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.