Showing posts with label marathon training. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marathon training. Show all posts

Friday, July 7, 2017

Saying Goodbye to My Coach

You're probably reading the title of this post and saying WHAT? Actually, I'm saying that. I'm still in shock. But it's true. My training sessions with Becky are coming to an end.

About 6 weeks ago, Becky told Steph and me that she was moving to Las Vegas to join the circus. Seriously. She is taking a job with Cirque du Soleil as part of their medical team. It's an amazing opportunity for her. I'm so proud of her for going out of her comfort zone and trying something new! After all, isn't that what she's been pushing me to do for the last 3 years?

Becky asked us not to share this information until the CrossFit box had a chance to let everyone know. I put it in the vault and there it has remained until today. This was a post I did not want to write. I've been struggling to put my thoughts into words. It's so hard for me to say goodbye to someone who has completely transformed my life.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The No Pressure, No Marathon Training Plan

Another week of "no marathon training" complete! It's a strange feeling, training for a marathon that I most likely won't run. Usually, with marathon training, there's a sense of urgency-- to hit all your miles, to complete speed work or hill repeats with even splits, and to ensure that your recovery is on point. Heck, on this plan if I don't feel like doing a run or going the distance prescribed, it's no big deal.

But no pressure doesn't mean skipping out on a workout entirely. My motto is to do what I can. Finishing is winning, right? That includes my workouts. This week, the wind has been howling and the temperatures are cold. While there are days where it's hard to motivate myself to get moving, I force myself to move. To not move is to lose fitness and mobility. As a benefit of staying on track, I'm starting to rediscover some endurance. Recovery is becoming easier as well. Either my body is adjusting to my new training style or my disease is starting to relent.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Running on Eggshells

You all know I love a good pun or idiom. For this Easter Sunday weekly wrap up post, I really couldn't think of any phrase more fitting to describe my running right now. Running right now is just the craziest thing. I dunno, I look in the mirror and I look like myself. At rest, I feel like myself.

Once I'm up and moving, though, it's a different story. Any activities--running or walking--require careful pacing. There's no dashing out the door with reckless abandon, which has always been my MO. Gingerly placing my feet, now when I run, I continuously monitor my internal sensors. Is my heart beating too fast? Am I short of breath? Do my legs feel fatigued? I don't even have to remind myself to go slow because my body just won't let me push any faster.

I try not to focus on all the negative but it does really feel like I'm running on eggshells. As I reflect back on the week, there were some positive reminders that I'm still in this body. I might be down but I'm not out. Not yet. Actually, not ever.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Turn it Up to 11 and Finish Your Race Strong with these 11 Songs

For me, part of marathon or half marathon training is about the music. When I run, I listen to music that has a positive, motivational message and a driving beat. As race day approaches, I like to make a playlist just for that particular race. Normally when I run a race, I put my playlist on shuffle, but sometimes I like to have certain songs at the end, just for that extra push.

I like to turn it up to 11 as I finish. What? Tell me you haven't seen This is Spinal Tap? "When you need that extra push over the cliff, you know, we turn it up to 11...."~Nigel Tufnel. my never-ending quest for the perfect motivational songs, I found 11 songs that I think would be the perfect finishers for a hard long distance race.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Where Did All the Endurance Go?

This week I "officially" started training for Grandma's Marathon. With only 11 weeks to go, I'm thankful I keep a pretty good training base and can just jump into the plan Becky has laid out for me. It's been a recipe for success in the past.

However, this time around, I'm a different runner. I've been struggling with my endurance and pacing the last couple of months. I'm continuing to slow down and frustrated with my reverse momentum, this week I gave myself a couple of options: drop out of the marathon--which I have never, ever done before, or try something new.

Don't think that I didn't consider pulling out of this marathon.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Coffee Talk

It's raining, it's pouring, the weather I'm ignoring...

When it's cold and damp like this, it's a good excuse to hunker down under a blanket with a warm cup of coffee. That's exactly what I'm doing as I prepare this month's Coffee Talk post. I found my favorite rainy day mug, poured a cup of joe, and added some chocolate soy milk. Yum. What will you have?

Sit back and let's talk. Today's going to be a little bit of runner's sole searching, so maybe you want to put a little Bailey's in that mug? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Nuisance Inside My Head

No sooner did I sign up for Grandma's Marathon did the voices in my head start their relentless chatter:

"You can't do another marathon."
"You're too old to do another marathon."
"That PF is going to come roaring back."
"Seriously? Another marathon?"
"What are you trying to prove?"
"What are you thinking?"

Do you know these voices? Ever heard those comments? Do you ignore them or succumb?

Those voices used to get under my skin. At this point, as I consider my 5th marathon, I just look at them as just a nuisance.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Book Review: Boston Bound

How many of us have that one pinnacle event, that must-do marathon, that bucket list race? For me, it was the Big Sur International Marathon. For Elizabeth Clor, that race was the Boston Marathon. But as many runners know, even if training runs are on the mark, qualifying isn't as easy as it would seem. In her memoir Boston Bound, Clor chronicles her journey through multiple marathons as she attempts to slay the demons that kept her from lining up at what most long distance runners consider to be the ultimate race of marathoning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies

In case you didn't know, I'm running a marathon this weekend. Not just any marathon, but the Big Sur Marathon! My training is wrapped up and I'm hoping that what I did is enough to get me across the finish line. After all, there was very little running the last 6 weeks. Thank you very much, plantar fasciitis! I'm feeling a little restless without having much training on the plan this final week. I've got all this nervous energy and I've been buzzing around the house like the energizer bunny! I won't lie, even though I'm anxious, it feels good to have more time in my day to focus on other things besides training.

And yes, my wacky sense of humor has returned. Is it because I'm glad to be done with training or is it the taper crazies?

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies

What to do with all that nervous energy besides worry? What's a runner to do?

You sing out loud on your final training runs. Because they are shorter. Because there are no paces to hit. Because you just get to run. But then you worry that you aren't running enough. You remind yourself to trust your training. You remember all those deadlifts and squats Becky had you do and that is what will power you up those hills. You remember how much you love running. Your runs feel easy right now. You think maybe you didn't do enough to get ready. You remind yourself that you did enough to get ready. You try to forget that you still have to run 26.2 miles.
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
KB swings
You text wacky selfies to your friend who is running Boston alone. The selfies have all the marathon signs that drove you crazy the last time you ran one. But secretly, you hope to see some of these signs at your race. Because even though they sometimes annoy you, you appreciate the efforts. And they always make you smile. And smiling makes running feel a little bit easier.
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
I know it's a lion, but that's all I had at work.
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
Headstand? Running a marathon? Growing out your bangs?
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
Yes, they do. BQ, baby.
You eat all the food. Including these yummy cupcakes that I won from another blogger, Sana. Oh yes, that happened. It's probably the best prize I've ever won from a blog giveaway. No hemp hearts in these babies. Just sugar, butter, and yummy goodness. I won't lie, though. I shared them with my boys. Because otherwise, I'm just a glutton.

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
From Georgetown Cupcakes
You obsess about hurting yourself or becoming ill before the marathon. Washing your hands becomes more than hygiene, it becomes a mission. You avoid sidewalk cracks, not only because you are superstitious but also because you don't want to trip. You also avoid any people who look sick. Which is kind of hard to do when you work in the medical profession. Your mind screams with possibilities. Every sneeze is potential for pneumonia. Every creak, every niggle, every twinge is a potential DNS.

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies

You read all the information you can find about your race and review the course map so much that you feel that you've already run the race. You know every mile marker, every uphill and downhill. You anticipate the guy playing the grand piano at mile 13. That big hill that starts at mile 9 and ends at mile 11. You start stalking the weather. Maybe you have more than one weather app on your phone. Maybe you have 4 weather apps and you check them all, favoring the app that has the best forecast. Every day the forecast changes and you imagine the worst. Looks like it's going to be windy. There's been plenty of wind here in Chicago. I can do this!

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
And away I go! This isn't my first marathon, but it's my first destination marathon! Funny thing, even after 3 marathons, I still get nervous and excited. I can't wait to start and I can't wait to be done. It's all part of the process. No matter what, I wouldn't miss it for the world. I won't be blogging the rest of the week. I'll be taking a little time off this week to enjoy my time away with my husband. You can stalk me on my Facebook Page or Instagram for race updates. My race recap will be up next Sunday.

How about you? What happens to you during your taper? Do you go crazy? Do you have a ton of nervous energy? What do you do to burn it off?

Thanks to everyone for following me through my training, my injury, and everything else. It really does take a village to train a marathoner. I will run with all of you in my heart!

I'm linking up with Deb Runs for Wednesday Word. Today's word is energetic. Who me?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 5

We continued on that weather roller coaster this week. This is my first time training for a spring marathon, and it has been interesting trying to plan my runs! Still, I've been staying on track!

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 5

Monday: rest day

Tuesday: I had that pair of YakTrax to review, and so I headed out into the blustery snow/sleet/ice to get my 6 miles in. For sure, it was slow but it felt good to be outside. 6.13m/8:58m/m

Post run selfie

Wednesday: It was really cold when I got up (14F) and I decided to do my speedwork on the treadmill. My son missed the bus, and I grudgingly put on my running clothes to do my speedwork at the pond. Turns out he did me a favor. The path was pretty clear, and the sunshine was brilliant on the open water of the lake. I hit paces I've not seen since last summer. Stunned and happy, I couldn't decide on a yoga pose to finish. Miles 2 and 4 were into the wind. Splits: 7:44, 7:51, 7:38, 7:56, 7:42

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 5
So cold you can see my breath!
I had to go into work early for a meeting, so I couldn't make my yoga class. I did the SeaWheeze 2014 yoga video at home. It felt great after that speedy running! But later in the day, my PF flared badly. I could barely walk. It didn't hurt after I ran, so I don't know if it was because I was sitting all afternoon and it tightened up? Or maybe it was the old pair of shoes I grabbed at the last minute for my run. I was too lazy to take the YakTrax off my yellow shoes or get out the new pair I had waiting for this week. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I had evening clinic, and between patients I kept icing my foot. I tried sleeping with my night split but my foot wasn't having it. It was very painful.

Thursday: When I woke up, my foot was still sore. I sat with it on the heating pad while I drank my coffee. I rode for an hour on the bike trainer. The YouTube video I rode along with this week was cycling intervals, and while I enjoyed it, 2 of the riders in the group were not wearing helmets. Come on, people! At least, this safety fail distracted me from the lingering PF pain.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 5
Hey, inversions keep me off my feet, right?
At CrossFit, Becky and I shifted gears this week. The strength cycle was completed last week, and now we're doing more "CrossFit" types of workouts. Today I did intervals of sumo deadlifts alternating with kettlebell swings (I knew there would be kettlebells this week!), a glute strengthener with resistance band alternating with GHD extensions, and slam balls alternating with hanging knee ups. Becky had me finish with 3 mins all out on the rower. I came home, foam rolled, ate all the food, and put my feet up. No pictures today.

Friday: rest day

Saturday: I had a 6 mile run on the plan. It was also time for new shoes. After Wednesday's old shoe blunder, I wasn't taking any more chances with my foot. I pulled out the backup pair I had stashed in my closet and was stunned at the bright color (I didn't open them when they came). When I ordered them, the color was described as "coral" and didn't look quite so neon in the picture. Since it was such a gloomy, dreary, gray morning, the shoes put a smile on my face every time I looked down at my feet. This run was tough because my legs were still sore from Thursday's workout.  My PF was also sore. I really appreciated the cushioning of the new shoes. 6.01/8:39m/m

New neon orange shoes. A bright spot in the wet muddy snow.
Momentum foot notes that I won from Scoot-A-Doot!

Sunday: Every 3 weeks on my marathon training plan, Becky switches out the long run for a long bike ride. I haven't done any long rides yet, because riding outside in the cold is not at all an appealing option, nor is 2 hours on the trainer. But between my sore foot and the predicted temps in the 40s, I decided to go for it. I waited for it to warm up a bit, had my son take my bike out of the trainer, filled up the tires, and headed out. I was really excited to feel how easy the pedalling felt and my Wahoo Blue SC sensor was working perfectly. The air was chilly and the south wind was brisk, but I was dressed perfectly for the conditions. About 11 miles into the ride, I stopped to take a picture of the beautiful dried wheat field behind me. That's when I noticed that my phone was dead. It was a little unnerving, but not because I wouldn't be able to capture my ride. Although as they say, if you don't post it, it didn't happen, right? I didn't like the idea of not being able to get in touch with my family if something happened to me. We all know that I can't change a tire...

So in spite of my techno-failure, I kept on going. For the most part, the path was clear except for a few snowy patches, and there were very few people on the path. I passed a runner twice, and the second time, he was eating a snack, so I stopped to talk with him. He told me he's training for the Wisconsin marathon. We talked running and races. Aren't all runners just friends we haven't met yet? He wanted me to send him the name of my blog but since my phone was dead, I couldn't. Hopefully, you've found me, Mike!

After that, I headed home. Even though at that point I had the wind at my back, my hands and feet were numb, and I had had enough of the cool temps. When I got home, I took off my cleats and my feet were white. I couldn't feel them. A half hour and a warm shower later, I'm all toasty warm again. My phone is charged. That was the craziest. I have to figure out what went wrong. Even though I don't have a selfie to share, I've ridden this route enough to know how far I rode. 30+ miles/approx 2 hours.

The bike really is the best backup plan!

How was your week? Any training fails? Crazy weather?

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 4

We were on a weather roller coaster this week with warm temps bookending a windy snowstorm midweek. Actually, the one thing that was consistent this week was the wind. In spite of the crazy weather, I was able to do all my runs outside. Welcome to spring in Chicago!

Monday: I started work later this day, so I was able to go to a yoga class at the studio. Megan had us do lots of shoulder openers--who doesn't need some of that? On the way home, I stopped to grab some sunshine and a humble warrior.

humble warrior
Humble warrior with hands in reverse namaste
Tuesday: I had an 8 mile run on the plan. It's always tough to get these longer distances done during the week, but the speed I found last week stayed with me. I ran on the bike path and caught some sunshine again! 8.09m/8:33m/m
Sunrise run
I am the fire
Wednesday: Since the winds were whipping, I was going to do my hill repeats on the treadmill. But I just couldn't. I dropped my son off at school and headed over to the hill where Walter Payton did his training. As it turns out, the wind was at my back for the uphills! I did 10 repeats on the hill path, and for the last repeat, I did a "plus" set--I ran to the top of the hill. Becky has me do plus sets with weight training, and I channelled my inner Becky to push myself on that last rep like I do at CrossFit with her.

hill repeats at Payton's Hill
Channeling my inner #34
After that, I went to yoga. We had a sub, but it was a lovely class and hit all the high points. But how sad is it that I don't remember much specific about the class? Note to self: remember to be more mindful. Or take notes.

Thursday: In spite of the post-run yoga I did the day before, I woke up sore from those hill repeats. I felt fine when I was doing them, so this was a bit of a surprise to me. Because I was so sore and knowing that today was my max lifting day, for my ride I chose to take it easy. I picked a cycling video from YouTube that was basically an endurance ride through Mallorca, Spain. There were no intervals, and most of the ride seemed to be downhill. Odd, I know, but for today, it worked. My guide was a little crazy--the roads were narrow and he rode into oncoming traffic just blowing past all the cars and a bus! This video had rock music, and I liked that so much better than the EDM that most of them use. But there were 2 ads in the video--one at 20 minutes and one at 40 minutes. Seriously. What is up with that? 1:02:02/13.24mi

Riding the bike trainer
Riding through Mallorca in my family room

After I rode, I went to meet with Becky. I was a little nervous about my max lifting day. I was thrilled to PR both my cleans to front squats and my deadlifts (177#)! Becky was thrilled too. She told me that I surpassed her goals for me this cycle.

After weight lifting, I asked Becky if she'd be up for a partner yoga picture. Sweatpink was hosting another Instagram challenge--this one was a partner workout. While they didn't specify yoga, and since Becky can get up in a handstand, I thought we could have some fun with it. And we did. Becky recruited the owner of the CrossFit box to take these pictures.

Partner Yoga handstand and side plank
She assures me she'll never be a yogi. I say never say never.
handstand and tree pose
My strong coach holding up my tree
Friday was a rest day. I woke up even more sore than the previous day. My wrists hurt from those cleans and front squats. My butt hurt from those deadlifts. As I headed into work, I remembered I had CPR renewal in the afternoon. That meant doing chest compressions on a mannequin to exhaustion. And also on those creepy plastic babies. Thankfully this class was a breeze. Although I did break a sweat pounding on the mannequin's chest, at least it wasn't prolonged.

Saturday: 5 miles, no goal pace. Still a little sore, I headed out into the sunshine and wind with no expectations. I actually felt pretty good and buzzed around the neighborhood at a brisk pace. 5.25m/8:34 m/m
Windy but sunny. #nofilter
Sunday morning I set out to run the 12 miles on the plan. My tummy was acting up and after multiple bathroom visits, I finally headed out. Sorry about the TMI. But this was a huge issue for me this morning. The wind was whipping, and I decided to head out into it, so that the wind would blow me home. I started out on the bike path, but took a detour to a different park after I passed a super creepy guy riding very slowly on a bike. My tummy was still unsettled. About mile 4, I knew that disaster was imminent. Then I saw this sign:

Do you believe in signs? You know I do, and I decided not to ignore this one. The church was locked but there was an elderly gentleman and his wife at the door. I knocked and they let me in. His wife gestured towards the sanctuary. "Come in!" she smiled at me. I asked to use the restroom, apologizing profusely. She looked confused, but her husband pointed me in the right direction. When I came out, I thanked them and again apologized. He asked me how far I was running, and when I told them 12 miles, they looked shocked. I explained why, and they nodded, still looking at me like I was crazy. Hopefully, they prayed for me. I continued on my way towards the park, and began to make my way around the lake. I stopped to take a gel at mile 7, and struggled to catch my breath after that point. It was getting fairly warm (60F). At mile 10, yep, another side stitch, just like my last 12 miler. I slowed down and breathed it off. By mile 11 it was gone, but I was toast. I finished up just before my driveway. When I saw my time, I knew why it was so hard. I need to do a better job pacing myself on these long runs. I've got to slow down. 12.02m/8:55m/m

Crow pose
Crow on the run
So I've got 2 weeks to go until my Sarasota half marathon. Today's run showed me that I'll probably run into problems with the warm temps if I don't slow down. Note to self: that race is a training run.


How was your week? Any crazy weather conditions to contend with? We're supposed to get snow tomorrow. Any signs on the run?

I'm linking this post up with Holly and Tricia, who are most likely basking in the glow of their RnR NOLA race this morning! Be sure to check out their posts and congratulate them!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Staying the Course: 10 tips to Get You Through a Tough Run

Did you watch the US Olympic Marathon Trials last weekend? It's always inspiring to watch elite athletes run to the finish of a marathon. This year was particularly grueling because of the heat. Shalane Flanagan collapsed at the finish line. You could tell that she was struggling. Yet she got herself across that finish line. What can we learn from Shalane and other elites about staying the course during a tough race? Or a tough training run?

10 Tips to Get You Through a Tough Run

I had plenty of time to think about this on Sunday's long run. Thus far I haven't had to dip into my mental toughness regimen as I begin marathon prep, but last Sunday was the day that I had to dig deep. Let me set the stage: starting temp was 16F and the wind was blowing at 10-15mph. My PF was barking at me from my run the day before. As I headed out, within a mile, my right shin tightened up. I'm certain that it's related to my hobbling as I run out that PF pain in my left foot. I could hear my right foot flapping on the ground, and a walker even turned around as I approached. Hello, it's just me, gimpy runner! Don't judge. I hoped knew it would get better.

I stopped twice to stretch out my shin. This is when I pulled out my first mantra of the run. I relied on a couple of mantras to get through this painfully cold run. What do you do to keep going when your brain is telling you no?

Never judge a run by the first mile. Or two. Or three. Or four. Yes, because that is how long it took for my shin to loosen up on this tough run. I knew it would, once my PF calmed down (running stretches out the plantar fascia) and I settled into my stride. At mile 4, my leg felt loose and I smiled to myself as I watched my splits improve. I just didn't think it would take so long.

Keep it loose. Since I was hurting so much at the beginning of this run, I found myself tightening up. Unconsciously, I was clenching my fists. There was no way I was going to finish this run if I was all tensed up. I kept remembering what my childhood piano teacher used to tell me. She reminded me to play the piano as if I had an egg in each hand. I use this mental exercise a lot when I'm running. I don't want to break the eggs, so I keep my hands loose. Try it.

Eye on the prize. I had to remind myself why this run was so important. I can't quit in the middle of the Big Sur Marathon! I also thought about Kristina, from Live Love Laugh Run, and how I don't want to disappoint her. We plan on running this race together, and I sure as heck am not going to quit on her! That thought kept me moving.
I don't HAVE to run. I GET to run. I'm so lucky that I get to do this, and I know it. Big Sur is a bucket list race for me, an adventure of a lifetime. As I ran, I also felt thankful that in spite of the brutal weather conditions, there was minimal snow on the ground, and that meant the forest preserve path was clear. I did most of my Chicago Marathon training on that path, and there's a lot of good juju on those trails.

Keep smiling. There were a few brave souls out there running and walking. The walkers were bundled up as if we were in the arctic circle. They all smiled at me and stiffly waved. Smiling really does lighten your step. I also smiled (but ran a little faster) because even though it was really cold, there were still a few cars backed into parking spots in the preserve. Of course, I'm not the Valentine these men are looking for.

10 Tips to Get You Through a Tough Run
I also saw this. Shoes hanging from a tree. Any ideas about how or why they are there?
Breathe in strength, breathe out weakness. At mile 10, as I was reflecting on how this was a solid training run, I got a side stitch. Seriously? Well, I wasn't going to stop to walk it off. It was just too cold to slow down. I reminded myself to inhale for 3 and exhale on the side opposite of the stitch. Repeat and repeat. After about a mile, it finally went away.

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. These tough training runs are actually a good thing. They force me to deal with glitches and problems that are likely to come up during the marathon. I don't know about you but I don't like surprises and I certainly don't like surprises that are going to hold me back!

Head up, heart strong. I actually channeled my inner Shalane during this run. I pictured her slowing down at the end of her marathon yesterday, in obvious pain, yet never giving up. She never quit. Sure, she came in 3rd, but she's going to the freaking Olympics! I'm no Shalane Flanagan, but I'm a tough mother runner, and I can do this.

When you feel like quitting, remember why you started. I never believed that I couldn't do this run. But the conditions were so tough that I wanted to quit so many times. Yeah, it sucked. I really wanted to go home and get back under the covers. I won't lie. But then I'd glance down at my Garmin and see my pace, which made me smile. I actually picked up the pace on the back half of the run, because at that point I wasn't hurting. My legs felt great. That made me smile too.

There's pizza at home. I don't usually dial into thoughts about my post-run meal until the last mile or 2. But that's usually when I need the extra push to get home. My last mile of this run was my fastest, believe it or not. I was hungry. I was tired. I was cold. I couldn't feel my face. And I was ready to be done.

There's a lot of time to think on a long run. So make the most of it. Are you going to be negative and bring yourself down? Or are you going to make it positive? It isn't always easy to push through a tough run, but remember this: 
"Baseball is 99% mental." -Yogi Berra
What? Ok, running isn't baseball, but it's a great analogy. Do the work on the road and off. Keep your head in the game. Stay the course. You got this.

What do you tell yourself to stay focused and positive during a tough run? Any favorite mantras?

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is stability. What's your take on this word?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Finish Line

As runners, we measure victory in finish lines and finish times. After all the preparation, all the blood, sweat, and tears, there is just no better feeling than crossing the finish line after a grueling training cycle. The race might be hard, but the finish line is the reward after all that hard work.

The marathon is often used as a metaphor for a difficult journey. Some people use the word marathon loosely to describe any kind of lengthy experience. Like a Netflix marathon. I don't know about you, but there's not a lot of challenge in sitting in front of the TV for hours on end. Unless you are watching Guy Fieri (my husband loves him). Or American Idol.

That's not what I'm talking about here.

What I'm talking about is crossing a finish line where you've overcome some kind of challenge. Maybe it was a difficult race. Or sending your youngest child off to college. Or a positive pregnancy test after a long battle with infertility. Graduating from school. There are all kinds of finish lines in life. Most of these finish lines have no winners. The prize is in the finish and a job well done. Triumphant, because you've overcome the training, the journey, the adversity--whatever it was--to get yourself to the finish. The most meaningful finish lines, as in the marathon, are the ones crossed after the most challenging journeys.

As a nurse practitioner, I am privileged to share in many of my patients' journeys. Because this is a running blog, I don't talk about that much here. But today, I want to share a story about a very special finish line.

Almost a year and a half ago, in the middle of a busy afternoon clinic schedule, I walked into an exam room to evaluate a 6 year old girl with abdominal pain. Abdominal pain is one of my least favorite complaints because more often that not, it is usually due to constipation. I usually see at least 2 kids per day with this problem. I know what you're thinking. Living the dream, right? What's better than talking about poop all day long?

But this visit was different. As I entered the room, I introduced myself to Jolie and her mom. I noticed that Jolie's abdomen was really distended. My instincts told me this was not good. Her mom told me Jolie had an ongoing problem with constipation. For once, I hoped that this was constipation. But I knew better. As I palpated her abdomen, I expected to feel an enlarged liver or spleen. Instead, I felt a large, hard mass across her lower abdomen. My heart sunk. I knew this was bad. While I didn't let her mom know how worried I was, I sent Jolie to the ER where she could have a CT scan.

Later, I learned that Jolie was diagnosed with a rare tumor called rhabdomyosarcoma. The prognosis was not good, and the treatment regimen harsh.

Zuly, Jolie, and me Halloween 2014
Pre-chemo: Zuly (my medical assistant), Jolie, and me
In spite of the ups and downs that go with cancer treatment, Jolie's parents projected so much positivity that you couldn't help but be caught up in it. She was diagnosed right before Halloween, and my medical assistant and I visited her in costume, only to find her parents dressed up as well. Jolie was dressed as a princess. Later, when Jolie's hair fell out, her dad let her shave his head in solidarity.

We wore Team Jolie bracelets. Jolie's mom started a Team Jolie facebook page and posted frequent updates and pictures.

Last week, Jolie crossed the finish line of her very grueling marathon. In fact, I'd compare it to an ultramarathon. After 16 months of chemo, radiation, and surgery, Jolie was declared cancer free.

courtesy of Brandy Kneip
I attended Jolie's end of chemo party. We were invited to celebrate this beautiful little girl, but more than that, her parents wanted to celebrate all the people who were part of this journey. It was so fitting for these wonderful parents who found joy all along this very difficult journey.

It was a triumphant day for Jolie and her family. Realistically, they know there is still a long road ahead of them. But for today, they celebrated Jolie's finish line.

Jolie and me
So happy to be on the other side of this marathon!
When I asked Jolie's mom if I could share her story on my blog, I told her that my blog prompt this week was the word triumphant. I said I couldn't think of a more fitting story. Her response? "Do it!"

This one's for you, Jolie. Fighting the good fight. Inspiring all of us to stay the course. A marathon? Piece of cake.

If you want to follow Jolie's journey, you can join her Team Jolie Facebook Group. If you want to do something, Jolie's favorite charity is Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation. You can also donate to Advocate Children's Hospital Cancer Care Program.

Have you overcome a life challenge only to emerge triumphant? 

I'm linking up with DebRuns' weekly Wednesday Word blog prompt. Today's word is triumphant.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Training-- Week 1

Week one of Big Sur Marathon Training is in the books! How did it go?

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 1

Monday: running rest day. On my way to work, I did manage to catch the sunrise at the retention pond where I train. It was spectacular. The pose of the day for the #flexandflow yoga challenge was Wild Thing. Perfect timing, I think! I won Monday's challenge and got to pick out something from prAna's spring collection!
Wild thing
Wild Thing. you make my heart sing. So does this sunrise. Right place, right time.
Tuesday: I ran 4 miles around the 'hood. My legs felt surprisingly great! It was a cold, gloomy morning, and I scoped out my route for a place to take my daily yoga picture. The prompt was to do a pose that challenges you. I always struggle with balance poses and straight leg poses, so I did standing big toe pose, using my SpiBelt as a prop. Hey, whatever works, right?

Standing big toe pose
This pose is so ugly, I had to find an ugly background. 
Wednesday: Speedwork aka mile repeats x4 on the treadmill. I took my Apple Watch out on my long run Sunday to recalibrate it in anticipation of using it on the treadmill. What I didn't realize is that the Apple fitness tracker does not give you mile splits. Since I wasn't paying attention to the numbers on the treadmill, I have no idea how fast my splits were. Crap! I know they were consistent, but that's about it. I'm done with the treadmill and I'm done with my Apple Watch as a running watch. Done. Garmin, you are stuck with me. And I'm doing my speedwork outside. The hell with it.

After my speedwork, I went to yoga. We did a lot of poses against the wall, which really allows you to properly position yourself in the poses. It was another amazing class, and I took my final studio photo for the yoga challenge. The theme was balance, and I chose warrior 3, which is a pose I really struggle with. It took me about 10 takes to get this picture and I still couldn't get the bottom leg straight. Ugh. Though the outtakes were hilarious...
Warrior 3 oops!
Whoa, whoa, whoa!
The camera doesn't lie. I'm balance challenged.
Warrior 3
Warrior 3.
A work in progress.
Thursday: EPIC workout day. I woke up to a beautiful blue sky, and after dropping my youngest off at school, I stopped at Payton's hill where I plan to do my hill repeats. I ran to the top and did the pose of the day, crescent lunge. It is one of my favorites. The wind was brutal at the top and I scurried back to my car. Then I rode my bike for an hour. This time I rode in Germany, which strangely looked like Wisconsin. 14 miles/1:00:43

Crescent lunge
The top of the hill.
After my bike ride, I headed over to work with Becky. She had me do cleans into front squats with 55# on the bar. This was the most I have done so far. She didn't expect me to get to this weight, and was thrilled with this. I was too! After the front squats were deadlifts 155#. She says this isn't my max yet. Ooof. It was heavy. But no complaining, right? Otherwise burpees... To finish, she had me push the prowler 3 laps across the floor. But on the trip back, I pushed the lower bar and OMG was that hard!

After my workout, we talked about hill training. This seasoned runner has never formally trained for hills before. Becky reassured me that I would have no trouble tackling the hills of Big Sur, both the uphills and downhills, with the work she has me doing. But she understood the psychological advantage of actually doing hill work, and we reviewed what I should be doing on my hill repeats. Short sprints up, and easy downhills. Stay tuned.

Clean into a front squat
Clean into a front squat. A new skill this strength cycle!
Friday: rest day. The last day of the yoga challenge, we did child's pose. And all was right with the world.

Child's pose

Saturday: I had 6 miles on the plan. Except that I didn't look at the plan, and thought I only had to do 4. Oh well. It was a gorgeous morning, and I stopped to take in the sunrise. 4.55 miles/8:39m/m

4 miles sunrise

Sunday: Since there is no snow on the ground--so odd for this time of year--I decided to take my 10 mile run to the very pretty preserve with the limestone path. I rarely get to run there in the winter, and I thought this would be a treat! The path was kind of mushy in places and there were frozen footsteps in other spots. There were also some patches of snow and ice. But the sun was peeking through the clouds and it was so pretty to be in this peaceful oasis.

Buffalo Creek 10 miles
Look at that sky!
The one thing I didn't count on was the wind. The temps were in the 40s when I headed out but the wind started to pick up. I had the wind at my back on the way out and didn't realize how strong it was until I turned around to head home. The best word I can use to describe it was brutal. While 40 degrees in February sounds almost balmy for Chicago, the wind is a deal breaker. This route is fairly hilly (for here) and at mile 7, I hit Payton's Hill into the wind. I stopped at the top to catch my breath. The downhill didn't feel much better since I was running into that cold wind. Not quitting on this run was a win. I kept thinking to myself: "what if it is windy like this at Big Sur?" And "what doesn't kill me will make me stronger". Running outside in February is always an exercise in mental toughness. Anyways, I got it done, 10.38 miles/9:03m/m

Coming up this week--more miles! And no more yoga challenge. I'll still be doing yoga but I won't be posting daily poses. Thanks to all of you for indulging me. I've really enjoyed having fun with the poses and the pictures.

How was your week of training? Any fun adventures to share?

I'm linking this post up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap! Head on over to their blogs to see what they and everyone else did this week!