Thursday, December 20, 2012

bits & pieces - coming up for air

I absolutely LOVE this time of year.

But guess what?  I also absolutely DO NOT love this time of year.

One minute I feel like I've got it all under control, managing my family and my responsibilities, my passions and my career.  Checking things off my list - the things I want to do, the things I feel I need to do, and the things I actually need to do.  Sometimes it's hard for me to tell the difference between these things.

It's overwhelming and time moves so quickly that I often feel like life is two (or twenty) steps ahead of me and I'm playing a never-ending game of catch-up with myself!  Ultimately though, I try to stay in the present - to be right where I am - and appreciate the simple things and the real reasons behind everything I am trying to do in the first place.

This month is zooming by just as it does every year ... but somehow it seems to be moving even faster this year?  I think I say that every year.  Wait, actually... I know I do.

So what have I been up to anyway?  Here it is in bits and pieces...

I'm trying to make memories with and for my family.  Keeping up with traditions and letting new ones unfold.  We are having a wonderful time and I love hearing the laughter and seeing the joy and hope on my little ones' faces.  Being a mom is by far the coolest thing ever.

candy house heaven
I've also been busy with Sugar Cone orders.  I love this little business of mine so much and feel so lucky to have it.  It's a true creative outlet for me.  The fact that I get to share it with a dear friend and make a little bit of money from doing it is like icing on an already super-sweet cake.

getting orders ready for Christmas delivery!
The spring marathon training season has kicked off at =PR= and I am SO enjoying being a part of the coaching team for this amazing program.  I'm really excited to witness these wonderful runners grow in strength and confidence as the season progresses.  It is truly an honor to be a part of this!

Adam, Jojo & Me: assistant coaches ready for some fun!
I've also been really busy with teaching Pilates at my sister's studio once a week, leading lululemon run club on Monday nights and coaching clients individually.  I feel so grateful for all of these amazing opportunities to help others and to be inspired by them!

wooo! run club rocks.
My own running has been extremely laid back this month.  I took it very easy in the week leading up to Rehoboth and then took an entire week off (from running) after the race.  My legs felt incredibly good - I'm guessing because my GI issues had me running slow and walking so much - and really truly I did not feel as though I had run a marathon in the days following the race!  Even still, I am gearing up for a REALLY special training cycle as I prepare for my first Boston (!!!!) and I want to enter that cycle feeling strong, refreshed and rejuvenated.  Last week I did lots of Pilates, strength training and even took a spinning class for the first time in forever.  I forgot how much I love spinning!  What a great workout.  I definitely want to incorporate a spinning class into my routine once a week from now on.

spinning class - black lights are awesome!
This week I'm running a little more, but the mileage is pretty low and I'm taking an extra rest day (running 5 days a week instead of 6).  I saw Dr. Wong on Tuesday - the first time since my race.  He is the bomb!!  My legs are feeling loose and strong and I'm so pumped about the training cycle ahead.  I am going to continue with easy running - long runs of around 10-12 miles with some marathon paced miles mixed in but no real speed work just yet - until the New Year.  I've got a 5k race planned for January 1st and I could not be more excited about it.  Seriously - I cannot wait to give it all I've got on the first of the year!  I really can't think of a more fun way to start 2013 and it will also be the first official week of my Boston training.  Hooray!

perfect reading while training!
December is shaping up to be a really wonderful month in so many ways .... topping off one of the most magical years of my entire life.  Though I have been SO busy and have moments each day when I am completely overwhelmed or feel like I need to press the "reset button", the amazingness of it all is not lost on me.  I am so grateful for all the things that are filling my cup these days.  I wouldn't trade any of it.  And I truly feel so hopeful and open to all the wonderful possibilities around the corner for 2013!

How about you?  How are you managing to stay afloat and grateful during this hectic time of year?  Have you started training for your spring race season yet?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rehoboth Marathon 2012 - Recap

It's been 4 days since I ran my 11th marathon in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  I've been thinking about how I will tell this story ever since about Mile 20 of the race.

Here's one thing I know for sure:  ATTITUDE is everything.  PERSPECTIVE is everything.

I was really excited about this race.  Getting to the start line feeling fresh and strong and capable after running my fastest ever marathon 6 weeks before was in itself a huge accomplishment.  I was so jittery, so filled with energy and emotion when I arrived.  So happy to be there.  ELATED, actually.

I love the Delaware beaches.  This place is HOME to me.  On the drive there on Friday I couldn't take the smile off of my face.  My cheeks literally hurt from all the smiling I did.  We were driving along on a route I have taken more times in my life than I can count.  Memories flooded me and filled me up.

This place is where I grew up in so many ways - I spent every single summer of my life here from the time I was a baby until I was in my early 20s.  When I was a little girl, my mother would drive me and my three sisters there at the beginning of every summer.  She would feel nervous as we crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge - it is a huge bridge - and in order to keep all of us quiet so that she could concentrate on her driving over the bridge she told us that it was a magical bridge.  She called it "The Wishing Bridge" and said that if you are completely silent and do not make a sound or say a word as you cross the bridge you can make a wish and it will come true.  I had no idea this bridge was even called the "Bay Bridge" until I was a teenager.  I thought everyone called it The Wishing Bridge and that everyone made wishes as they crossed it.  I have dreamed a lot of dreams over that bridge in my 36+ years of life ... I've made a lot of wishes.  Some of them were silly - wishing for a kitten or a brother or a certain boy to like me.  As I got older and I realized my mom had made this whole thing up, I didn't care.  In fact, it made me love it more.  Especially when I became a mother myself.  Dreaming and wishing is an important and essential part of the way I live my life ... it is as necessary to me as the air I breathe.

I NEVER talk on that bridge.  And I ALWAYS make a wish.  I will never stop dreaming.  Ever.

Every marathon teaches you something about yourself.  Every marathon brings you to your knees at some point - it is up to you to pick yourself up.  To keep going.  To fight.  To find the courage and the strength to see the beauty of what is happening within you, even as you hurt.  Rehoboth was no exception to that rule.   In fact, Rehoboth was the most beautiful and the most difficult of any marathon I have ever run.  I loved it so much and I am entirely grateful for the experience.

About a half mile into the race I knew something was wrong.  I knew it was going to be a really tough day for me.  A side stitch on my left side pinched me.  I told myself I would run through it and it would go away.  I have run through side stitches before.  I checked in with my self.  My breathing felt easy and controlled.  My heart was soaring, I was so happy.  My legs felt as strong as ever.  I didn't understand why I was having a side stitch.  Could I somehow be dehydrated?  I didn't think so.  Maybe it was reducing my fiber the days leading up to the race?  Could that be backfiring?  I tried to just concentrate on my breathing and on how strong I felt everywhere else.  I tried to just soak in the amazingness of where I was.

Miles 1-6: 7:16, 7:13, 7:03, 7:18, 7:18, 7:19

The stitch was not going away.  I ate one of my gels at Mile 5 and then my stomach started to cramp up.  Awesome.  At Mile 10 I ate another one... this is typical for me I always eat every 5 miles in races.  But by Mile 12.5 I was on the side of the road, hiding behind a bush, dealing with GI issues.   Seriously this was happening to me now?  So early in this race.

Miles 7-12: 7:31, 7:31, 7:26, 7:21, 7:26, 7:21

I was determined to get myself back on track.  But I was frustrated.  I forged ahead and tried my best to focus on all of the GOOD things that were happening:  this course was BEAUTIFUL, I was running in a place I LOVE so so much, my legs felt AMAZING and strong...

And then my side stitch moved over to the right side.  It was a GRIPPING pain.  That is the best way for me to describe it.  My ride side just hurt so very much.  I ran through it until Mile 15.  Somewhere during Mile 15 I stopped dead in my tracks and stretched.  Breathed.  Tried to collect myself and give myself a pep talk.  I ate another gel here, just like usual (by the way in case you are wondering, I understand now that I am need of a complete overhaul of my nutrition/hydration plan).  I tried to keep going, to stand tall and feel good, but by Mile 17 I was really in rough shape.  I stopped at a water stop that had a bathroom and waited in line to use it.  When I was done I gave my water bottle to the volunteers.  I carry my water and had been filling it up but I just didn't want to hold the bottle any more.  I would drink from cups from this point on.

Miles 13-19: 7:49, 7:47, 7:48, 8:17, 7:57, 9:06

Mile 20 was terrible.  I was running through such awful side stitch pain and I just didn't know what to do to make it go away.   I ate a gel again (so dumb) and after that I was toast.

My stomach killed.  I tried to engage my core even more, tried to push through it and relax and breathe ... and then the next thing I knew, I was walking.  I hung my head low ... felt sad and defeated.

And wouldn't you know, that is where the race photographer was!?!  Of course it was.

For the next few miles I would run a few steps, feel terrible, and then walk.  I stretched my arms up.  I pinched my side, massaged it, breathed through it.  I felt angry and frustrated and sad.  I felt helpless.

Miles 20-23: 8:47, 12:43, 11:55, 10:10

And then, at some point during the 23rd mile as I was walking along on this beautiful trail trying my best to focus on how lucky I was to be there because I'd decided I would just walk the rest of the way, I heard a voice come up from behind me.  "Pace of Me?" she said.  I lifted my head and we made eye contact - it was Kristy from "Run the Long Road."  We had never met before but we knew through Twitter that we would both be there (hello, one of the best things about social media).  She told me I better start running.  That I was way too strong and fast to be walking right now.  She didn't care WHY I was walking, but told me it was time to run.  I could hang on to her.  And then I woke up from my pity party and realized this girl was awesome and that she was right.  I was going to hurt whether I walked or ran so I better JUST RUN.  And that's what I did.

The colors changed for me in that moment.  I went from feeling completely pulled apart and sad to feeling strong and hopeful and vibrant.  No, I was not running fast.  NO my pain did NOT go away, or even dissipate.  But I was running.  And I didn't stop.  I ran into the finish with a time of 3:41:59.  I finished with a smile on my face.

Miles 24-26.8 (I over ran the course I think because of my stops!): 10:08, 8:35, 8:30, 8:23

Reflecting on Rehoboth has been so good for me.  My stomach hurt for two whole days after that race.  My legs felt amazing though - no lingering soreness AT ALL.  For some reason they didn't get the message that I ran a marathon?  This shows me that I have the fitness and the strength to run a marathon like none I have ever run.  And I am determined to make that happen.  I really, really am.  Yes, it was frustrating to once again be faced with these problems and this time was worse than any other I have experienced.  But I think that sometimes you have to be taken to the lowest point so that you can reach your full potential.  I have a tendency to learn things the hard way and this is just another example of that.

Marathon #11 was an eye opener for me.  I am going to resolve my nutrition/hydration issues and be a stronger runner because of it.  I will forever be grateful for the experience.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

less than 2 days til Rehoboth!

This time tomorrow I will be on my way to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware for what will be my 11th marathon.  It is the second marathon I am running in 6 weeks (I ran MCM on October 28th) and I do not think I could possibly be more excited about it or feel more ready!

I'm so incredibly excited.  So absolutely sure that this is the right thing to do, that I am ready for it.  So grateful and happy to be feeling the way I do about it on every level - physically, emotionally and mentally.  Yet also - sort of stunned that it is really happening.  I didn't go into this training cycle planning on two fall marathons.  I think of myself as a pretty laid back and let-it-loose kind of person, yet at the same time I am fully aware that I'm completely Type A and conservative when it comes to making plans and following rules.  I like to be in control as much as I like to totally let go and be along for the ride.

On Saturday morning I will show up to the start line with a plan: to run hard and put it ALL out there.  To trust myself and to let things happen as they will --- one mile at a time.

I believe in my heart of hearts that Saturday will be a very good day.  That it can't not be.  I am so well trained for this.  I know the marathon.  I LOVE running and racing.  I am not putting specific time goal pressure on myself though.  Really, I just want to run to the best of my ability.  To run the race I have trained for.  To not give up.  To ENJOY it.  To pour myself into this experience.  To celebrate the journey - all that is behind me and all that I did to get to this moment, as well as all of the possibilities that are ahead of me.  I want to be present, to soak it all in, and to keep a grateful perspective.

Do I think it's possible for me to crush my current PR on Saturday?  You bet.  But I know that is not ultimately what will bring me JOY on race day.  I think of a new PR as icing on my marathon cake - if I know that I did my very best and that I gave it my all, I will be happy no matter what the time on the clock says.  I've run enough marathons and lived long enough to understand this about myself.  I would rather try as hard as I can and fall flat on my face, than not show up to this completely.  Disappointment in myself almost always comes from lack of effort.  I am going to be ALL IN on Saturday.  There is no other way to approach this as far as I'm concerned.

So today and tomorrow I will hydrate like it's my job and try to rest and relax as much as a busy mom of three possibly can.  I'm also limiting my fiber intake (a SERIOUS challenge for this vegetarian, salad-and-broccoli loving person!) because I really really really do not want to have GI issues be a part of this race experience.  I'm getting ready to pack for this amazing adventure and I am just so excited about it!

There is no runner tracking for this little race, but I will for sure be posting updates on Twitter and Facebook, so please follow me there if you want updates sooner than next week!

Are you racing this weekend?  If so, how are you feeling!?

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