>Pre-marathon checklist

>I warned you about all the running or marathon-related posts.

This week has been relaxing. Here’s my personal pre-marathon jitters checklist.

  • Take it easy. I ran 3 miles at an easy pace today. Felt like I could go for, oh you know, 26.2 miles.
  • Take naps when you feel tired. I took a nap yesterday and Monday after work.
  • Drink like a fish! I’ve been trying to drink tons of water and G2.
  • Stay healthy. I’ve been drinking those Emergen-C packets twice a day.
  • Eat healthy. Ehh.. I’ve been trying to do this. I’ve been eating a lot of protein at least. Friday night I’m having pasta!
  • Pack your bag. I started doing this tonight. Running shorts, four different shirts (I like to have options!), shoes, socks, underwear (duh), PJ’s, gels, Camelbak, Gatorade packets, protein bars, foot wrap and Icy Hot just in case, iPod arm band, headphones (Skull Candy ones rock!), Garmin, Garmin charger, ponytails and bobby pins, deodorant…. etc.
  • Read up on the marathon and know where to meet your party. Done and done.
  • Find last-minute inspiration from quotes and running sites. Although I will say, if you’re not inspired by now, you’re gonna have issues!
  • Relax!
This is a pretty funny link making fun of marathoners.. it gave me a good laugh. The comments are even better.. some people take themselves way too seriously.

>MARATHON WEEK!!!

>I’m about to go crazy with excitement. With the final “long” run under our feet (eight miles tonight, GREAT pace), I am so geared up for this race. My hopes are to be able to relax this week and get lots of rest, even if it’s not sleeping. I want to eat well and avoid caffeine, alcohol and sweets as much as possible and drink drink drink!

This is where we get to finish!

I have a list of everything I need to bring with me. I’ll be rolling into town Friday afternoon in time to see Hannah run her first 5K! I am so excited and proud of her! I will have a working camera by then too, so I’m hoping to get some pics.

The next race after the marathon and Race for the Cure 5K is the Steamboat Classic 4M… I’m hoping to get a group of friends together to run this one. I considered the 15K (9.3M) but decided against it for a couple reasons being 1) you run through quite a hilly portion and 2) my bestie is running it and I want to be there to cheer her on at the finish.

I am totally in love with my Brooks. And with running. And with my husband. And with my life.

I know this is short; I’m trying to get some of my excitement out so I don’t go crazy this week! Please pray for health, strong lungs and legs and that all the logistics would work out!

>Marathon Training: Week 17: One week! and aspirations

>I’m updating from my mom’s computer at their permanent campsite in Galesburg. When we first started camping years and years ago, we had a tent. Then we had a small pop-up. Then we had a bigger pop-up. Then we got a trailer. Then we got a toy-box (to transport the motorcycle, and on our trip to California we used it as the girls’ room). Now they have a trailer with a pull-out, central heating, flat screen and shower big enough for me. I’m not complaining, that’s for sure.

Now. Onto business. This week was actually a good week. I ran three times, twice in Asics Gel-Frantic 5’s… awful for my overpronation. I took them back to Kohl’s and went to Running Central to get fitted yesterday. I had some birthday money to use. I got Brooks Adrenaline GTS:

They feel like heaven. I was fitted for a shoe that would correct the overpronation. In the other Asics, I had major issues with my ankles hurting, and had tightness below my calves. I ran a short three in these this morning and I had no issues at all. I also got a pair of high-quality socks to wear, too.

Monday: 4 miles at the gym
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5.12 miles on Prospect and Grandview.. lovely as usual.
Thursday and Friday: rest.. Friday was my birthday and it was a great day!
Saturday: 3.1 miles on Rt. 150 outside the campground. I went without my iPod and loved listening to the birds, wind, and my breathing. I love love love running on country roads. I will miss the fields of Illinois.
Sunday: Gabi and I are slated to do 8 miles

I feel like my mileage this week made up for the crappy mileage from the first week of the taper when I went to the ER for the second time. I’m feeling really good about the marathon, and even if it rains, I don’t care. It’s gonna be a good time. I almost signed up for the I-Challenge, in which you receive three medals: one for doing the 5K Friday night, one for the half or full marathon on Saturday, and one for doing both. However, I’m going to be taking it really easy this coming week and I didn’t want to compromise anything for the race on Saturday.

In just a week we will be marathoners!!!

Speaking of, I found my next marathon. El Paso holds a marathon every year in March, and I’m sure I’ll need almost an entire year to train at 4,000 ft. I think Aaron’s going to run it, too. There’s also a half marathon in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in December. Imagine running a race in comfortable weather in December!

Here’s a pic of Las Cruces:

Um, yes please!

>On the eve of a quarter of a century

>

April 22, 1986, is my birthday. Tonight at 2:34 AM (yes, I know the exact time; my mom has no problem rehashing my birth story over and over again, haha) I will turn 25 years old. And guess what? My attitude is: Bring. It. On. That was my attitude for last year too and it sure was an eventful year!
I am very content with passing this milestone. Not only because there’s the prospect of lower car insurance, but because of what I’ve accomplished in my life. My life rocks. Just sayin’. The only way it could be better is if my husband were here with me, or I with him. 
I’m proud of how hard I’ve worked in my life to get where I’m at now. And three years ago, Aaron and I joined each other on that journey. I worked my tail off in school and in college to be successful at something, and I am. I love saying, “I’m a teacher”. I’m proud of all the hours I spent in class, writing papers, and in practicum. I’m proud of the two years I taught high school; I’m not sure they could have been better. I like finding a part of my identity in education because I know it’s a profession I will always have to some capacity.
While I am not a mother yet, and honestly my whole life I thought I’d be one by now, I’m content with this decision we’ve made to wait a little while longer. I’m excited to finish out our twenties as just… us. (Unless, of course, God blesses with a child anyway).
I’m proud that I’ve made good decisions the last two years while Aaron’s been away. It could have been very easy for me to slip back into old habits of depression and pity parties. Instead, I grabbed life by the horns and made some positive changes that have resulted in a more mature, more patient, more compassionate, more understanding, and more relaxed Elizabeth. And I’m sure everyone is grateful for that. 😉
Tomorrow I have the day off. Easter is hardly ever this late, but I’m not complaining. It’s not every year I get to sleep in and then go out for an awesome steak dinner on my birthday! (Thanks Mom and Daddy!) [Yes, I did mean to say Daddy. :)]
So, tomorrow I’m looking forward to:
some of this:
dreaming about this:
seeing some of this:

having some of this for dinner:
some of this after dinner:

and the best part… talking with a certain someone:

>A little motivation goes a long way

>Anyone who knows me knows that I hate running on treadmills. The weather in Illinois this week is, for lack of a better word, just crappy. Rain, thunderstorms, and chilly! I wouldn’t mind the storms so much if it were at least 60*. But, no luck there.

The taper is a strange phenomenon.. I’m not really supposed to be running hard, and I’m supposed to cut back on mileage, although no more than 50% than normal (~30 miles). It feels strange to rest so much. I did not want to go to the gym to run tonight. I did pack my gym bag this morning and take it with me, so I had no excuse.

I feel like even after cutting an activity out of my schedule I’m still so busy. But one thing that’s kept me working out even when there’s a list of things to do is to remember that my workout time is time for me, when I improve my health and spend time with myself. I’m worth it, and so are you. Make time for your health!

Then I got on the dreadmill, er, treadmill. My lower legs ached a bit from my new shoes, but I kept truckin’ on. Then this skinny girl hopped on the treadmill next to me and I’d be darned if she outran me. So I outran her, and eventually pushed to an 8:00 mile for the last 200 meters. Felt good! My “comfortable” pace is now around 9:40, as opposed to 10:00-10:15 a few months ago.

I cannot believe the marathon is only ten days away! Our last “long” run of eight miles is this weekend.. I remember when Gabi and I first ran eight miles.. that seems like such a long time ago!

This next week, nutrition and hydration will be crucial. It’s also time to start figuring out the details for driving down to Cham-bana, parking, picking up packets, etc. I’m starting to get really excited, and I’m envisioning myself putting that 26.2 sticker on my car. Eat my dust.

>Have a Six Flags Day!

>We heard this from every newbie Six Flags worker all weekend. What is a Six Flags day, anyway?

The W’s took a little trip to St. Louis this past weekend. And by the W’s, I mean all of them. Well, minus one very important member of the family who just happens to be halfway around the world. We piled into a 15-passenger van and off we went early Saturday morning. Did I mention it was early?

It was a short but sweet trip to do something I love: riding roller coasters. I’m all about safe thrills… or somewhat safe. You know, flying over the Atlantic to go to Spain by myself at twenty years old, riding on a motorcycle to Florida and back, and screaming my face off on The Boss (Batman wasn’t nearly as scary this time).

I don’t do spinny rides.. no way, no how. The kids liked the little rides, which spin, so I watched instead of participated. Saturday we got our season passes (thanks to my in-laws!) and stuck together. I think we rode one big roller coaster. That evening we went swimming and hot tubbing at the hotel, and I took the girls for the night. We got to Skype with Uncle Aaron, and he snapped a picture of us.

Yep, that’s me and my adorable nieces (Lena, Rhianna, Zaia). Being an aunt is the best ever. I had the privilege of sleeping in the same bed as Lena, who’s 3, and she slept fine but squirmed all night, and at some points cuddled with me. Cutest. Thing. Ever. The cuddling, and her face. It’s pretty cool that I’ve been around these girls’ entire lives. Rhianna will be seven in May and I remember when I held her as a tiny baby.

Sunday morning we got to the park before it opened. Bruce, Keith and I went to ride rides.. we rode Batman, Ninja (twice!) and The Boss, which was my favorite. I’ve ridden it before, but I forgot how awesome it was. Bruce is, by far, the funniest person to ride a roller coaster with. It was fun hanging out with my “brothers”. They did tease me though, as all W’s do. When in line for Batman, Keith asked if he could break my leg so that we could get in the shorter line. Ha. The lady in front of us heard his comment and thought he was serious.

We, well, they were going to go on Superman, which is a straight drop, but there had been people stuck at the top. If Darrell hadn’t seen us and stopped us to buy us the Six Flags cups, we, I mean, they would have gone on that ride. (I might have gone had they talked me into it, and by might I mean probably.)

I plan on using my season pass and guest passes (yep, got some of those!) this summer. Unfortunately, there are no Six Flags parks closer to El Paso than San Antonio, which is ten hours away. Hopefully Aaron and I can go a couple times to Chicago or St. Louis before we move.

Speaking of which, two months-ish and counting…

>Marathon Training: Week 16.. success!

>I was in a great mood for pretty much the whole week. Having the doctor give me the all clear to basically train for whatever I want was a great way to start the week. 🙂

With my run tonight I hit 300 miles! Last year I ran 324 the whole year.. this is an accomplishment!

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 3 miles @ ~11:00 pace.. I worked for those miles. They were rough after racing my butt off on Sunday.
Wednesday: 5 miles @ 10:30 pace.. gorgeous weather! Took it easy.
Thursday: rest
Friday: 11.77.. we’ll call it 12 @ 10:40 pace.. my goal was to keep it above 11:00, and I did. Although, note to self: don’t run 12 miles the day after getting a new pair of running shoes! 😉 Asics have my heart.
Saturday: rest, but riding roller coasters at Six Flags with the whole fam-dam-ily! Should be a fun time.

I think not being so anxious about my heart has prevented possible arrhythmias. On Monday I had a total of three 10-second episodes and I’m sure at least one was triggered by anxiety over my appointment on Tuesday.

Marathon go-time is only two weeks away! I’m so looking forward to being in Champaign for the weekend and staying with my friend Hannah! Hopefully I’ll get to meet up with some fellow runners, too. Let’s pray for lovely weather!

>The Non-Race Mentality: A Paradigm Shift

>Today I had a great run. It wasn’t particularly fast, and it wasn’t anything special like a tempo or interval session. Just a leisurely three miles up and down University. I went out to get in a short run before sunset; the weather was just too gorgeous to ignore.

I let myself sink into an easy pace of about 10:35, slightly faster than my target marathon pace of 10:45-10:55. I enjoyed the smells of spring.. the freshly cut grass, the tilled soil, the fresh air. There was no breeze except for one created by motion.

I love the feeling of my feet hitting the pavement, of dashing around broken glass and impurities in the cement. This particular route has seen a lot of me.. from one of my first “long” runs of 2.22 miles to my first five-miler at 55:41. Why I remember those numbers, I don’t know. I just know I’ve felt success on that sidewalk… in the rain, snow, in the humidity of summer.

While I still care about my pace and am ecstatic that my new Garmin is feeing my obsession with numbers, I am learning to run for the sport of it, for the fun, for feeling alive. I feel like with a new balance of my attitude toward running, I have arrived as a runner. My race on Sunday has proven that.

In two years, I’ve come a long way, literally. Running has helped me mature emotionally and redeemed me physically. It’s helped me cope with loneliness and lack of control over certain situations. It’s taught me patience, and it’s convinced me that our God is The Healer and Great Physician…

I went for my follow-up appointment and all is well! I’m still anemic, but my levels are almost back to normal. After my fiasco on Wednesday and all the thought and prayer about it, I’m so glad that I am free and clear to run the marathon and train for a tri if I want! I think that’s my 2012 or 2013 goal, to do a half-distance tri..1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run… 70.3! Hmm… on second thought, maybe that will be the distance to complete before I turn 30. 😉

>Pre-race thoughts

>We have twenty short days until go-time, so beware of all entries running or marathon related.

I put my 5 mile time into the calculator and my predicted finish time for the marathon is 4:32. HA! I’m thinking my marathon pace will be around 10:45 (and that’s being quite optimistic).. that would put me at 4:41. My goal is still 5:00, but a sub-4:45 would be fantastic.

With extra down time over the next couple weeks, I have a lot of time to reflect on our training (Gabi and me). I really don’t think it could have gone any better, to be honest with you. We pushed ourselves, to say the least. Out of 15 weeks, I trained for 12 of those. I took two weeks off when Aaron was home and another week after my fun little trip to the ER.

Building a decent base before marathon training definitely has helped. We were up to twelve miles before we started getting serious about the long runs. I think taking six months to train has really helped us prevent injuries and overtraining. I’m not sure 18 weeks would have been enough if we hadn’t done 8, 10 and 12 mile runs beforehand.

We’ve run in every kind of weather. Rain, shine, snow, wind, ice, whatever. That in itself has prepared me mentally. We’ve also done long runs by ourselves, which helps with mental stamina and motivation.

I’m glad I’ve been so focused on pace because it’s made me more competitive and also aware of my limitations and my strengths.

I know I’ll have more to say about our training after it’s all said and done, but if I could go back now I would change a couple things.

1) I would have cut out most junk food and sweets a long time ago. I feel like my body is less cluttered with all those saturated fats and refined carbs.

2) I would have bought a hydration system towards the beginning and totally babied myself as far as hydration is concerned!

>Race Report: Shamrock Shuffle 8K, Chicago

>I have no photos to post yet but the race was great!! First things first: my goal was 47:00 and my actual chip time was 46:18!! I was excited.

Katie and I took the Metra into the city this morning at about 6AM. We got to Union Station and pondered how we would ever walk a mile in 45 minutes, haha. We got to where we were meeting her friend who had picked up our packets for us. I was very excited about the shirt and 1) it fit! (our tech shirts from the Turkey Trot were waaayyy too small) and 2) they were actually Nike shirts, white with green lettering. Very nice.

There were 40,000 runners! I was in Start Corral D (they had A-H, so not bad!) and didn’t cross the start line until 17 minutes showed on the time clock. I started my Garmin and took off! I should add that I didn’t have music with me; I made a conscious and purposeful decision to challenge myself that way. I was really able to focus on my breathing.

Here is a map uploaded from the Garmin of the route.

The elevation gain and loss was only 9 feet.. so a very flat course.

I think I started off too fast because by mile 2.5 all I was thinking was, When will this be over?! But I kept chugging along and finished strong. At one point my Garmin lost GPS signal, so my pace was all messed up, but it got the time right.

Here’s a graph of my HR throughout..

See? No spikes, just a good progression to the end of the race.

Post-race I had three glasses of Gatorade and a bottle of water. I ate a banana and protein bar. Of course, the best part is the post-race beer. Haha, it’s always cheap beer and this is the first race I’ve been to that’s had it.

We lounged around on the grass by Buckingham Fountain and then decided to walk up to Navy Pier. We had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp, a first for me. Yum. We took a water taxi back to Union Station and boarded the train for Elgin.

It was a great day with beautiful weather. Seriously, we couldn’t have had better weather up there. My skin shows it though; I’m sporting the first sunburn of the season. I’m gonna fryyyy in Texas. I had a nice 24 hours with Bruce, Katie and Lena. I’m thankful that Aaron’s family has been here for me throughout his time away.

20 days!