Monday, July 23, 2012

To Taste Experience to the Utmost...Reach Out Eagerly for LIfe...Without FEAR

There's something about being really sick that forces you to do some long hard reflection about your life.  Something about being in bed for hours and having the beautiful day outside your window, taunting you with sunshine, that leads you to start making crazy big plans for what you're going to do when you feel normal again. And something about not really running for a number of days that gives you just a certain amount of crazy (more than you already had) to make you actually start thinking of following through with these crazy plans.

The truth is, I'm ready for a change.  I'm ready for a next chapter.  A next big step in life.  I'm not sure what form this change will take.  Maybe it means just getting a new kitchen table and changing the pictures on my wall.  Ha!  Or maybe it means having a new goal to work towards.  But I think it is bigger than that.  For awhile now, I've had a feeling that the next big chapter in my life is about to begin.  It is that feeling I got when I met my husband.  When I just knew that things were meant to be...that the stars were aligned so-to-speak.

Whatever this change will be, I'm ready for it.  And I'm not scared to make changes anymore.  The past few years, I've found myself pretty grounded. Resistant to too much change, really.  I've stayed close to my comforts and kept things simple.  And this has been good for me.  After all, I've been a mama to some pretty little ones that have required me to keep things on the simple side. I've been adjusting to the job of stay-at-home-mama.  But the kids are getting a little older, it is becoming easier to travel, I'm finding myself with a crazy amount of passionate ideas/inspiration swirling around in this head of mine...and I'm just ready to break this mold that I'm living in and see where life leads.  This may or may not involve a big move in the near future.  But wouldn't it be exciting if it did?  I think so.

As the quote above says:
"The Purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience."  --Eleanor Roosevelt

Life is so so short.  And it is so very easy to get stuck in a rut.  Go through the motions.  Just settle and be content with what works instead of what makes us feel most alive.  We get settled and then fear change because we are naturally creatures of habit.  I'm not saying it is always feasible, desirable or even wise to just pick up and run away from our current life and start over. But this quote just confirms the desire within me to always be seeking richness in life.  It reminds me to make my days full of experiences that fill me deeply, fuel my passions, and drive me to be the Amanda that I was designed for.  And most importantly, to reach out for new experiences without FEAR.  

These new experiences could be as simple as signing up for a new race distance, joining a group that involves a passion or interest, traveling to a new place, switching schools, starting a graduate program or going back to school.  So many possibilities....EXPERIENCES....just waiting for us.  I'm excited to see what happens when I get rid of fear and resistance and just start DOING some of the things I spend my time talking and dreaming about.  There are many dreams inside this head of mine and I'm ready to put them into action.

I'm ready for a new adventure.  And if it is what I'm thinking it might be....I KNOW it will be an experience I can "taste to the utmost".

What is something you've wanted to do for a long time but have let fear get in the way?  
What does this quote above make you think of?  How does it speak to you (if at all)?  

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Loaded Post: Human Relationships, Meaning Through Play, Delayed Grieving, Running and Spirituality and More

Warning:  This is a LOADED blog post. It really should be broken up into like 10 separate posts. Ha!  Lots of heavier topics that go much deeper than my recent posts about happiness, running in forests, etc.

Gosh, I have a lot going through my head right now.  I can tell that there is quite a load of emotions, thoughts and feelings that are right under the surface.  Things that are just there for me to process.   Whatever it is, I'm just feeling heavy.  And I can't put my finger on what all is in this head and heart of mine that is making me feel this way.  Maybe it  has to do with my husband being gone all week and feeling worn down.  Perhaps it just has to do with the fact that I can feel myself getting sick and I haven't been sleeping well lately.

Whatever it is, writing is usually the answer for me when I'm feeling the need to process.  Just pouring out my thoughts as they come...vulnerable and raw...can be cleansing in itself.  And I've come to feel safe sharing my personal thoughts on this blog.  So since there is such a random collection of thoughts rolling around in this crazy head of mine, bullets it is!

  • Human Relationships.  I'm convinced that everyone that comes into our life is put there for a reason.  I think every relationship we have allows us to grow or learn in some way.  Sometimes we have something to give and sometimes there are things for us to take away.  Sometimes two people come together and form friendships where they both fill a role for the other, learn something about themselves or life,  and then often end up moving on in different directions rather than staying friends forever. This is part of life.  I think it is so beautiful that we can find friends in the most unexpected of ways.  It is cool how people come into our life and play a part in making us whole, happy, and most alive.  Kindred spirits, guardians, gifts....  I have several people in my life lately that I never would have expected to know.  And I certainly wouldn't have expected that I would feel so close to them and care for them like I do.  One of these friends is a girlfriend who I consider to be one of my very best friends.  A friend I met through running blogs actually.  Eventually our friendship turned into mostly e-mails and now it is a friendship where I feel like I've known her always.  We call, text, send each other mail and pictures, and share our lives with each other through writing.  And, although I consider this person such a dear dear friend, I'VE NEVER ACTUALLY MET HER in PERSON.  Yup, I know this sounds nuts.  A best friend that I love and I feel so loved by and I've never met her.  But next week I'm flying to Boston for a girl weekend with her and another dear friend and I'll be meeting her , this beautiful friend, for the very first time (but not really because in my mind, I've already met her).  I can't wait to give her a hug and thank her for the powerful role she has played in my life....she's the big sister that I've never had.  And she's helped me grow as a runner, daughter, mother, friend, wife, self....and so much more.  What an awesome gift.  And to think we met in blog land.  

  • Childhood Play and Girl Night With Mom.  Last night my mom came over to spend the night.  We shared a bottle of wine together and sat on the deck chatting under the solar lights on my patio umbrella.  We laughed a lot and talked about life.  One of the things that came up was a topic about childhood play.  I was saying how I was thrilled that the kids were playing so well and using their imaginations.  Almost so much that I didn't want to put them to bed.  This got my mom thinking about what I played as a child and she seriously but lightheartedly stated that all I used to want to play for a long time after my dad's death was "Let's get buried in the ditch".  Okay, backstory...Some of you know that my dad died and that he is a big reason why I find so much peace and meaning in running.  I've written about him many times on this blog but a quick version was that he was killed in an excavation accident where he was buried alive in a ditch (one post about this:  The Deepest Part of My Running Heart...Running For Him). So after my mom explained to me how I would play getting buried in a ditch and I would get all my friends to play with me (and I'd insist that they do it right!  Apparently there was a proper way to die in a ditch...I know...creepy!!), I thought of the power in childhood play.  I thought of how important it is for children to engage in imaginative is their way of making meaning of their world and things they are trying to process.  If we take time to watch our kids play more often and really listen, we might just learn something about their little lives.  Anyway, I posted a post about this topic last night but instantly felt vulnerable about posting.  To us, we thought this ditch burying play was hilarious after the fact but to others, I am pretty sure they might not find it so funny.  So, that's the reason for the deleted post for those of you that asked.  

  • It's Okay to Keep Processing.  This talk and time with my mom got me thinking about my dad again.  Maybe that's a little bit of the reason for my funk and heavy heart today.  So weird how something that happened when we were so small can still affect us so many years later.  For a long time I think I thought that I didn't deserve to grieve because I was so little when my dad died.  I thought that I was silly for being sad about a dad that died when I was only 4 years old.  But once my little girls turned 4, it really hit me.  I saw them and how much they loved and adored their daddy and I realized how much it would affect them if they lost matter how young they were.  It would be HUGE for them.  And that was when this blog was was sparked by many things...serious injury, approaching a time in my life where my three kids were the same ages as my brothers and I when my dad died, needing an outlet during my first year as a stay at home mom, beginning to process my dad's death again so late in life and finding that much of it also resurfaced as I starting running more seriously again (since college), etc.  Since then, this blog has come to be a safe place for me to be real and share my heart and thoughts with others in addition to sharing my passion for running, motherhood, and life!  So thankful for this.  

  • Running and Spirituality.  I know I've written on this topic once before in a few posts.  One of these posts (A Personal and Sensitive Topic: A Window into the Spiritual Side of Runninghood) was one that told of a very powerful run where my garmin and ipod both died at mile 4ish of a 20ish mile run.  It was no accident and in the end I came to a place where I was in tears.  I felt connected to myself in a most spiritual way and it was if I was being hugged and told how special I was after years of not believing it.  It was probably one of my MOST personal posts since I share so much of my history with religion, the damage it did, and why that has been such a  hard  thing for me.  It also reveals just how spiritual running can be for me.  It can be so much more than training or exercise.  It has often been on my runs where I feel the most connected to God, the universe...LIFE.  This has especially been true when I'm running in nature and during times of solitude and stillness.  I've felt God, my dad, and my full self. This post was a post that was so cleansing and freeing to write...yet another way this blog has been therapy for me.  I wrote it through tears in many parts but again, it was a post that WROTE me...the best ones always do.   Here is just the end of that long post:
"So, yesterdays run....
It was a gift.  My Garmin and Ipod shutting down were blessings.  Once I realized that I was going to be running a very long run with only my thoughts to listen to, I began to pray.  I prayed about so many things that I've been needing to focus on.  I had a real, solid, quality conversation with my God.  And I could feel God with me, through me, next to me.  Towards the end of the run, it had been awhile since my long prayer.  I was just focusing on my breath and my visions of my marathon.  I was happily tired.  

At mile 21ish I had a half mile left.  Just then I started talking to myself but I didn't realize what I was saying really until I had tears running down my face.  I am convinced that it was God, my God reassuring me of how much I am loved.  These are the words I was whispering to myself when I finally caught what I was saying:
  • You are amazing Amanda
  • You are a child of God
  • You are good enough and wise enough
  • You have been given many gifts and you have the responsibility to use your gifts for yourself and for others.
  • You were NEVER alone.
  • You have always been loved and cared for deeply
  • All that your life has been has been for a bigger purpose
  • You ARE LOVED!
So, there we go. This is probably the most personal I've ever gotten on this blog.  I rarely write about things that I'm this sensitive about but it was one of those moments that I just felt right about getting it out and giving you a bigger window into my world, my heart, my soul.  "

Such good lessons came from this run.  And it made me think more deeply about the topic of running and spirituality.  I don't see a lot written about this topic.  My hunch is that a lot of you find a spiritual element to running.  No matter what your beliefs and not necessarily having to do with religion AT ALL.  I asked about this topic on Runninghood's facebook tonight and I got some really wonderful responses that were just so thoughtful and beautiful.  Thanks for sharing.  And please keep sharing!  For some of you, it is about worship.  Others find running to provide moments of feeling connected to a loved one that passed.  Really cool to read your thoughts on this topic. 

Okay, how's that for the most loaded blog post I've EVER written?  This is enough for 4 or 5 blog posts  but hey, it was all in this head of mine at once so why not put it all out there as it comes.  I feel so much better after unloading all of this.  Even if NOBODY reads it but me. And maybe my mom.  Thanks Mom.    

Thanks for YOU,

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Life Without Running...

....Just isn't nearly as happy!

Thanks for your warm comments and e-mails about my last post Creating Our Own Happiness.  Many of you told me that it was something that you needed to read/hear and this makes me feel happy.  The truth is, I think as writers, we often write the messages that we most need to hear/know ourselves.  This was the case for me when I wrote it.

I saw the below picture on facebook today WITHOUT the caption and it made me think of how runners feel when they are injured or not able to run for one reason or another.  So, since I haven't wasted enough time today trying to wrap my non-techie brain around some new technology on my Mac to make a new blog header, I thought I'd go ahead and add a caption for the picture that seems to really capture the emotions that come with the  "you can't run" moments in our life.

Hopefully Happy Wednesday,

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Creating Our Own Happiness

Happiness was a lot of things this morning.  Journaling with my son was one them.  

We were supposed to be taking off early this morning with friends for a mini-road trip/summer getaway.  The kids were so excited.  I had the oh-so-stylish minivan (you know you want one) cleaned out and ready to host 8 passengers. Things were packed up and ready to go.  I had bags of books, writing materials and snacks all ready for the five kids that would be riding along.  We were all set. But then I realized after a day and night of my younger daughter having ear pain that this was likely an ear infection that wasn't going away.  Instead of heading out for an early road trip/water park adventure as planned, I was up most of the night and we were heading to the doctor.  How exciting!  But being a mother trumps everything else in my life.  Kids come first. Even though my other two kids were pretty bummed about it, my daughter needed meds and extra love.  

Despite this bummer change in plans, I'm not about to let it ruin our day. I am intent on making this week magical and fun for my kiddos.  Creating memories is the name of the game this week.  Right now we have the tunes on, blanket and towels sprawled out on the deck, and the sunshine smiling down on us.  Snacks, hose, trampoline, journals, books and a big backyard.  We are making our own happiness.  Instead of slumping around in the house and pouting from being up half the night, I just used my free coffee certificate to get some extra espresso shots and now this already hyper mom is rip roarin' and ready to go!  Kids are so content (for another 10 minutes) that I even find myself with a few moments to type. Granted, they are not completely non-interrupted minutes so this post will likely stop and start many times before you read it.  But it is still time to write so I'll take it!   

Okay, I admit.  Halfway through this post, I did allow for a little designated "screen time".  Kids quietly watched a movie at my feet after some trampoline water play.  

Just one nice interruption from my brief writing time...cuddles and snacks in the sun.  

As I was driving home from the doctor's office with my daughter's antibiotics and a determination to make this day a fun one despite the circumstances, I realized again just how powerful we can be in creating happiness for ourselves. Living intentionally and making our life what we want is truly open to each and every single one of matter what our life is made up of.  We have choices.  We hold the power to make changes in our life.  Whether this means making the most of canceled plans, changing the way we eat and the activities we are involved in so we can live a healthy life, learning something new, using our gifts to make a dream come true, or even something as simple as changing our furniture around and cleaning our windows to let some light in... we hold the power to create happiness for ourselves.  It starts with intention and motivation. And creating happiness for our lives doesn't have to be doesn't have to cost doesn't have to be a daunting task that leaves us defeated before we even can be something small. 

Some examples of small intentional acts you can start with that can lead to BIG changes in the long run (not necessarily relating to me):

  • Today I will eat healthy food and drink ____ glasses of water.
  • I will start today in making my goals of _________ a reality. 
  • I will jog/walk for 20 minutes as a start in losing the weight.  
  • I will listen to my coach, run slow and be patient so that my body can be in prime condition for some fall PRs even though I feel like hitting up the track for an intense speed workout.  ;)  
  • I don't need to feel guilty for not doing A, B and C with my kids.  Instead, today I will _______________ (go to the library, read books together, get a 39 cent box of fresh new crayons and draw a picture together in the park, run through a hose together, make mini pizzas for lunch, paint some rocks, stop everything and make eye contact and have a real conversation for a longer stretch of uninterrupted time (this goes a loooong way), or just share a snack together. I could go on and on and on and on with this one.  So many simple, inexpensive, meaningful ways to connect to our kids.  
  • Gosh, I'm feeling frumpy.  Today I will pluck my eyebrows, pamper myself with a face mask, and paint my toe nails.  Okay, seriously, no amazes me just how big of a difference it makes when we pamper ourselves sometimes.  Something as simple as doing our hair and make up and putting on something we FEEL good in even though we aren't going anywhere...this can change the way we live our day.  When we radiate confident energy, we attract more of what we want in life!  Not to mention, our family benefits husband loves coming home to see me in a dress and looking/feeling good.  He loves me in sweat pants and greasy hair too but when I look good, I feel good and all is just a little bit ...well..."GOOD".  
  • Today I will communicate my feelings to __________. 
  • I don't like the way this friend makes me feel and my feelings have been hurt too many times.  I'm going to either share my feelings and move forward or just choose to move on and not have toxic people in my life.  Not everyone is meant to be close friends.  We can move on from friendships without cutting ties completely. Relationships change as we change.  Its okay to not have people in our lives that were once close friends.  This is part of respecting what is best for us.  
  • I'm going to write down some short term and long term goals with my running, career, motherhood, etc.  So much power in putting our goals out there.  So much power.  And even more power in sharing our goals with others.  

I had a friend tell me the other day that she wants to change some things about her life but it all seems overwhelming when she thinks of where to start.  I don't think she's alone in her feelings.  I say START SMALL.  Make some small changes in the every day habits you have for living.  I wrote about this in my post Habits of Happiness and Fulfillment.  If you try to do too much at once, you will surely find yourself feeling like giving up.  See the changes you want for your life and take a first step.  Make it small one.  Maybe it it is just to practice lists of gratitude every day for a week.  Then move on to cutting something out of your life that is toxic.  Then the next week try something else.  And share your goals with a friend or someone you feel safe with.  This can just add that accountability element that can really help us stay motivated.  Find someone that "GETS" it and loves you!  

There's no time like the present.  I'm thinking this unexpected ear infection/cancellation in plans has turned out to be blessing for me.  It forced me to do some reflection and make the most of the day despite a crummy circumstance.  And it made me realize just how many things there are to be thankful for and how powerful our thoughts and actions are in making our life what we want it to be.  

Start small, keep it simple, find happiness in the ordinary that really is extraordinary...

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Nurturing Their Gifts

A best friend's daughter.  She demonstrated signs of being an extraordinary swimmer at a very young age.  I'm  convinced that because of the fact that her parents have recognized, nurtured and supported her in her gift, that she very well  just might grow up to be an Olympian!  No matter what, and most important, she will grow up knowing that she had the opportunity to discover her talent.

As parents, I think we'd all agree that our children are gifts.  They are our biggest treasures. We had dreams of them before they were even born and we continue to dream for them as they grow. I also think we'd agree that every child is unique.  They are unique in their personalities, interests, and talents.  And I consider it one of my greatest roles as a mother to help my children grow with, discover, and nurture their talents and gifts.  It is up to me to help provide opportunities for them to be their best selves and do what they are most alive doing.  

I don't think we need to look too terribly hard to figure out what our childrens' gifts are.  We don't have to think too long to know what things our children find the most meaning and joy in. Most likely, they will discover what makes their heart sing just through normal daily activities. And then it is up to us to help them continue to find ways to nurture their gifts, talents and make their interests part of their daily life so they can thrive.  

I saw this picture (see above) on facebook today and it made me so happy...So happy to see know this little girl and know how amazingly talented she is at swimming.  Truly gifted.  A natural.  I first saw her swim as a very young child (a toddler) and I was in awe of how naturally her body moved through the water.  More importantly, I noticed how much her little soul was lit up when she was moving in the water.  It gave her joy.  It was as if it was what she was meant to do from the start.  And it has been incredible to watch her grow up, so beautifully use her gifts and develop her talents for swimming.  It has been inspiring to say the least.

But what has been even more inspiring to me is to see how wonderfully this little girl's mom and dad have embraced her gifts and provided opportunities for her to grow in them.  They were/are young parents and like all of us, they don't have all the answers. What they did have from the start is the ability to love, encourage and support their children in their interests.  They recognized their daughter's gift for swimming and they acknowledged the joy and love that radiated from her when she was in the water.  Despite the fact that neither one of them had much experience with the sport of swimming, they knew that it was up to them to nurture this obvious talent and help her grow into her best self.  And that they did!  They gently encouraged her, paid for swim classes, and provided opportunities for her to shine.  It has been so fun to see.  

I've often thought of my friend and her daughter as I raise my children and help nurture their gifts.  I try to listen to what brings them joy and what they are most drawn to rather than what I WANT them to like.  I try my best to provide opportunities for them to grow in their gifts.  This isn't always easy or cost effective, I don't always make the best choices for them, but I'm doing the best I can and I hope that by exposing them to a variety of things and building on the things that they show talents in, that they will grow up to discover themselves fully and wonderfully.  They won't all grow up to be Olympic athletes, famous artists, or nationally recognized ________.  But rather, my hope for my children is that they WILL grow up feeling a sense of joy and awareness of who they are.  I want them to grow up knowing what their gifts are, how to use them and that they were supported and encouraged.  Who knows what a little bit of nurturing and exposure can lead to for them.  At the very least, they will grow up feeling appreciated and supported in the things that make them MOST alive.  

A few questions I ask myself as a mother when it comes to my children and recognizing their gifts:

  • What brings them the greatest joy?
  • What activities/interests are they most drawn to?
  • Am I encouraging and supporting them in the things they are drawn to and enjoy?  Or am putting too much of my own standards and interests into the mix when I decide what direction to push them?  
  • Am I being cognitive of the fact that all of my children are UNIQUE and that they won't all have the same talents, interests, and abilities?  
  • Am I celebrating my children's accomplishments and praising them for their unique ideas and contributions to our family in a way makes them feel loved and valued?  
  • What kind of classes, after school programs, sports and learning opportunities am I seeking out for my kids so that their gifts are being nurtured and they can grow in what brings them the most joy?  
  • Do I provide a wide variety of things for my children to be exposed to?  Even things that I might just assume they won't like?  
I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a mother.  And I knew that with motherhood comes great responsibility and the gift of helping my children grow in their gifts.  I'm far far from perfect in this area but I continue to be inspired by my friends and the kids like this amazing little girl that has been born to swim.  I hope you go far in life Keleigh Shai!  You've been given some pretty special parents to help you soar.  I'm so thankful that I know them.  And you. You are an inspiration.  

1.  What are your children's gifts?  Do they stand out strongly or have you had to help them discover them a bit more? 
2.  How do you help your child grow in their talents and gifts?  
3.  Did you parents  help you discover and use your gifts?  


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Hydration FOR YOU from ME

Many of you still might be wondering what all this Nuun Hydration (pronounced Noon) stuff is all about.  If you're like me, you might have just heard about Nuun a year or so ago.  Some of you have been using it for years and some of you are just now hearing about it.  Here are just a few Amanda facts:

  • I first heard of about Nuun sometime last year in the spring.  I had no clue how to pronounce it and I simply thought the Nuun tubes looked pretty.  
  • I started using Nuun more regularly before during and after races when I had the opportunity to try it out in the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon last year.  They served it on the course and I LOVED it!  The flavor, the way it made me feel, the way it is zero calorie so that I could still use whatever fuel I wanted.  
  • Recently, Nuun has come out with Nuun All-Day.  This has been used frequently in our house.  Especially leading up to my marathon last Wednesday.  Both my husband and I are runners and involved in endurance activities so we've appreciated the added hydration and vitamins that Nuun has provided.  
  • I love my blue Nuun waterbottle.  It comes with me everywhere.  Even when I'm dressed up for weddings, concerts, and other events.  It seems to be THE fashion accessory for me lately.  Kind of funny really...seeing all my summer pictures...there is almost always a blue Nuun bottle somewhere in the shot. It makes for good conversation about Nuun too. I took it with me the Ben Harper concert this past week and had some good conversations because of it.  
  • Nuun comes in all kinds of fun flavors.  And they are such pretty looking tubes.  
  • Nuun isn't just for athletes.  It is for all of us.  Even kids like Nuun...and it is safe for them. 
So, really, I could write this huge post telling you all about Nuun, what it is made of, why it is awesome, what it is good for, blah blah blah.  But honestly, the Nuun website does all that way better than I would so I'll just tell you that:
1.  I love it
2.  It works
3.  I use it regularly
4.  I think you'd like it too

So, I want to send one of you a Nuun Water bottle and Tube of Nuun to try for yourself.  

Something you see at my house almost daily now.

See, I told you my blue Nuun waterbottle was a main accessory these days.  

I'll send  you on on to my facebook link to give you more information:

Runninghood · 646 like this
54 minutes ago · 

Since I use my Runninghood facebook as my mini-blog these days for when I don't have a blog post in me but still have things to say/share, I'm doing this giveaway through my Runninghood facebook so just 

click HERE and leave a comment on the facebook link or write on my facebook wall with your comment.  It is truly EASY.  No time consuming, eye poking, and stupid giveaway hoops to jump through.  Just my way of sharing something I truly love.  


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sauvie Island's Foot Traffic Flat Marathon 2012...Recap in Bullets and Pictures

Mile 21ish.  Thanks for all of your comments on this picture on my Runninghood facebook.  They made me smile.   And several of you have asked about the purple shoes.  They are the Brooks Pure Flows. Great shoe.  Great company.  Run Happy!  

Waking up the morning after a marathon has always been the same for me.  I've only run six of them unlike some of you maniacs who are at 50 plus and counting.  Ha!  But so far, whether I ran a great race or one that I'm less than proud of, I wake up with a heavy load of race residue to process.  Oh, and my body usually feels like I got hit by a truck.  Although I agree with one of my good friends who believes you should wait 48 hours before you honestly evaluate and discuss your race performance, I also think that I need an outlet to process, share, and work through some of that heavy race residue BEFORE the 48 hours.  But I promise not to judge myself too harshly before the 48 hour mark.  

Since it was a late night of fireworks for the kids, they are still soundly sleeping.  I would have been too if it weren't for my middle daughter, the cuddle bug of the family, crawling into bed at 7:30 to wake me up.  Luckily she fell back asleep so that I have time to post here before all three of them are up and tearing through the house with their usual high energy.  So, to save time, this will be a race recap of sorts in bullets and pics. Besides, most of you say you like bullets anyway.  

  • I ran a marathon yesterday.  This one:  Foot Traffic Flat Marathon on Sauvie Island
  • It was my second time running this marathon.  Last year my husband and I ran it for a fun progressive run four weeks after my Newport flop of a marathon where I went for a 3:15 and ended up with a 3:30.  It was his first marathon (untrained) and we ran a fun progressive 3:24 that felt happy and dare I say easy.  
  • This was not the same.  However, my 3:28:40 isn't something for me to hang my head about.  It's what I came to do.  Exactly what I said I wanted.  However, I wish that a few things had gone differently.  As is usually the case after a race.  
  • I don't care for flat courses.  I would much rather have hills to break things up.  I probably won't run this race again.
  • As most of you know, I ran Boston 2012.  I finished.  Enough said.  I was also injured and my hamstring injury was much worse AFTER running a marathon in 90 degree heat that left me at my lowest I've ever been during a race.  You can read more about that in this Sparrow article HERE.
  • I will never again take it as a given that I will BQ for sure.  Boston was NOT another BQ for me.  Rather it was a life lesson that I will forever be thankful for. 
  • After Boston, I took quite a bit of time off.  I had 2 weeks of NO exercise.  Then I very very slowly worked my way into running.  The goal was that I would do just enough to try to hold on to as much as my Boston base and get UNINJURED so that I could run another marathon to Boston Qualify and have the opportunity to go in 2013. It was agreed that the safest way to do that was to shoot for a BQ minus 5 minutes a 3:30.  
  • As training went on, our goals started to shift a bit.  The 3:30 goal was now widened to a possible 3:20-3:25 range if everything went perfectly up to race day (which it didn't...I'll explain below).  It was agreed that if I was sick, injured or if anything was happening on the morning of a race that would keep me from that strong, safe BQ, then I wasn't going to run.  After all, that was the ONLY reason I was racing this race.  No point in injuring myself again.  
  • Speaking of injury.  A lot of the time since Boston has been a slow recovery for me.  I haven't had any serious injuries that have kept me from being active but my hamstring and pelvic pain from back in January were still not healed.  I had an MRI to rule out a pelvic SF before I started running again.  Then I babied my hamstring as if it was my job....heat, massage, ice, rolling, taking days off if I was hurting.  The goal again:  Get to Sauvie Island Marathon healthy and WHOLE with just enough fitness to qualify for Boston and move on to more optimal training.  My training to get here was very safe and gradual.  It was low mileage, plenty of days off, and just enough workouts to keep me sharp and strong.  I even had several half marathon races as workouts that left me feeling really confident.  
  • Week Lead-Up to July 4th race:  Beginning of week was crazy stressful with my son's birthday party, his actual birthday, piano and swim lessons starting, normal race worries, etc.  
  • Because of this stress that didn't seem all that stressful at the time, I wasn't drinking enough or relaxing enough.  My right leg rebelled and cramped up like never before.  I had knots in my muscles from my butt to my foot.  Once the party was over and I could relax and focus on my body and the race, things got better.  I drank Nuun All Day, ate the right foots, massaged like crazy, and got enough sleep.
  • Things got better and I started feeling like a champ!  
  • Last workout before race day besides just some slow easy runs...just getting my body used to the gradual progression that I'd hope it would do on race day:  5.89 miles  7:36 pace.  5 min@7:49; 5 min@7:36; 5 min@7:45; 1 mile@7:32; 1 mile@7:39; 1 mile@7:35 and almost a mile @7:26.  
  • This workout felt great.  Easy really. Strong.  Happy.  Confident that these paces would come naturally for me on race day.  Things were coming together and really I had confidence that I could do MORE than that safe BQ.  In my head, I still had plans to keep things safe but I expected it to feel way easier based on my workouts.  I figured a 3:20 wasn't outside my reach at all!  
  • I continued to get good sleep and be smart with hydration.  
  • Then on Monday (52 hours before the race) at 2a.m I woke up (EXCUSE the TMI) in pain and peeing blood!  WTH ?  This had NEVER happened to me even though so many women say that it is common with a UTI.  But freaked me out!  And hurt like heck.  I lost that night of sleep and started antibiotics later on Monday morning.  I was in bed with low low fever and just fatigue all day on Monday. Luckily, I had my husband to stay home and care for me so I felt pretty recovered by Tuesday.  But still recovering from UTI.  
  • Who knows how much of a hit my body took from this.  I felt pretty darn good by race morning though.  
My best friend and love of my life!  He's ALWAYS there for me.  

Beautiful on race morning.  So EARLY.  This was at 5a.m.  Race started at 6:30!  

I couldn't feel my toes at the start.  It wasn't cold.  I was just having circulation issues.  Weird.  

  • But I didn't feel as good as I should have while racing.  Or as I'd hoped.  
  • I'm not quite ready to post my splits. I was smart at the start.  I did just as I said I'd do and I kept my miles between 7:45 and 8.  Well there were no 8's for the first 17 miles and I think I ran 1 or 2 7:40's at mile 5/6ish.  
First half of the race.  In the zone.  Right on.  

  • The second half of the race wasn't horrible...I was just MENTALLY done!  My miles were all falling right around 8:05-8:15 at the very end there and despite my husband telling me to dig deep and stop wussing out, I just wanted to be finished.  
  • It was pretty windy for many of the miles during the first half of the race (as expected on an island), so I did as I was reminded to do and drafted off of a group of big guys.  They were very funny too.  And keeping at a pretty consistent 7:49ish pace.  
  • At the turn around at mile 11 we passed a woman as a pack.  She asked if we'd all started late or something.  I just said:  " motto for today is from a friend and it is "First half, don't be a hero.  Second half, don't be a zero." so we're just picking up the pace a bit.  She and the guys thought it was a good motto for a marathon.  
Drafting = smart idea!  Should have done it for the entire race. 

  • The second half of the race was run mostly alone.  Boo.  Nobody is out there. can hear them.  
  • SOOOO Thankful for my husband.  He rode the course and had water, fuel, encouragement and loving energy.  He was a support to all the other runners too.  
  • I felt like puking most of the second half of the race so not sure what that was all about.  I couldn't stomach a third Clif Gel (I took one at mile 7 and 16) so I used a PowerBar Gel since they are more watery and go down quicker.  Almost came back up though.  I'm thinking I need to do my fuel differently next time.  I have success in the past with the gradual fueling and I think I'll try that again:  1 gel slowly over 2-4 miles.  The beans do the same for me.  It almost helps me mentally too.  
  • At around mile 21?, a woman passed me.  I eventually caught up to her at around mile 23?  So glad I found you Julie!  Julie was running Sauvie after Boston for a better BQ time since she didn't get the time she wanted at Boston.  She still qualified there though so that makes her a badass in my book!  I've never really had an experience where I've worked with a stranger in a race but we encouraged, pushed, and pulled each other to that finish.  We were both so done but we picked up the pace and both finished sub 3:30.  If we hadn't found each other, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have had that sub 3:30.  As a way to motivate me even more she told me that I was the one she'd picked out at the start to beat.  :)  Ha!  That just made me want to make sure she met her goal...little did she know that my mentality as a runner isn't all that competitive when it comes to racing at the end.  ;)  I did end up finishing before her but barely.  So thankful for her.  Being encouraging to her made me tell myself the messages that I should have told myself all along.  INstead, I was fighting a mental battle from mile 17 on.  
The very end of the race.  Maybe last mile?  The half marathoners were finishing at the same time so it made us feel like we were passing more people than we really were.  Julie, my angel for the day, is on my left in the white hat.  

  • Overall, I'm proud of yesterday.  I did EXACTLY what I said I would do despite my secret thoughts about what I hoped might be the case.  I said I was going for a safe and smart BQ with a time under 3:30.  I said I was going to be conservative with my paces so that I didn't end up coming home having fallen on my face and with no BQ.  And I came home a winner.  My stats:  8th woman overall.  1st in my AG. Too bad Sauvie doesn't give AG awards.  Official time: 3:28:40
  • I finished so happy to be DONE.  I was all smiles and jokes.  The job was done!!  I did what I had come to do and even though the race residue would set in later, I felt GREAT then.  I ate some salt n' vinegar chips, checked e-mail, sent messages to friends, took pictures, iced, indulged in the Sauvie Island Berries and had some of the famous strawberry shortcake that is offered.  I'm not sure when my next marathon will be.  Definitely not until Boston 2013 if I decide to do it.  Right now I'm excited to rest up, get strong and ready for Hood to Coast so I can represent for my team for After Nuun Delight.
Happy to represent Brooks.  And HAPPY to be done!!!  

Big Medal and yummy strawberry shortcake.  And yes, Run Happy in the background.  Nice pic hon.