A mild setback

So, I kinda sorta thought I would run the New Mexico Texas Challenge Half or Full.. I think it’s gonna be the half. I ran a couple times this week, but as soon as I stepped off to run yesterday morning, my right knee was hurting. Not a 10 on the infamous “pain scale”, but enough that I couldn’t run on it. I walked back to the house, feeling utterly defeated. It’s like the world heard my proclamation on the interwebz that I WAS GONNA RUN A LOT, MAYBE AN ULTRA, AND ALL ELSE BE DAMNED. But that’s okay, it just means that I need to stretch, maybe slow down, and not run too many miles all at once. Derp.

Of course, this would happen on the same day I get my bee-you-tee-ful new NB Minimus in the mail… srsly. They are gorgggg. (Just kidding, I don’t say gorggg.)

This is unrelated, but I’ve had a revelation about social networking. I’m DONE with following or responding to negativity online. I get enough of that just by being a human on  Planet Earth; why in the world would I subject myself to it of my own accord?? I’m going to be pruning down my newsfeed(s) for sure.

Still long distance

I don’t know what’s happened in my brain in the past couple weeks, but I want long distance running to be a way of life. I want to want to run most days of the week, and get antsy on the rest days. I want to challenge myself. I want to run an ultra.

I have to be crazy, but then that just becomes par for the course, right?? Anyone willing to run anything over 26.2 miles, either on the road or on a trail, has to be a little off-kilter. It’s the mental and physical challenge that draws me in, and the sense of adventure. The training for an ultra is simple: run. Lots and lots of miles.

KISS. Keep it simple, stupid. Tell me to, and I can run lots and lots of miles. I have a harder time following a specific training plan for a specific number of weeks with a specific amount of miles at a specific pace. Anything that requires a treadmill is gonna have to wait, because going to the gym is really not in my repertoire right now. I enjoy the gym, I have to make my workouts work for me, instead of being a slave to them. I have a dog who needs to be run or walked every day, so it’s a win-win for us.

I’ve been dwelling too much on my past experience as a first-time marathoner. That was two years ago. Two. It’s about time that I grieved that wonderful experience of training with an amazing running partner. There are few things that I’ve done or experienced that have topped crossing that finish line, let alone under my goal time. But I can make it happen again, with a new partner (my dog and/or my husband) and new goals.

It pains me that it’s taken me this long to figure out what’s been blocking that part of my brain that wants to run. I made all kinds of excuses. It’s hot here. It’s windy. It’s hard to find a [safe] open road to run on. We’re at 4,000 ft elevation. I have to get up super early to beat the sun. I have to take Missy running before the kids start walking to school so she doesn’t freak out. Excuses…

I’ve tried other fitness programs. And in the end, this is not about me being a certain weight or BMI or whatever other mumbo-jumbo is out there. This is about me preserving my body, saving my sanity, and making my training do the work for me, not the other way around. Running works for me. It’s cheap, it’s portable, it’s easy… just one foot in front of the other. The rest is gravy.

Biscuits and gravy. On a sunny Saturday morning after completing 12 miles I honestly wasn’t sure I’d do or not, and by 9 AM to boot. That’s the first long run on a Saturday morning I’ve done, besides races, since we moved to Texas. So, running and I? We’re still together.. and long distance works for us. It makes the heart grow fonder.

“We are the battling bastards of Bataan”

“We are the battling bastards of Bataan,

No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam;

No aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces;

No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces;

And nobody gives a damn.”

I am in awe… of the event, the weather, the volunteers, the survivors who were present, the Wounded Warriors running or rucking… the entire event was so well organized and planned. Of course, they’ve had 23 years to get it down. 😉

If you remember correctly, the Bataan Death March was a forced march of tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers during World War II. Soldiers were mistreated, starved, abused and killed point-blank during the 80-mile trek. The Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico is a 26.2 or 15.2 course through sand, dirt, wind, desert and mountains.

When I found out Aaron had orders to Ft. Bliss, one of the first things I did, naturally, was look up races. I knew I wanted to do this one, but I also knew it would be completely different than a race like the Illinois Marathon. We both wanted to do the full 26.2 distance, but Aaron wanted to be a part of the military heavy category, which wears a full uniform and carries a ruck of at least 35 pounds (his ended up being 52. Crazy crazy man).

We trained by running up and down McKelligon Canyon and also Transmountain Road. My running training fell apart, but I still had a half marathon, a 16-miler and a 10-miler under my belt going into this race. Not ideal, but I knew physically I could do it.

I ran the first seven miles or so, walked until mile 16 when I was texting back and forth a little with Gabi and she must have prayed because I ran an incredible mile! I felt like I was in Runner’s World’s Rave Run. Then I walked the rest of the course.

It was rough. There were some paved parts, but most of it was packed dirt and loose sand. There is a “sand pit” around mile 21 that’s 3/4 of a mile long… sand that gets everywhere! I stopped to dump out my shoes at least three times.

I stopped at every water stop and got water or Gatorade and an orange or banana piece. My stomach was not agreeing with me today as every time I ate it would cramp up and I’d get side aches. However, I knew that if I didn’t eat or drink I wouldn’t have the energy to finish.

My quads and hip flexors were very sore, which is why I stopped running and stuck to walking most of it. Normally in a 26.2 race, a walker as slow as I was at the end would be at the end of the pack, but I think I was right in the middle. I finished in about 7:45 clock time. The website shows I finished in 8:26, which is not correct because Aaron finished in 8:23 and I finished about 40 minutes ahead of him… so I’m guessing it’s supposed to be 7:26-7:30.

The last few miles were rough for me emotionally. I’ve never lost a soldier who’s been close to me, but I have a few friends who have so I thought about them and all they’ve been through. And I saw a couple memorials attached to rucks that commemorated the marcher’s grandpa, one of whom was a Japan war camp survivor. I had to calm myself down because I got very emotional.

I’ve done a lot of races, but I’ve never seen a community of volunteers like I did today. They were so helpful, encouraging (which was good because no spectators were allowed on the course!) and dedicated. I think two of the greatest things to be meshed are running and the military… I really felt like I was running (walking… or moving…) for a cause. My grandpa is a Korean vet, my great-grandpa is a World War II vet, and my husband is currently serving.

We marched about a third of what the real Bataan marchers had to go through, and we weren’t tortured and bayonetted… I just cannot fathom how they got through it aside from gritting their teeth and relying on the grace of God. There were amputees, some double amputees running or walking today. The soldiers in full uniform carrying rucks were amazing as well.  I was utterly humbled today. Utterly. I am so thankful I was able to finish and that I wasn’t injured along the way.

I’m not sure I’ll run (or… move…) it again next year, but I would be ecstatic to volunteer. Or….. I could find four ladies who are just as crazy as I am a form a team. 😉 If you’re wondering why I haven’t posted pictures, it’s because I just ran (or walked.. or moved…) 26.2 miles and I’m sore. And hobbling. Check them out here. 🙂

Anatomy of an early morning run

The alarm went off at 4:45 yesterday morning. Ugh. I had the best laid plans to get out of bed and do my 12-mile long run in preparation for Bataan. I finally got out of bed at 5:00, realizing that I was awake and had a solid 7 hours of sleep, at least. It wasn’t even cold outside so I really had no excuse at all!

I ran down dark streets, some barely lit by lights. By the time my body realized what I was doing, I was almost home. I got in about 9 miles, according to runningahead.com.

I went with my Camelbak as I hate carrying anything in my hands but without music. I couldn’t believe I stomached nine miles with no music and no one to talk to! I ran all over the Northeast, which in itself is not very scenic until the sunlight started reflecting off the mountains.

My rewards for getting up and running early? A beautiful sunrise and fresh coffee when I got home, and at least 1000 calories burned by 7 AM.

I had to work late last night, until 8:15 or so, but surprisingly I found I wasn’t any more tired than if I’d gotten up at 6:30 or later.

This morning I didn’t run, but I did get up when Aaron did and found that I have more energy and motivation to get even little things done, like making the bed! Woohoo. I’m almost glad I didn’t run this morning; it sounded like our house was going to blow over last night! It’s so dusty you can barely see the mountains…

febrero loco y marzo otro poco

Vacation :: good for the soul

I truly believe that sometimes God just wants us to rest. Church and productivity and work are all great things, but sometimes we just need a break, a Sabbath. (Can a Sabbath consist of two weeks of vacation??) We had a great visit to see friends and family in Illinois. Two weeks is the longest Aaron and I have had off work together in over two years! Well, two weeks that were just for relaxing, not moving halfway across the country.

There’s no way I can rehash everything that happened, nor do I want to! It’d take forever! We saw most of the friends and family that we wanted to see; to see everyone is just impossible unless we didn’t want any downtime for ourselves. We stayed with my in-laws, and my parents took us to and from the airport in St. Louis. We spent five days in Chicagoland with Bruce, Katie, our 4-year-old niece Lena and 4-month-old nephew Rand. They affectionately call me “Aunt LizBiz”. We were able to be there for Lena’s birthday party and Rand’s baptism.

We took them to the Brookfield Zoo!
I totally made his hat! Cuteness. 100%.

I got a few runs, which were lovely in the crisp winter-ish air. The Midwest has had a very mild winter. Aaron and I did about 8.5 miles the day after we got back. We realized just how small our hometown is. We wove our way through streets and parks. I love that everything there is so familiar. The Monday we got back from Elgin we ran 16 miles, which was great. We started out at about 7am, which is relatively late for me to start a long run like that. I also ran with my friend Darla and even got up at 4:30 in the morning to go to BodyCombat with her. (I did come home and go back to sleep for awhile.)

We ate. A lot. We went to all the places we wanted: Lou Malnati’s (awesome Chicago deep dish), Double A’s, Steak n Shake, Ernie’s Family Restaurant, Flat Top Grill, Our Inn Place, Avanti’s, Monicals.

In Elgin, all five cousins got their photos taken. Super cute. I love being an aunt to these kids.

I learned how to crochet. I had learned a really long time ago but it never stuck with me. My grandpa refreshed my memory and I’ve been crocheting like crazy! I also got a smartphone, finally. It all started because I accidentally (I swear!) dropped my iPod in the toilet and it was… dead. Drowned. My sister Emily and I switched phones since she didn’t want the smartphone anymore.

What else can I say besides it was a much needed R&R. We had no issues with our flights or baggage and got in Saturday evening. Yesterday we took it easy: went out for breakfast, went grocery shopping, I got a starter and seeds at Lowe’s to *hopefully* grow some herbs and veggies. I expected to feel worn out yesterday; instead I was energized! Soon I’m off to work and hoping that I can stay stress-free for awhile….

Bataan is on!!!

I was hesitant to sign up for this race, no lie. However, since I have the go-ahead from my cardiologist and the funds to pay for it, Bataan is on, people! I asked my awesome runner-Army-wife-kindred-spirit friend Natalie her advice on prepping for 26.2 in just six weeks. I ran 13.1 on January 14, finishing in 2:19, which is really strong for not having formally trained for that race. That wasn’t even a month ago. I’ve kept my mileage light since then… I guess you could say I’ve been half-heartedly training for some 26.2 at some point….

I have some things definitely on my side for Bataan. 1) That I’ve run a “long” distance race recently. 2) That I have marathon training and racing experience. I would never attempt this if I didn’t have both those things. 3) I’m running this race for a bigger purpose than a PR. In fact, I have no time constraint. The average time for Bataan is 7 hours and 43 minutes. A lot of soldiers ruck this race with 35+ lbs on their backs. I’m running it for the bad-ass-ness of the race (and distance! and terrain!) but also to honor those who have served our country in the military.

It’s gonna be a rough race. Like I’ve posted before, it’s sandy, windy, you kinda sorta gain 1300 ft of elevation, and yes, it’s out in the middle of the desert. Hydration and nutrition are super-important. Recovery after the long runs is crucial. Training on hills or hiking on rough terrain is also priority.

Here’s what my training schedule looks like for long runs: no room for missing them!

Week of….

February 12 — 12 miles

February 19 — 16 miles

February 26 — 20 miles

March 4 — 12 miles

March 11 — 16 miles

March 18 — 12 miles

March 25 —  26.2!

 

And during the week…..

Sunday — long run

Monday — cross train/recovery

Tuesday — rest

Wednesday — run

Thursday — hike/run on rough terrain

Friday — run

Saturday – rest

 

I’m committed. I’m registered. The only other issue is transitioning to the Minimus, which can’t be done without caution. So I’ll go slow at it. No promises on wearing those on race day!

And one final thought….

Is it crazy that I’m kind of looking forward to running in the cold Midwestern air??

I love days off.

It’s warmer here today, which definitely earns El Paso some cool points. I was freezing my poor butt off! My house is no longer -1783 degrees. Eh, I still love running in the cold… I love how my gloves and headband are frosty by the time I’m done, and I love the slight discomfort of the cold air in my lungs.

I didn’t have to work, which is always nice. Having days off during the week allows me some much needed “me” time and I’m able to get errands done. I went to the gym first thing after Aaron left for work. I biked 5.5 miles and then did a 2-mile interval workout. It. Felt. AMAZING. I ran anywhere from 1/10 – 1/4 of a mile, with a pace of at least 8:30/mile. My fastest was 7:30! Wow. I secretly, or maybe not so secretly, compete with the other gym goers, especially the soldiers. Love it when I’m running faster than they are!

After kicking some butt at the gym, I went for coffee with my friend Jess. I definitely enjoy peppermint mochas and good conversation. Thankful to have found friends here so quickly!

I came home and ran some errands. Yesterday I went to the doctor, finally, for these crazy headaches I’ve been having. Turns out they are migraines, and I was prescribed some medication (brand name Imitrex) for it that I take only when I need it. After reviewing my family and personal medical history, the doctor wanted to do an EKG. That was fine.

He referred me to a cardiologist/electrophysiologist here in El Paso. I’m still having palpitations every now and then, and have had dizziness even when sitting down. One day I noticed shortness of breath just while standing, and got my HR monitor. My HR was 120! Ridiculous just for standing. When resting it’s in the 50’s, only so low because of my running.

Anyway, the doctor recommended in his referral to get a Holter monitor, which will monitor my heart’s activities for a week or so. There are 24-hr ones, but there’s no guarantee it’d catch anything in that period of time. Even if there’s nothing seriously wrong, it doesn’t hurt to get this taken care of.

The doctor did say to cut back on my training until I see the cardiologist… which is a huge bummer. I do wear my HR monitor on my long runs. I have never felt better than when I run. And I think it makes sense, if I get this monitor, to go ahead and do a long run. My arrhythmia usually happens when I’m at rest. This weekend it happened when I was relaxing on the couch! What gives?? While I don’t want to go to the ER or anything for an arrhythmia that won’t resolve itself, I kind of hope it happens so they can catch it. Shrug. I’m actually thankful that I have the migraines; I may not have gone to the doctor otherwise.

After running errands and making phone calls, I spent the afternoon making spritz cookies for my students to put in their Christmas bag of goodies.

Snowflakes and Christmas trees!

Tonight I’m making this spinach/chicken/penne/cheese goodness in a casserole dish. Sounds yummy! I found it, like all good things, on Pinterest. This may sound sacrilegious, but I’d modify the verse James 1:17 to say “Every good and perfect gift comes from Pinterest”. Glad I’m home to make dinner tonight. I’m sure The Husband will appreciate it! [enter slacking meal-planner wife].

The rest of the weekend should be pretty restful… tomorrow I work only a few hours. Sunday we teach the junior high kids (they keep us on our toes!) and do our long run on Transmountain. Wish us luck! 😉