freshly mowed green grass and flowers everywhere. I ran "next to" an enormous beautiful sailboat cruising up the waterway. I was in heaven. I think I even saw Vanna White!! Seriously! At least I'm pretty sure it was her. Looking beautiful in jeans and a ball cap. She smiled as I did a double take. And then, to top it off, about 2 miles into my run – the rain stopped and the sun came out!!!

The trail went up the island for about 3.5 miles, where it ended around a yacht club. I then took to the streets, winding my way back and forth. I found Angler Avenue, which is where Ryan would insist we live, if we could afford a house on Palm Beach. I reached the top of the island and found a drinking fountain with very cold and tasty water. This place is not bad! I wound my way back down on the other side, trying to run along the outermost roads and taking in the scenery. I was eyeing a gorgeous two story yellow terra cotta home when I rounded a corner and saw the ocean! WOW!!! Bright white sand beaches and crystal clear blue water. I was in love. I almost started crying. I took my headphones off and ran quietly, listening to the sound of the waves. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it – I ran right into the middle of traffic...twice!

On my second loop I refueled with some Gatorade and grabbed the camera from my rental car. It was a little difficult carrying a camera, a water bottle and my Sport Beans for the rest of the run, but I had to get some pictures – in case I saw Vanna again. Stopping every few minutes to take a picture probably slowed me down a little, but the run felt great! I couldn’t believe how light and fast I felt without 27 layers of clothing on. I had to slow myself down multiple times because I was going too fast for a long run. At 18 miles I was still feeling pretty good, so I decided to tack on two more and call it 20. Why not? Might as well take advantage of the weather while I have it. :) Total time: 3:40:15.

My splits:
1 10:10
2 10:06
3 10:48
4 10:05
5 11:13
6 9:52
7 10:31
8 11:25
9 10:34
10 10:33
11 10:35
12 11:48
13 11:00
14 11:47
15 11:20
16 12:33
17 11:18
18 11:02
19 12:23
20 11:35

Weekly recap:

Monday: 3.0 miles
Tuesday: 7.0
Friday: 4.25
Saturday: 20.5

Total: 34.8 miles













Maybe Vanna lives in one of these houses...





Saturday, March 8, 2008

Week # 16

Note: Sorry this post is so late. It’s been a busy week for me, which I will tell you all about in my next post.

I started my week off pretty sore from my 20 mile long run on Sunday. My friend Julie is also training for the go! St. Louis race in April, but she’ll be running the Half Marathon. She mentioned the previous week that she wanted some extra motivation for her long runs and help with pacing, so we decided to run together on Sunday. Coming off a 20 miler, I didn’t know if I’d be up for doing the whole 8 miles she had to do, but I thought I could see how I felt after a few miles. If I felt good, I’d stretch one loop around the park into 8 miles. If I didn’t feel good, it would be a direct route closer to 5.5, perhaps with a lot of walking. This is a picture of me and Julie from my birthday party.

Turns out it felt pretty good! We kept a pretty slow pace to avoid slipping and sliding around on the ice. The word of the day was "SLUSH" – it was everywhere. We finished around 1:31 – slow and steady. It was great running with a friend, especially after my lonely 20 the day before (see last week’s post for that story).

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday were all spent on the treadmill. Work had been keeping me late and I just couldn’t get outside. Not that I wanted to with the nasty cold weather we had. Friday I had planned on running after work, before my dinner date with Ryan, but he was adamant about me getting up early to run before work. I figured I’d have plenty of time to run before dinner, but he insisted…little did I know what he was planning for me after work!! :)

If you read the post below, you know that Friday night was spent celebrating! We had so much fun and so much champagne. Luckily it was a step back week, where I was only supposed to run 10 miles. I knew I couldn’t do the run in the morning b/c I had to go to a bridal shower for our friend Paige, so I made plans to run that afternoon with Julie again.

The weather had taken a fantastic turn and it was 70 degrees and sunny for our run. She met me at my house and we took off for Grant’s Trail. I love Grant’s Trail because it’s incredibly flat, which makes for easy miles. A few miles in, you also pass Grant’s Farm, established by Ulysses S. Grant and is a 281-acre ancestral home of the Busch family. The Farm is home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 100 different species from six continents and includes the famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales. I love running by the Clydesdales because they’re very curious and always come up to the fence to be touched. Julie and I even got to see two baby Clydesdales. We made it back to the house with a time of 1:39.

Julie - it's so much fun running with you, we're going to have to keep this up!

Weekly recap:
Sunday: 8.0 miles
Tuesday: 6.0
Wednesday: 8.0
Friday: 4.25
Saturday: 9.0

Total: 35.3 miles

Sunday, March 2, 2008

I said "YES"!!!!

Friday, February 29, 2008 was Leap Day. Because it takes the Earth 365 days, five hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds to travel around the sun, an extra day was added to the calendar every fourth year. It was the Romans who first designated Feb. 29 as Leap Day. In the 16th century, a more precise formula was adopted when the Gregorian calendar fine-tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by four. Years which are evenly divisible by 100 are not leap years, unless they are also evenly divisible by 400, in which case they are leap years. However you look at it, Leap Day is a little gift, a special extra day in our lives which only happens every four years.

My Leap Day started out like any other day. Run in the morning, work, meeting over lunch, afternoon conference call, etc. Ryan and I had talked about going out for dinner that evening, but we both decided to get as much work done that day as we could to help with hours, since we have a few trips planned. He sent me an email around 5:00 saying that he was ready to go home and told me to hurry up and finish my work and meet him there. I told him to just go home without me and I’d be there as soon as I could. I got a few more calls and emails and was starting to get a little ticked off that he just wouldn’t go home without me. What was the damn hurry?!

I left the office a little before 6:00. Traffic was bad, as usual. I stopped by Walgreen’s and got a bridal shower card and wrapping paper for Paige’s gift. I took my time and thought about when and where I was going to do my long run the next day. As I pulled into the garage I noticed the floor covered with something…”What did he spill?” was the first thing I thought of. When I got out of the car I noticed they were rose petals. There was note on the door with my name on it, telling me to go inside and follow the notes.

Inside, the entire place was covered with rose petals. Thousands and thousands of them. They were all over the floors, the countertops, everywhere. And there were hundreds of tealight candles lit. There was music playing and pictures of us flashing on the laptop. I started crying immediately. Ryan was no where to be found. There was a bottle of Veuve champagne on the countertop and another little note. I made my way down the hall to find another note and a fishing pole next to the laundry shoot. The note told me to go “fishing” and see what I caught.

I cast my line down the shoot and reeled in a card. “Do you love me? If yes, cast again.” I got another card. “Do you want to spend the rest of your life with me? If yes, cast again.” I was smiling and crying and laughing. I couldn’t believe this was really happening. This time I got a card and a little blue box with a pink bow on it. “Will you marry me? If yes, turn around.”

I turned around and Ryan was standing there. We walked into the living room where he asked me if I would marry him and I said yes. I jumped up and hugged him so hard I thought I’d strangle him. “Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!!” We were both crying and laughing. He finally pulled me away and asked, “Does it fit? Do you like it?” I started laughing because I hadn’t even opened the box!! But when I did…WOW!! I love it!! It’s perfect!!

We poured ourselves some champagne and I finally said, “Oh my God, we’re getting married!!! I have to call my mom!” So we both spent the next 45 minutes on the phone calling our families and closest friends, giving each other hugs and kisses in between calls. Finally he told me to go get ready; a limo would be picking us up at 8:00 to take us to Bush’s Grove (our favorite celebration restaurant). We had a romantic corner table in the back and a fantastic bottle of champagne waiting for us there, compliments of John and Brooke Davis (thank you guys so much).

I couldn't believe it was actually happening. Four years into our relationship, on a day that only comes once in every four years. It was perfect.

At dinner he told me all about his secret proposal plan: how he got the idea, how many roses it took, how he made the music mix and the picture montage, how long he’d been planning, and how he pulled it off. Turns out he wasn’t at work waiting for me to leave, after all!! I was so surprised, which was exactly what he wanted. I couldn’t believe he went to so much trouble. And he couldn’t believe I stopped at Walgreen’s on the way home!! Dinner was fabulous (as always). Afterwards, a few close friends met us at the bar to toast our engagement and celebrate with us. Thank you Kasey, Heather, Tyler, Johnston, Amanda, Henry and Jay for being there with us that special night. More champagne, hugs, dancing, laughing and toasting. It was such an amazing night!!! Ryan, I love you more than you’ll ever know. I have been blessed beyond belief!! My cup runneth over.

(…and yes, I’m crying even as I type this out)