Sunday, March 31, 2013

Letter From My Body and "Letting GO" for REAL

This morning I woke up with a conversation going on in my head.  It was more like what it would sound like if my body were to write me a letter. That letter might sound something like this:

Dear Amanda,

Okay, it's time we have a heart-to-heart here.  You've always been such a good listener.  I've loved the way you've stopped to think and really hear me when I talk to you.  But this time, I'm not quite sure what's going on with you.  I feel rather neglected, and out of respect for myself (and you), I'm going to be quite clear here since my other more subtle hints are apparently not working.  

I NEED REST!  I need for you to STOP Running for a bit.  I NEED a BREAK here sweet Amanda.  Yes, those hints I've been giving you are not just in your head. Let's go over just a few of the messages I've sent you lately:

  • Overly tired
  • Can't run for several days on end without then having your runs be awkward and just OFF.  
  • Trying to run after your long runs or harder workouts and finding yourself with a limp and feeling like I'm (um, your body) is all jacked up (that's because I AM). 
  • Left leg weak, exhausted and many times hurting over the last 6 or so weeks of your Napa Training.  
  • Weight Gain (probably from stress and perhaps just from ME (your body) not knowing what to do with you.  Might as well hold on to something if you're going to insist on tearing me down everywhere else, right?   
Oh, and if all the signs above that show I need a break aren't sinking in, I think you had a very clear sign when you got our ferritin levels checked and it was at a level:  10!  

These things are NOT just in your head like you've been trying to convince yourself.  They are REAL! 

Come on girl!  What are you holding on to exactly??  That sub 3:20 marathon that you know you have in you? All the work you've put in the last 18 weeks?  What?!  If you are truly going to try to run Boston for "Fun" and make it an easy run then here's the thing:
  • You don't need to be getting in all of these workouts.  I (your body) promise you that I (if healthy) can make that distance of 26.2 without much more training.  Promise.  Even if you took the next two weeks off with maybe one or two light workouts.  
  • I just might agree to hold out for you until then IF and only IF you agree to take at least a good month off after Boston is over.  Promise???!! 
And just because it doesn't seem to be sinking in, I might make this clear to you too:

There is a reason why WE feel so good after a few days of complete rest (see last post).  It isn't because your iron is all of a sudden at a decent level (although this has something to do with it) and you're ready to be superwoman and run like a crazy lady.  It MEANS that you NEEDED REST!!  And I responded to it.  But that doesn't mean that you should stop that rest just because you're feeling perky after a few days of it.  PLEASE listen to me.  If you want me to hold up until I'm long into my 80's and even 90's then please take care of me now. 

 You had a hard 18 weeks of training and then to top that off you have been:
  • planning a move across the country (packing, finding homes, researching schools)
  • being a mom to 3 very energetic kids
  • making sure you and your family have proper closure to the act of moving out of your home, leaving friends, and transitioning
  • planning going away parties, birthday parties, and final activities before leaving
  • running through injury...don't even try to call it something else anymore...screw this "oh it's just a little niggle!"  I mean, what's a niggle anyway?  A niggle doesn't usually last 6 weeks. Or maybe it does but in my book, a niggle means to back off a bit.  Hello! You spent most of your training taped with KTTape in 2 to 3 different places and wearing compression tights on every run.  And even then feeling torn down and depleted.  
 I'll make a deal with you Amanda.  I'll be willing to THINK about performing "just enough" at Boston.  Maybe.  That's 2 weeks away.  I'll put up with your crazy nonsense until then on a much lower scale...I mean cut the workouts you have in your plan and go into some active recovery DON'T need all of that if you are truly just going to "Run" Boston and not race it.  Be honest with yourself.  Let it go.  Yes, I know, this is the HARD part.  Letting GO.  You had a bad race at Napa.  But there will be other races IF you take care of yourself now.  So, don't just say you're letting Boston go.  The act of saying it isn't enough if you haven't truly let it go in our HEART.  Got it?  Saying and Doing are very different things. And until now, you really haven't let anything go.  You've just pushed through and told yourself what you needed to. 

So, about that 18 miler you have on your calendar today..... Hmmm, let's really think long and hard about this one.  Yesterday when you tried to run even a few back and forths on the road so your husband could see your stride, I was very clear in my messages to you that I'm not working so well.  Um, that limp?  Can that possibly be good to run on for 18 miles???!  You're more than likely to do some more damage from that.  In fact, there's no doubt that you're doing MORE damage.  If it takes you a good 2 miles to "warm-up" and feel "normal" when your current normal is still quite different from what you remember what normal feels like over a year ago, then something isn't right!  Who cares if you're hitting an easy 8:06ish pace naturally once you start going.  Who cares that you nailed your 800s the other day even though your body still felt "off".  Seriously, if you're doing that when you feel the way you do, you're :
A. capable of much more when you are healthy (you know this anyway)
B. most likely tearing your body down more and more so that your chances of having some good PRs ahead of you someday are slowly fading. 

Thanks for listening to me.   

Lots of Love,
Your Body

After writing this above "letter from my body", I had a good conversation with my coach.  I told him all of the things that I realized.  His response was something to the tune of being proud of me for coming to these realizations myself.  He has been feeling the same way (in fact, he doesn't even think I should run Boston for fun) but wanted me to come to these lessons on my own.  As far as not running Boston at all goes...I'm not ready to make that decision.  Here's my plan for the next 2 weeks:
  • Active recovery:  walking/stretching/yoga/rest/light jogging
  • Eating right
  • Good Sleep
  • Continue taking IRON and Multivitamin
  • Daily journaling of gratitude and goals.  This is really good for me in staying focused.
  • Working on really taking things one day at a time and focusing on being in the present moment as we adjust to this new and wonderful place to live.  
  • Truly embracing where I am at.  Right. Now.  Today my body is screaming at me to REST and get things figured out.  Can I run?  Yes.  Can I run fast? Sure.  But am I recovering normally or am I left feeling injured and off after harder runs?  Well, most of the time over the last many weeks, I'm feeling injured.  This is such a clear warning to me that I need to...BACK OFF.  
  • Consider scraping Boston Marathon and just enjoying the trip to Boston, one of my favorite cities.  It really would be fun just to watch the race, see the elites finish, cheer on so many of my friends who are running, and just enjoy the Boston experience from another perspective.  
  • Finding other ways to get my heart rate up and move my body without running.  Hard without a gym right now BUT my husband has an Insanity workout that he does that looks like it could be modified for me.  
I admit, it was a little emotional for me this morning when I came to the point of admitting to myself that I'm really not healthy.  Admitting that my body just isn't okay and that I need to TRULY let go of my expectations...not just say that I'm letting it go or not being attached to some sort of hope for a good race.  I'd be lying if I said that there wasn't a part of me that clinging to the idea of having my body just snap into shape and finally being able to run the marathon I had trained for.  I felt the tears bubble up a little this morning when I heard myself tell others that I was letting go.  When I made the decision to not run my 18 miles this morning, I knew then and there that I was finally ready to ACCEPT where I'm at and stop fighting it.  

Here's to the next 2 weeks of rest and loving myself as we continue to plant our roots here in Asheville.  In fact, I think I just might be ready for a nap even though I just woke up a couple of hours ago.  

Happy Easter,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Mood rings for myself and my girls...our Welcome to Asheville present!  Our moods:  Alert,  Romantic, and Happy.  Seems right.  

I've tried to start this post at least three times.  I just have so much I could say that I don't know where to begin.  I guess I'll start with
I am generally a pretty happy person all around but I feel happier right now than I've felt in a really long time.  Last night was the first time in forever that I woke myself and my  husband up from laughing in my sleep. You know, I can't tell you what it was that made me laugh in my sleep but I do know that I went to bed filled to the brim with
and that joy that comes from being right on the edge of possibility.

We don't have a permanent place to live yet but we are here in Asheville, NC and it feels like coming home.  My husband started work yesterday, we are staying in a really nice extended stay hotel/condo (I'll never want my own bed back), and are already finding some good places with potential.  So many different possibilities:  city living, city living with a view but not much of a place for kids to run around outside, country living, small town living but near the city, suburbs (last choice since that's what we came from), etc.  Today we will drive up to a small down that is only 10ish minutes out from Asheville called Weaverville.  I have a feeling it is the place we will live...I kind of fell in love last night just from learning about it.  Seems to have all the convenience of living near Asheville, but the quiet and quaint feel that comes with a smaller community.  And the library and schools seem to fit my criteria!  I know, funny that one of my standards is that we live close to a GOOD library (preferably walking distance) for my kiddos.  We see a house tomorrow that I think just might be a winner.  It is an old and small 1930's house on the corner of a pretty street....walking distance to all of the main places in town (coffee, bakery, library, art galleries, schools, parks, etc.) but the neighborhood looks beautiful and safe and clean.  We'll see what it looks like when we drive there today.  Google maps and online photos might lie a bit.  I've never wanted to love something more...does that make sense?  :)  The kids all seem happy too.  I think they will THRIVE here.  At least I hope so.  The second night here was hard for my girls though.  They missed home. But that is to be expected.  And even working through those sad feelings and talking about these changes, is a gift of a learning experience.  We are all going to grow in some way.

Things are picking up on the running front.  People said that it takes awhile to raise the ferritin levels but I am certain that I notice a difference after a week of taking iron supplements and a multivitamin.  I feel stronger every day.  Sure some of that has to be mental.  You know, the placebo effect.  However, my body just feels more normal.  So thankful for this.  Yesterday was my first run in Asheville. It was only 4 miles but it made me so happy to notice the difference in how my body feels.  The past five or six weeks have just been rough.  I haven't been able to explain it all entirely...the weak feeling in my legs, the way my left leg pretty much gave out by the end of a week of running (and left me with no other choice but to take a full day off and then follow it by a recovery run), slow recovery, always feeling sore, hurting and discomfort that came from stopping mid run and then starting again, FATIGUE, not being able to hit paces that were easy just weeks before, feeling AWFUL during taper, and a really poor marathon in light of what I was prepared for with my training.  I was caught off guard during my run last night when I stopped at a stoplight and then started running again.  I was expecting to feel the usual discomfort, strain, and effort that has been coming with this start/stop mid run.  Even with a short and easy run.  But it wasn't there.  I felt strong and fresh.  Not 100% but definitely stronger.    This makes me HAPPY!  And optimistic about Boston truly having potential to be FUN.  I still don't plan on setting out for racing it though.  That's been determined.  If my body continues to say "YES" to workouts, then I will definitely plan on being in Boston and running whatever my body says to run that day. That might be 8:00 pace or maybe 8:45's or possibly 7:30's in some places.  Maybe even a few low 7's at the end if I'm feeling perky.  Or maybe not.  Maybe even some 9's or 10's.  I'm just excited to not have a plan other than to RUN HAPPY (in my Brooks Pure Cadence2's...Um, more later but I really like this shoe!).  The real test will be to see how I feel after my 10 today and my eight 800's tomorrow.  But I ran 15 on Sunday (with my body still not feeling so good) at a natural/easy 8:06 avg and felt okay so I'm feeling optimistic.

Last mail to get in Oregon before our move
Oh, and another perk of traveling to the east coast during spring break is that my kids are still on west coast time!  I've been up for two hours and they are STILL Sleeping!  Times almost up but this has been a slice of heaven in itself.

Happy Wednesday,

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bring on the Iron and Backing off Boston

  • This will be one of those bullet posts. 
  • I like bullets. They are easy to get thoughts out without much thought.  
  • Almost a week here of extended stay/hotel like living.  Oh, what it does to the numbers on the scale!  Good grief!  The place we are staying as we get our house ready for renters before flying to North Carolina is actually more like an apartment so we do have a full kitchen.  However, something about all our stuff being packed up and being out of routine means that I'm still not eating like usual.  So much eating take-out.  
  • After the Napa Marathon my coach strongly advised that I go get my iron levels looked at.  I had an unusual amount of fatigue right before the marathon.  My workouts during taper were just so off compared to what they should have been. Everything was harder for me.  But I just chalked it up to typical taper madness.  I wasn't going to really make getting my blood drawn a priority since I had so many other things to do but after a play date with my son where I could hardly keep my eyes open (just so drained!), I made the swing by the lab.  It was quick and easy.
  • I didn't hear back from the doctor about my results so I figured everything was normal.  Then I got my lab results back and saw that my ferritin level was 10.  This is pretty low from what I've heard from others.  But I also know that this is very common in distance runners.  
  • So, now it feels good to have an answer for why my body could be so tired and under performing compared to what it should be.  In some twisted way, it makes me feel better to know that something is off.  
  • So, now is all about bringing up the Iron levels.  I have people on one side telling me I should just take the iron supplements and also increase the amounts of iron rich foods.  Then I have others telling me that I should use Yellowdock root tincture to increase iron levels with the more herbal approach.  
  • Right now I'm just taking my iron supplement in the morning and night with some orange juice.  I try not to eat dairy or drink coffee closer to 2 hours from the time I take my iron.  These are just a couple of things that can get in the way of our bodies absorbing the iron.  
  • Running.  Slow going.  My left leg is still feeling way off.  Something just isn't right.  For a long time now actually.  The last 4 or 5 weeks of Napa training were like this too.  When I do run, it is usually a good mile or two before I warm up that leg and feel good.  But the good news is that it does warm up! 
  •  My sports chiropractor showed me some exercises I can do before my runs to activate my hip flexors and glutes.  Hopefully this, combined with rest, will help out.  
  • At this point, I've given up any intention of staying in prime marathon shape for Boston.  IF I do run Boston, it will only be if I can fit in enough runs to feel good running it for fun.  And if I think I can run it without breaking my body down further.  We will see how things go. No 7:30 marathon pace.  I'll be happy with some 8's.  
  • I've taken the last 3 days off running and will likely take a 4th today.  This seems to be what my body is asking of me.  Especially with the moving and to-dos right now.  
  • Boston.  I'm questioning what the heck I was thinking about Boston in the first place.  Moving to Asheville and then getting up and heading to Boston 2 weeks later sounds a little crazy at this point.  There is part of me that might not go at all.  But if that were the case, I'd lose a lot of money (but spend less too) and miss out on seeing some dear friends.  This will be a decision I make with much thought.  
  • I'm feeling excited about this new adventure ahead of us!  But I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a side of me that feels scared shitless too!  This is scary.  I know, I know, I know, it doesn't have to be scary.  It is all in the way we see it.  But whatever.  Having all of our lives packed up and just heading to the opposite side of the country (all in the name of fun!) and not knowing where we will live yet...thrilling indeed!  But also just a little scary.  I've never been a super laid back person so this is part of my nature.  ha!  The excitement part is way stronger though so....Bring IT LIFE!  What's next?!  
  • And bring on the IRON!  

Have you experienced low iron levels associated with heavy mileage?  
What are your tips for bringing up Ferritin levels the fastest?  


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Must Pack Running Essentials

Moving my family across the country is a new experience for me.  I've never done anything like this really.  I mean, not counting my college adventures.  Moving when you have a family of five requires a lot more work and thought.  We have to pack light enough to fly to North Carolina but liberal enough to where we can live comfortably without the rest of our stuff for up to a month.  For me, this means my ESSENTIALS...clothes, journal, a few books, my computer, and my RUNNING things.  Running is what will make everything else in life WAY BETTER!  If you're a runner then you get this.  When I first started running, I suppose I only needed my old running shoes (that I also used for every day use) and a few t-shirts and pairs of shorts or sweat pants.  HA!  My how things have changed.  I've become such a spoiled runner.  Part of this is because I'm kind of still marathon training. I say kind of because I really am just training enough to be able to run Boston so that I don't feel like I'm going to DIE.  A marathon cannot be "fun" unless you are conditioned to run 26.2 miles.  Otherwise, it would probably be hell-like.  Anyway, moving and living in hotels for up to a month means that I need to be prepared for all sorts of runs, different kinds of weather, fueling properly, hydrating, preventing injuries (KTTape and Tiger Tail roller), and alternating shoes just because that's something I like to do.  My husband made fun of me for having a big extra bag just for running gear.  But a runner has to do what a runner has to do.  And for me, I'd rather be prepared and have packed too much than find myself wishing I would have brought more.

Some essentials to pack so that I'm prepared for the weeks leading up to Boston while being in a BIG life transition:

  • Brooks Running Shoes!  Of course.  This time I packed my Pure Cadence 2, Two pairs of Ravenna 3's, and a pair of PureFlow2's in the car that I'm still waiting to try out.  I also have my every day "run errands" shoes that are also Brooks shoes that I no longer run in.  
  • Tiger Tail massage stick.
  • Nuun
  • Nuun and Brooks visors (gotta represent!)
  • Nathan water/fuel belt for my longer runs coming up
  • Honey Stinger Gels and Waffles 
  • KTTape.  Gotta keep these legs in tact.  And oh how they are not happy some days lately.  :(  
  • Compression tights, shorts, Brooks Essential Run Vests (these are a STAPLE for me even when I'm not running!  LOVE), socks, tanks, etc. etc.  
  • Garmin (even though I'm trying to not use it as much)
  • Hats, arm warmers, calf compression sleeves, and other various accessories
So, what are YOUR Running Essentials that you would pack if you were moving far away and needed to pack for up to a month??  What's your MUST HAVE Running Gear list?  


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Facebook VENT, and Reflections on Running, Motherhood, and MOVING

Not sure where I'm heading with this post but I do feel the need to write some thoughts down.  It feels almost essential for me to be still with myself and my thoughts as we are scurrying around on our last day in this house before the next chapter in our lives.  There are clothes all over the floors, suitcases in mid-pack, boxes stacked up along the perimeters of our bedrooms, piles sorted into "giveaways", "throw-outs", "pack away for keeps", etc.  This is it!  We are actually moving.  This is our first house. Our home for nine years.  It is the house that we brought all three of our babies home to.  It is the place we've come back to after travels.  The place that we've built so many memories in.  It is a place I thought that perhaps I would never leave.  My husband has tried for years to convince me that we should move to someplace new.  He talked of going on an adventure and seeing another part of the world while our kids were young and while we still had a considerable amount of freedom to just get up and go.  But I just was never ready.  I liked my comforts.  I liked knowing that my kids were right by their elementary school.  I loved that we had neighbors for our kids to play with.  Our busy culdesac full of bikes and strollers
laughing kids
sidewalk chalk scribbles
cardboard houses being painted
"children at play" signs
endless summer days of imagination
trees to climb
a community of people we love

I was never ready.
Until now.
It is hard to think of moving and leaving all that we've had here in this small and loved house.  But it is time.  I think life, the universe, God, makes it pretty clear to us when something is meant to be.  And this move just kind of happened.  It came quickly.  It started with a friend traveling to Asheville, North Carolina and saying how much it reminded him of me and how he thought we'd thrive there.  Where is this place in North Carolina?  My first instincts were to just assume that it was a place that surely someone from Portland, Oregon wouldn't like so much.  But then the seed grew.  Next thing I knew, I was falling in love with the idea of this small city on the other side of the country.  A place much like Portland actually.  But also so different and new.  And a place that would give us an opportunity to see much of the east coast.  I liked the idea.  It was energizing to think of just picking up and heading out on an adventure.  And for the first time since moving here, I was READY.  Then the seed grew and grew.  Things were easy.  They just unfolded so perfectly.  My husband's work allowed for him to put in for a temporary transfer, they agreed he could live in Asheville, and one door after another continued to open until we are now a week away from flying to our new city that we will call home.

There is still so much to do but for the first time in weeks or maybe months...

I am so excited!  

Things just seem right now.  My daughter's 6th birthday party was yesterday and my husband's 34th birthday was Friday.  These were big things on my list that I needed to do "right" (for me and them) before I could focus on getting all packed up and ready to move.  I also needed the process of saying farewell to neighbors and friends.  Having parties and special times with special people has not only been a way for me to transition smoothly but it has been so important for my children.  Making sure that they are feeling closure, understanding, and peace regarding this huge move has been at the TOP of my AGENDA!  And with TREMENDOUS love and support from our neighbors, friends and family, we have some very special memories (new and old) to take with us.  My head and heart feel so ready for this next chapter!

Just a few thoughts:

I'm at full peace with where my running is at right now.  It took a day or two after Napa to snap out of any sulky or disappointed feelings.  Really, I am thankful for the process I had in training for that marathon.  It helped me stay focused during an otherwise stressful few months of getting ready for this move.  I said from the beginning that it wasn't all about the end result.  It was about the training and ENJOYING training smart and happy.  So, in light of those goals, Napa Training was a SUCCESS.  Yes, bummer about the marathon being rough but OH WELL.  Lots going on in my life.  LOTS.  A full head here.  I'm sure the days of having a clear head and normal routines in life is just around the corner. This will make for a better time to be shooting for bigger goals IF I decide that's what I want.  In the meantime, I'm genuinely enjoying JUST RUNNING.  And after yesterday's run where I felt my legs come back to me FULLY, I'm so excited to run Boston.  I'm excited to continue to stay fit, put the mileage in, stay healthy and then get to Boston ready to enjoy the 26.2 mile run.  I like the idea of having a Boston without a goal other than to enjoy it.  I'm looking forward to seeing some of my best friends and meet some new running friends that I've enjoyed getting to "know" through their running blogs.  And I'm hopeful of some good running weather UNLIKE my first two Boston Marathons (85-87 degrees in 2004 and 90 degrees in 2012).

Motherhood guilt.  My new year's resolution was to start living my life with way less GUILT over the things I'm not doing and focus on more of the things I AM doing.  This has been 80% successful so far.  I still find myself feeling guilty for things I do and say and things I don't do and say but I've really been good at recognizing what I AM as a mother.  We are too hard on ourselves moms!  At least I have been.  I'm still being intention on BEING INTENTIONAL with my kids.  I'm conscious of BEING PRESENT with them, looking them in the eyes, having meaningful conversations, apologizing when I need to, making memories that count, and not being afraid to be REAL in front of them.  Part of being a good parent to me means that I show my kids that life is imperfect and that we always have opportunities to grow and change things if we don't like them.  I am so eager to start exploring a new city and a new side of the country with my family.  I am looking forward to exploring the libraries, ice cream shops, nature hikes, and all that Asheville and the surrounding area have to offer.

Well, Life....See Above.  :)

One of the things that has been on my mind a lot lately (and meant for another post in and of itself) is the topic of FACEBOOK.  I've noticed so much criticism and negative tones in regards to facebook lately.  And I have some pretty strong opinions.  Just some thoughts off the top of my head in Bullet VENT form:

  • If you don't like Facebook, don't use it.  Period.  But don't knock on the people that do like it and use it.  As with everything in life, we are all at different places and stages.  Let people be.
  • I hear a lot of people make fun of others for their posts or for  how often they post or for what they post, etc. etc.  As if they are better people for not posting. Again, if it isn't your thing, Then DON'T USE IT.  Why even get on it if you think you're better than that?  
  • I get that there are people that just like to "lurk" or "look" or "catch up" and  not post.  I understand this.  This is great if that's how you are.  
  • I'm also finding it interesting to see how people view the people that do post.  I had a conversation the other day that really made me think.  A person was saying how they didn't feel like they really had much to share that people were interested in.  But I disagreed.  I happened to think that their life was interesting and I think so many people would love to hear what they were doing with their kids and how they were living their life.  But, that's me.  I think we can certainly share too much but I think sharing our LIVES is what makes LIFE SO BEAUTIFUL.  I love seeing things that inspire me to be a better _______, ________, ________.  I love posts that make me think and make me think "Ah, I want to do that too!".  And I love sharing my life too.  I think this is part of giving and receiving in light of HUMANITY.  
  • But somehow Facebook has come to mean different things to MANY.  Somehow people have come to see it as others trying to "get attention" or "show off".  My friend mentioned that he thought that there was no reason why someone would post a picture of their child's birthday cake or project except to get recognition from others that they NEED.  I think maybe this is true for some.  But so not for others.  As humans in this big big world with all of our friends and family stretched out all over the place, it is fun to share and celebrate with others.  It is fun to have a community outside of our closer community where we get to have windows into others' lives.  
  • And for those that do find the need to use Facebook simply to "show off" or "FAKEBOOK" or say things that are annoying to others....Um, you can "hide" them.  Or for crying out loud, heaven forbid you just see them and love them for where they are at in life without judging them or thinking you are better than them because you are cool enough to NOT SHARE a darn thing about your life because you are somehow "ABOVE THAT".  Twitter is way cooler?  Or Instagram...THAT'S the new thing?  Good grief people (you know who you are), we all are just getting by in this world in the way that makes us happy.
  • Not sure why this bugs me so much lately.  Perhaps it is because I do like Facebook.  I think it can be overused for sure and I do plan on trying to reduce my use of it by A LOT.  But I also think it is funny (and a little sad) at how some people are almost scared to share their life ...their thoughts and pictures on Facebook for fear of being judged or seen as "needing recognition" or "showing off" even when they aren't.  So instead of posting, they just look and then get mad when anyone tags them, mentions them or draws attention to the fact that they actually use and enjoy Facebook.  Really?  
  • I also respect the fact that there are just people that are NOT into social media and that genuinely have no interest in making their life public.  I respect these friends.  And I have quite a few.  But I'm also thankful that they don't judge and look down their noses at me for ENJOYING social media...Facebook included.  And I do enjoy it.  I like writing my thoughts and sharing moments of my life as they come.  That's part of my personality.  And it isn't because I'm "needy" of recognition or that I'm trying to be "Fake" and make my life look cooler than it really is.  I tell the the shitty stuff too.  I share the ups and downs and highs and lows.  It is about sharing my life.  And those that want to know about it, awesome.  Those that don't, that's awesome too.  .....
  • Do I think Facebook and other social media forms are overused and take away from actual living sometimes....HECK YES!  I think I've found myself in this rut at various times over the last 5ish years too and I'm thankful that I've been conscious and reflective over it so that I can put it in its right place.  
  • Just Stop Judging.  Stop criticizing others for being different from you.  Stop looking at things that annoy you and judging the people that post things that make you feel "less".  This is something in YOU.  Not in the person posting.  Nobody can MAKE you feel allow yourself to feel this way.  
  • And if you don't want people to see pictures of you on Facebook when you are tagged:  Um, CHANGE YOUR SETTINGS so that people don't see.  Or get off Facebook if you just really have an issue with it.  
Woo Wee, that was quite the vent.  I have so much more to say on the topic too.  It has been one of those things I've observed quietly over the past year and there are several different trends and attitudes in light of social media that have my brain heavy with thoughts and reflections.  But I'll save those for another day.  

In the meantime, a 10 mile run and the task of packing up this house is ahead of me. 


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Video Mockery of an Amateur Marathon Runner's Post Race Reflection

I'm convinced that we all need a person in our life that can make fun of us and keep us laughing.  Someone that can put things in MAJOR perspective for us.  Training for a marathon is a lot of work.  It takes time, heart, energy, and sacrifice.  I'd be lying if I said that I didn't get attached to my goals and find myself very focused on my training.  We give a lot of ourselves.  And even when we try to keep things on the lighter side and not get too wrapped up in the outcome on race day, we almost all do.  When the race is over, good or bad, we have what I refer to as "race residue".  We have a bag of feelings and thoughts as we process the past 18-24 weeks and all that went into our training.  And we often have some pretty big feelings about the actual race. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that most of us are just doing this for fun.  Fortunately, my "race residue" isn't all that bad this time. Even though I had a bad race, I'm still  very thankful for the process and I'm glad for my training.  But the other night (before my last post on the Napa Valley Marathon 2013), I wrote down some thoughts over a glass or two of wine.  Some free verse....just words flowing.  In rereading it all, I realized how funny it sounded and how it was all a bit on the dramatic side.  Then I had my best friend (like a sister) of 17 years read it back to me.  HILARIOUS to me.  I was laughing so hard at the way she changed things and the way she made me sound.  It really put things in perspective for me in a oh so funny way.  It made me laugh for at least a good few hours to hear her using her best fake accent and thespian experience to depict how silly this post race bag of feelings and Amanda drama can appear to a non runner.  Of course she added some things so this made it even funnier to me.

Our feelings after a race are REAL.  We do work hard.  And our goals are important to us.  This is part of what keeps us driven in life.  We don't have to be elite athletes or olympic runners for our goals to be serious and meaningful to us.  But it can be easy to lose sight of a greater perspective sometimes.  I didn't see that happening to me so much now as I did several years ago after returning from an injury but I definitely spent at least a day or two feeling kind of sad.  All thoughts of sad or bummed out were gone once my BFF performed her rendition of

The Amateur Marathon Runner Reflecting on Life and a Bad Race. 

I promised a friend I'd post this even if it is rather embarrassing.  You're welcome Steph.  Making fun of ourselves is liberating sometimes. :) And Gosh, you'll witness my laugh when it gets really really out of control...that's embarrassing too.  But whatever.  I love to laugh.

Pure Mockery:


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

2013 Napa Valley Marathon Weekend

Wine tasting in Napa the day after the marathon.  The quote on this coaster was perfect.  I love it!

 If I'm ever going to write much more about the Napa Valley Marathon then I really should put some thoughts down right now before I start this day.  Otherwise, it's not going to happen because I've got lots to do to get ready for our move. We move out of our house as week from this Sunday.  Yikes!  Not sure how that came so fast but it did and honestly,  I have no real time to write lengthy marathon posts.  I'm good at wasting time when I'm overwhelmed though so let's see what I can get written in 20 minutes before my kids wake up. I think it might need to be another bullet post:

  • First off, THANK YOU for your comments and virtual hugs.  So nice.  Nobody will ever truly see things the way we do but the running blog community is pretty darn supportive.  They "get it".
  • Napa was a bad race.  But when I think of the fact that I ran a 3:40 when it felt like a 7 hour marathon, it doesn't feel as awful as it did at the time. In fact, according to a blog reader's comment from  yesterday, I think I qualified for Boston 2014 if I wanted to go again.  I'm 35 next year so I'd qualify with a 3:40.  I'm just not sure if my 3:40:xx works.  I think I needed a 3:40:00 or under.  But that wasn't my goal.  In fact, as I jogged/walked that last four miles I could see a 3:35 go to a 3:37 to a 3:39...and I honestly didn't care if I had a 3:40 or a 3:45 or a 3:50....time didn't matter anymore but being DONE mattered greatly!   
  • Last night I wrote a post that I deleted (for good reason...Ha!).  It was really rather hilarious.  I had had a glass of wine and allowed myself to just sit with the race residue a bit. The wine led to that superhero "I can share anything with the world" cape and it led to what I would consider a really funny Saturday Night Live Skit for marathon runners. Just a tad on the dramatic side.  Hilariously so. Maybe it was just hearing my best friend read it aloud in her finest fake British accent and best Amanda Mockery tone that she could muster up but I was literally laughing for 3 hours straight.  There was no way I was going to leave that crap up on the Internet for all to read.  It did what it was meant to do and then she added comic relief to my processes and put things in quite the HILARIOUS and down to earth perspective.  Gotta love best friends that can make fun of us.  I really should include the video. It makes light of just how seriously we can take ourselves in this amateur marathon world. Don't get me wrong, I still think we have a right to our feelings...we train hard for these races and we need time to process it all.  If anyone else would have been making fun of me in the same way, it wouldn't have been funny AT ALL.  Maybe I'll be brave enough to share the video so everyone can laugh at my expense.  I think Stephanie might be able to convince me...she seemed to get a kick out of it.  
  • About the "disappointing others" reference in my last post....  to clarify, I wasn't referring to my blog readers or friends.  Not at all.  When you have a coach/trainer...someone that is putting their heart and mind into this marathon training, it is a big day for them too.  Even though my coach reassured me a million times over that my race performance wouldn't disappoint him no matter what, I still thought a lot about this during the race.  No matter what, it is a disappointing thing for a coach to see their team or athlete crash after many weeks of great training. But he was only disappointed FOR me...not in me.   
  • Even from the start of the race, I couldn't find my rhythm.  It is one thing to have to dig deep at the end of the marathon and finish strong while you are falling apart mentally but an entirely different experience to feel like you're digging deep at mile six. And NO, I didn't start out too fast.  First mile was around 7:37.  Right where I needed to start or even a little slower.  And No, I wasn't undertrained for this pace. If anything, my goal felt "safe". 
  •  I haven't shared a lot of my training on here this time around but my workouts have been really strong and I went into this race feeling calm and confident.  I felt confident and calm even before the race started and knowing that I didn't have sleep. I was focused on almost all POSITIVES.  
  • My race pictures actually didn't turn out so awful.  Imagine that!  Ha!  I would have imagined a look of death and crap spilling melting into the pavement pictures.  But they really aren't as embarrassing as I thought they would be.  Go Napa Photographers!  Thank you for not capturing the drool running down my face as I slogged through every last mile.  
  • I looked over at one of the miles and there was Joan Benoit Samuelson cheering away for us (and looking for her daughter who was racing).  This was cool.  
  • At the start I had a conversation with Nina Kuscsik (this link to a video of Nina is worth watching).  Such a warm spirit.  So thankful for all she did for women in marathoning.  Thank you Beautiful Nina!  
  • I met Joe Henderson and had him sign a book for my coach.  My pen wasn't working so he gave me his. This doesn't matter so much to me since I don't even think I knew who Joe Henderson was before the weekend (I know, some of you will find that ridiculous even though some will feel the same way).  I do know that the pen will matter greatly to my coach so I'm excited to give it to him as a gift.  
  • Thanks for those of you that responded about the sleeping tips for the night before a race.  Yes, yes, yes, it is COMMON for one to not sleep much the night before a race. I get this people.  I'm not special in that.  Never thought I was.  In fact, I'm sure there were plenty of others out there that didn't sleep.  And I know that the night before the night before is the most important night...I was on a track and cross country team for all of high school and college...we learned this too.  I just know for a fact that I will need to find a way to get SOME sleep the night before such a MENTAL race.  Otherwise, I'm toasty roasty.  And please don't try to tell me that this isn't true "according to research".  That's just really annoying to me because hello, folks, I know myself quite well at 34.  The sleep thing isn't an excuse for me. Those of you that know me the best, know this about me.   
  • I said from the start that training for this marathon wasn't about a super ambitious goal and pushing myself as hard as I could go (even though I did want a PR and a big goal...just wasn't the be-all-end-all).  I was intent on enjoying the process and finding Joy in just being able to run and have a goal.  I stick to this.  This race or 26.2 mile workout doesn't take away from that.  Nothing can take the satisfaction and confidence that I've gained over the last 18 weeks of training.  Bad races happen.  Life goes on!  I still have running.  
  • Yesterday I woke up with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for life.  It was so nice being home and sleeping next to my husband for the first time in over a week.  He was out of town the entire week before my marathon and got home the night before I left for Napa.  I still didn't get to sleep next to him (my calm) that night because he was sick.  I kicked him to the couch so I did't get sick too.  Anyway, it felt so good to be home, in my own bed, and to have so many exciting things coming up.  
  • Boston.  I'll be there no matter what.  Excited to see many of you!  However, I'm pretty darn sure I'll be running for fun and not for a goal.  I need that right now.  
  • I am sincerely glad the way things happened the way they did in Napa.  I learned quite a bit this weekend.  And I came home INSPIRED.  I am more inspired than I've been in a long time.  Hearing the speakers, talking to famous runners, getting books signed, and listening to the stories of some of the greats...this was food for my learning soul.  So thankful.  
Some highlights in pictures and captions:

My words from Runninghood's Facebook:  "I've never been so inspired running wise as I am today after hearing the stories of these amazing women who paved the way for women runners everywhere. Chills. And I think this just might be the first race bib I actually frame since it issigned by all of them: Joan Benoit Samuelson, Lorraine Moller, Nina Kuscsik, and Jacqueline Hansen. I'm so grateful for all they did for women in this wonderful sport. And glad to be here at the Napa Valley Marathon during a year of Honoring Women in Marathoning! Today is a good day!"

The best "swag bag" I've ever received at a race. This is a Nice backpack for travel, races...whatever. It even has a slot/area for my laptop. LOVE it! Thanks Napa Valley Marathon for a well run race.

Best marathon travel partner ever!  This was her 22nd marathon.  She has a goal for 40 before 40.  Love her.
Heather was so full of patience and love in listening to me and helping me process after the race.  What a wise and patience friend.  Loved spending time getting to know her better.  
What a story here.  This is Shelley from Oregon.  My friends all told me that I should meet her because we were going for similar times.  I never did meet Shelley before I left. Nor did I meet her before the race.  It just so happened that I was meant to meet her in the middle of a random mustard field the day after the race.  We were getting in our car to leave and a group of people shouted at us from across the mustard asking us to take a picture of them.  One thing led to another and before long we discovered that we were all runners, they were from Oregon and this was Shelley.  More to the story and a fun story to tell.  

Meeting John Keston was the highlight of my expo experience.  What a story he has to tell.  At 88 he is still full of so much life and strength.  He instantly drew me in when I heard him talking at the expo.  John didn't start running competitively until he was in his 50's and then became a world age-group record holder.  What a gifted and full spirited man.  I LOVED our conversation and I'm greatly enjoying his book.  And I didn't realize until I was on the plane flying through the pages of his story that he is from Oregon.  Must meet up with him before I move.  I think I can make that happen.

Lorraine Moller, one of New Zealand's greatest women distance runners and four time Olympic athlete was one of the most inspirational speakers.  Her words made me feel so empowered.  I'm excited to read her book.

Beautiful Napa Valley wine tasting.  Best way to spend the day after a marathon!  

My view from the grass I ate my lunch on.

Dean and Deluca, I will be back for your sandwiches!  

Ritual Coffee in the Oxbow Public Market .  So so good!  

I know, quite the disorganized ramble here. Bottom line is that I had a great time in Napa!  Although I felt defeated and broken during and just after the race, I can't quite explain how happy and optimistic I feel about it all now.  On my flight home as I was reading John Keston's book, I was smiling inside and out.  Just happy to be living.  Happy to be able to travel.  Happy that I'm about to move to North Carolina for an adventure.  Excited for a party at our house this weekend.  Glad to be uninjured and have a chance to run the Boston Marathon in 6 weeks.  Pressure free.  What a privilege it is to train for marathons!  It's not cheap and it takes a lot of time.  We are fortunate to have people that support us, a body that says "Yes, you can", the funds to even pay for the race, and a fresh start to keep setting goals and using running to make our life better!

If you want a marathon getaway with a rolling hills course, beautiful scenery, a great expo, the best swag bag, and some awesome post race wine tasting and/or sight seeing, Napa Valley is a must do.  I'd do it again for sure!


Monday, March 4, 2013

Some Quick and Raw Napa Valley Marathon Reflections

Thank you for your e-mails, comments, and words of encouragement and love in regards to the Napa Valley Marathon that was yesterday.  I'm not quite ready for a race report.  In fact, I very well might never want to really share this race in detail.  I do have lots of thoughts and a big bag of feelings that I'm carrying around.  Maybe more with this race than any other race in my life. Lots of emotions right under the surface here. But more than I can process fully right now.  This post will be very raw, probably random, and sharing a few "off the top of my head" reflections as they come. Then I'll check out of my hotel, enjoy the rest of my day in beautiful Napa, and carry my suitcase of lessons home with me as I move on to new moments and memories that life has in store for me.

Thoughts from my Runninghood Facebook post this morning:

"Post Napa Valley Marathon. Beautiful evening for wine and reflection. Thankful that life continues to give us lessons in the most unexpected of ways. The marathon is perhaps one of the greatest teachers in my life. Somewhere out there on that 26.2 mile course are lessons meant for us whether we are ready for them or not. As my friend Heather says, every marathon is different in that it so often parallels our life at the time. Always something to take. Always something to give up. And in the end, we are wiser and stronger for it. Life is beautiful like that. And so is the sport of running."

  • It's great to be in Napa.  Thankful for the opportunity I have to run marathons, travel with friends, and grow in the process.  What a gift.  
  • I will say briefly and more later that I would still recommend this race to others.  The expo, swag bags, organization, and environment were all wonderful.  And this year was focused on Honoring Women in Marathoning.  Ah, that in itself was so so inspirational.  But that will be for the next post.  Met lots of famous runners and walked away inspired beyond what I expected.  
  • Things don't always go as expected.  That's life.  That's how we learn.  It's how we choose to deal with the things that happen that matter.  
  • This race was far from what I expected or remembered from doing it before.  
  • SLEEP.  I have a lot to say about this topic.  I'm a person that needs sleep to function on a mental and physical level.  We all need it.  Some more than others.  I just know how I feel after not getting sleep and then just trying to be a mom the next day.  Let alone run 26.2 miles.  I've had a bit of trouble sleeping well lately.  I think it has to do with all that is going on in my life right now with moving to NC, planning for places to live and where my kids will go to school, tapering for a marathon (makes sleep tricky for me just in the lower exercise), etc. etc.  I know people say that the night before a race doesn't matter so much in regards to how you perform but rather it is the night before the night before.  I agree that that night is more important but I disagree that the night before doesn't matter.  It sure as heck matters when one doesn't get more than 30 minutes of sleep.  I was in bed a bit before 9.p.m and without exaggeration, I didn't get more than maybe 30 minutes of sleep the entire night.  I wasn't stressed or worried.  I wasn't even thinking of the race. My brain just wouldn't shut off to sleep mode.  I think the marathon is extremely mental.  Without sleep my mental game is so so so bad.  Not making a ton of excuses but I do know in my heart of hearts that without a doubt no sleep the night before the race affected me GREATLY.  Frustrating.  
  • My mental game was the worst it has ever been.  I'm ashamed of the thoughts that went through my head during that race.  So not a champion mentality.  I struggled more than I've ever struggled in a race.  
  • Wow, "fast course"....this term is so relative.  I didn't realize how deceptive elevation maps can be.  I know I'm not alone in saying that there were way more hills than I ever remembered.  I wouldn't describe this course as "fast" or "easy" course.  I suppose on another day I might but not this time.  
  • Road Camber.  HOLY Slanted roads.  My hip is screaming a bit today.  Hard to get away from it.  There was no running tangents AND avoiding the camber.  You needed to choose one or the other or both. 
  • I'm amazed how deathly slow one can feel and be at the end of a marathon and still end up with a decent time despite it being one of the worst races ever. Starting strong definitely helps with this but ending poorly really messes with the head.  And heart.
  • Funny to think that I would have qualified for Boston if the standards were what they were 2 years ago.  Not that that was my goal at all.  I had much much bigger goals than that. And I don't mean that to disrespect or offend anyone that is striving for that.  This is personal.  We are all at different places with our goals and efforts in marathons.  But at mile 22 I did have a conversation with myself about the whole thing.  I said "Well Amanda, if you run 8 min mile pace from here to the finish, you can at least run a 3:35 and qualify for the next Boston even if you have no intention of running it."  Hmm, that conversation didn't last very long before I decided that I just didn't have the mental game to do anything but finish.  
  • I hate disappointing people.  Probably one of my biggest fears.  Fear of letting others down.  This was tough for me when I fell apart yesterday.  
  • Every mile after 13 was a mental battle for me.  Almost all 13 miles of that second half was filled with ugly self defeating thoughts.  Where the hell did those come from?  Definitely disappointed in myself.  Some self-defining moments in there.  
  • As much as I felt defeated, I also felt like I allowed myself to let go.  I guess this might be how this parallels my life right now.  I went easy on myself.  And that's okay too.  At one point in the race I said "Okay Amanda.  This is killing you.  No sleep has left you exhausted and weak.  You promised yourself you'd have fun.  Look around.  Soak up this beautiful country and reevaluate your goals.  Just finish.  Use this as a run.  It's okay." 
  • Then back to the self defeating talk.  So ugly.  So not proud of that.  But a lesson in there somewhere.  
  • Finishing was all I had yesterday.  
  • Lots of tears afterwards.  Lots of processing yet to be done.  But that's one of the best things about marathons...they teach us about life.  About us.  About perspective.....
  • And in the grand scheme of life, gosh, we have it good.  We CAN RUN.  Just being able to be at a race like this and spend the money on a weekend away to indulge in a race through the Napa Valley. Um, not much to complain about.  
  • But definitely MUCH going on within this head and heart of mine. 
  • Where am I at with running and goals? Hmmm, not sure.  Not sure I want to race for a long while.  But that might change.  Boston is still on my radar for fun.  But we'll see.  That's up for discussion.  Just don't know what I want to put into that right now with all that is going on in life.  There's a lot on my plate and I might just need to let things go a bit.  Running is best when I can have it as fun right now.  Boston is a perfect place to do that.  Just to see my friends, enjoy a beer or two the night before, get a good night of SLEEP, and soak up the long 26.2 journey from Hopkinton to Boston and then home to my new home of Asheville, NC.  So much ahead of us.  Excited to see what life has to offer.  
  • And glad to have a day here in Napa of quiet reflection where it is okay to sit with my hurt feelings and wrap myself up a bit.  What is silly and small to others can be HUGE for the person who put so much thought and hopes into something.  And that was this race for me.  I had some big goals and some big confidence in myself in regards to them.  I started this race in the best place I've EVER been mentally and I ended it feeling defeated.  And that's okay.  Our feelings are ours to feel.  They are ours to process and chew on as we need to.  And then we move on and pick ourselves back up.  And almost always we are better off for having failed.  Besides as a friend sent me last night:  "failing is not falling down...failing is staying down."  I'm not a person to stay down for long.  Not at all.  

More to come about the Napa Valley Marathon....

Thank you friends.  Much Love,