Bataan Training : Week 4 and Mid-week Update

We gotta kick it into gear. Not that time is short, but we have less than four months until the marathon. No more putting off runs because we just don’t wanna get up…

Here’s a recap of last week:

Tuesday: 3 mile recovery run

Thursday: 5 mile run

Saturday: 8K race! (official time was 48:43, 9:47 pace)

TOTAL: 13 miles.

That’s pretty shabby, folks.

This week we should hit 20 miles with a 9-mi long run on Sunday on Transmountain.

We’re signed up for the Ft. Bliss Half Marathon sponsored by Under Armour. Woop woop! I’ve never run a half for a race before so I’m looking forward to see how I do!

The other day I went for a chilly 3-miler after we had about an inch of snow. Sounds like no big deal, right? Welllllll, it took me 3.5 hours to get home from work, which is only a 16-mile commute. When I was just a few miles from home, I texted my husband and told him that if I’d had my Brooks in the car, I would have just run home! Definitely would have been faster. Never. Again.

view from our front door. awesome.

For the record, I am sick of being cold. We had records lows earlier this week two days in a row. Our heater works, but we only have a few registers and they’re in the BACK of the house. We have a space heater, but the house is drafty. We actually bought plastic for the windows.

Stay warm, wherever you are!

Honoring the fallen

While my dad was never in the military, and not even politically active, he taught us Little girls a reverence for war and history. From a young age I remember watching depictions of famous battles or wars, including Saving Private Ryan and We Were Soldiers. I think he has the entire Band of Brothers series on DVD. (And who can forget the beloved Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump??)

My mom, and her brother, were always interested in the Civil War and I learned an appreciation for that epic chapter of history at an early age, too. I could recite names and I knew the dates before my social studies teacher even taught me. I was probably in junior high when I first read Killer Angels, the second in a trilogy of historical fiction about the Civil War.

From there, my interest in war stories grew. While it was not until much later that my dad’s dad, my grandpa, told me, well, anything about his experience in the Korean War, I had learned so much about history through written accounts of the Holocaust, the Civil War, and even the Mexican-American War. I’m not sure what it was that drew me in to nonfiction. Maybe it was the stories of heroism, or unimaginable courage.

I have never personally lost a loved one to war. And I pray I never have to. When my husband joined the US Army, my appreciation for the military was rekindled. My grandparents were actually the first people we told about Aaron’s enlistment, because we knew they would understand. From there, a door into my grandpa’s past seemed to open. I’ve seen his Class A’s from 1952, and a map of North Korea that he’s kept all these years. We had even more in common when Aaron was stationed just miles from the DMZ. I’m thankful to have heard stories, even when they’ve evoked tears and hard emotions.

My grandparents keep in touch with their GI buddies. They’ve gone to numerous reunions, and have grieved when hearing of one’s death. I thank my grandfather for his service, though involuntary.

I continue to be enthralled by war stories, most notably those of the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I just cannot get enough of the first-hand eyewitness accounts. Running the Bataan Memorial Death March is my way of honoring the fallen of not only the real Bataan Death March, but those past, present and future. It’s a way to show my personal sacrifice, though it will never compare to theirs.

Whether we’re spouses, widows, grandchildren, active duty servicemembers, friends.. something binds us all together beyond the colors of Old Glory.

It’s reverence, and remembrance. How will you honor the fallen?

A life fulfilled.

This morning was great! We ran our first race together, in the same zip code, in the same country! It was the Ft. Bliss Holiday 8K Run on post.

We don’t have official times yet, but Aaron ran around a 40:40 (8:05 mile! SO PROUD) and I ran around a 48:30. My goal for this first race in Texas was 51:00… pretty conservative considering my last 8K was a 46:18. I guess I just didn’t want to be disappointed.

The gun went off. It had the feel of a small hometown race, with about 200 participants. It was cool outside with a crisp breeze. However, when the sun comes out in Texas, it warms things UP! I could have run in shorts and a t-shirt and been fine.

I always try to save energy at the beginning. I looked at my watch and was starting out at a 9:00 mile… WAY too fast. So I ran between a 10:00 and 10:20ish mile throughout until the last mile, and I kicked it into gear. I ended up passing several people I was contending with the whole time; always feels good to do that towards the end of a race! It was a silly fear, but I was worried I’d be towards the end. My slowest split (I have the Garmin set to .5 mi) was at 10:16 pace… sweet!

Aaron met me at the finish line… that was great to see him! So many times I’ve had to call him and give him a report. We recouped for a second, then grabbed Starbucks and headed back to the gym for the awards. I was disappointed that the age groups were so large… there was no way I was gonna get an award when the group is 20-29. Maybe someday….

I feel elated, like I usually do after a great run, an appreciation and an attitude of I. Love. Life.

Despite not having a ton of extra money…

Despite unexpected bills…

Despite not going all-out for Christmas…

Despite not being with family for the holidays…

My life is fulfilled. If you’ve been reading my blog for two seconds you probably know that I’m Christian. Thank you for continuing to read even when you don’t agree with my views or how I got there. I never want to sound preachy; my goal is just to tell the good things God has done and let you take it from there.

I just want to tell you that these past couple months of trusting God for our needs have been some of the most rewarding. We’re seeing things happen, opportunities for relationships arise, and of course, all of our needs met. We are committed to giving sacrificially to missions. I was listening to KLOVE radio the other day (not generally a huge fan of “Christian” radio…) but I heard a song by Matthew West with a line that goes like this:

“I throw a twenty in the plate but never give till it hurts.”

Wow. When I heard that, I didn’t feel conviction but confirmation. We are giving sacrificially, even when it looks like we can’t afford it. Even a lot of Christians will say it’s foolish to do this… what about the bills? Food? Gas? Saving? What about retirement? Saving for kids’ weddings and college tuition?

And I counter that by saying… Have we ever gone without? Have we ever run out of gas? Food? Nope. As far as savings and retirement, we’ll get there.

So… trusting, living to the end of ourselves (physically, financially and spiritually), looking ahead to the future with unbridled anticipation… these are the things that make my life fulfilled.

Bataan Training: Week 3 :: Running is spiritual

Thanksgiving was this week, if you can remember through your turkey and pumpkin pie comas. A total of 13 miles were run, which is definitely not spectacular; HOWEVER, I personally had two amazing runs, and that in my book beats running a couple more mediocre runs.

Wednesday I ran 5 miles on the treadmill at Soto Gym on  post. It was a progression run, which means that I got progressively faster as the run went on. I started out at an 11:00 pace and finished at a 9:13 pace with a final time of around 53:00. I. Felt. AWESOME. Like I conquered the world. If 5 miles is all it takes….

We were supposed to get up early-ish yesterday and run an 8-mile loop around the neighborhood. Well, in all laziness, we decided that we’d run today after church. Harvest Christian Center is on the west side, and is located among a few long roads with either sidewalks, a paved trail or a nice wide shoulder that connects with Transmountain Road.

These photos do not even do it justice. At the bottom of the mountain you’re at about 4,000 ft, and climb to 5,280 at the top of the road. There are still 2,000-3,000 feet to go as the peak is about 8,000 I believe. Anyway, since I forgot to take my camera today, this will have to suffice.

Our climb was about 554 feet over four miles. It was a nice, slow, gradual incline. On the way up, we had views of the bluest sky I’ve ever seen (maybe it just looks so blue because of all the desert deadness flora and fauna). We could also see Transmountain Road stretching out before us, cars speeding past at 60+ mph. We had a wide bike lane, though, so I felt pretty safe. I also ran on the rocky shoulder of the bike lane since Bataan will be rocky in some places.

I never liked hill training before we got here. Now, I don’t have a choice. I wish I could describe to you the exhilaration of coming down the mountain. Sure, you’ve sped down a hill on your bicycle, or ridden a roller coaster. But until you’ve propelled your own body with your own feet and your own strength, there’s no comparison (though I’ve been told skydiving is quite a rush…..) Now imagine that with uninterrupted views of Texas, Mexico and New Mexico and you’ve got it made. Ahhh. It was perfect.

At mile 7, I fell. On concrete. I must have tripped over a crack or something… but it hurt. I almost started crying. It’s been quite awhile since I skinned my knee. Aaron was already a little ahead of me since I gave him the OK to kill the last mile. He stopped, came back to help me up and I told him to GO! So he did, and I finished out my last mile really strong.

It was an amazing run.

I was thinking about this blog pretty much the whole time I was running. Running is spiritual. I don’t mean in some weird new-agey way… though it may sound that way to some.

When I run, long distances especially, I am completely aware of all my physical failings. My chest hurts, my lungs burn, and my legs feel stiff. Going up inclines only exacerbates these symptoms. But I also am paradoxically aware of how fearfully and wonderfully we are made. I know that we are made, by an all-loving Creator. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve been on the other side, weighing  evolution and its plausibility. I never used to think science and the Bible could go together, much less complement one another so perfectly.

Something that stuck with me from a podcast is that the world is always going from order to chaos, not the other way around. Even in science, order does not come from chaos. If you let your yard grow and grow, it becomes chaotic with weeds and unruly grass. If you let yourself eat whatever you want and never exercise, your body inside and out becomes chaotic. If you don’t manage a relationship, it gets chaotic and can possibly end. How does it make sense that order, meaning humans, plant life, animals, the food chain, the water cycle, everything could come from complete chaos?? It totally defies laws and theories of science, not to mention the principles of the Bible.

It’s totally amazing to me that our bodies even have the capacity to run long distances… the stress we can put on our bodies is amazing, and yet all our systems work together to sustain us. I’m no science expert, but I know that the skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular and many other systems have to work properly and in some sort of order to sustain movement and stress for that long. It’s incomprehensible to me every time I complete a long run. I guess that’s one reason I absolutely love long distances.

The other thing that makes running spiritual to me is the community of people it involves. People from all walks of life, races, backgrounds and ability levels can come together for one sole purpose (no pun intended). We wave at each other while running opposite directions, but it’s much more than a wave. It’s a mutual understanding of the time, preparation and physical sacrifice one makes.

I haven’t been posting things I’m thankful for every day in November, but I have a couple for you for today.

  • I’m thankful for my healthy body. This morning during service I was feeling my heart rate go all over the place and was a little worried about my run. But as the morning went on, I felt better and felt my best while running those eight miles!
  • I’m thankful for all of my running partners, ones I’ve met (Gabi, Regina, Karen) and ones I haven’t (Darcy in Germany and Natalie in Washington State). I have been so blessed to get to know these amazing ladies, and also blessed that they too love the Lord. It’s so amazing to share these parts of our lives. I hope to meet Darcy and Natalie and run with them someday, though they’d both probably leave me in the dust. 😉

I have so much more that I could write about concerning running and the Bataan Memorial Death March… but I’m going to carb up with turkey and noodle soup and ice cream. 🙂

Headed for Bataan

March 25, 2012 is not that far away.

Training for the Bataan Memorial Death March commences next week. I’m going to use Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 marathon training plan. It’s 18 weeks long, but starting next week will give us one extra week. We’re running a 5K turkey trot on Thanksgiving, so it doesn’t hurt to be a little more prepared for that.

From the way the schedule looks, we’ll be doing one of the longest runs (19 miles) while we’re back in Illinois visiting. It’ll be good because 1) the elevation is about 700 ft compared to almost 4000 here and 2) I trained in the Midwestern winter last year so I’ll know what to expect.

Aaron is going to join me for the runs, but he’s rucking it instead of just running. I fall into the “civilian light” category, and I think he’ll be in the “military heavy” category, which does the race with a 35-lb rucksack and full uniform. The only thing I’ll be carrying is my Camelbak.

This time around I will know how to be physically prepared for the challenges of long-distance running. It starts today with drinking lots and lots of fluids, taking my iron supplements, properly refueling after long runs (Aaron just ordered protein powder) and avoiding caffeine. I’m also going to be taking that vitamin supplement called Airborne. There are boxes of packets now in many generic brands. During the weeks with the highest mileage, I’ll take it twice a day. I did this last year during training and I didn’t get the flu once (knock on wood!).

On a slightly different note, yesterday my heart rate was all over the place and I had a hard time catching my breath. Just standing up or doing light chores it was around 115-120, which I sometimes don’t even hit on the stationary bike. When I’d sit down and rest, it wouldn’t fall below 72-80. During and after the marathon last year, my resting heart rate was sometimes as low as 48. I was a little concerned yesterday, but never felt my heart jump up suddenly. During my SVT episodes, it climbs to 145 or higher. I haven’t had one of those since we’ve been here!

So today, I’m avoiding caffeine, relaxing and trying to get over this congested feeling that’s come over me in the past 24 hours. I know my body, and I’ll feel congested for a day or two before a sinus infection or something similar really hits and then I’m down for the count. Ugh. Hoping that resting up today will prevent any sickness!

Looking at pictures from the Illinois Marathon makes me excited and motivated to start this training. I can’t believe it’s been a year since I ventured to Chicago to run my then-longest race of 9.3 miles… I’m thankful Aaron’s PT schedule has changed now so that we can run in the morning before he goes to work, and then he has regular PT in the afternoons.

Bring it on, Bataan!

Marathon training for 2012 starts NOW!

Before I had come to El Paso, I’d done the research on the longer distance races (half and longer) and when they were. There’s a half marathon in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on December 3. However, we might be going back to Illinois around that time (my sis-in-law is due late October with our nephew!) so I don’t want to commit to that race. The El Paso marathon is in February, but I just wasn’t sold on it. It looked like fun (and probably has free beer as it’s sponsored by Michelob) but again, just wasn’t feeling it.

I had heard about this race called the Bataan Memorial Death March that’s held in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. I scoffed and chuckled when I first heard about it… any 26.2-mile distance around here is a death march! I laughed at my ingenuity… until I realized that the race is actually to commemorate the horrific 85-mile march thousands of POW’s captured by the Japanese started on April 10, 1942 in Bataan, Philippines. Here’s some more history about the race itself.

Last week, like a good little voracious reader, I went to the nearest El Paso Public Library branch and got my card. I’ve been on a war/history/non-fiction kick lately, what with reading War by Sebastian Junger. (It should be known that I was hooked to books on war since my mom gave me Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.)

So I checked out a few books, including Bataan Death March: A Survivor’s Account by Lt. Col. William Dyess.  I started reading it and have been blown away by this part of the war that I personally tend to forget about. Pearl Harbor is about as far as my knowledge goes when it comes to the Pacific theater of World War II.

I did some research on the race and came to find out that it’s on March 25, 2012. Chances are good that Aaron will be able to do this one with me, and he’ll probably carry the heavy ruck (35 lbs). Me? Well, I’ll be carrying whatever I need to get through 26.2 of sand, wind, hills and desert sun.

For once, I’m not interested in this race for a PR. This is a big step mentally for me. I’m always competing with myself, but this is one race where my time is not my goal. The site says that 25% of runners fall out due to injury or inadequate preparation.

So… that means there will be marathon training for the marathon training. I’d like to get a leg up on weight lifting, cross training, and a few long runs, and then in November really hit the pavement hard. Training will include long hikes in the Franklin Mountains and runs up Transmountain Road.

Reading about war really makes me look at my life with gratefulness… I have freedoms because of these valiant soldiers who put their lives on the line. In reality, what’s 26.2 miles compared to the 361 days Lt. Col. Dyess spent in captivity? Not a whole lot, but at least it’s something.

>Race report and reflection: ILLINOIS MARATHON 2011

>Let me start you off with some stats:

Location: Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; only my favorite place in this state!
Weather: started out at 50* and windy, topped out around 75* and still windy
Chip time: 4:53:02
Goal time: 5:00:00
Average pace: 11:11
Water consumed: well over 64 oz
Gels consumed: at least 6
Celebrities spotted: Abraham Lincoln (guess they had Asics back in the day.. who knew?), orange-clad Darth Vader, Superman
Funny signs: “Don’t stop!” followed by “That’s what she said!”; “Your feet hurt because you’re kicking butt!”; at mile 23 “You have no other option but to f’in finish!”

This week, I was not nervous. I was anxious to just get it over with, but not nervous or worried. It was a great way to go into a race, especially a marathon!

I met Gabi at gear check at 6:15. The 45 minutes until the race started seemed to go by fast. There were less than 3,000 running the full marathon, so we got across the start line quickly. Very different from my races in Chicago!

We started around the 5:00 pace group, and ended up speeding up to a pace of 10:45-11. We really took it easy, but we didn’t go too slow. Honestly, the miles flew and I felt great. The wind wasn’t too bad in the beginning.

Around mile 8, we ran through Meadowbrook Park, where Aaron and I had spent quite a lot of time when he lived down there. Good memories. At around mile 11, we ran past Stone Creek Church. I was so hoping to see Pastor Grogan, but I saw his wife and Ricky, one of the other pastors. I also saw one of my former students who attends U of I. It’s so energizing and exciting to see people you know, even if it’s for a second! Hannah and her sister were at quite a few mile markers with signs. That kept me motivated too.

I started taking gels around mile 5, to be on the safe side. Some people have stomach trouble with all the sugar in gels and Gatorade, but I have no problem. I was not going to let myself get dehydrated or “hit the wall”. I drank my entire Camelbak of 50 oz, and towards the end I drank at every stop. We tended to walk for a few seconds at the stops to make sure we drank enough!

There was a band called “Shark Domain” or something at mile 8. It’s funny because our friend Aaron B. asked me if I had added “Eye of the Tiger” to the playlist. I hadn’t, but this band was playing it right as we passed by! They were all wearing bright pink shorts, too. Funny.

We saw someone running barefoot, someone with a huuuuuuge Afro hair-do, a lady driving her car down the race course.. seriously, WHO let her by?? I tried to say “thank you” to as many volunteers and policemen as possible… we could not do it without them!

Mile 18-19, courtesy of Hannah

At around mile 20, we sped up a little bit to around 10:45 pace, I think, and soon after Gabi took off. Looking at our 20-mile split, we hit it at 6 minutes faster than our last 20-mile run!! I don’t know how she made her legs keep that pace up after that! I didn’t hit a mental wall, but my legs felt like lead! The last two were awful because of the wind. I’m guessing it was around a 20mph wind right in our faces. At that point, though, I didn’t sweat it (figuratively, because literally I was!) because I knew I wouldn’t finish before 4:45, but definitely before 5:00.

The last .2 were soooo loooong. It was great though to see the finish line in the stadium! I sprinted the last .1 or less. I couldn’t believe I really finished. I started crying as I crossed the line. We got a medal, which is actually very nice. (I can’t say as much about the shirts.. ugh.) I drank a one-liter and sat down to stretch. Um, dumb! I could barely get back up!

Sprinting to the finish! Courtesy of Hannah

Whhyyy did we sit down? Ouch! Courtesy of Hannah

Walking was painful. It was more painful that running that last little bit. However, this afternoon I tried to move around. I went upstairs at Hannah’s to take a shower, MUCH needed. I could feel and see the salt from sweat caked on my face. Anyway, I survived the shower and for some reason had crazy energy. I’m sure those endorphins and adrenaline last a long time, but I guess I thought I’d be so tired!

I ate some chicken and dumplings Hannah’s mom had made, had some cream soda and ice cream, too. Then it was my idea to go to the running store to look for a marathon shirt that I liked (picky, I know) and unfortunately they didn’t have any women’s back in the store from the expo. I did get a 26.2 sticker for my car.

I have to say, besides knowing Jesus, being married, and graduating from college, running a marathon is the coolest thing I have ever done. I love that runner’s high; I was “high” throughout pretty much the whole race! And I am being honest when I say that I never once thought, “Oh my gosh, why am I doing this?” or “I’ll never do this again!” I’m already asking Aaron when we’re going to train for the half in December in flippin’ New Mexico.

I have to give all glory to the Lord. This simple act of putting one foot in front of the other has saved my sanity, kept me mentally healthy, made me physically fit, and tested my trust that God has indeed created me with a healthy heart!

I have to also thank everyone who has encouraged, inspired, and prayed for me throughout this process. I especially thank my husband, who has been incredibly supportive even from halfway across the world. And OF COURSE, my training partner Gabi who made those early Saturday morning runs worth it! We did everything… wind, sun, snow, rain… everything. We did it, girl!

Amazing day!

As she said, this has been an incredibly unique experience.. you get to know someone really well when you spend three hours every Saturday morning running with them in the country. I will never forget it!

Yay for ZERO WEEK!!