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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Marathon Day

Three weeks ago today we ran the Minneapolis Marathon.   It was my and Traci's second full marathon, and Jen's fourth.   It was amazing.   Go sign up and run this race.   Today.

First of all, Minneapolis, YOU are underrated.   The website for this marathon sucks.   The Facebook page is barely existent.   The orange maple leaf logo made no sense at the time.   If it weren't for Ikea looming in our brains, we may never have given it a second thought.

This race is the best kept secret in the world of running.   There were only about 10,000 runners, I believe.   This is 1/4 of the number in the Chicago Marathon.   But the Expo rocked---gear galore!   And this course....wow.  On October 7th, this must have been the most beautiful place to be in the whole United States.   The leaves were red, gold, orange.   The hills were rolling.   The Mississippi River was stunning.   The architecture of the homes and buildings was awe inspiring.   And the spectators, all 300,000 of them, are now my very favorite people ever.   After my own friends and family, of course.  And the Finish line was epic.   The last 0.2 miles was downhill, with firetrucks, American flags, and screaming crowds.

It does not get any better than that.

Oh yes, and my endorphins are writing this story if you have not yet picked up on that.   Want to know why?   Because it was the first race ever, EVER, E-V-E-R, where I did not totally lose my s&*% and have a meltdown.   I ran 26.2 miles (26.5 by my Garmin---stupid corners we didn't cut close enough), and I did not cry.   Hallelujah!

I was a bundle of nerves riding into Minneapolis, but the car ride was very fun.   Johnny and Marc were driver and shotgun, and at 4:00am they drove their three sleepy Miss Daisies from Kansas City, into Missouri, across Iowa (one Cracker Barrel stop), and finally into the Promised Land.

The night before the marathon we had dinner at an Italian restaurant with my brother Cliff, and his wife, Jill.   They live in Minneapolis, and I never get to see them enough.   We laughed and ate all night until we went back to the hotel to face the music---laying out race clothes and an early bedtime.

Oh, spoiler alert and red flag combined.   When you go to a race expo for packet pickup, and one of the swag items is a headpiece/earmuff thing, that is bad news.   Our last marathon was a life-sucking 88 degrees, so we weren't exactly prepared to run in the Arctic.  I whine when it's 50 degrees.   So Jen and I decided we needed warmer running clothes.   Where to go?   Oh, the Mall of America is here?   Really?   Well, how convenient.   And thank you, Nordstrom's Rack for Nike Dri-Fit Thermals at $25 a pop.   Saved.

The night before the race I slept really well.   And I dreamed about the 23rd Psalm all night.   I have NEVER dreamed about a Bible verse.   But I fully believe that the Lord put this verse in my heart so that I would think about Him the whole race.   And I did.

Johnny and I shared a room with Traci.   I was a little scared because she almost punched Jen the morning of our last marathon.   Traci does not know when she became a long distance runner, and she's not sure she's on board yet.   But bless her heart, she lets us drag her along.   Sure enough, the next morning when the alarm went off, the first words out of Traci's mouth, "This is gay!"  And I'm pretty sure she threw something.   I hid in the bathroom long enough to let her punch Johnny if she was that irritable, and then popped out with a pair of scissors and some athletic tape.   Officially I was taping my foot.   Unofficially, I was not putting those scissors down until Traci was nice and caffeinated, key word being "nice".   But that girl surprised me.   Johnny left the room so she could dress, and she says to me, "Do these underwear look lucky?"   That's when I knew it was going to be a good day!  (A good 26 degree day.  Holy moses.)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.   He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.   He leadeth me beside the still waters...

This verse jumped out as we ran past not one, but four lakes.   We just wound around one after another.   I smiled inside---"still waters".   Oh, and funniest moment ever.   At mile 7 Jen's daughter, Audrey called.   Jen answered.   She's a good mom like that.   Aidan, Ava, Coop, Mommy loves you, too, but I'd have dumped that call.   Anywho, here's what runners around us are hearing while Traci and I are cracking up!

Jen:  "Hello?   Hi Auds....oh, just running a marathon.......yes, we're winning.....no, don't put Avery on.....Auds?......Auds,tell Avery I'll call her later....I love you, too."

Our cell phones were invaluable to us.   First race we have ever run with them.   But Marc and Johnny installed stalking, I mean, tracking devices on them, and every time they wanted to find us our phones would start beeping, letting us know they were looking for us.   It was the most encouraging thing, to be running along, fighting to stay motivated, and hear, 'BEEP BEEP BEEP'.   We would instantly pep up.  "Where are they?   Can they see us?"    Those boys drove all over town.   We must have seen them 6 or 7 times.  Love them so much for that.  

 He restoreth my soul.   He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake.

Most of our run was on paths.   So in order for others to pass you---and there are always people passing us!---they run pretty close, and they usually speak to you.   Our shirts were all a shout out to our Creator.   As runners ran by, they kept saying things like, "Great shirts!"  "Love those shirts!"  "Amen!"   It was almost like we were worshiping as we ran.---"paths of righteousness for His name sake."

We hit our Half marathon mark, and I was feeling high on life.   I have NEVER felt that good in a race.   Not that they needed me to, but I was encouraging the other two!   This is shocking in our world.   Prior to showing up that day, one of them probably could have guaranteed you they'd be begging me not to jump off the bridge that crossed over the Mississippi by mile 20.   I had my phone with me though, and at mile thirteen I turned on one of my favorite running songs to motivate us,(Click HERE to hear the awesomeness), blasted it out not caring who I irritated, and said, "Alright girls, we're going to run a Half now.   Let's do this."  

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.  Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

The Valley of the shadow of death showed up about mile 18.   Our girl Traci was HURTING.   Jen called ahead  to Marc and Johnny with instructions to have some BioFreeze out and ready.   But they were still 2 miles away from us.   Traci was hurting so badly that I wanted to cry for her.   But she didn't want to walk.   She insisted we keep running.   When we finally found them, Traci crashed under a tree, Johnny helped her with the BioFreeze, and then we were off again.  It was like having a support van.   Each guy had a backpack full of our "what if" essentials.   So helpful.  Johnny and Marc became the rod and staff to guide and protect.   Sent straight from our Father who loves us.
Pit Stop for BioFreeze
When you are running a marathon, I don't care who you are, things get REAL after mile 22.   Nobody feels good at that point.   Your body just starts to break down.   And Jen saved my neck.  I started feeling like I was hitting a wall.   I didn't understand what was happening though because I had been fueling with Shot Blocks every 4 miles and drinking water at every station.   But Jen knows me better than I know myself.   She just looked at me and said, "Your sodium has to be low.   You need electrolytes.   Get some Gatorade."   So I did, and she was right.   I came right back.   (Gatorade upsets my stomach so I never take it.) So grateful she said that to me.

Though annointest my head with oil;  My cup runneth over.

As we ran down our last 0.2 miles, I kept starting to cry.   I was over the moon happy.   It was just the best feeling ever.   We were almost done with our self torture.   And people in the crowd kept yelling, "Way to finish together, girls!"  "Go Team Green!"   That's what we do.   We do not leave each other.   If someone is having a bad day, we are all having a bad day.   Because what good is a P.R. if you do it alone?   Where is the glory in that?   These girls are like my family.   I am not in this for personal glory.  I am in this to run with my friends.   That's it.    Crossing that finish line was honestly one of the happiest moments of my life.   My heart was filled with pure joy.   My cup definitely runneth over.
Finish Line!
Time:  4:40.   Not bad.

Until the next time, ladies...:-)

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's Just Pain, Right?

So we did the 20 mile training run on Saturday.

Verdict: I don't know if I want to do this anymore.

I am not sure how I get myself into these situations. Wait, yes, I am. I am addicted to running, and I have a confidence problem. I have enough confidence for 5 elite runners. And I am only one, average carpool queen runner. And miles 0-18 have felt really good lately....so I thought I had this marathon in the bag. (Stop and laugh hysterically at that statement.) Let me tell you how impressive my arrogance is: On Friday, I tried to talk my girls into running a 50K with me. No, not 5K......a FIFTY K. That is 31 miles. I thought it would feel just like miles 0-18, only last longer. And we have some serious endurance. But that's the kicker, endurance is no longer an issue when you're a long distance runner. My lungs and heart could run a 100 mile ultra. No doubt in my mind. My bones and muscles vote no. And not just no, but HELL no.

Saturday morning, mile 19 kicked my arrogant little booty. Holy smokes. Wait, let's rewind, it really is more entertaining than that.

We were up and running by 5am. It was dark until 6:45am. We did about 10 miles in the pitch dark. Remember, we run on country roads...very few, or no, street lights. We used a cellphone with a flashlight app. We have headlamps, but only one of us thought to bring it, and that one was burnt out. We rock like that.

We cruised along, having our usual giggles until about mile 16. It started feeling more difficult, but usually we're done by 18 and so it's no big thing. By mile 19 we were all in quite a bit of pain for a variety of reasons that don't really matter. What it comes down to is this; no matter how well trained you are, your body starts to break down after awhile. And one of us became W-H-I-N-Y. And that one of us was ME. Jen and Traci were laughing at me and with me, and that was okay. I was even laughing at myself. I was a brat. By mile 18.5, I told them to forget the 50K, and maybe I might even forget the 26.2. What was I doing out here? Why was I running another marathon? Did I learn nothing two years ago? It is like going into labor with Baby #2. I now remember the agony, but I am dilated to 9 and past the point of no return.

I would love to tell you that the endorphins kicked in and I'm ready to rock that race in Minneapolis, but that would be a lie. I am kind of nervous now, and my heart is dreading it just a little. This might have been what I needed to properly get my head in the game over the next 20 days. (Gulp.) You have to respect the race.

Oh, and I may or may not have tweaked my knee last Saturday night while channeling a Solid Gold dancer and doing some kind of karate kick step. (If you're taking notes, I am not just stupid, but OLD, because really??? One little kick and my knee hurts for 9 days? What is that about?)

So now I will spend the next 480 hours tapering, praying, focusing, and remembering who I am, and who I am NOT.

Note to self: Not born in Kenya, but I can do this. And it is going to hurt. A lot.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Still Going

34 Days and Counting.

Mon---Weights and Eliptical x 60 min
Tues---7 mile Run
Friday---7 mile Run
Sunday---18 Mile Run

Well, this week I have learned that Power Bars "Harvest Energy" are pathetic at providing me pre-run energy. I usually favor the Snickers Marathon bars, but could not find one anywhere. So I felt like death from miles 0 to 7, and wanted to quit every step of the way. By mile 7, I had taken about 6 Shot Bloks, and I think that's the only thing that saved me. I have decided that I am done with GU for now. It is revolting and the makers of such a product have not earned my money by making it more palatable. (I am now sticking my tongue out and walking away.) So now I have to figure out how to carry 3 packs of Shot Bloks on race day, because I despise fanny packs and I can't tuck Shot Bloks in my bra and shorts like I can GU.

This week was hard. The 7 mile runs weren't bad, but by the end of the 18 everything on me hurt. Not sure what was different. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I feel ready for race day. It will be hard, but since we've done this before I know now that it's 90% mental. And I feel like we've got that part in the bag.

Favorite things this training go 'round? Compression socks. After every long run I go home, shower, and put on these skin tight socks. They're normally $50/pair, but we found a Groupon that got them for $25/pair plus free shipping. Not bad. My legs recover so much faster with these socks! Also, my Newton Gravity shoes. They are unbelievably fabulous and the best thing that ever happened to my running. They are also insanely expensive, but I promise to never buy more than 2 pairs per year.

Til next week...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What's My Name?

Week: .... I don't know.

Stats:... I don't know that either.

It's all running together, and I forgot to keep writing stuff down. Where did my short term memory go? I used to have one. All I can recall is that since my last post there was a glorious 18 miler and the 5 mile Tiblow Trot. (Whaddup 66012?!) Those are the highlights. Everything else was status quo; Run, Cross Train, Run some more, then when we can't take anymore---Run again.

We are having a good time. I love to train. I love to train more than race day. On race day there are too many nerves, stomach issues, vomit, etc. Training is just sweating and laughing. Speaking of laughing, want to know how we warmed up for the Tiblow Trot? We sat in my car and listened to this:

Click HERE.

There it is. Tangible proof that we really do not realize that it is 2012 and that we are all mothers in our 30s. 2/3 of our team is from the Dotte, that will be our excuse. But it's the girl from Wyoming who does a very good dance where she lasso's imaginary things and spanks the air that always surprises me.

Running is good for the soul. It forces you to be real and accept who you are. It helps you to assess your strengths, and puts a glaring spotlight on your weaknesses. (Note to self: Will not cry during marathon this time.) When I run, I don't feel like a 37 year-old with a plate full of responsibilities. I just feel like the girl I used to be. (The girl I used to be who now has to wear SPF 50 to avoid that leathery/wrinkly neck thing you see on women---blecch.) I did not meet Jen and Traci until we were adults, but it is safe to say that they know me better than anyone on earth, except my husband. Over the last 3 years we have each told her our life stories over hundreds of miles. (Crazy fact: When I cleared the history on my Garmin I had 900 miles on it last year.) You cannot put on a front or pretend to be someone that you are not when you are physically beat down and exhausted. Nor is there much you can hide from people who have witnessed you peeing on the side of the road.

That's why there is always another race---because who really wants training to end?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Cori -- Week 6 and Week 7

Week of July 22 Stats:

Monday: Swim x 45 min
Tuesday: 6 Mile Run
Wednesday: Turn & Burn Class x 60 min
Thursday: 6 Mile Run
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 16 mile run

Week of July 29 Stats:

Monday: Elliptical x 30 min, Strength training
Tuesday: 4 Mile Run
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: 5.5 Mile Run
Friday: OFF
Saturday: 12 Mile Run

Oh peeps, we are TIRED.

We are at that point in training where our muscles feel fatigued and we feel broken. But we are doing it. And we're doing 90% of it together---that's what keeps me going. I do not know how people train for a marathon without a partner to hold you accountable. Sooo necessary.

New shoes this week---a necessity. Still using my Newton Gravity shoes. They are glorious! And my precious husband found the model they are phasing out online for $111---Big savings from the usual $175 plus tax. I was thrilled. It's the model I was already running in, so it works for me.

I need to buckle it down from here on out---better nutrition, more sleep, more fluids. Becaue next week our mileage increases about 30% and we start speed workouts. We haven't even begun to see "broken" yet.

Ingram out.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cori --- Week 5

Prepare yourself for some of the worst photography you have ever seen. Because the man who normally photo-documents my life and hobbies was home in bed when I went all "Ansel Adams" on the world.

Runner's World magazine (which is REALLY good by the way, not at all dry like the title sounds) has a feature called "Rave Run". They show pictures of some of the most glorious scenery ever created by God and some lucky duck is running along basking in their good fortune, decked out in the best running clothes money can buy, and looking very light on their feet.

Well, here is the Midwest's version of a Rave Run---somewhere in rural Leavenworth County, Kansas. (Except picture roll-out-of-bed clothes, and tired girls tromping along while talking nonstop.) But I mean this in all seriousness. I love running in the country. I would not trade it for a trail or park for any amount of money. Last week there were corn fields and a church steeple---oh be still my heart---I could have died happily as the sun came up over that Kansas vision. Beauty is where you find it.

Today we got up for a 6am ten mile long run. I detest getting up early. I hate it so much that when my alarm goes off I am forbidden from talking to myself (even in my own head) because I am too negative. My mantra is "Don't think, just get up." I lay everything out the night before, camelbak filled and in the fridge, and I can roll out the door in 10 minutes. If I gave myself time to think I would cry or go back to bed.

I go to wherever our meeting spot is, usually in a foul mood, and think about quitting running and surrendering to being a slug for the rest of my life. Then Traci and Jen roll in, and we usually do things like growl at each other, flip each other off, and mutter comments like, "I so wanted you to cancel." But I don't think one of us has EVER canceled the morning of. Ever. We have even run sick. I don't know what personality trait that takes, but we are all cut from the same cloth.

We start our Garmins and we're off. This morning I looked at my watch to determine at what time I was happy to be there running with my BFF's. Mile 0.22. That is a good day. Sometimes it's mile 4 to be honest. But we usually start earlier, and 6 am is making me happier than the 4:45am times in our recent past.

As the sun was rising in the East we crossed a gravel road/bridge over I-70, farmland all around, and when I looked into the sun a hot air balloon was spotted in the distance. It was breathtaking. I had to stop and take a picture, which everyone willingly did because we love it when someone needs to walk for a second. The picture fell far short of reality (I am blaming it on my iPhone), but join me in the moment:

That teeny, teeny dot was my beautiful hot air balloon.

I was so happy that I demanded my girls stop and pose too. That blur in the upper left corner is my thumb---and that is why the Trooper never ever lets me hold the camera.

This is the kind of scenery we run by quite often---cows, pigs, the odd llama. Gotta love Kansas. And it really is beautiful. It's not glamorous, but it's simple, and honest, and touches your heart in a very real way. It is truly my Rave Run. (Disclaimer: Except I would love you even more Kansas if we could take the temps back down to double digits. It's enough to melt a freckly girl.)

Now enough mushy stuff and on to my weekly stats:

Sunday --- 12 mile run
Monday --- Elliptical x 40 min, weights x 20 min
Tuesday---8 mile run. (HIDEOUS. Waaay too hot! Maybe the worst run of 2012.)
Wednesday---Turn and Burn Class (55 min of biking and running)
Thursday---7 miles on the AMT. (Can't make me do a treadmill, but I can still hang in the A/C!)
Saturday---10 mile run

Some weeks I love training. This was one of those weeks. My heart is full of gratitude for our health and our friendship. God has truly blessed us.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cori: The Road to Ikea

Let's try this again.

Dear Training Blog,

Sorry to dump you so suddenly last summer. But Jen broke her wrist, and I had stress fractures galore, we didn't need a training blog. We shifted into surviving-and-rolling-with-the-punches. But now we're training for Marathon #2 and we need to record some data.

Week 4 - July 9-15

Monday---Biked 10 miles
Tuesday ---Ran 5 miles
Wednesday---Swim x 40 min
Thursday---Ran 7 miles
Sunday---Ran 12 miles

So, we're shopping at Ikea on October 6th. And there is a silly race the next day, I guess we'll do that, too. 26.2 miles of I-don't-know-what-we-are-thinking-doing-this-again.

The heat is pretty unbearable right now. We ran 8 miles last night, finished at 9:40pm and it was STILL 96 degrees. Jen and I were both borderline ill, too.

Sometimes I wonder why we're doing this again, but marathons are a lot like childbirth. It sounds great when you're in the planning stages. You want to die while you're doing it. And when it's over, you just forget how bad it was. I don't know....it's like the older I get the more I just want to do things to push myself to the brink of collapse. It makes me feel alive. And I also have the two best friends in the world to do all of this with, and it doesn't get better than that.

So here we go again, recording the journey....