Monday, August 18, 2014

Leading Ladies Half Marathon Recap

One year ago, I was having an ultrasound done to determine what the bump in my stomach was. I remember how scared I was about what the ultrasound would find. I had no clue then what the next year would have in store for me but let me tell you, the six weeks between that ultrasound and the surgery that removed what we found out was a cancerous ovarian tumor were hell. People would sometimes tell me that I looked terrified at the start of a race and sometimes I was a little - when I was about to race a new distance or a difficult trail race. But not anymore! Racing is easy compared to cancer. Never again will I be afraid to race. As a friend reminded me last month "It's just a race." Whatever happens, happens. If it doesn't go well, it's not the end of the world. So I was pretty relaxed for this weekend's adventures. Maybe too relaxed.

Yesterday, I ran the Leading Ladies Half Marathon. I'd originally signed up for the marathon but fatigue and foot issues derailed my training and I asked if I could drop to the Half. I'd run the marathon there a couple of years ago and thought it would be a good one to come back with. It's pretty small, only for women, and really beautiful. I also didn't get to see a lot the last time I was there so wanted to go back.

Because my kitten, Jenks, is still pretty young, I didn't take the long weekend I'd originally planned and just did a quick Saturday/Sunday trip. So I packed A LOT into Saturday. My flight arrived at noon on Saturday and I immediately headed over to the race expo to check in. Picked up the beautiful bib and cool shirt and the chip and then headed out to do some exploring.

First, I went to the Spirit of the Wild Sanctuary. It's an animal sanctuary for lions, tigers, bears, and other wild creatures who were in captivity or as pets but not able to be taken care of anymore. I took the tour which took about 2 hours and was pretty cool. I even saw a coyote cousin there. You should have heard one of the mountain lions screaming. Gave me chills. But then there was this cutie in a tree. Almost makes you want to hug him. Almost. 

After that, I drove to Devil's Tower National Monument. If you've seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you've seen Devil's Tower. It is amazing and weird! It's also pretty popular with climbers.

I did the short 1.3 mile hike that goes around the tower. It was beautiful and I got to watch some climbers for a while. I didn't see any aliens though. As I was driving out of the park, I stopped to take photos and one of the stops had a large field across from it filled with prairie dogs! They were cute and fun to watch.

Then I drove back to Spearfish to check into my hotel, stopping once to watch the sunset for a bit. I tried going to sleep but tossed and turned all night. I'm not sure why. I wasn't nervous.

I got up at 3 on Sunday and got ready to head over to the park to take the bus at 4:30. It was cool but not too cold. I got to talk to some women while we waited for the start and I met a woman who knew me from my blog. So wild! We were supposed to start at 6 but didn't start until about 6:25. I hadn't had breakfast except a Lara bar and then a gel about 15 minutes before the start.

Finally we were off! I tried to hold back because I was planning a 2:45 finish but felt good and ran a faster pace than I'd planned pretty much until mile 9. I only stopped once to take a pic of Bridal Veil Falls (which I missed the last time because you had to cross the road and go out on a deck). I tried taking pics as I ran but only 1 came out. I guess I need to practice that. Hmmm...

I had another gel with me but ended up not taking it because my stomach was unhappy starting about mile 9. I walked thru 2 aid stations to grab some pretzels to see if it would help and it did a little. I never really found my pace again so the brief glimpse I had of a 2:30 finish faded away. But besides those 2 aid stations, I didn't walk at all which I am very proud of. The unhappy stomach and my legs being sore were voting for walking and settling for 2:45 but I outvoted them! I distracted myself from them by trying to remember how many races I'd done that were a half marathon or longer (53 including this one) and just counting steps. I finished strong and was really happy to see I made it in before 2:35. :) They gave me my medal, a rose, and a warm, lemon scented towel and then I headed over to the pizza cookies which were just as yummy as I remembered.

Then I headed back to the hotel to shower and pack for my flight home. It was a SHORT but sweet trip!

I probably could have done a few things better. Like having a good dinner the night before and not doing all that walking with the running thru airports, tour, and hike. I could have also had a real breakfast. And remembered to bring salt pills. Oh, and I didn't taper. I really thought I would be doing some walking so hadn't done the usual pre-race rituals. Next time, I'll be better about it!

But maybe I wouldn't be better about it. I would hate to have missed the sanctuary or Devil's Tower. I mean, that's the whole reason I see new places and explore this incredibly strange and wondrous planet we live on. So I wouldn't change that part. But the nutrition part and the tapering...yeah, that I have to work on.

One final thought...I definitely do need to lose more weight and get stronger all around because my legs and back were pretty sore after. If I'm going to run hard, I better make sure my body can handle it.

I still have a lot of work to do!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rest is a 4 Letter Word

Last week was a really good week. I am not feeling exhausted from my work outs anymore though I still fall asleep early sometimes. Sadly, I didn't lose any weight but I feel like I lost inches. I guess I should measure that.

Last week's training:

Running - 24.4 miles
Cycling - 123 miles
Weights - 3.5 hours
Rowing/Walking - 1.75 hours
Total Hours - 19.75

I have my first half marathon in a year this Sunday. This should be a rest week but I'm not really resting that much. Oops. I should. I know. Maybe I will.

I should have taken it easy on Sunday too but I didn't. I ended up buying some Hoka One One Cliftons on Saturday and wanted to give them a good test run so I can wear them next week. I ended up running 11 miles in them. The best part was that I did it at 12:07 pace! That's 1:11 per mile faster than last weeks 10 miler. Woo!

I am less tired and sore after too. In fact, I ended up going to the gym after lunch with my family to do some rowing and then a leg workout. I did a pull workout on Saturday. Leg days and Pull days are fun. Push days...not so much! Ha! Phil tried to get me to do push ups on Thursday and it did not happen. I had to do wall push ups. But I will work up to doing real pushups!

So anyway, I'm going to South Dakota to do the Leading Ladies Half Marathon on Sunday. It's just a quick trip because I don't want to leave my little cat, Jenks, alone too long. For being so small he sure can get into trouble!
I did the Leading Ladies Marathon a couple of years ago. It's a pretty course and mostly downhill so it should be fun. I am looking forward to it. I'm not sure what time I will do for the Half but I am going to try for 2:45. I think I can do that. I hope.

The last half marathon I did was 1 year ago in Dove Canyon. I ran it in 3:15. I remember feeling so tired and hot and like I was pregnant but I did it. I didn't know at the time that I had a tumor the size of a basketball inside me! Or that I had cancer. I am really glad that wasn't my last Half. It was #26 and Sunday will be #27.

Wish me luck!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Running And Self Worth

"Self-worth comes from one thing - thinking that you are worthy." Wayne Dyer

My training last week:

Running - 21.1 miles (9, 4, 5, 3.1)
Riding - 112 miles
Gym - 4.25 hours
Walking - 1 hour
Training - 18.75 hours

Last week was good. It kind of kicked my butt because I fell asleep at 7:30 on Friday and slept through til 5 am on Saturday morning! I totally could have gone back to sleep but went for an easy 5K instead. That run and the ride to the gym were a little tough because I felt really tired. After the gym though, I felt fabulous.

I posted this on Instagram on Saturday:

The picture on the far left was taken a little over a month ago when I was in Tennessee and the pics on the right were taken on Saturday. I feel different and I'm noticing that my clothes are getting loose so I definitely feel like there has been progress in the 3 weeks I've been working with Phil.

I can also tell when I do medicine ball slams because those are getting easier.

Hey, did you know medicine ball slams are an excellent way of working out anger and frustrations?

Totally works. :) You should try it!

Another way I've been able to tell is running. Yesterday I ran 10 miles in the same time it took me to run 9 miles last week. And I didn't feel so beat up after. Woo! Leading Ladies Half is in 2 weeks and I finally feel like it's not going to be a slogfest. Oh, it's going to be slow. But I am thinking I might be able to do it in under 3 hours. Cross your fingers.

Sooo... one thing I've been thinking about lately is self worth and whether or not it's affected by running. That friend who thinks I'm clueless about ultras and not driven...he also told me he tried to give me self worth and that through running and his circle of friends, I became great and my self worth grew.

I disagreed but he insisted he was right.

You all know I love running, right?

I love being able to move my body. I love being able to get out in nature. I love traveling and seeing new places. I love being able to work out my frustrations through exercise. Running allows me to do all of that. It is my therapy and makes me happy but in no way does running give me self worth.


End of story.

I have confidence in what my body is capable of doing. Some of that comes from having run ultras and some of that comes from having done century rides as well. It's pretty darn cool to know that if you HAD to, you could run or ride where you need to go without worrying about a car or gas or traffic or whatever. Both running and riding have shown me that I am stubborn and determined and willing to be uncomfortable.

But I already knew those things about myself. They just reinforced it and gave me tangible rewards (medals) for them. I think they have increased my confidence but not my self worth.

Running or being part of a running group does not define me or make me feel worthy. I don't feel special or unique because I lace up running shoes or put on a bike helmet. Maybe I would if I were Shalane or Kara or Lauren? I wonder if they feel self worth because they are runners and have had success? Probably not.

Self worth isn't tied to what you do. It's about who you are and knowing that you are special and have something to offer the world. If, heaven forbid, I was never able to run again, I would be pretty darn cranky but I would not feel less self worth.

I think we forget that sometimes. That running is a hobby. It's not a cure for cancer (and don't I know it!). It's not going to stop war. If things go bad at your next race, it's not the end of the world. It's "just a race". It's just for fun. It doesn't mean you don't care about running and becoming better at it. It just means you have put it into perspective.

At least, that's what I think.

What do you think? Do you feel your self worth has grown because of running?