Soothing It All in Saltwater

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Psalm 139:17 Taken in Brookings, OR

I am thankful for vacations.  I am really thankful for vacations that seem to pop up JUST in the right time.  Summer is winding down.  School is starting back up.  The routine and schedule of fall and winter is starting. It’s that last little slice of the freedom of summer.

This came at just the right time for me, because rest was on my body’s mind.

Training has been going great!  Until, it wasn’t.  I had a very high mileage week, that started strong, came winding around the mid-week strong, feeling awesome and then….Saturday!!  My 10-miler turned into a 6-miler that was 12 minutes S L O W E R than the 7-miler I did the day before.  Huh?  Scratch your head and do that math!  TWELVE minutes slower!  I could tell when I left my house that things weren’t feeling “so great” and when it came time for me to turn around, I knew this run was &%$*!!!! I came home completely used up.  Sick.  In pain.  Total bonk!  I was irritated.  I pouted.  I even told the Hubs, “I know why people hate running.  If it feels like this I WOULD HATE IT TO”  In fact that day…I did.  I hated it.  Hubs sat dumfounded in hearing my words.  This man has been with me for over 19 years, I honestly don’t think he has ever heard those words leave my mouth before.

I showered, didn’t stretch, never do (hello, we may have a problem here) and sat down for about 30 minutes.  In silence.  I am a thinker.  A contemplate-er.  A talk-it-out’er.  A resolve-er.  And then…my optimism (ya know…the one that’s ALWAYS there) showed up.  I immediately thought, hmmm I am bound to have a bad running day here and there.

I’ll be back out again tomorrow!!!  (Dang optimism)

Didn’t happen.

**Side note**  I am not a “get sore” type of person.  It doesn’t matter the sport, the distance, if I’m doing yoga, lifting weights, doing Insanity, running, cycling, swimming….I don’t get sore.  Hubs hates this about me.  But it’s a fact Jack (yes I just watched an episode Duck Dynasty)

Well, the next morning when I woke up to run…I was sore.  Sore in weird spots like, my ankles.  My left hip.  My stomach.  I actually felt kind of sick.  Not the kind of sick you feel as in over training.  This was different.  This is where the vacay fits in, because we were leaving in 3 days.  I think I needed the rest.  From what, I have no clue.  But a rest none-the-less.

So off we went.  The hubs and I, on a little three state, coastal vacation.  It was perfect!  It was just the rest that I needed.  We left Idaho for Bend, OR on our first day.  We love Bend.  I could live in Bend, OR.  The next day, we headed to California.  It was nice being home, and seeing family and friends.  Even had a little sneaky-surprise party planned by my oh-so-sneaky best friend.  Good thing we have been friends for 100 years or she would’ve NEVER been able to pull it off.  And boy, did I make things difficult for her.  HAHA! (sorry K, I do love ya)

Sun Dial Bridge in Redding, CA

Leaving Redding, we headed for the coast, and just took our time driving the NorCal coast on Highway 101 and into OR and WA.  The Oregon coast by far, has some of the most stunning scenery I’ve seen.  I love all of the lighthouses.  I love just being ON the ocean.  There is a huge magnetic draw for me, towards the sea.  It’s when I am most happy, most at peace.   Along the way we stopped where we wanted, when we wanted.  Really had no agenda or itinerary, all the way to Seattle.  It was fabulous!  Life is extraordinary on no schedule.  Especially when you are on the coast, in the sand, with your best friend (this time referring to the hubs)  We laughed (a lot) prayed (a lot) read, talked, walked, visited breweries, hiked, ate amazing food, visited the memorial of Nirvana’s Curt Cobain, visited several lighthouses, picked sea glass and moon stones and some times, just sat in utter silence.  The weather was the best we have ever had driving the coast.  It rained one day, but the rest were blue skies and full of sun!  I didn’t think about running the whole time.  OK…that might have been a white lie…but I didn’t “stress” on the fact that I wasn’t running, and was just enjoying the moment.   I did wonder (for a split second) if taking that much time off was going to hinder fitness.

Along The Way Cannon Beach, Newport, Yaquina, Patricks Point, Pacific City, Sea Lion Caves, Gold Beach, Bandon, Coos Bay, Seaside, Astoria, Crescent City, Eureka, Arcata

One of my favorite pictures from the whole trip

Gorgeous Lift Bridge outside our room in Florence, OR

Gorgeous Lift Bridge outside our room in Florence, OR

Went to a glass blowing studio and Hubs made me a Glass Float in Lincoln City, OR

Went to a glass blowing studio and Hubs made me a Glass Float in Lincoln City, OR

Visiting the home town and Memorial of Nirvana's Curt Cobain.  Aberdeen, WA

Visiting the home town and Memorial of Nirvana’s Curt Cobain. Aberdeen, WA

Aracata, CA

Aracata, CA

Sea Cave

Sea Cave

Saettle

Seattle

So back home today, I went out in this wonderful fall-like rain, and did a nice casual run.  Just to see how the body was feeling.  It felt incredible.

I’m glad I listened.  Glad I took the rest.  Marathon is 8 weeks away.  And guess what?  I love running!  Even when I have a bad day, or sometimes a bad week.  It’s bound to happen.

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You Have Me Swooning Over You

About three weeks ago I blogged about having a major break-up in my life.  It was tragic.  Devastating.  My heart was broken.

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I scoured my home for break-up mix tapes from the 80’s.  I couldn’t believe the love had drained out of my life so quickly.  I barely had time to place Band-Aids over my heart…ahem, my heels.  This break up was with my trusty running shoes.  When you run in the same shoes for years, there really is a little romance that goes on.  It’s a relationship.  You’re excited each morning (or evening) to lace up.  You know they will fit just perfect.  You know what they have carried you through, and where you plan to go in your future.  You look forward to the nice, new, clean, pair that arrives.  They are with you mile after mile.  Through sweat, tears, sprinklers, streams, trails, the heat of the road, track workouts and race after race.  They are your partner in crime, and your beloved, companion for your therapy sessions (long run.)

Unfortunately, this had to come to an end.

GREAT news!! I found an awesome new pair that I am loving!  Altra zero drop shoes.  Zero drop, meaning they do not have an elevated heel, allowing for a more natural foot strike.  They align posture and reduce initial impact by 3-5x.  One of my favorite features is the foot-shaped toe box.  I have these tiny, little, narrow, feet.  But when I run I like my toe to feel free, to wiggle and spread out.  Hubs says I have monkey toes….  Just because I can spread all ten toes, pick up things and practically write my name with my feet, doesn’t mean I have monkey toes.  I have no idea what he is talking about. images-3  That being said, I LOVE this wide toe box.  They are also gender specific.  I think all shoe manufacturers should adopt this feature.  Men’s and women’s feet are just as different as everything else.  The women’s have a narrower heel, longer arch, and specific metatarsal positioning.  And they come in sweet colors (which I adore) like raspberry, fuchsia and, lime.  Totally swooning over these!!

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I was so nervous to try a new shoe…but things happen.  I am in by no means knocking my old shoes.  They served me well for years.  I am just over-joyed that I found a new pair that I love.  No blisters, no pain, and really no transition time.  Although, I have been running in minimalist shoes for years, and if you haven’t, it will take you some time to get used to the Altras.

I feel like a kid…Do you remember when you were young, and you got new shoes and our Moms would say that the new shoes would make you run faster?  Maybe the shoes had lights, or sparkles, or lightening bolts…and they made you screaming fast!  That’s how I feel!!

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I am 6-weeks into marathon training and feeling great!  I haven’t had any issues with knees, IT’s, ankles or shins.  Queue the halleluiah choir.

I am also looking forward to start training for my 3rd Ironman.  I didn’t tell a lot of people before registering.  I was unsure about which event I would do for 2014, but when Boulder opened as a new 140.6, I could NOT resist!!  So Aug 3rd next year…Ironman Boulder it is!!  Makes my stomach flip-flop out of excitement and anxiety!!  That’s how it is for every race I sign up for.  Hoping to get some pointers on higher altitude racing.  Thankful we are not even near sea level up here in the mountains of northern Idaho…but we aren’t 5400 feet!!  Can you say, “breathing through a straw?”

Gonna be a great challenge!!

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Chicago Marathon 2012

One of the 5 top marathons in the entire World!  One of the Marathon Majors!  As a runner, it’s a must!  It’s on every runners bucket list of “go-to” races.  At least for this runner.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon

I had the honor and the privilege to run this marathon this year!  It was everything I ever expected and more.  First, the city of Chicago!  Wow!  Such a fun city to visit!  This was not my first time in Chicago, but it offers something new with every visit.

I decided to wrap the marathon in with a little family time, and at the last-minute decided to take our youngest daughter and my hubs.  Our daughter was excited to see all of the sights, eat the great food (Chicago is a great foodie city) do a lot of shopping, sightseeing,, and of course, ride The ‘L’

Our first day there was committed to sight-seeing.  Yes….I had a marathon to run on Sunday, but could not help but indulge our daughter in an entire day (or three) of walking around Chicago.  First stop; Cloud Gate aka: The Bean in Millenium Park  It is always amazing to me, when something so simple can attract so much attention.  The Bean, the huge silver sculpture, is quite a place of entertainment.  We stood close to it, watched people, took pictures, stood underneath, laid underneath, stood far away, stood close up, did back bends onto it, made faces into it, leaned against it, stared at ourselves in it, pretended to kiss ourselves in it, and looked at the skyline through it at various angles, for WELL over an hour!  Our daughter loved it, and we loved it again!

Next stop was the Willis Tower, formerly The Sears Tower.  We were excited to again be in one of the tallest buildings in the World, and in fact, the 3rd tallest in the World and tallest in the Northern Hemisphere!  Since our last visit, they had added the “Ledges.”  These were boxes, that had been built off of the side of the building at the Skydeck level, that were made of glass.  Including glass bottoms.  It took a real step of faith to stand on these glass-bottomed boxes at 103 stories, 1353 feet above the city.  The boxes extend 4.3 feet away from the side of the building.  It was exhilarating and exciting!!  Of course we had to go up twice, once during the day, and once at night!  What gorgeous views of the city!

The next few days, were filled with a trip to the Navy Pier, shopping, eating, shopping and eating…OH MAN, is there a lot of shopping in this city.  Our daughter, literally, wore us out!!

I had the great pleasure of meeting up with some friends from my long-time running group for dinner.  It was fun to sit, talk, laugh, and of course eat Chicago Deep Dish pizza with these amazing and inspirational women.  Even this vegan had to take a cheat day, to eat up the fabulous tastes of this windy city!  “When in Rome” applies when I travel, and feel the need to taste what each new place is all about!  And how can you not try deep dish while in Chi-town? (Thanks for the fun night, Michelle, Sheila and Jenni)

The marathon expo was on Friday, so we took the train in and caught a shuttle to the expo.  I suppose with over 45,000 runners, you would have to have a shuttle system.  This expo!  Words cannot describe, how much fun this was.  We wandered around for well over 3 hours, and still didn’t have the chance to go through the entire thing.  It got me so excited to be running this marathon!  The butterflies were starting to swirl in my stomach!

Race day was upon me, and I was ecstatic!  We got into the downtown area early, so we could make it through the usual, bathroom stops, undressing and dressing, trying to figure out what I should wear.  Weather that day was just about ideal, high 30’s for the morning start, heading into the 50’s during the day.  I didn’t want to freeze all day, but knew that as I run, I would warm up.  I chose an under armor, with my Lake City Tri club singlet.  I had to represent the 83815, right?  I also had on my fave green running skirt.  At the last-minute I decided to pull on a pair of running tights and my gloves.  I thought I would ditch them in gear check, but decided to leave them on and I am happy that I did.

My hubs and daughter walked around with me, as I was navigating my way around into the very, VERY organized area in Grant Park around the start.  There were separate gear checks depending on bib color, and then of course different starting corrals.  I finally had to kiss them goodbye and head off, with the herd, to find my spots.  This was getting real!!  I dropped my bag, stopped and filled my Hydrapack Soft Flasks with water to mix my Napalm, and headed to the corral.  It wasn’t long before we were moving, and after about 20 minutes (I’m guessing) we made our way to the start.  I had heard that it can take up to 45 minutes to reach the start line.  I was happy it seemed to go by so fast!  It was fun walking to the start in this huge group, cheering, waving and meeting all sorts of fun people.  Multiple marathoners, first timers, young, old…everyone had a story to tell me.  And I loved hearing them!

The start!  Oh man….the uproar that ensued was incredible!  It took my breath away and got my eyes sparkly with tears!  We took off!!  I was feeling amazing.  Really taking in the whole experience.  This was not only a marathon I wanted to run well, but also a marathon that I wanted to breath in along the way.  I didn’t want to miss anything about the entire day!  I wanted to capture everything.  The sights, the sounds, the smells, the spectators…the essence of this city.  There were 29 different, distinct neighborhoods of the city that we ran through, and each had their own feel, culture, and people out there to cheer us on.  Thank you for being out there in support of this race, and for making this experience for me, so incredibly remarkable!

New East Side
Streeterville
Magnificent Mile
The Loop
River North
Near North
Old Town
Old Town Triangle
Lakeview East
Park West
Lincoln Park
West Loop Gate
West Loop
Greektown
Near West SideLittle Italy
University Village
Illinois Medical District
Pilsen
East Pilsen
Chinatown
Bridgeport
Park Boulevard
Bronzeville
The Gap
South Commons
South Loop
Prairie District
Central Station

With over 1.5 million spectators, how can you NOT feel like a freakin’ ROCK STAR!!  It was truly unbelievable!  The ENTIRE 26.2 miles were lined with droves of people.  People as far back as I could see, piled up along side the road, onto buildings, restaurants, up on top of steps, out on balconies, windows, several stories above us, on roof tops…everywhere!

I kept up a great pace, and was feeling really good.  At about the 1/2- (more like the 8-mile)  way point, my body started to hurt a little.   Running a marathon 5 weeks after an Ironman…maybe not the best thing.  HOWEVER, I was determined that I would finish, and enjoy every second!  Right after coming out of China Town, I finally had to stop in at medical and grab some Ibu!  Oh, how I could not wait to get this on board!  Every inch of my lower body was getting REALLY sore.  Hips, knees, IT bands, ankles, and the arches in my feet.  I stopped to stretch, took the vitamin I, and pulled my running tights down, (yes, right in front of everyone)  I was so damn sore, I didn’t care who was looking…and I did have a skirt on that covered my heiny.  I slathered my legs in BioFreeze (this stuff is the bomb dot com) in the hopes that it would take the edge off.  It never did.  I was trying my hardest to ignore the pain, and be in the moment, but every passing mile, was hurting so bad.  I was trying to NOT allow my heart to sink, knowing that little by little, I was slowing down.  I had told friends before we left that I would CRAWL to the finish if I had to, and it was starting to look like a possibility (HAHAHA)  I continued on as the miles passed, in pain, but still looking around at this gorgeous city!  My eyes kept popping tears for various reasons; the pain, the sights, the sunshine, the cool breeze, and overwhelming delight in being ABLE to run this Marathon Major, and one thing in particular kept popping to mind….early in the race, we passed by a big, historic looking, vintage building (ok yes, there are TONS of these in Chicago)…I kept seeing runners ahead of me waving towards the building. When I got to it, I soon realized what/who they were waving to.  The building was a nursing home, and high up, on a second story, filled with windows, were the residents, lined up along the WHOLE entire building.  Some standing, some you could tell were in chairs, and some wheelchair bound.  They waved, and blew kisses to us runners as we ran by.  They looked frail and feeble, some of them nearing the end of their life.  I choked back a sob, and tears fell from my eyes seeing them.  Those running around me had the same feeling, and one woman said with tears in her eyes, that she had goose bumps over her entire body.  I held that memory in my mind.  And as the pain worsened that day, THAT is what stuck in my mind.  I was ABLE to be out here running.  I am still young, and strong, and capable.  I ran my last miles thinking about making my family proud of me, and I ran for those that could not be running.  Because like I have said a million times over, when I get to that point of my life when I can no longer run, and I am the one sitting, looking out from my window, I want to be happy that I LIVEDthat I gave it everything, that I have no regrets, or missed adventures.  That I went, saw, and conquered.  That I looked fear in the face, and jumped anyway.  That I lived my life to complete exhaustion, and used it up GREATLY!!  God gave me only one, and this life of mine is getting thoroughly used!

And so…even though the last 3 miles of this marathon hurt like nothing else has (even Ironman) and I literally cried the whole last 3 (no kidding), I was happy that I pushed through  And when I saw that finish line, it was again…worth it.  Isn’t every finish line worth it?  Doesn’t matter what is happening, it is always worth it.  This relates to racing and in life…always worth pushing through to your finish line.  I crossed the timing mat, held up my hands, and smiled.  Two- seconds later, I was crying again.  I made my way through the finish, getting my space blanket (which I actually really needed) getting my medal (well earned bling) getting my ready-made snack pack of food, and getting a beer (yes…this tasted like gold)  and continued on to the 27th Mile (this is the party area) and searched for my family.  I saw Greg in this sea of racers, party-goers and spectators, (of course I saw Greg…for some reason we have always had the ability to seek one another out, even in a crowd of thousands)  We locked eyes, and that pushed my “sob” button.  I fell into his arms sobbing!  I tried to enjoy the party, the amazing band.  I tried to sit and eat, and watch as people danced at the bandshell, but my body was ready to rest.  I think my body was ready to rest in Sept after Ironman.  =)

I got a marathon PR this day!  And checked off one the Major 5’s.  Yes, I plan to do all 5, and plenty more!  Not that I really have a “bucket list” of races, because I don’t run and race to “check things off of a list” I run and race because its in my blood, its my passion.  It always has been and I LOVE it!!.  And mostly, I run because can!