"When we run we are showing our children, teaching without words, that we value ourselves, our hearts, our fitness, our health, our friendships, our clarity, and our balance. They see us push, and with every stride, they learn a measure of what it is to prepare for their own races." 
--Kristin Armstrong
The theme around here lately seems to be about including family in your runs: Making exercise a family affair. While I was marathon training I decided to give that very idea a try, it didn't go well. Here is a story I wrote during my 16th week of training, when I decided to take my kiddos along for an "easy" 5 miler. It's a story I won't soon forget... 

My marathon training is 20 weeks long. The past 16 weeks I have used
all of my runs as "me" time and it has been wonderful. The only catch to all of  that "me" time is that I miss a lot of family time in the evening. It isn't all bad, but lately with the increased mileage, I have missed being home for dinner  and playing with the kids before bedtime.

So today I decided that I would take the kids out to the trail for my 5 mile run. Z, my soon-to-be 4 year old would ride his bike, while Olivia, 13 months, would ride in the jogger. Perfection! Before you *tisk* *tisk* my idea of making my almost 4 year old bike for 5 miles, he did it on Monday like it was nothing.*

I filled the jogging stroller with snacks and drinks and we set  off. The first 2.5 miles were GREAT. Z rode his bike and listened to all of my  pre-set guidelines. He stopped at every intersection, stayed within ear shot of
me and didn't whine for a drink every 30 seconds. Olivia was almost the perfect companion, minus throwing her shoes out 1/2 a mile in. Hey, who doesn't want to ride in comfort?

The bad part came when we turned around at the 2.5 mile mark. We  took a nice long drink break and I did a little pep talk about how we only had  to make it back to the van. "You're doing awesome, Z! I'm so proud of  you!!!"

We turn around and take off. My Garmin rings at the 3 mile marker  and I am ready to take off. I turn around and Z is going strong and looks happy.  Then, it happens. "MOMMYYYYYYYYYYY I'M TIRED!!!!!!" He is wailing. Bawling. He scared horses, seriously. So I try to coax him into riding nice and easy and just looking at nature. He wanted nothing of that. He wanted me to push his bike and carry him. CARRY HIM.

 I got him to walk his bike another mile and then when I couldn't take the crying for one more second... I decided to throw his bike into the stream, put him on my back and just run as fast as humanly possible back to the car. Then, I came to my senses and remembered the bike cost a lot of money and
that was a pretty mean thing to do. Plus, I'm not really equipped to carry 40lbs of kid and push 70lbs of jogging stroller and baby.

 So the next best thing I could think to do was this:

and I ran, the rest of the way back to the car. People stared at me and I wanted to cry.

The baby used one of her shoes and hit Z on the back for the entire mile. He
complained that she was hitting him and all I could do was laugh to keep from  crying.

Marathon training with kids = FAIL.

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,

*While screaming at my husband in the middle of the trail about how the
children ruin all of my family fun ideas. He informed me that Z did not do well
AT ALL on the 5 mile bike ride Monday. I would have known this if I were not
running far far ahead of them (to get away from the beautiful screaming coming from Olivia). So, my bad. Whoops!

"It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves" ~ Sir Edmund Hillary
You, too, can look like this one day.
Who here hates hills? OK, all of you put your hands down and repeat after me "I should be ashamed of myself!"

I get it, I really do. Hills are HARD. They push your limits and intimidate you. They HURT! I used to be a hill hater, I admit it. When I first joined Team in Training we had a run that was laden with hills. I thought I was going to die! If one more chipper person said to me, "hills are your friend" they were going to get a foot up their butt. After that run, when I didn't die, I realized that hills really aren't that bad. OK, they are, sometimes, but if I was going to train in Central Pennsylvania (hello mountainous area) I better just get used to it!

I had a little pep talk with myself about hills. Hills are much like obstacles in your life. It would be easier to run away from them than to go over them. Once you conquer them, you realize how much you have accomplished and how much stronger you are for it. Still not buying it? Here are some things that help me while I'm running hills. Give these a try and see if you aren't converted (I'm not asking you to LOVE hills but maybe, just maybe, you can make them your "friend.")

1) Do not try to speed your way over the hill. Keep the same pace (or slightly slower) as you had been running on the flats. Yes, you want it to be over sooner, but you will burn out halfway up if you ignite the proverbial fire in your... well you know where.

2) Stay light on your feet. You are not a horse and you should not hear clomping all the way up. Try to stay on the front of your feet and pretend you're running on egg shells.

3) Keep your head DOWN. Don't stare up at the problem, I mean hill. Chip away at it a little at a time. Give yourself a goal of making it to a road sign and once you pass it, set a new goal. If you're on a busy highway, do look up frequently to make sure you're not going to be flattened like a pancake.

4) If you're in a group, get behind the strongest runner. Tie an imaginary rope around their waist (don't let them know about it, you could really mess with their heads) and let them "pull" you up the hill.

5) Suck wind! Do not forget to breathe because you're all worked up about the hill. Concentrate on your breathing and try to keep it steady. Hyperventilating and hill running are not a pretty combination. I calm my breathing down by sucking in through the nose and then releasing through my mouth.

6) Smile! OK, you really don't have to smile. However, if someone passes you, would you rather look like you're enjoying the hill or that you're only making it to the top so you can die? Don't give the person passing you the satisfaction of pointing and laughing.

7) KEEP GOING. Once you crest the hill you will likely want to stop, turn around and yell profanities. Please do not do this. Keeping your heart at the "my heart is going to explode out of my chest" rate is a great way to train your body to work more efficiently. The more time you keep your heart pumping hard the more time it will get used to it. In short, next time you crush that hill, your heart may not actually be in your throat. You can slowly return your heart to normal "flats" mode as you continue on your route.

8) Visualize. I can't stress enough how taking your mind off of what you're actually doing works. Think about  a crowd of your favorite people cheering for you. Think about your favorite celebrity waiting for you at the top with an umbrella drink. Think that you're not just in your boring neighborhood, but climbing a volcano in Hawaii. Whatever it takes, think about it.

If you try these and not a single one works, well, you may just hate hills forever. Kidding! I do promise that while you think you can't do it, you can. Your heart is NOT going to explode out of your chest and your legs are not going to fall off, sending you toppling back down. You can conquer the hill! I often tell myself that the hills are my true workout during the run. If I can make it count during the hills I can sail during the flats. If you have to walk part of the way up, do it! However, make that hill your new goal to beat. I promise the day you crush that hill will be one you won't forget! Please, whatever you do, don't forget that hills are your friends!!!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,

I guess I can get that pedicure now...
"I ran a marathon and all I got was this lousy broken foot." ~ Holly Chisolm

Did I mention the pain in my foot in my previous blog? No? Well, that's what we'll call a case of 'If you ignore it, it will go away' syndrome.

So my foot. The pain started almost immediately after I stopped running. It was a sharp stabbing pain on top of my foot and running down into my big toe. I spent a few days hobbling and complaining but I just chalked it up to "normal marathon pain." I took a week off from running and finally gave my legs a spin around the block yesterday. A few steps in and my foot was screaming at me. Well, me being me, I kept going for a mile and by the time I got home I knew I was in for it. The pain was back and slightly worse. Dr. Google and I determinded that I had a minor stress fracture, or maybe just torn ligaments or a strained muscle.

I decided that since I'm leaving for the beach on Sunday, I should get an opinion from a human with M.D. after their name. Mr. M.D. determined that I have a broken sesamoid bone. He explained that it's not a "normal" bone break and takes a lot longer to heal. I will possibly require surgery if the bones don't fuse back together, and I can absolutely not even think about running for 8+ weeks. That news is just what I wanted to hear, being a runner and all.

After 18 weeks of training, 26.2 miles of blood, sweat and tears, I have been benched from running. But, running is what I do! Besides being a mom, wife, sister, daughter and friend, I RUN. To have that title taken away from me is to take away my hobby, my freedom, my SANITY.* My foot is going on vacation and my heart is going to check into the nearest insane asylum.

*Ok, I know the title of runner isn't being taken away from me. I will always be a runner and I will be running again, soonish. Also, I'll still be here writing about running, even though I won't physically be out there pounding the pavement!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,



Marathon Finisher!
"There will be days when you don't think you can run a marathon. There will be a lifetime of knowing that you have." ~ Unknown

You know those stories you write after you've had your child(ren)? You detail how you felt leaving the house, how the hospital room looked, the first time you heard the sweet cry from your baby and the days that followed. And of course the pain, oh the PAIN!

I was blessed to be able to write 2 of those stories after my son and daughter were born. Thinking about how I would write and describe my marathon experience brought back those stories. Now of course this is all metaphorical so please do not judge me for comparing the birth of my 2 kids as being remotely close to running a marathon. Just humor me, I'm jet-lagged!

The morning of the race was a bit hectic. I had to meet my team in the lobby of our hotel at 4am (yikes!). I felt pretty awake and made sure to do my normal routine. I covered myself in Body Glide, pulled on all of my gear, made my instant oatmeal and hot tea and set off. The rest of the team was bright-eyed and in great moods. We took a team picture and got a great pep talk from our coaches. We trained for this, we were ready!

We headed to the start line at Balboa Park and joined the other participants in lines at the port-o-pots (I'm givin' it to you straight!). I only wish I could describe what it felt like to be in a crowd of 32 thousand runners: the excitement, the pre-race jitters, the camaraderie. It was overwhelming. As the sun was rising it was time to get into our corrals. I was in corral number 22, which was the 4:30 pace time. The race started at 6:05 and slowly the crowd was moved up to the start line with each corral being dismissed every 2 minutes. I waited for my nerves to kick in and for the jitters to hit me but they never came. I felt so calm and couldn't wait to cross the starting line. I kept telling myself, "It's just a run." 

My foot hit the pad at the start line at 6:44am and instantly I was smiling. The roar of the spectators and everyone in my corral was amazing. My only plan for the race was to start out slow, about a minute under my normal pace. I let people pass me and stayed patient for the first 5k. The crowd thinned out at mile 4 when the 1/2 marathoners split off and I picked up the pace a little bit. I saw my husband just after I finished 10k of the race and I felt great. I walked through water stops as my coaches advised and planned my Gu's perfectly. I sailed through the first half of the marathon in 2:08:05. That part was easy, now it was time to push.

I slammed into "the wall" around mile 15; I never saw it coming. Thankfully one of my coaches was covering miles 16 through 18 so I told myself I just had to find her and she would get me back on track. When I reached Coach Barb, I wasn't in great shape. I was shivering and I had stopped sweating. She ran with me for about a mile and worked with me on visualizing and taking the focus off of how I was feeling. This part of the course was a brutal out and back. There were no spectators and very little scenery. It was hard to focus on anything but my melting feet and cramping legs. After getting some much needed fluids in me and turning the corner to mile 19 I felt a lot better. Only 7.2 more miles to go!

The last part of the course had a lot of highs and lows. There were times I wanted to sit down on a bench and quit, and times I was encouraging people in front of me to keep going. I concentrated on getting myself from water stop to water stop and accepted everything from oranges to Otter pops along the way. The final 5k of the race was out on an island. It sounds good on paper to get to finish a race out by the water, looking at palm trees swaying, but in reality that island was BRUTAL. Everywhere you looked people were walking with their heads down. It was so hard to run past people who looked so defeated. I did my share of running and walking during this part of the race. I made a deal with myself that when my Garmin read 25.2 I would take off running and not stop again.

The last mile of the race was spectacular. Somehow my legs started working again and my brain went along with it. Having strangers screaming your name as you come up to the finish line will give you an adrenaline rush that is hard to duplicate. My coaches urged us to put our arms in the air and SMILE as we crossed the finish line, they even made us practice. It turned out I never needed to practice. My arms shot up about a 100 feet away from the finish and they didn't come back down until I crossed. It was over, I had made it!

The race itself took me 4 hours 34 minutes and 35 seconds for me to complete, but the journey through the run took me back through the 18 weeks of training. Training taught me how to prepare. It taught me how to pace myself, hydrate properly, visualize so I would mentally succeed and most importantly finish strong.

This wouldn't be a proper "birth story" if I didn't put in the parts about the pain. I won't lie, it hurt. My legs turned to sand around mile 20 and I might as well have thrown my shoes away because my feet were burning so badly I thought I was running on hot coals. My sides hurt from breathing and my neck hurt from the times when I was tense. When I finally stopped moving I didn't think I would ever move again. The best advice I was given was to keep moving. I crossed the finish line and didn't stop. I walked and walked and walked. When I finally did stop I was sore but it was manageable.

I've already been asked if I will do another one and to answer simply, yes. Much like with child birth, the pain and exhaustion dissolve quickly when you're handed your brand new baby and become a mom. Or in this case, a bright, shiny medal when I became a MARATHON RUNNER!

Run Hard,
Run Strong,
Run for You,