Let’s Go!

Man am I glad it’s Friday! My week wasn’t absolutely terrible, but parts of it stunk majorly. I am SO happy that today is Friday, because in my mind, Friday = start of the weekend! Except for one thing. I woke up about an hour ago with a sore throat which is not okay. Let’s just say I’ll be drinking gallons of water and taking it relatively easy today, plus I think that a little retail therapy will help this afternoon (I need new shoes for a wedding…definitely important stuff here).

This weekend marks the start of the half marathon madness. Tomorrow, Rock the Parkway is the first of four half marathons that I will be running over the course of the next month. I ran this race last year, and this is the course that I set my current half marathon PR on.

A reader emailed me and asked if I ever got the jitters or nerves before races, and I haven’t lately, but I started getting anxious earlier this week about RTP. I realized this because I haven’t put pressure on myself or had a challenging goal for a race in a long time. The last two half marathons I ran were both in training for my first marathon, and I couldn’t put serious goals on the Little Rock Marathon because it was so close after my surgery, I was just happy to have a properly functioning body.

Fast forward to today. I’ve spent the past month investing in quality long runs, tempo work that left me wanting to puke, and dabbling in 8:34-9:20 minute miles, which for me…is painful in the best way. Then there’s the thing I love about racing longer distances; I have no clue what is in store for tomorrow. I know I’m ready, am praying for no rain tomorrow, and also hoping my sore throat magically goes away.

Lots of mental prep has gone into getting ready for tomorrow. I have somewhat been psyching myself out (ie “It’s only 13.1 miles! Run balls to the wall then you can be done! Pain is only temporary!”) Ha. ha. ha. My nerdiness amuses me so much. But also I’ve been working setting some realistic goals. Last year, I was soclose to breaking 2:20 at this race, but came up a handful of seconds short. In 2011, I ran the Kansas City Half Marathon course nearly 7 minutes faster than I did the first time I ran it (2010), and that is a challenging course. So I figure, if I can shave that chunk of time off of a race I was running for training purposes, then surely I can reach my goals tomorrow. My baseline goal is to break 2:20; I want a half marathon in the 2:teens or lower. My, “I would be floating on cloud nine and the happiest little runner ever” goal is to break 2:15. Tomorrow I will be lining up with the 2:15 pacers and am going to run this race harder than any race I’ve ever ran before. What happens after that…is a mystery to me and I can’t wait to find out how it goes!

All I know is that I’m going to give it my all, every drop of energy and runability that I have. With that, I will be happy.

What are you going to be giving your all to this weekend?

I’ll be reporting back (potentially tomorrow afternoon) with a race recap! The rest of the day I’ll be getting up close and personal with this:

One last thing. Because it’s Friday, here’s a picture of my dog loving life, which we humans need to get better at!

Another Marathon, Another State

If you’ve been reading my blog for any more than three months, you might recall that I made a goal this year to run four marathons in four different states. I already checked Arkansas off of that list when I ran Little Rock last month (seems like it was forever ago!), and my next marathon wasn’t going to be until September in Omaha.

This is where God cracks me up. When I think I have a plan of action, He’s all like, “Hold up sister! I have a different plan; yes you’re still gonna do your marathons, but here…do it my way instead.” I’m going with it.

In this instance, I have a special friend who’s best friend is getting married the weekend of the Omaha marathon in September, and said special friend’s 30th birthday is the day after the marathon–so it wasn’t going to happen, per request of the special friend. I made him a deal. I go to the wedding, he goes with me to a marathon.

I’ve known this for nearly a month now and have been scouring Runner’s World and Marathon Guide for a new marathon to run in place of Omaha. A few caught my eye, but I had a pretty tight criteria this time for potential races:

  • Distance: the race had to be within reasonable driving distance (no more than a 10 hour commute)
  • Location: if it was a summer marathon, I would travel anywhere north of Kansas, no where south
  • Date: I wanted a race in September, but that didn’t happen…
  • Budget: the race couldn’t break my wallet (read: no Rock ‘n Roll races with $110+ entry fees)

Basically, I searched a lot, from hotel availabilities, to races, locations, you name it. A race caught my eye up in Minnesota, the Med City Marathon, and I thought on it, but passed. It is on Memorial Weekend which is now right around eight weeks away and wasn’t sure I’d want to do a marathon after this slew of halfs I’m doing over the next five weeks.

Let me take you to Wednesday morning. It was 6:30am and I didn’t want to get out of bed yet, so I was checking blogs, the weather, Twitter and finally Facebook. The Med City Marathon posted a status, and this happened:

So Omaha is scratched, and Med City is in. I’m running another marathon in less than two months. I’m running another marathon in less than two months??

Despite how weird, far fetched and near impossible our goals can sometimes seem, makes them all the more amazing when God pulls em through for you. Then He’s like, “Here, take just a little more, I want you to have the best. These dreams are going to happen…show it off a little bit!” Because I’ve also found a trail marathon in Wisconsin in September that would be the perfect final long training run before Chicago. So maybe five marathons in five states this year? Who knows.

All I know is that I’m totally loving this life and rocking out to it; how life should be lived…full and blessed.

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!

Source

Not Created Equal

This is a quick post, but I had to get it out. Not all runs are created equal. No matter if you have been running for 5 weeks or 15 years, you’re gonna have some runs that aren’t so great.

Lately, all of my runs have been awesome, whether they are 5 or 15 miles, and it’s been great, so it was basically due my time for a less than stellar run. This morning when I woke up to run it was thundering and there was a chance of storms, so I moved my 10-miler to the treadmill at the gym. I’ve had no problem long running it on the treadmill in the past, but today was different.

Let me vent:

  • The gym was hotter than normal, talking like 75 degrees inside with no fans or vents on at all (I use the same treadmill every time because there is always a vent that spews cool air periodically). Nope. Not today sucker!
  • I was dripping sweat two miles in and the first two miles felt like I had been running for an hour.
  • I could not establish a groove for the life of me, the whole first half of the run I was trying to ‘get in it’ and it just wasn’t happening.
  • Mentally, I wanted to give up. I probably tried talking myself out of the second half of the run at least three times. Excuses, I was trying to excuse myself. Honestly though, it was mentally TOUGH, and I have no clue why.
  • My legs were feeling dead, pooping out on me, and not wanting to cooperate.
  • Acid reflux. Last night I covered my grilled chicken in Sriracha which was a great idea at the time, but this morning for miles 0-5.65 I was burping like nobody’s business, and everything after mile 5.66 I was trying to not puke.

That is my vent and end of crappy attitude for the day. I’m glad I finished, nothing worth having comes easily, if it was easy then everyone else would be doing it, I’m stronger because of it, enter every motivational quote or saying you can find.

Basically, sometimes things just suck, but that doesn’t mean you give up or quit. Too often it’s easy to throw in the towel because ‘it’s harrrrrrd’ wah wah wah. Take some cheese with your wine and go sit in the corner sulking because something was hard. See how far you get with that. In times like these you’ve just gotta put on your big girl panties and muscle through it, and make yourself awesome.

Have a good Thursday friends, and go water your own grass.

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!

Believe In Yourself

This is something that I feel is said a lot, but often times people who say it don’t actually get it, if you know what I mean.

Growing up, kids are told that they can do anything they set their mind to. Parents, grandparents, teachers, any adult will tell a kid they can do anything they want, but what happens when that kid grows up and experiences some of life and it’s realities, is it still possible to do anything their heart desires?

Of course it is. But how? You have to convince yourself first.

Today I went on a 10-mile run with a friend, who was running his first double-digit distance ever, and four miles farther than his previous personal distance record of 6 miles. He’s training for his first half marathon next month and we made the plans to do this run together because I knew that it would be a challenge.

For me, it was an experience because I had to mentally prepare on his behalf, thinking back to the days where anything more than four miles was scary, and put myself in his shoes so I could keep his spirits up during this seemingly daunting task. He reminded me of how badly we can get into our own heads and how our mentalities can tear us down because we let them do so too easily. It took a constant flow of motivation and reminding him that he COULD complete this run and that he was strong and capable enough to do work on that run.

This got me to thinking of why people don’t chase after their dreams with all they have, and how much fear is able to hold people back from accomplishing anything they desire. It is way too easy and excusable to welcome defeat with open arms and settle. Just settle. Settle down, get comfortable, and brush those ambitions under the rug because they weren’t easy to attain.

I for one, know that our minds are the most powerful things in the world and we can be our own worst enemy or our own biggest fans simply by what thoughts we allow to flood our minds. My friend here that I was running with, would mention how hard the run is, when it was still early on. I had to cut him off right there–I knew that just by him speaking out that this run would be difficult, it would be difficult because he was telling himself it was. We can convince ourselves up and down of anything we want, be it positive or negative. This really motivated me to keep the positive words flowing because I knew that if he was mentally convinced he could run ten miles, then he’d be able to.

He just had to believe.

It’s taken a lot of work on my part to make the choice to think positively, not only with running but in a vast majority of life situations. I have had so many runs where I would develop a poor attitude, thoughts, and feelings about myself and would have to snap myself out of it because when you’re feeling that pathetic, it doesn’t help you at all when you’ve gotta be with your own bad attitude for miles on end.

If I didn’t learn to make the choice to think positively, there is no way on God’s green earth that I would have been able to run a couple of marathons, and handfuls of half marathons. There’s no way I would be dreaming of running a marathon in every state, wanting to raise money for charities, and get my story out for other to hear so that just maybe, just maybe, I could impact a few lives.

It’s all in our heads, and all you have to do is believe in yourself. Convince yourself of your success, and very soon, your success will be staring you right in the face and taking you places you never dreamed possible.

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!!!