Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Good and Bad but Thankful

1.  Good News:
I actually made time to read a book just for fun.  It had nothing to do with running and it wasn't to learn about something.  I read it just to enjoy a good story.  OH, and because it was our book club book (not always a good enough reason for me to find the time to read fiction lately since my book club is cool like that if I don't read the book).  But the biggest reason that I made myself read this book is because the author is coming to our book club for dinner, conversation and book signing.  

More good news is that I liked this book and it made me grow and think.  

Cathy Lamb (the author) is coming to our book club TONIGHT.  In fact, she's there RIGHT NOW.  And I'm NOT.  I'm home with sick kids and no hubby to help.  Sad to miss out.  

2.  Good News:  
Training seems to be going really well.  I've already run 36 of my 70-75 miles for this week.  Yesterday was my first day in this plan to have a speed workout that isn't a tempo/threshold run.  I ran five 1200's with a total of 11 miles.  My splits were 6:19 pace for the first four and 6:15 pace for the last one. I jogged a 400m active recover between each 1200.  On Saturday I will run in a 30k race and use it as a training run with 12 of the miles at marathon pace or around there.  Looking forward to it.  

Bad News:  
All of my running this week has been on the Treadmill in my garage.  I almost poked my eyes out today  while running 15 miles on that thing.  I ended up taking several small breaks to help get kids involved in new activities, take care of my sick daughter, put my son down for a nap, and post a facebook status on Runninghood about my eye-poking treadmill fun before I decided to stop whining and get the job done.  I'm so very thankful for that treadmill though.  I couldn't do these miles without it.  

3.  Good News:
I've been having a really great past couple of days with my kids.  God has given me an incredible amount of patience and love...more than usual...and I've been enjoying having all three of my kids home.  We've done some fun crafts, cuddled lots on the couch, and read lots of books.  

Bad News: 
The reason it has been so low key around here and my kids have all been home is because they are sick.  

4. Bad News:
My roses from Valentine's Day were wilting.  

Good News:
I used the flower petals for some fun flower art.  This activity provided peace and quiet for at least 5 minutes.  

5. Bad News:
I've been eating way too many of the wrong kind of calories lately.  Just stuffing my face. All the freaking time!  It is ridiculous and I must get it under control by getting back on track in eating lots of good carbs, veggies, and good fats!  

Good News:  
A lot of the stuff I've been eating has been really delicious and baked with love.  Two of my friends brought "food gifts" this week. Homemade bread and red velvet cupcakes.  A perfect week for it too since my husband was out of town and my kids have been sick.  

Things I'm Thankful for:

  • Girlfriends.  The close kind.  The kind that you can trust.  The kind that are there for you.  The kind that accept you and love you for who you are.  The kind that you can laugh with.  The new ones that feel like old ones.  Even the ones that you've never physically "met" before but still feel like you've known them always.  
  • Training is on track for a really great marathon. 
  • Going to the beach this weekend for a night with good friends.  
  • My 30k this weekend.  Even though I'm not racing it, it will be fun to be in a race atmosphere.  
  • Hearing "I love you Mama" many times this week.  It feels good to be needed and loved.  
  • Art and creativity coming back into our daily routine.
  • Having a treadmill.
  • Not being in a rush to be anywhere but where I'm at in life.  I'm happy.  

What are some of your Bad News/Good News statements?  Or what are some things you are thankful for today?  


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Running in Narnia

  • Off on a women's retreat this weekend with my church.  
  • Ran both days in a winter wonderland.  Softly falling snow, solitude, rushing rivers, heavy trees.  Felt like Narnia this morning.  Almost expected a wicked queen to come around on her sleigh and offer me some Turkish Delight before turning me into stone.
  • I ran VERY slow and easy.  Just gave myself a break.  Didn't run my 17 mile long run today.  Instead I ran 7. I'm okay with this.  
  • My head and heart are full.  Heavy might not be the right word but I certainly have much to process.
  • It is somewhat easy for me to be open and vulnerable in most areas of my life.  Except when it comes to my relationship with God. This is so very personal.  This weekend stretched me in a lot of ways and I'm emotionally EXHAUSTED.
  • My Mom cup was FULL when I got home and it was so nice to be with my kids.  I missed them.  And my husband.  
  • So thankful for my family.  
  • Glad to have made new friendships and spent time in prayer and worship.  But not so sure I'm comfortable with the walls coming down.  I'm kind of private when it comes to my spiritual beliefs.  This is a HARD thing for me.  I'm feeling just a tad vulnerable and not so sure I like the feeling right now.  
  • Thankful for comforts and familiarity.  Good friends, family, routine, my home, TIME alone, My walls/boundaries.  I am beginning to think I have more introvert in me than I ever thought.  I think we all have a little of both but after this weekend, I'm realizing that I like being alone way more than I was aware.  This weekend was fun and relaxing but it was also a lot of work on a mental and emotional level.  
  • Running for two days through winding mountain roads was absolutely beautiful.  Boston training was far far away from my mind and my running was just about being in nature and doing something I love.  This was a good break and was perfect timing for a cutback week in my plan.  I cut back a bit more in mileage than my plan called for.  I think this was good for me.  
Afterthoughts from this morning:

  • A weekend of retreat food  totally gives me gas. My appetite was HUGE this weekend.  Partly to do with the fact that I'm marathon training and partly to do with the fact that I'm a nervous eater.  Stuffing food in my mouth is surely a habit I have when I'm not totally in my comfort zone.  A church retreat would be one of these places.  
  • I really would have enjoyed a glass of wine this weekend.  Or a cold beer.  I was convicted of several things this weekend but one of them was that the occasional glass of wine or beer is really nice.  
  • Church retreats and church events can sometimes feel suffocating for me. Only because it seems like too many people have their HOLY masks on and it keeps them from being REAL. I have had some really awful church experiences so it has taken years to let my guard down and be open to new beginnings.  It is easy to fall into a trap of having a church face and a real-life face because we think in order to have faith and have a personal relationship with God where we feel loved, we have to fit a certain mold.  Overall, this retreat wasn't  like that at all (it was refreshing)...people were real and down to earth from what I could tell from not really knowing anyone.  But there were a few times that I just wanted to stand up and say:  "Hi, my name is Amanda.  I believe in God and want to grow in my faith.  I also enjoy saying the F words sometimes, I lose my shit often, I like beer, and I'm really excited to watch The Bachelor tomorrow night."  Actually, maybe I did say this at one point. The big thing for me is that I just crave REAL.  I want to know people...the REAL them...not the "holy mask" them.    
  • So nice waking up in my own bed this morning and getting up early to run faster than the slug pace I was going this weekend. 
  • Oh, is it really only 7 weeks to Boston?!  


Friday, February 24, 2012

Finding My Color and Reconnecting With ME

Every once in awhile I find that I'm feeling pretty far away from myself. I start feeling my world get cloudy and "blur-like".  Almost like I'm losing touch with the things that are most important to being my best self.  After rereading some posts that I wrote on here from last year about things like habits of happiness, making today great, or even refocusing on life with goals, I realize that I wrote these posts during a time of great inspiration.  I wrote them at times where I felt most alive, grounded and connected with ME. I wrote them at times that I was making myself most vulnerable and sharing my personal journal reflections on a regular basis.  Things have been different lately. It isn't that my life is out of control or even unbalanced right now.  In fact, Life has been pretty darn extraordinary. But something has just been missing.  My self reflection time has been taking a back seat as I focus on Boston training and checking things off my everyday lists.  My journals have been collecting a bit of dust as they sit on the shelf untouched.  And with this has come a very tangible DISCONNECT in my life that has dulled my inspiration and taken away just a bit of the color that makes my heart sing.  

But this morning, I took advantage of a peaceful house and the sunshine streaming in my windows and I found a perfect place on my rug with my coffee, a pen and my journal to regroup and connect with myself.  As many of you know, my journals (even my running journal) are my greatest tool for connecting with myself and living a goal driven life of gratitude and clarity.  My time in my journals is KEY for me to be the best Amanda!  This journal time left me feeling inspired, energized and deeply grounded.  The whole day took on a new angle for me and life around me just seemed to be "unblurred".  Clarity. Color.  

 Some things I reflected on today:

  • Motherhood.  It is so easy to get caught up in the busy parts and lose the magic parts. Errands, appointments, homework, messes, chores, teaching manners and social skills, etc.  But overall, I think I've done a pretty good job at pulling myself into the PRESENT enough to take the mental pictures and SAVOR this time.  It goes too fast!  I'm proud of myself in this area.  
  • Boston Training.  You know, I say that this marathon training takes a lot of time but really, I've been managing it all very well this time around.  I'm actually ENJOYING it greatly as of this week.  I do get tired and worn out with following a plan.  Some days I don't want to run but overall, things are FUN and I want to keep it that way.  A few weeks ago things started feeling like work and I felt discouraged but with a little mental shift, things became fun again.  I'm fitting in my runs AND still making time to be a solid mother and wife most days.  Other things have slowed down (blog for example) but I'm hitting the main targets.  
  • Friendships...Another pretty solid thing in my life right now.  I've made a point to reach out and keep my friendships growing. I feel blessed with some really great women in my life that are so very wonderful.  A big thing for me right now is asking myself how I can be there for my friends and not being all about myself.  I still need to work on this so that I'm not just taking.  Even things a s simple as a note to tell them I love them.  There is one friendship in my life that continues to hurt me despite all the people that tell me to just let it go.  It is a friendship that has never been easy and one that always leaves me feeling UNIMPORTANT, misunderstood and used.  :(  I suppose that I need to listen to my husband and friends and just let this person go. I deserve better.  And so does she.  Our entire friendship as been a big ball of misunderstanding.  Some people just weren't meant to be friends.  And that's okay. No more self blame or defensiveness.  Friends will come and go.  
Some things I'm being conscious of and working on making REAL:
  • Bringing ART and creativity back in to our home as much as it used to be!  This has involved buying a new art easel for the kids.  This has just screamed "CREATE" and the kids are all about using chalk, paint, markers and more.  This makes me smile.

  • READING.  This one is for myself and my kids. I've kind of slowed down with my reading life and also with how much I was reading to my kids.  The past few weeks we've read a novel a week as read aloud at night and the girls are loving it.  Our current read is George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl.  We'll have this one read in two nights. I'm also reading a novel right now...imagine that!  Not a lot of time to read these days with fitting in the miles but I've been enjoying it.  And I'm modeling reading for my kids...I like this.  Growing READERS HERE!  Realistically though, there are not many times during the day (or any really) that I have time to sit down and read for myself.  So that usually comes at the end of the day and then I'm often too tired.  
  • JOURNALING, REFLECTING, WRITING FOR ME!  And Sharing With YOU TOO. I really want to get back to where my blog started.  So much of it was just me sharing my reflections and most personal parts of my life with others.  Yes, running was a part of it too but not just running.  It is the vulnerable, reflective, raw Amanda that I see so much of a year ago and I miss her.  I need this!  Not so much the sharing part but the reflecting part.  
I'm off this weekend for a women's retreat with a bunch of women I don't really know.  Should be a very rich experience and I'm anticipating a lot of time to reconnect with myself as well as make some new friends.  I'm excited.  

My Threshold workout today:
10 miles @ 7:36 avg (not a true 7:36 avg since I stopped for a few minutes after 4 miles and before tempo part to turn on a 27 minute show for my kiddos so that I could finish my run)
4 miles @8:27-8:34 pace
1 mile 6:59
1 mile 6:54
1 mile 6:54
.5 @ 6:44
.5 @ 6:27
2 miles to finish with last mile @ 7:14.  
Feeling Strong!

Happy Friday!  


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Boston Marathon Advice! Your Comments, Memories, Tips, Strategies, and Thoughts are WELCOME!

Is it really only 8 weeks until the Boston Marathon?  Wooo weee!  I remember saying that it was only 20 weeks to go and that just seems like yesterday.  However, it seems like forever ago that I ran Boston in 2004.  And I don't remember much AT ALL.  People ask me about the course, what I did before the race started, good restaurants and hotels, the expo, etc. and I really can't tell them much.  This is pretty much all I do remember:

  • I didn't know anyone else running.  
  • It was my second marathon.  
  • I had just found out what the Boston Marathon was only a year prior to running it.
  • The expo was really cool.  I had never seen so much running stuff on sale.  And it was like a world created entirely for people like ME.  In fact, there were tons of people there that looked just like me...the runner look.  So exciting!
  • Some little kids handed me orange slices and some college girls yelled really loud when I passed their college that started with a W.  
  • I took a bus ride on the way to the start and talked to an old man who had done this ride many times.
  • I was handed a sharpie marker while sitting on the grass waiting to start the race and was told that the cool thing to do was to write my name on my legs and arms.  It was similar to what I imagine it being like at a concert when a joint is passed around.  Only it wasn't a concert and we were passing around a marker.  But everyone was really cool about sharing the black ink.  Ha!  
  • It was 80 degrees.  Record breaking heat for the Boston marathon.  
  • I had NO plan.  None.  I was there to have fun.
  • I could barely hit what felt like a 10 minute mile pace when I was finishing but I didn't keep track of my splits then and I surely didn't own a Garmin.  
  • Instead of an ice bath, I took a hot bath and then went out and partied after the race.  My husband almost had to get me a wheel chair in the airport the next day in order to make our flight.  But I got really pissed and yelled at him not to even DARE. How embarrassing.  Took me at least 5 minutes to sit down in my seat on the airplane.  
  • When I got back to my third grade class, they all cheered and told me that they taped the race and hoped to see me.  They asked if I won.  They thought I was a superstar.  I loved them for this.  
  • I bought a really expensive jacket in a size or two too big since apparently I thought I was a medium or large back then or maybe it was the style to wear oversized clothing.  Anyway, I never wore the jacket because I always felt funny about wearing a jacket with really big lettering that said BOSTON MARATHON 2004 on the back. Or at least it felt very big.  Not subtle.  I felt silly wearing it to races and stretching out and doing drills  so I would save it for when I'd run around my neighborhood. But now I would wear it with pride and plan on getting another one.  Luckily, it seems that they make the jackets a bit more on the modest side now.
  • I don't remember the race really.  What is happening to my memory?  I remember one mile before the finish line but not the finish line.  I remember being at the top of heartbreak  hill.  And I remember the start and some random parts of the race but not much more.  Oh, and I remember starting with a woman with a really nice body and being in Absolute AWE that she had three kids at home!!! I didn't understand how someone with three kids could be running the Boston Marathon and look like her.  
Well, that's about it.  NOT very helpful information if I were to be giving advice to someone who was heading to the Boston Marathon for their first time.  In fact, I'm hoping some of you have some helpful tips, advice, or useful pieces of information to share!  Even if you've never run the Boston Marathon but know about it.  

What Will I Do With Your Information??
I thought it would be great to get as many useful comments about the Boston Marathon as I can and then compile everyone's comments into one post that can be used by everyone that is heading to Boston this April or in the future. Even the funny random ones that have nothing to do about the race itself but might be fun to know while we are in Boston.  Like a certain stop light that drives you nuts or a good place to get bagels and cream cheese.  Or the best place to drink a nice cold beer after the race.  Or what NOT to do on the Newton hills. So....

  • What are some great places to stay? 
  • Where are the most affordable places to stay?  
  • Tell us about the most ideal spots to be near.
  • Tips about public transportation.  
  • Where are your favorite spots to eat? Drink?  Shop? 
  • Where do you run before the big day?  
  • Do you go early?  
  • Favorite mile in the race?  
  • Race strategy...this one is BIG!  
  • After race ritual?
  • Good place to celebrate?
  • Fun restaurant to carbo load before the big day.  
  • Things to PACK in your race day bag to take up to the starting line!!! I want to know this one.
  • Whatever else you can think of to share.  Even your favorite kind of bra to wear or some kind of superstitious routine.  
Please share as much or as little as you have to share.  Contribute to this bloggy conversation!  I want to hear from you way more than I want to spend time googling Boston Marathon tips and advice and reading long articles by people I don't know.  I want to hear from the people just like you, you and you that have, want to, or will run the Boston Marathon!  I hope to get lots of serious, funny, fun, useful, and wise words that I can share in one big post in a few weeks that we can ALL enjoy.  So, send your running friends over so they can contribute to this too.  

Happy Tuesday,


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lessons from the Long Run

When I trained for my first marathon, I didn't think too much about running fast or setting a big goal.  My big goal was to run a marathon.  Time wasn't an issue.  I chose the first training plan that I found when I googled "marathon training plans" and I went with it.  My long runs were all run slow and easy and I never really thought of them as a key workout.  They were just opportunities to fit in the miles.  Now that I am on my fifth marathon and I am training to do more than just finish but rather to be faster, the long run has come to be perhaps the most important of all my weekly runs.  

Each and every one of my longs have proven to be opportunities for me to not only grow and connect with myself on a personal level but also to gain more understanding of how I will will want things to be on race day.  These long runs are my "dress rehearsals".  Whether they are run with some miles at marathon pace or just slow and easy, they give me an opportunity to test out fuel, music, gear, strategy, mental cues, mantras, etc.  And they surely give me plenty of time on my feet to fit in the miles AND have the time to connect with myself, God, and reflect on life.    

My long runs these past two or three weeks have really given me lots to reflect on. I've been getting up really early on Sunday mornings so that I can fit my long runs in and still have time to make it to church with my family. I like the way things are working now. And I like that I've started seeing my long runs as more of a key workout instead of just logging miles.  I've had a chance to test out marathon pace, new fuel options, and really think about what I want from this Boston Marathon. 

Today's run didn't call for anything special.  Just 18 easy miles.  I did end up running it more progressively and finishing stronger and faster than just "easy".  It ended up being 18.30 miles in an 8:05 average.  Nothing jaw dropping for me personally but I learned a lot on this run and I came home with some new goals in mind as well as a bit more confidence in myself than I've been feeling lately when it comes to running.  My splits were as follows:

Avg Pace
18:48.61.008:49 nice slow warm up
138:13.21.008:13 some muddy trail running here.
148:10.11.008:10 more trail.
187:38.41.007:38 steep hill

Here are a few things I've had a chance to think about on my long runs the past few weeks:

Long runs are a GREAT opportunity to actually try out different strategies for fueling during these longer distances.  The past two weeks I've tried just taking my water belt with 20 oz of water and using sports beans to fuel gradually over the course of the run.  Today I tried these:

I'm not entirely sure what I think about the "Extreme" part of these with the caffeine but they served me well.  My stomach seems a little upset compared to the sports beans without caffeine but that could just be because of other things.  Some things I do know about experimenting with my fuel:

  • I'm convince that I it will work best for me to fuel gradually instead of taking gels all at once at different times.  I'm not sure what this will look like yet but maybe it is just that I start with these beans at mile 5-7 and take a few every mile or two with sips of water.  This would be harder to do if I don't have my own fuel belt.  The beans can also slow me down since I'm fiddling with a bag. I could also do this with little bits of GU.  
  • I'm not sure HOW MUCH fuel I will need to "race" a marathon and not just "run" it.  I think it might be interesting to try a bag of beans up until mile 20 and then take a gel to finish strong.  
  • I'd also like to try fueling off of just Powerade, Gatorade or some drink like this.  Maybe alternating it with water if it is warmer outside.  This is one strategy that my friend Nicole talked with her coach about.  
I'm getting closer and closer to finding my hopeful marathon pace.  I am fully aware that Boston isn't the easiest marathon course out there so I'm being realistic about my goals but after today I'm ready to be a bit more aggressive with them too.  I plan on racing this baby harder than I did when I did it last time...that's a fact.  Today's run was just a normal long run but just the fact that 8:00 pace felt so natural is a sign that I'm getting stronger.  Mile 17 was 7:17 pace and while I was running it, I was saying to myself "I can't believe I'm NOT tired!! I'm not tired!"  No joke, I said this out loud.  I felt so strong and this made me very happy.  Especially at the end of a long run.  

No music for me.  I don't remember the last time I ran outside with music.  And I LOVE it.  Perhaps my head is just too full lately but I've really been loving these long runs with nothing to listen to other than my own thoughts.  It has been a very peaceful and focused time for me.  I'm probably NOT going to race Boston with music.  In fact, as of today, I won't be.  I'm learning that music might be a distraction for me that I can afford.  It can be nice sometimes too but just not now.  

Connecting with God and having time to pray is always something that brings my life strength and clarity.  My early morning long runs have proven to be a great time for this.  I've felt such a connection with God lately when I'm running.  And it is these long runs that leave me with the most time to be alone and reflect things.  Oh, how this has helped me in so many other areas of my life.  

As I was running today and keeping things easy and comfortable, I just felt so strong.  Things are solid right now.  And I could feel my confidence coming back.  Not that it was entirely gone but I've been having doubts in what I am really capable of.  I've been setting my sights a bit lower than perhaps I'm capable of when it comes to ability.  I'm realizing more and more that such a big part of this whole training gig and reaching big goals is BELIEVING WE CAN!  Obviously this is within reason, but oh so much power comes when we just BELIEVE that we have what it takes!  This is coming to me slowly but surely.  

I continue to learn so much about myself and life through my training.  Training for a marathon takes a lot of time and energy.  It requires us to give certain things up and manage our time wisely but it also allows us to gain so much energy, wisdom, self discipline and satisfaction that can be applied to the rest of our lives. Yes, it all takes time, but in the "long run" it proves to be well worth it.