Monday, April 25, 2011

On my own....

This Sunday, I will run my 7th stand alone marathon (I love that I have to differentiate between a stand alone marathon and a marathon that comes at the end of an IRONMAN triathlon!!). I ran my first marathon alone. I didn't have any friends who were there doing it too...they had all dropped out and so I started and finished alone. No one else truly experienced that day with me.

The last 5 marathons I have done have been with friends. Trevor has started every one of those marathons with me (he finished 4 of them - broke his foot at the 5th, so didn't finish). He has been at the finish line waiting for me. There has always been at least one other friend, if not more, at the start line with me. I have always seen familiar faces out on the course, going through what I am going through - struggling or having a good day. This time, it will be just me.

I have two great friends, Angel and Jo, who will be doing the half marathon. Trevor will be on his bike, out on the course to cheer me on. But it won't be the same. I am really excited about this race on Sunday. It will be the first time I have had a goal, other than "finish with a smile". But I have to be honest, I am very sad that I will be doing it alone. I have always said that doing these crazy things together is what makes them so great.

After I am done with the marathon, Trevor and I will start our training for the Rev3, half iron distance triathlon we are doing in July. We'll do that together and I can't wait. I like to run alone, but I also like to know that there is someone I love out there on the same course as me, experiencing it along with me. My favorite part of any event is doing a race recap with Trevor. I know we'll do one for this marathon too - only his recap will have a different twist - that of a spectator and main cheerleader. He better be careful, I may find that I like having him out there in that role!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The road to 4:22

I've been doing marathons and triathlons for several years now. I always have a finish time in mind, but that is more of a calculation than a time goal. I have always trained to finish and feel good. I train for the distance, not for a specific pace.

Last year, I did 4 stand alone marathons. My times increased for the first three, then dropped on the last (it was the end of the season and an indication that I needed an offseason!) My times were 5:17, 5:10 and 5:04.

Over the winter, I did some training with Trevor for his fight. I would go with him to the gym and do the stair machine. This really helped me work on my leg speed. I found that my running pace picked up. That got me thinking....what if I set a time goal and actually trained for it? What would happen?

These thoughts brought on a ton of anxiety. If your only goal is to finish, most of the time you will achieve that. If you have a specific goal, there's a chance you won't achieve it. That scares me.

Well, I decided that this would be the year of doing it better. I registered for the Eugene Marathon on May 1st and started trianing. I had been hearing good things about a training program from a book called Run Less, Run Faster. This plan includes three runs per week. Speed work, tempo training and long runs (all the long runs are over 13 miles). I decided I would give it a shot. I bought my first Garmin GPS heartrate monitor - which is necessary to track pace.

The plan calculates your finish time based on shorter distance runs. I marked in the book where I thought I would fall. Then, I went out and did a 10k race and realized that my time was actually faster than I had marked. That scared me even more.

The 16 week training has been the most difficult I have even done. I am used to running just to run. This has required much more focus and effort. My speed work is very challenging and the tempo runs push my limits. The long runs have been the best for me because I believe that endurance in my strength.

I missed a few workouts due to injury or illness, but I completed every other one of the workouts at the pace and time prescribed by the plan. I love a plan and when I have a plan, I will stick to it. I have had a lot of anxiety as I did these workouts. I remember the first speed training day, I was to run an 8 minute mile. I was seriously SCARED that I wouldn't be able to do it. Then I realized that this challenge should be fun, otherwise why do it? I have to remind myself of that often!!

I think the speed training has been the hardest. There is one part of it that I really look forward to. I do my speed work at a path that goes around a local elementary school. Its about 2 miles to get there and then the path is about a half a mile around. Every time I am there, an old Asian man is walking the path. When I first run past him, he waves at me. Every other time I pass him, he either claps or he makes the sound of the wind "woosh". It makes me smile every time and it also makes me want to cry. I don't know him and he has no idea how much he encourages me. He is very sweet. Just out for a walk!!

So in less than two weeks - on May 1st - I will run the Eugene Marathon. My time goal is 4:22. That is 42 minutes faster than my previous best time. This is a very lofty goal. I plan to average 9:57 miles, my previous marathons have been about 12 minute miles.

I believe I can do it, I envision doing it and I am so nervous about doing it!!! This will be the first marathon I have started by myself in a long time. Trevor is usually at the start line with me. This time, he will be on his bike, riding around the route to be my #1 cheerleader.

I look forward to the challenge and to making this year one of new personal bests!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What a difference a year makes

I have been missing my Gussie lately. It was this time last year that we learned Gus' tumor had returned and that his days were short. I was looking back at my blog from that time and read this post:

Gus left us in October, 6 months after he was diagnosed. It is strange to read that post now, knowing how it all ended. It went just as the vet told us it would go. It is impossible to believe he is gone. We have six other pets and I love all of them. I always joke that Gus divided up his responsibilities among the rest. The others have all taken over where Gus left off, almost as if it was planned so I wouldn't feel the void.

Norwyn (aka Tuna), took on most of the duties. He sleeps by my head, works out with me, greets me when I get out of the shower and sits in the sink. Gus always used to drink water from the sink. Tuna will be sitting in the sink looking at me like he has no idea why he is in the sink, as if to say "Gus told me to get in the sink and I don't know what I am supposed to do, but I am in the sink".

Daisy sleeps between me and Trevor, just enough to make things uncomfortable and sometimes disturb our sleep...Gus liked to do that.

Roxie (aka Baby), well, she is a baby and so she has no responsibilities!

Opal is the oldest and sickest. I think Gus told Opal to take over with the vet bills. Since Gus passed, Opal has become the medicine queen. She takes a lot of pills every day for all kinds of issues, that was always Gus' thing. Now its Opal's.

Maggie, well, her job is play with everyone. She chases all the others and always just wants to play. Gus would like that.

Buster has the most important job. I believe that Gus told him that I would need a best friend. Buster has taken over that job, he is always happy to see me. He runs to greet me - Gus always did that. When he saw me, he would run to me. Buster does the same thing.

There are a lot of things that make me think of Gus, every day, every where. The others do a good job of filling the void so it isn't so deafening. But I sure do miss that sweet kitty. He was such a part of our lives and it hurts to know that he is gone. In my blog post from last year I said that we were going to take one day at a time and were going to work hard to remember everything we could. I know I did that, especially those last few months, I remember just about every minute I spent with Gus. I remember how he looked, how he felt, how he smelled. I hope I remember that forever. And I hope he is laying in the sun right now, sighing with contentment. I miss you Gussie....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My little man

I was looking through some pictures today and found these two:

The first picture was taken on the ride home from the Shelter. We were taking Buster home and as you can see, he looked very worried. Buster was 3 years old when he came to live with us and he had 4 previous homes in his short life. When I look at this picture now, it makes me want to cry. He had been in a no kill shelter for a while and they allowed all the dogs to play together. I believe they spent most of their day out in the yard portion of the shelter. Buster looked like he had been playing pretty hard! He has cuts and scrapes and seemed a little beat up.

I loved Buster from the moment I saw him. I saw a picture of him online and just knew he would come live with us. I loved his little furry face, his beard! I called him little man from the first time we met him and I still call him that now.

I cannot describe how much I love this dog. There is something about him that cuts right to my heart and sometimes I feel like I love him so much that my heart will explode.

The second picture was taken over the winter. You can see that he is really happy. I cannot imagine taking him back to the shelter. I don't know how people do that.

When we first got him, he was afraid to get in the car, like he thought that we would be taking him back. Now, he runs to the door to get into the garage when we even start to look like we will be leaving! He LOVES the car. He sits in the passenger seat and looks out the front window like he can't wait to see where we are going. I love that he is so happy. He and Maggie are best friends. I think he loves her most and then me and Trevor are second. He really wants to play with Opal, but she isn't having any of that!!

This little Buster is the current love of my life. No matter what else happens, he loves me and sometimes love is all you need. I hope he lives to be 100.

20 miles in a skirt!

Today was the last LONG run before the Eugene Marathon on May 1. 20 miles. For the 3rd time in the last 6 weeks. This training has been tough, really tough. But it also has been working. Today, I ran 20 miles at an average of 10:10 per mile. My plan called for 10:12, so I was a little fast. The route had some challenges, like a mile long hill from mile 17 to 18. I felt strong the entire time and I finished up at the same pace at which I started. I didn't start fast and slow down, I held a consistent pace.

Today was really the last day to test drive any gear before the marathon. Next week, I run 13, the following week I run 10 and then the marathon is here!!! Last week, I wore this black running skirt for 15 miles and had some chaffing issues. Today, I used body glide in all the appropriate places. I wasn't sure how it would go.

Getting out the door is the toughest part of my run. I needed to leave home by 7 am. I planned to leave at 6:30, but I was sitting on the couch, drinking my coffee while Trevor and all the dogs slept. I wanted to just lay down and sleep with them. But I didn't. I got dressed and off I went. Here is how I looked before...

And here is how I looked after...

There is a reason why my running friends call me "Sweaty". So embarassing...but Opal doesn't seem to mind (she is licking my salty leg!!)

I feel ready for the marathon. I have a very lofty goal for that day, I want to beat my previous marathon time by about 40 minutes. That is a lot of time. My previous best was 5 hours and 4 minutes. I am shooting for 4 hours and 22 minutes. May 1st....can't wait...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I don't like change

I am a very regimented person. I have routines, I like things done in a certain way, all the time. I am a scheduler, a planner. When things don't go according to my plan, it upsets me. I am this way with food too. I plan out our meals in advance and we usually eat the same thing for days in a row. Luckily, Trevor doesn't mind this at all. We have very little variety.

My stomach is a constant problem. About 5 years ago, I had a food intolerance test done and found that I was intolerant to just about everything. I cut a lot of things out of my diet, which made it ever easier to have no variety in my diet. I have done okay for a while, but the last six months I have just felt crappy. My stomach is ALWAYS upset, I am always bloated and have frequent heartburn.

I went back to my doctor and had my test redone. The test showed that I have a serious problem with dairy. Whey, in particular, is an issue. The highest reading limit was 1500. Whey came in at 1492. I have whey protein in my oatmeal, every morning. Followed by whey protein in my pre workout, post workout and sometimes as a snack. Needless to say, my insides are a mess.

I tested medium to high on quite a few other things. My doctor recommened a cycle approach to my diet. This means that I eat completely different things every day. What? That makes my head hurt. I started eating like that this week. I am on day 4. I felt better for two days, yesterday I felt awful and today I feel okay. I guess it will take some time to settle in and for my insides to heal and actually feel good.

I realized there was a problem when I was in the Emergency room a while back with stomach pains. It took forever to see a dr (in fact, we never did, we left). When I checked in, I was at a 9 out of 10 on the pain scale. Trevor told me, several hours later, to tell him when I was at a 1 and we would leave. I told him that I am never at a 1. I live life around a 3 on the pain scale. I got to thinking about that and it just didn't seem right.

So, we are going to give this all a shot and see how I feel. I need to start backing off on the coffee, but I am REALLY holding on tight to that. One of the best parts of my day is my morning coffee....about half a pot of it. I think I was start to cut back on that, wean myself off it and see how that works. I figure the rest of my diet is mayhem right now, that one thing can ground me...right??? We'll see..