Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What I'm thinking about this morning...

When I stepped outside this morning and felt the cool breeze and the slightly humid air, I was immediately overcome by a memory. For some reason, the feel and smell of the air reminded me of a trip I took last January with my mom to Sanibel, Florida. Getting up before the sun to run on the beach, collecting sea shells, the smell of the ocean, blueberry pancakes, and a distinct sense of renewal. This memory brought a smile to my face and will be my private (although, not so much anymore...) source of happiness and calm for the rest of the day.

What's your happy thought today?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Race Recap

I was planning to wait until my regular Thursday post to recap the race but I decided to do it NOW instead!

It all began Saturday with a Peeps caravan from Lincoln to Des Moines, IA...

Before I go any further, I have to explain to the blog world who the Peeps are... We are a group of runners who were in the "Very Beginning" training group for the Lincoln YMCA Marathon (or 1/2 Marathon) Class. We trained together, ate together, raced together, and have become great friends since January. We support each other when we're struggling or when we're injured, and we celebrate together when we have successes. We have added a couple of Peeps, and have a few "honorary Peeps" (spouses/significant others of full-fledged Peeps) since the group began, but the group comaraderie has remained the same. We are called "the Peeps" because Meghan (one of the group members) called us "her peeps" - you know, like "people" - and it became a running joke which just turned into a group name!

Phew. Ok. So, anyway... Saturday: Peeps caravan to Des Moines, followed by a quick trip to the race expo to pick up our race numbers and shirts and check out some of the clothing and gear vendors. Next, a few in the group went to church, some went to drive the race route, and I went back to the hotel room to get some rest. Later, we all went for a nice, relaxing pre-race dinner, then back to the hotel for a good night's sleep!

Sunday morning we were up bright and early for a little bit of fuel and a little bit of coffee. Luckily, our hotel was only a few blocks from the starting line, so we could walk down, use the bathroom at the YMCA, take a few pictures and get lined up in time for the race to start. Kaila and Rick were on their bikes and needed to take off to get to their first support spot (they were AWESOME! riding around, cheering, taking pictures, and generally providing moral support) and Jean was planning on a faster race, so we hugged it out, wished each other luck and went to our separate starting spots. Aaron planned to stay with us for the first mile or so, so he lined up with the rest of us. Once the race started, he stuck with us for about a quarter of a mile before he waved at me and took off! : )

My strategy going into the run was to take the first few miles nice and easy, then if I felt ok, pick it up. I did take the first four miles pretty easy, but I wasn't quite feeling the pace. I saw Beth (she was my very first running partner when I started back in 2007!) and Tabby about a quarter of a mile ahead, looked over and saw the 4 mile marker and thought, "This was in my plan, so I guess it's time to go!" I kept my eye on Beth's blue vest and set out to catch up to the two of them. Running through a gorgeous park, music in ears and loving every minute of what I was doing, I slowly but surely made my way up. We ran about four miles into a park, around a lake, then back out of the park where we spotted Rick and Kaila for the third time. Then it was into another park and over a bridge (pictured above) with the city on one side and lots of fall foliage on the other. With the light shining off of the lake, it was one of the prettiest sites I've seen in any race. Beth was really pushing the pace and I was lying most of the time when I said I was feeling good. I stuck with her until about 12.5 miles when I totally hit the wall. At that point, I just kept looking at my watch thinking, "Even if I have to walk to the finish, I'll still be under 2 hours and 30 minutes!" (2:30 was a time I would feel good about -- 5 minutes faster than my time for the Lincoln 1/2.)

FINALLY, I crossed the finish line! And when I looked at my watch, I saw that my time was around 2:26! I found out later that my real time was 2:26:16 -- a new Personal Record by about 9 minutes!!! Aaron, Beth and Lana also PR'd, and everyone else that ran did a great job, as well! After cheering all of the rest of the Peeps across the finish line and loading up on post-race snacks, we headed back to the hotel (up a very long, very cold hill) for some HOT showers! I can't remember a shower feeling that good before...

It was a great weekend for running and a great weekend with friends. I am feeling VERY SORE today, but also very motivated. Sometimes I feel motivated by failure and sometimes by success. This time, it is the feeling of accomplishment that is pushing me forward. I know that if I work hard to keep a good running base (fingers crossed that no injuries crop up this time) and get into better shape before I start training for my next half marathon, I can continue to get faster. I'll keep you posted on my efforts!

Question: What motivates you???

** Pictures:
#1 Aaron, me, Lana, Tabby, Meghan, and Beth before going to the expo on Saturday.
#2 Peeps before the start of the race. (Rick is in the bright yellow jacket, Kaila in blue on the other end.)
#3 Beth (in the blue) and me (in the white) in the middle of mile 9.
#4 The bridge.
#5 Jean, Tanya, Beth, Meghan, me, Aaron, Tabby, and Lana with our finishers' medals!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Two Weekends in Iowa

Right now, I am smack dab in the middle of two back-to-back weekend trips to Iowa. Last Friday, Aaron and I drove about 7 and a half hours to Waukon, which is in the Northeast corner of the state, so that I could be in one of my very best friend's wedding. Lacey (pictured, along with her new husband and me, playing the air fiddle to "The Devil Went Down to Georgia") was my roommate when I lived in Hastings a few years ago. We had some crazy times together and stood by each other during some rough spots. Even though we don't get to see each other very often anymore, she is still one of the best friends I've ever had. I wish her happiness in her new life with Matt.
Alamakee County, Iowa is a beautiful place - especially, I suspect, in the fall. We drove over hills and through valleys covered with trees of all colors. We went through cute little towns and over winding rivers. The park, where the wedding party took pictures on Saturday, was beautiful, too, except for the fact that we were in strapless dresses in 35 degree weather. Brrrr!!! Not to worry, though, I'm sure the photographer can photoshop the blue lips! After a whirlwind Saturday, full of hair appointments, pictures, wedding, reception, pie, and dancing, we headed back to the great state of Nebraska.
And ... I woke up Monday morning with the flu, which still hasn't gone away, and which I'm still trying to convince myself isn't the H1N1 (I'm almost positive it's NOT). This is very inconvenient because it puts a bit of a damper on the upcoming Iowa weekend... I have plans to run the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon on Sunday. I've been taking good care of myself, I think, with lots of rest (I stayed home all day Monday and since then have been leaving the house only to go to class, then come straight home again), lots of fluids, soup, etc. The thing I'm unsure about is what to eat... I sent a blog post from the No Meat Athlete (a marathon runner who just qualified for Boston) to all of my Des Moines-running Peeps, which said that you're supposed to eat a little less fat and a few more healthy carbs the whole week before the race. I have been eating less fat, I think, but doubt I've been eating more carbs, or food in general, than I normally do. If this were a normal week before a 1/2, I would probably up my calorie intake by about 200 per day, just to be sure I'm fueling well for the race. But this week, all I'm doing is laying around, so I haven't been increasing my intake any. I wonder if this is a big deal??? (Probably not.)
So, the Peeps caravan (plus Aaron, who is an honorary Peep) will be leaving for Des Moines on Saturday morning, checking into the hotel, picking up our race numbers and packets, probably walking around the pre-race expo for a while, then having a nice pasta dinner and getting to bed early. And Sunday morning is the race. My #1 goal is to start and finish the race. Second to that, I'd like to beat my previous 1/2 Marathon time. Anything beyond that, and I'll be ECSTATIC!!! : ) My #1 job between now and then??? GET HEALTHY! (Oh, and do a little homework, too.)
Good luck to all Des Moines runners, and to all of my Peeps doing the Governor's Run in Lincoln this weekend!
Oh, and expect a post-race recap next week -- hopefully with pictures!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


My high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Crippen, used to tell me, "Life is about choices, Starkweather." Since he was one of my favorite teachers in high school (second only to Mr. Dougherty, the greatest geometry teacher of all time), I tended to listen to what he had to say. As you know, I've been feeling a little overcommitted lately and have been looking for ways to deal with the stress of it all. When I read this blog post on "The Healthy Tipping Point" I had an epiphany: Life IS about choices!!! (Mr. Crippen was right!)
We make hundreds of choices every day. Coffee or tea? TV or homework? Sleep or exercise? Left or right? Some choices are small and seemingly insignificant, while others can truly effect how we feel, how we chose to see the world, how successful we are. One thing that can have an enormous impact all by itself is recognizing that we have a choice. Our attitude is a choice, our effort is a choice, the way we treat others is a choice...
I have been making a conscious effort lately to recognize my own choices. I remind myself (sometimes more than once a day) that I CHOOSE to be as busy as I am this semester. I don't HAVE to put in fellowship applications, retake the GRE or apply to PhD programs, and I don't HAVE to get A's in all of my classes. I choose to do these things because I know that they will help me eventually to have a career that I am passionate about and lead the kind of life that I want. Sometimes I make choices that I'm not very proud of: I get frustrated easily with myself and sometimes with those around me, I can be inconsiderate, more often than not I chose to eat dessert without stopping to think about whether I really want it or not, I slept in on Tuesday morning instead of going to yoga (and have been trying to rationalize that away for the last three days). HOWEVER, just recently, I made a choice that I was very proud of. I had a school semi-obligation (something I should do, but not totally necessary) that I had been wishing I could get out of for days. Then it hit me -- I don't HAVE to do this, I'm CHOOSING to do it. And so I chose NOT to do it. : ) Instead, I went on a nice, long, relaxing, fun, and much needed dinner date with Aaron. It was one of the best nights I've had in quite some time, and not for one second have I regretted that choice.
It is an incredibly liberating and, I might even say, peaceful feeling to wake up every morning, knowing that you have a choice. I hope that I remember that more mornings than I forget it...

Have you made a choice lately that you're particularly proud of???

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I don't have anything particularly interesting to talk about today, so I'm going to tell you about my run last night and a couple of my goals for today. Yesterday afternoon, after a full day of STATISTICS!, I met Beth and Lana for some speedwork -- 8 miles of speedwork to be exact. The total distance of the run was 8 miles with 4 1-mile repeats (which means that after you warm up for a mile or so, you run 1 mile at a faster pace than you normally do, recover for a half mile, then repeat a certain number of times). The first half was HARD because our first two repeats were into the wind, which was blowing 25-30 mph. The second half was significantly easier, until we got to mile 7 - our last fast mile. Our "fast mile" goal was 9 minutes 45 seconds (which seems like a nice, leisurely pace to many, but not necessarily to me). We did fast mile 1 in 9:20, fast miles 2 and 3 around 9:50 and ... wait for it ... fast mile 4 (mile 7) in 8:58!!! No wonder my legs and lungs were burning and I wanted to walk, crawl or die! Anyway, we finished with a cool down mile, some walking and stretching. I felt VERY SICK after this run (anyone have any ideas on this one?) and wasn't able to eat or drink much of anything until around 10:00 last night when I had some Stacey's Pita Chips. Then, still needing to ice my knees, I stayed up to watch an episode of Seinfeld (the one where Jerry and Elaine go to Florida and Elaine has to take painkillers for her back...) and didn't get to sleep until about 11:45.
This was all fine and well until I woke up at 5:15 this morning to make it to 5:45 HOT yoga. HOT yoga is not easy when you ran 8 miles the night before and haven't had much to drink since then. I made it through class, but let's just say the "balancing" (I use that term VERY loosely for today!) poses were an extra special challenge, involving a fair amount of dizziness! haha I got home with EVERY intention of eating everything in sight, stood in the kitchen for about 10 minutes trying to decide what sounded good, but couldn't think of a thing. So, instead, I showered and laid down on my bed and promptly fell right to sleep. Two hours later I woke up hungrier and thirstier than I have been in quite some time!
I have heard that after a long or hard run it is important to do 2 things: sleep and eat. Ha and ha. Very bad job at BOTH! : ) So! Today's #1 goal: EAT!!! I've got a 10 mile run on Saturday morning, which is my last long run before the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon on October 18th (with my Peeps) and I think it's important to be properly fueled for that run. I'm going to up my calorie intake a little today and tomorrow (with mostly healthy foods) and see how I feel at the end of 10 on Saturday morning.
Today's other goal: Do my stinkin' reaction paper (the one that's always due on Saturday mornings at 10:00!) so that I have tomorrow to run errands, clean, and have lunch with a friend. I guess I'd better get going on this one...

**Today's intention: GRATITUDE (I needed to remind myself every few minutes how grateful I was to be in class this morning! haha)

QUESTION: On last night's run, we talked about our favorite places to travel and some trips we've got planned (either in the near or distant future). WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO TRAVEL? WHERE IS ONE PLACE YOU HAVE BEEN THAT YOU WOULD GO BACK TO OVER AND OVER IF YOU COULD??? (Mine is Maine.)