Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lessons Learned

Throughout my marathon experience I learned several valuable lessons. Here a few that stood out:
* There is such a thing as over-hydration. I sweat like crazy, and everyone warned me about getting dehydrated. I've heard many first-time marathoners talk about getting cramps because of having a bad hydration/nutrition plan. Nashville's high on Saturday was in the 80’s with 60 percent humidity. My biggest goal was to not get dehydrated. I had a 16-oz. hand-held bottle which I filled up with Gatorade or water at every aid station. This was a very well-ran marathon, so that meant I was drinking that much every two miles! I was having to use the porta potty constantly because I would drink the whole bottle before I got to the next aid station. I knew I was drinking way more than enough because of the frequent bathroom breaks, but I didn't want my legs to start cramping up. Other than having to stop a lot, I felt great. There were 31,000 runners with 25,000 doing the half and 5,000 doing the full. The first half I would have to stand in line for 5-10 minutes just to go to the bathroom! After the halfers went their own way, I rarely had to stand in line, so that was nice. I really think over-hydrating took almost 30 minutes off my time. I did feel really good the whole time, though
Just because you are training for a marathon doesn’t mean you can eat whatever or however much you want. You can eat A LOT during marathon training. Every long run Dad and I would talk about what we were going to eat when we got home. I rewarded myself with eating whatever I wanted. Running made me hungry all the time. I always thought I would get skinny from running, but I gained 11 pounds! That is a lot for a girl my height, and Noooo, all you sweet friends of mine, it was not all muscle! Thanks for trying to tell me that, but I know how much and what I was eating. Pizza and baked goods do not make muscle. I do love food and did enjoy myself, but I'm sure I would have done better and it would have been a little easier if I wouldn’t have packed on the pounds.
My husband is amazing! This isn’t really something I learned because I’ve known it since the day I got my first letter from him while he was stationed in California in the Marines. He has been so supportive of me during this whole marathon journey. He would watch our little 4-year-old son while I would go out on my training runs. If I ever doubted myself he would say, “Jenny, you are doing great. You’ve come a long way, you don’t want to quit now.” He didn’t once complain while I was buying all of the running gear I just had to have. And best of all – he prayed for me.

• Sunscreen is a must! The worst part of my marathon recovery was my blistering nose. My face hurt when I laid on my pillow. I thought about putting sunscreen on, but knowing how badly I sweat, I was worried it would just drip into my eyes and burn.  I rarely burn so I thought nothing about deciding against wearing it. Bad idea! Being in the direct 80-degree sun for six hours made for some horrible tan lines and an excruciating sunburn. My nose was still peeling two weeks after the race.
• Run the very best race you can run. My main focus on this marathon was just to enjoy myself and soak up the whole experience. I was in no hurry for this journey to end and took my time along the course. Looking back, I wish I would have tried to get the best time I could since it might possibly be the only marathon I ever do. My 6-hour time is a little disappointing. I ran my 20-mile training run in under 4 hours so I feel like I could have done a lot better.
• Schedule races in the fall or winter. Through my training and marathon I discovered I would much rather run in freezing cold weather than smoking hot weather. Also, after running this race, we found out that this marathon is ranked in the top 10 hardest marathons. I guess it's because of the long hills, so it probably would have been smarter to do a flatter, easier race for my first marathon.
• There are many amazing and generous people in this world. $963 was raise for my cousin Cara's family. I was blown away with everyone's generosity.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I ran a marathon!

After months of training and planning, I ran the St. Jude Nashville marathon Saturday. It’s still hard for me to believe I completed 26.2 miles. The whole experience – amazing and life-changing in so many ways – was made extra special because I got to share it with some wonderful people who were also running their first marathon. And all of us were running in honor of Cara Hawxby, my 7-year-old cousin, who will be undergoing treatments for leukemia at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis for the next two and half years.

L to R: Rachel Brown, Tyne Rose, Molly Ledbetter, Kelly Humphries. Back: Nick Prososki, Tim Prososki, Gene Britt. Middle: Serena Prososki, Penny Britt, me, Norene Prososki (mom). Front: Shauna Rose Price, Heather Heide (Cara's mom), Sherry Alexander. 
 Back in October, Mom and I made the decision to go through this marathon journey together. We planned on doing our training runs together, but she pulled a muscle in November that took her out of running for awhile. I really didn’t want to train by myself, so my dad said he would do it with me! He is a lot faster than me, but he stuck right by me through every training run - no matter how slow. While we were running the marathon I tried to tell him how thankful I was to him for doing this with me, but it was hard to get the words out without crying. Once I finally choked out the words, he said. “Any dad should be honored and privileged to do this with their daughter.” He had a little catch in his voice, so I think he was about to cry, too.

My mom and dad, and me at about 5: 30 a.m. getting ready for my husband Zack to drive us to the starting line. Mom was going to run her first half marathon and Dad and I were going to run our first full marathon. I had just spray painted Dad’s awesome mowhawk. I’m tellin ya that man can pull off anything. We both decided to sport pink hair in honor of Cara.

Speaking of crying - I had no idea how emotional this day would be. So many times, I was overwhelmed with how thankful I was to be there. So many times, I felt like God was right there with us. There’s a verse in the Bible that is especially meaningful to me and our family – Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. It was my Poppo Delmar’s favorite verse; he took joy and comfort in those words when ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) caused his muscles to stop working. It’s engraved on his tombstone.
In one of the first letters I got from my husband, Zack, long before we ever met, while he was in the Marines, he told me it was his favorite verse and it helped get him through tough times in boot camp. (It was a little sign from God that Zack was indeed the man put on this earth for me.)
Days before the marathon I had asked a fellow IRC member to pray for me because I was nervous about my first marathon and she simply replied with “YOU GOT THIS!! You will “soar on wings like eagles.”
Within the first few miles of our marathon, we ran by a woman encouraging her friend, saying in a strong, commanding voice, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength and mount up with wings as eagles!” Then she shouted, “Amen!” Dad and I, with tears streaming down our faces, shouted “Amen!” right back to her.
After the race, Penny Britt, who also ran her first marathon that day, brought up that same verse and told us of all the times throughout the day and the week prior that it had encouraged her, not knowing that we had almost the same story. There were many blessings throughout this journey. Just the fact that all of us made it to the start and finish line is huge. Mom got a horribly sharp pain in her foot .2 miles into the race, we all prayed and it went away and she had an awesome race. God is Great!

I loved everything about this experience - especially the people! The roads were lined with spectators. Some handed out oranges, apples, ice cubes; some sprayed us with the water hose; some held funny and encouraging signs. But my favorite had to be the all the kids standing there with their little hands sticking out for high fives. I think I may have added half a mile onto my distance just trying to get over to high five all of the kids.
All of that support from strangers is amazing, but when Dad and I saw the Rose family and the Britt girls –our friends from home ‑ it was a high point of the marathon. It really helped keep me going. It made me think of everyone from our small town and all of my friends who I knew were thinking about me and who were praying for me, and it was overwhelming.
There were 31,000 people running in Nashville and so many of them were an inspiration for me. In front of me a woman with a prosthetic leg was running in the marathon. Shauna Rose Price, one of my fellow Cara runners, said she saw a blind man who was running with the aid of two sticks. A soldier in full camo uniform and boots with a huge backpack was right next to us running in memory of soldiers who had died in combat.
Even at the end of the marathon, in those final miles, with aching muscles and the sun frying blisters on my nose, I turned to Dad and said, “How awesome is this!”
Crossing the finish line was surreal. I don’t know if it was being so tired or from being in the direct sunlight for 6 hours but I really don’t remember everything crystal clear. I’m not sure which friend I hugged first but I do remember how happy I was to see their good looking faces.  I saw Heather, Cara’s mom, waiting for me. As soon as we saw each other, we both started crying. She was saying thank you to me for doing the run for Cara, but I want to thank her for letting me. I was the one who was blessed.
I still have to tell myself every day, "I ran a marathon!" It still doesn't seem real. I just feel so blessed that God not only got me through the training injury free but I honestly enjoyed it. The memories I made with my Dad on this journey are irreplaceable. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

A note from Cara's Mom, Heather

After 16 weeks of training and fundraising and hundreds of miles logged on the road, Team Cara ran in the St. Jude Country Music Marathon Saturday. The marathon was an unforgettable experience in many ways for all of us, but the coolest part was knowing we were running for Cara. It was an emotional and wonderful day. I'm still getting my thoughts together about completing my first marathon, but in the meantime
here's a note from Cara's mom, Heather, that she wanted me to share with you.

Hello to all who have been following this "Run for Cara" journey. 

I write following the weekend that we spent in Nashville running to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  It was a very emotional weekend for me since my sweet daughter, Cara, is currently being treated at this amazing facility.  Until Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) hit this special girl in my life, I had no idea how amazing of a facility this is.  St. Jude not only is researching to make my daughter cancer free, but all the other children who follow her in treatment.  They do this at no cost to the patient.  In other words, momma’s insurance pays what they deem reasonable, and St. Jude never asks for any additional money from momma and daddy.  Personally, I didn’t know such a place existed until Oct. 3, 2011.  So any chance I get, I tell anyone who will listen about the amazing place where my daughter is being treated.

In addition to writing how St. Jude has personally touched my life, I'm also writing to tell how each person who wore the “I Refuse To Give In” shirt touched my life.  I had the opportunity to watch many of the people on “Team Cara” cross the finish line of one of the most grueling (but fun) experiences of their life.  And all of them were doing it in honor of my daughter.  I cannot put into words how awesome it was to watch that experience.  I hope that I get the opportunity to see these individuals pick up their running shoes and join me in a race in the near future.  I feel really blessed to have so many people supporting my family through this journey of getting Cara cancer free.

I want to thank Jenny for creating our shirts and spreading the word about this journey.  I could not believe how many people showed up in their cool, pink shirts and ran for such a great cause this weekend. 

Thank you again for continuing to keep our family in your thoughts and prayers.  We are currently in week 16 of 120 weeks of treatment.  Cara continues to get a chemo pill every night as well as getting chemo administered via her port every week.  We continue to travel to Memphis about once a month so that she can get a spinal tap of chemo.  She continues to keep fighting the fight.   Some days she, as well as the rest of the family, do better at keeping up the spirits and not letting cancer keep us down.  Cara recently suckered mommy and daddy into getting her a new dog, a Yorkshire Terrier, and that has seemed to brighten the mood of our little girl.  Please let us know if you are in the area and if Cara’s counts are up, we would love to have you stop by for a visit. 

Cara, Garrett, Wendell, and Heather

Monday, April 16, 2012

Shirts Are In!

Wahoooo! We are in taper week. This weekend we got to test out our Running For Cara shirts for the first time on a 12-miler. Boy, did we ever put them though a test! It had to have been at least 90 percent humidity when we woke for our run Saturday morning, but the shirts felt great! They are super cool, thin and breathable. Thanks to everyone who ordered them! I can't express how awesome it feels knowing so many people will be sporting these shirts with my sweet, brave cousin Cara's photo on the back. Here is a picture of how they turned out. I will have them at the Ozark County Times so those of you who ordered them can pick them up anytime. They are $17. 

This is not the best picture, but it was very early in the morning, and we were honestly not pumped about having our picture taken. We wanted to get our 12 miles knocked out.
All three of us – mom, dad, and I – had a rough time on this 12-mile run. I don't know if it was the humidity, if we were still worn out from our 20-miler last week, or what the deal was. You know it's a rough run though when you say "Let's just try to keep it under a 14-minute-mile pace." Yikes. Haha. Around mile four, we spotted this guy in the road though, which sure gave us a little pep in our step.

On closer examination, we found him belly up and dead. Dad flipped him over so I could get a better picture of him. One mile later we came up on this little copperhead all coiled up and very much alive. Ahhh.
Dad kept chunking rocks at it, just ticking the thing off. Finally, I asked Dad exactly what he was trying to do and he said he was trying to kill it. I told him that there was no way he was going to kill it by throwing rocks at it. So he found the longest stick he could and flung it out in the woods. My husband Zack told me we should have stomped on it, but I thought it looked too thick be very easy to kill that way. Needless to say we kept our eyes peeled the rest of our run. By the time we were done, it looked like we had jumped in the lake in our clothes we sweat so much. I hope it isn't humid like this the day of the marathon, but even if it is, we will kill it! I am so excited. I can't believe this Saturday we have the Relay for Life 5K, and then the next weekend is the marathon! Anyone who wants information about the 5K just ask. You can sign up the day of the race which is on the square in Gainesville Missouri. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

20 miles! What?

I can’t believe I just ran 20 miles! I honestly thought I would have to walk A LOT  when I saw first saw the marathon training plan called for running 20 miles. I couldn't begin to imagine running that distance.  
Dad and I had a goal to not kill any time on this run so we could get a good estimate about how we might possibly do on our April 28th marathon. When thinking back on our previous long runs I recall wasting some time here and there – stopping to eat Honey Stingers, standing around at the turn-around points or switching out water, taking pictures etc.  Dad and I both agreed we were going to try to always be moving forward. We did have to stop to go to the bathroom, of course, but this time we didn’t wait around on each other. The person who took the longest just had to catch up to the other person. (I believe this is  David Murphy, Jon Wilson and Charley Hogue's definition of a tempo run). We also hurried when changing out water. We walked and even kept up a jog while eating our Honey Stingers and taking drinks this time.
We both decided to run our toughest training course in Protem – Eagle Ridge Road. It is a dirt road that goes all the way to the lake. Within the first couple miles there is a huge, long, grueling hill that Dad calls Mount Everest. After that it stays pretty flat with some smaller hills here and there. It is a really beautiful run and we rarely ever meet a car. On the way back the hill (mountain) is really steep and very hard to get up. We are hoping that training on this tough course will give us an extra edge at the marathon.  Here is the elevation chart for the marathon course which has been said to be very hilly. Whoever has said this must not be from the Ozarks. Of course, I may change my tune after I actually run it.

Here is the elevation chart from my run today. 

You can see where we had to conquer our massive hill several times today. I can honestly say I felt great the whole run. The only thing that really bothered me much at all was the top of my left ankle/shin. I would have to stop and stretch it and it would get better. It mainly bothers me when I lengthen my stride while going faster. It barely hurts enough to even mention, but that was really the only thing that bothered me much at all, which I think is a huge blessing.  
Dad and I kept talking about how amazing it is to see what our bodies can do. If you would have asked either of us even a couple weeks ago if we would be running at the end of a 20-mile run, we would have laughed and said we will probably be walking or crawling by that point. Here we were running, talking, and feeling pretty great toward the end of 20 miles! Today I was just amazed at little improvements. For instance, I would make myself run up a hill and my legs would feel super wiped out and dead, but it would only take a few steps of walking, taking a drink of water and they were ready to go again. It is just so amazing how quickly the body can recover.
I hope I don’t jinx myself with this blog, but I really am in shock that I am able to do this! My mom is training for the half marathon and she was only maybe a quarter mile behind us when she finished her 10 miles. When she first started exercising she would walk this road and had to stop three times while just walking up Mount Everest. You should have seen her today. She is a great example that hard work pays off.  I am just so proud of everyone and how far they have come. I am excited to not only see me and my family finish this marathon but also all of my friends who have been going through this training with me. They have worked so hard to get where we are now. Dad and I finished this 20 miles in 3 hours and 59 minutes which is an average 11:56 pace. Our previous average pace on our last two long runs were 13:25 then 12:46. Both were 18-mile runs, so we were beyond thrilled.
After our run we all showered up and went to the Dinner Bell, a small little diner here in Protem, and had the lunch special, which was a one-pound beef enchilada, rice, and beans. Oh my gosh, so delicious. After that, I took an amazing hour-long nap, then sat in the hot tub and had some of my mom’s famous peanut butter cookies. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. It was so fun to think at the end of the night.. Holy smokes, I ran 20 miles this morning!
The Running for Cara shirts I ordered will be in Tuesday. I can’t wait to pick them up and get them handed out to all those who ordered them. I'll post a picture here on my blog as soon as I get them. Thank you so much everyone for your thoughts, prayers and donations along this journey. There is still plenty of time to donate just click the top right donate button to help Cara’s family with traveling expenses for Cara’s treatments.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1

This past Saturday I woke up at 5:42 a.m. to get ready for the first-ever Idiots Running Club Skunk Run to be held on trails in Mark Twain National Forest near Nottinghill. My marathon training plan called for 16 miles, and I was honestly worried I might not be able to get all of these in. The last time I ran this trail area I tripped almost the whole time with one bad crash (you can see previous post to view wound picture). We ran 11 miles last time, and my body was hurting all over and I could barely pick up my feet. Going in to this run, my first priority was to NOT get injured, especially with the marathon only being six weeks away! The second priority was to get my 16 miles in and have some fun.
It felt awesome outside, cool and humid with a chance of thunderstorms.
Mom, Dad, and I got our shirts, signed in, and pinned on our bibs and we took off. There were three different loops to run: the Turnip Loop, which was about an 10 mile loop (that's the loop I did last time), the Cujo Loop which is about five-miles loop and the Baldwin Cemetery Loop which was about three miles. (David Murphy and Jon Wilson named the loops - maybe they will blog about how they came up with the names one day.) Dad and I decided to do the Turnip Loop first and go from there. As we were running, we realized it was getting warmer. I started sweating instantly which isn't really out of the norm for me. Dad started to sweat and he said, "Well if I'm starting to sweat you must be drenched by now." Somewhere around that point we decided it might be smart to get as many of our miles done in the morning as possible in case it got really hot that afternoon. We both felt great on the run. The difference in how we felt between this time and last time was amazing. One thing we've changed on our long runs is we've started eating these energy snacks called Honey Stingers. When I was telling Jon Wilson about how achy I was getting on my long runs he suggested I drink more and eat something. I never feel like eating while running and if you have read my previous posts you know I am not a fan of gu. Dad and I both really like the Honey Stingers, they are like big fruit snacks and they chew up really easily. We have both noticed a huge difference in our long runs since we started eating these and drinking more. We ran a couple miles then would walk and eat a Honey Stinger and drink some water. David Murphy ran with us for a little while which was inspiring.. the dude has ran 100 miles in less than 24 hours... TWICE! We are a little slower than David so he took off, Dad and I were in awe of how fast he went!
On our way back to the tent, we ran by a cooler and I thought about grabbing a bottle of water, but felt like we were getting close to the aid station tent so decided not to mess with it... big mistake. We somehow missed the turnoff for the trail that would take us to the tent and we ran to the highway and boy, was I thirsty! We ran into a kid named Nathan who was from Nixa. He was just starting out running and had already finished the Turnip Loop. I told him I thought he was a natural.
It turned out to be a little blessing that we missed that turnoff to the tent, because on our way to the highway, we heard a really loud noise up in the trees and we looked up and a huge turkey flew right over our heads. Sweet!
Oh my goodness, I just have to say I have enjoyed running with my dad so much. He is so entertaining. I am always laughing and smiling. We had a blast on the trails. He told me some hilarious childhood stories and then, out of nowhere, he would start singing these crazy old country songs. Some of the titles were "Don't Squeeze My Sharman," "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose," "Oh Lord, It's Hard To Be Humble" (this one was my favorite and had me rolling with laughter). My husband's grandma got diagnosed with cancer three weeks ago and passed away last week. It was very sudden, and it really made me appreciate my time with my family even more than I already do. Once we got back to the tent, we each had a few peanut butter cookies my mom had made, refilled our drinks and headed back out to finish up our miles. 

Next we headed to the Cujo Loop, we had to walk more of this one, not because of tired legs, but because it started pouring rain and there were a lot of slick rocks. Right before it started raining Dad said, "I think we are gonna get wet." I looked down at my soaked shirt and said, "Get wet? I'm already soaked! I can't find a dry spot on my shirt to wipe off my sweat!" 
It felt amazing running in the warm rain. The thunder was getting really loud and the sky was getting darker and darker.  We stopped to get some water, and Dad said a prayer to keep everyone who was out there safe. It worked, God is good. The rain eased up to a light drizzle, and the temperature cooled off a bit.
Everywhere we looked it was so beautiful. The redbud trees had bloomed, pine trees lined the trails, and it was just breathtaking. Dad and I couldn't stop talking about how incredibly different we felt this time compared to the last time we ran these trails. Last time we thought we were going to die and this time we were talking and having so much fun. I guess all of this training is really paying off! After the Cujo Loop, we needed another couple miles and wanted to make sure we got to check out all of the trails so we headed for the Baldwin Cemetery loop. I think this was my favorite loop. The trail was shady and smooth and thick with pine needles. At the turn-around point, there's little cemetery in the woods, with several graves marked with standing flat unmarked stones - all except one. One marker was engraved, but the words were so old, all we could read was the year - 1897. David did an internet search with his phone and found out that the grave was for Roy Lane, infant son of J.M. and G.E. Lane, born and died Jan. 1, 1897.
We got our 16 miles in, and I swear, if I wasn't so worried about twisting an ankle before the marathon I would have went out for more. We met up with Mom and walked a couple more miles with her in the rain and talked about how much we all enjoyed our day and about how far we have come. I am so proud of all of us. After all that running, we were happy to come to the aid station and find Jon Wilson grilling the most deicious-smelling burgers and hotdogs. There were Oreos, S'mores, fruit, chips and lots of stuff. Oh my gosh, everything tasted like a bite of heaven. 

Please don't judge our appearance from this photo. Yikes.
Jon presented us with our awesome medals that the GHS Art Club designed and made for the Skunk Run, and we headed home. Still to this day, we can't stop talking about what a great time we all had. 
God created this beautiful place for us to live. We all need get outdoors more often and enjoy His creation.

Ready to order shirts!!

Here are proofs of what our tech shirts are going to look like for the marathon.  
So far I have 23 orders for them. If I get 25 shirt orders the cost goes from $23 a shirt to $16 a shirt so let me know if anyone would like to order one. They are going to be bright pink, Cara's favorite color. I am hoping to get them all ordered by Friday. They said it will take a couple weeks to get them in. I can't believe there are only six weeks until the marathon. This Saturday, I go 18 miles which will be my farthest yet. I can't wait to see how it goes! The following week I am going to California for a baby shower for my friend Tiffany, who is pregnant with twins. I am curious to see how I do on my training while being on vacation. Luckily, my long run is only 12 miles that weekend. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Halfway there!

I haven't blogged in a few weeks so I thought I better give a quick update on how my marathon training is going and how my sweet little cancer fighter is doing. Since my last blog I have gotten another 16 mile, 10 mile, and yet another 16 mile long run in the books.
Feb 11th was my first 16 mile run. It just happened that we had our friend's 2 year old birthday party to go to that day in Nixa which is about an hour and half drive from our house and started at 11am. The night before my parents (my running buddies) and I were talking about what we wanted to do. Our original plan was to run around the lake like we had the weekend before but the weather man was calling for record lows of 10 degrees with negative temp wind chills.. yuck! Dad and I had been battling colds so we decided to run on our treadmills. This also got mom and dad out of waking up early because they didn't have plans that Saturday. So I picked out a couple movies, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Baby Mama, got all my bottles of Gatorade and water set up on a table right by my treadmill and was ready to go. It actually went really well! Channing Tatum really helped keep me motivated during the first couple hours. 
Oh my, he must be a runner haha. I would run 1.75 miles then walk .25 for the first 8 miles. The second half I ran 1 mile and walked for .25. It ended up taking me 3hours and 7 minutes. The walk breaks really helped my hip and body not start hurting near as early as usual. 
The next weekend was a 10 mile run. The weather was perfect so mom and dad met me at the lake. Since I walked so much the week before I wanted to try really hard to walk less this time around. I tried to keep my dad in my sights for awhile and then after that I just tried to make sure I didn't see him coming up from behind me :). My mom was riding the bike and it was fun to see her whiz by. I felt great on this run and kept up a good for me pace. 
This past weekend was another 16 miler. My husband Zack's grandma got diagnosed with cancer this past week so we wanted to go visit her in the hospital Saturday so I woke up at 5am ready to hit the pavement for my 16 miler when I looked outside and realized it was dark. Call me a chicken if you want but I wasn't about to go roaming the roads by myself in the dark. I googled "What time does the sun rise in Protem, MO" and sadly saw the answer was 6:50a.m.! At first I thought about just going back to bed and waking up later to do my run but I was already too awake for that and had eaten my pre-run breakfast (toast with peanut butter) so I decided to do 6 miles on the treadmill and then go outside once the sun was up.  I really enjoyed myself once I got outside. The weather couldn't have been more beautiful and I got to run all the way to the lake which ended up being exactly 5 miles from my front door. Here I am at the lake getting ready to run back to the house. Not the prettiest I've ever looked but I had just ran 11 miles. 
The marathon is only 9 weeks away! 
I know the sight of this will make David Murphy and Jon Wilson laugh. They are the presidents of the Idiots Running Club I belong to and they run ultra marathons and their training plan looks something like this: Run, drink some water, do some other stuff.  
I am hoping for a really good run this weekend since this past run was a little tough. I just want to thank everyone for being so encouraging through all of this. Anytime I voice any concerns everyone quickly says how proud they are of me and that I can do it. 
I also want to thank everyone for the donations. I got to visit with my cousin Cara a couple weekends ago before she was headed off to Memphis for more chemo treatments. She was in really good spirits and is one of the strongest people I know. I keep telling myself the minor discomfort I get from running several miles is nothing like what she is having to go through. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayer because they are working! She was supposed to be at St. Judes in Memphis for 3 weeks but took the treatment so well they let her go home after one week. What a blessing! 

Monday, February 6, 2012

God is good!

Lately our long runs have been on rough dirt roads with some monster hills, so this weekend my parents and I decided to take it a bit easier and run at Buck Creek. Buck Creek is a park that has a paved road that winds around the lake and just happens to be be almost exactly one mile. This is the only place in Protem where you can run without gigantic hills. I was a little worried that the one-mile loops would get boring but I was glad to be trying something new. 
Mom, Dad, and I met around 9 a.m. It was a little bit drizzly outside and the temp was in the 40's  - perfect for running. 
The first mile felt pretty good and the view is just breathtaking. I had downloaded an audio book on my iPod to try out. Usually my dad runs with me and talks the whole time, which keeps my mind occupied. On runs when I let him take off (he is quite a bit faster than me) I listen to music on my iPod. But, like I said, I like trying new things and Mom had been listening to audio books on her long runs and liked it, so I was planning on listening to a book while I ran. Well, somewhere during the second mile I started feeling bad. I had to make several stops at the bathroom the next few miles and was just feeling really off and the doubts started creeping in. I was only 5 or 6 miles in and I started thinking I am not going to be able to do this. Was I getting sick? I had the chills and was sweating and just felt bad all together.
Then the really dumb thoughts started – I'm not going to be able to run a full marathon. I'm going to have to tell everyone who donated their money and all of the people who have supported me that I am going to have to drop down to the half marathon.  I honestly wanted to curl up in a ball, cry, and give up.
Finally, I told myself, Oh well, it is what it is today. Somehow I am going to have to get these miles done. I decided to ditch the audio book because my mind was wandering way too much for me to get into the story. I cranked up my Casting Crowns (a Christian band that I love) and that's when I gave it all over to God. I started praying for David Murphy, who was running 100 miles that day to raise money to fight cancer, and Jon Wilson, who was running in his first 50-mile race. What I was doing was just a 14-mile training run. They were in a race, and I wanted them to feel their best and have a good time.
Then I started praying for my Aunt Tammie and her husband Ron, who recently had two strokes and was paralyzed on his right side. I had just visited Ron the day before and when I walked in the room he said, "Hey kid, did you run here?" Sometimes he can't remember stuff, so the fact that he thought of me as a runner, and remembered that I was training for this marathon made me smile.
I was listening to the song "Glorious Day" which is about getting to meet Jesus and what a glorious day it will be. I looked around at the beautiful lake and all of a sudden I felt a breeze of wind flowing around my lower back, and it felt like God had his arm around my back pushing me forward. A huge rush of emotion came over me and the tears started flowing. I had seriously never felt God's presence like that before. All of a sudden I felt amazing - strong and light and fast. I start singing the praise and worship songs out loud. I was running and singing and wasn't out of breath. I continued to praise God the rest of my run and felt so great I had to keep fighting back the tears, because that did make it a little hard to breathe and then that fact would make me laugh. I'm sure I looked like a total idiot, but we all know that's a good thing, right?
What I thought was going to be the worst run of my life.. one I didn't think I was going to be able to finish… turned out to be the best run of my life... one I will never forget. 

Please keep my little cousin Cara in your prayers. She has a stuffy nose right now.  A stuffy nose is a little thing that most of us wouldn't worry about, but it's a big deal to Cara and her parents. Due to her counts being so elevated, they are worried about an infection or a relapse.  They go back to the clinic Wednesday for another draw of her blood work.  We are hoping and praying it was just an infection and there is not a relapse.  She just finished round two of the steroids.  The steroids make Cara irritable and very tired because she doesn't sleep well at night.  The steroids also make her very hungry. 
Thank you so much to those who have donated or shared my blog. If you would like to donate to help Cara's family with traveling expenses to and from St. Jude Children's Hospital please click on the donate button on the right side of this blog. Thanks again. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

14 miles - I can do this!

I'm not gonna sugar coat this.. training is tough! Last weekend my long run was 8 miles and it went pretty well. My left hip started hurting around mile 5 and then my knees and the bottoms of my feet started hurting like I had arthritis or something. I think some of this may have had to do with wearing my trail running shoes which don't have much if any support. I haven't been wearing them very much lately since I have done most of my training on the pavement. By the end of the 8 miles I was hobbling around and felt like I was 90 years old. 
It gets kind of scary when I think about the enormity of this upcoming marathon. Running 8 miles was very difficult so afterwards I couldn't  imagine going back and doing that 2 more times plus some! Now don't get me wrong there were parts of the run that were enjoyable. We (my Dad and I) went down a very hilly dirt road by his house. There was a very pretty lake view and I pushed myself to run up all of the monstrous hills. So overall I was very proud of myself after we were done. 
This week was rough for me mentally. We had done our 8 mile run on Sunday instead of Saturday so I didn't have a rest day until Wednesday. All of my shorter runs were really difficult. I think of it had to do with my doubting myself and maybe a small part of it from being worn out from the 8 mile run. I just kept thinking am I going to be in horrible pain the whole marathon? When I first got this crazy idea to run a marathon I thought well I could always walk for a while and I would be fine.. well even walking HURTS! Finally I told myself all this worry is stupid. I am going to do this and you know what I am doing this! I have been able to complete each day of my training plan so far. I am only 5 weeks into the training and each week I get stronger and do things I never thought I would be able to do. Running 14 miles is one of those things!
By Saturday morning my head was in the right place and I was excited to tackle this 14 miles. We ran the same 8 miles that we did the previous weekend. I wore my road shoes instead of the trail shoes and my body thanked me. It had just rained so the road was actually really smooth. My body didn't start feeling achy until about mile 7 (more improvement!) and it was not near as bad as last weekend. By the time those 8 miles were up I was happy and ready to be done but those last 6 miles were no joke. We hit the pavement the last 6 miles and within the first mile there is a huge hill which I made myself run up (you could walk faster than this run but none the less I was happy that I pushed myself). I just kept thinking of the hot tub that was waiting for me when I got back. I checked my time at 13.1 miles because I have never ran the half marathon distance before, it was 2:33. With all of the mountains we had to go up I was very happy with that. I have no doubt that I will be able to finish this marathon... even if I have to crawl. 
Here is a picture of my beautiful cousin Cara that was taken at St. Jude. I am so thrilled that my entrance fee to the marathon is going toward St. Jude. 
I still have plenty of the bracelets Cara designed. They are $5 with $2 going to St. Jude and $3 going toward her family for traveling expenses. Thank you so much for your donations and for reading my blog. Please keep my sweet little cousin Cara and her family in your prayers. Training for and running in this marathon is nothing compared to everything she has gone through and will have to continue to go through the next couple of years. She is so brave and I am so proud of her. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hit the trails!...literally

I love running outside! While running outside, my thoughts are so positive: Thank you God for giving me the ability to run. Thank you God for letting me live in the beautiful Ozarks. I love the trees, the creeks, the rocks. Now, running on the treadmill is a different story. While on the treadmill my thoughts are anything but positive: Is this thing broken? The minutes are flying by, but the miles are stuck...seriously they are not moving! Is it over yet! This is sooo boring. 
So when our IRC (Idiot's Running Club) president David Murphy organized a trail run in the Mark Twain National Forest for Saturday morning, I was ready for the adventure. My goal was to do 12 miles because that is what my marathon training plan had scheduled. David warned me that I would be spending a lot more time on my feet than usual because you have to go a lot slower than you would on the road, because of the difficult terrain. I was really hoping I could get in the 12 miles even if I had to walk quite a bit. I woke up Saturday morning and it was cold, but the perfect weather for a run outside. Mom and Dad picked me up and the three of us headed to the trail to meet some other IRC members. When I arrived I decided to try to liven up the group with this awesome mustache hat my husband let me borrow. I was trying to look like Jon Wilson. Can you tell us apart?

The run started off great. We were going at a pretty easy pace and we all had time to visit with each other. I had a chance to ask Jared Smith, who lives in Ava, about all of his previous races. He has ran some half and full marathons so I was quizzing him left and right. Well, I guess we got caught up in conversation because we lost the group. I wasn't too worried because I have heard it is pretty normal to get lost when out running trails. Luckily we ran into everyone and got back on the right path. This was such a fun adventure – way better than running on the highway praying not to get ran over. 
After about five miles it started getting harder though. I kept tripping over my feet, almost face-planting into gravel. I kept telling myself to be careful and pick up those lazy feet! I guess my legs didn't listen because the top of my right foot caught on a rock and I went flying elbow-first into the rocky trail. As many times as I had stumbled and tripped that day, I was not shocked at all by this crash. I just laughed and jogged it off. I could tell my elbow hurt and it tore a hole in my brand new Nike jacket. Someone later told me that rule number one is to not wear clothes you care about on trails. My knee also hurt a little where I fell on it, but I was just so happy that I didn't roll, sprain, or break an ankle! 
Around mile seven there was a huge mountain to climb. (Seasoned runners would probably call it a hill, but to me it was a mountain). I huffed, puffed, and walked up the hill. David, who in a couple weeks will be running 100 miles in a trail race in Texas, zipped by me, and said "You're walking up the best part!" I couldn't help but giggle as I thought, "That dude is crazy! But, one day I would love to zip up that mountain." 
Around mile 10 I was honestly thinking, "Oh Lord, are we almost done?" I had been out of Gatorade for the last few miles and I was getting really hungry. I am not gonna lie – it was hard and I walked quite a bit, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Next time I think I will either carry two Gatorades or leave one somewhere along the trail.
Once we got back to the car I took my jacket off to check out my elbow. As I pulled it off, a chunk of skin tore off with it..OUCH! Here is a picture of the damage.

 Running on trails was an amazing workout. My clothes were soaked with sweat. I seriously think I could have wrung them out. I am going to start adding trails into my running schedule way more often. Here is a group shot of all of the awesome IRC members who showed up to run the trails.

 So that is my update for my marathon training. I also got an update from Heather, Cara's mom, who said Cara has just started taking a new steroid, a common form of treatment for leukemia.  Her body is really sensitive to it and it is making her very emotional. She has to be on it once or twice a month for the duration of the treatment. Please keep Cara and her family in your thoughts and prayers. I still have some bracelets for sale - they are $5 each.  Or you can donate by clicking the donate button on my blog :). 
My cousin, Nick Prososki and his wife, Serena, are training to run the marathon with us! They live in Omaha, Neb., and are having to brave some cold to get their runs in. I'm really excited that they're part of our little group running for Cara!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Let the long runs begin!

Wow! First of all I have to say thank you so much to everyone for their support. The response to my first blog has been amazing. Many people have already donated money to the Hawxby family!

I got to start my weekend off very early Saturday morning. Usually I do my long runs on the weekend with my dad but he was visiting family in Nebraska this weekend. At first I had just planned to put in a really good long movie and brave the 12 miles on my treadmill but then Kelli and Penny (friends who are running in the marathon with me) invited me along to run with them. The only catch was that they both had to work that day so their plan was to start at 5:30AM! I honestly have never minded waking up early but have never had much luck running early in the morning. I have tried to wake up early before work to fit my runs in and my body has always felt so heavy and sluggish so I thought this run could be very interesting but ANYTHING is better than running on the dreadmill! I woke up every hour worried my alarm didn't go off but finally 4:20am rolled around and I was surprisingly pumped! I had a piece of toast with peanut butter on it and was out the door. I met Penny, her husband Gene, and Kelli at our starting location we stretched and then headed out. I am so glad Kelli had stopped by earlier that week and showed me their route because it was very dark out. This was the first time I had ever ran in the dark and I loved it! The streets were dimly lit by street lamps here and there but the slight eeriness of it all really built up my excitement. Kelli really hooked me up on supplies too she brought me a couple strawberry banana gels (for those of you who aren't runners this is gel you eat to keep you nourished during long runs), put water at many points along the route, and even brought me a recovery protein drink! After 4 miles I was already feeling a little sluggish so I decided to try some gel when I got to one of our make-shift aid stations.. YUCK was my first thought. That stuff is thick! It is like really thick honey and sticks to your teeth, gums, the roof of your mouth so I washed it all down with water. The taste wasn't bad but I am big time texture person and I really just wasn't a fan of all that goo in my mouth. I only ate half of the pouch and ate the other half at mile 7ish. The pit stop really did help though and I felt great until about mile 8. We stopped for a quick drink and my knees and left hip were starting to feel a little achy. But I was still so pumped! I had just ran 8 miles... that is insane! Only 4 miles to go which really felt like nothing. The only bad thing was the last 4 miles were down a dirt road..usually I love jogging down dirt roads. My road by my house is a perfect 5k so I run it pretty often. This dirt road had just been graded though which left rocks all over the surface. It felt like running through sand. I didn't let it get me down though because at this point I was just so excited that I was doing this... 12 miles! I had such a great time with my running buddies and was so glad I decided to run with them. Next weekend we are hitting up the trails. This will be my first time ever running on trails so I can't wait to see what I think about it. I have a feeling I am going to love it. The training plan calls for 12 miles again next weekend and I have been warned that running on trails takes a lot longer so I will be on my feet a lot longer than I was this weekend. Bring it on!

After my run I showered and headed to see Cara at a St. Jude's fundraiser that was being held in her honor. Knowing I was going to get to see Cara (the main reason for me running the marathon in April) later in the day really helped me get through those 12 miles especially the last 4).  The fundraiser was a jewelry party where Cara and her friends walked the runway modeling the jewelry. It was adorable! Half of the cost of certain items went to St. Jude's. Cara was feeling really well and had a great time with all of her friends.  Here is Cara modeling some of the jewelry. All of the girls really worked it!
I  am selling the bracelets Cara designed that say "I refuse to give in! Cara".  There is a picture of them on my first blog. They are $5 with $2 going directly to St. Jude's and $3 going to the Hawxby family to help with traveling expenses. Cara is in remission which is a huge blessing from God but she will still have to go through chemo treatments for another two and half years. You can donate by clicking on the donate button on the right side of my blog. There is also an account set up at Century Bank in Gainesville under "The Hawxby Family" where donations can be made. Thank you so much for your support!

PS: I am not a writer by any means. I was lucky to have my highly intelligent beautiful mom edit my first blog. Oh yeah, she is also the publisher of a newspaper and a really good writer (You can tell she didn't edit this blog because there is no way she would have let me leave this in). I know she will not be able to edit all of these so please forgive me if they are choppy, have misspellings and horrible grammatical errors.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I refuse to give in!

On Oct. 3, my pretty 7-year-old cousin Cara was diagnosed with leukemia. Her parents, Wendall and Heather Hawxby, and little Cara were sent to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis the very next day, and on Oct. 5, they found out that Cara had Acute Lumphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), one of the most common types of children's leukemia, and thankfully, one with the highest successful cure rate. Still, it means two and a half years of treatments in a city far from their home in Nixa. The treatment will be in Memphis as well as in Springfield. It's going to be a long haul for Cara, her twin brother Garrett and her parents.

From the very beginning, I wanted to help in some way, but I didn't know what to do. Then, I found out my friend David Murphy was raising money to fight cancer by running in a 50K trail race. He wore a pink tutu in the race and, for a donation in honor of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, he pinned a little pink ribbon with their name on his skirt. So, I gave him a donation and Cara Hawxby's name was pinned on his tutu. The 31-mile race was called "Turn the Trail Pink." Lots and lots of people donated; 76 names were on his tutu, and $2,147 was raised for the American Cancer Society. This was just one of several runs last year that David did to raise money to fight cancer.

I just started running myself, using the Couch-to-5K program, less than a year ago.  Before that, my only experience with running was having to run line drills as punishment for not making free throws at high school basketball practice. I never thought I would love running, but now I do. Cara's mom, Heather, was one of the people who inspired me to start running. She started out walking, now she runs marathons.

My friends, Penny Britt and Kelli Humphries, ran their first half marathon in early fall and decided to run the St. Jude Rock N Roll Marathon in Nashville April 28. They asked me if I wanted to train and run it with them. At the time, I just laughed. I could barely run three miles without stopping - no way could I ever run 26.2!

But still, the idea of running a marathon never left my mind. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like something I should do. Then my little cousin lost her hair, and I made my decision. If Cara and her family could go through all that they're having to go through, I could run a marathon. If David Murphy could raise money by running, maybe I could, too.

I talked to Penny and Kelli and found out that Penny's husband Gene had attended school with Cara's mom, Heather. The Britts and Kelli, along with Shauna Rose Price, Tyne Rose, and Molly Ledbetter who are also running the marathon, all attend church at Mammoth Assembly of God, where Heather's parents Gary and Betty Heide attended until they moved to Springfield. So they've all decided to run the marathon in honor of Cara. Cara's mom Heather and several of her friends are also running the marathon. We'll all be wearing pink shirts with Cara pictured on the front.

I'm training with my mom and dad and they're going to run the marathon, too. Dad, who I know would like to run on ahead of me and make good time, agreed to stick with me and be my pacer. My mom said she just wants to cross the finish line and is hoping she's still on two feet and not her hands and knees.

While St. Jude covers all medical expenses not covered by health insurance, traveling to and from Memphis gets very expensive. Cara will be taking treatments for two and a half years so we're raising money to help the Hawxby family with those expenses. If you'd like to help, click on the donate button on the right side of this blog. We also have an account set up at Century Bank of the Ozarks.

One thing is for certain – knowing that we're doing this for Cara will make finishing even more important. Cara hands out pink bracelets that boldly say, "I refuse to give in! Cara."

If a sweet little 7-year-old girl can be that tough – I can, too.

I'll be blogging about training for my first marathon and I'll keep you up-to-date on Cara's progress. I invite you to follow Cara and me along on our journeys.