Monday, December 21, 2015

My First Half-Marathon!!!

One morning in training I planned to do a 10-mile run.  I cook hamburger patties and freeze them to eat after my runs for protein.  This particular morning I remembered to take it out of the freezer but left it on the counter.  I went off without water and without my post run chocolate protein drink.  All I had in the car was the hot tea I’d made as part of breakfast. 
  God, what are you trying to teach me?  No hamburger patty is one thing, and no protein drink is one thing, but You let me walk out of the house without WATER?  For a 10-mile run???!!! 
Guess what.
  My times were faster that day than normal.  I did stop at a store about half way and get some coconut water and a banana, but God was teaching me that I need a lot less than I think I do.

So early in 2015 I made not exactly a resolution, at least I didn't call it that.  I just said and wrote down that this year I would run a half-marathon.  This paper has been on my fridge all year. 

A few days before my half-marathon, I saw an item I was interested in on a Facebook sale site but I’d have to drive 12 miles to get it so I decided not to.  Then it hit me that I thought *driving* 12 miles was too far but I’ll be *running* 13.1!

The morning of the race I woke up to nice breezy weather; a little warmer than ideal, but I’ll take it. 
I felt ready.  Prepared.  This sure beats not preparing well and wondering if I’ll make it.  I was more excited than nervous.  At the start I ran about a tenth of a mile before realizing my music wasn’t on!  Then I had to find the beginning song.  I couldn’t believe I didn’t think of getting that ready before the start.  Okay, all set now!  Running well.  I recognize this area I’ve been running for months.  I belong here.  I wonder if I should move from the blocked-off street to the sidewalk I’m familiar with.  Nah, I’ll stay here.  It’ll be some novelty mixed with familiarity. 

My time is great!  A little faster than usual, but not excessively.  It must be adrenaline and the excitement of the race finally happening. 
I’m coming to the first refueling point, 45 minutes in.  I didn’t wear my fuel belt because it’s ugly and bulky.  I see Brianne and Nico!  I’m glad she wore an orange T-shirt; that makes it very easy to spot her from far away!  I swallowed some mashed sweet potato.  It provides vitamins and good carbs.  I drank some watermelon juice/coconut water/salt concoction I came up with on my own.  No energy gels or Gatorade for this runner; I’m going as natural as possible!  I walked while it digested and talked with my daughter and son-in-law, but the total walk time was no more than 2 minutes.  See you at the next refueling place! 

I ran across the blocked-off south span of the Park Blvd. bridge, not the north span with a pedestrian lane like I practiced, but I knew that was a possibility.  No problem; I can handle a little bit of unfamiliarity.  Still going strong.  I started 30 minutes early with the walkers and other slow runners, but the fast runners had already caught up with us.  Many as they passed me said, “Good job!”, “Looking good!”, “Keep it up!”, etc.  Ahhhh, positive encouragement!  And from the fast runners!
I met my support crew again at about mile 6.
  Yay!  I’m thankful to them for providing me fuel so I didn’t have to carry it myself or rely on what the race provided.

About the halfway point there were lots of people at Seminole City Park to cheer us!  One of them was my running friend Lisa who took the pictures you see here.  Thanks, Lisa, for the encouragement and picture-taking!  I was feeling strong, smiling, and really enjoying the race!

A thought, one of thousands, occurred to me while I was running.  Everyone knows that it’s not wise to cram for a test and that you really should manage your time well and be prepared, but hardly anyone follows that advice.  Let me tell you, FOLLOW IT!  I’m so glad I put in the necessary time training.  It was still work, and I still didn’t end up with a record pace, but I enjoyed it and felt confident.  That was worth all those 4 a.m. alarms to run before the rest of my day started and all the sweat and sore feet I endured for the last 6 months specifically and the last 4+ years generally. 

My phone died at mile 10.3.  Grrrr!  I made sure I didn’t unplug it from the charger until right before I left the house and that I had no apps open in the background and it still died on me.  I’ll have to find out why. 
In addition to feeling prepared with the distance, I’m glad I was prepared with this particular course.
  The Pinellas Trail is beautiful!
I entered Taylor Park in a different place than I had trained for.  I’m rolling with the flow so it was fine.  I made it to the 1/2-mile-long crushed shell path and my legs didn’t collapse under me.  Back on concrete now and only about half a mile to go!  I can hear the music at the finish line.  I’m coming, I’m coming!  I finished!  I ran my first half-marathon!  I ran 13.1 miles!
My time was 3:13:19, which is a 14:45 pace per mile.  That’s slow, but about what I run in training, so it wasn’t a letdown.  I’m happy that I ran and that I finished!  I’m happy that my fitness club friends and others encouraged me to go ahead and do this race and not wait.  I’m happy that God changed my heart and then my mind and my body so that I would even want to run much less actually be able to do it!

My mom and dad were in the park but couldn’t get to the finish line, so  I saw them soon after.  I walked around for a little while drinking water, got some of both kinds of pasta and an orange and a banana.  It’s amazing how good food tastes when you earn it!  I burned about 2600 calories so I needed to replenish some of them.  Wow, recovery is hard.  There was no time to nap in the afternoon because we drove over an hour to meet some family for supper.  I took a pillow and tried to sleep in the car but sleep didn’t come.  I had a post-race massage 3 days after.  Ahhhhh!!!  My body is just TIRED.  I took the whole week after the race off from running and I’m fine with that.
The overlying feeling for this race and much of the training was joy!  I loved the whole race experience and most of the training, especially when the weather cooled down (well, cool for Florida).  I felt joy each time I ran a new distance in the weeks leading up to the race, starting with 10 miles.  The joy of the Lord is my strength!

Monday, October 26, 2015


In my last post I wrote about not having motivation and wondering if my running days were numbered.  I was just running mechanically but not enjoying it. 

Now I’m happy to say the times they are a changin’! 

I had to ramp up my 3.1-mile runs to 6.2 to prepare for the midnight race I’ve run on July 3 the last few years and then I didn’t want to lose that fitness by dropping back to 3.1, so I held steady at 6.2 for most of my runs although the summer heat and humidity were ridiculous even before dawn.

After contemplating if I should attempt a half-marathon in December, two months ago I took the plunge and signed up for one!  It was exciting and scary at the same time, but there’s a saying that if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough.  This one scared me so it’s just the right size - big enough to require work to achieve, but still manageable. 

I have a good plan of increasing my distance by a mile every 2 weeks.  Having a goal race to train for has given me back my motivation!  The summer months are just so hot and humid in Florida and I didn’t take that into account when I was feeling so discouraged.  I was going through a dry spell and I’m glad I persevered. 

Last Saturday was scheduled to be 10 miles, the longest distance I’ve ever run.  I ran it and lived to tell about it!

I ran 10 miles, y’all!  10!

I also run on Tuesdays and Thursdays but don’t have the time for long runs then.  They’re less than 4 miles but they keep me in shape so that I don’t become a weekend warrior and risk injury. 

This past Saturday was also scheduled to be a 10-mile run.  When I got to our meeting point I immediately realized I’d forgotten my fuel belt.  It holds four 8-ounce bottles in which I usually have water, juice, smoothie, or protein drink.  It also has a pouch where I keep honey for quick energy.  My heart dropped.  I would have to do 10 miles with only water and I immediately began trying to remember where on the course water fountains were.  Also, I usually bring a hamburger patty (protein) and chocolate protein drink for after my run and I had remembered neither.  I’m going to have to set my fuel belt on my purse the night before these long runs so I don’t forget it.  Or set an alarm on my phone to remember it.  Or both.


Then I remembered that when I mapped out our route the night before, our turnaround point would be right at a convenience store.  I tucked away my debit card so I could buy something there and decided to make the best of it.  I had previously been fueling every 30 minutes on long runs and over the last month or so had stretched it to 45 minutes.  I’d really be stretching it now!  It would be well over an hour before I refueled.  Well, what could I do?  We started running and I drank water at the first fountain we came to, about 3 miles in.  That wasn’t so bad.  I do almost 4 miles on Tuesdays and Thursdays with no water or any other fuel. 

We’d had to add about half a mile early on due to unforeseen circumstances so our turnaround point came sooner than I had planned.  We hit 5 miles but the convenience store was still about a mile ahead.  If we turned back at 5 miles there would be no fuel at all except more water.  If we continued on we’d add a mile there and a mile back and make our total distance 12 miles instead of 10.  “Oops!  We accidentally ran 12 miles,” we’d have to say.  J

We decided to go on to the store and get some fuel.  I chose coconut water with pineapple and a banana except that they were 2 for $1 so I got two.  I ate one right away and drank some coconut water.  Then I was left with carrying the bag, the other banana, and the carton of coconut water, which was a little awkward but I had to make it work.  I hoped I could find someone struggling and offer him or her my banana.  Or a homeless person.  I found neither and ended up carrying both items all the way back to the car.  Amanda folded up the bag and put it in her fuel belt.  She hadn’t forgotten hers.  J

It wasn’t until we were about 1-1/2 miles into our return trip that I realized I hadn’t restarted my music.  So God was orchestrating it that I ran so long without fuel *and* without music.  What was going on???

Here’s what was going on.  In the Bible is the story of Gideon, a man who was not great in his family, his community, or his country.  Nothing distinguished him.  In fact, he seemed rather puny and even cowardly.  One day an angel greeted him and called him a mighty warrior.  That certainly wasn’t how Gideon saw himself!  Later on, Gideon became an army leader.  He had gathered 32,000 soldiers to fight their oppressing enemies.  God said that was too many and that if they won the soldiers would boast that they had done it themselves and not give credit to God.  Gideon told the soldiers that if anyone was scared he could go home.  Then 22,000 took him up on the offer!  God said even 10,000 was too many and to conduct a test.  Only 300 men passed the test and the rest were sent home.  With 300 soldiers Gideon stood still and watched the enemy soldiers destroy themselves in chaos and confusion!  God had taught him that he could get by on and be victorious with much less than he had thought.

That’s what God was showing me.  Having and using a fuel belt isn’t wrong; in fact, it’s a very good idea, but I can’t trust in it.  I need to trust in God and His ability to sustain me. 

Later Amanda and I decided we could cut out a loop we did earlier and not make the run 12 miles.  Then we would decide at 10 what to do.  Ten miles came and we decided to go to 10-1/2.  At 10-1/2 we were so close to where we started that we decided to just run to that spot and then stop.  We ended up running a total of 10.67 miles!  More than half a mile farther than we had planned.  And we’re both still alive to tell about it!

I had the thought the day before this run to get breakfast afterward and now I *seriously* needed some nutrition!  There’s a nearby diner I’d gone to before and is good so I had checked their menu and found steak and eggs on the breakfast part.  Oh yeah!  Protein and protein!  Just what I need after a big workout!  I went there but the waitress said they’ve never had steak and eggs and she would have to look at their website and find out why that was on the menu posted there.  Sigh.  I settled for a 3-egg omelet, home fries, and a biscuit.  My running app said I had burned over 2000 calories on that 10.67-mile run so I should’ve been ravenous to replenish some of them.  I ate my biscuit, a few bites of home fries, and only half the omelet.  What?!  How can that be?  I don’t understand, but I’ve learned enough over the past 6 years to know to stop when my hunger is satisfied, not when I’m stuffed. 

The next two Saturdays are scheduled to be 11-mile days.  We’ll see God has in store and what He wants to teach me.  This is exciting!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

To Run Or Not To Run?

I haven’t wanted to run for MONTHS but I’m still doing so, mostly mechanically.  Just running because I know it’s good for me.  In April I ran the Iron Girl 5K for a friend who was unable to run it after registering. 

I thought maybe racing instead of just training would be a shot in the arm, but it wasn’t.  There’s a long, high bridge in that race that I’ve run dozens of times but not in a couple years.  On my usual training runs there are no bridges or overpasses so I hadn’t trained for that.  I ran all the way up and down
but on the way back I had to walk part of the way up.  That was not a proud moment.  It was only a 5K, for goodness’ sake!  I shouldn't have to walk!  I did get a medal for finishing that run,
but it didn’t motivate me to get faster or to sign up for another race.

At Fitness Club last night we were doing a warmup - run the width of the half-basketball court,

run the walkway equal to the half-basketball court,
run up and then back down the stairs,


return to the court and do 2 laps of kneeups, then repeat.  We did this inside rather than our usual outside warmup because there had been a storm earlier and the sky still looked unstable.  After the second-time-around running portion, I was hoping for a storm in the morning so I didn’t have to run.  Oh, wait a minute.  Oops.  I was supposed to be doing kneeups and what was I doing instead?  I was…running.  While I was hoping I didn’t have to…run…in the morning.  Yet I was…running, not trying to get out of running.   

When the others let me know I was supposed to be doing kneeups I told them a little about how strange it was that I haven’t wanted to run for so long yet I keep running.  I’ve even wondered if I should really commit to running a half-marathon late this year.  Am I just wasting my time?  Has running run its course in my life?  Honestly, if I stopped running I would miss it at first but after a couple weeks of not running I would just look back fondly on this season of my life and be grateful for it but know that sometimes things come for a season and then leave and that’s okay.  The more I said things like this the more the others told me I should keep running (not instead of doing kneeups but in general).  They said I would regret stopping.  That’s true; I probably would.  The only workout or run I regret is the one I decide not to do.  If I decide not to do a half, the day will come for the one I have in mind and I won’t be prepared and I won’t be running, and I’ll regret it.  I’ll be disappointed in myself, others will be disappointed in me, and most of all I’ll miss out on showing people what God can do with someone who lets Him have His way with her.  My body doesn’t belong to just me.  It also belongs to God who made it, and He has shown me over and over the last few years that He wants me to be an example of what He can do, so stopping running now would deprive the people He wants to reach of a visible example of His power. 

That certainly doesn’t mean I think I’m the ultimate human specimen.  Far…haa haa…far from…hee hee…far from it!  Oh my goodness, I am SO not putting myself out as having a perfect body. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Yes, I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I still have a lot more I’d like to lose.  I still have the evidence (loose skin on my tummy, bingo wings) of those excess pounds, and even though I’m technically running, it’s very slow.  I have practically 0 chance of ever placing in the top 3 of my age group in a race, much less winning one outright.  Even though I’m turning back the clock big time as someone once told me, the clock is still ticking.  I’m getting older.  My times are getting slower, I hate to admit.  I’m still moving, though, and that’s a big accomplishment from where I was before.  If I hadn’t begun walking and then running and had kept eating the way I used to I may have exploded by now.  I would certainly be much heavier than I was, more miserable, and of no help to anyone.  

So even though my body feels the effects of each run or workout I do, I’ll keep doing them.  I’ll keep moving this body as long as God allows me to and not let a dry period stop me.  I’ll run with perseverance the race God has set before me.  He hasn’t told me to stop running; that’s been my own inertia wanting to take over again. 

Thank you to Shane, Patty, Troy, and Frank for encouraging me at Fitness Club to not give up!  If you need some encouragement, join us on Monday nights from 7-8 at Calvary Chapel’s rec room and move your body for God’s glory.  All fitness levels are welcome and encouraged!  Shane will show you how to modify exercises to fit where you are now and encourage you to accept that but also push yourself to what you didn’t think you could do.  And it’s free!
Calvary Chapel Fitness Club 

I did run this morning.  There was no sign of a storm and no reason not to run.  There was no beautiful sunrise pic to show you of today’s run, though.  Some days there is and some days there isn’t.  That’s the way the cookie crumbles (pun intended).  Thankfully, I don’t let sunrises be the deciding factor in whether I run or not.