Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A 2009 review in medals

2009's been nothing short of "great" as far as my running and racing is concerned. Oh sure, the year didn't close without disappointment and a few minor set-backs sprinkled in but overall, I have nothing to complain about; it was a fabulous year! I've been blessed with a strong set of legs and a heart full of drive and determination - a gift I do not take for granted. I am not the fastest, and certainly not the youngest, of those running out there but my assiduous will is unwavering. I ran 17 races in 2009: 4 marathons, an 8000' ascent up Pikes Peak, 4000' ascent Mt. Evan with a major sinus and ear infection, a 23-hour non-stop relay - just to name a few; a feat unmatched to anything I've ever in my running life attempted. I can't help but be emotional about 2009 ending. I thought I'd share where I've been - and where I plan to go.

I know a picture of my medals is the cheesest of all cheese out there, but I can't help but be a little emotional as I take a picture of my "year" and put my medals in a plastic bag, tuck away, and start fresh for the new year. So here ya go, a little race report with medals (and not) of all my 2009 races (and I apologize in advance for my lack of photography, html and editing skills) and please feel free to skip over them all - it's gonna be looooooooonnnnnggg!!!:

jan 18 - Frozen Freeze 10-miler: I don't know my time. I was going through a trial with my trainer at the time trying to cut my body fat fast. I learned, big time, this is not a good thing for Jill to do. I couldn't concentrate and I couldn't run. At all. Chalk that up to experience. Never again! Still, I did the race but it was not pretty.

feb 21 - Snowman Stampede 10-miler: 1:19:22 (PR) This course was the exact same as the race above. But no longer on some making-me-feel-lifeless craze, I ran hard and strong and finished with a PR. Not that I run many 10-milers...but hey I'll take a PR where I can get one!

mar 1 - That Damn 5K: 22:31 (PR) I'm not sure where one draws the time-line on PR times - I used to run 5K's in my much MUCH younger days and did them well below a 22 minute. But since I've had children (the oldest is 19 years old), this is my fastest. So I'll say it was a PR. I got second in my age group but the announcer missed the first place chick somehow and announced me as the winner. I scored a $25 gift certificate to the local running store. AND, I won a pair of running glasses in a drawing. The only race where I came out ahead after entry fees. Score! (second medal in pic above, medal got out of place - opps)

mar 15 - Running of the Green 7K: 33:35 (PR) Now, I also don't run may 7K's - in fact, this is the only one I've ever done (Lucky #7, thus 7K. Get it?? It's the whole Irish thing :)). I ran a mother of a long run the day before this race and not feeling too great at the start. I tried to push it but about mile 1 1/2, gave up and just "enjoyed" it. Turns out, I PR'd. Lesson learned, perhaps...enjoy more races! (no medal)

mar 29 - Atlanta ING 1/2 Marathon: 1:44:11 (PR) Noticing a PR pattern here? Yeah, I'm feeling very good right about now. Heavily into my Boston training, about to taper. I love this race. Love everything about it. The course, the support, the fun-ness, the awesome medal, the weather. Most of all, I love spending time with one of my dearest friends down there. By far, one of the coolest medals. The little peach in the middle spins around - way cool!

april 20 - Boston Marathon: 3:51:13 By far, the most emotional race I've ever run. I'd wanted Boston for 10 years - though never fought for it until 2008. I spent 4 fun-filled days in Boston with girlfriends and crossing that finish line will forever be one of my proudest moments in life.

may 17 - Colfax Marathon Relay: 2:55 A great experience and a total blast having run the 2nd leg of this relay. The guy that handed off to me (not pictured) ran an incredible 36 minute 10K and handed me the baton in 2nd place. There I was running, waaaaay out in front like some elite runner chick! An out of body experience for sure. (notice our medals?)

may 26, Bolder Boulder 10K: 49:22 A seriously "bad" day. I felt miserable from step one and my time was indicative of that. I ended up being 9th/255 in my age group ... so I didn't come out too poorly placement-wise,but certainly did not live up to my potential here. (age group medal is that tiny bronze thing with no ribbon)
june 20, Mt Evans Ascent: no idea of my time, around 3:30ish. I was sick. I shouldn't have ran it but I did. I ran 14.5 miles up 4000' along the side of a mountain with a major ear and sinus infection and had a horrible inner-ear imbalance problem. This is the only race I seriously fought NOT to stop and DNF at mile 9. The weather was miserable and I prayed for the race to close, as the officials were announcing they might do. But they didn't close it, I hung on for dear life, and finished around a half hour after I finished it last year. I'm pretty proud that I kept going. (medal is the one with the solid red ribbon)
july 25, BIX 7-miler: 54:50 (PR) This is a HUGE race in my hometown of Davenport, Iowa. I haven't run this race in about 9 years but it used to be a staple growing up and running track. I was so excited (aka: nervous) to run it and see how I'd do on the hilly course. I rocked it! Yea!!! I can't even tell you how thrilled I was running this so well after so many years away (medal is the big honker, 7th from the left)
aug 8, Georgetown to Idaho Springs half marathon: 144:36 (course PR) This is a mostly downhill course. Last year I blew it big time by going out too fast...something I am notorious for. This year, my watch failed and I ran it watch-less - a very nerve-wracking feeling! I was shocked I ran so well beings I had no idea until I crossed the finish line what my time was. (no medals)
aug 16, Pikes Peak Ascent: 4:34 8000' up to the top of a 14,110 peak. In 13 miles. It's tough. Demanding. Brutal. I trained for this the year before but come race day, was turned away at mile 10 due to inclement weather ('08). I did not train for this run this year due to time constraints and just overall sense of not needing to. I wasn't running it for a time or placement but rather to accomplish what so few can do. I was overwhelmed at how difficult the last 3 miles were. I felt like I was in a documentary you see on Mt. Everest where the climbers are crawling at molasses speed. It took me 35 minutes to go the last mile. Yeah. It literally sucked a lung out of me and was by far the most physically demanding thing I've ever done. Also the most rewarding. Ever! I doubt I'll ever do it again. Not because of it zaps the life out of you...but because it takes a huge toll on your body and well, I've been there done that. Time for other adventures. I think. Don't hold me to saying that can never say never.
aug 22, Park City Marathon: 4:11 I did this as a training run only. I had a friend and a client doing it and invited me to go; I was in. This was the 3rd strenuous race in as many weeks and my body felt it for sure! I laid-low and just cruised along...but I was in awe how difficult this actually was for me, my body was definitely tired from previous races. By far, the most scenic race I've run in awhile (only 2nd to Big Sur which I ran in '08) but the race had the very best medal ever - a gorgeous piece of stained glass. This race will definitely go down as "high" on the memorable scale.
sept 11-12, Colorado Outward Bound Relay: 23:13 This was my first experience with an extended relay. I had the very BEST team of 10 teammates and though I was loopy from severe sleep deprivation, this experience will rank up there as one of the top highlights of my entire year. I sprained an ankle on the beginning of my 2nd leg, I had major GI problems (note: next year Tums are mandatory), I slept 20 minutes in 36 hours, I had the time of my life! (me in the blue jacket. no medals. the experience was medal enough!)

oct 4, Portland Marathon: 3:46:26 This puppy was my sole focus from the day I landed across Boston's finish line. I felt in Boston I had a sub-3:45 in me and this race was to prove that theory. I failed. But not really. I didn't make the time I dangled out there; I had a little problem with nutrition along the way which practically caused my legs to come to a screeching halt at mile 23, but I learned in Portland that never again will I be afraid to give a marathon my all. I was blessed to be part of a group of 6 from RW that ran as a team and our team placed 1st in the women's division (thus the plaque). I gained many friends from that trip and it was most definitely the most fun I've ever had at a marathon, aside from maybe Boston. I met "e-friend" Sarah from Marathon Moms, who paced me the last few miles and have the pleasure of now calling her a real "friend." What an honor!!

oct 23, Scream Scram 5K: 23:11 There's not much I can say about my time here other than I just plain and simply cannot run a 5K. They suck the lung right out of me. They hurt worse than any marathon I've ever done! I can't control my speed at the beginning and I always pay dearly at the end by slowing considerably and coughing uncontrollably. Always. That's just the way it is. A good reason I avoid them!! I really don't care, 5K's are NOT my "thing." But I had a blast doing this race; my son, Brendan, did it with me and there's nothing more fulfilling than running with one of your children. (no medals)
dec 13, Tucson Marathon: 3:46:00 (PR) The finale of 2009! Upon my return from Portland, where I failed to fuel properly, my then-trainer and I discussed trying to squeeze in another marathon before year's end to get the nutrition down and knock that illustrious sub-3:45 out the door. But a slew of personal issues, amongst them losing said trainer a week before the race, left me an extreme basket case. But it also ignited a fire in me and I got to the start line feeling energized and ready to let 'er rip. Tucson's fierce headwinds for the last 17 miles had an alternate story for me, though, and thus my PR was only seconds, not minutes, faster. I was frustrated, for sure, but I fueled exactly as planned, I ran strong, I didn't second-guess my pace - I left knowing that with some hard work, I will get that time I so long for. I also got to spend 3 days with the college daughter, Abbey, and that was priceless. A guy, Matt, from the group I occasionally run with also was there and that was awesome to have someone you know at such a small race (Matt also did the Colfax and CO relays with me). Though Matt didn't finish Tucson due to some serious stomach problems, it meant the world to me to share my Tucson experience with him.

So there ya have it. I know, you're probably all asleep by now and I don't blame you for skipping over most; I mostly wrote this all out so I, myself, could reflect on the incredible year I've had before it's time to tuck it away. At the very start of the year, my then-trainer told me, "You're going to have an incredible year, Jill, I can feel it. " I felt it too and I never gave up the fight.
So where am I going in 2010? I'm not exactly certain, though I won't do 17 races! I don't think I can 100% commit to races past Boston for financial and personal reasons, though I do have them mapped out and remain hopeful they will happen. I will list my 2010 race wishlist on the right of my blog as inspiration to draw upon each time I open it up. I will go to Boston, it's on my birthday after all (big celebration after for all - Meg is the party planner so contact her for details, it's gonna be a blast) and I will do the Atlanta ING half; it will be good prep for Boston. I'll do the CO Outward Bound Relay again, that was an incredible experience! I hope to have many runs with my training partner, Dennis, and I'll aim for San Francisco and Chicago marathons....but what my heart is screaming to me is that it's time to see if I have the mental strength to tackle a 50-miler. We shall see, as they say.
As the calendar is about to be thrown out and a new one attached to my bulletin board, I embark on the new year as a new me. I lost yet I gained. I miss my trainer and if I sit and stew about it for too long, I get a lump in my throat and tears start to swell, but I will carry the tools he provided me and remain strong. I will not settle for less than I'm capable of - and I know I'm capable of plenty! I started my blog exactly on Jan 1, 2009, as a means for trainer-man and I to analyze my running through my thoughts.....but it's turned into soooo much more. Somewhere along the way, I met the best running folks on the planet - you guys support and fuel my running. I am honored to have you in my life!
Just to add a bit more reading since you've already committed to spending so much family time away from them - I'm enclosing a picture of my dresser mirror in my bedroom. Pathetic, huh? It's all about inspiration. I wake up daily and I see my stickers and notes from friends, pictures of my kids from when they were babies, race pictures at the bottom, my Boston medal....and of course all my girly jewelry - which didn't really show up well (and me taking the pic in the mirror :) ). Ah...I love it!! The purple thing hanging down from the top is the wristband I had to wear for Pikes Peak; I guess in case you get blown off the thing they can identify you as a participant or something?? (I also have a big plaque on the top of my mirror that reads: Perseverance: the greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. A gift from my Big Sur marathon running friend. Sorry that didn't get in the pic)
Tomorrow, I run with the group to toast the year away; I can't wait. I will share - I promise it will be much more brief!
A VERY Happy, healthy, and awesome miles New Year to y'all!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Week 52/Gratitude

Week 52:
Week's running totals: 22.5
2009 Running totals: 1802.69
Weight/core: 1 (I did it, but I'd rate the effort about a D, at best. ugh)

- The holiday madness is over - and I still have one more week off work :)
- Special K Protein Plus cereal - yummy.
- My out of town visitor arrived here and home safely, despite crazy weather all over the map.
- My kids had a great Christmas - yea!
- It's clementine season!!
- I've finished my 2010 proposed race plan and also close to finishing up Boston plan.

I know that's 6 and I usually do 5 - I'm just being kinda crazy today!!

I've decided to officially start my Boston training today. It really doesn't matter when I put the official start date on the plan, I'd run the same mileage this week with or without Boston training plan being a definition for the week - but I just like how it feels and sounds and the whole sense of a fresh start beginning today, a cleanse so to speak. So going to go with Boston starting today. So, off to the gym for some core work.....

Friday, December 25, 2009

Time to jump back in...

Almost two weeks since Tucson - I can't believe it! It's like one of those events on the calendar of time where it feels like yesterday yet also, because of the whirlwind of the holidays, feels like months ago.

I finally got online and looked at my official race placement - I was surprised I placed so well:

Overall: 343 out of 1246
Women: 80 out of 519
F 45-49: 10 out of 87
Age/Grade: 67.29% Place: 113 (anyone know what this "place" is?)
Finish: 3:46:00 Pace: 8:38

Wow! Yes, pretty pleased :).

It's not that I don't want to get back out and start running again - I truly do. I'm just feeling a little lost and confused. It's been a couple years since I've done a schedule all on my own and I don't really enjoy this part of my training. For me! Now give me a thousand clients and I'll be thrilled to make up their schedules but I just question so many things for ME because I just like the support. But I'm working on my Boston plan and it's coming along pretty well. I think I'm using a combination of Jack Daniels coaching and using the book Brain Training for Runners. I have a few days to finalize the schedule as I intend to "officially" start on Jan 1 (okay, maybe Jan 2nd...Jan 1 may be a "recovery" run from the night before festivities. I just go over to a friends and we play cards on New Year's Eve...but he makes one wicked appletini. This followed by an earlier-in-the-day run with the group and we have a couple toasts-to-the-past-year drinks along with lunch [which makes an interesting run back]). In the mean time, I am back to running...and the legs are finally feeling well. Thursday, I ran a tempo run at the gym on the treadmill - not my first choice of terrains to run on but 8" of snow the night before left me with not a lot of choice. I'm all for running outdoors in cold temps but when there's a mound of fresh snow on the ground, running becomes a bit challenging. Too challenging. Dangerously challenging. The last thing I really need to do is slip on some ice as I rev up my training. I ran outdoors on Wednesday when we only had about 4" (see pic) and that was more than enough, so the gym had to suffice for Thursday. I was going to run 6 easy but pressed for time, I ended up with 4 but at a pretty quick clip (1WU, 1@8:00 , 1.5@ 7:35, 1/2 @ 8:00). I felt good. The ol' legs really had a pretty lengthy recovery time this round but I think they are in the clear now and given the ok to hit the road running. Snow on the ground for Christmas today, and a lot of it (though nothing like our dear friends in the Mid-west - sorry guys!), making it cheery and festive for this special day - but also making my run tomorrow of 10-12 a question mark on where to run it. I'll wake up and assess the outside situation and decide on which terrain, indoors or out, to run on.

Happy to report that my ebay blackberry has arrived and two runs later to the Sprint store, is working well!! Ah, isn't she a beauty? Now if I could just learn HOW to use it, all would be good! One thing I learned today is that one who tends to easily get a little motion sickness should never sit in the backseat on a 45 minute commute home after consuming 4000 Christmas dinner calories and start messaging and reading email. I thought all that food was going to come right back up. Probably better if it had...but yikes-o, I felt miserable for awhile. Nothing like rolling down the window in 18 degrees to get a little "fresh air." The kids are young, they'll live.

I started working on a little of my 2010 race calendar but the vast majority of the year is going to be a big question mark. I can't commit to too much right now other than Boston and a few local races, but I am at least putting down some possibilities in case I can work them out. One thing I DID learn today though, while combing through the billions of races out there: The CO Outward Bound Relay I LOVE to do has been moved up a few weeks to Aug 20-21. This poses a small problem with going back to school that week but it also pretty much solves the problem of Hood To Coast (HTC)- which is the following weekend. I can't believe it!!! I don't think my body can handle two major sleep-deprived relays two weekends in a row! BUMMER!!! I even got an Oregon map today in my stocking, Santa must have been telling me that I should do HTC - I really hate disappointing him. I'm still going to mull over this another day but I really think I have to bag the HTC relay...argh!! I really love the CO relay and that's probably the one I need to stick with.

Having logged a bit over 1800 miles for the year, I think one of my 2010 goals will be to run 2010 miles. Had I not had to taper for 4 marathons and Pikes Peak, the mileage would be much higher. We'll see how it goes. I can't help but think that all of us out there pounding the miles we do are just one step away from an injury. I need to be careful and listen. This body's not getting younger (whaaa!).

I hope everyone had the merriest of holidays and lots of smiles were had by all. I know here in Jill land, it was a grand day! Well, aside from the almost puking-in-the-car moment.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weeks 50,51/Gratitude/random junk

No, not my tree (mine is below). Abbey standing by the tree in the Tucson hotel. It was gorgeous!

This is MY tree - left to the devices of a 14-year old male! At least we have lights (yes, those are pink lights at the top), I was starting to wonder if Santa would come down the chimney to a blank tree. I'm pretty sure he's going to stop and ponder this little contraption as it is for awhile.

Week 50 (Tucson):
Week's running totals: 38.2
2009 running totals:1774.19
Weight/core training: 1 (light due to taper)

Week 51: (post-Tucson recovery week)
Week's running totals: 6
2009 Running totals: 1780.19
Weight/core: 1/2. Did a bunch of core and arm stuff, Saturday
Cycling: 20 minutes, Saturday
Swimming: 1 miles, Saturday
Gratitude (I'll do 10 since I have two weeks of mileage):
- Tucson marathon PR
- I am done with marathons for the year!
- My son put up the Christmas lights this year - and it shows (above)
- Diet Coke
- A clean house (the main level anyway)
- 55 degrees and sunny days in December
- A working washing machine and dryer (I've done 4 loads of laundry today)
- My weight has not increased in all this post-marathon sugar madness. Huh?
- Two weeks off from school
- iPods

I always take a mandatory week off from running after a marathon. I really should take two weeks but I struggle mentally just to take one so this is a compromise. Within myself. I've learned through the years and through my course work that you just recover so much better and less chance of injury the more you let your body rebuild itself from the abuse you just gave it. Each body reacts differently, of course, but we put our bodies through some pretty serious physical abuse and they just need time to rebuild their strength. Usually I am chomping at the bit, post marathon week, to land back out there ... but not so much this week; that race just did a huge number on me. Yesterday was my first day back: an easy 6 over at the state park in my backyard. It was certainly at a snail's pace (9:23) but I couldn't pushed it even if I wanted to. My legs are not fully recovered yet and a bit achy.

Saturday was my first official day back to exercise, though not running. I went to the gym and did 20 minutes on the exercise bike, 10 minutes of much-needed stretching (I wish I would be dedicated enough to do that daily), 15 minutes of core work, and 1 mile swimming laps. That was a long workout, but I did those things as a way to loosen up the really tight muscles in preps to get ready to run again. Felt very good!

One thing that was an "issue" in Tucson is that I thought I tied my right shoe too tight; by mile 2, it was really bothering me and by mile 10 the top of my right foot hurt so bad I seriously considered stopping and re-tieing the dang thing. But who wants to stop and waste time for that nonsense!! I decided it was a good determent to the winds; you know, have some other ailment to fixate on. Two problems are better than one! But anyway, when I went to put my running shoes on yesterday, yikes!!! the top of my foot really hurts! I had to move the tongue waaaaaay over to the right side of my foot because to have my shoe "normal" hurt too much. I don't think it's a matter of my shoe being too tight in the race anymore, I think it's something with the tongue because the spot isn't where the knot was but rather off to the side slightly. I swear I just read someone's blog where the tongue of their shoe was really bothering them. I thought at the time: hum, never had that happen before. Yep, that jinked it right there. Not sure what to do about that other than keep moving the tongue over until that spot isn't so tender....or find a piece of small foam I can insert in my sock. Or maybe a couple bandaids.
The UPS man just rang my doorbell. him!

Here's an A.D.D moment for all my fellow self-diagnosed A.D.D. members: yesterday I was multitasking 6 things at once (you'd be proud, Meg) and while in a hurry to get out the door and run, I somehow managed to land my cell phone in the laundry and washed it. I had it in my hand as I was heading out the door when I last minute decided to throw some laundry in while I was gone. Phone went in right along with the towels! It's sparkly clean right now. Also dead. Imagine. I have learned 3 things this morning dealing with cell phone companies: 1) they're a total rip-off 2) never ever ever buy insurance cuz the deductible ($100) isn't worth it, and 3) when you wash your cell phone, just expect to spend a great deal of time trying to get the issue resolved and plan to explain to 6 different people what the "problem" is before you actually get to the right person. Always plan to repeat your phone # to multiple people, despite also entering it manually into the phone. Also memorize your 6 digit security code # cuz you'll need to repeat that countless times also. I just bought a different phone on ebay - I pray to all the heaven above that isn't not a phone someone swiped and I'm screwed. Merry Christmas to me.

So I was off to the gym today to do some weight training but had to deal with the cell phone issue instead so going to have to blow it off (eeks!!). Unless I can manage to squeeze it in tonight. I'm going to spend the rest of the day organizing presents and seeing who is deficient in quantity and rush out to get someone, whichever that child is, one last gift. HATE last minute shopping!

One last random comment, but running related non-the-less: I was approached by a friend if I would be interested in being a teammate on their Hood To Coast relay team. Not sure if any are familiar with this relay but it's almost 200 miles starting from Mt. Hood and running to the Oregon coast. I think 1500 teams; the most popular running relay team out there. I would LOVE to do it, have wanted to for years. So I'm thrilled! But the considerations are: cost, it's 2 weeks before I do the CO Outward Bound relay here (you're dog tired for these things as you sleep very little in a 35 hour period, if at all), and I start back to school that week and would have to take 2 days off work (followed by a day two weeks later for CO relay). ugh. I hate these sort of decisions. The sleep thing concerns me as I may not recover very well going into the CO relay. But wow...what a total honor to be able to do this. I'm mulling over the pros and cons. Any insights or thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Okay, long enough blog.... signing off. Will close with a pic of my friend, Matt, and I at the start of Tucson. Matt had some bad stomach problems and DNF, dropped out a mile 20. I felt sooo incredibly bad for him. He was trying to get to Boston and run a sub 3-hour. :( It's in ya' Matt - please don't give up!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

5 days post-Tucson

I have to start off by saying a HUGE thank you for all the congrats over Tucson. My cup is running waaaaaaaaay over. I am overwhelmed at all the support - it truly means the world to me!!! It helps me get up everyday and do it all over again knowing you're right there with me! Thank you!

Okay, is this shirt in serious contention for the "ugliest shirt from a race" contest? And to boot, it's 100% COTTON!!! Who makes those for marathon races anymore? It's seriously butt-ugly!

I can honestly say I don't recall ever being so sore after a marathon as I was post-Tucson. Ever! Ever ever ever ever. Well, maybe marathons from decades ago, but certainly not in the past couple years. Even my shins hurt! Huh? Guess I worked hard for those 13 seconds, eh? I'm happy to say that today I could actually walk down the stairs without having to go sideways. Progress is a good thing!

I had a great conversation today with the cross country track coach at school. His running credentials are incredibly phenomenal - including 10 straight Leadville 100's (he's got the big-ass belt buckle to prove it) so I value his insights to all my endurance training. I was telling him that by no means am I disappointed in my performance in Tucson yet I cannot help be slightly frustrated with the fact that I'm still in the category called "unknown" - did I execute my plan perfectly and have enough juice at the end to not falter so I could run a sub-3:45 marathon had that wind not kicked my butt (and everyone else's)??? Though I thought I had done it all correctly, I'm just one of those girls that needs validation. You know, so that I can tweak things here and there so I don't make the same repeat errors; the perfectionist I like to pretend I am and all. I played out the race to him in detail and told him that I never fell apart at the end, like I can do when I am not properly nourished, and that I felt strong at the end, even though that "strong" was now restricted due to the absorbent amount of energy I used to fight the wind. He reassured me that yes, I could have easily run a sub-3:45 and most likely, about a 3:41. I left work today feeling pretty stoked about my running! I think it gave me the kick I needed to fight like mad come Jan 1 to get into some pretty BA shape! It will certainly be a challenge tackling this new me without my old trainer but I do have a pretty strong focus when it comes to my running (along with the support of many - thanks, guys :) )...I think it's going to be good. I think it's going to be VERY good! CC coach is also going to try to set me up with a woman he trains with who was once an elite marathoner; she has a group that gets together and runs every week and he said she could also help me with some plans. Perfect!!!! He also gave me the book 'Born to Run' when he left my office today. Just cuz. Warmed my heart; people just don't do that sort of stuff very often.

In my post-marathon hiatus of non-exercise (aka: blob) I have practically ate myself into a sugar coma. Yesterday, for example, I ate an entire pound of jelly belly's. Wow! I really never do this .... 'Tis the season, the fact I gave up all processed sugar entirely for awhile before Tucson, and well, just cuz I know I'm going to give it all up again come Jan - I don't think a little indulgence for a couple days is going to hurt me. I just need to keep the weight in check and not out of control. While in Tucson, I stumbled upon this gelato place and literally, ate there 4 times in a 24-hour period. How insane is that? Here's a pic the daughter took of the place, it was gorgeous!!!! (it was called "Frost" - we don't have them in Denver, does anyone else have those??)

7 days before Christmas and here's the status: Tree: up but no decorations nor lights. Ut-oh; Cards: Nope, not going to happen this year. I actually do feel kinda bad about that one; I've always been the chick that turns herself into a mad woman taking pictures of the kids and getting photo cards sent out along with a Christmas letter. I came back from Tucson and realized it was never going to get done, no sense in stressing over it. I may do a New Year's card and letter but it just ain't happening before; Cookies: I made 3 dozen the night before last for a cookie exchange at work (*I* actually made them. Myself. Not store bought or even slice and bake, thank you!!). Scored a great cookie mix out of that little adventure. Almost all are gone now (see sugar coma above); Shopping done: Honestly, I have no idea. I need to dig in my closet and see if all children have equal number of items. That's all that really matters to them - that no one gets more than the other; Decorations: Nada; Outside Lights: Do a string of ghosts from Halloween count?; Christmas Dinner: Haven't even thought about it. Anyone know if anyone caters on Christmas?; Cleaned my house for company: Nope. OMG, I have a butt load of work to do. Tomorrow's my last day of work for 2 weeks - I hope to make a small dent in the next few days.
I've been reading everyone's 2010 running/race goals and I feel kinda like the girl who's left behind, sitting at home alone on prom night. I have to tell ya', I don't think I'm even going to make the prom. I'll do Boston since it's on my actual birthday (yea!!), if finances all me to (I am registered, thankfully) and a few local well-knowns and a 50-miler (I hope) but 17 races this year has left me just plain and simply tired. Not burned out from running, but I'm tired of the stress, the prep, the cost, and training for these races. I need a break. I'm going to look over the massive race list and throw a few on the "thought" list but no way am I going to bust my butt to make a list from Jan-Dec and hold my guns to it. A blog before the year's end highlighting where I've been this year is gonna come, I promise; it's been a year to shine but it's time to put that shiny platter to the side for awhile and get my body prepped for whatever it is I decide I want to do. It's going to be a good year, I think!
I have been a good girl like I'm suppose to be and not running this week and I have to say, I'm not even sad about that like I usually am for the mandatory week off running after a marathon. I do think come Sunday, I'm going to be ready to hit the road. I do have lots of sugar to burn off, afterall!

I want to close by saying that I'm doing okay. Each day is getting a little better :).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tucson: It wasn't about a PR....but how sweet it was!

I am finally home from Tucson and wanted to fill y'all in on how it all went.

I went into this race with absolute uncertainty how I'd perform. Stress can pull the rug right out from under you and I had my share -- add the little fact I really have a lot of pre-marathon anxiety...well, how I'd perform was just a mystery. But I got to the start line at Tucson and I decided that no matter how it all unfolded, I would use this race s a turning point in my life and the finish line time was just that - a time. Normally, I'm so afraid of where to start, where to pick up the pace, pace group or not, where to hold back....the list is extensive. The marathon is such a game of strategy and play it wrong, you pay the price at the end. Most know of that dreadful death march at the end by not playing the game correctly.

But I got a fax from a friend the night before my race. A dear friend and he told me this:

.... my wish is that this race becomes a turning point in your life. A day you discover an inner strength you never knew was within you......don't worry about setting a PR.....your running is a wonderful gift and this race should be a celebration of that. Savor every step you take Sunday.....nothing would please me more than to know you will look down at the medal around your neck and smile with pride.

He was right. This race was not about a PR or impressing others or proving to myself that I had one more marathon in me this year. This race was about a new beginning. I decided to run and not worry about anything other than giving it my all.

And all I did. Today I literally am sore in every place on my body; apparently there are body parts that can get sore that I never knew existed! I had to push with every ounce of body fiber otherwise I wouldn't feel so much pain right now!

I will write more race details and include pictures later when I have more time, so will just sum up the race as this: I have never fought so hard and felt so complete after running a marathon. After mile 9, I faced the fiercest winds I've ever encountered - EVER! I fought them head-on for 17 miles and every second of it royally sucked. As a smallish race, there was not a lot of people around me so I'd try to run up to groups or a larger male so they could block my wind. I'm sure I annoyed those around me doing this ... but I didn't care. I used every ounce of physical power I had to stay in this game. I fought like mad to not lose ground. I refused to give up and walk when I was almost in tears from this ridiculous wind. I was on course to smash my PR (3:46:13) by several minutes .... yet the wind after mile 19 was brutal and though my mental strength was screaming not to slow down, the physical demands were more than I could handle and by mile 22, I was slowing a good minute/mile.

Despite being on course to smash my PR by many minutes just a few miles before, I hung on for dear life and I still managed a small PR, crossing the finish line at 3:45:59 (my watch. Race time has me at 3:46:00. I guess "they" are more official....but I'm still standing firm with the 3:45 time :) ).

A PR by 13 seconds.

In gale-force winds!

Pretty pleased about that, that's a given....but I can't be a little bummed that the effort wasn't harvesting a much sweeter victory for me!! So close! But each of us go into these races never knowing what the race will throw at us that day; we hope we are prepared but we all have our physical limits. This relentless wind was mine.

I fought the fight....yet I still won!! I am very proud of that!

Tucson was a turning point for me, my friend was right. I'm now home and ready to tackle the challenges I have a little bit stronger now because I learned that no matter how fierce the winds I face, I can persevere!

"If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to your mountain, "MOVE" and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you!"

-- Matthew 17:20

I'll write a bit more about the race later. Thanks a TON for all your support and well wishes - your words were there along the course with me reeling me in!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Week 49/Gratitude

Week 49 (Tucson taper week 2):
Week's running totals: 21.2 (eeks)
2009 running totals:1735.99
Weight/core training: 1
Swimming: 0
Days sans sugar: I've given up. I'm not doing bad, but I'm too taper stressed to worry about it right now. Will start back up Jan 1.

-My black patent leather Dooney & Bourke purse (yeah, baby! This is a rare treat. You wouldn't believe what I had to sell to get it :) )
-That little man dressed in brown who brings me packages; he's better than Santa!
-My NEW purple running shirt for Tucson. It has a pocket in the back to carry all my garb! It's gonna bring me good luck.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Best Massage Therapy EVER!!

My kido, about 12 years ago. Picture sits on the edge of my bathtub

Okay, here goes, brace could be a bumpy ride.

5 days to Tucson.

Though ya might have thought I was doing better, reality is I'm a complete, utter mess.
"Mean" person from a few blogs prior decide to throw a couple more punches, the worst being all the countless hours, and we're talking hundreds here, of writing I had done about my running journey for his newsletter/website are gone. Erased. Deleted. I guess to make a point that we're history.

The thing was, those articles, the vast majority, were written from my heart in an attempt to get the non-runner, or even the non-exerciser, moving. To let those reading know how my passion for running is not always an easy one. So they didn't feel alone and give up when the going got tough. I may be beyond what's considered the "norm" for a runner in the quantity, quality or I guess attachment to I have with running, but they were stories touched on tenderness, zest, truthfulness, and full of emotion! They were not, "there are no excuses, just do it or don't" stories. They provided encouragement; people liked them and told me on many occasions they couldn't wait for the next installment. It touched me that I could help in some small way.

I put hundreds of hours into those articles. Hundreds. Because I cared about the person that asked me to do it. It hurt when I was asked me to take a small break from writing so the son could have an opportunity to learn the responsibility of a "deadline" - I mean, there's no reason why we couldn't have both...unless that person was just trying to be "mean." But okay, fine, I'll still write and I'll still motivate people to get moving. Eventually.

But one thing lead to another this past week and when I looked at the website last night. Articles gone. All 104 of them. Even my link.

So let's take an overly sensitive, emotional girl who's dealing with a lot of personal garbage, tapering for a major marathon and throw one more punch. I asked to talk to find a resolution. No. I asked to talk just to get my head out of a funk. No. I didn't sleep last night. I woke up in total disarray. I went to cancel my massage therapy appointment but decided that no, I would go, because Charlie, MT, is not only good at healing my legs, he's also magical at healing my mind .. and my heart. For the past 2 years, he knows what to say to me. He has those spellbound words that are true yet caring. Not full of stuff I want to hear but full of stuff I need to DO. Stuff that cripples me because if left to my own toxic mind, I struggle to function. Charlie told me point blank that this divorce had to happen eventually, just very unfortunate at the timing is all, and made me acknowledge this. He told me to go home and eat. He told me what to eat. He told me to take a bubble bath when I got home. He told me to call a girlfriend in Alabama and make some plans to see her for a race in the spring. But most of all, he told me there was nothing wrong with me, that I CAN run 26.2 miles in 5 day, he told me I will run strong and if by some fluke problem I didn't, I would survive. Information I know, of course, but was so brain clogged that I couldn't remember. I filled the hour in tears and felt his heart. When I got up to leave, he gave me a compassionate, HUGE, hug and told me I was going to be fine and he'd always be there to talk, or work on my legs, whenever I wanted.

That massage therapy session was more healing than any torture on a bad calf. Ever!!! Those were the words I wanted to hear from the one who inflicted so much pain. The one that told me I was already given the tools I needed and refused to talk more. Ouch again!

I called my southern girlfriend upon return to my car, as I promised Charlie I would, and told her about all the "stuff" going on in Jill-land for the past month. It was liberating. We talked an hour. I cried very little. She was empathetic, not sympathetic. She told me to book a flight to Atlanta and sign up to do the ING half marathon, the one I love so much to run, and she'd be there waiting for me. In Atlanta, we'll talk and we'll shop and we'll eat and I'll run!! A true girly-fest! She told me, as did Charlie, that it was time for Jill to find the passion in her running again. 18 races in a year's span, 4 of which were marathons in the past 7 month and an 8000' vertical run up Pikes Peak, was proving it's toll on this weathered body.... and I was no longer having fun. The Southern Belle and Charlie told me the flame was out and I had to find a way to rekindle it.

I want to join the master's swim team at DU, I want to go to yoga, I want muscle-y arms, I want to cycle. And I want to run like the wind ... and feel alive again! I want to go to Atlanta and do the half marathon! I want to go to Boston and I want to run it well!

I'm not sure I can run a sub-3:45 marathon in Tucson but I'm no longer afraid to at least get out there and run. God, I'm feeling better!!!!!!

I'm sitting here in a relaxing bubble bath, something I so rarely get to do (if it's bath time for this girl, it's usually a therapeutic ice bath post hard run) as I blog to you (honestly..see pic) and reflecting on the past year, all my amazing accomplishments and what 2010 holds. I'll be honest, I'm afraid to dive into 2010 without the one I've had by my side for the past few years but I feel hope. And that's the fuel that's gonna get me through the next few days!

The blue thingy is what I use to carry ice for my summer ice baths :)

Tomorrow I will run. I may not get to write, but I will run!
Thanks for all the input on blog names. Seems about an equal mix of mileswithin and runningwithjill ...and a push for White Witch by margarine. I'm not sure if vote changing is allowed; I'll look up the rules on that one but in the mean time, I will ponder the ideas and get something up after Tucson. And though the daughter tweaked the blog, again, it's still not what I want (and have lost my blog roll in the meantime. ugh) so stay tuned!

I appreciate all the support. A lot!!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Can you help my web name?

As you can clearly see, I've been dinking around with my blog - thanks, in part, to very snowy Meg's blog (for a California chick, this is pretty good stuff!). I'm one of those that just can't leave well enough alone and as reported in the intense "I hurt" blog, I'm a pretty determined girl, at least with silly gadgets and apparently, blue snowflakes.

Did I mention I know nothing about HTML? My daughter had a semester in high school learning this stuff so she's pretty on top of it. Sorta. She's been impatiently helping me. Let me stress the impatiently part!! I'm grateful for her fancy, ridiculously over-priced Catholic education, even if she rolls her eyes at me constantly and grabs my laptop and will not show me what she's doing. Oh well. It's a work in progress, please don't think this snow angle here is sticking around in the current state she's in...but we're making ground. Abbey's currently not at home or I'd be making her fix this I'll just blog instead.

So anyway I need help. Beyond advanced psychological help.

I'm a running coach, amongst 3 other jobs I have. I have a client here and there; right now it's slow as races are all winding down and all but it will pick up after the Jan 1; I already have two new clients :). Anyway, I need to build a website. More of a running website but I also have a personal training certification and have had a couple weight loss clients in the past and do not mind this avenue, though I do want the focus on marathon or half marathon training.

With all that in mind, I need a name.

I have a practice website out there that a friend helped me with a lot earlier in the year (if you haven't quite figured it out yet, I am very computer illiterate!!). Initial thoughts were to use this site but the more I dove into it, the more I didn't like it. Nor the name. Well, it's time to re-register that name and I don't like it ( I don't want anything even remotely associated with my name in it. I want something inspiring but also maybe fun. Related to running but also not necessarily. Short and to the point so that too many keystrokes aren't going to be an issue.

The major problem is, most good running named websites are not available (and I have very little creativity). You can check availability on but anything that I really like is taken. Which is to be expected...but it leaves me in a panic as I really need to get this puppy started before the end of the year.

Any ideas???

One I've considered is:

It's available. A friend has offered to help me with website (did I mention I can't do a whole lot on the computer? :) ) and is off work the last two weeks of the year (like me :) ). He likes this name. I'm not so sure anymore. Anyway, I'm begging for any suggestions that you guys as runners would be drawn to!! Any and all suggestions are appreciated! THANKS in advanced!!

In running news: I blew off early morning run this morning with a girlfriend. I should have gone; I was a mess all morning and the conversation of a good female running pal would have been good for the soul but I was able to sleep in a bit more, which was also much needed. I dropped off Brendan at boxing this afternoon and went for a very hilly 6 mile run. Pace: 8:49. I wanted to go MP (faster) but because of the continuous steep hills, I'm ok with it. I could not, however, get my mind in a happy place and upon return, had a mini-meltdown and the tears started. I am worried about Tucson. I've GOT to this this mind under control and get my head on straight. Tomorrow I'm meeting running friends Dennis and Matt for the tail end of their 8 miler. They are super speedy and the last thing I need is to trash my legs 5 days before the marathon by running their fast 8 miler. But a couple miles with them would be good. Hopefully it will also help the ole mind to be around other running mates. Maybe they'll slap the crap out of me and scream GET OVER IT, JILL!!!! And similar get-your-act-together loving comments.

And oh, I am on an antibiotic for the sinuses. Yep, it's definitely marathon tapering time!! I don't even have to tell my doctor my symptoms, he just asks: What antibiotic do you want now? I really need to get this sinus stuff surgically cleaned out - springtime is a total nightmare for me. I dread it. But that's not going to happen, due to insurance issues, anytime soon.

Very excited for bloggers running CIM and Vegas marathons tomorrow. And a friend, Adam, doing Palm Beach!!!!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And then the day after....

Thanks for all the support on yesterday's blog. I had to get that out and needed a little pick-me-up support. You guys are the best.

I spent the entire day yesterday from the second I walked in the door from work until I went to bed, well past the 9:00 time frame I had hoped, in the cozy comfort of my warm flannel sheets and down comforter. I told my kids I was sick; essentially I was. I emerged for a brief evening meal of swiss cheese (protein!!) and a bowl of Cheerios (fiber!!) and quickly headed to my safe haven of the confines of my bed. Whew! Nothing like the warmth of my bed-ridden layers! I slept horribly, of course, and all day at work today I was in a tired funk and snapped at kids. I did apologize though. Cuz that's what nice people do when we offend others.

Yeah, yesterday was a total waste of a day.

But I think maybe I needed it. It made me appreciate the days I'm not lost.

I vowed not to repeat it today, despite it taking every ounce of will I have not to return. I can't even tell you how loud my flannel sheets were screaming at me upon return from school today. Oh man....they are sooooo warm!!!

I put on my running stuff, cranked out part of a writing project, pried twin 2 off the couch where he was starting to become part of it, and headed out in the balmy 12 degrees temps to the gym. (it's currently 3 degrees right now. I'm certain I've mentioned it a time or two...but I hate winter. No running outside in 3 degrees for me, I have my limits)

Having missed yesterday's entire workout (hard to run when when wrapped up in flannel and feathers), I thought I'd try to combine yesterday's weight/core workout with today's hill run. Fail. Ish. I got the hills in as I thought that was the more important of the two, but after 45 minutes of running, I had little energy left for any major weights. 15 minutes of some arm and ab stuff and I called it quits. I don't really know what I'm doing, I guess I lost my trainer. Running coach-Jill knows what to do on her own but marathon-tapering-stressed-having-had-her-trainer-always-do-the-work-for-her-in-the-past Jill is really just kind of a blob and winging whatever feels right. It's not my preference but... oh well.

Getting out and getting the workout in did the mind some good, though, and I feel slightly elevated from the gloom I was in all day yesterday and earlier today. That's a plus! Running certainly can heal!!! Let's just hope each day gets a little better and a little better and a little better.

I think I have sinus infection # upteen hundred for the year. Par for the course; every single time I have a major race, I get one. I ran up Mt. Evans this summer with a full-blown sinus and ear infection attack and on a strong antibiotic. My advice for y'all: never run up 4000' in 14.5 miles on a pretty major antibiotic with an inner-ear equilibrium imbalance. Wowwwzie. I seriously thought I was going to fall off that mountain. 1 week before Portland? Sinus infection. Boston? Yep. Tucson? My sinuses are bellowing, OUCHHH." Back to the dr. tomorrow and back on another antibiotic. Maybe I can get a pill to make me forget the pain ...and while I'm at it, one to make the legs run faster! To add to my sinus concerns stress, twin 1 AND 2 both have sore throats and not feeling up to snuff. Great!!!

It's now time to get up close and personal with my all-time favorite book for runners: Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald (not to be confused with Matt M. running Tucson. At least I don't think so). This book was pivotal for my scrambled mind just before St. George last year so I'm hoping to go back and re-read a few page. Mental Girl (aka: Sensitive Girl) here needs a few therapy sessions. I took the book picture myself....I know, my photo skills are top notch! You really should read it - especially page 160 where it talks about feeling bad during running and running badly. Serious brain matter here I tell ya' - and I'd be the expert on all try-to-get-your-brain-focused-on-matter-at-hand running books out there. I have many.

Need to close by mentioning that I have totally gotten into marathon taper cozy/lazy-ness; evident by wearing slippers to school today. Well, not slipper slippers but my high top boot-type slippers. The kids love it when I dress like them; but my daughter thinks it's rather "retarded." No one ever said she wasn't honest. I took a picture of my favy slipper boots for ya, too. $21 at The Gap when using Friend and Family 30% off coupon two weeks ago. Score! It's not the Coach purse I'd really rather have...but I'll take what I can get for now. Yes, I also took this lovely picture and yes, I have my slipper boots on with my running tights. And yes, that's my toilet as a backdrop. And yes, that's my Boston '09 jacket on the floor next to my slippers. Gotta love myself sometimes!

One day at a time....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Game On

10 days to Tucson according to my snazzy countdown counter on the side, the one I spent about 2 hours trying to figure out how to plant there. 2 hours. Really? I didn't even know I had a 2 spare hours in my life for a simple gadget that doesn't really need to remind me how long I have to freak out about a race (in my defense, it was over the course of several days); that number is planted at the forefront of my every waking minute; I don't need a calendar to remind me. But I liked it when I saw it on someone's blog; it made me smile and I had to have one. I'm not one to easily give up on something I want (well, except that I want a trip to the Greek Isles, but I am also realistic; no sense in fighting for that one right now) so it's not a wonder I wasted so much time on a countdown calendar. I also think it adds some character and color to, dare I say it, an overly pink blog. I know!!! (gasp)

I don't know how I'm going to run in Tucson, I can't even guesstimate. My mind's so far removed from this race, I have no sense of awareness how I'll perform; I think my mind's somewhere bouncing around on Jupiter .... it's nowhere near the Tucson starting line.

And maybe that's okay, I'm not sure. I guess I'll find out in 10 days.

My e-friend recently had a touching blog post about mean-spirited people and I have to share parts of it because the words he resonates are my sentiments exactly:

People are mean. Not all people. But enough people.
It’s easy to live in my own little world. I like it here. I just get so mad when I venture into the real world and encounter people who are so intolerant, so insensitive, so holier-than-thou, so totally thoughtless that they can trample on other people’s feelings and then feel no remorse. I can’t help myself; I overreact. I argue. I scream. I mock. I go nuts...... When I see people getting hurt because of someone’s thoughtless, idiotic, pointless tirade, I’ve had it.

Right on, margarine. He has a good heart!

I'm a fairly highly-sensitive-overly-emotional-needy-at-times chick. Not always, but when enough stuff starts to build, I get frustrated and high frustrations tend to lead to a loss of composure. I'm certain, though, the sensitivity part is a constant; my feelings do get easily injured. It's trait of who I am. I can't change that, despite sometime wanting to. Most people tend to still like me. For the most part. It doesn't make me any lesser of a soul, it just makes me me.

I believe I have a heart of gold; there's not much I wouldn't do for someone that I care about, though others that know me could tell you for certain. I know I feel sympathy, compassion, sorrow and joy for them. Gratitude lubricates the engines of a friendship. I'm very grateful for my friends. I don't relish the thought of losing them.

But I don't have a lot of very close friends. I believe sensitive people tend to fall a little on the reserved side ... maybe it's a fear they will get too hurt. Who knows. But when compassionate people give their heart, they give it all.

I'm pretty bruised.

It's not a matter of what happened, the thoughtless act is done; it's the fact sensitive girl here WAS jolted by someone whom she let in and the ability to temper that hurt with an apology isn't a concern by the offending party. Apparently. Apologies aren't exclusively due to wrong-doing, they're also an acceptance to the realization their behavior inflicted harm. Maybe it's just me, but I think friendships are precious and if I unintentionally said or did something that hurt my "unconditional friendship" friend, I'd feel about 2" tall. I'd be doing whatever I could to make amends and steer it right. If I've somehow inflicted pain, I'm sorry. No. Matter. What. I'd rather apologize for something I said or did than to stand my ground to be "right" and lose something invaluable. If something has enough valuable to you, you fight for it! To have harmony. I pray to God that my children understand this.

But that's just me. I'm about human kindness.

It's hard for me to take someone I've been very emotionally dependent upon, trusted, and who was my rock and support system and just watch it blow away. Right smack in the middle of marathon taper time. As if stress for the race weren't enough, huh??

It's affected my sleep, nutrition, my running and training. How's that for stress!!??!!

I fight to get my mind focused on Tucson; I struggle daily. Hourly.

But yet, maybe it will be okay......maybe I'm not alone.....

Perhaps it's time for sensitive girl to close the lid on this matter, heavy heart and all - according to my snazzy countdown calendar, I gotta marathon to run in a mere 10 days! I may not be going with the one that talked me into this little adventure, and I'll always be sad about that, but I have others I'll be taking with me every step of the way. Including you guys. And maybe that's abundant enough.

If I have enough persistence to get a funky countdown calendar on my blog, I surly have enough determination to run 26.2 miles.

Game on, let's run!