Sunday, March 31, 2013


Tomorrow is April.  2013 is already a quarter of the way over.  Realizing that makes me cringe a little.  Time is flying, and it won't slow down for anything.  Here's a quick look at some of the things that happened in March:

Running/Marathon Training/Fundraising
I have ran more this past month than any in my life.  It has been exciting and exhausting to say the least.  Lots of great runs with my team (when we could get together).  It snowed a lot here in March.  A LOT. So that made some of the training difficult.  The highlight of running this past month was completing my second half marathon, and first of 2013, in Moab, Utah.  It is such a beautiful place and the race was phenomenal.

I have surpassed the amount I need to fundraise for my San Diego marathon, so my focus has shifted just to the running.  I can't wait for what April and May bring.

I have reached a plateau, or more specifically, I didn't make weight loss a priority this month.  So I didn't lose any.  I lost a couple here and there and was on track in stretches, but also gained a few and was off track in others.  I am still super excited about how far I've come so far in 2013, but a little disappointed in the stagnant month.  I have to re-prioritize and make a shift.  Bring it on, April!

Dec 31: 236.8
Jan 31:  223.2
Feb 28:  216.6
Mar 31:  217.4

Share Your Story
I had the amazing opportunity to speak about some of my story about weight loss, running, and fitness with some of the students at the university I work at.  It was an incredibly moving and inspiring night, as we got to hear great stories from some students and staff.  I haven't watched it at all, but there was some video taken (That's a little weird for me).  Here's a chunk of it if you want to watch.

New Toy
In the hobby department, I bought a new toy.  I am now the owner of my first DSLR camera.  I can't wait to spend some time behind the lens and finding a way to add some more art to my life.

March had plenty of ups and downs, but it has been a monumental month for me.  But no matter what, I know that big things are happening in my life.  I am excited to share some of them with you, and to share some more in the coming months.  I said big things are coming in 2013, and it has been living up to that statement... and then some!

April, let's do this!

Saturday, March 30, 2013


As I mentioned a little bit in my last post, my half marathon two weeks ago took a lot out of me.  After the race, my knee was giving me issues.  It hurt for a few days after.  Ice, rest, stretching, I worked really hard to make the feeling go away.  It did.

Then, this past Tuesday, we did some mile repeats for speedwork.  For those of you who don't know, mile repeats are intense!  After a quick warmup, run a mile as fast ast you can.   Slow to a jog to recover for a couple minutes.  Then do it again.  And again.  I actually really enjoyed doing it, even though after it I was spent.  But in the days that followed, the knee pain came back.

Today was a long run.  Most people running the marathon in June were on track to run about 10 miles. Because of my knee issues and the fact I'm doing another half marathon next weekend, they suggested I do about 6-8 easy miles.  I made it 7 1/3 without any pain.  It felt tight, but no real pain.

I'm mixed about my knee moving forward.  On the one hand, it hasn't hurt too badly... I can easily tolerate the amounts of pain that has been there.  And it hasn't been affecting my runs - it doesn't hurt while I run, usually just after.  On the other hand, we're hitting a crucial stretch of my training from here on out.  Every weekend I will be running at least 10 miles, including an 18 and 20 miler back to back weeks in May.  That makes me nervous about what will happen - yes, the pain isn't too bad now, but what's going to happen when I start putting that type of strain on my body.

I just have to take it slowly, take it easy, and listen to my body.  I can't stop and lose any of my training, but I can adjust a little bit and not let it get worse.  I am also seeing a physical therapist this week who specializes in running and is conducting a 15 minute free run screening, so she can take a look at how I run and hopefully provide some good tips for what I should be doing differently.

I just need to be careful and smart, and I'll be ok!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Canyonlands Half Marathon

For my second half marathon, I took a road trip west.  I headed back to Moab, UT to participate in the Canyonlands Half Marathon.  Last year, I ran the 5 Mile race, but this year, I decided it was time to do 13.1.

I took Friday off of work and made the 5 1/2 hour drive from Denver to Moab.  One of my friends recommended last year that I take one route in particular to get there (Highway 128 instead of the freeway), and so that will be the way I go to Moab every time.  Instead of barren east Utah, you get a route that gives you a sneak preview of the beauty that you are about to see in Moab.

Ahh, behold the beauty of the iPhone :)

I checked into the same motel I stayed in a year ago and made my way to grab some dinner.  Then I went to the expo to pick up my race bib, and looked at the cool merchandise that they had.  I didn't have a whole lot of time before the sun went down, so I ran a couple errands to prepare for the race: grocery store to get what I would eat for breakfast, and a dollar store to buy a sweatshirt for waiting a few hours in the cold before the race and ditch it when it started.  I settled into the hotel, laid out my race clothes, and turned on the TV, only to find the best pre-race movie on: Space Jam.

My alarm woke me up just after 6.  I slowly made my way out of bed, threw on the clothes I was going to race in, and was ready to roll.  Canyonlands is a point-to-point course, meaning that you start in one place and finish in another.  Shuttles take you to the race start, so in these races, you spend a lot of time waiting at the starting area.  I boarded the bus at about 7:30 to head up the canyon, they dropped us off at the starting area, and I looked at the time.  8:00.  The race starts at 10.  Good thing I bought the sweatshirt, because it was a little chilly... but I was thankful to have the overcast sky - I knew that would help stay cool enough that I wouldn't overheat.  I made my way down by the river and sat, taking in the incredible view, and waited for it to get closer to starting time.

At about 9:15, we walked up the hill to where the race actually started.  That's when everyone started warming up.  If you want to see one of the more interesting sides of runners, check out the pre-race warm ups and rituals.  Good stuff!

At about 9:55 everyone started swarming the starting line, ready to go.  Then... BANG!  The gun when off, everyone cheered, and the swarm started bolting down the hill.  I ditched my sweatshirt, feeling good knowing that everything they collect that gets left behind gets donated to charity.  After a few minutes, I started moving, crossed the starting line... here we go!

The first mile was quick.  The majority of the race is downhill, so I knew I would have to be careful to not run too fast.  I started looking around at the amazing scenery and just took it in for a moment.  I started breathing a little heavy and just felt out of it... great, it's going to be a long day...  One of my big fears was a repeat of my first half marathon, where I started cramping up at the end due to dehydration and struggled to make it to the finish.  But this time, I was going to make sure I stopped at every water stop, kept my water bottles full, and I had some Jelly Belly Sport Beans that I would be taking throughout the race.  The first four miles went by pretty easily and uneventfully, with the exception of a nagging hip flexor muscle, but that eventually went away.  I popped the first round of Sports Beans, and almost choked on the first one.  Graceful is my middle name.  Miles 4-8 started to feel a little off, but I still felt strong.  I would stop for a quick second at each water stop refilling my water bottle and drinking from the cups, and the stopping part is new for me - I normall try to drink the water as I continue running, which is difficult, but I worry about the stopping and restarting.  On every restart, I had something that was nagging me - hip flexor, knee, calf, ankle... nothing I had to worry about, just frustrating.  Miles 8-11 were fine, but I was starting to get a little tired.   I popped more Sports Beans at about 8.5.  I took in the last moments of amazing scenery as we left the canyon, and braced myself for the final stretch, knowing it was going to be tough.   The last few miles of the course are pretty flat.  But spend 11 miles running downhill and switch to flat, you might as well be running up a mountain.  For the first time the entire race, I could start feeling the heat.  Mile 12.  So close!  As this point, it became a test of will.  I was tired.  I was sore.  I was aching.  I was hot.  I spent the entire last mile fighting the urge to stop.  Every ounce of my body told me to take a break.  I wouldn't let myself.  I started slowing down.  I didnt' care.  I didn't care how slow I was going, I was not going to let myself stop.  I rounded the final corner and could see the finish line.  But it was still far away... I slowly made my way closer... and closer... and closer... until finally, I made it!

I got my hard-earned medal and placed it around my neck.  I started to get a little light headed.  I looked to my left and saw the medic tent.  Perfect.  I walked over.  "I'm just going to stand here for a second.  Nothing is going to happen, but in case it does, I'm already here!"  They let me sit in a chair, which I knew was all I needed.  I got some of my water and gatorade, and after a few minutes, felt fine again.  I got up and started walking.  That's when everything I couldn't feel during the race started coming full force - my knee started throbbing, my calf started tightening, I had a blister, and I had been chafing.  So I sexy-waddled (that's what I'm referring to it as because I don't want to think about what it really looked like...) my way the 6 blocks back to my hotel and crashed on my bed.  I felt tired, sore, in pain, and exhausted...

...but I made it!

Canyonlands Half Marathon
13.1 miles - Chip time: 2:15:26 - 10:20 pace
New Personal Record

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

5 Words

I read a post today from my church:

And I couldn't stop thinking about it.  What are the five words that currently describe my life?  Not what I want it to be.  Not what I think it is.  But what it is.  Today.  Now.

Here's what I came up with:

I have had a lot of people asking me how everything is going in my life.  When I'm being honest, my answer in this: there is very little in my life that where I want it to be.  It's been a struggle.  2013 has had a rough start to it, and it feels like so many things are out of my control.  Job.  Money.  Mental health.  Relationships.  A whole lot is askew.  Life has blown up in my face and I'm trying to hold on.  I try my best to stay afloat and head in the right direction, but it's tough.  I actually think I've handled everything that has come my way really well.  My strength is what's getting me through.

Not in an angry way.  In a sad way.  In a disheartening way.  I had a monumental series of conversations last week that alter a lot of things in my life.  I will leave it at that.  But when I think things are on the upswing, this happened and was one of those pull the rug out from under you moments.  My confidence took a huge hit.  I'm still not sure how things got this point, and it solidified a lot of things I had in mind about the people and other aspects of the category this addresses.  You're welcome for the vagueness

I already knew that 2013 was going to be a really monumental period of my life.  But everything that has happened has validated that thought way more than I could have ever imagined.  This is one of the most critical junctures of my life.  I've had several of these junctures over the years which have set up the several years that followed.  This is one of the first times where I feel like the decisions that I make and the way my life plays out is setting up the rest of my life.  An incredible but scary feeling.

I have this metaphorical feeling for where my life is - like I am on a boat without a compass, sailing into the great unknown.  Wherever the wind takes me.  I might not know where it is taking me, only a vague intuitive sense that I am headed in the right direction.  And what awaits me whenever I reach my destination is something beyond my wildest dreams and expectations.  Call it the search for Atlantis, a treasure hunt, or just a great adventure.  But when you're on the boat... questioning... wondering... hoping... praying... it's hard to ignore the uneasy feeling.

This stretch has not been easy.  But I've been handling it with my head held high and with my values and integrity guiding me.  And I attribute the fact that I can get through this as unscathed as I have been to the love and support I have around me.  I am blessed to have a family to offer amazing words of wisdom in tough circumstances.  I am thankful to have friends who I can turn to for distractions, venting, creating memories, and sharing this journey with me.  I have so many people in my life who would do anything to help me.  And I can feel that love every day.  And I know God will help me through this and see that I am a better person when all of these things settle and get figured out.  Because "even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life - I won't turn back I know you are near"

Yup, I'm pretty lucky.  Even though the words might not be what I want them to be, I know that I can conquer anything.  And these things will pass, and the words will change.  And I know that I will be grateful for this period, because it will teach me so much more than I can imagine.  I can't wait to see where I end up after all of the dust settles.  Because I know it will be incredible.

If you had to choose 5 words to describe what your life currently is, what would they be?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dear Jeff (Marathon Edition)

About a year ago I wrote a letter to myself when I started training for my first half marathon.  I wrote that letter when I started the journey, and it was to be read again when I crossed the finish line.  It provided me with strength, inspiration, and pride.  A year ago, I would have called you crazy if you said I would even consider running a marathon.  It was never more than a fleeting thought.  Never more than an unrealistic possibility.

But here I am, 3 months away from my first marathon.

And I'm writing a new letter to myself.  Some same thoughts from the original letter.  Some tweaked thoughts.  Some new thoughts.

To be read on June 2nd.

Dear Jeff,

I want you to take a few minutes and reflect on what you just accomplished.

Over the past 5 months, you ran over 400 miles. Put that in perspective. You ran from Minneapolis to Chicago. From NYC to Toronto. From San Francisco to LA. You went out running in snow, in rain, in cold, in heat - and the pavement became your best friend.

You thought about your future, you thought about your past. You shared stories you've never told anyone. You've recalled memories you've long forgotten. You've spent countless hours pushing yourself so you can reach a goal you set for yourself, but never knew you'd obtain.

You just crossed the finish line of your first marathon!

There have been so many people in your life that have said you can't do it. People have put you into categories because of your weight, and they placed limits on you. Doctors have told you that you shouldn't be running. Time and time again, you have been told to quit. But you didn't listen.

Instead, you listened to your friends and family that always believed in you. You clung onto the words of inspiration. You turned to them when you wanted to give up on yourself. They wouldn't let you quit. They wouldn't let you fail.

Now, every time you look at your medal, I want you to think of the journey you just had - all of the pain, anxiety, joy, and success - and I want you to smile. Because when it was looking like you wanted to throw in the towel, sit on the couch, take a day off, and take the easy way out... you didn't. You earned this, and nobody can take it away from you.

Every voice that has told you you can't is now silenced.  The noise you hear is the love and support from the amazing people in your life.  You have conquered something that most people will never do in their lifetime.  You are part of a small percentage that can call themselves a marathoner.  Only few have gone through the agony, pain, excitement, and joy that you just went through.

In the moment you crossed the finish line, you left every doubt, fear, and worry behind you.  You can never go back to the person you were before the moment you crossed that line.  You are now changed forever.  

In that one moment, you have shown that anything is possible.

...and I am SO proud of you.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

3 Months To Go!!

Today marks 3 months until my marathon.  A whole lot of time between now and then.  A whole lot of miles between now and then.  But it's going to be here in no time...

A quick update with how everything is going:

As of Tuesday, I hit my minimum goal!  I raised the $2900 I need to make everything happen.  Now time to raise more, but it takes a whole lot of stress off.

It dumped a whole lot of snow on us about a week ago, so this week has been treacherous.  If you don't know how Denver works, it will snow a lot.  Then over the next few days, it will be warm and sunny during the day, but below freezing over night.  It will melt.  Freeze.  Melt.  Freeze.  So on any given run during these moments, you will have:  nice pavement/trail, mud, slush, water, ice, snow, and more nice trail.  Repeat all those over and over and you have quite the adventure.  Watch your ankles.

This week's speed work went well.  We took 3 laps around the lake in City Park (~.8 miles) with the instruction of speeding up every lap.  We called it quits when it got dark because the water patches started freezing, but I took an extra lap with a teammate who got there late so she could finish her workout and I could hit the 3 miles I needed, not wanting to skimp on any runs before my half marathon coming up.

Today's long run went GREAT!  It was the best double digit run I've ever had!  (Granted, I've only had 2 others in my life).  We headed to Wash Park for this, and met up to go through some quick stretching.  We had a visitor from the NYC chapter of Team in Training running with us, so that was awesome!  We headed out at a slowish pace for the first mile just to get out feet under us, then everyone kind of split off into their own paces.  I spent a few miles running with Miori, and I've shared my mostly disgust I have for running with people (and especially talking while doing so), but this was great!  Then one of our coaches and another teammate joined for a stretch, but they broke off to stop for a quick water break.  I had my running belt with me, so I had my own water, so I just kept trucking along.  A little while later, a few of our teammates stopped to wait for us, so I tagged along with them.  Although they're faster than me, it was great to run "with" them (we stayed together for a little bit, but then they pulled ahead, and I caboosed it behind them).  We ran a few more miles around the area and made the way back to the park, and headed back to our meeting spot.  I still had a couple miles I had to put in, so I did an extra 2 mile loop, then hung out with the teammates who were still hanging around the parking lot.

10.09 Miles - 1:44:11 - 10:19 pace

First time for everything:  I've been trying to learn how to fuel properly during long runs, so I tried something new today.  I did my normal Clif Bar & berries (my grocery store always puts together a great blend of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries) about an hour before the run.  I took a few Shot Blocks about a half hour before the run, and had my water ready to go on my belt.  During the run, I had some Jelly Belly Sport Beans at about the half way point, and I felt a huge second wind after that.  In fact, my second half of this 10 miler was faster than the first half, something that rarely happens with my long runs.  I think I am getting the hang of some of this fueling stuff, and I'm excited to experiment with a few more things over the next couple months

Real Talk:  I've been reading and hearing more about this sense to gloss over the negative and having everything seem too good to be true.  My friend Amma wrote a great post about the "Highlight reel syndrome" that helps explain this.  I've had a lot of friends involved in different aspects of the fitness world talk to me about how nobody talks about the difficult, painful, and strenuous moments, so that's what frustrates a lot of people.  People don't realize getting from Point A to Point B mostly sucks.  That's the truth.  And Point B is worth it so everything in between becomes tolerable, but nobody sees it.

So my vow is to share all of my story - my successes AND failures.  My joys and pains.  Fortunately, everything up to this point has gone exceedingly well that it's actually surprised me.  But the real talk from today's run is brought to you by my knees.  For those of you who don't know, I have bad knees.  I  even had surgery on one when I was in high school.  That has led to a lot of hesitation and recommendations to not be a runner.  Which I obviously ignore (oops!).  But I have this lingering "issue."  I use the word issue loosely because it hasn't been a detriment, more so just a nuisance.  While I run, my knee (my GOOD knee in fact) starts to get this pain right at the patella.  I only feel it about mile 5/6 and beyond, it doesn't affect the run, and I don't feel any pain after.  Some have thrown out the term "runner's knee."  Some say it may have to do with form.  Some say running long distances just naturally hurts a little.  But my plan is to hopefully figure out more about this and see what I have to do about it.

The Team
I love our team!  Such great people, stories, and inspiration all around me.  I know this program pushes me out of my comfort zone a little, but it's been great having a team of all abilities offering support to each other.  I can't wait to keep getting to know everyone, and see them all conquer their goals! :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Upcoming Races

I just took a look at my race schedule and it hit me just how crazy this stretch of time is.  But I can't wait!

Here's a quick look at the races I've signed up for in the coming months:

March 16 - Canyonlands Half Marathon - Moab, UT
Just look at the picture.  Enough said!

April 7 - Platte River Half - Littleton, CO
A relatively flat course that runs from downtown Littleton and along the Platte River Trail.  This is a trail that I am very familiar with - I did the majority of my long runs training for my half marathon last May on this trail, and I've done a couple shorter races along this trail.  I needed an April race, and this is a great fit!

May 5 - Colorado Half Marathon - Fort Collins, CO
I am returning to the site of my first half marathon a year later.  It's a beautiful course and a fun run, and I can't wait to conquer it again.

(Maybe) May 19 - Colfax Half Marathon or Urban 10 Miler - Denver, CO

June 2 - Rock n Roll San Diego Marathon - San Diego, CA
The big day is coming up faster than I can imagine.  I am still so far off from where I need to be in physical preparation, but every day that passes, I feel more and more confident about it.  I keep picturing it in my mind, and there aren't any more fears and worries.  I guess I'm just saving those for June 1st!

June 16 - The Color Run - Denver, CO
A race which I am deeming "The victory lap."  I ran this last year and it was one of the most run races I have ever done.  I can't wait to celebrate the running of my first marathon by doing The Color Run with a bunch of great friends!

That's the plan!  Then I have no idea what I'm going to do.  I'm hoping to set a couple PRs after that, but I have nothing planned for the fall.  

What big things do you have coming up this spring/summer?  Any fun races?