Thursday, June 28, 2007

My first marathon - the why, how, and after

Twin Cities Marathon Oct 2003.

I didn't take the traditional route to doing a marathon. The marathon was my first race EVER. Now what was I thinking?!? Who knew there were other races out there. :) We were in the process of buying our first house in Jan. 2003 and our mortgage lady said she ran marathons and I was like I can do that too. So I found a book, "The Non Runners Guide to Marathon Training" and started to train on my own. So I trained using that book and then switched over to Hal Higdon's novice plan in July. I had ups and downs through the training. I kept getting injuries, mainly pains in my feet after a certain distance and needing to back off and start up again.

Needless to say going into the marathon was scary and nerve racking. My longest run to date was a 17 miler and that didn't go so well because my foot hurt. So I even questioned myself if I was going to even run the darn thing. I was so worried I wouldn't finish. It didn't even cross my mind that I wouldn't walk parts of the race because who knew other runners kinda look down on other runners that walk. Silly me, this race was for me and not them.

I can remember standing at the start line as it was yesterday. My heart was beating as fast as it could and my mind kept racing. What the hell was I thinking? What am I doing here? Wow, there are a lot of people that run these things. Will I finish? When is the horn going to blow?

It sounded and there we were off. I felt fine up through 7 miles. Then I kept getting tired. I was so tired at the half and realized I had half more to go. What was I thinking? Can I do this? I trudged on. Mile 19 - Man, I'm stupid, why am I out here, 26.2 miles is a long ways. My feet hurt and my legs are super tired. But all I kept thinking was I can't stop. I need to keep moving forward.

The last 10k is a blur. I can't even reminder how I got through it. At mile 26 and seeing the finish line a big smile came to my face and I ran as fast as I could. That meant I could stop running and rest and get off my feet. My legs, body, and mind were so sore. It took a lot of mental power to get through the last 10k. I didn't have a big emotional meltdown after I crossed the finish line as I was to emotional drained from just finishing a marathon. I was super happy I finished but wished I had done better.

Hey, it was my first and I did enjoy it and look I'm hooked. I've completed a total of 4 and currently training for number 5. But it took awhile. I totally took off running for 3 months since I couldn't think of running anymore. But I decided I wanted to run another one so I started training again in Jan of 2004 for the Grandma's Marathon in June 2004. Running marathons is a gradual process and I learn something new everytime I train and run another one. I don't get as nervous at the start line but I always do question myself during training but in the end I always finish the race even if it's not what I was hoping for.

What you can't reach makes you stronger as you strive to reach it.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Epiphany waiting to happen

I have sat many hours thinking over my running and realized I have made huge improvements since I first started in 2002. Then how come my mind frame is still stuck in the past? I need to get past my fears and limitiations and not be afraid to finally surpass what I am seeking. I know I'm not that slow awkward runner anymore who was scared to look at her shadow while running because it wasn't a pretty sight.

My running times reflect something different than a slow runner of what I thought. I have improved significantly and then that raises a whole new set of issues for me. Can I get any faster? Do I want to? I know running should be about enjoying it and not worrying about what other runners do but for me it's all about the time. It has to do with the competitiveness nature within myself. I know I can do better, so how can that realization be made. What happens if the goal isn't met? I know I will never win but it's something about the numbers and where you stack up against other runners. I think our world forces people to judge one another and look down upon people who aren't at their same level. I think that is what I get when I run. Even though I have completed marathons I feel my finishing times aren't worthy enough as they were well over 5 hours. You always get asked, "Will you ever run Boston" "So what was your time?" You give it and they are like "wow that's a long time to be out there." "Did you then get picked up by the bus" I just get this feeling that anything over 5 hours isn't deem in high regard to other runners that finish faster. I want to get the same recognition of someone who finished faster. I am just slower but deserve the credit for being out there and it has nothing to do with poor training. Do you really think I enjoy being out there that long? Don't get me wrong, I love that I have finished all of my marathons but deep down in my heart I know I could have done better.

How come it's hard to change a mind set that is no longer true. Changing the way you look at reality is a tricky thing. Maybe it's just something you learn as you grow older and wiser. I don't know but it's something I struggle with. I also think body image issues come along with losing weight and they are all in the same mind set of beleiving you have gotten better/faster. For me running and losing weight have so much in common it's hard to wrap my mind around it all at once. For example: Shopping for clothes / running clothes. Why do you always go for the bigger size when you should try the next size down. Is it habit? Or are you afraid you don't fit in that next size? Whatever it is, it challenges the way you think. I think changes or epiphanies happen over time little by little sometimes without even realizing it and that is hard getting used to.

Shuffling it all around...

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time fitting all my runs in. Sometimes it's because I'm scheduled up to my eyeballs, other times it's because I blew off a run early in the week and then get caught up with shuffling things around to make my remaining runs fit.

This week, for example, I had a work event Tuesday night. Wednesday, I ran just 3 miles, testing out the ITBS, felt fine. Last night, I stopped by my Mom's house to help her w/ something and of course got persuaded to stay for dinner - and I'm sorry, but I can't really run after a steak dinner. Now here it is, Friday afternoon, I can run tonight and tomorrow, but have houseguests arriving at noon and won't be able to run on Sunday.

So, I'm doing my long run tonight (8 miles), and will try to do 3 tomorrow a.m. I've never done an evening long run followed the next morning by short distance. I'll report back on how successful that is. :-)

If nothing else, shifting my long run to Friday THIS week helps w/ next week's scheduling. I'll be on the road starting next Friday a.m., so will do my long run on Thursday. Phew, too much to think about this far in advance...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Injuries--Peeling the Onion!

I feel like I've been "peeling the onion" with my injuries since I started running. It sems like each injury is another layer in figuring out what needs to happen for me to run.

While training for my first 10K 3 years ago, I was running in my neighborhood. The streets in our neighborhood are narrow, and they slope to allow drainage into the ditch. You are supposed to run facing into the traffic for safety, so I was always running with my left leg on the slope. Soon I had a pain in my hip that I blamed on my dog pulling me into a ditch while she was chasing a rabbit.

I stopped running for a while after that, and took it up again for the same 10K a year later. This time I ran on a local path and didn't really have much pain. I developed Runner's Knee and switched to more supportive inserts and that started going away. I ran 2 half mararthons and my first full marathon.

I then started a Winter base building program. Due to our super-snowy Winter in Colorado, I spent most of my time running on a treadmill. This altered my gait to the point where I got a pinched sciatic nerve and a pain around my hip that just hurt sometimes when I ran but mostly when I sat.

I went to my massage therapist and talked to her about this. I go for a Sports Massage about once a month. She told me that she thinks my pain is ITBS and that I should work with my foam roller and also on strengthening my lower back.

I am trying this, but I'm starting to wonder if I will ever run injury free.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Well, here we are, 2 weeks into training season for my fall marathon, and I'm in slight panic mode because my IT Band is acting up.

I've had this once before, back in 2000 when I did my first marathon. Just a little discomfort during training season, didn't even know what it was, shrugged it off and kept running - that is, until race day, when after a mile-long downhill coming off the 59th street bridge, I was doubled over in pain. Walked the last 10 miles to finish the race, and two weeks post-marathon, when I was still in horrible pain just walking, gave in and saw a sports medicine guy who promptly diagnosed me with ITBS. Took about 5 months to recover from it.

Now here we are, early in the training season, and I'm already passed the mild discomfort stage. Am icing off and on during the day, being very faithful to my stretching, and will hope for the best.

In the meantime, I'm getting recommendations for sports medicine doctors in my area. Harrumph (as she stamps foot in annoyance)...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Twas The Night Before My First Marathon

Well, I'm about to run my first marathon, I still can't believe it's here. As a fun way to visualize myself completing it I felt compelled to create a poem to remind me of how far I've come.



Twas the Night before my first marathon, when all through the house
I was trying to fall asleep, curled up next to my spouse;

My body was hydrated and nourished with care,
In hopes that the finish line soon would be there;

My Optima Orange mixture was poured in my bottles;
In hopes that its formula would result in full throttle;

I lay back and envisioned me in my mesh runner’s cap,
My mind racing as I went over the 26.2 mi course map;

When all of a sudden it was morning, it was time!
I sprang from my bed, I was ready, I was primed!

Away to the kitchen I flew like a sprinter,
And took in the Northern MN scenery, glad it wasn’t winter.

The sun was not up yet, the lake was still dark
But the energy of 9000 runners was making its mark

And suddenly, just then, as I stood in the hall
Out peaked the sun, saying morning to all!

I devoured my breakfast, a carb/protein feast
I would successfully battle the race jitters beast

We loaded the cars on the way to the bus
The mood was calm, no one made a fuss

The bus took us away up the road to Two Harbors
Everyone chattering, like you would to your barber

Hello! Good Morning! Fine Day for a Run!
I hear it might rain! Watch out for the Sun!

Is this your first one? Your first Marathon?
Good Luck! Have a Blast! You’ll Be a Pro Before Long!

I smiled and thought I’m not sure about that,
But then we rounded a bend, the start sign in view
And I got off the bus, the crisp air filled with dew

I wandered around, my sister in tow
Both wondering and waiting, how long till we go?

We found my friend Linda, under the right pace sign
And waited and waited until it was time.

We lined up and pondered whose idea was this?
I could be sleeping or relaxing with Chris!? (DH)

But no time for doubts, with a bang we were off!
We stood there, then walked, then started to trot.

Pretty soon we were running, and at a good clip
A volunteer offered me water and I took a big sip.

We ran and we walked and we ran and we walked,
We remembered our supporters, about them we talked

My running skirt flapped, my brow started to sweat
I poured water on my head, my team jersey proudly wet

We ticked off the miles, 5, 10, and 15,
It was getting warmer, the lake was pristine
(I thought am I really doing this, is this all a dream?)

We ran and we walked and we ran some more
What could be better then running along the North Shore?

Down Highway 61 we ran and we ran
Taking it all in, the beauty, the rigor, the fans

We racked up the miles, we started to slow
But we wouldn’t give in when fatigue tried to show

I listened to my breathing, steady and smooth
I could do it, I’d make it, success would I choose

Mile 17, and 18, 19, and 20
My body was starting to say, “Hey! This is Plenty!”

But I was nearing the end, the farthest I’d ran!
I’d followed my program, this was part of the plan!

We entered Duluth, the trickiest part
You think that you’re done, but that’s sure a lark!

2 more miles to go, running through town
The crowds cheering madly, I didn't dare frown!

Then what to our wondering eyes should appear,
But the finish line sign and the crowds they did cheer

The finish was close, the clock was in sight
I knew I wouldn't have trouble sleeping tonight!

And then we were there, crossing the line
We had made it, together, and in a pretty good time!

We took a quick photo, proof of our feat!
Grabbed bananas and water, slim fast, and carbo treats

We had done it, we finished, 26.2 miles!
And all we could do was just smile, smile, smile.

Running to ease the mind

Let me begin with the simple fact that I am an extremely anxious person. It takes very little to stress me out and it takes a long time for me to let go of things that a "normal" person can brush off easily. Throughout my life I have dealt with this anxiety with either stuffing my face or not eating at all. Neither which have been good for me and neither of which have made me feel any better. Thankfully I have re-found running.

I have been running on and off for 10 years now. I ran in high school on the cross country team and even on non-race days could not disassociate running from competition. Everything was about beating someone else whether it was in miles ran or time from start to finish. In the end, running became more of a stressor than a relaxor.

It took me a few years to learn that I could run for me and that being "slow" or only going for a 2 mile run was not a bad thing. I found that running helped me clear my head. Typically my mind will race a million miles a minute, but when I lace up my shoes and start my run I can sort through my thoughts and calm myself down. I don't find myself reaching for the fridge handle as much anymore but instead I reach for a clean sports bra. And although i still stress too much, and am a little stubborn, I have found something for me, that no one can take from me, that has the ability to make to feel better.

The mental game?

I find the major challenge in my running is getting out the door at all. It's a real struggle for me sometimes to get out there after a sh*tty day at work, and there are MANY of them right now. It's just a matter of remembering how fantastic I feel both mentally and physically after a run. The person who could bottle that feeling would be rich indeed.

On the positive side, I'm much better at pushing myself and my limits during my actual run. Someone on another running board I follow has a quote in his siggy: "Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. " - William James. I'm trying to live by that now - hey, my legs might be tired, my lungs might be about to burst on a tough hill, but darn it, I'm going to keep going - and sure enough, once I reach the top, I've completed it and I'm still moving. Hills, distance, speed, I'm trying to work that "second wind" on all of them, and am gratified to find it holds true more often than not.

Your friend Lisa hard at work

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mother and Son running together

This is me and my son Aidan running the 1 mile kid's beach run on Siesta Beach.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Future Topics!

--How do I know if I have what it takes to run a half marathon or a marathon?
--How to find a running club
--How to pick a training plan
--Finding a good running bra
--Finding good shoes
--Injuries in the First Person--my (insert body part) hurts and what I did
--Personal Safety
--Significant Races
--How do I get faster?
--Picking a marathon
--Can I lose weight while training?
--Finding time to run
--Finding time to train
--What to wear to run in what condition
--Treadmill training
--Turning your event into a family vacation
--Gadgets, gizmos and accessories (GPS, Hydration kits, baby joggers anything that helps us!)
--Returning to running after an extended period
We are a group of friends who met through a running message board. All of us wanted to lose weight, be healthy and we all wanted to see if we could finish a half marathon or marathon! Some of us run, some walk, some do a combination of the two. We did it, and we think you can too!

Most of us have run a full marathon; others have run a half marathon and are deciding if they want to run a full marathon

We are just like you. We have jobs, families, school and many reasons not to train, but we have found that we are better for our training and that we have made lasting friendships while we do it.

This site is not a collection of training schedules. There are other places to find those and they are that are written by people who train others for a living for that. This is common advice—the things your girlfriend would tell you—if she were a marathoner, that is!