December 30, 2011

A year in pictures

I'm shamelessly stealing this post idea from Katie.


Training began for the Bentonville Half Marathon -- in the snow.

February even more snow.


I survived my first ever 10 mile run!


 then celebrated our anniversary and my 30th birthday...




I fell in love with running cool(er) shady trails.


I almost melted setting a new 5K PR (which I will beat in 2012).


I played in the mud with a bunch of hillbillies.



I ran 20 miles!

And then I took a break.


Whew! No wonder I'm tired. 

December 19, 2011

What's next?

Thank you all so much for your kind words of encouragement these last couple of weeks. I know I beat myself up quite a bit in my last post, and I really appreciate your helping me put things into perspective. I finished a marathon, and that's all that matters. So, now what?

I feel like I need a do-over. Another race to prove that I can really do this, you know, without power puking all over an entire city. So I signed up for the Little Rock Marathon! It's on March 4, so I think I have enough time to get prepared for it. I've been a sloth the last couple of weeks since Memphis, and I'm determined to get back into my running groove.

Although I've been super lazy lately, I think it's good just to stop sometimes and reflect on all that's happened and just be happy with what I've accomplished before moving on to the next thing. So...I made a cheesy slideshow of training and race photos. Lame? Yes, but in an awesome way. Check it out. Mind you, this may not work in mobile or Google Reader.

I'm so excited that I'll have even more friends running this next race, including Laura, Jennifer and Trea, and John will be running his first full! I'm sad that Lori won't be running at Little Rock, but I'm sure she'll kill her marathon PR at another race this spring. We've all gotten hooked, and I couldn't be happier to have such a fantastic support system...especially since we all just signed up to train through the dead of winter! Let's hope Santa leaves some YakTrax in my stocking.

December 7, 2011

My first 26.2

I ran my first marathon Saturday - the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. I learned that all the training, all the planning, all the agonizing over every little detail still doesn't guarantee that all will go right. 26.2 is a beast. I learned the only thing that's fully in my control is how hard I try.

I was incredibly nervous in the days leading up to the race. Nervous, but excited and pretty confident that I could finish. Friday night I was so proud when I picked up my number at the expo. 16 weeks of training, long runs in sweltering heat, running in the dark after a long day of work, raising money for Team Carson, and the day was finally here!

I barely slept a wink Friday night, which is typical for me right before a race. Saturday morning, Trea and I walked to the finish line to check our bags and then met up with our training friends at the start. Trea and I always run long miles together, and since this was our first marathon attempt, we agreed to stick together the whole time, even though he's faster. 

We started out with the 4:55 pace group, but I was pretty sure we would fall back from them quickly, which we did. (I swear they were going too fast.) My Garmin kept losing satellite signal, so I wasn't able to monitor my pace at all. I just relied on Trea since his Nike watch was working. The first few miles were exciting because there were several spectators, and we were running through downtown Memphis. We ran by the pyramid and then through the St. Jude campus. When I looked at my splits later, I saw that miles 4 and 5 were about a minute faster than what I should've been running. That was because of all the sweet St. Jude supporters and signs that said things like, "A blister never needed chemo!" We couldn't help but run faster!

As we passed by Rhodes College, I noticed the pace felt too quick for me, so we slowed down. I had some goals in mind, but mainly I just wanted to make sure I could finish. I was feeling really good, and I just knew I would come in somewhere between 5:00 and 5:15, which I would have been thrilled with. But around mile 10, trouble set in. And by trouble, I mean uncontrollable waves of nausea. FAN. TASTIC. 

Somewhere around this point, I decided that I needed to eat something because I thought that would make me feel better, so we slowed to a walk while I tried to choke down half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We had already made two bathroom stops since we failed to synchronize our bladders, and while we were walking, the 5:10 pace group passed us. I was feeling so sick, and the sight of that pace sign bobbing by did not lift my spirits. 

I had been walking quickly through water stops since almost the beginning, and my walk breaks were getting longer and longer. I was having trouble just making it from station to station because I felt so awful. At around mile 12.5, the halfers split off toward the finish, and I almost started to cry because I wanted to follow them. But I still had over halfway to go. The course thinned considerably, there weren't as many spectators as there had been earlier in the day, and my nausea was getting worse and worse. I kept taking walk breaks just to keep from getting sick. 

At mile 17, things got ugly. I ralphed on somebody's lawn...twice. I've never gotten sick on a run before. I've trained up to 20 miles and not had any issues. I was so upset and disappointed. I was upset because I couldn't run, embarrassed to be in such a condition on the side of the road, and even more upset that Trea was watching it happen. After three years of marriage, we still try to be polite and keep private things private, but I suppose the honeymoon's over. And when he said I had to keep running because we still had 9 miles to go, I wanted to cry again. But I didn't. I ran. 

I started getting thirsty and feeling weaker almost immediately, so at mile 18 I diluted some Powerade with water and drank it. At mile 19, I turned into the exorcist and vowed to never drink Powerade or lemon-lime anything ever again. I kept running and walking, and my walks were getting crazy long. I would wait until I could see a water station and run to it, then walk again when I got there. It was terrible. Every time I tried to run, my stomach would cramp so bad that I couldn't stand up straight, so I would have to walk again. I hadn't had any calories or electrolytes since mile 12, so at mile 23, I gave up and decided to walk the rest of the way. I had thought even with all the pit stops and walking that we could still make it around 5:30, but there was no way to do that if I stopped running. Mentally, I had already checked out. My music had been off for a long time, my heart wasn't in it, and I was just plain sad. 16 weeks of working my butt off...for this. 

When we got about half a mile from the finish, we started running again. No way was I going to walk across the finish line, even if I threw up on the medal volunteer. I felt like we had been out on that course for two days.

I finished in 5:56 -- almost an hour longer than what I had hoped for. My aunt, cousin and Carson were the only members of Team Carson that had stayed at the finish line for us, and I was so happy to see them. The rest of the group had run races earlier in the day and spent a long time waiting before giving up. My friends had finished way before me and were cold and ready to head back to their hotel -- as were we -- so we all briefly said our congratulations, snapped some photos and went on our way. 

My cousins, Ginger and Carson
I was so disgusted with the way my day had gone that I didn't even think to get a heat blanket or have someone take our picture at the finish line. I was really looking forward to finally getting one of those space blankets and feeling like a real runner. But I didn't feel like a runner that day. 

When we got back to our hotel, Trea surprised me with this necklace. He worked really hard to find all the charms and had it engraved with 26.2 on one side and Memphis 2011 on the other. I never would've dragged myself to the finish line if Trea hadn't been with me. He's the best running partner and an amazing best friend.

I'm still unhappy with the way things went, and I haven't at all made peace with it. I've hated having to tell the story to everyone I see this week who wants to know all about it, but I'm trying to just focus on the fact that I finished. I didn't finish well, but I finished, and I still got a medal, and I'm still a marathoner. 

I know I tried my best. I ran as much as I could run. I trained as much as I could train. I studied nutrition and hydration tips, and I made sure to stick with what worked for me in training. So I just have to be ok with knowing I did my best, even though on this day, that wasn't enough. 

I'll just have to try harder next time. ;)

December 2, 2011

All my bags are packed

I'm ready to go...but I'm not leaving on a jet plane. 

Trea and I are hitting the road for Memphis. It's marathon weekend! Tomorrow, I will run my first (possibly my last) 26.2 and I am 100% terrified. The marathon is nothing to sneeze at. It's far. It's hard. If it were easy, more people would do it.

I told Bella how far a marathon is. This is her "Say what?" face.

Looking back on my training, I think I'm as prepared as I can be. No, I didn't follow my plan. Cross training intentions died somewhere in the first few weeks, and speed work followed not long after. I wasn't in good enough shape to get through all the workouts without causing problems with other parts of my life and my health. So I've done what I can do. Will that be enough tomorrow? We'll see. 

As for goals, my first goal is to finish. As long as I finish, I'll be fine. My even-better-than-finishing goal would be to come in at 5:10 or under. There's a 5:10 pace team I'm thinking of joining, and while it would be awesome to finish faster than that, I know deep down that that's the group for me. 

My over-the-moon goal would be to finish in under 5 hours. But let's get real here. When I check my half marathon time and 10 miler times on a race calculator, the result always projects that I'll finish around 5:12 or so. That's my ability level. And if crossing the line in 10 or 15 minutes more means that I don't collapse at mile 22, then who cares? I ran 20 miles in about 3:55, so I just don't think I have excellent chances of finishing in less than 5:00. But that's ok! Because I'll still get a medal! And I will still be a marathoner! 

I will know I've done my best. That's all I can do.


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