I’m moving!

Okay not really moving moving, but I’m moving blogs!

I have spent a lot of time over here at faith/food/fitness, and this blog has seen a LOT, been read by many, and helped begin many amazing friendships. As this chapter of my blogging career is closing, a new chapter is beginning and I am so excited!

So please take this blog off of your reader, bookmarks, and email subscription list and join me over at my NEW blog, Run, Sweat, and Sparkle!!!

I’ll see ya there!

The 22 Mile Run That Wasn’t

Oh hi, remember me? It feels like it has been way too long since I have been on this side of the blog. Needless to say, this week has been absolutely crazy. Between work, coaching, finals, and trying to get my workouts in…I feel like a hamster on a revolving wheel.

Conveniently, I am also three weeks out from my next marathon, which naturally, is when the longest long run of a marathon training plan takes place. So between the aforementioned chaos, I was needing to fit in a 22 mile run somewhere this week. That day was today. Because I literally had no other day or time available to do so. Also, summer is upon us here in the midwest and afternoon highs have been in the 90’s for the majority of the week.

I continue.

Getting my run in today meant being up at 5am, greeted with a lightning show, thunder, and big, fat raindrops. I had no way of stalling my run, so I booked it to the gym to do this long run. Before I left the house, I started to download Mean Girls on my iPhone to watch while running and made sure that my iPod was charged to keep me occupied for the four hours I was to spend on the ‘mill.

The first six miles went by pretty well, despite getting a weird stomachache/barfy feeling after mile five. I continued, the next six miles were not well. Mentally, things were getting tough. I tried positive reinforcement to no avail, was sweating like a sumo wrestler on a summer day in Louisiana, and the rain was starting to clear which made me mad that I wasn’t running outside. Ultimately I just could not pull my crap together. My heart wasn’t in this.

One promise I made to myself about a year ago was this:

If there was ever a moment that I didn’t absolutely love what I was doing, then I needed to take a step back, look some things over, and remind myself of why I was doing what I was doing. 

I cranked three more miles out and was done. I wasn’t going to put myself through those other seven miles because it would have gotten me nothing and nowhere. To console my feeling of defeat, I climbed for thirty minutes on the stair master and called it a morning. My skirt was dripping sweat, my thighs had chaffed so much they were bleeding, and I needed to refresh my love of running.

Today was a combination of things that I’m well aware of– stress, not getting enough sleep, and my eating has been sub-par (for me) the past week. I also accepted the fact that I need a break. One of the first signs of over-training is not being able to complete a workout, and while I don’t believe I’m over-training, I realized I have spent the past nine months either training for marathons, maintaining mileage, or racing. I accept that I am feeling just a little burnt out. I absolutely love running, but I have to take some of the stress and pressure away, because those don’t equate to enjoying running for me.

I still love running; in fact, I’m looking forward to a trail run I’ve planned early next week…no watch, no route, no goal pace, just me and the trails. After Med City I’ll be taking near a month off of being on a consistent running schedule and I’m going to be honest, I haven’t felt a release that great in a while. My body needs the break mentally, physically and emotionally. This rest will do me good because when I start training for Chicago I want to give it all I’ve got!

Even though today was the ‘run that wasn’t,’ it was a learning experience and reality check. I must say, I’m blessed and it’s pretty amazing that I was so disappointed with ‘only running fifteen miles…’ WHO says that??

That’s when I finally got my crap together.

2012 Goal Check

After a crazy last couple of weeks, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the goals that I set five months ago–has it really been that long?! This year really is flying by which makes me sad but I also love it, because this year has been cramazing (crazy + amazing) so far!

1. Run 4 marathons in 4 different states

The original plan was to do Little Rock in Arkansas (check), Omaha in September, Chicago in October, and Dallas White Rock in December. But since when do any of my original plans work? Right, never. What I thought was going to be conflicting my ability to run Omaha in September is no longer a conflict, so that race could still happen, even though it’s two weeks before Chicago. I am already registered and definitely running the Chicago Marathon in October, but I hadn’t planned on winning a free entry to the Med City Marathon next month! Where there’s a will there’s a way, and my way to run a marathon in Minnesota was made out for me, so naturally my will is following. Does that make sense? I also haven’t shared but I was given a free entry to run the Waddell and Reed Kansas City Marathon this year! This race is in October, two weeks after Chicago. I hadn’t originally planned to run this one either, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of a free marathon entry. I know this marathon will be special to me for a few reasons–it’s just a couple of days after my birthday, it will be the 3rd anniversary of my first half marathon which was on this course! Thank you Kansas City Sports Commission! As for Dallas, it’s like that race will still happen, but time will tell. My baseline goal for this year was 4 marathons in 4 states and I know that’s going to happen, anything above that will be extra special!

2. Run a 50k or other ultramarathon
This is still on track to happen in November! The North Face Endurance Challenge will return once again this year, and I’m planning on making this my first 50k! 50k…that’s far. Let’s not think about it right now. Moving along…
3. Become a certified personal trainer 
This isn’t happening this year, and I’m okay with that because something better has happened! Two months ago I got my acceptance letter from the Community Health program at the University of Kansas and proceeded to happy dance for hours! Graduating college is something that I have always wanted for myself but wasn’t always sure how it would happen (financial reasons mostly, and me not wanting to get neck-deep into debt), so it was a goal I kind of pushed aside. I think that’s what happens to a lot of us– something seems too big and not possible, so we kind of brush it under the rug. Thankfully, God pushed my dreams right back in front of me and is making my way to get to them as I type this. I’ll be the first person in my family to graduate college, it is something I have had to work very hard for, and I’ll keep working until I walk down the hill with a diploma in hand.
4. Run a marathon to raise money for a great cause
 I had the bright idea to raise money for the organization I actually volunteer for…DUH!!!! Ha! I can’t believe it took such a long thought process, but I am running the Chicago Marathon as a SoleMate for Girls on the Run! Be on the lookout for my fundraising which I’ll start to publicize VERY soon!
5. Be more financially responsible
 Surprisingly, I have been doing quite well with this. I’ve learned tips from people and mentors who are very financially savvy, and with proper monthly budgeting, keeping all receipts, tracking my spending, and reconciling at the end of each month…it has been a worthwhile process.
This year has also included things I didn’t expect; surgery, a 44-mile relay, many half marathons, my best friend (will be) moving to Texas, getting a lovely visit from a sweet friend next month, skydiving (next month!)…and who knows what else will happen! I can’t wait to find out!

Kansas Half Marathon

A local running organization put together a race series called the Heartland 39.3– three half marathons in one month, all within 50 miles of the Kansas City metro area. These races include last weekend’s Rock the Parkway, the Kansas Half Marathon, and Running with the Cows, which is in two weeks. I registered for the series back in October and got a steal for the races, it cost me $39 per race since I signed up so early. I figured it would be a fun challenge, but at the time I didn’t realize how amped up my spring race schedule would be.

Going into this weekend, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve run marathons, but never back to back half marathons before. I didn’t know if I would be sore from pacing Austin in his half on Saturday, if my allergies would subside,  or how fatigued my body would be. When I got home from the race on Saturday, I slapped on my compression sleeves and pants, hydrated and stretched like a champ, and relaxed, trying to do my body the best I could with hopes of waking up feeling alright on Sunday.

It worked! I popped out of bed at 4:30am on Sunday and was pleasantly surprised with how fresh my legs felt, which raised my hopes for the day! My baseline goal for the race was to run it in under 2:30, but I really wanted to shoot for another sub-2:20. Having been on my feet for 13.1 miles the day before, I wasn’t sure of how attainable this goal was, but it was still what I was aiming for. I did my usual pre-race routine, water, bathroom, breakfast, bathroom, brush teeth, bathroom, you get the idea. The race was about 30 miles from where I live so I hopped on the highway at 6am and rocked out to my running playlist on my iPhone the whole drive. My adrenaline was definitely pumping and being able to crank my music super loud and dance in my car helped get the nerves out.

The temperature was perfect for racing, in the upper 40’s, but the wind was not. Upon arriving to Lawrence, I was greeted with 20-25mph winds…brrrrrr! It still wasn’t going to get me down, it’s not like I haven’t ran in the wind before! However, I was very thankful I packed a throwaway long sleeve shirt to wear for the first couple of miles and a pair of gloves to wear during the race to keep my fingers warm!

My friend Jacob made a 3-hour drive to Lawrence to run his first half marathon! We rowed together at Wichita State and it was great getting to see him again! I found this picture from back in the rowing days…which feels like a million years ago!

He was pretend napping and I was not-pretend bothering him ;)

He was slightly freaking out before the race started as we were huddling with other runners in a bus waiting area in attempt to block the wind and noted that I was, “Cool as a cucumber,” which puzzled him. I realized that I like spending the last 10-15 minutes before a race soaking everything in–the people, the moment, the start line…I love it. I love being able to stand there silently and totally be in the moment. This race wasn’t huge (less than 2,000 half marathoners) and was incredibly organized; normally I like being at the start line about 20 minutes before a race starts, but due to the wind, all 2,000 of us corralled to the start line together about five minutes before the gun went off in efforts to stay as warm as possible.

Jacob and I agreed that we didn’t want to hold each other back, so we didn’t plan on running together. We stayed together for the first couple of miles and he took off ahead of me after the first aid station. I had situated in with the 2:20 pacers who were so fantastic, they were great pacers and really nice people. I didn’t study the course beforehand, just the elevation, and knew to expect huge hills at miles 4 and 10, other than that, I was cruising right along with my group and enjoying the run. My legs were so cold due to the wind that it took several miles for them to finally warm up and not feel like wooden boards, which is a feeling that I absolutely hate. So finally, when my legs got warm, they were rudely greeted by said monstrous hill. It was on the University of Kansas campus and I wish I had a picture of this thing because it was such a beast. My breathing efforts had really increased and I had to work mentally and physically to keep on running up the hill while keeping my breathing intact. Finally when we got to the top of the hill we were greeted with a cold rush of wind and I was so thankful to be back on flat ground.

This portion of the course was an out and back, and after mile 5, we started seeing the leaders of the race heading on the back portion. It was cool getting to cheer them on, but a big con was that we were running on a wide sidewalk, literally right next to these people going in the opposite direction. I feel like it was more of a con for the faster people because if they were wanting to make a move to try and pass someone, it was nearly impossible due to the mass of slower people going in the opposite direction. This race has also never had as many people run it as did yesterday, so I’ve got to give them that. I feel like if it retains popularity (which I think it will) then they will/need to alter the course to be accommodating to more runners.

One reason I did love this out and back portion was because you got to see everyone in passing, so I got to cheer on and high five several friends, plus the people watching made the miles fly by! We came up on the 9-mile marker and I could hardly believe we had been running that long…that’s when you know it’s a good time! My left shoe lace had been getting looser and looser, and around 9.5 I had to pull over to the side and retie my shoe, I knew I couldn’t make it to the end without doing so. This really messed up my rhythm and even though I was able to catch back up with my pace group, we were about to hit a sucker of a winding hill at mile 10 and then I really started to feel it. Fatigue was setting in and I had to take a short walk break. I wasn’t happy with having to do this, but my legs needed it.

The race was happening so fast, after climbing up that last hill there was an awesomely long downhill to mile 11, and the rest of the race was flat to downhill. I vowed to run the last 2.1 miles with all I had and I knew my time would be at least under 2:25 and I went with it. Kids had their hands up for high-fives coming into the final stretch and I fived maybe 4-5 kiddos which was so fun, my legs were cruising me right into the finish and I crossed with a huge, goofy smile on my face.

I seriously felt SO. GOOD. Maybe it was the runner’s high, or accomplishing something I wasn’t sure I would be able to do, or having a time I was happy with, or knowing I poured my all into it…but was so stinking happy! These feelings are what make me love running. My official time was a respectable 2:23:17 and I am completely happy with that.

Jacob finished in 2:19 and it wasn’t as pretty for him as it was for me. Let’s just say he spent some time praying over the porcelain gods a short while after the race…

Pre-pukefest

Two half marathons in two days, check! This experience reaffirmed to me how important it is to believe in yourself and that the seemingly impossible is quite more attainable than we may realize. Like I said on my Facebook, you never know what you’re capable of until you test the limits, and then push past them. The end may not always be bright and clear, but you’ll never know what it looks like until you get there.

Garmin Half Marathon

Today was a different race experience–I wasn’t running it for me, I was pacing a friend to the finish line of his first half! He came to be about four months ago and asked if I would help him train for this race and he put so much work into getting where he did today.

Going into the race today, I really wasn’t completely sure what to expect out of the morning. Austin had done a fair amount of the training on his own and aside from typical nerves, we were both feeling alright about the race. We situated in with the 2:40 pacers and the first couple of miles went really well. Eventually, we began a run-walk strategy and maintained that for the remainder of the race. Did I tell you that Austin has never done a race before? Not even a 5k! This was huge for him. Parts of it were tough, physically and mentally, but he was able to push through and I am so proud of him.

This race was a big, humbling, learning experience for me. All of my previous half marathons have been at ‘my’ pace and I was always going for ‘my’ goal, never for someone else’s. I spent the entire 13.1 miles talking through things with Austin, keeping him encouraged, reminding him how capable he was of finishing, and making sure we got to the finish line in one piece! I hadn’t thought of it until his mom mentioned it to me after the race, but I was kind of his brain for him during the race. It felt really good being able to help someone reach their goal, after all, that is one thing I desire to use my running-ness for.

What I love most though, is that he’s already talking about ‘the next time…’ he’s going to race!

I will say that I loved the race, course, volunteers, everything! I absolutely want to run the marathon of this race next year and count it as my Kansas marathon!

Tomorrow I take on the Kansas Half in Lawrence…wheeee!

Running Errands and I’m Crazy

First I just want to share something I found amusing that I did yesterday. I needed to go to the post office to ship off a package for one of my Stimulock clients, but really didn’t want to drive. I also wanted to get a run in for the morning as well. So what do I do? Combine the two, (un)naturally. I was laughing at myself as I was getting ready, thinking, “Who runs to the post office??” The package was small enough to fit in my Camelbak (I took the water pack out), I stuck my ID and credit card in, and went to literally run my errands! The stares I got at the post office were priceless, and it was really fun to run a route that I’ve never run before, I loved it! 4.25 miles later I returned home and was happy to have knocked out two birds with one stone.

Last weekend signaled the start of a large chunk of spring races that I’m doing, including four half marathons and one full marathon. I like a good challenge, and this is definitely that. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally and not for the reasons you might imagine. People question me and my sanity daily. Not exaggerating here. Part of me wants to completely shut up about running sometimes because of how much flack I have been receiving about it lately, but we know that’s not going to happen. Terms I hear pretty regularly are: insane, crazy, obsessed, nuts, and the list continues. Please note that generally, all of these terms carry a negative connotation and I’m doing all I can to not let them bring me down.

In the broad spectrum, they won’t keep me down. But right now, it’s just a little tough. I am beginning to accept that a lot of people will not grasp and understand why I run, or why I’m so passionate about it, and I don’t need them to. Passionate people, in my opinion, are refreshing in our society which thrives on instantaneous satisfaction, all things superficial, and a constant inward gaze.

I’m a firm believer in that, if you want to get better and be the best you can be, you have to be around people who are going to challenge you and help you grow. Surround yourself with the ones you want to be like. Though I can’t physically surround myself with some people I’d like to, I draw a great deal of inspiration from them. Take Dean Karnazes for example. He ran 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. He’s ran across America. He has competed 200-mile footraces by HIMSELF from deserts in California to the Pacific coast. A blogger I follow, SkinnyRunner, runs marathons like nobody’s business. Just this past weekend, she ran a marathon on Sunday, the Boston Marathon on Monday, and is running the Ragnar Relay later this week.

These kind of individuals motivate me to push my limits feed my desire to see what this body that I have is capable of. This weekend I’m running a half marathon on Saturday and one on Sunday, which to some may seem crazy, but to me, it is more than attainable based on where my inspiration comes from. Plus, I know where my strength comes from, and it is not my own. I often have conversations with God saying, “This is all you, because I definitely can’t do this on my own. What are you doing with me?!” Ha!

I’m also blessed that my life currently allows for such crazy adventures. I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t have kids, I have a very flexible schedule, and my body and I work in conjunction with one another– I’m good to it, so it returns the favor and allows me to log all these miles and do what I ask of it.

In my mind, there’s nothing I can’t do. Yes, some things look big, scary and intimidating, but I’ll never know that I can overcome it if I don’t go find out. Running blesses me exponentially. It adds life to my years. It inspires me, pushes me, and fills me up. Though the negative comments might get to me and start to burn a bit, I’m going to keep going. Nothing worth having comes without a challenge. I’ll keep doing what I’m doing, living life to the fullest and loving every minute of it, hopefully inspiring and motivating many along the way.

This is a journey, and I’m on a constant pursuit to see where my limits are, and then push past them.

Rock the Parkway 2012

It’s funny now that I’m repeating some races, that recaps now need to include the year.

In the days leading up to Rock the Parkway I began to feel anxious–something I haven’t felt before a race in quite some time. The last two halfs I did were both while training for my first full, so I didn’t have any ‘real goals’ for those races. When I ran my first marathon my goal was to finish alive (check) and my goal for the second was to enjoy it (check).

Last year, I set a half marathon PR at Rock the Parkway and I did, at 2:20:18. I didn’t break 2:20 but I was very satisfied with my efforts at that race. Every half I ran last year was slower than that time, ha! But it was because my goals had shifted to a marathon, which I run at a much slower pace than half marathons or any distance shorter than that. Basically, I had gotten really good at running slowly for stupid long amounts of time, but had to fine tune my speed before lacing up for RTP.

Friday night I fueled up with lots of hummus and a huge Greek salad at a new-to-me Greek restaurant with my friend Shelly to plan our trip to Minnesota next month for Med City (she’s on her way to running a half in every state)! It was fun and delicious, and I was at home in bed promptly passed out by 10:30pm. This is the first race I’ve been able to sleep in my own bed the night before in 6 months! It was glorious! I loved being able to set out all my things where I wanted, and not having to check out of a hotel at 6am.

I wasn’t totally sure what I was going to have for breakfast race morning, but 5am on Saturday rolled around and I scrambled up some egg whites and two slices of Genesis 1:29 bread, with a large iced coffee (which I NEVER do before a run) to get my nervous poop out, because I knew otherwise it wouldn’t happen. At 6am I was out the door and a good thing too, because though RTP is only in it’s third year, the popularity of it has grown exponentially! They had to cap the race at 4500 half marathoners, up 1000 from last year, and it showed in parking!

This was Jen’s first half marathon, and Bridget came down from Omaha so her family (who lives pretty close) could all finally see her race! They came in VERY handy too in cheering me on at the race course when I was feeling like death multiple times, but onto that later. After doing the standard 2+ pre-race potties, us ladies headed to the start line and said a pre-race prayer and were herded in like a bunch of cattle. Moooooo.

The forecast had predicted some possible storms for Saturday morning, and I prayed for no lightning and no hail. I should have been more specific and asked for no humidity too–I forgot I live in the humidity capital of the world. It was around 60* which was perfect, but about 85% humidity. You could cut it with a knife. We were also so packed in at the start line that we were very close behind the 2:15 pacers, which is what I secretly wanted. My baseline goal was to break 2:20, but if I could run faster than 2:15 I was going to be elated. It was ambitious, but I was willing to put up with the pain and effort to reach my goal.

Ten minutes into the race I was already sweating and running at a faster than what is comfortable pace, which I knew would bite me later in the race. I was with Jen for the first 5k, but knew she could pick it up and I lost her at a water station. I didn’t want to hold her back and knew that I needed to run my race. Regardless, I was still right behind the 2:15 pacers which I was okay with. Here for a portion of the run I just let my mind go. That’s one of the things I really like about running–it let’s me turn my brain off and I don’t think about anything. At all. Right after mile 3 there was a slight incline, but running around a 10:20 pace I was really feeling it. I thought several times, “There is no flipping way I can hold this pace for 10 more miles. No way.” But I couldn’t let myself get down about it, I just kept pushing.

We passed the 5th mile right before 53 minutes and that’s about what I run when I’m on my own, and the 10k mark at 1:03 which I was actually pretty proud of. They changed the course from last year and added a loop around a downtown park, which consequently added a couple of more inclines. I was silently cussing out the inclines and trying to keep from getting frustrated. I was giving it my all, but I still felt like it wasn’t going to be good enough, then I realized there was still half of a race to go which made me feel a little sad, I didn’t know how much more I had left.

Earlier in the morning I stuck a gel in my bra just in case I wanted to take it, and after mile 7  I was thankful for thinking in advance. At that point I would take any extra boost of energy I could get. By this point I was also ringing my shirt out of sweat, my clothes were absolutely dripping (literally, dripping), and made sure I took at least 2 cups of water at each aid station. The course is an out and back, a beautiful one, and at this point we were now on the ‘back’ portion, which was thankfully mostly flat. My aunt surprised me at mile 9 and it was so good seeing a face I knew, even though I could just muster out a ‘Love you,’ as I passed by, with a totally off center high five.

Three thoughts were going though my mind: “Four miles four miles four miles,” “I can’t do this. What was I thinking. Is this goal even attainable?? I’m going to die.” and finally, “Kelsey if you don’t freaking believe in yourself you WON’T reach your goals. BELIEVE in yourself, woman and get it!”

Honest to God, I took more walk breaks than I imagined I would (uhh…3 between miles 9-11) but was okay that I was moving forward. I had to convince myself that I would be happy no matter what because I knew I was giving it my all and leaving everything out on the course. A few familiar faces and cheers later and after the 10 mile mark, I convinced myself I just needed to run the last 3 miles as fast as I ran the first 3 and I would be done.

I allowed myself a final walk break up another dang hill at mile 11 and promised myself no more walking. I can go balls to the wall for two miles. Even if it means feeling like you’re going to pass out. I kept looking at my watch…I knew I was going to PR. I didn’t know by how much, but knew it was going to happen. After 12.5 I picked it up, and it helped to have other racers who had finished cheering me on because they could tell I was going for it. I ran harder in the last .6 miles than I ever thought I could–I couldn’t feel my legs, but I knew they were pumping. I’m not sure I was even breathing, I don’t really remember. My aunt snapped this beauty…how was I smiling while in so much physical pain?

I’m happy that at least my form wasn’t absolutely terrible. I don’t know how it wasn’t, but I’ll take it. And then I finished.

My head was spinning, I wanted to keel over, but knew if I could stay on my own two feet I would be alright. I got my water, timing chip off, and medal and then miraculously found my aunt and sat on a rock. I wanted to puke, every inch of my body was sweaty and I just needed to sit with my eyes closed. I missed out on the runners high on this one, and I wasn’t even as happy as I imagined I would be to have a new PR.

The one thought that can encompass my race was, “I have never ran that hard in my life.” And in that, I am happily satisfied with my new half marathon PR of 2:19:35.

Jen did amazing and pulled out a sub 2:10 for her first half, and Bridge gave her absolute best (overcoming injury, sickness, and oh yeah, she’s a mom too) and ran faster than her last half!

Then I realized I’m doing this again next weekend. Twice. Three half marathons in nine days…I clearly did not have my brain plugged in correctly, and sometimes I wonder if it’s plugged in at all. I’m gonna love it anyways! Maybe I can set a new PR next weekend too, ha!