The Road to Chicago

They say that if you want to accomplish something, you must first write it down, otherwise it becomes lost among the many things you may or may not get around to doing. While I have no idea exactly who they are, I do agree that writing things down increases their chance of becoming reality.

I love running. I’m quite obsessed with it actually. I have done my share of running, a stint in high school track, a fun-run here and there, Bloomsday. But I have never seriously trained for anything. Even Bloomsday was a little more difficult than it needed to be. I never took my training as seriously as I should have. I had too many easy days, too many missed runs. I let myself take it easy when what I really needed to do was push it. I was a slacker, and I paid for it. But I made it, and crossing the finish line was thrilling. An addictable high. A feeling I wanted to experience again and again. That was a year and a half ago.

It is time to train for another race.

Running a marathon has always been on my Someday List. 26.2 miles of pure insanity, and yet every inch of me is desperate to do it. But every year I put it off. I come up with a new excuse as to why I am not out there running with the rest of the them. Then I sit at home, wishing that I were.

So I guess I have two options. I can either sit back and watch all the runners, wishing I were one of them, or I can actually get out there and join them. I guess I am getting brave in my old age, because I have decided to join them. So here are the questions floating around inside this big empty head of mine. Do I have it in me to seriously train for a marathon? Do I have enough confidence in myself and my abilities to accomplish such a race? Have I dreamt of it long enough to finally be able to dedicate myself 110% to making it a reality? The surprising answer to all three of these questions is… yes. Yes. I can do it. I know I can.

But, if I fail to set a date, pick a target race and get myself registered, I know that I will put it off for another year. And then another, until eventually I find myself regretting never getting around to it. I cannot allow that to happen. I need a goal. A time frame. So which race? There are so many marathons, how do I go about choosing one?

I looked at multiple lists of marathons recommended for beginners, and the Chicago Marathon was on every one. It is known for being fast and flat, and while I don’t care much about the fast part, I am very excited about the flat. It also has no qualifying time, so anyone can register. October 13, 2013. A little less than a year away. Time enough to train but not so far out that I will lose steam or put off training. Registration is not yet open, but it will be soon. Will my name be on the list? Yes, I am almost certain that it will be.

Rob and I have run races together, but he is going to sit this one out, partly because he thinks (knows) I have completely lost my mind, and partly because he knows how much time and dedication the training will take. This is not going to be easy, so he and the kids are going to be my cheering squad. They will be the ones who push me out the door when I really don’t feel like it. The ones who drag me out of bed when I want desperately to sleep. The ones who will keep me going, even when I am ready for a rest. I know for a fact, even at this early stage just prior to training, that I will not be able to do it without them.

I am not expecting a time fast enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which would be 3:40 for my age group, but I do hope to finish within the course limit time of 6:30:59. Mostly, I just want to finish. I want to accomplish something I have always dreamt of. I want to prove to myself that I really can do it. At the very least, I will be able to cross an item off of my Someday List, and even if I never want to run another mile, at least I will not have to live with the regret of never having tried.

Back in the Saddle

After a two-week hiatus from running, Rob and I are getting back on track. Bloomsday was our first goal, and with that successfully behind us, it is time to look towards goal #2: Harvest Thunder.

Harvest Thunder is a Sprint Triathlon here in town. Their website hasn’t been updated yet, but I think it will be on August 7th. I printed up training programs for both of us, and with only 12 weeks to go, we better get busy.

It is amazing how long it takes to build your body up, and how quickly you can lose it. Running on the treadmill tonight, I never would have guessed that I ran 12k two short weeks ago. That is fine, though, short rests are probably good for the body. But now, it is time to get serious once again.

Bloomsday Weekend

No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to get the snow to leave us alone. As I mentioned earlier, a snow storm was headed our way, so we decided to drive to Missoula on Friday night. A drive that normally takes about two hours, took us five. We ended up driving right through the heart of the snow storm we were trying to avoid.

I have to admit it was very pretty. The wind was blowing the snow in amazing directions. We saw a ton of deer and a herd of elk larger than I had ever seen before.   

We were very relieved to finally arrive at our hotel Friday night. It felt good to be out of the car and out of the snow.

Saturday morning we got up and headed into Spokane. The roads were much better so that portion of the trip went pretty quick. In Spokane, the weather was… beautiful.

We headed downtown to pick up our race packets. Bloomsday is incredibly organized when it comes to pre-race events. We spent some time wandering through the booths, but it was so crowded that we didn’t stay long.

We spent the afternoon with some of Rob’s family and they made us an amazing carbo-loading feast for dinner. They were gracious enough to take the kids for the night so Rob and I would be able to head straight to the race in the morning.

Sunday morning was quick to arrive, and with it, the start of Bloomsday. The first runners were off at 9am. We were in the second wave of Blue, so we didn’t actually get started until about 9:50.

Many people end up wearing more clothes than they plan to run in, so the tradition is to wear clothes you don’t mind donating, and then you throw them in the trees or over the fences right before you start the race. The clothing items are then gathered and donated to a local charity. The first mile or so of the course was filled with clothes of all kinds, and then periodically along the way you would see an additional item or two discarded as the temperature warmed up. This year the weather was just perfect. It was a beautiful sunny day with a high around 62 degrees.

When we signed up for the Bloomsday, our whole intention was to run the entire 12k without stopping. On our registration forms I guessed it would take us around an hour and a half. Perhaps I was being optimistic. Regardless, if we were able to run the entire course without stopping, we would be happy.

Somehow we managed to do just that. Doomsday Hill comes at mile 5 and it is 3/4 of a mile of pure hell. It is actually the third and final hill of the course, and it pretty much wiped me out.

I was feeling it at mile 6, but Rob still seemed pretty strong. The last mile and a half were slower, mostly because I knew that if I didn’t slow down a little bit, I was not going to be able to run the entire way. I also knew that if I walked any of the course, especially in the last little bit, I would kick myself for it forever. Rob was my awesome supporter and we ran together the entire race. I’ll tell you what, though, I sure was excited to see that finish line.

 

It felt so good to be done, but it felt even better knowing we accomplished what we had gone in there determined to do – we ran the entire 12k.

I looked up our race results this morning, and Rob and I both crossed the finish line in 1:27:29. Out of 50,611 runners and walkers, we came in 15,353. Not too bad in my book. Not too bad at all.

After gathering our children and having an incredibly yummy lunch of split pea soup and corn bread, we headed home. Unfortunately there was no break in the middle on the return trip. We had to make it all the way back to Great Falls for school and work in the morning.  

You couldn’t even tell there had been a snowstorm less than two days ago. The roads were bare and dry, thank goodness. We saw some more elk and just as many deer, if not more. I know there is a moose out there, too, but he keeps eluding me. We made it home in seven hours. A huge improvement from the trip over.

My legs are a little sore today. I am moving slower than I normally do, but I know it will pass. Besides, it is a good pain. It is the pain that keeps telling me, Hey, you did it! Yes, by golly, we sure did.

There’s only 369 days, 11 hours, 12 minutes and 6 seconds until Bloomsday 2012…

I wanted to send out a special thank you to the people who made this weekend possible:

Auntie E and Uncle Jeff, thank you so much for letting William hang with you. He had a great time and is loving Slither.

Auntie MB and Uncle Jim, you had so much going on this weekend and you still took the time for us. We can’t tell you how grateful we are for everything. Wishing Max a speedy recovery.

Uncle Richie, thank you for letting the kids climb all over you. You must seem like a big jungle gym to them, but they love playing with you. Thank you for indulging them.

We love you all!!!

How Are Your Resolutions Holding Up?

Once the new year gets started, it goes by fast. Since we are almost a month into it already, I thought it would be a good time to check the status of our “goals.” I must confess that I had to scroll through some older posts to remind myself exactly what I am supposed to be working on. That’s probably not a good sign…

Rob and I just spent the last hour on the computer going over some fitness plans. Running Bloomsday is on the list of things to do this year and we will be running it together. That being said, we needed to make sure we are on the right track with training. As it turns out, we aren’t doing too bad. We are off to a good start and are only going to get better. May is coming up fast and we are determined to be ready this year.

As for our eating habits, I must say that we have greatly improved. Not only have we been eating better, but we are doing our best to make it a lifestyle change and not simply a diet. We’ve added a lot of fruits and veggies and eliminated sugars and starches. You want to know the weird thing? After you get used to them, veggies actually taste… good. (I can’t believe I just said that!)

How is this working for us? Rob and I have both lost weight and… drumroll please… Rob’s belt is in two notches!!! (I don’t think I was supposed to share that information, but he is doing so great that I just had to!) Give him a high-five the next time you see him, he deserves it.  🙂

There was one more thing on my list, but since it is not health related, I will save that update for another post.    

How about you? How are your Resolutions holding up?

2011 and Beyond

They say that you increase your chances of making your dreams a reality if you write them down.  I am not sure exactly who says this, but I have heard it multiple times, so it must be true.  We will just assume that they are the experts, and therefore know what they are talking about. 

As I sit here, reveling in the quiet of the morning, I find myself thinking about what I would like to accomplish this upcoming year.  I do not have set-in-stone resolutions, but there are some things I would like to work on. 

I should mention that I have also heard that your resolutions should be treated as a diet – you either tell everyone so they can hold you accountable, or you tell no one so… well, we know why.  That being said, here are some of my goals for 2011 and beyond:

1.  Eating Habits.  I am not going on a diet, nor do I intend to give up all my favorite foods, but I would like to work on being healthier.  Health and weight are not the same thing.  I may not have a weight problem, but eating cookies for breakfast, lunch and dinner and following up with ice cream for dessert may not make me the healthiest.  I need to remind myself that sugar is not a food group, sugar is not a food group…

2.  Bloomsday.  I have wanted to run Bloomsday for many years.  It is a glorious 12k run in Spokane, WA that happens the first Sunday in May.  We walked it as a family back in 2008, but I would like to run it.  The whole thing.  According to the official ticker, I have 122 days, 16 minutes and 10 seconds to prepare, so I better keep up my morning rendezvous with the treadmill. 

3.  Pictures.  I absolutely love taking them.  I want to work on improving my abilities.  There are lots of books out there on taking better photographs and improving technique.  And as they always say, practice practice practice.  Sounds like the perfect excuse for a road trip to me…

In terms of my individual goals, these are the top three.  I could go on and on about the things I would like to improve and change about myself, but I have opted to treat those as the diet I keep to myself.  It is just so much safer that way…

What are your goals for 2011?