Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Pressing On

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14
This morning, I was reading God's Word and working through a chapter from "Gideon" by Priscilla Shirer. This bible study covers the story of Gideon in Judges in great detail. In this specific chapter, Priscilla combines two of my favorite topics: faith and running! I love the below quote she shared.
"Passion doesn't negate weariness; it just resolves to press beyond it." #LessonsFromGideon

Why Press On?

Why do distance runners continue to run through pain and discomfort? What motivates them to press on? They press on because their passion and zeal for the goal supersedes the strain. With the recent marathon still in the back of my mind, I remember the strain of the last 6.2 miles and thought about why on earth I was pressing on. Passion and zeal, your "heart", for the goal really do help you to press on. In the case of a marathon, the goal is crossing the finish line, conquering 26.2 miles, reuniting and celebrating with family and friends, and wearing a shiny medal, I suppose.

Passion truly doesn't negate weariness and
doesn't promise pretty post-race photos, either!

Ultimate Passion

Serving the Lord and fulfilling the call He has on my life is my passion and purpose. I want to live with passion and zeal for the Lord every day, straining towards the ultimate goal - an eternity with Him. Today I'm recommitting myself to continued dependence and fellowship with the Lord. I ask Him to give me a passion that ignites my heart for His purposes.

It's challenging to feel super passionate about daily, monotonous tasks. Changing diapers, doing dishes, cleaning, and laundry don't exactly count as exhilarating activities and you don't receive applause every time a household task is completed (wouldn't that be awkward anyway?). But, even in the daily grind, God has a purpose for everything! Take joy in daily monotony because God is training you and shaping your character for things to come. Be faithful in the little things and the Lord will put you in charge of many things.

How To Press On

According to Philippians 3:13-14, we are to 1.) Forget what is behind and 2.) Strain toward what is ahead. Press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus!

What does this mean? We are to pursue after Jesus and refuse to be distracted by Satan and his schemes. Continue to press on towards the ultimate goal and look to our Savior's words:
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'
Matthew 25:21
And per Leo's request, here's a little Relient K for you to enjoy :) (Relient K is his favorite band!) Listen to "Pressing On."

What passion has God laid on your heart?
How are you straining toward the goal every day?


Monday, October 21, 2013

Run Strong All Winter Long

Fashion - 0, Function - 1
Last Saturday's run was beautiful yet chilly with a light snowfall - notice the flakes that look like mini-comets in the picture - and my first real run since the marathon. Fall has to be the shortest season ever in these northern parts. One day, a run can be hot, humid and sweaty. Then, a few weeks later, it will be cool and rainy, or even snowy!

I've been asked a few times about running through the winter and figured I would explain my winter strategy. Clearly, my approach to winter running is function over fashion (notice photo at right?). My running shorts just weren't going to do it for me this morning. I do slightly resemble a rodeo clown, but I was warm AND I was running out on the country roads by my parents farm and I doubt many saw me!

Before I ramble on any further, here are a few running tips to keep you running all winter long:

Winter Running Tips


Dress in Layers.

Layers are great for winter running because you can add more or subtract them to adjust to the temps all winter long, though it does add to the laundry loads. Keep in mind that you're going to warm up while running. Active.com suggests dressing for 15 to 20 degrees warmer than the actual temp. If you dress too toasty, remember your sweat is going to freeze and that's just no fun.

Personally, if it's 40°F or warmer, I'll wear shorts - though, I keep a close eye on temp + wind chill. If it's colder than 40°F, I dig out the running tights and, for style points, sometimes I will wear a pair of running shorts over them.

Cover Your Head.

Wear a hat, headband, or stylish bomber hat to retain body heat. Typically, I wear a cap on my head and a headband around the lower half of my face.

Our running group's "Ugly Sweater Run" for New Years 2013!
The group was very dedicated because it was easily below 0°F and windy!

Wear Shoes with Traction.

Try to find shoes that will have traction in the snow and on icy spots. Last winter, I ran with trail running shoes and that did the trick. Some runners also use ice cleats on their running shoes. I'm looking into a pair of Yaktrax because my minimalist running shoes won't do too well on the ice this winter!

All ready for a Fall jogger ride!

Be Visible.

In the cool months, I run in the dark while the guys are sleeping unless I can take out the jogging stroller with weather shield later in the day. Once the true winter temps set in, the jogging stroller will have to retire until spring and I'll stick to early morning runs.

When running in the dark, make sure to wear reflective and/or bright clothing. Running with a hand light or headlamp helps you see and helps cars see you. I use a small headlamp we had in the house that I wrap around my hand.

Hydration and Fuel Freeze.

I guess this is common sense, but I might as well mention it; Water will freeze and GU gels (and granola bars!) do harden up and become difficult to eat. Last winter I ran with the hand bottle sometimes and camelbak at other times; both freeze. It's a bummer when you're thirsty on a run and everything is frozen! Especially when the water is right there but you can't get to it :(

How Cold is Too Cold?

This is really personal preference. Some runners say it's never too cold for running, others say winter running is crazy. My general rule is that "too cold" means colder than -10°F but this depends on the wind chill. Even a windy 30°F run has potential to be miserable! For longer winter runs, I will break them into shorter chunks and loop by home more often.

Do you run outside in the winter, hit the treadmill instead,
or just take a break from running?

More cold weather running information:
How to Dress for Cold Weather Running


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Breakfast of Champions

Since the marathon I've been feeling, well, hungry. Probably because while I was running on Saturday, I thought about how badly I wanted to eat some pizza, a cheeseburger, or any warm foods. When the race was over, I had a hard time finishing much of anything I started to eat - a few bites of a bagel, a few bites of my sub (which I eventually finished; don't waste Erb's & Gerb's!), a few bites of oatmeal... bleh - except for my coffee of course. I annihilated that.

Now that the marathon is over and done with, this week has been all about recovery. By recovery, I mean no running, just power catch-up-on-the-house work, designing, and taking care of Mr. E. Problem is, I'm just hungry and all I want to eat is carb-tastic food. This country's nutrition experts would probably say it's naughty to eat carbs, but everyone has a unique body type that works best on different fueling; hence different body type classifications like ectomorph, mesophorph, and endomorph. Mine prefers fueling of the carbohydrate breed.

On that note, this is our family's favorite carb-y breakfast and it's amazing. In an attempt to "healthify" the pancakes, I add fruit to mine. This recipe is one of the gems that Leo brought into our marriage. His mom made these a lot growing up and I'm absolutely in love with them. And they're ridiculously easy to make.

Egg Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons butter (cut in two chunks of 2 Tablespoons each)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place one 2-Tablespoon chunk of butter on baking pan and place in pre-heating oven to melt. Melt the second 2-Tablespoon chunk of butter in a large microwaveable mixing bowl. Once mixing bowl butter is melted, add milk and eggs. Whisk together.

Gradually add flour into mixture and combine ingredients; do not heavily stir. Take pan out of oven and make sure the melted butter covers the entire bottom of the pan. Pour the mixing bowl ingredients into the pan and make sure they evenly coat the bottom.

Bake for 15 minutes, cut into 8 squares, and serve. Leo prefers maple syrup on his egg pancakes and I like agave nectar and fruit on mine. This is a very common breakfast in our home - yay carbs!
What dishes are a tradition in your family?
What kind of foods does your body react best to?

Photobucket

Monday, October 14, 2013

Race Report: Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon 2013

Ugly weather, but beautiful rainbows!
Well, I lived! Actually, the race this weekend went very well; probably better than it should have considering my last few weeks of training. I had a great time hanging out with my parents and E, though I was a bit bummed Leo couldn't join us.

E and I had a very windy and rainy trip to the race on Friday evening. I felt bad for all of the 5k runners that night, especially if they had to run against that wind. On the plus side, we did get to see a beautiful double rainbow. (That's like the symbol of God's covenant times two!) Once we made it to town, we had supper with my mom and dad at the Ground Round and had a quick visit with my aunt and cousin, who had just run the 5k. My pre-race meal was a nutritious combo of a turkey pretzel sandwich and tater tots. Seriously. I couldn't believe they had tots!

We made a quick stop at the rather small race expo and went to the hotel to crash for the night - or at least a couple hours until E woke up again. Enough random details, here's the race recap...

---

Results:

Finish Time - 03:37:37
Average Pace - 8:19/mile
Placing - Overall: 47th out of 184. Females: 10th out of 70. The marathon was small, but not bad at all for their inaugural year!

Weather:

The day was cool, wet, and windy, especially on the homestretch from mile 20 on, but I would take that any day over the Boston 2012 heat and humidity!

By the end of the race, I was totally drenched but, fortunately, rather numb. I didn't notice how cold it was until crossing the finish line and wandering around on a search for bagels and choco milk.

Race summary:

I was meditating on Psalm 20:7-8 the morning of the race. We can't make it through any challenge in life, whether it's physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental, without God - every day I need to remind myself to surrender to God. You can stand firm only in Him; trusting in worldly things will get you nowhere. Without God, I definitely wasn't going to finish this marathon!
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm. Psalm 20:7-8
Standing at the starting line waiting to take off was a bit uncomfortable due to the mist, cold weather, and wind, but, once we took off, the cold was very refreshing! I always aim to hold myself back for the first half of a marathon, but decided to just roll with it this time. Since having E, I wasn't sure what to expect from my body when running this distance; either I was going to run a nice time or completely bonk later on and not be able to finish. Having a race goal time seems to be the norm for runners, so not having an exact goal time felt funny. I was asked a few times what I was shooting for and all I could say was "Who knows. Something between 3:30 and 4:00 I hope!" I didn't want to set myself up for postpartum marathon failure, but my competitive side always hopes for a nice finish time.

For the first 16 miles, my pace hung between 7:45 to 8:15 per mile. I met another runner who was running at a similar pace and it helped to stay consistent. Both him and I were running faster than we had planned, but figured we could face the consequences later.

Waiting at the starting line. I'm not sure why I'm still clapping :s

Sidenote: For the first 6 miles, I was stuck behind a guy with awkwardly short shorts (no, not the guy in the above photo). Not just "Daisy Duke" short, but SO short that part of his behind-region was exposed with each stride. Yep. Awkward and gag-worthy. Fortunately, I got brave enough to pass him and escape the situation.

Random Fueling Strategies

My mom, dad, and E camped out at a few different places along the course to say hi to me and to hand me another Clif Bar. Fueling was NOT a strong point for me this time around. While on the longer training runs, I ate random granola bars (brilliant, huh?) I found in the house and definitely had some G.I. issues. GU gels have always worked well for me, but I wanted to move away from them and try a more natural source; I just hadn't had the chance to figure out what "natural source" I was going to use as a substitute yet. So, once race day rolled around, I decided to try eating small bites of Clif Bar during the race. Fortunately, they sat well with my stomach and I didn't have to make any pit stops!

Running solo after the pack spread out.

They did hand out GU gels at two aid stations along the course, so I also tried those out. To any first-time marathoners: DO NOT try random new fueling strategies during your race! For some reason, I was really laid back/reckless in this marathon and was totally cool with making bad racing decisions. I learned two things from eating those aid station GU gels: 1. GU is still the best fueling option for me and 2. Mandarin orange and Strawberry banana GUs are not very appealing in taste, but they get the job done.

Now Entering the Pain Cave

This race report is getting a bit too lengthy now, so I'll try to rap it up. Basically, I fully arrived in the "pain cave" at about mile 20. Why? Probably because I only did one 20-miler in training - shame on me! To make it through the last 10k of the race, I zoned out and put one foot in front of the other. Finishing the last 6.2 miles is definitely a matter of the heart. Looking at the course map, I must have been completely unaware of any hills earlier in the race, but I was 110% aware of the hills in the last 20+ miles. For a couple of them, I power walked up and ran down; just anything to keep moving forward.

Beautiful scenery!

Mental Games

While I was drenched and just trudging along, a random mishmash of thoughts ran through my head.

"A warm, cozy, dry bed sounds really great right now."

"I miss my husband (I was secretly hoping he would teleport from home to the finish line)."

"This is less painful than childbirth, yet more painful than walking. Hmm."

Though, I have to say marathoning and childbirth may be a different type of pain, but the mental game is near identical (in my opinion)! I'll have to write more on this later.

"I can't wait to cuddle E. I hope he's not driving my parents crazy."


"I could use some hot coffee right now."

"Pizza? Cheeseburger? Anything but GU?"


I sang worship songs in my head, mainly "Now and Forever" by One Sonic Society. I thought about how much life has changed since I was attending college in this town and how I would never want to go back to life 4 years ago! I'm so thankful God is patient and didn't see me as a lost cause!

God has taught me and changed me so much in the last four years. Especially during the seemingly hopeless parts of a run, I can't get away or distract myself - it's just God, me, and the road! It's forced me to face the tough issues in life, rather than running away from them, and truly just surrender all the wonderful junk I try to hold on to. Focusing on God, my family, thoughts of warm food items, and the encouragement of an awesome fellow runner and my family carried me through the tough parts of this race (and life in general, too).

Almost There?

Yeah. Almost there. Pretty much from mile 23 and on, everyone on the sidelines kept telling me "You're almost there!" It made me wonder, what does "almost there" mean to you? I knew the marathon was required to be 26.2 miles in length, but I almost wanted them to tell me how many more strides are left. How many more turns? Any more hills? Maybe I don't still have a 5k to run?? What is this "almost there" you speak of!?

I guess I'm kind of a pedestrian; just "walking" a bit faster than usual.

"Almost there" means, well, almost there. It's a relative statement. To an ultramarathoner, almost there could mean you only have 26 miles left to run! For a regular ole marathon, after running 23 miles, you better not quit in the last 5k of the race (unless seriously maimed or unconscious). What a waste of 23.1 miles! So I picked up the pace to 7:45~8:00/mile to finish strong and make up for lost time in the hilly parts.

Crossing the finishing line felt great and I was very happy I didn't completely fall on my face. I'm always paranoid about biffing it in the home stretch because I usually feel numb and jelly-like at that point. My legs just don't listen anymore.

Post-Race

I was so excited to see little man, my mom, and dad. The blueberry bagel and choco milk were delicious; eating GUs and random fueling stuff makes me miss real food. Did I mention my parents rock? They had stopped by the legendary Erbert's & Gerbert's and ordered an extra sub for me - my favorite one, called the "Tappy"! I'm pretty sure there will be an Erb's & Gerb's in heaven :)

We hung out and listened to the half marathon and marathon places, enjoyed the feeling of sitting for a while, and then went on our way. The four of us made a coffee pit stop at the amazing Cantabria Coffee and then headed to the hotel for a very necessary shower.

Hanging with my trusty training partner

Overall, the Blue Ox Marathon went way better than it ever should have, considering the randomness of my training and picking a sinus infection two weeks prior! THANK YOU to my mom and dad for taking care of E all morning, hanging out with us this weekend, and for the great pictures my mom took. And, of course, thanks to Leo for being so supportive, even if he thinks I'm slightly crazy!

On that note, I'm ready for a break from full marathons for a year or two. Lord-willing, we're hoping for baby #2 :)

Friday, October 11, 2013

And They're Off!

Eli and I leave early this afternoon for the marathon! Leo won't be joining us because they're smack dab in the middle of beet harvest still but the end is near. He'll keep tabs on me, though. Mr. Eli has been a wonderful training partner and has joined me for the majority of the training runs. What a good sport! Maybe someday, he'll want to run himself.

Smiling with my little man :)
Honestly, the nerves are sneaking up on me a bit. It's been +1 year since I ran Boston in 2012 and, here we are, 26.2 miles to cover tomorrow. Then again, it's just 26.2 miles. I found this image on Pinterest and it offers great perspective - at least I don't have to pull a sled!


Marathon Goods

Marathon "goods" are always nice; sometimes called "swag", but swag just isn't something I will ever have. I was excited to see they shared the finisher's shirt and medal design! Very cool - lumberjack style. If you aren't familiar with the area, the location of the marathon is known for their Paul Bunyan and Babe statues.

Finisher's Shirt and Medal

Well, I'm off to pack up our stuff - mainly Eli's. He takes up much more suitcase space than me! And, of course, paint my nails. I always paint my toe nails before runs. Why? I don't know; maybe it will cover up any damage I do to them tomorrow. I used to do that before tennis matches in college, too. Pretty nails just may contribute to sport performance!

What do you do the day before a race or event of any sort?

Running Recap - Final Week of Marathon Training

M - 4 mile tempo interval run with jogging stroller and Eli.

T - Rest.

W - 3 mile tempo interval with jogger.

H - Rest..

F - 1 mile easy run without jogger! Leo and Eli were sleeping in :)

Sat - RACE DAY.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

7 Days to 26.2

Race day is creeping closer and closer. Only 7 days until #6! Even though this is my sixth marathon, training for it has been like no other before. The below quote has been key to training for this marathon. Flexibility of training has been the most important lesson I've learned! Stressing about missing a run, or being sick, or exhausted, or etc. isn't going to help you run a solid race. I'm taking it in stride this time around and just running. Relentless forward motion!
"The runner shouldn't follow a training plan, a training plan should follow a runner." Coach Renato Canova
Have any running motivation or quotes to share?

Training This Time Around

  • Roughly 90% of my training runs were ran with a jogging stroller.
  • Only ran one 20-miler in training.
  • Definitely didn't sleep enough.
  • Had a week-long romance with a sinus infection two weeks from race day.
  • Many runs went from their specific "speed", "tempo", "hill", etc. labels to "just get through this!"
Now that my last long run is out of the way, I'm getting excited. Race expos are FUN because, generally, I find free snacks to eat and it's like a runner's paradise! Eli and I will be going to the expo together on Friday before I meet my parents. I'm excited to see friends that are running the race, spend time with family, and enjoy the race!

What's your favorite part of race expos?

Awesome Occurrences This Week

Our neighbor brought over a beautiful, homemade cherry pie!
She rocks and it was delicious!
My Great Grandma Grace made a surprise visit with my mom today!
Eli loves his great great grandma and my lovely sister-in-law captured this moment :)

Running Recap - Marathon Training Week 15

H - XT: 30-Day Shred Level 2.

F - 5 mile "easy" run with jogging stroller and Eli. I write "easy" because somehow crazy gusting winds made this easy run quite challenging!

Sat - 12 mile long run and a little over 4 of those miles were with my awesome sister-in-law! I love long run company. This run felt really good; only one more week to race day!

Let's Get Social Sunday

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

One Day At A Time

Do you ever feel like just throwing in the towel? I shouldn't even ask that question. Every human hits that point at times.

These last couple weeks have kept me on the edge and it's felt so tempting to stop trying, to just sit down and give up. God has blessed me so much and saved me from such a lost life; I feel guilty admitting weakness and being vulnerable. We've had the best moving helpers on earth, but it still left me exhausted. Maybe it's more of an emotional exhaustion and some physical, too. I keep giving my cares to God and thinking "One day at a time, one day at a time..."

Enjoying our last few days in the old house!

A Seriously Small Town

The elevator in the middle of our new town.
I grew up in a "small town" of 2,500 people but now we live in a seriously small town of ~650 people. It's interesting; especially when I tried to plan out a 6-miler, jogger-friendly running route! The first couple days were intimidating and lonely so I focused on praying that God would bring the right people into our lives and help us to reach out to others in the community. Of course, God answers prayers! Leo works for a great family that has welcomed us to the area and I'm now in a Bible study in a neighboring town (AND they even have childcare for the study!). I'm learning so much from this study and God has placed so many women in my life to mentor me - it's awesome and such a blessing. This new town is small, but it's home and I'm taking it one day at a time. God is using this experience to draw me closer to Him and to work on my patience... big time. In all situations, God is reminding me to keep focused on Him and to take all of my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

House Progress

As for the house, it's really coming together now, though I have a ton of boxes to put away and some still some painting to do. It is feeling like home. A new paint job, candles, and a few pictures on the wall work wonders at making a new house home! When I dig out the cords for my camera, I will upload the new house pictures I've been mentioning! Eli loves all of his new floor space to play on. He strategically roles around the room to find my shoes and other mischief!

Eli playing on his new floor. He's a rolling machine!

Marathon Training: Week 15

A week-long sinus infection put a major cramp in marathon training, but I'm telling myself it's going to be okay. The second 20-miler in the plan didn't happen, which initially drove me nuts, but there's really nothing I could do. I'm finally recovering and am back on track for training. I'm just going to pretend that I didn't miss any training and just run my face off on race day!

Hey, running is supposed to be F-U-N! I'm going to enjoy the race weekend with my parents, Eli, and friends! Leo can be tracking me from his phone in the beet truck :) Harvest is in full swing now, so he's not around too much these days.

Running Recap

Sat - 3 mile run on the treadmill at my parents house. The sinus infection was lightening up a bit, but I still felt like the running dead with a fishbowl stuck on my head!

Sun - Off. Rest, fluids, and lots of Kleenex!

M - 6 mile run with the jogging stroller and Eli. Light-headed, but getting better.

T - 4 mile run at marathon pace. Running is a great de-congestant!

W - 5 mile run with the jogging stroller and Eli.

H - XT.

F - 5 mile run scheduled.

S - 12 mile long run scheduled - last one until race day!