Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My First Marathon

This past Sunday I ran my very first Marathon!  I ran the Denver Rock and Roll Marathon.  It was an overwhelming experience that did not start the moment I began the race but early on in my training.  I have wanted to run a marathon for a VERY long time.  I would say this race was much more spiritual for me than physical.  This race recap is unusual.  I do not know how many will read it, but if you do, know that it is more a reflection of what God taught me over the last few months.

I decided in mid July to finally take the plunge and sign up for the race.  You can read about that decision in my previous post.  I am a nurse, and I cared for a 50 year old cancer patient who died within weeks of his diagnosis.  He died in my care.  In some ways, I saw my own life and my priorities through his passing.  It broke my heart. I had been taking a break from running blogs, and my obsession with running.  Yes, you can get TOO much of a good thing.  However, running is not bad in and of itself.  But any good thing can become an idol in one's life.  I had been dealing with mine.  My heart had refocussed itself on my Heavenly Father.  I believed I had the go ahead to sign up for my first Marathon.

Within weeks of beginning my training, I suffered a left hamstring injury.  "Ok, God, was I not hearing from you?"  I was VERY DISCOURAGED.  AGAIN I had to give my goal back to God, saying, "Your will be done."  I was certain I would have to change and run the 1/2 marathon instead.  I was praying for a positive attitude in spite of circumstances.  Thank GOD for amazing, supportive friends, one of which is a chiropractor.  I have ALWAYS been skeptical of chiropractic; EVEN though I know a ton of chiropractors that I really respect.  It's just the thought of someone cracking my body that wigs me out COMPLETELY. After a few weeks of not running, I saw my friend Richard at the advice of my husband.  My left hip was completely out of alignment.  MADE TOTAL SENSE TO ME.  I have had issues with my left hip, hamstring, knee and foot since the birth of my son.  He adjusted me, checked me out and said as long as I did not have any pain running, I could resume training.  Ironically, the hamstring pain was only with stretching or strength training.  So I ditched the strength training with my legs and stuck to gentle stretching.  Kept it strong with core work, push-ups and planks.  Anyway, my left side is doing AMAZINGLY well!  Such a little fix for something I have been struggling with for 2 years!

Training resumed.  I alternated tempo and speed work each week.  Basically I scaled back my intensity, to avoid injury.  Ha, God was my coach this time around instead of the internet.  Laugh if you want, but it is true.  I really tried to listen to my body and to what felt right.   I tried to focus on running ONLY when running instead of obsessing with it ALL day and EVERY day.  I did use the Hal Higdon Marathon plan, but modified.  I ran 2 twenty milers and maxed out at 54 miles, 3 weeks before my race.  No pain, no injury!

The taper began.  I got a required flu shot for work durning that time (do not recommend that 2 weeks before a marathon).  I got sick for a few days leading to my last longish run of 8 miles a week before my race.  I felt well enough to run the 8 miler and so I did it.  I felt ok for the first 6.  The last few miles were challenging and I was so tired.  I was praying for strength and feeling so weak.  Something just told me to focus on God.  I was listening to Pandora and Colten Dixon's song, "More of You" came on.  The words totally shifted my focus.  I thought about my entire training and what all of it was really about.  I thought about my running goals and how I have had to give them up over and over again.  I thought about God and surrendering everything to Him.  The song said it so well:

I made my castle tall
I built up every wall
This is my kingdom and it needs to fall
I want you and no one else
Empty me of myself
Until the only thing that's left is

More of You
Less of me
Make me who I'm meant to be
You're all I want all I need
You're everything
Take it all I surrender
Be my king
God I choose
More of You and Less of me
I need more of you
More of you

[Verse 2]
This life I hold so close
Oh, God I let it go
I refuse to gain the world and lose my soul
So take it all I abandon everything I am
You can have it
The only thing I need is
More of You

Read more: Colton Dixon - More Of You Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

I started praying out loud, "God, YOU are AMAZING!  YOU are WORTHY of PRAISE!  There is NO ONE LIKE YOU!  I WORSHIP YOU and YOU ALONE!  Be GLORIFIED IN MY LIFE."  I cannot really explain it, but some kind of sensation went over my entire body, and I had a surge of strength that carried me through those last few miles.  I cried when I got home.  I felt His presence all day.  God was WITH ME!  I realized that my eyes on Jesus and NOT MYSELF would carry me through anything.

After that run I decided to run my marathon WITHOUT my gps watch, and to trust God to carry me through my race.  I have nothing against GPS watches.  But this race was going to be my first marathon, and I wanted to enjoy my time and focus on God.

RACE DAY!  I was nervous, and I'm pretty sure I OVER CARBO LOADED!  LOL.   My husband kept telling me to "take it easy".   Ha!  But,  in spite of that there were so many little things that God took care of for me the week before the race.  I knew that He would be with me.  The first 13 miles, I was feeling just OK.  This made me nervous.  I was really trying to not go out too fast.  I began obsessing about my pace, when I had to remind myself that this race was NOT about my pace but about trusting God to carry me through it.  I was worried about hitting the wall and not finishing.  But, I kept reminding myself that He was with me.  That He would give me the strength that I needed.  

I carried a water bottle with me.  I wanted to avoid the water stations for the first 13 miles when they were crowded with 1/2 and full marathoners.  Around mile 15, a man at one of aid stations ran up to me and asked to refill my water bottle!  Wow!  That was so amazing!  I must say, the race spectators and volunteers were simply amazing!  All through my training runs, I would sip on my water about every mile.  I was worried about how I would feel the last part of the race, when water stations were every 1.5 to 2 Miles.  God blessed me with that man!  THANK YOU whoever you are! 

Miles 18-22 were the hardest for me.  I think I needed salt!  I drank Gatorade at the water stations and would feel better.  I felt like I was slowing.  Again, I was worried that I would not finish.  But, I kept reminding myself that God was with me.  Mile 20 and this was the furthest I had ever ran!  "Take one mile at a time!"  "Just get to mile 22."  "Once you get to mile 23, it will practically be over."  When I hit mile 23, I started really praying and thinking about all that God had taught me over the months.  We are studying the life of Moses in my women's Bible study, and I was thinking about how insecure Moses was about His speaking and leading abilities, and how God used Him in spite of them.  Moses' faith increased as He focussed on God instead of his own strength and talent.  Here I was focussing on my ability to finish and I needed to focus on my God instead.  I started praying out loud as I did in the end of that 8 mile run just one week before:

"God, YOU are AMAZING!  YOU are WORTHY of PRAISE!  There is NO ONE LIKE YOU!  I WORSHIP YOU and YOU ALONE!  Be GLORIFIED IN MY LIFE."  Yes, I was saying this out loud.  No, I wasn't shouting, but I'm sure some people thought I was a little crazy.  I didn't care.  Strength came, and I GREATLY picked up my pace.  Mile 25, I was running faster than the entire race all the way to the finish line.


Thank you, GOD!  He did carry me through, just as He promised.  What is more important than this race is my faith in my Heavenly Father increased so much.  His ways are always the best.  Another song that I had on my running mix by "For King and Country", "Fix My Eyes",

The things of Earth are dimming
In the light of Your glory and grace
I'll set my sights upon Heaven
I'm fixing my eyes on you
I'm fixing my eyes on you
I'm fixing my eyes

Love like I'm not scared
Give when it's not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on you
I fix my eyes on you
I fix my eyes on you

Running is such an amazing analogy on life.  The bible uses it often to compare how we are to live our lives with God.   Of course I want to be the best runner I can be!  But whatever the Lord asks of me in all aspects of my life, is most important! 

I have the "Verse of the day" app on my phone.  My husband (who was there for the entire race and knew all of what God was working in me) also has it and told me to check the app on my phone.  He read it after I started the marathon.  I read it when I was finished.

I was blown away!  

Isaiah 40:29-31 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Praise Him!  For HE is good!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Training and Goals

I am now in week 2 of my marathon training.  I feel really good, and most importantly, NO sore knees, feet, or hips!  I have been incorporating strength training into my workouts for about 3 months, and I really am starting to feel a difference.  This weeks training went something like this:

Sunday: 6 miles easy
Monday: 3 miles easy, 6 min core, walking lunges with 10lb weights (around 130), squats (50-60), 70 push-ups
Tuesday:  1 mile warm up, 4x 800m a little faster than 5K pace (around 7:05 pace) 1 mile cool down, 6 minutes of planks (broken up)
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: 1 mile warm up and 6 miles at 8:23 pace (a little faster than MP) 6 min core, walking lunges with 10lb weights, squats with weights, 70 push-ups
Friday:  11miles easy at 9:38 pace
Saturday: 3 miles easy with last might at MP, 6 min core, 6 minutes of planks (broken up)

Total Miles:  35

I feel really good!  I am so glad that I am ACTUALLY following a real training plan.  Thank you, Hal Higdon!  I usually just take it week by week with a tempo run and speed run.  But this has been causing me left hip and knee pain.  I also think the strength training is making a HUGE difference.  I feel much lighter in my running form.  I am noticing my quads, glutes and core when I run instead of just my hamstrings and calves.   I can't believe I am saying this, but I really enjoy my little strength training sessions (well, I enjoy how I feel after them)!

My marathon goals:

A.  Finish!
B.  Finish under 4 hours
C.  Finish as a BQ

The C goal is highly unlikely unless everything comes together perfectly and I feel amazing.  I am not even going to attempt training at that pace.  My training pace is 8:30 placing me at at 3:45 marathon time I think. I plan to run 9 minute miles for the first 5 or so miles and then pick up the pace to race pace, and pray I can maintain and perhaps even have a bit of a kick at the end.

Whatever happens, I am thankful to be on my own little journey for my big race!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Going Out Too Fast

Col 1:10 "And we pray this in order than you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way:  bearing fruit in every good work and growing the knowledge of God."

I want to know my Heavenly Father, and it is the desire of my heart to please Him.  My struggle will always be the desire to please myself, though.  I want to do things my own way and on my own time.  This is so natural for me, that I don't even realize that I do it.  What is amazing about following Christ, though, is that He gives us a new nature.  We are children of God, and when we "walk in His spirit", we can lay aside our ways and follow a new path.  This path leads to life.  How do I know this?  Because I have, at times in my life, laid it ALL on the line to follow His righteousness, sacrificing goals and ambitions for what seemed like nothing at all to find blessing and abundance down the road.  An example would by my sweet family.  Sometimes it's hard to follow righteousness.  But, God promises in 2 Peter that He has given us EVERYTHING we need for a life of Godliness through His divine power.

Running is OFTEN used in the Bible to represent the Christian life.  As I train for my marathon, I really want to reflect on the similarities of training for a race and training for Godliness.  I hope to share these reflections along the way.  The first that I thought of this week, is "Going out too fast in a race or a run."  We have all done that.  Gotten so caught up in the excitement of wanting a PR run or just the environment of the race that we don't listen to our bodies.  We don't use the knowledge we have to pace ourselves.  We get a little "puffed up" and think we are capable of so much more what our preparation has provided us.  At the end, we hit the wall, maybe even quit.  Certainly, we do not finish strong and maybe not at all.

“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24)

As I seek to grow in my relationship with Jesus, I often find myself going out too fast, going in my own strength, not thinking about the entire race, not thinking about what I will need to get me through to the end.  Oh, the days I have skipped reading His word, neglected prayer and then expected to walk in His holiness with my kids or to be patient when someone is unkind.  It's like going out for a run without eating or drinking before hand.  Sometimes I will get my emotional high at church, think how I am going to do things differently the coming week.  I go out too fast, only to hit the wall by Wednesday and barely make it to the weekend.  To finish and maintain this spiritual race, we need to listen for the Holy Spirit (like listening to our bodies when we run), we need to fuel during the run (prayer and His word), we need pace ourselves (apply the knowledge He has given us to our daily lives), AND we need not compare ourselves to the other runners around us (each relationship with Christ is unique).

May I continue to run THIS race, not give up, and complete the task the LORD Jesus has given me.

My marathon training has OFFICIALLY started today.  I know I mentioned that I was doing the "Run Less Run Faster" plan, but I tried it out this week, and I don't think my body can handle so many demanding workouts every week.  So, plan B is tried and true, Hal Higdon.  I am doing a combination plan.  I am using the Advanced 1 plan so I can continue to do my speed and tempo runs, but I am doing the Novice 2 for the long run portions.  I think I will have two twenty milers this training cycle.  I have every run scheduled!  So not like me. :)  Very excited though.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Run THIS Race: My First Marathon

I finally talked myself into running a marathon!  I have been going back and forth with this notion for the last few years, and I finally feel ready physically AND most importantly mentally.   I think it is funny that I am came to this decision as the last few months I have really tried to stop obsessing so much about running and races and running blogs.  I was eating, sleeping, living on running.  I felt distracted when I was with my kids and husband.  I felt really convicted about it, so I stopped reading running blogs or anything at all related to running.  I stayed off the internet and social media sites.  I even gave up TV for a week to just allow God to refocus my mind.  AND He did.   He is so good like that.  Running is a gift from Him, but nothing should be put before Him or my family.  It's amazing how easily we can lose sight of that.

So, how did I come to the conclusion to run a marathon?  Really, it was from a patient of mine.  A 53 year old male who I had the privilege to care for last month.  He was diagnosed with advanced paratid cancer with mets to the spine.  I took care of him and transferred him to rehab with the intention of hospice.  I remember asking him about his family, if he had grandchildren and he looked at me and said, "That is why I have to fight this, so I can see them some day."  He had 3 girls all under the age of 21.  Last Wednesday, when I got to work, I saw that he was back in the hospital and on my patient list.  It was not looking good.  The doctor had told him he had hours left, maybe days.  When I went into his room, he was alert, talking on his cell phone and asking questions about his care.  Within hours, he was non-responsive.  The family was brought in.  His daughters were by his side in tears.  He woke up for a few moments and responded to them.  "Daddy, can you hear us?"  "Daddy we love you so much."  He acknowledged them.  I started a morphine drip to ease his breathing.  Within a few more hours, he was gone.  I walked out of his room to officially tell the family of his passing, and everyone just broke down weeping.  We were all heartbroken.  I have never seen someone go that fast.  It made me think about how SHORT our time on this earth really is.  I got home that night, and cried.

Over the next few days, I thought more and more about my life.  I feel like I am always looking ahead and maybe missing out on the NOW.  I want to be 100% with my kids.  I want to 100% with my husband.  With running I want to be 100% but at the right time.  I just felt like marathon time is now or never.  I have wanted to do this for a long time.  My husband and I talked about it, and I am registered to run the Denver Rock and Roll Marathon.  I officially start training in 1 week.  I am using the Run Less Run Faster Boston Qualifying training plan.  Do I really expect to qualify for Boston my first marathon?  I don't know, but I am going to try and do my best.  THAT is what matters more than my race time.  I am using this training plan, because it seems more manageable with my family.

This race is so much more than 26.2 miles.  It is a mini reflection of running the race of life.  Every moment is a gift from our Heavenly Father, even the most challenging and difficult ones.  I am learning and striving to be present in each and every one of them.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Day Out with Grandma and Grandpa

Beautiful, lovely long run, 11 miles at 9:26 pace.

Grandma and Grandpa Homan are here for Easter!

Blueberry Pancakes + Grandpa = Happy

Day in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods

My Rock Climber!  She loves to climb, to my dismay at times!!!

Joey's First time back since he was 2 months old!  

So Photogenic!!!

We are growing out of the rocks!!

I love Colorado! This is my home!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Platte River 1/2 Marathon Recap

Sunday's race was not great, it wasn't horrible, but simply put, it did not meet my expectations.  Note to self:


Sunday I was up at 5:30.  I felt ok, but just not my normal.  I had a couple of pieces of toast with a little PB and a cup of decaf herbal tea.  Michael and I drove about 30 minutes to the race.  I drank half a monster drink on the way.  I warmed up with a 5 min jog, took a shot block and was ready to go.  I could tell I felt funny during my warm up jog.  I just felt tired.  My legs felt great, but the rest of me did not.  My first mile was pretty good and right where I wanted to be, 8:08 pace.  From their I started running around 8min pace miles and around mile 4 started to get into my sub 8min pace.  I still felt pretty well.  I usually feel really adjusted and in my groove by mile 5.  BUT by mile 6 I was not feeling like I was in my groove and I was started to slow a bit.  I drank all the water I had with me and by mile 9 I was running 8:30 min miles.  Everything and everyone was getting annoying.   I felt like I was in one of those movies where everything goes in slow motion, there is no sound, and everyones faces are screaming at you, but you just can't hear anything, because you are trying to process everything, and you can't process anything, and you just want to get away, but you can't!!!!  (Sorry for the longest run-on sentence of all time).  GAAAA...  Those wonderful racing fans were making me feel horribly claustrophobic. By mile 11 I started feeling dizzy and concerned that if I didn't find another water station soon, I would pass out.  Luckily there was one around the corner and I gulped down a cup of water.  I felt better within minutes.  Dang it, I was dehydrating!!  The last mile there is a pretty big hill.  I didn't stop on this hill, but was slow.  Somehow I managed somewhat of a kick the last .3 miles and my pace was somewhere in the 7:30s when I crossed the finish line.

Time: 1:46:53 8:09 pace.

When I crossed the finish line all I could think of was WATER!  I downed a bottled water down in 45 seconds, I think!!!  I am not totally disappointed with my time, considering how I was feeling.  It is still a huge PR for me considering my last half was at 2 hours.  Truth is, I just could not stomach large amounts of fluid the days after my stomach flu.  It made me nauseous.  So, I just wasn't properly hydrated.   I don't normally have such high water needs (unless it's hot out), so I wasn't even thinking I would need more than normal.  Lesson LEARNED.

SO, I went home and signed up for another 1/2 in the beginning of June.  This one is really close to my house, only $40, and lots of family festivities afterwards.  We'll see if I can enjoy this upcoming race a little bit more!

What do you do when you have a bad race?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tomorrow... The BIG Day!

Kids are in bed, Michael is finishing up at work.  I am alone.  A few rare moments to just wander off in my mind without the interruptions of, "MOM, MILK", "Mom, I'm hungry", "Mom, Joey stole my stuffed animal ", "MOM, I do it myself", "Mom... Mom... MOMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!"

 Ok I'm over exaggerating.....

A little.  :)

Seriously, tho, it is nice to have some time alone.

(BTW, I recently learned that linguistics are not my strength on a multiple intelligences test.  SOOOOOOO, please excuse my grammar or lack of it!)

Alright, tomorrow is my half.  I am curiously curious about this race.  I really just don't know what to expect of myself.  My training was going really well, and then Tuesday morning "Mr. Stomach Flu" dropped by and literally dropped me on my backside.  I hate this kind of sick!  Luckily I recovered within 24 hours, but the drop in my immunity allowed a minor cold to creep its way in as well!  Ummmm... who even invited ya'll???  I have been taking "Cold Snap" capsules 3 times a day, and I feel pretty well.  BUT I'm not gonna lie, I feel tired.

At the end of the day, it is JUST a race.  The main thing is to enjoy it.  I don't want to push myself to the point of hating it!  I will see how I feel and take it from there.  I usually do really well (in terms of running a smart race) when I run by feel and not by unrealistic goals.

So, off to bed I go now!

See ALL 5 of YOU,
who actually read my grammatical errors,
with an a race recaperoo!!

(BTW, I'm tired and... I don't know what my excuse is for this post.)

Nighty night!