Sunday, March 10, 2013

Enough is Enough

This week has been one long pity party. Yes, my "A" race sucked air...literally... Yes, I know I did the best I could, but there is still that part of me that is so angry that it didn't come together.  I can sputter the platitudes we all know.  "Anything can happen on race day."  "You gave it your best." And so on and so forth.  Maybe this week has just been about healing my lungs and my body. Maybe it is just a pouting toddler after not getting her way. Either way, I have spent time lying on the couch, reading book after book, craving sugar and all this with my lower lip out. 

I hire a coach to help me do reach my goals.  I always hit every workout.  I work hard.  I give my all in every plank, Roman twist, and push up.  I never give up.  Not this week.  Coach is seeing lots of red when she looks at my log.  The freakiest thing is that I didn't even want to run.  There, I said it.  I didn't want to run.  That NEVER happens to me.  I crave running like an addict craves a fix.  Even though running has not been a part of my life for long, I am hooked.  It gives me release for emotions.  It is the only time that is all about me.  When I run, I don't have to care for anyone else.  I firmly believe I would still be in therapy if it weren't for running. 

This week, I felt like it was futile.  I work hard. I hit the workouts and I still can't reach that elusive sub-4 marathon.  I am stronger than ever.  My body hardly tired.  I stood tall for over 5 hours on that course.  Still, my body failed me.  In a way that I never imagined.  I thought I considered every possibility of failure.  I envisioned everything I could think of and worked through my plan.  If my back hurt, if my shin bothered me, if my gut was unhappy.  Yet, all those were fine.  Asthma?!  Never occurred to me.  I never struggle with it unless I am running 5k pace.  To have a severe attack at mile 8, threw me.  But I still hung on mentally.  After all, it was just an anomaly. Nothing to worry about. It was over and done. But it wasn't. It kept coming back.  And there was nothing I could do about it.  Use the inhaler and keep moving forward. 

This week, I have wondered why I do it.  Why do I run for more than just the fun of it?  Why do I race?  Why do I strive to be better than I am?  It all comes down to one thing.  I love it.  I love pushing myself and finding I can do more than I think I can.  I love finding the strength inside me to push a little harder.  That sub-4 marathon is out there. I will find it.  I may not run another marathon this year, but I will run another and, then, probably another more. I am coming for it.  I will not give up.  This race may or may not have been anomaly, but this week was.  I am not who I was this week. I am not defeated.  I am stronger than my emotions.

Enough of this "poor me" attitude.  So I did not get what I wanted this time.  Get over it and move on.  Suck it up, Buttercup!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Veni, Vidi, Vici

I came, I saw, I conquered.  

It is 4:30 am the day after the Phoenix marathon.  I slept great for 6 hours and now my mind is racing.  So much to work out in my mind.  Last evening I met up with the PRS Fit team again.  I told Coach Jeff that I was disappointed--good, but still disappointed.  

I am not disappointed with me or the race I finished.  I am disappointed that not everything came together perfectly.  I am disappointed that even though everything within my control was smooth, there were things beyond my control.  

I have never had the epiphany people talk about after running a marathon. I never had the light dawn after my first that suddenly realizing I could do anything. Even this time there was no real enlightening.  I have never doubted I could finish the distance.  I only wondered how quickly I could do so.  

When I had a severe asthma attack at mile 8, I knew my time goals were shot.  I lost a couple of minutes at the side of the road.  That may not seem like much, but when you are pushing you limit for 26.2 miles, it is a lifetime.  I still thought I would  just use my inhaler, keep on running and a PR was waiting for me at the finish line.  By mile 10, that had slipped away, too.  I was working too hard holding 10:00 pace, much less holding a 9:30 for that PR.  

I know I am strong.  I know I am determined stubborn.  I know that I will do whatever I can to finish.  Yet I didn't realize how optimistic I can be.  It hurt to let it go.  Yet I just kept telling myself, "It is what it is. Let it all go.  Do what you can with what you have." The quote from Winston Churchill kept coming to mind.  "Never, never, never give up."  I cannot tell you how many times I repeated that in my head, out loud and any other way I needed. I told myself run when I could and walk when I had to.  I made myself walk no strolling.  However, I was moving it was the fastest I could move.  When I saw Dad, Loretta and Jeff, I told them I was good.  And it was the truth. I was good.  I started giving high fives to all the kids along the course.  I smiled and talked to other runners.  I had fun.  

Truly the hardest part of this was knowing everything I struggled with in past marathons were not issues.  My body was strong with no real pain.  I had some nausea, but no real issues.  And my brain never, never, never gave up. My asthma had never been an issue.  It came out of nowhere and knocked me down.  Yet I conquered it.  Not in the way I would like, but I did not let it stop me. 

Please pardon my rambling. I just needed the catharsis of writing this morning.  So many emotions running through my mind.  When I get home and pull up my splits, I will do an actual race report.  For now, it is just processing the emotions of a tough, tough race.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Okay. Tonight I am stressing. Not about the marathon. I have way too much to do before I get to stressing about that. Probably once I am away from the business... The thing is when one operates a 24/7 care home where you--as in me and the hubs--are on site--as in our home--all but about 24 hours of each week, it is hard to leave. There is so many lists of things that have to be done that my staff--who are fantastic--have no idea when and how. Not to brag, but I have a knack to get people with dementia to do what needs to be done with it appearing to be their idea. I call myself a master manipulator. If it needs to get done, I will find a way to convince my peeps to do it and laugh about it even if they hate every minute. (I really try to only use this skill on my residents...although, I have found me starting to try it on the hubs...that does not end well!)
Yet, here I type with a list a mile long before me. Must. Stop. Procrastinating.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dreams Becoming Reality

"Stop dreaming and put it to reality!"

I got this text 2 weeks ago.  I was starting to freak out about the Phoenix Marathon coming up on March 2nd.  I texted my coach. "I think my fear comes from how big my goal is...I feel ready for a marathon, but scared to shoot for a fast one.  I guess I need a pep talk or a reality check..." Her response was perfect.  Exactly the pep talk I needed.  Seven words to make me realize I needed to keep dreaming.  And I needed to keep working to achieve that dream!

Over the last weeks, I have put in the work.  Between core work, upper body weights and functional strength, I am stronger than ever before.  Every run had a purpose. There were zone 2 runs with surges, step up runs, fartleks and race pace runs.  I ran both slower and faster than I thought myself capable.

The scariest run was a week ago.  My last long run was 18 miles with 13 at race pace.  Let me tell you that talking about running a Boston qualifier at a 3:55 doesn't sound that hard.  However, when I figure that is an 8:59 pace over 26.2 miles, I get scared. This is a BIG, FREAKING GOAL.  Yet, at the same time, aren't goals supposed to be scary?  If a goal is an easy thing to accomplish, why even set one.  So this time I set a BFG.  No more of the "I think I can" or "I'll try" then giving in the last miles. No more letting the doubts creep in and letting my mind loose focus.

I love the marathon.  I love the pain of running long.  And running a marathon in 4:30 is not that big of a challenge for me anymore.  I want more. So, here it is, in black and white.  I am shooting for a 3:54:59 at the Phoenix marathon in 7 days. I do have this in me.  I can run through the doubt and fear.  I can run through the fatigue.  I can run through the pain.  And I can do all this while running fast!

Seven days and counting.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking back at 2012

As I look back on the last year, there are so many high points and some incredibly low points. Goals met and dreams broken. The downs remind us that God is omnipotent and omnipresent. These down times help us appreciate the up times more and realize how truly blessed we are.

January started with a much needed admit to bring the business to a comfortable level. Not great, but enough that we had some breathing room. With that came a little extra spending money for more golf for Jeff and race registrations for me.

February was all about marathon training. First planned was Newport, a flat marathon with a long out and back along water. I love water. It is so calming. And lots of friends said it was well organized and would be there as well. Then later in the month I registered for a double. Yes, back to back marathons. I was so excited! Some major goals that were going to be tough, but I had the confidence I could accomplish them.

Sister Janelle, niece Rachel, sister Melanie, Dad, Loretta, me and Jeff

March. Typical with tons of rain. March is one of the main months I would like to move. Cold rain is so depression for me. A few disastrous runs mixed with some good runs messed with my confidence. I changed my training plans around and decided to go with the Hanson Plan with back to back medium long runs. We tried to escape the rain by going to Arizona to visit my dad and Loretta. All we wanted was heat and sunshine and we got cold and rain. I am not sure I will ever view Mesa the same way again!

Then April happened. On a 16 miler, I got horrible side pain which I thought was just a bad side ache. The next morning, I headed out for 10 miles and 2 miles in, my side hurt so bad I had trouble walking. I walked the 2 miles back home feeling completely defeated. How was I going to meet my goals if I got this horrible pain? The pain subsided and I thought through everything I had eaten or drank to try to discover the issue. Then the pain came back a few hours later. Maybe I had strained an oblique muscle. The pain didn’t go away. I was having trouble standing upright. A visit to the doctor and an ultra sound diagnosed gall bladder disease. The next week was a visit with a surgeon on Monday. I had surgery at 11:30 am on Wednesday and was home by 6 pm with 4 itty bitty incisions. Pretty amazing really considering the hospital stays and huge scars of the past. I was relieved to have it done and the pain gone, but the biggest disappointment was no exercise for 6 weeks. No running, no weight lifting, no rowing, no biking. Walking was allowed. With great sadness and disappointment, I sold my bibs for all my marathons.

Willy's family: Seraya, Colton, Juli and Will
In May, that disappointment became completely unimportant. Jeff’s sister in Hawaii called. Her husband was injured on the job. He was in terrible pain and was having trouble using his hands. After numerous doctor visits and tests, he was finally diagnosed with cancer. The end of May, Jeff and I headed to Maui. My job was to help care for Willy and train everyone how to do the same. Jeff was going to help with transportation to and from radiation. The cancer was growing so fast and the doctors hoped radiation would add months to Willy’s life. But God had other plans which we cannot understand. Just five short days after we arrived, Willy was called to God’s side. Even as I write tears fill my eyes. He left behind his wife and 3 young kids. I don’t understand God’s purpose in allowing this, but hold to the knowledge that He has a plan. I stayed another week and spent time crying and laughing with his family. It was so hard to leave, but so hard to stay. Going home meant leaving his widow to face reality. Going home meant I could leave this new reality and live more in denial. Jeff remained another week and a half for Willy’s memorial service and to cheer at his niece’s softball tournament. We were blessed to have the freedom to go to Hawaii and support the family. I believe there is no greater honor than to be allowed to watch a believer pass from this world to the next. We grieve our loss, but rejoice that God has Willy at His side.

Summer came to the Pacific Northwest—finally! I hired a running coach to get back strong and running again. It was a great decision and if anyone is looking for a great coach that is willing to work with odd schedules, give PRS Fit a call. Jeff began playing more and more golf. He maintained his membership at Summerfield Golf Course this year. It is a nice course that is close enough to just run out and play a quick round. He spent many afternoons in the sunshine…and the rain…and anything else… He kept track of the number of rounds of golf played. In 2012, he has played 91 rounds of 9 holes and 18 rounds of 18 with a total of 95 rounds of 9 at Summerfield. All in all a very good investment for the year. Running and golf allow each of us our sanity as well as each other’s sanity. We both get a little cranky if we don’t get out for our hobbies!

In September, I took a quick and surprise trip to southern California. When my niece texted about a surprise party, it took me only a moment to say yes and buy a ticket. I spent the first hours with her kids getting everything ready. There was a lot of laughter as we worked. It was so much fun to watch them work together to honor their mom’s “special” birthday. The surprise was a success. The look on my sister’s face when I walked out the door of her house was priceless. There is never enough time to be together so we have learned how to get the most out of the time we have. 

October brings my birthday month. I have decided that I should have an entire month devoted to my birthday. Jeff isn’t so sure about that, but since I didn’t tell him to get me a gift every day he just put up with it. Truly it was a month where I looked at everything as a gift. Whether it was a bit of sunshine, the changing of the leaves or a quick call with a loved one. It was a time to remember that gifts are not necessarily of monetary value. Gifts are a moment in time or a smile. This month also reminded me to give those same gifts.

I realize November is not technically winter, but it is the start of the days of darkness for me. I suppose it is good that it is a month to be thankful. Remembering my blessing is a good way to get through the doldrums.

December brings decorations, parties and fun. I did run 2 half marathons during the month. Working with a coach and all the weight lifting a core exercises is paying off especially in the later miles of a race. I was so happy to finish without losing my form or my shoulders hurting. December also brings one of my favorite days of the year—the Annual Beckham Family Christmas Party. The format has changed over the years, but it is still a time to see people we see just once a year. This year we brought back the caroling and visited a facility where Jeff’s dad lives. There were tears in his eyes as he sung along with the group. Several other residents also sang along. This was an amazing gift to give a group of often overlooked people. The afternoon and evening was filled with fun as I watched the next generation learn from their parents the best way to get the gift they want in the “Passaround”.

So this is the long version of our year. Even writing it out reminds me that I am blessed. Most of my days revolve around our business, but working from home with such an incredible group of people brings contentment. Sometimes I dream of normal schedules with weekend to run with groups or race, but that is not who I am. I am a solitary runner. I love being about to run during daylight all year round. I love that Jeff can get out to golf most afternoons during the week. We work as a team and it fits us. Now we look back with fondness and forward with excitement. What will the next year bring? Only God knows the plans, but they are “for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Change of Plans

I created my  own marathon training plan with 18 weeks to go.  It is a combination of Runner's World Smart Coach, Hal Higdon and a couple of other articles I read.  I haven't been happy with it.  I keep feeling like there is so much focus on the one weekly long run that the overall mileage is underwhelming.  I have been cross training so hard that I cannot hit my miles or pace for the key runs.  With all this, my confidence in my plan is failing. 

Ever since reading an article, Marathoning the Hansons' Way, a couple of years ago, I have been intrigued by the Hansons' Less is More Plan.  The idea of running medium long runs back to back hit a chord with me.  I keep looking at it and thinking "next marathon."  It scares me.  The idea of going into a marathon shooting for a PR with only 16 mile long runs freaks me out.  Yet, I see the evidence that it does work. 

This afternoon, I pulled out my copies of the Hansons Plan, Pfitz 18/55, Hal Higdon Advanced I, Smart Coach and my original plan.  I laid them all out on the floor.  I counted miles, analyzed paces and speed work.  I worked them around to work on my weekly schedule. 

Then I made a decision.  I choose the Hanson's Less is More Plan.  I am nervous about this.  Yet, there is so much about it I like.  I like the running on tired legs.  I like all the marathon pace runs.  I like the bits of speedwork.  It took a bit of work to move the days around since I cannot run long on weekends, but I can do the long run on Monday with the moderate long on Sunday.  Not perfect, but it works for me. 

I remind myself that I have run 23 mile training runs before every other marathon and it hasn't gotten me where I really wanted to be--sub 4.  So, why not try a new approach.  This may be what works for me.  It may not be.  All I can do is give it all I have and trust the training!  This week's super easy, brainless, treadmill miles seemed to make a difference in motivation and drive. And the body seems willing again.  So, with 13 weeks until the Newport Marathon, I am ready to get moving.

Friday, March 02, 2012

A Lesson in Listening

This week has been all about listening. Reading about listening to my body and working on implementing it. I had a cut back week last week, but the fatigue and lethargy continued. I set out thinking that is would pick up and headed into the week with high expectations.

It began on Monday with a disatrous long run. It started out as a 18 miles run with a friend. It was cold and it took a while to warm up. My lungs weren't happy. And neither were my legs. I don't know if it was late fueling or mental fatigue. My splits started out a bit faster than normal, but ended up slowing quickly. About mile 10, I started feeling a groove, but that didn't last long. I have never had fatigue like this even in the last miles of a marathon. Then the nausea started. Yep, that was a first, too. Ginger candy helped some. At this point, I urged my friend to go on if she needed to get done. We were starting and stopping and that is hard on someone having a good run. She wanted to stick it out. I could see she needed to move on, but was too kind to want to leave me. About a mile later, we passed the golf course where my hubs was playing. I did something I have never done before. I quit. I sent my friend on and went looking for the hubs. Finally found him at the 6th hole and caddied to the finish. The jogging to find him and walking the last holes were incredibly hard. I haven't ever seen a PGA caddy sitting on the cart path, but this caddy did.

That run shook me mentally. It shook my confidence. I took Tuesday completely off. Wednesday dawned and it was cold and wet. I couldn't bring myself to go outside. Loaded a movie and headed to the treadmill. One hour, fifty minutes and nine miles later, I was a sweaty, happy mess. Normally I hate the treadmill, especially mine. Nearly 20 years old and a broken incline that is locked at 1.5%--I think--makes for a slow, boring run. But it was good. I kept it easy and kicked the speed around to keep it more interesting.

Thursday, I was so tired. Bad sleep, low grade fever and achy. Took another day off. Yeah, another day off and no cross training at all this week. Maybe I am justifying laziness, but I am choosing to say I am listening to my body.

This morning was another cold morning. I had to psyche myself into running at all and headed back to the treadmill. An hour later, I was again a hot, sweaty mess and glad I had done it. I have never enjoyed running on the treadmill, but these runs have been exactly what I needed--easy and brainless. I am actually looking forward to getting back on the thing tomorrow. Go figure...

At least, I am looking forward to running again. So tired of the weather. I am so tired of cold and wet. So, I am listening to my body and running as it wishes. I will run easy until I am ready to run a good speed workout. I don't know if I am running as slow as my paces say. Does a treadmill lose calibration? I am trying not to get caught up on that. My effort feels about a 10 minute pace so I am sticking to that even though the treadmill is saying something different. Then again maybe I am just overanalyzing again...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Week...More Miles

Training is starting to ramp up again!  I love seeing the miles add up.  I wish I felt strong enough to add another day of running to the schedule, but I think it is smart to maintain 4 days a week and push the cross training 2 days.  The running base is not what I would have liked, but it is what it is.  Mid-week I was dreading a cut back next week, but on Saturday my legs felt like lead.  Now I am looking forward to cutting the miles back and getting a little bounce back in my step!  My miles aren't that high, but adding the cross training seems to fatigue my legs quite a bit.  Then the miles seem tougher and get the legs stronger.  I am enjoying the changes that the rowing is bringing in my upper body strength.  I am finding I am fatiguing later in the long runs.  That allows me to hold good form longer.  The hope is the added core strength is increased speed and being able to hold a good pace throughout the marathon.  I did not include any yoga this week.  My peroneal pain has increased following yoga for a couple of days.  I did do stretching, but not as much as I would have liked.  However, the ankle pain has decreased. 

Long Run: 16.3 mi

Rower: 60 min

Easy Run: 5 mi

Pace Run: 5 mi (Ave 8:59)
Easy Run: 1.9 mi

Rest Day

Easy Run: 6.2 mi
Weights: 20 min

Bike: 16.3 mi
Rower: 30 min


Run: 34.3 mi
Bike: 16.3 mi
Rower: 2 times

Yoga: 0 times
Weights: 1 time
Total Training Time: 8:36

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Three Things Thursday: The Quick Version

1.  I registered for the Firecracker Double.  Yep, back-to-back marathons.  Hubs asked if I have lost my mind.  I may have, but I am going to do it anyway!  The goal for these will be to just get to the finish line with a smile on my face!  It is great that both races are within 2 miles of my home.

2.  After 44 years of life, I had a first today.  I got bit by a dog.  Less than a quarter mile from my home and the neighbor was there with her two dogs--one off leash--and I got bit on the back of my calf.  however, I still completed my run--more than 6 miles with 5 at marathon pace.  I really thought the dog had just jumped on me.  The lady asked if the dog bit me and said the dog was know to "nip" at people.  I kept running a while then stopped to check it again.  Yep, blood running down my leg and two puncture marks.  It hurt, but really not too bad.  Yes, I cleaned it throughly.  Yes, I am watching for infection.  Yes, I reported it.  Reporting was a really hard decision.  Maybe it shouldn't be so hard, but it was.  Thanks to all the Loopsters on Loopville for the encouragement.

3.  This is the reason it is the quick version...I only have 2 things...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Running for Sherry and Week 2

This was one of those weeks that life interferred.  I only got 3 runs done, but all were very good runs.  Cross training was also decreased.  However, I did end up with a couple of positives in that I got yoga in twice.  I revised my training plan a bit.  Finding it really hard to get a good workout in on Friday.  It is my day off and the only day to sleep in.  And then I want to spend time with the hubs.  Now Friday will be a rest day with speedowrk moved to Thursday.  Monday's are working great for the long run.  Hubs plays golf while I get my miles done.  He gets home about when I finish my nice bath.  Works pretty good for both of us.  We shall see how it goes when the rain hits on a Monday...  So far we have been blessed!

Saturday was the Run for Sherry Arnold.  Sherry was a runner in Montana who was kidnapped and murdered on her morning run.  Runners around the world ran in her honor.  Such a sad story that hits home because it could be any of us.  Indy and I headed out for an easy run with Sherry in mind and wearing a bib created for this run. 

Long Run: 14.1 miles

Rower: 40 min
Weights: 25 min (Six Pack for Runners from Running Times)

Unscheduled Rest Day...

Speedwork: 7.3 mi (6 x 800 with 2 min recovery)


Easy Run: 8 mi (Run for Sherry)

Stationary Bike: 16.6 mi

Run: 29.4 mi
Bike: 16.6
Rower: 1 time
Yoga: 2 times
Total Training Time: 8:50