Thursday, October 29, 2009

Focus like a laser beam

I've written before about the daily emails I received from Jeff Young ( Jeff lives in Lake Oswego, OR and has ALS. He sends out a motivational email and he somehow reads my mind. Whatever I have going on in my life, whatever the struggle, his email will pop up on my screen and the topic will be exactly what I need to hear. This was his email today....

Title: A Burning Focus

Life is full of so many good things we could be spending our time doing that one of our chief responsibilities is to make distinctions not only between good and great uses of our time, but to decide what is the absolute best use of our time. We need to keep our focus concentrated on the job in front of us. To do that, we need to have confidence that what we are doing is the best use of our time. We need to create large “chunks” of time in order to gain precious momentum on projects needed in order to fully engage the brain and all its faculties. Take it as a challenge and a test of your character to focus single-minded
on your most important task, and to persevere until its completion. Focus your mind’s “rays” in this manner and see what kind of “magic” begins to appear in your life.

Good advice. Thanks again Jeff.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stop the madness!

I need Susan Powter to come to my house and yell at me "STOP THE MADNESS" Ever since the marathon, three weeks ago, I have been eating like a ferocious jackass and it is now officially out of hand. The first week, I was like "well, I ran 26.2 miles on Sunday, so I need to refuel". I was refueling with a lot of junk. We usually have treats on the weekends. Cupcakes with lunch on Saturday from the awesome bakery next to our store and then ice cream for dessert on Sat and Sun nights. It has stretched from that normalness to an every day quest for something sweet.

I feel like total crap. My clothes are starting to fit tight from all the bloating I am having due to the unusual amount of salt, sugar and preservatives I have been inhaling. Here's just an example of what just about every day this week has been like:

-My usual pre and post workout shake
-Americano and oatmeal from Starbucks (usually I have a hard boiled egg and english muffin, but this week that oatmeal just seemed so much better, plus, I ran out of eggs)
-Lunch - burrito and chips, philly steak pita or a quesidilla. I usually bring lunch from home, but a friend has decided we need to eat out every day and instead of making my usual good choices, 've gone for what looks best on the menu. Not such a bad idea when you eat out once in a while, but four days in a row....not so much
-Afternoon snack - this is where is goes down hill and fast. Instead of my normal trail mix, I've been adding m&ms. Or taking a trip to Starbucks and getting a latte (no so bad) and a muffin.
-Dinner is usually pretty on track, just because by that time I am starting to feel like crap. Usually because of the Halloween candy I get when I stop at the grocery store for cat litter or some other item that I really don't need, but use as an excuse to go the place where I can get Halloween candy. Or cake. Or cookies.
8 o'clock rolls around and I have come down off my sugar high and tell myself that tomorrow will be different. Then tomorrow comes and I do okay until my morning snack. Then I climb up the ladder to the biggest slide around and its all downhill from there.

Thank goodness that I have been sticking to my workout routine. I haven't weighed myself, mostly because I figure - what's the point? Like I don't know that what has been happening the last few weeks isn't a good thing. I figure when I eventually feel crappy enough, I'll go back to normal. I am pretty sure I've hit that point.

There's nothing wrong with the occassional splurge. That can, in fact, be healthy by keeping you on track. There is a lot wrong with what's been happening around here lately!! Time to get back to normal. As my boss says, "enough of this hilarity, get back to work". Time to get back to work.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Girlfriends 1/2 Marathon Race Report

This has been a FULL race season. We've done lots of events, lots of training. Sunday was really the culmination. I knew that I just needed to make it through this event and then things could ease up and perhaps the pressure could be off a bit. Running a half marathon two weeks after a full marathon wasn't something I would have ever considered before. Both are pretty major undertakings. I am very proud of myself for making it through both of these major events in such a short time and living to talk about it!!!

This event is one of my favorites. It is put on by a local gym owner, Sherri from NW Personal Training. Her events are always awesome. We've been a part of many of them and always enjoy it. This year we have gotten into the habit of participating in the events, not just sponsoring. This event is a women only half marathon to raise money for breast cancer research. The participant field is limited to 1500 and it sold out about 5 months ago.

The race started at 9, we got there around 7:30 to set up the booth. When we got there, things were already in full swing! Lots going on. We unloaded the cars and realized that I had grabbed some chairs instead of the tent, so I drove back home to get the tent (This is the second time I've made this mistake...note to self...remember to check and be sure you have the tent!). Luckily, we live about 5 miles away, so it was no big deal. By the time I got back, Trevor and Ryan (one of our employees) had the booth all set up and were already talking to many women. What a surprise!!

We saw so many familiar faces. All of our favorite people had a part in this event. Its so interesting how people from different parts of our lives all converge on this event. There were many Vancouver/Portland Fit women participating in the event and many of the men were volunteering. Our Doug was on the bike, as the course marshal.

Here's Rob - one of the trainers at NW Personal Training. He is AWESOME!!

Finally, 9 am rolled around and it was time to start. Off we went. The weather was perfect, it had rained all night long, but had stopped in the early morning. It was cool, but not cold. I was glad that I was running in shorts and tshirt. Very comfortable.

The course was a great tour of downtown Vancouver. We ran through the Farmer's Market and all the vendors stopped to watch us. Everyone was wearing pink, so all I could see ahead of me was a sea of pink. About a mile in, I saw Pete - a VFit coach - cheering us on! Yay Pete!! We made our way down by the river and out to Wintler Park. Our Sunday group has run this route many, many times - it was so familiar.

On the way out to the park, I saw one of our VFit members, Nick, out for his own Sunday run. Nick lost over 70 pounds during the marathon training and is a true inspiration. To see him out there, still going, really gave me strength. I yelled to him and he blew me a kiss.

Around this time, Trish and Jo passed me. Not a surprise. A bit later I saw the other Trish and she was hobbling. She hurt herself a while back and has been pushing through the injury. She wasn't sure how she'd do today, she decided to call it quits before she REALLY hurt herself. We waddled along together for a bit, then she saw a friend and hitched a ride with him.

We headed back towards town, then over the new land bridge. I love that land bridge - so pretty. I met up with a gal named Missy. We ran together for a while and talked. We made our way down towards the airport and back around through Fort Vancouver. 13.1 miles really didn't seem so far today. I was feeling really good - just taking it nice and slow.

I met up with another friend, Michelle and ran the last two miles with her. As we came into town, I saw Trevor, waiting to take some pictures. Then we got to the second to last turn and all our VFit guys were there cheering us on. They saw me and started yelling my name and cheering. Michelle said, "you've got a great cheering section, I should run with you more often". As I made the final turn I saw a stranger wearing a Phillies coat - so I yelled to him! What a great day.

We crossed the line in 2 hours and 20 mins. Not bad. We were greeted by girl scouts handing us our finisher's medals, which were these awesome necklaces. There were also firemen handing out water bottles. I wandered around for a while - went back to the booth and had a recovery drink. Then I changed into dry clothes and got some soup.

Sherri always has us help with the awards, which I love. I made my way up the podium and handed out awards to the top finishers. These people always amaze and inspire me and its an honor to be part of the awards ceremony.

After that was over, I wandered around some more and enjoyed more of the awesomeness of the event. I had some fudge, a coffee and a sugar cookie. You could not ask for more yummy stuff than that!!

It was a great day. Maggie even enjoyed herself. This was her first official Max Muscle event - there will be many more to come!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tales of mayhem and darkness

First of all, it is mayhem. I just typed up a big long blog, uploaded a video and then saved it. When I went to view it, 90% of the post was gone. So, I'll try to recreate what I wrote earlier.

I feel like I've written a hundred posts where I've said this - Its been a crazy few weeks around our house. But it has, in fact, been a crazy few weeks.

Our little Maggie, the new 7 month old puppy in our house, has been keeping us up at night. Two nights ago, for the first time, we didn't have to let her out at 2 am. For the first time in three weeks, I was able to sleep through the night. This is a big deal.

You see, I need sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. On a normal day I walk the line between reasonable and unreasonable. I've been called "tempermental". With no sleep or worse yet, interrupted sleep, I am a complete maniac. I'm not proud, but its true. So, when the dog starts crying and yipping at 2 am and Trevor's broken foot keeps him in bed, I have to get up and take Maggie outside.

Usually, when something happens in the middle of the night or needs to be taken care of, Trevor does it. A few months ago, a house across the street was on fire. Our bedroom was full of smoke, there were sirens blaring and lighting up our house. I slept through the entire thing and didn't believe Trevor until I saw the scorched earth later that morning. Trevor said he thought I was dead because no living person would sleep through that. But I did.

Trevor, is the opposite as far as sleep goes. He barely sleeps all night, then he gets his most solid sleep from about 4:30 am to 6 am. The days when I get up and ride my bike on the trainer in the garage are okay for this. Maggie comes out there with me, I'll open the car and she sits in the drivers seat and watches me ride. Then she lays down and sleeps. When I go for a run or do weights, it is not such a good day for Trevor. Maggie doesn't run with me, mostly because I am nervous about running her in the dark. I need to get comfortable running her in the light first. When I am in the workout room, Maggie will come in there with me, but doesn't settle down and will go jump in bed with Trevor.

All of this equals sleep deprivation in our house. It is getting better, I feel like my part of the battle is winding down, I've had three nights of a solid 6 hours sleep. I prefer 8, but considering what its been lately, 6 is a dream come true.

With Trevor's broken foot, he can't go with us on our walks. Three dogs is a little more than I can handle. My hands aren't big enough to really control two leashes in one hand. My knuckles are raw. I've started wearing gloves. Today was warm and by the end of the walk I thought I would pass out from overheating. If you have ever seen the movie Moonstruck - think of the grandfather who lives upstairs and has all the dogs. He takes them for a walk and they are all over the place, they go to the cemetary and they are all over the grave. That's how the walks are. I have had two neighbors ask if I need help. I respond "I do, but not the kind you can give, but thanks!". I think I am finally getting it under control. By the time I do, Trevor will be back with us and it won't matter.

The title of this post is tales of mayhem and darkness. That was the mayhem, now for the darkness. I cannot believe how dark it is when I get up in the morning. I take the dogs for a walk around 6:45 and this last week it has been pitch black. I also notice that I don't need my sunglasses on the drive home. I hate that. I do love Fall and I love the changing colors of the trees. I could sit and look at that all day long, I just love it. It reminds me of home. But the darkness, can't stand it. And the rain has started too - dark and rainy. God help me. I guess I need to start taking some megadoses of Vitamin D. Did you know that our bodies don't make any of that from November to Februray. Seasonal Affect Disorder. SAD. Yes, I have it.

We are really just getting by around here - just like every other family out there. Here are some pictures to make it all better.

Here's Opal and Maggie when I left for work the other morning.

Maggie has a little coat and pack that she wears when we walk. I think she likes it!
Our first trip to the park.
Norwyn watching Maggie get her first bath.
Maggie's first bath.

We are really trying to do the things with Maggie that we wish we would have done with our other dogs. Opal is 12, Wookie is 13, so trying to give them their first bath would go terribly wrong. We figured we start early with Maggie. Same thing with the coat and pack, that way she is ready to run or hike. The others wouldn't stand for it and at this point in their lives, we don't make them do much that they don't want to do.

Word for the day - exhausted. Opal feels the same way - she sleeps downstairs on the couch and when I get down there in the morning, she is usually up. She hears me on the stairs and gets up. The last few days, she is still on the couch, she lifts her head and looks at me, then puts it back down and goes back to sleep. This little puppy is wearing her out. Our favorite part of the day is when Opal and Maggie play. It happens every night and it is so funny. It is clear that it making Opal very tired. Watch this video, you'll see how it goes.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Good times around our house...

I've finally been able to get these pictures up on the computer. Lots going on around here lately!!

The first night we had Maggie at home we walked her with Opal and Wookie. Here she is on her first walk as part of our family.

Maggie likes to look at the computer, can you see her little head to Trevor's right.

Time for bed - Maggie wants upstairs, Norwyn wants downstairs. What to do?

Maggie makes a broken foot feel a little better

One of the last days of summer weather before the rains start. Everyone enjoys the sun! Especially Norwyn and Wookie.

So as you can see, things are good.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Portland Marathon Race Report Part 2

Always more to say, plus I have pictures!

Crazy things can happen during 26.2 miles. Around mile 22, I heard a familiar voice. I turned around and there was Steve - a friend of a friend. He is a super fast runner and I couldn't figure out why he'd be running at my pace. I saw that he was running with another guy, obviously helping him along. I said hi to him and we laughed about meeting there! He had his camera with him and kept running ahead to take some pictures. So I ended up with these pictures, all from mile 21 on. That was a nice surprise. I think I look pretty good for being 4 hour into the run. What do you think?

Mile 21 - eating the last of my Hammer Gels. I was worried about them, usually they are smooth, but today they were gritty. I don't know what that was about, but my stomach was not upset even one time during the run so it must have been okay!

Running down Greeley, it was probably about 1/2 a mile or more and my legs were SCREAMING. I wanted to walk, but knew that would provide no relief and would only take me longer to finish.

This is my favorite picture. I knew Steve was taking it and unlike the other pictures, I had no energy to smile. I was really wondering how I would make it the next mile. Trevor loves this picture because the others are walking and I am running. My mom said, "The last one looks like you are cool and the rest are fighting the run - I can imagine that you will pull out ahead of them." I love that.

Pictures are always fun!

I still cannot believe that it was such a good day. I mean, 10 days before I couldn't even get out of bed without falling to the floor. My back hurt so bad. I wasn't sure I'd even make it to the start line. The idea that I ran 26.2 miles, only walked through water stations and have NO PAIN in my back is really impossible for me to believe. I have these the drs at Clearwater Clinic to thank. Dr. Jake and Greg - if you ever need something fixed, they are your men - here's their website -

I downloaded the information from my heart rate monitor and was looking at what my pace was and where my heart rate was for the marathon. I swear, I have one speed - its called "Go". My average pace for the first six miles was only 13 seconds faster than my average pace for the last six miles. So I basically ran the entire 26.2 miles at the same speed. The last time I ran a marathon, I ran the first 16 miles at one pace and then the last 10 miles were about 4 minutes per mile slower. I know I've said it before, its true, I am so different now than I was then.

I didn't get much time to really reflect on the event because I was so concerned with getting Trevor home and settled. That broken foot really upset me and I couldn't stand watching him hobble around. I wanted him to have run the race so that we could compare notes and talk about how we had done. It wasn't the same to do it by myself. The thing I love most about doing these crazy things is doing them with Trevor. Some of the joy goes away when he can't share it with me.

At the finish line, when I hugged Trevor, I cried and told him how sorry I was that he didn't get to feel what I was feeling. I was also sorry that we didn't get to spend time enjoying it with all our friends who had run the race. We got to celebrate with them on Monday night at our "celebration dinner".
Trevor altered his "finisher shirt" to accurately reflect his course that day.

Vancouver folks. I love these people. Seriously. Love. Them.

All in all, it was a good day. I have been sore and tired all week, but overall, feel pretty good. I am ready to look ahead and figure out what the next year will bring. I'm sure it will be beyond my wildest imagination. If someone else had my life...I'd be jealous.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Portland Marathon Race Report

I would normally have written this on Sunday or Monday, but Maggie (our new puppy) chewed through the power cord on our computer. It has taken us a few days to get that fixed.

It was a tough week leading up to the marathon. I hurt my back about 10 days before and spent all my time trying to get that fixed so that I could even make it to the start line. Then, a week before, we added Maggie to our family. Maggie did not sleep through the night until Friday. I was very concerned about fatigue and injury. I knew it was a crap shoot and anything could happen. I just wanted to make it to the start line.

I took it easy on Friday and Saturday, got two good nights sleep. Sunday morning, when the alarm went off at 4:15 am, I was actually ready to get up. We got our stuff together and headed downtown. It was so nice to have such few things to take with us! I am so used to our triathlons, where we take the whole house with us!

We got downtown and parked, we were early. This is a first. Usually we are rushing around, not today. We met with our training group from 6 to 6:15, headed to use the restroom and then to the start line. It was really chilly and so I had worn a sweatshirt and sweatpants that I planned to leave behind at the start. Everyone does that and then the marathon donates the clothes to charity.

I was wearing my favorite pair of purple sweatpants. I've had them for 9 years and Trevor HATES them. Sunday was going to be the day I let them go. We stopped at my work (which is about 3 blocks from the start line) to use the bathroom. I took of my purple sweats and left them there. I couldn't bear to let them go, I figured I'd stop on the way back to the car after the run and get them. Needles to say, when I walked out of the bathroom, Trevor wasn't super happy that the purple sweats were no where to be seen!

We got down to the start line and found some friends. Everyone was so nervous. I couldn't believe it had been 7 years since I last ran this marathon. So much has changed.

The gun went off and we finally got the start line. I hit my watch and off we went! The weather was perfect for a long run, cloudy and cool. I warmed up right away. I was very nervous about how my body was going to feel. My plan for the day was to run by my heart rate. I wanted to keep it under 155. I also planned to stay in the middle of the road, or on any part of the road that did not have a slope. The slope in the road causes my right leg to hurt after about 9 miles. I knew if I could make it past 9 miles with no pain, I'd be in good shape. My final plan was to walk through every water station, but run the rest of the day. I had three Hammer Gels, two Nuuns (electrolyte tabs)and that was all I planned to injest, other than water.

Things were going pretty well. I was surprise how long it took to the crowd to thin out. We were headed towards mile six, the beginning of an out and back portion of the route. I was excited because I figured I would pass Trevor here and get a chance to see how he was doing. As we got past the 6 mile marker, I saw Trevor, standing on the side of the road, apparently waiting for me. Several thoughts went through my mind - maybe he wanted to run with me, maybe he wanted to tell me something or he saw someone that he needed to point out to me. Those thoughts went out of my mind as fast as they came in and I knew there was no good reason for him to be standing there.

I stopped and Trevor told me that he had stepped in a pot hole and fell down. His foot hurt so badly that he felt sick to his stomach. He was almost in tears and I almost cried too. It just sucked to go through all the training and prep and have your day end that way. I asked if he wanted me to stop too and take him home. He said no, to keep going. So I took his bib and put it around my waist. I was going to run for both of us.

We kissed and went our seperate ways - Trevor, walking back to the start, me, on my way to the finish. I spent the rest of the day worrying about Trevor. Every time it got really hard, I reminded myself that Trevor was sitting somewhere, wishing he could be out there running. That kept me on track.

The miles were going by pretty quickly. My heart rate kept getting up around 158, so I'd slow down. I stopped to use the restroom a few times. I was following my plan and I felt good. I ran into several people I knew and ran with them for a while.

We hit the St Johns bridge - that's about mile 16. I thought back to my marathon in 2002, this was where I fell apart. I refused to fall apart this time. After the bridge, we took a turn and went downhill for a bit. My quads were killing me!!

Miles 17-22 flew by. Once I got to around 19, I could fell the finish line moving closer to me. I kept thinking "7 more miles, that's a long weekday run", "5 more miles, that's a short weekday run". When I got to 24, I knew I would finish. There was a long downhill and it really hurt my legs. I thought about walking, but knew that would not make things feel any better and it would only take longer to get done. So I just kept running.

I crossed the Broadway Bridge and got to mile 25. My God. How can 1.2 miles seem so far?! It was at this point that I wanted to fall apart. This was the hardest part of the day for me. Luckily, there was only 1.2 miles left. There were alot of people who I saw falling apart way earlier!!

We turned onto Naito Parkway and I kept trying to see where the turn off to Salmon Street was. I knew that once I got there I was almost home. I walked through one last water station and then I could see it - I could see the masses of people turning off the main road. I finally got there and made the turn.

The turn onto Salmon is one of the best parts of the run. This is where all the spectators start piling up to see the finishers. The energy is just amazing. As I turned the corner, I saw our friend Doug. He cheered for me and opened his arms. I ran straight to him and almost knocked him over as we hugged. He let go and said "go finish this thing". At that point I started to cry, I kept running and then I saw Trevor. Then I really lost it. I made the final turn and ran across the finish line.

Time: 5 hours 14 min
That's 50 minutes faster than my 2002 finishing time.

As I walked through the finishers area I was overcome with relief. and pride. My main goal for this marathon was to enjoy every minute. And I did. I loved how it felt to push through something hard. I loved how it felt. That may be sick, but its true.

I spent the last 7 or so miles thinking about the why. Why do I do this? What about this makes it worth it? To be out there running for 5 hours? Why? The feeling I had in the last .2 miles is the why. You can't get to that any other way than through the 26 miles before it. You can't cheat it, you can't fake it. You have to earn it. Every step, every inch, every minute. You have to earn it. And unless you have ever earned it, you cannot understand how that feels. But I'll tell you this, nothing feels better.

I walked over to Trevor and cried for him because he didn't get to feel that today. And that just sucks.

We made our way back to the car and headed for home. It wasn't until we were home that I realized I had not gone back to get my purple sweats. I wouldn't be back to work until at least Tuesday and I had left them in the bathroom. I knew they were done. Trevor smiled a big smile. Finally, no more purple sweats. Luckily for me, I have another pair, only worse. They are pajama bottoms, purple with cats on them and they say things like "Feline Groovy" and "its a great day to be a cat". I've been wearing them for a few days now!

Its been a crazy few days since then - Trevor has a broken foot, he's on crutches and should be for about two weeks, then it will just be a couple weeks and he'll be back to normal! We'll need to find a winter marathon so that Trevor can complete it!

I tried to not think too hard about the Ironman next year. I'll get to do another marathon then - only there will be a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride first. I don't want to get ahead of myself. For now, I just want to process my marathon. And bask in the satisfaction. Because I did it.

I'll post a few pictures in a day or so.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It ends where it began

This morning was the last workout before the marathon on Sunday. I did a short, 3 mile-ish loop by my house. This was the first workout I did back in March when the training was just beginning.

This run is such a familiar, comfortable course. I run out of my neighborhood and down the main road. Over the course of the past six months, I have run in all sorts of weather. I have run in the dark and cold of early spring, the dark and rain of actual Spring, the early dawn light of Summer and now the fading light and coolness of Fall. When there is a full moon, I see it as I run out of my neighborhood and over the first little hill. I love that.

I go for about half a mile and then cross the only major intersection of this run. I used to go through it against the light or with the light - when I saw no traffic. After my brush with the law this summer for crossing through a green light, with no walk sign, I always stop now and wait for the "walk" sign.

I follow the road past the new park they are building, that was just an open field back in March. I pass the elementary school where I have watched the sign out front say "spring break", "have a great summer", "back to school night". I turn into a neighborhood where I have watched boats appear in driveways and no go away to be stored for the winter. I pass the liliacs that were in full bloom in May.

I turn to go down a small, paved path between houses. The path is lined with trees. I remember how the trees were bare when training began, then they budded. One day, I turned down the path and was overwhelmed by the pink flowers that filled the branches. The pink turned to brown and now those branches are losing their leaves. They showed me the way one last time before Sunday.

I looped around and headed for home. Its been a hectic, crazy six months since the first training run. I have had my ups and downs, good days and bad. Some of the time, this run has been so simple, other days, it has been a back breaking slog. It has been a journey of self-reflection. I have learned about myself and what I am capable of during this time.

I hurt my back last week and was really wondering if I would even make it to the start line on Sunday. I'm not saying I feel great. I am certainly exhausted - our new addition, Maggie, has been keeping me up all night. I am still having some aching and stiffness in my back/hips/legs. But on Sunday at 7 am, I'll stand at the start line with thousands of others. And I'll be ready for whatever that day and that race gives me. It may be a good day, it may not, but I will be proud to be at the start and let it unfold how it will.

I love these days of reflection. Sometimes I get out there and get so caught up in all that is going on, what we are training for, all the stress of it, all the worry and the work. Every once in a while, its awesome to sit back, look at where I've been and see how far I've come.

I'm ready for Sunday. 26.2. Its just a thing.