Project Iron Mommy: Month 13
Miles Run: 659.62
Longest Run: 20 Miles

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

This Road is Anything but Simple

You Tube video for Kate Voegele's "Lift Me Up"

Every time I listen to the song "Lift Me Up" by Kate Voegele, and I've listened to it a ton this summer, I feel moved-really moved to the point of tears- over the lessons I've learned and burdens I've carried this summer.  What a cliche!  This is, thankfully, a burden I chose to bear.  This is what I like to call good stress.  So many of us, even just among my growing circle of friends in Facebook-land, are dealing with real stress.  You know what I'm talking about, stress about things you haven't chosen.  Stress over health.  Stress over money.  Stress over family problems.  Stress over school, jobs, addiction, housing.  These are all really big issues.  Running a marathon is not something to overcome in relation to what some of you are dealing with and I'm so thankful that my stress is truly good stress.

That said, these words speak right to my heart.  

This road is anything but simple
Twisted like a riddle I've seen high and I've seen low
So loud, the voices of all my doubts
Telling me to give up, to pack up and leave town

Even so, I had to believe
Impossible means nothing to me

So LOUD, these voices of all my doubts!  So loud that sometimes I've cried, sometimes I've laughed and so many times I have just quit (see my previous blog for that list...).  I think as we get older we should somehow be growing the confidence to doubt less, but unfortunately my ability to doubt myself remains strong.  Once again, I have to thank the faith and confidence of my husband.  As I told him over dinner after my last long run, without his whip-cracking on my back side (metaphorically speaking here) and my mom and grandma praying their butts off (again... metaphorically), I would NOT be packing my bag (and my kids bags) for Minnesota right now.  I know how hard Sunday will be for me, but it won't be a cake walk for Tom with two kids to tote all around the Twin Cities through potty stops, snack breaks and deep into nap time.  My gratitude is endless and I WILL be crying when I see them at the finish line, no doubt in my mind.  Neither my parents or my grandmother will be physically in Minnesota but they will still be with me... the image of my mom running along the sidewalk as I ran through the starting corrals and crowds of the Detroit Marathon is still precious and clear in my recent memories.  

My running mantra of the last few long runs became Kate's "Impossible means nothing to me".  I certainly haven't always believed it, perhaps not even when I clicked the button for the marathon's online registration.  It was only money, after all.  No one would have blamed me had I quit.  Except myself.  And my husband (relentless, that guy!).  I knew I wanted it.  I just didn't know if I'd get there, and that scared me all summer.  What if I put all this work into my training, all this time away from my family on the weekends and still failed to cross the finish line?  Or worse, failed to even start?  The further along in my summer, each time I resolved to keep running after quitting, I got closer to the start line.   I ran a 30k, almost 18 miles of hills in the hot and had fun.  It was that day I gave myself the permission to really believe that I could start (and finish) this marathon.  I finally began to see the "light on up the hall".  

Cause I have overcome
More than words will ever say
And I've been given hope
That there's a light on up the hall
And that a day will come
When the fight is won
And I think that day has just begun

And now, here I am.  Today is Wednesday.  Tomorrow I'll pack all our bags.  Friday we'll get on a plane and then share a meal with a bunch of dear friends I haven't seen in years.  Saturday I'll pick up my race number and maybe (God willing) cheer Oren during his very first road race (wouldn't that be something?!).  And then it will be Sunday.  Race Day.  Race day!  

So can you lift me up,
Turn the ashes into flames
Cause I have overcome
More than words will ever say
And I've been given hope
That there's a light on up the hall
And that a day will come
When the fight is won
And I think that day has just begun

So, I feel amazing.  Scared, anxious, excited but more than anything ready.  I know I will run on Sunday.  I will see friends, a beautiful sky overhead, gorgeous leaves on the tress, and thousands of people cheering for us (for me!).  It is going to be a great day and I can't wait to celebrate.  With lots of gratitude.  I didn't reach the goals I'd created for myself last August, but I'm okay with that.  On Sunday I will run a marathon.  I'm a mom of two little people with a husband traveling every (darn) week and sometimes don't get anything to drink before lunch time or a shower for days but I somehow managed (with a lot of help) to find the time, the energy and the determination to train for a marathon.  Wow.

If you remember to, please do lift me up- in prayer, through meditation, online on Facebook or email.  I would so enjoy hearing your cheers and I will carry them with me.  When things get ugly (and I know they will), I will be so thankful to feel your love and support.  Thanks to all of you!  Photos and recap to come, I'm sure.  Cheers!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

An Expert Quitter

I post obsessively on Facebook so everyone I know knows that I'm almost to my marathon race day.  Because I haven't kept up with my blog, everyone has been spared most of the nitty gritty.  I know enough of my challenges have probably been pretty clear to friends reading my status updates, but just to be perfectly clear- this marathon training thing has been hard.  I would love to say I kept plugging away with determination and knew that if I kept going, I'd be just fine.  That would be such an enormous lie, though!  I can't even say that I got frustrated and wanted to quit.  The truth is that I spent my summer quitting the race.  I quit so many time I can't even remember to share with you.  How many times have I quit?  Maybe I can add it up:

How many weeks did my husband travel this summer?  (Nine in June, July & August)
How many weeks did I spend out of the state with my kids? (Four with trips to IL, WI, IN, and WA)
How many days did we spend with day time temperatures over 85?  (All of them??)
How many week nights did I spend running more than an hour in the dark after leaving my kids with a babysitter for bedtime?  (at least four)
How many mornings did I fail to wake up early in order to take advantage of the cool temperature and the sleeping kids and thus end up running in the heat of the afternoon during nap time? (Oh, so many)
How many runs did I spend asking myself what in the world I'd been thinking to take this on and I need to do this run plus X more miles to even consider toeing the line for a REAL LIVE MARATHON?!  (You really don't want to know).  

Yes, it has been a summer full of quitting.  

But amazingly, miraculously and surprisingly to me- here I am.  THREE WEEKS from standing at the start line at my second marathon, my first since moving to Michigan, getting married, having two children and becoming a stay at home mom.  So in other words, my first this life time with this body.  Unbelievable.  

And yet, I must believe it because I'm getting excited.  And thankful.  

I am so tearfully thankful for not quitting, for real.  And I can take very little credit for that wonder.  That credit goes to my coach, my husband.  My husband's Hawaiian "don't sweat the small stuff" attitude took my excuses, my whining, my doubt and chucked them straight out the window.  He didn't feel sorry for me, he told me to do something.  Go run.  Get a babysitter.  Get up earlier.  Take the car.  Call a Grandma.  Run with friends.  Get out the door.  Leave him the kids.  Just go, go, GO.  Go.  Run.  

I could NOT be a marathoner without this kind of patience and love in my life.  I am an expert quitter.  Thankfully, my husband knows this and knows that eventually, I will even quit on quitting.  He also knew I could (and would) do this.  Thank goodness I have him to remind me.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Race Week!

Miles Run Today: 3

Wow! Mara is nine months old and I am ready to run a half marathon! It took me five months longer to get here than it did after I had Oren. However, I have put in many more miles (my longest long run prior to my first half marathon after having Oren - get all that? - was only 8 miles) and I also now have TWO kids. Whatever, I'm ready for this! I'm so excited! A half marathon is such a great distance- it is a major undertaking but it doesn't take over your entire life and wreck your body the way a marathon does (yay for this fall, right?!). I've done this so many times I feel like I could do it in my sleep- except- coming from nada, as I did this time, definitely required me to to train. And I have, I have! Granted, I did only get in three runs a week and zippo for cross training. BUT- I didn't miss a single mile of my long runs. NOT a single mile. This is where it is at. Nine months, 289.95 miles, and one lost Apple Shuffle later, I know I can finish this run on Saturday. Not a worry in my head (of course, people, there are always freak accidents and tornadoes and popped knee caps or whatever, yes I understand). I'm just really looking forward to it! Rock and roll!

(Yikes! When I finish I will officially need to consider my training plan for my marathon! EEEEk! Okay, let's put that off another week, shall we?)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Everything Done but the Hard Stuff

"Eighteen Days till the Invasion" proclaims the Running Fit store status update today- referring to the nearing date of the Martian Marathon and my upcoming Martian Half Marathon. Eighteen days to go! All I have left is an eleven mile run, a twelve mile run and all those other runs that I am supposed to be doing but sometimes skip.

Our March has lived up to its sports world nickname- it has been sheer madness. I will spare you any more details than what many of you have endured in my facebook update stream, but thank goodness the weather has been mostly delicious and kind to us. Somewhere between a stressful road trip (but quality time with family), a flooded basement, a first tooth, and toddler allergies I have still managed to keep up with my training. I've given up the hope of cross training (besides baby juggling, toddler dancing, dog walking and stroller pushing, that is) and have focused on getting in my bare minimum of three runs a week. Yes, the plan was for four. So far, I've only attained that once. But I've gotten three in every single week. And, I haven't missed a mile of a long run. I know I can do this race on this training, even though I'd like it to have been more solid. My knees are hanging in there. I know I will have to get more serious for the next round of training, but for now I am pretty satisfied with my training.

I'm cruising right along and not really thinking about my marathon training at all. I do need to start thinking about it soon, but now that I'm signed up I have relaxed a little and am just thinking about the first thirteen (point one!). I haven't even thought past April to think about what other events I'd like to train for and I still haven't put my bike together, so I have no idea whether I'll get to that century ride or not. I'm not stressing it right this second. I've got way too many other things to worry about.

Before I know it, I'll be on mile thirteen! "Yahoo!", as we say around here...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Embracing the Crazy (26.2!)

Miles Run Today: 7

Seven! Seven miles checked off my training plan on the way to my first half-marathon since having Mara (seven and a half months ago). Today's run was really fantastic. Nothing remarkable, just three and a half windy, hilly miles out from my house and three and a half less windy but just as hilly miles back (you know it is windy when you're thankful for the hills!). I've somewhat accepted the fact that I'm still skating by with the bare minimum of workouts- three runs a week and no cross training- but my legs feel strong. I feel strong. Each run reminds me what I often forget: the more I run, the better I feel. I spend most of the day distracted by needs and kids and tired and lists and the rest of the crazy but when I hit the last mile of my run (regardless of how long I've been out there), I'm calm, focused and feel like I can do anything.

Even a marathon!

It is my version of the "runner's high". This is one of the reasons I run. Running, for me, is definitely something I choose to do. It doesn't come naturally, nor is there an easy spot to fit it into my daily or weekly schedule. A marathon? A marathon will not fit into my schedule or our lives... at all. But I think I'm going to do it anyway. Simply, running one of the few things in my life that is both a challenge and enjoyable.

Here's what I mean. There are many things in my life that have come naturally to me and I've been relatively successful with without much work (or a lot less than others had to put in):

Piano (2nd grade)
Swimming (Elementary School)
French Horn (5th grade- high school)
Public Speaking (as far back as I can remember)
Foreign Languages (middle school)

There are other things that in order to succeed at, I would have had to put in a lot of work and I just didn't want them badly enough. There were others around me who were clearly both working harder and much more naturally gifted. Therefore I gave up the pursuit:

Math (3rd grade, middle school, high school, & as an adult)
French Horn (college)
Finding a teaching job (post-graduate)

Running, for me, is about the only hobby or skill that I have tried and kept doing that I'm not naturally good at, am clearly worse at than many, many other normal people (non-super athletes), must therefore work at regularly (practice) to see minor improvement and yet still pursue. A marathon? I cannot do a marathon without working on running A LOT. I will definitely fail if I don't "practice". And unlike many other things- that makes me want to do it. It's a little odd, I admit, but I'm really turned on by the challenge. Even though in all relative terms I am NOT great at running, and maybe because I am not great at running, I am totally addicted to seeing what my body can do (anyway) if I keep at it. Can this thirty four year old body that has carried and nursed two babies since my last marathon really train for and complete another? I don't know! But, I think so and how amazing if it could! I want to find out!

So, yes, I think I will. I know, it is crazy. But I embrace the craziness of it. The crazy makes it interesting. I'm going to do this thing.

I'm scheming. I'm sure you're interested in my plan. I'll leave that for another post. But I am excited and I'll leave you with that. I'm heading (right now!) to register for the Twin Cities Marathon. Wow. Ok, really. Right now (Roar!).

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Shut Up And Run

Miles Run Today: 4

I'll be running this weekend for Sherry Arnold, you can join me if you'd like.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hovering Over the "Submit" Key

I'm extremely tempted to register for the 2012 Twin Cities Marathon (October 7). Registration opened yesterday! If I'm going to do it I need to commit right now. Which is a problem since I'd really like to do the race but am not quite ready to commit to a marathon today.

I have talked myself in and out of this race about twenty times this month. I would definitely like to do the TC Marathon some day. For one, the race gets rave reviews from everyone who's run it on everything from the organization to the course. More significantly, since I went to college in Minnesota there is a large group of dear friends who live there (and who I don't see for very long stretches of time). It would be terrific to not only hang out with them during the weekend but also introduce my new little girl to them. And on top of that fun, I could look for some of my favorite people out on the course cheering for me (and probably at least one friend who will also be running the race!). It would be an extremely special weekend.

On the flip side- EEK - my longest run is at five miles this weekend! I have no idea if I can pull this off! And even in my moments of enthusiasm ("fire in the belly" as my husband puts it) when I decide I can commit to the training, I choke recalling the memory of 3+ hour training runs at the crack of dawn (to beat the summer heat) as I geared up for the Detroit Marathon in 2006. How am I going to pull this off?

And even if I could pull it off, the most critical questions remain: Do I want to pull this off? Should I want to pull this off? When weighing extreme commitment to a hobby (because when I step away from the "I have to ___" intense moments of training, that really is what this is) versus the rest of my life (mainly husband and kids), at what point am I being too selfish? I don't have to train for a marathon to be in shape. I could probably be quite satisfied with training for shorter races. Why is this particular distance so tantalizing, especially when it would require so much of my time and energy at a time in my life when I don't have much to spare?

I'm not quite sure. I think partly it is because it is something within the realm of the possibility for me yet also something that I may fail at if I don't really work. In all honesty, based on my experience training in 2006, I'd give myself a 60% shot of actually toeing the line if I signed up for a fall marathon right this second.

Back to the questions above, though. When I raced my half ironman in September 2010, Oren was fifteen months old. When I started my intense training period, I was out of work for summer vacation and (with Tom's support, both emotionally and financially) Oren went to day care for two full days each week even though I wasn't working so that I could get my longest bike ride and runs in. It was such a luxury, such a gift from my husband to be able to do that. And at the same time, it makes me cringe with guilt: what kind of mother am I that I will put my son in daycare so I can go run and bike? Was it amazing to have that time to go out and challenge myself? Yes. Was it embarrassing to answer a call from day care letting me know that my son had thrown up while I was on my bike? ("Sorry, its going to be at least an hour, I'm still twenty miles from my car...") Yes. My whole family would sacrifice to get me to the finish line of a marathon- this time with an additional little person.

I remember my longest run while training for Detroit- I was living in Indianapolis with my parents that summer. I was lucky enough to be using the Monon Trail there for training- miles and miles of former train track. I could just run and run and run. It was amazing. Ten miles straight out of Carmel, where my parents live, almost all the way to downtown Indianapolis I finally paused and turned around. That's when it occured to me I still had to run ten miles all the way back home. And I was out of things to think about. I doubted myself and my use of time then... there were plenty of other things I could have been doing (at the time, it was wedding planning) but instead I was still running. What is that going to be like when there are people I could be with instead of just things I could be doing? I really don't know.

Can I do it again?

I don't know.

But I kind of want to...