Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just over 3 weeks...

I was reminded yesterday that the half marathon is less than a month away. After Saturday's 10-miler, I'll officially be tapering. Weird thought. The training plan recently is to run more than half of the full mileage.

Running is slowly getting easier again. Pace is improving -- miles have consistently been faster than 12-minutes recently. AND, I've mostly been looking forward to my 5:30 a.m. running sessions.

I've been trying to do more strength-training. This week's SparkPeople Biggest Loser interteam challenge was a series of lower body ST exercises. Did my 50-minute session last night. I've been ignoring ST on my lower body almost entirely which, in retrospect, was really a dumb plan.

Tomorrow is weigh in day. Thus far, I know I'm down 2 pounds this week. Hoping the scale will be nice and make it 3 (as I was only an ounce away when I did a sneak-peak weigh in!).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quenching thirst

(cross-posted from View from the Rafters, my non-running blog)

Last Saturday, my running buddy Tiffany and I were excited to have a Spring-like day for our 8-miler training run. After about mile 3, my saliva turned into paste, and she commented that her mouth was turning to cotton. Our trail suddenly transformed into a virtual desert and we began having hallucinations about families standing beside creeks (no wait, we really do run by a creek...).

Our new goal became making it to the comfort station, where we knew there was a water fountain. By the time we arrived, we were imagining exactly what the water would taste like and how it would feel. I pressed down on the magic water fountain button and... nothing. I waited a few seconds and tried again. The abundant streams of water I had been fantasizing about never came. The fountain was dry.

So we looked at the door... of course! The bathroom. We each cupped our hands under the sink and cringed at the not-so-pleasant taste of the sink water, assuring ourselves we were only four more miles away from Schnucks -- the neighborhood grocery store that had not one, but TWO water fountains in the front hallway.

We vowed never to go on a long run without our fuel belts -- featuring small water bottles -- again.

Sunday, March 22 is World Water Day. My ridiculous running story is about all I know about thirst, but my friends at WaterPartners remind me that 884 MILLION people still don't have access to safe drinking water. Each year, over 3.5 million people die from water-related disease.

While I am running and marking drinking spots along my route, millions of women and children have to walk miles to find ANY water -- and often, their sources aren't nice comfort stations, but polluted water sources.

I share these statistics, not to overwhelm, but to encourage your help. For just $25, you can provide someone will clean water for the rest of his/her life. Visit my firstgiving page to find out more and donate.

You can also help simply by searching the Web. is a search engine powered by yahoo. Thanks to advertising revenue, they are able to donate approximately 1 cent for every Web search you do. I GoodSearch for WaterPartners, I encourage you to join me. GoodSearch also has a shopping feature, allowing some of your purchasing dollars to be donated. In the last two years, an estimated $134 has been contributed to WaterPartners just through Web searches.

Join me in saving lives.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Born to sing

"I was born; I was born to sing for you..."

I can always count on U2 to boost my energy level and lift my spirits. As I drove to the trail to meet Tiffany for our 5:30 a.m. run, Bono and the boys were busy making sure I was awake.

U2's song "Magnificent" blasted from the speakers. And I thought about the idea that I was born for God's enjoyment.

Several Christian fantasy writers (Madeleine L'Engle and C.S. Lewis to name a few) have touched upon the idea of God singing the world into creation; that there is some song at the heart of the world that we catch glimpses of in our best moments.

In a recent conversation with a friend, we discussed the beauty of nature. My friend suggested that he sees an example of faithfulness in the created world, as the trees are doing exactly what they are designed to do. In the most basic of terms, it is an act of worship. "Even the rocks cry out."

As Tiffany and I set out in the dark, I thought about the different parts of my body doing what they were designed to do; the information traveling from my brain to my legs and back to my brain; my lungs expanding and contracting; my heart rate rising as blood pumped through my body...

The trees, the creek, the human body all do what they were designed for... and it all happens involuntarily. Water doesn't think about rushing over the stones; trees don't ponder whether or not they will grow; I don't consciously tell my body to take in more air or pump blood faster...

And yet, when it comes to the human will, we have a choice. I may have been born to be with and sing for God... but am I? Will I?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Be the wind

While discussing our upcoming races, my friend Chuck encouraged me to "be the wind" during my long run. Honestly, I completely forgot to think about that during today's 8-miler, mostly because T and I both felt really good while we were running. But I think it will make an excellent mantra during the difficult miles that I know I'll face again!

Today's run was postponed till the afternoon due to a morning meeting I participated in. The CBF of Missouri's Coordinating Council was meeting here at my church, and I enjoyed spending time with friends I don't get to see often. There are several other runners on the council, so we inevitably ended up discussing training and past races.

During the meeting, I also received two voice mail messages from friends Becca and Mike Springstead, who both (unknowingly to the other) called me after their morning runs.

I always find it funny -- and fascinating -- how runners can't help but talk to each other about running. Chuck mentioned that it is like we know something that non-runners just can't comprehend. They don't understand the pull of the distance, and I can't imagine giving it up.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

In a that great gettin' up mornin'

This morning was a 2.1 miler. No shoe issues, no muscle issues. T and I both felt this morning was the best run we've had all year. I think we're scheduled for 8 on Saturday, so I hope our good days continue. I'd really like to be able to run most of that (I'd REALLY like to run it all, but the way things have been going, I'm not sure that's possible...).

It's funny how little runs like today can be so powerful in providing hope. Maybe the post-marathon yuckiness is evaporating. And if not, at least I can be reminded that the bad days are worth it to experience the good days every now and then.

Sent a note to the ole Tuesday/Thursday group to encourage them to start waking up and meeting us again. The mornings were 7 or more would meet to run were good times. I miss that crew.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Biggest Loser - week 1

I feel like a proud mother today. We're getting to the end of week 1 of the Spring Biggest Loser Challenge. For perhaps the 3rd season, I'm leading the mighty BLUE team, a group of 24 women and 1 brave man. I haven't been a very good leader in the past and am trying to change that this challenge.

Today I just felt a surge of pride for all the folks on my team. Many have been on this journey for awhile and are struggling right now. Since we are spread out across North America, several are experiencing some nasty winter weather right now, and the winter blahs are still lingering. But they all have chosen to spend the next 9 1/2 weeks facing those challenges and pushing forward.

Trying to encourage them also has a positive effect on me. I want to do better for them -- so I'll push those extra 5 minutes in cardio or do that extra set of my ST routine in effort to set a good example.

I would really like to be pre-marathon weight before the half in April. Looked like I may just make it. Dropped 5 pounds this week (held steady all last week, so I know sodium/water retention has a lot to do with the BIG drop) which will be a pretty good way to end week 1 -- and weigh in isn't until Thursday. Woot! From there, I'll have a little over a month to lose 8-10 pounds.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Early morning meetings

Arrived at the trail early this morning and was a bit creeped out by an unfamiliar vehicle -- the only other vehicle in the lot. The owner was still in the car, motor running. "Maybe they are also waiting for someone," I thought. I stayed in my car while waiting for Tiffany, and after a few minutes, the driver of the other vehicle got out, walked to my car and knocked on the window.

"I assume this is running club?" he asked.

I laughed, shocked, and stepped out of my car. "Uh, well, yeah, I suppose it is."

I explained that we kind of took a break over winter, and that this was the first time I'd been back in awhile -- and was fairly sure the "group" wasn't showing. As it turned out, Tiffany didn't either (and I found myself thinking, "were we scheduled for Tuesday or Thursday?"). So at a little after 5:45, this guy (whose name I forget... I'm not doing well on names this week) took off down the trail. He graciously stayed at my pace, and I tried to push to not slow him down too much. My "fast" 10 minute mile definitely seemed east for him.

I kept to low mileage, but actually enjoyed the run -- and the random meeting.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Broken running thinger

I have a tendency to completely avoid this blog when runs don't go as planned. And as it turns out, runs have not been really good in 2009.

I posted awhile back that this half would be nice because it is old hat. But despite successfully completing 26.2 miles in November, 7 miles seems impossibly long now.

And it isn't just me, Tiffany seems to have the same problem. We ran 4 of 7 miles yesterday and declared it the best long run we've had this year. Both of us are staying active with crosstraining, etc., but somewhere along the way, our running thingers broke.

It's incredibly frustrating. The first mile always feels like 10 and every step past that requires all my mental strength - "WILL. PUT. ONE. FOOT. IN. FRONT. OF. THE. OTHER."

I was terrified of the half until yesterday when we decided to just have fun -- even if that requires walking a large part of it. So I'm forgetting PR hopes and plan to simply enjoy moving the 13.1 miles around downtown St. Louis. Who knows, maybe removing the pressure will help repair my running thinger.

Anyone know of any other remedies?