Monthly Archives: November 2013

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

As you know, I like lists.  So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I decided to make a list of ten things I’m thankful for.

1)  All the obligatory things that most of us are thankful for.  My family, my kids, my health, my sense of humor, my husband’s company, my house, running water, grocery stores, a few bucks in the bank, the birds, leaves, waves of the ocean, and well, I could go on and on.  There’s not a day that goes by that I know I’m lucky, I’m thankful, I’m appreciative of these things in my life.

2) Lists. I’ve mentioned this before, but what other little thing can give you such a sense of foreboding of all the things to be done, organization of said things, and then a sense of accomplishment when you can put a nice little line through each thing you’ve either put in your grocery cart or completed?  Could you imagine the grocery stores if we didn’t have lists?  I would still be wandering around the grocery store wondering what I needed for our Thanksgiving meal, then returning about a hundred times because I’d keep forgetting what ELSE I needed…. and I don’t know how I would have gotten through listing our Texas house for sale with out multiple lists.  Lists are a wonderful thing.

3)  My husband, Andy.  He’s my biggest athletic supporter, my jock.  He pushes me to follow my dreams, supports all the work along the way, and yet, doesn’t post videos on YouTube of me doing the Wobble in the kitchen.  He lent his shoulder to me after my attempts at Boston failed, he danced around with me when I made Boston.  He is my sherpa, photographer at the end of races, my driver when I’m tired. He calmly listens to me when I perk up and say, “Honey, I have an IDEA!”.  He doesn’t judge me when I have one too many glasses of whine wine.  I’m a roller coaster, and he’s the calm, the even one, the rock.  Love you, R. Andrew.

A sense of humor is essential.

A sense of humor is essential.

4) Coach Alain and the Gotta Run running group in Katy, Texas (a town near Houston where I lived until a few months ago).  It’s hard to imagine not accomplishing your goals when you have someone constantly telling you that you can.  I don’t know how many times I second guessed my goals while training for the 2013 Houston Marathon.  But when you have someone look you in the face, put his hand on your shoulder and tell you, “You got this”, it’s hard to not go get it.

Coach Alain and me after the Houston Marathon.

Coach Alain and me after the Houston Marathon.

A gift from my Texas peeps that is now in my back yard in NC.

A gift from my Texas peeps that is now in my back yard in NC.

5) Coach Kristen.  Now this is interesting.  Had it not been for Kristen, my current coach in NC, traveling to Houston in 2012, I would have never joined a running group.  Talk about irony…. Kristen was my sister’s coach and came to Houston to run the 1/2 marathon and wanted someone to pace her.  I ran 5 miles with her (there was no pacing done, Kristen ran like a rock star) and when I saw all the amazing support the Without Limits crew gave to each other, I knew I wanted to be part of a team.  So three days later, I joined the above mentioned Gotta Run group.  When we moved to NC, Kristen became my awesome coach, the one who listened to me whine and moan and groan about shin splints and all that had to offer, the one who constantly tweaked my training plan to adjust for my injury, the one who has given me such good advice to make me a better athlete, the one who will train me to be the fastest marathon runner I can be, plus a triathlete.  She’s teaching me patience too, although she may not know that the jig is up – I’m on to her.  Thanks Kristen, you effing rock.  Seriously, I am so thankful for you.

6) Energy Drinks.  When you’re driving millions of miles (ok, it FELT like a million miles!) across the country and you’re tired and worn out and stressed, you need to stay awake, right?  Same goes for getting up early to train and then spending a hundred hours watching your kids at football practice. Drinking coffee would only make a 10 hour trip into a 15 hour trip due to constant pee stops so I found energy drinks.  Sugar Free Red Bull is my favorite but I found Amp is just about as good, plus it has “vitamins” in it.  When I’m exhausted and can’t get a power nap in, which is most of the time, I’ll grab one of these and then a short time later, GAME ON.  I also realized I cannot have this after 5 pm or it’s GAME ON until midnight.

I believe someone will discover this is the real source of super powers.

I believe someone will discover this is the real source of super powers.

7) Music.  Music can take me to a time and place in an instant and distract me from anything that’s on my mind that I don’t want on my mind any longer.  It can make me cry, laugh, dance, and run faster.  I’m also thankful for iPods and iTunes to make getting music so much easier!  I remember having my radio on, waiting the arrival of my favorite song so I could push the RECORD button and then have that song at my fingertips.  Then there was the Walkman, the barbarically sized thing that I hooked to my shorts so I could run with music.  How cool was that???  Probably not really cool considering the size of my foamy earphone things.  Yikes.  Now I have about a billion different songs that I can easily shuffle through while my tiny little earphones stay tucked into my ears.  I’m thankful for that.

8) Doctors.  To make a long story short, doctors can diagnose and then remove cancer from your mom.  They can do CAT scans so you know your sister doesn’t have a brain injury after a bike accident.  Besides that, as a runner, it’s nice to know that when you have issues with your various body parts, you can visit a physical therapist or chiropractor to heal said messed up parts.  I get chiropractory things done to me and after, I feel all twisted up pretzel-like as if I’ve just gotten out of the dryer.  But I’m finally running without pain and so my chiropractor can twist me into a pretzel and then do active release on my shins as much as he wants.

9)  Beer & Friends.  These things go hand in hand many a time, and I’ve needed them both this year, so I am thankful to both this year.  I have amazing friends, and we’ve had some great times drinking beer. Just as many NOT drinking beer too, so no one send me the link to AA – I’m a responsible marathon runner.  My brother-in-law brews beer. My husband brews beer.  And what do you get at the end of a lot of races????  Yup, beer.  I’m always thankful for that.

A group of us at No Label Brewery - the perfect mix of beer and friends.

A group of us at No Label Brewery – the perfect mix of beer and friends.

10)  Running.  Surprise!!! Haha, I’m stating the obvious, but I am SO THANKFUL for running, for the ability to run, and all that running does for me.  I’m heading to the Y to run the Gallop for Gravy 5k in the morning, so I get to do my favorite activity on the day I’m most thankful for it.  Then I’m going to eat my body weight in mashed potatoes and gravy and probably have a beer.

Haha

Haha

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!!

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, triathlon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unbreakable

“A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain.”  ~ Pete Zamperini

Wow, I’ve been out of the loop for a while now, doing my training, going to Myrtle Beach for the weekend, my household duties, but most of all, I have been totally entranced with a book that was suggested by a Facebook friend.

The biography, titled “Unbreakable” and written by Laura Hillenbrand, is probably one of the best books I have ever read.  It tells the true story of Louis Zamperini, from toddlerhood to adult, through running the streets as a teenage tyrant hell-bent on causing as much mischief as a person can, through his transition from said tyrant to one of the fastest mile runners of all time, through his truly death defying years as a POW in WWII and his troubles after the war, and then as he learns the power of forgiveness.

I can’t say this book changed my life, but it does change the way I look at things.  First, it was difficult to read the details of the absolutely terrifying torture so many of our WWII veterans suffered.  I have always appreciated our veterans, but to know a little more of the atrocities that occur in war….. well, my levels of appreciation increased quite significantly.  To all you veterans and current military, friends and family, THANK YOU.  From the bottom of my heart…. thank you.

I don’t want to simplify this book.  I don’t want to take this beautiful, horrible story and pick parts of it out and discuss to take away from the whole as to minimize this man’s life story.  That is not what I’m trying to do.  I think we could all learn something from Louie Zamperini’s story.  Many of us runners can learn something from it too.

Something that really grabbed my attention was a statement from Louie’s brother, Pete, that Louie thought about just before he ran in the 1936 Olympic games. “A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain.”  That statement, coupled with the experiences that Louie endured during the war, had the most effect on me.  To put it into my own personal perspective, I can’t help but view this as a runner.  I think about how I feel when I run races, the fact that I still don’t think I’ve ever once given a race all I had in me.  And it makes me want to do just that.  I want to be empty when I finish, to be totally depleted, to be stick-a-fork-in-me-I’m-done done.  I want to finish knowing that there’s absolutely nothing, without a doubt, NOTHING I could have done to finish better.

The book also makes the biggest case for “mind over matter” when it comes to facing difficulties.  Louie lived in the most horrendous conditions.  Beatings, starvation, torture, back-breaking work, dogged sickness, agony, death everywhere.  Knowing that he lived, that he CHOSE to keep going, to persevere in the worst of the worst of experiences, shows us all that the body can withstand much more than it normally could if the mind allows it to.  Don’t we marathoners constantly use our mental strength to get through our marathons?  Don’t we say that you can only train your body so much, but your mind will carry you to the finish line?

This book gives me a fresh perspective as I head into full Boston Marathon training mode in just a few weeks.  I say, bring it on.  I know I have a lot more effort in me.  I know I have a lot more strength, both physical and mental.  I’m so proud to be a part of the 118th Boston Marathon, my first Boston experience, and what I’m hoping will not be my last.  If I could, I would thank Louie Zamperini for his service to our wonderful country first.  Then I would thank him for teaching me that I can go a little farther, a little harder, and a little faster than what I ever thought I could.  (In fact, he is much alive at 96 years old so I just may have to carefully craft an email to Louis himself!)  So for now, I’m heading to the store (with me eating like an endless pit and feeding two growing boys and a husband, I’m always going to the store because we’re always out of food) and when I see one of those old guys proudly wearing their hats showing they are veterans, I’m going to go up to them and personally say thank you.

Thanks to all veterans and current military men and women for all they do.

Categories: Boston Marathon, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Moving On From Living On Edge

After nearly 2 1/2 years of living on edge, which is not to be mistaken with living on THE edge, I can finally breathe.  I’ve felt like the rug was going to be pulled out from under me for so long, and I’ve been preparing, planning, moving, buying, selling, bartering, and doing things accordingly so we would be ok if that did happen.  Basically, I’ve been living on adrenaline for a very long time, and I’m tired.  The rug did get pulled in a matter of sorts, more than once, and lookee lookee, I’m still here, and we are all ok.  After living in my house for three months, I feel like I can finally relax, I can breathe, and I can start truly living like I’ve wanted to for so long.

I don’t want to bore anyone with all the little details of what has taken place over the last few years, but it includes my husband facing a layoff but being lucky enough to find a job prior to that, then him having a job he grew to hate and then had to drive 3 hours a day to go and do, moving over 1,000 miles, twice, with two kids and four cats, the changing schools, us all leaving friends we dearly loved TWICE….. you get the picture.  It was just very stressful.  Would I change it?  Absolutely not.  We learned a lot about ourselves, more than what we could have had we not gone through these difficulties, trials and tribulations, and just life in general.

So here’s a list of 10 things we learned in just the last few years.

1)  I like lists.  Lists are good.

2)  Running is my damn castle.  It holds me up, it protects me, it gives me strength.  Running is the one thing that is purely MINE.  It’s me NOT being a “homemaker”, a term I literally hate, it’s me NOT being a mother, NOT being a wife, NOT being anything but just me and what I want and what I need.  It brings me peace, it makes me happy.  I don’t have to listen to the stupid fucking statements, “What do you do all day?”  “You don’t even work part-time?” “I couldn’t do what you do all day” “You’re so lucky you don’t have to work”.  I would love to spout off in response to these statements, but I know that it’s pointless.  I just run, and think, and think while I run.  Sometimes I come up with my best ideas when I run, sometimes I think about the leaves and ocean.  I realized how much running was a part of me just a few months ago when I had shin splints so bad I had to stop running and defer the marathon I was COUNTING ON running, which is something I’ve never had to do.  I turned into a freaking nut case, grasping at straws, trying to make the injury go away by ignoring it.  This was the time I needed running more than ever, and I couldn’t have it.  I’m finally at peace with everything, the deferment, the chance to just run for another month or so before gearing up for training for Boston, the cross-training I’ve done because of it.  I can look at it with a healthy sense of, “Sigh” and “It is what it is” instead of “WHATAMIGOINGTODOWHATHEHELLSHIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTT”.  Which leads me to:

3)  I like to swear.  Go through this bullshit and see how much swearing you do.  I swore before, but now I’m a little less filtered.  Some people say that if you swear, you are suffering from a sort of ignorance because you can’t come up with anything besides a swear word.  Well, they can suck it.  I swear.  Big freaking deal.  Swearing isn’t important in the grand scheme of things.  I honestly don’t give a shit what they think either.

Heehee

Heehee

4)  I give less of a shit  about stupid stuff than I did before.  Neighborhood drama ran fast and frequent where we lived in Texas.  So did materialism, big time.  What really truly matters to me is my family.  It doesn’t matter if we live in a tent as long as we are happy and together.  The rest of it is just bonus.  I’m also putting us first.  I don’t feel the need to do things out of obligation the way I used to.  My kids and husband and our needs/wants are first.

5)  I live with a daily sense of gratefulness.  All along this journey, I whined and complained, but I also knew it could have been or could be so much worse.  There is not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for everything in my life, because no matter how difficult it may seem at the time, at least I am alive.

6)  My family freaking rocks.  My two kids, husband, and I, plus our four cats, lived with my parents two years ago, just before we moved to Texas, and then my sister and her husband when we got to North Carolina in late June, while we looked for and waited to close on our house. AND WE ALL STILL GET ALONG.  There’s nothing I can do aside from buying them a freaking month-long European vacation to repay them, so the only thing I’ve been able to do is just say thank you.  So thank you Mom and Dad, Randee and Chip, including cats Sammie, Jack, and old Tom.  YOU ALL are our rock just as much as running has been for just me.  You made a really difficult situation into something fun and enjoyable.  And that’s a huge understatement.  Thank you.

7)  My husband and kids are rock stars.  My husband and I have grown closer over all the shit that we’ve had to do the past few years.  We’ve listed (that’s an entire list of ten things right there because listing and showing a house is NOT for pansies), sold, searched for, negotiated on, and purchased houses, bought cars, sold cars, researched schools, sports clubs, and everything in between all while dealing with the detailed logistics of getting our entire family and moving truck full of shit to our destination on a specific day with the least amount of damage done.  Twice.  Apart, we are pretty good at it, but together, we fucking rock.

I packed the entire house, Hubs loaded the entire house.

I packed the entire house, Hubs loaded the entire house on a day that felt like the surface of the sun.  We honestly did not know when or where we would get to unload the truck.

8)  I’ve learned the painful truth that you lose friends when you move.  You find out who your friends are and who your friends are not.  I’m the kind of person who has a few REALLY close friends, and that’s just the way my personality works.  But my true friends are ones I can count on.  We can go a few months without talking, but when we do talk, it’s like no time has elapsed.  I’m very lucky for them, especially since I haven’t always been a good friend back, but they’re still there for me.  If you’ve ever moved as an adult, you realize who is there for you after the dust settles.  And who isn’t.

9)  I worry.  A lot.  About everything.    I’m guessing this is very common, but the one thing I do know now is that I don’t have to worry as much as what I used to think was necessary.  (See, I’m already worried that I’m offending some non-swearing person and then he/she will not read my blog anymore because I have a lot of swear words in it.  But I’m not worried enough to actually change it – progress.)  Things really do have a way of turning out the way they’re supposed to, and worrying doesn’t make a difference.  Don’t borrow worry from tomorrow…….

10)  I’m a damn athlete and a good one at that.  It’s taken me 40 years to actually call myself an athlete.  I always had a perception that athletes could only be the ones with less than 10% body fat, were the winners of races, and were the gazelles among the field ponies like me.  I don’t know what shifted in me… maybe my 40th birthday, maybe it was because I don’t give a shit about labels, maybe because I’m tired of reducing my accomplishments to less then what they are.  We runners are athletes, no matter what.  And I can also give myself credit for the damn good times I bring in when I run.  No, I am not the fastest, but again, that doesn’t diminish who I am as an athlete.  I qualified for Boston, and yet I find myself thinking I’m not good enough or fast enough to be considered a true athlete. I crossed the finish line in front of 83% of all of the other finishers in the Houston Marathon, and even beat 78% of all the men finishers.  I AM an athlete, and I am a GOOD one too.

After my BQ run at the Houston Marathon

After my BQ run at the Houston Marathon

SO what exactly does this all mean?  I’ve learned that I can go with the flow, that my extended family is awesome, I have amazing friends, and that I have to put my husband and kids first.  I’ve also learned that I need to give myself a little more credit for my accomplishments.  In doing that, I feel a little more inspired to keep going, to try harder, to inspire others to follow their dreams, to give these next goals my absolute all.  I want to PR in the Boston Marathon.  I want to finish a 1/2 iron distance next October.  But if I don’t, I’m sure not going to worry about it.

Categories: Boston Marathon, half iron distance, iron distance, marathon, running, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

102 Half Marathons…. And Counting

“Every once in a while, every runner needs to slow down to absorb the sport they love so much,

to remember why they started running in the first place.”  ~ Running Boston and Beyond

102 half marathons.  What, ME???!!!  Hell, no.  I haven’t run 102 half marathons.  Not yet anyway.  I ran my tenth half yesterday at the Battleship 1/2 Marathon in Wilmington that begins and ends at the USS North Carolina Battleship. I wasn’t planning to run this race, but a friend of mine, Anthony, Mr. 102-Half-Marathons himself, asked me to run with him.   Yes, he’s run 102 half marathons, and if that wasn’t enough, he’s also run 31 full marathons.   That’s 2,148.4 in race miles alone.  And a mere drop in the bucket compared to what he’s planning to do.

Great race, awesome medal!

Great race, awesome medal!

I met Anthony at one of the first early morning track practices I attended with our training group, Without Limits.  I overheard him talking about the Dave Matthews Band, so immediately I had to chime in.  Anthony knows no strangers.  I mean really, this dude knows friggin everybody.  Well, except for the one person who said “Hi Anthony!” at the race yesterday and he looked at me and said, “I have NO idea who that was.”  He was the first person who asked me to warm up with him at the track, and I felt like I had one friend amongst all the strangers. Thankfully I know more people now, but he has a way of bringing you in and making you feel comfortable.

I haven’t seen Anthony in a while, so when I did see him on race morning, I expected him to look like his Facebook profile picture, including the white suit.

Rick Ross

Anthony Rick Ross.

Of course I hadn’t forgotten what he looked like, and we met up before the race.  I had the chance to ask Anthony some questions about all this running he’d done, and I thought it would be a fun thing to share with y’all.

Now THIS is Anthony.

Now THIS is Anthony in his new Without Limits shirt. I still think he should’ve worn the white suit…..

How it all started….  Looking for a way to lose weight and get his blood pressure and cholesterol under control, Anthony started running in 2006.  To say that he took to it would be an understatement.  He travels a lot for work and loves to travel beyond that, so running races was perfect to combine the love for running and travel.  One unique thing I found when running with Anthony is that he’s not concerned with his finish times.  It’s pretty hard to find that within a high-achieving training group where you always hear about the PR’s and the Ironman PR’s and the age category winners, and all the competitive this and that’s.  Sometimes you feel like you HAVE to do better each time, always looking to be better and faster.  Anthony simply doesn’t buy into it.  What’s really refreshing is that he runs because he loves to run.  I specifically asked him if he’ll ever go for times and is concerned with any of that, to which he replied, “I just run for the love of it and exercising to keep my blood pressure and stuff in check.”  He also quoted Bill Bowerman after being asked why he runs so much, “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.”  Boom.

After the race

After the race

The funny thing, or shall I say “new thing”, was that when we were done, I didn’t even look at the time on my Garmin.  We started off at a 10:28 mm pace and ended somewhere in the “I really don’t know or care” pace.  We walked, we talked, we were quiet.  About a million people waved “hello” to Anthony.  It was nice for me to enjoy the same race course that I ran my PR on last week, not noticing how beautiful it was while I was whizzing by.  I wonder how many times I’ve done that, how many times I’ve run past the beautiful things in order to see a certain number on my watch.  When we were done running, I didn’t even look past the “stop” button on my watch to see the finish time.  I didn’t care.

I found that Anthony has run races in many countries, Rome being his all-time favorite.  He’s run in Paris, Dublin, Costa Rica, Iceland, and all over the states, including Hawaii, with Chicago marathon being his favorite stateside race.  He said he’s had a few that he wanted to quit, such as the 20 degree Myrtle Beach Half in 2007, and the hot and humid Quintiles full marathon here in Wilmington in 2012, but he’s never given up.  He’s never been injured either.

We can all learn a little something from my friend, Anthony.  It never hurts to enjoy racing as much as you do just running.  While I’ve been off training because of that pesky injury that seems to never ever, ever want to go away, I’ve been able to concentrate on just running (although that PR last week was off the hook), cross-training, and being.  There’s no pressure, it’s all good, just the way it is.  Heck, I might even skip the marathon that I was going to do a month later than the Houston Marathon I was planning on running in January.  Sure, I want to PR when I run Boston in 2014.  I want to do the best I can, but I also realize that every once in a while, it’s good to run a race because you love running races.  Slow it down once.  Turn your Garmin off, run a race with your phone and take a picture here and there.  Run with someone and talk.  Enjoy it, absorb it. Don’t immediately go to the RESULTS area of the race finish and check your “official” time. Just run, because that’s what you love to do.  I’m guessing that, no matter how competitive you may be, you’ll love it.

Greenfield Lake - I actually STOPPED to take this picture.

Greenfield Lake – I actually STOPPED to take this picture.

So what’s on the horizon for Anthony?  First, there’s the Las Vegas half, then the Kiawah Island half, Ocean Isle Beach, a full over in Asia, Myrtle Beach…. well, you get the idea.  Let’s say the schedule is full.  I’ve heard more than one person ask him, “So what is your next goal?”.  You know, we running types always seem to have to have a goal.  And he’s definitely got one.  He now wants to run 100 full marathons and 200 half marathons.  Knowing Anthony the little bit that I do, there’s one thing for sure:  He will meet his goal, this crazy 200/100 goal; he’ll set his mind to it and get it done.  And he’ll have fun the entire way.

A nice "incline" at the beginning of the run.

A nice “incline” at the beginning of the run.

Categories: marathon, running, swimming, training for marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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