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!

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.

Funplanned Weekend

Like that? Fun + unplanned = funplanned weekend.

The more I have been running, the larger my circle of running contacts and friends has grown. For example, on Thursday, a friend who I know from coaching in Girls on the Run posted on my Facebook wall asking if I was running a local race called Brew to Brew, because she knew a team who needed more runners. A few messages, emails and texts later, Friday it was decided that I’d be joining a team to run the 44.4 mile relay from Kansas City to Lawrence on Sunday (yesterday)!

I knew of Brew to Brew because I had some other friends running it, but had no clue of what it would be like. The team that I was joining was also with people I had never met in my life. Old Kelsey would never have been down for this type of adventure, but new, more relaxed and fun-loving Kelsey was pretty pumped!

First, a little about the race. Like I said, Brew to Brew is a race to benefit cystic fibrosis and starts in Kansas City at the Boulevard Brewery and takes a 44.4 mile route of backroads, some highways, and dirt/gravel roads to the Free State Brewery in Lawrence, KS. It has 10 legs of the race, and composed of mostly teams of 2-10 runners, while yesterday there were 70 runners that took it on as a solo adventure! Each team is allowed a team vehicle (we saw vans, RVs, trucks) to carry supplies and runners. How it works is the team vehicle drops their runner at the first leg and drives to the second leg, then picks up the first runner while the second runner is going, then drives to the third leg, and so on. Each exchange had portapotties, fuel, and people drinking beer and playing frisbee while waiting for their runners. It was called Brew to Brew, after all!

We started the morning by meeting at the lovely Lara’s house at 7am (that was rough) to load up and head to the Boulevard Brewery to drop off our first runner

Our team was the Punky Brewsters!

Our ‘baton’ was the decorated bra, it was hilarious!

Then it was time to send off the first runners from KC

And hopped in the Expedition to head to the exchange!

Thankfully, our team was able to have 9 runners and everyone did a leg, and we skipped the 9th leg because it was hot and no one wanted or needed to run it. The ones who ran earlier in the day were lucky because it got HOT later in the morning and into the afternoon.

We would drop off a runner for their leg, hang around for a little bit, then load the truck up and drive to the next leg. Everyone was having fun and we weren’t doing the race for a time, so it really was just about enjoying the day.

My team was so much fun and I’m so happy I got to be with them, of all people! Yeah, it felt a little weird meeting them all at 7am not knowing a single one, except that they were a friend of a friend’s friend, but we bonded throughout the day and ended up having a blast.

I was assigned the final leg of the race– 4.7 miles along the levee to the finish line. There was no parking at this exchange so my team literally had to drop me and leave…off I went!

My portion of the race was flat, but I didn’t start running until 2:30pm and by then the temperature had reached 90 degrees. The 4.7 miles was along some farm land on a gravel road (which I loved, it wasn’t easy but I loved it) with the sun beating down on us due to no trees within 150 feet of the road. The scenery was a part of Kansas I hadn’t seen before, though it was hot, the bright colors of the farm and the blueness of the sky made me thankful for that moment because it was so beautiful. Here’s a picture from a blog I found that is along the exact trail I ran:

But it was so hot–that was the stinker! There were no mile markers, I had no idea how far I had ran or how long I had left to go, and the trail was a straightaway with no changing scenery until we came upon some houses and I knew I had to be getting closer to town. Hands down the hardest 4.7 miles of my life!

Eventually I saw a familiar face– one of my teammates! He had a beer in hand and told me the finish line was right around the corner, and he booked it with me, beer in hand, to the finish! A few other teammates joined for a few strides to cheer me to the finish line.

Oh and that skirt…that’s the first and last time I’ll ever be wearing that thing to run it. Yes it’s cute, but the WORST for running in; I wanted to rip it off no less than 5 times during my leg of the race.

That’s beside the point, but we finished! I have no idea how long it took, but I would do this race again in a heartbeat. I’m so glad I joined the Punky Brewsters, it reminded me how much fun it’s possible to have while doing a run, I loved it! I’m really already looking forward to next year–I’d love to make this race an annual thing!

Life is short, when given an opportunity it is best to just go for it and enjoy every minute!

I also inadvertently got a head start on my summer tan…clearly not enough sunscreen could have saved me. Boo. Ya.

Have a good Monday my friends, also…here’s to hoping the Hawks win it all tonight!


Dumping In

Yes, you read that right! I’m not dropping in, I’m dumping in because I haven’t posted in what seems like forever. Let’s see if I can remember what all has happened!

First, last Thursday was my awesome mom’s birthday!

Upon her return from vacation in Colorado, I made her a super delicious chocolate cake from scratch with cream cheese frosting (her request), and crushed up mint Oreos on the sides. Boxed chocolate cake will never stand a chance in my family again after this masterpiece!

It’s a good thing that I can bake because I am sure not a good photographer. It’s also a good thing that I run because if not, I would stay home baking and eating my life away.

My St. Patrick’s day began with a 12-mile run with my friend Jen, remember her from Tulsa?

She is like the sweetest girl ever and is running her first half marathon in 3.5 weeks! I would be lying if I said the run didn’t get my out of my comfort zone…for once I didn’t map out the course, didn’t know where we were going, and had no clue of what our course would be like, Jen did all the steering for this one! The hills made me a little mad and I think it’s just because I wasn’t mentally prepared for them, and where we ran was hillllllly. BUT it was good for me to have a challenge and take the backseat for a change.

After that I spent the rest of the day in downtown Kansas City with some awesome friends and Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. Lots of people don’t know that I am huge country fan and needless to say I was in heaven at the concert. Sighhhhhh. Plus, Luke and Jason are two artists who sound better live than on recordings in my opinion, which is rare and totally great to find!

It was sold out, loud, and SO MUCH FUN!

Sunday was back to real life which included some rest, because Saturday night at the concert I was yawning at 10:30pm, and Sunday night was IN bed around 10pm, which is relatively early for me. Good thing I got some rest though because Monday I had the best run everrrrrr!

Well, best run to date everrrrrrr! I was up at 5:30am (unusual for me), and decided to hit the treadmill at the gym for a speed session. I wasn’t sure how my legs would do after two back to back double digit runs (again, unusual for me) but wanted to give it a go anyways! I didn’t have an exact plan for the run, except that I wanted to listen to my body and run at a slightly uncomfortable fast pace. I did a two mile warm-up at a 10:30 pace, then started creeping the speed up. I held miles 3-5 at a 9:30-9:40 pace, and ran the last half mile at an 8:34 pace which is something I have NEVER done before.

This is silly, but it bothered me a little that I could see the upper half of my reflection in the window because I was getting really self conscious about my stride and form, worrying that it looked bad or off, but just kept along. The last half mile I took out one of my earbuds from my iPod to listen to my breathing and I could really feel my heart rate being pushed, and my breathing was hard to control. I completed 5.5 miles, and after my cool down as I was leaving, a lady who had been lifting (and watching me apparently) asked how far I went. I told her, then she told me that I have an awesome gait and running form, and that she could tell I was a runner! I cannot express how stinking happy this made me, because that whole time I was worrying about looking stupid and have worked so hard on my form over time to make it the best I can. We talked for a while and I made a new friend! Leslie, you have no idea how stupidly happy your compliment made me!

I hope that you are having a great week of workouts so far! I’m looking forward to another weekend of back to back double digit runs and maybe even getting to run in the rain! The half marathon madness begins in 3.5 weeks and here’s to getting faster! Have a FANTASTIC week!

Life is Good

Last week I was riding on the marathon high through the end of the week, which I didn’t get after Route 66, but I loved it. My heart has been so touched by all of the amazing, kind, and encouraging words I have gotten from so many people. YOU all are awesome!

Usually it is recommended that runners take one day off per mile of whatever distance raced, so three weeks to 26 days off of hard running after a marathon. Last week I took Monday completely off, and went for a 2-mile shake out jog with a friend on my favorite trails. By Wednesday my pain had subsided for the most part even though my legs felt a little tired. On Thursday morning I met a friend at the gym and was able to get in a 6 mile speed session before 7am, which I’d call a success!

I’m not sure what it is, but I just haven’t been able to sit still! Even though I’m not running a marathon again until September, I really do want to make relatively high mileage weeks a regular thing for me to help build my endurance and speed, essentially making it a ‘normal’ thing for me. The fitness level I am currently at is something I have worked hard to build up and absolutely do not want to (and will not) let go down the crapper.

My desire to workout recently has been more intense than I have ever had in my life, I have seriously been looking for excuses to run, sometimes even twice a day! The rest of my off week last week also included some cross training, walking and Zumba!

On Saturday I got to volunteer at a race instead of running it! The local St. Patrick’s Day Run (always a week before St. Patrick’s day!) was the first race I volunteered at two years ago, just a month before my first race. I wanted to see what this race atmosphere was all about back in 2010, and last year I ran in this race, but didn’t want to run this year so I lent my helping hands.

I love everything running and volunteering made me appreciate all the hard work people put into races even more than I did before! Even if you aren’t a runner, you can still give your time to your local running community because I can assure you, there is no such thing as too many volunteers! It took a small village to put on this race, and I can’t imagine how many volunteer hours it takes to put into a marathon!

There is now only a month until my first of four half marathons for April-May and this week is when I’ll really start focusing on more speed work in the weeks leading up to Rock the Parkway. Since this week is also my spring break (which is a joke since my class that requires the most time is online…), I’ll actually have time to invest in making a solid speed plan. Ultimately, I just want to get my body used to running shorter distances at a faster pace that I know I can maintain.

I almost forgot to mention…if you ever want an awesome workout, go pole dancing. Yes it sounds raunchy and possibly a bit inappropriate, but this past Saturday we finally made it to a pole dancing class for my best friend’s belated birthday celebration!

Pole Worx is near the West Bottoms in Kansas City and it’s a fitness studio offering pole dancing, chair dancing, Balates (ballet+Pilates) plus many other classes only for women! You can also book birthday, bachelorette, etc. parties; there were five of us and we each paid $20 for an hour long class which proved to be a good deal!

Our instructor wasn’t necessarily a great instructor, but it was obvious she had been dancing for a long time and definitely knew her stuff. Or maybe it was just that none of us were very good on the pole? Regardless, we had a ton of fun. We learned different spins such as the ‘firefighter,’ ‘martini,’ and ‘the Demi Moore.’ Oh and how to go upside down which is a whole different story.

Aleeza was pretty much a natural.

Also, it’s Monday and I’ve gotten more sore over time since we took this class Saturday night. I now have a huge respect for women who can do this type of dancing because the physical fitness, poise, and grace to do something like this and do it well takes a lot of hard work. My legs and knees are bruised from falling, I can’t lift my arms over my head because they’re so sore, my abs are sore, and there are muscles in my quads that I didn’t know existed. It was my kind of workout.

Thank goodness we didn’t dance in those shoes, because I’m positive that would have resulted in a trip to the emergency room.

No more pole dancing for me this week though, I’m sticking to running and Zumba. Oh and shopping. That counts as a workout, right??

This post was all over the place, as is my brain. Forgive me and have a FANTASTIC Monday!!!



How to Not Pack for a Marathon

I had this great idea yesterday that I would make a helpful post on how exactly how to pack for a race. Since I am the worst packer in the world, I am writing this post on how to successfully not pack for a marathon, because that is what I am currently not doing.

First, when you get home from work, don’t do anything. Sit back on your couch, listen to Pandora, organize your iCal, and muddle around on Pinterest.

Next, take your clean laundry out of the dryer and throw it in a pile on your bed. Don’t fold it. That’s a bit overreaching, don’t you think? Just let it sit there.

Okay now would be a good time to whip out that packing list you made, and start finding the random stuff you need to pack, but don’t actually pack any of it.

As soon as you start getting stuff out, arrange for your best friend to show up to your house and go get frozen yogurt.

Sorry, Aleeza.

Messy hair and no makeup are ideal for froyo outings. If you want the best froyo, go to Yogurtini. If you don’t go to Yogurtini or Yogurtland, you might as well not go.

Proceed to sit around and laugh and talk until it is near closing time, then decide it might be a good idea to finally go home.

This my friends, is how to not pack for a marathon. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up throwing all your crap in a bag about ten minutes before you go to sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I’m getting tired. I hope I don’t forget to pack my sports bra.

Jump Around!

Guess who can jump pain-free?? Yup, this girl!

As I mentioned, every morning this past week I have been giving myself the ‘jump test’: if I could jump up and down without feeling any pain, that would be the sign that I would let myself run that day. Yesterday I had high hopes for passing the test as soon as my feet hit the floor, but that’s not exactly how it went. I waited and hung around a while after waking up, then later in the morning (after hearing about many of my friends’ awesome runs), I decided to jump again. The only pain I really felt was from my incisions which have been bugging me all week, so I gave myself permission to try and run. The deal was, that if I felt ANY bit of pain at all related to my intestines/gallbladder removal/kidneys (yes…I can feel this kind of stuff!) that I would turn around and go home.

First, it was so awesome suiting up in my running clothes again…to actually run in. I felt like I was back at home in my sports bra, running skirt, workout top, arm sleeves and ear warmers. I was also taken back to what it felt like when I first started running–WEIRD! My legs didn’t quite remember what they were supposed to do!

I started the run in a slow shuffle, nearly tripping due to my great shuffling skills. My hips were like, ‘Whattttt?’ Yes, I felt discomfort, but because I hadn’t run in 11 days. It was also chilly and I forgot how to breathe and I wish I was kidding. The first three miles were spent alternating between not breathing, gasping for air, and trying a breathing technique that made me sound like I was with child in labor. Note: when running, breathe in your nose and out your mouth, in a slow, controlled fashion. Just make sure you actually remember to breathe, unlike some people.

Eventually, my body remembered how to run, yet I felt like the entire time it was yelling at me, “Whyyyyyyyy?!?!?! OH the agony!!!!” Ha. I am half kidding and would be a liar if I said completing those five miles was easy peasy. BUT despite the discomfort, it was so worth it. Afterwards I felt amazing, sore, happy, and like myself again. I have mentioned it before, but I feel most like myself when I run; it’s hard to explain but sometimes the best things in life are things you can’t explain with words.

On Thursday I saw one of my doctors regarding my kidney infection (which my body is still fighting, according to my white blood cell count) and though she knows me all too well, slightly scolded me for going on a walk and bike ride. After explaining that I was near going insane from lack of activity and fresh air, she forgave me. We chatted more, she looked at my incisions, chatted some more (she’s a fellow runner), then came the moment of truth. I asked, “Well………………..what about Little Rock?”

I am not stupid and if my doctor told me I could risk serious complications from running a marathon 18 days after surgery and 15 days after getting a kidney infection, I probably wouldn’t run it. I would rather run 100 marathons later in life than run 1 marathon right now and get myself in deep health trouble for who knows how long.

The verdict is in……and I’m cleared! There are conditions to this agreement from my doctor though and these are the rules:

  • take this week VERY easy
  • finish my antibiotic for the kidney infection
  • stay well hydrated all week, basically just drink water from dusk til dawn
  • take lots of potty breaks on the way down to Little Rock
  • stop at every water station along the course to hydrate (I do this anyways)

After finding this all out, I honestly think I am happier and more excited to be running this marathon than I was my first one. It probably has something to do with that ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ kind of things. Not being able to run made me love it even more, is that possible??

I am not expecting to be able to pull out a PR next Sunday or anything like that, but I am totally dedicating this race to being thankful. Thankful to be alive, healthy, running, and loving life. That is all this race is going to be about and I am going to love every minute of it.

This week is going to be great– I’m SO looking forward to getting back in the groove of things. Monday I’ll be doing an easy-paced 45 minute run with a pal training for his first half marathon (!!!!), Tuesday will be ZUMBA, Wednesday I hope to do 3-4 miles, and Friday will be an easy 2-3. Heeding my doctor’s advice though, if I have any pain/discomfort/problems I solemnly swear to lay off. Thursday is a rest day and includes another doctor’s visit, and Saturday will be a rest day because we’ll be driving to Little Rock!

Have a great afternoon, friends! See ya later!

PS. I can’t wait to be in this atmosphere again next week!!!