Monday, October 20, 2014

How do you follow up a marathon?

I feel like whenever you accomplish a huge feat, there's this kind of... sadness.  Mystery.  Looming question.  You work so hard for something, and suddenly, it's all over.  What the heck are you supposed to do when that all ends?
 Other than lay face-down sideways on the bed for a long time.  That's a given.

The natural answer is to find a new metaphorical mountain to climb.  It's certainly not a bad answer, I do have some big fitness goals on the horizon, and I am excited to get a jump on those.  But at the same time, those big physical goals take up a lot of time, and require sacrifices in other areas of your life.  Less time for schoolwork, less time for friends and family, it all takes its toll, and then it's over, and it's so easy to fill that void with the next obvious to grasp for goal.  Obviously, it only makes sense to rest for a few weeks, and then start off-season training, so that when February comes along, triathlon training can begin in earnest.  It makes sense.  It is what I have said all along that I was working toward, and I truly believe that.  There is a butterfly in my stomach, the tri-butterfly, and it just won't quit fluttering around in there until I give it what it wants.

There are other goals, though.  Goals like finishing school, finding a grown-up Accounting job, becoming financially stable, moving across the country (have I not mentioned that in a while?  Yeah.  We still want that), and the big goal, the one that has been too scary to even mention.  The goal that I think about each and every day, and wonder if I'm a big enough woman to handle.  They're all worthy goals.  They are all things that I want, but they are less tangible than an athletic accomplishment.  Sure, with school I get a piece of paper, but with a marathon I get a big heavy sparkly medal, a t-shirt, and awkward race photographers taking my picture as I hyperventilate my way across the finish line.  You don't get that when you become financially stable, which is probably why so many Americans never attain that particular milestone.

But what about that goal that has REALLY been too scary to reach for?  That goal that changes everything about life?  The one that makes running a marathon seem absolutely insignificant.  THAT GOAL.  There's a tangibility to it that nobody can deny.  More so than almost anything I will ever do in life.  It's terrifying to me.  I don't feel "grown-up" enough yet, which is funny, because for years I thought I was plenty grown up enough to go for it, when I most certainly was not, and now the people around me seem to think that I'm ready, and I'm suddenly facing doubt.

It's a confusing time to be me right now, that's for sure.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Running a marathon: How it all went down

GUYS:  I ran a marathon today!

Holy crap that happened.  ALL of the feels happened.  It was not a sunshine and roses race, not by a longshot. I didn't anticipate that it would be, though.  Just as the half marathon was once a worthy opponent, now I turn to larger ways of getting my behind handed to me on a platter.  It did not disappoint.

The first thing you should know is that this was not the race that I wanted to be my "first" (and possibly last fora very long time) marathon.  There is a smaller marathon that goes right through the best parts of Boulder County that I wanted to use to pop my marathon running cherry, but the above pictured childhood best friend was on a cruise, so we picked this one.  And it's a good thing, too:  the awesome race in Boulder County was cancelled a few weeks before it was supposed to go down, and the organizer is looking at fraud charges.  Cool stuff.

The next thing you should know, or actually remember, is that I've been working away at this goal for 10.5 months now.  Remember this post?  It's amazing how many of those goals I saw come to life this year. 

My marathon morning was carefully planned to be as easy and stress free as possible.  It was mandatory that we pick up packets either Friday or Saturday, in order to avoid race morning chaos.  So I woke up at 5:15 on Saturday morning, and drove an hour to pick up my packet and get a picture that made me look awfully wide.  Professional photographer, my rear end.

Shae and her husband met me at the expo, and it was fun to get to spend some time with them.  The rest of Saturday was kind of a blur of regular errands, chores, and trying to figure out all of my marathon preparations.  You have to be really ready if you're going to run for that long, and I wanted to ensure that I was as ready as I could be.  So I staged all of my things in our office, carefully laid out to make life easy on my brain at 5:00am.  Garmin peacefully charging on the computer, clothes over the back of a chair, socks, shoes, even the headband I was going to wear.

Getting ready for the race is where things started to go wrong.  Why?  Oh, because that peacefully charging Garmin continued to stay plugged into my computer for the entirety of my run.  Oops.  So instead, I downloaded the RunKeeper app (free), and used its interval timer.  I had zero timing or pace data, but some random strangers I met in the port-a-potty line, Shae, and I all agreed that it would probably be good if I didn't spend my entire first marathon stressing out about paces, splits, and goal times, but instead let the race come to me.

So that is what I did:  I let the race come to me.  For the first 16 miles, my paces ranged from 11:30 to 12:45.  I felt really good up until mile 8, when my feet started to hurt, but I determined that finishing a marathon was going to hurt, whether I walked or ran, and one of those would get me to the finish line (and food) much faster.  So I pushed on.  Things started to get ugly around 16 miles, and only got worse from there to the finish line.  Longer walking breaks, fewer smiles and cheers for my fellow runners.  I knew that the marathon would be work, but I was surprised at how alone and isolated I was on the course - Denver Rock 'n' Roll maintains a strict 6 hour cutoff for the marathon, and I think that it discourages a lot of newbie runners or slower runners from even trying.  When we split off from the half marathon at mile 13, I went from being surrounded by hundreds of other runners to being out there with a small handful (on average, I could see 5-10 runners ahead or behind me).  It was okay for a bit, because we could see faster marathon runners going in the other direction, so there were still people to cheer for.  Then we entered the park of doom.

Duhn, duhn, duhn.  Seriously.  Ask anyone who ran about Cheeseman Park, and they will all say the same thing.  It was winding, and it was desolate, and it went on FOREVER (or 2 miles.  It felt like forever).  It was beautiful ,the park separates the Denver Museum and the Zoo, but gosh, it was tough to run by myself in there for so dang long.  Mile 16, the mile that signaled the beginning of the end took place in there.

By mile 19, I felt utterly demoralized and cooked.  That's because at mile 19, you have to run by EVERYONE FINISHING THE RACE.  That's right, there are people cheering, and there's noise, and finishers are being announced, and there you are, with 7.2 miles to go.  I tried reminding myself that that is just "a shorter long run", and easy to put in the books.  But I also knew that I was working multiple blisters, was exhausted, out of fuel (thankfully the aid station at mile 19 had some Gu left - I really needed it!), and over running.  I was trying to text Ammon to come bring me some fuel while I was running, which wasn't working out so well.  He called me at mile 20, as I was walking and feeling like I had made a terrible mistake signing up for a full marathon.  I knew that I could finish within the time limit at that point, and I told him that I was thinking about walking it in.  I then told him that I had to go, because I was "kind of in the middle of a thing".  This, by the way, is the best thing to tell someone when they call you and you're in the middle of a marathon.

The good news was, even though I was tempted, oh so tempted, to just walk my way to the finish line, I didn't give up.  I readjusted so that I walked for 4 minutes, then jogged for 1, a reversal of my usual run/walk interval.  It wasn't ideal, but it was my race, and I wanted to finish it on my terms.  That meant running as much as I could, even if it amounted to hardly anything.  I also set the intention to jog as many downhills as I could, figuring at that point that I needed to take every advantage I could.
 That's the only picture I took on course.  Mile #24 signaled hope for me, hope that I might not die out there.

Eventually, oh so slowly, the last .5 mile set itself up before me.  There was a bar that had tons of people on the patio, and when I came plodding by, by myself at this point, they started screaming and cheering for me.  I was so overcome that I started crying, and didn't stop.  Those people put some rocket fuel in my legs, because I was able to start jogging again, and made my way to the finish line, where Ammon was waiting for me with so much enthusiasm and excitement, that the Emcee asked if I knew that guy, and when I nodded through my sobs, she added that "It seems like he really likes me".  I think so too, Emcee lady.  

And that's the story all about how I became a marathon runner over the course of 26.2 miles and 5:49:11 today.  I'll take it with pride, because those miles and I fought and battled with each other.  In the end, I won.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

It's obviously taper time.

I am so over running right now.

This girl is faking it, while she just hopes to make it

Oh wait... am I allowed to be saying that with less than 2 weeks to go before my marathon?  Crap.  To be honest, my hear has just not been in it the last several weeks.  I feel tired.  My body is recovering slower.  My hunger is vast and endless one day, and nonexistent the next.  Essentially, the triple threat of work, school, and marathon training have defeated my confidence that any of this is possibly going to end well.

Why do I tell you this?  To tell you that I AM going to trudge through this, and I am not going to let these hard times win.  I'm too close to the finish to not forge ahead at this point.  So even though I had to skip my long run over the weekend, and even though I don't feel like I did a "good enough" (whatever that means) job of training, I'm going to push ahead, and let the outcome be what it is.

After that, though?  I'm taking a good long break from running.  Probably until January, unless I get some crazy inkling to run again, but really, I doubt that will happen.  My current plan is to take 2-3 weeks off after the marathon, and then start PiYo after that.  Yup, another Beach Body program.  I haven't had great results with their programs ever, but I'm hopeful that a low-impact program from them might just do the trick.  Also, I think that the core work is long overdue, especially since...

Once PiYo is done, I'll be starting triathlon training!!!  I've mentioned before, but completing an olympic distance triathlon has been a dream of mine since I was 15 years old.  Even training for one fills me with such joy and anticipation that I can hardly stand it.

I am clearly in taper mode... hating running, feeling anxious, sore, and in need of recovery.  This could not have been better timed had I tried.  Please excuse me as I'm over here hydrating, taking hot baths, and trying to figure out my hunger signals...

Saturday, October 4, 2014


For the last year, I have really felt like someone stole my mojo.  Full on Austin Powers style, just drew it right out of me with a giant syringe.

While it probably is a little passe, I'm just going to come out with my excuse as to why this happened:  I had a VERY creative, labor intensive, crafty wedding.  And it left me feeling drained.

The only thing that we're wearing/holding in this picture that wasn't crafted was my necklace, which is a family heirloom.  However, my mom crafted a coordinating bracelet and set of earrings.   It is pretty magical to look back and remember picking out all of these things, and ushering them through each stage of development.  I'm obsessed with the dresses, even still.  I want to make myself one of the bridesmaids' dresses someday, I had originally picked out the pattern to be my rehearsal dinner dress, but decided that it was the perfect "vintage picnic" look for my gorgeous bridesmaids.  And I'm not sure if I mentioned before or not, but the bridesmaid's jewelry was another of my mom's creations, based on a design that I dreamt up.  The three strands are all able to be worn separately, braided together, or twisted, as shown, and my mom made them all 3 different sets of earrings so that they could mix and match the jewelry in the future.  She is crazy talented.
Truly, I would not have had my wedding any other way... unless it was a destination wedding on a beach somewhere with only 10 guests... but for the big family wedding that was asked of us, it was exactly as I wanted it.  I never would have anticipated though, how long I would feel uninspired after the fact.  Maybe part of it has been how thoroughly I threw myself back into work, and running, and school, or the fact that Gunner came into our lives, and I'd rather chill with him than get out the glue gun and glitter.  I don't know.

I do know that I woke up this morning, and I did some reading and research for my Eastern religions class, and found myself getting inspired again.  I find myself longing to create, to manifest positivity.  It's incredible to feel even a hint of this creative spark again.  I have felt so... dead inside without it.  I kept trying to fill that hole with other things, but it just hasn't worked.  A sense of joy and peace washed over me, just as I felt the urge to paint again.  Painting isn't something I do often, and it's certainly not something I am good at, but it is something that I enjoy doing.  So I'm going to go dig out my painting supplies, browse pinterest for the easiest possible painting project out there, and I'm going to do it.  I'm going to revive my creative soul

It feels so good to finally be re-inspired.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Grown-up thoughts

I was just thinking, literally a minute or so ago, how much I miss using this as the place where I process all of the nonsense in my life.  Things have been overwhelming to say the least in the last year and a half for me.  Every time I think I have a handle on life, on where I'm going, and what I'm doing, I get a dodgeball thrown at my face.  It feels pretty intense.  So maybe I should talk about it a little bit, because, you know, that's what I used to do, and it used to work pretty well, so maybe it will again.

Work.  OMG, work.  Remember how I mentioned back in June/July that my position was being reconfigured, and I was moving offices?  That happened, which made life spicy for a while.  It was all starting to settle down and be manageable when **THWAP** a dodgeball in the form of a co-worker being terminated hit me in the solar plexus.  This co-worker had a pretty big job, and now we all are going to be filling in the gaps as we can until the position is re-filled.  Oh, and they decided to reconfigure her office so that it seats two people, and I will be moving in there.  That will make office #7 for me since my old company sold to this agency January 1, 2013.  My work mantra seems to be "Embrace the change".

Remember office #5?  I miss that one, and its space to do yoga.  That was an incredible 5 months.

Home.  We are finally starting to settle in, after some false starts.  This place has some big issues with it, but we know this is more of a transition home for us vs. a long term home.  The price was right, it has the most amazing yard in the world, and a place for Ammon to putz around in with his woodworking.  Also, we bought a Washer and Dryer about a week ago, which was magical, except that the dryness sensor in the dryer seems to be malfunctioning, since it takes a good 3 hours to dry clothes, because it decides that clothes are dry after 20 minutes, and switches over to air tumble only.  Thank goodness for warranties, right?

Love.  Still in it, with that husband of mine.  He's pretty great.  I think I'll keep him.  Glad that this relationship is NOT throwing things at me.  That would be rude.

School.  Totally over it.  This semester is an amalgamation of classes I've been putting off.  It's labor intensive, and stressful, but surprisingly interesting.  Looking forward to having my Associates degree in December, and transferring to a 4 year University (Professional studies division) come January.  I'm impatient with the entire process, and ready to go out and get a "big kid" job in Accounting.

I have other thoughts, you know, baby thoughts, animal mother thoughts, runner thoughts, but I'm too tired to translate all of those right now.  So I guess this post is just some of my grown-up thoughts and feelings.  Bo-ring.  Hopefully I can rally with something more interesting next time.  But let's be honest... This is 3 posts in as many days from me - given my recent track record, it might be another month before I get to those...

Monday, September 29, 2014

A 20 mile run by the numbers

Well, it happened.  I had my 20 mile run, and I finished it.  It was hard.  Brutally so.  As I sit here writing this up on Sunday night, my body is still aching and moaning at me.  But I did it.  The last "big" run before the marathon.  In 3 weeks, I will be a marathoner.  Eek.  For those of you who like the numbers, I thought I would share some interesting figures with you from my Saturday long run.

39,030 - the number of steps my Garmin Vivo fit recorded over my run
76 - the number of ounces of fluid I consumed
49 - the number of times I reminded Ammon that I had just run 20 miles on Saturday (approx)
20.04 - my actual total mileage
12:25 - my average pace (in min/mile)
10 - the number of minutes that I took as a break in the middle of my run (I did 2 different routes, and stopped at home for more water and food in between)
5:35am - the time that I left the house Saturday morning
5 - number of snacks consumed during my run
4:08 - my total running time (hr:min)
3 - total number of selfies taken
#1 at 5:30 am - first time running with a headlamp!

#2 - 11 miles in, still smiling!

#3 ... and I'm spent
2 - number of bathroom stops
1 - pair of Hanes box briefs seen on the side of the road

Do you have any fun stats from your weekend?

Ever seen anything ridiculous on the side of the road?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An update on my Eastern religions class

Lately in my Eastern religions class, we have been discussing Shinto and Hinduism.  It's pretty awesome studying these religions, there is so much culture and history wrapped up with them, and it feel really cool to gain some additional perspective on ancient religions that still exist today.

It's really sad to me how so many people are closed minded about religion, or about understanding other people.  I study religion, because I want to understand people better.  I want to comprehend what they believer, and why they feel that way.  I feel like this is especially true with Shinto and Hindu, because these traditions have been around for such a long time - there is a really rich sense of tradition, and importance around religion.

I've actually studied aspects of Hinduism for years, and have a deep, abiding respect for Hatha Yoga, a practice that actually has its roots in Hinduism.  I would say that my own personal new-agey form of spirituality is most closely aligned with Hinduism.  I believe in a communal divine, that every thing in this world has a divine spark within it, and that when we do wrong against someone, or something else, we are doing wrong against ourselves, because we are all linked through our divine natures.  Hinduism makes a compelling case for understanding, and for peace, a message that seems to be overlooked all too often.

As for Shinto, it isn't necessarily a religion I feel any calling to.  It's an interesting religion, and I can see the draw that it holds in Japan.  However, it is uniquely suited to Japan, and doesn't really translate well outside of the Japanese culture.  Some practices, such as the remembrance of ancestors, and Zen, make sense to my Western mind, but are not really practices that I see myself personally undertaking.  I think that, for me, Zen would just be a giant exercise in frustration.

Has studying these two religions changed me?  Yes and no.  It has expanded my mind to the cultures of other people, so that I can better understand and accept their views.  However, my own views on life and spirituality have not shifted in a tangible way as a result of learning about them in a class.  I think that religion is too personal, and requires deep exploration and consideration that extends far beyond what a class can teach in order to move the spirit.