Saturday, June 30, 2012

Me: Running a 10k!

Today was the day.
I ran the farthest I've ever run in my life: 6.2 miles
I ran the hottest I've ever run in my life: 86 degrees.
I ran the fastest-long run I've ever run in my life: 1:00:08

I am so proud of myself.

Let me break it down for ya, shall I?
All week I have been psyching myself out a little too much: Ah, my knee hurt a little. Shoot, my calves are tight. Crap, I just ate half a pan of brownies. Dang, I only slept 6 hours. Ugh, it's So. Dag-um. HOT!"
Mostly these freak outs happened because I'm really good at freakin' out.
I really shouldn't have.
But I was freaked out up until the moment the buzzer went off at the start line. As soon as I started jogging, I realized how silly I'd been for worrying so much. This is a never ending lesson I keep learning. Like patience.

For the first time in a very long time, I am finally happy with my body, my weight, my size, and pictures of myself.


My awesome hunk of a man who is so tan!


Anyway, the first mile was great. It was emotional. It was all I could do to suck back the tears. I don't have a good explanation for this, other than it's just incredible to be running alongside so many others from so many different backgrounds, who are all running for a significant reason. It's also overwhelming to recognize you're doing something you never expected yourself to do.

I really loved when a mom pushing a jogging stroller passed me. I only loved this because the back of her shirt said "Doing it for Duncan." I have no idea who Duncan is. I have no idea why she was doing it for him. But it meant something significant enough to her, and him, that she woke up early, loaded her toddler in the stroller, and ran 6.2 miles on the hottest morning of the summer.
A couple miles later I saw this Duncan at a drink stop with her, he looked about 8-10 years old. While I was getting water at the finish, she urgently was telling someone they had to get back to the line to watch him cross and finish. Maybe his first race? Maybe he has MS? I don't know. But it was neat.

The Hills.

Most people really, really, really, hate hills. I used to be one of those people. Now I love them. As we headed up the first big hill on the course, racers started slowing, walking, and taking breaks. I shifted my pace to my toes and kept at it. My mantra all the way up? "You got this. You've trained for this. You love hills. You're good at hills. Keep going. All these people are looking at you thinking: man, she is great at hills!" 
It's okay, I'm a little narcissistic sometimes.

The Heat.

It was pretty bad. Luckily, thankfully, the course was about 70% shaded. There were also 3 "aid" stations, all of which I jogged through, sipped a couple swallows, and dumped the remaining ice cold water down my back. Each station popped up just in the nick of time to cool me down again. We passed a sign at the high school that said 86 degrees. It was around the halfway mark.

My Knee.

It didn't hurt! I was really surprised. Although there was a point near the beginning where it tinged a little, but other than that it was fine.

My Mantra.

Running is so unbelievably mental. I kept telling myself things like: "You are strong. You've trained for this. You know how to run hills. You can do this. This feels great. Keep breathing. Stay relaxed. You're stronger than you think." I think it helped. If I had remembered to write things on my hand, I would've written: You're stronger than you think. Endure to the end.

The Finish.

After I rounded the corner at mile 6, there was quite a big hill. I was tired. I could feel salt on my cheeks. I could feel my arms and face tingling and chilling a little. I started to worry that I would get dehydrated and collapse with heat exhaustion. That psyched me out. Enough so that once I made it up the hill, I walked for a few seconds. After a gal I had just passed passed me, I picked it up. Then I saw Scott walking toward me. He picked up my pace and ran next to me with words of encouragement. He pushed me and got me through. On the straightaway to the finish, something exploded a little inside and I ran faster than I've ever run in my life. I sprinted to the end. It almost felt like I was flying. It was glorious.

Post race

Two steps after the line, I stopped and wanted nothing more than to collapse on a bed of ice water.

But I did it!!!!

My Time.

My goal was around 56-58 minutes. When it was forecast to be so hot, I knew I'd have to tack on an extra couple minutes. When my knee gave me grief, I knew I'd have to slow it down a bit. When I passed Mile 1, I was at 8:04 minutes
Mile 2: 17:04
Mile 3: 27
Mile 4: 37
Mile 5: 46
Mile 6: 56
Finish: 1:00:08

So I'm very pleased with how I did. I really wanted to be a sub one hour, but 8 seconds is okay with me. I averaged a 9:40/mile pace which I am very proud of, given the conditions and it being my first big race!!!

All in all, it was a spectacular morning. I accomplished something I never dreamed possible even just 4 years ago. I have never thought of myself as a runner. But, these days, I'm getting there.

I'm stronger than I think.
And so are you.

Peace, love, and happy running!!!

p.s. Hubby finished in 46 minutes and 4th place for his age division. Rock on Baby!!!!
I also realized I need a running buddy for the 1/2 marathon coming up!!! It's much better running alongside someone.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Runners Knee before a race?

Fellow Runners, Athletes, and anyone else who wants to comment,

Here I am, seeking some advice.

My problem?
Still my knee.

Here's the scoop. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about it giving me problems. To be more specific, the pain pops up on the inside of my left knee. It's like a sore, achey, feeling. It fires up more when I'm running downhill or walking down lots of stairs. I have a suspicion it may be a mild case of "Runners Knee." Which, of course, I have been googling and researching. It is not something that is really painful, it currently is just more annoying than anything.

The biggest problem?
I have a 10k race on Saturday.

What Have I Been Doing this Week?
Well, I took a week off running for Girls Camp. The first day and a half my knee was a bit sore hiking around and doing all the camp set up stuff. Then it completely went away. Monday after camp (a week ago), I ran 3.38 miles at a 10.6 minute mile. Really frustrating that I slowed down my mile by a full minute, but I knew I needed to take things down a notch. I logged about 13 miles last week with about a 10 minute mile average, which is 30 seconds/mile slower and 4 miles less than my past average for the previous two weeks. I have been massaging, stretching, cross training, running slower, running shorter, and biofreez-ing my calf and hammy. I plan on getting a gait assessment sometime this week or next to find out if I'm in the wrong pair of shoes.

Also this week I did more cross training. I focused on abs, arms, and a little bit of legs. Sunday night my left hamstring and calf were completely knotted up. I had my hubby adjust me and do some muscle work, again, then I iced my calf. This morning I did a full body strength training program for 30 minutes, including squats. I took my dog on a walk around the cul-de-sac and my knee was sore.

Why Am I Worried?
I have the race on Saturday. I have no idea how to train for it this week. I have no idea how hard I should push myself running. I have no idea how many miles I should log or how many times I should run before Saturday. I'm worried because I don't want to worsen my knee. The worry is keeping me from wanting to run in the morning, which is bad because I need to run, and I enjoy it! But I'm scared. So not fun.

I know I will be able to finish the race. It's not terribly long and I'm confident I can run 6.2 miles. However, I think I might be disappointed with my time. I'm also just concerned about preventing further, worse, injury that will keep me from a good training schedule for my 1/2 marathon in September.

So, any suggestions? Any tips? Any advice? The biggest question I have is: how is the best way to train the week before a race when you're fighting against a knee injury?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Freezer Jam for Dummies (like me)

Today was a domestic day.

The day is not over yet.

For some reason this year I have heard "freezer jam" injected into countless random sentences by countless random people countless times.
For some reason I have never made freezer jam before.
For lots of reasons, I have tasted freezer jam many times. MMM.
I also feel completely and utterly giddy when kind people bestow their homemade canned jam upon me. It's my favorite.

Today I decided to make my own freezer jam.
I'm not yet ambitious enough to make cooked jam...
Mostly this decision was based on spectating at our young women's activity last night.

Here is how my jam making went...
But first, remember how I'm not very good at pictating? Well, just think about how it would be if I had a big kitchen, a nice camera, 4 extra arms, no puppy, and a babysitter. Also think about how it would be if I remembered to carefully stage and photograph every step of the process, before starting.

Now remember who you're talking to.
And who is writing this blog.

To start off, this is what you need: sugar, pectin, and strawberries.
Not quinoa, Stubb's, or a random red potato.

Please don't think about the fact that I took this "cast of characters" pictures after I'd finished making everything. This is why I don't get paid.

Next, cut the stems off the berries and rinse them.

After that, find a really cute, blonde haired, blue eyed, babe to be your helper.
This is a crucial step in achieving the desirable kitchen cleanliness you'll see below.

Okay, so you pulse the berries in a blender til chunky-ish, mix the sugar and pectin together in a bowl, then add the berries. After that, stir for 3 minutes.

Try not to get distracted by cute helper dumping pectin and sugar on the floor.
Or mixing his bottle parts and scrub brush into the blender.
Or trying to climb into the sink and play in the "pool."

After 3 minutes, pour into containers and let set for 30 minutes. Store in freezer for a year, or fridge for a week (or something?). Yum!


Desirable kitchen cleanliness:

what you can't see are the pectin-sugar granules all over the floor.

Oh yeah, and I had some extra berries so I whipped up a recipe of Strawberry Sauce from OBB.
please don't look at my messy counter. It's clean now. Promise.

And that, my friends, is how to make freezer jam. 
So easy.
So fast.
So delicious.
So cheap too!

Cost breakdown:
Strawberries: $4 ($1/lb at Aldi!)
Pectin: $4.98 (walmart), I used about half of it, so $2.50 ish
Sugar: uhhh, cheap?
Containers: already had
Total: about $7.00 for 8 containers of jam and one container of sauce. 

Way cheaper, and better, than store bought stuff!

p.s. I used the Ball powdered pectin. It called for about half as much sugar as the Certo, and seemed to work and taste great!

Strawberry Freezer Jam Recipe:
from inside the pectin jar
1 2/3 c. strawberries
2/3  c. sugar
2 TBL. pectin

Crush the berries. Mix sugar and pectin in a bowl. Add the berries and stir for 3 minutes. Pour into containers, freeze. **I doubled the batch twice to get the amount shown above.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I survived Girls Camp! And came back with some pictures, too

It's really hard for me to not write about running. So here's my one running plug for the day: I ran for the first time in a week yesterday and it felt great. I ran slower than I have in awhile, but we're trying to prevent injury. Running is freedom for me.

Now, let's talk Girl's Camp.
The weather was perfect.
The bugs were minimal.
The lake felt amazing.
The girls were spectacular.
It was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

But is a barrel of monkeys really that fun? Or mostly just a little scary? 

I'm sticking with fun. 
Here's some pictures.
With some captions.
Because this is a blog, and not Facebook.

The rifle range.
Of course I loved it.
Thanks for teaching me everything I know, Dad!

Lovely form for the back two girls.

Let me tell you something about Girl's Camp...
Sometimes when you put a bunch of girls together for a week
it gets silly
borderline weird
but the best part, is that everyone is silly and weird
so in reality, it's COOL.

See how cool?
She might hate me later...

We are oozing with coolness.
In fact, people were jealous of our glasses.
Also, we were trying to make nerdy faces.

Epitome of cool.

Also at Girl's Camp, there are random Rock Out! moments
this was one of them

Our whole gang.
all 6 of our girls
and 4 of our leaders
We have a familiar resemblance to some famous green turtles I think...


I chose not to participate in this one.
I'm still a little skittish around horses because of what happened last time...
maybe I should write about it one day

My favorite summer thing in the world:
I could spend every day for the entire summer on a boat in the lake and I would be a happy, happy girl.

This is my favorite picture of me.
I think I look cool.
and tan.
and boaterish.
I'm only slightly conceited.

Boating again!
These girls were dying to go and it didn't take much to convince me!

Rappelling and rock climbing.
Unfortunately, we ran out of time so I only got to rappel.
I figured when we move to Idaho I'll have plenty more opportunities to try real rock climbing.
It looked safer than I was expecting.
I think I could do it.
Also, it's a good thing this picture was taken from the front.
With helmets and people to cover up the harnesses.

See the green tent?
See that red tent?
We slept in the red tent.
Our food stayed in the green tent.
They are less than 10 feet apart.
The first night I didn't sleep because I thought a raccoon was in our tent.
He was really trying to get food from the green tent.
The next night I found some earplugs.

I told ya I was really cool.

Our group was "from Britain"
so one of the girls made bonnets.
Legit bonnets.
It took her hours.
She's the

See where I am? With the hat?
See the girl to my left, kneeling? She's the bonnet maker.
Also, about a billion people thought I was one of the girls.
Do I really look that young?
...never mind, don't answer.

This wasn't even all of the gear.
It went into two and a half cars.

Headed home.
Some covered in bug bites 
some not
And filled with fun, happy, memories of another spectacular year at camp.

Ticks were executed by fire and explosion.
Giant spiders in tent were killed with shoes.
Races with turtles were held.
All in all, the best week of my summer!
Thanks girls!!!

Oh, and I should mention we're moving.
In a month.
To an apartment that's closer to campus.
I am SO. dang. excited.
and happy.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pre-injury and pre-camp. What not to do.

On Tuesday morning I will embark on a very exciting, dirty, sweaty, and fun adventure....


I really cannot wait and I am SO excited! I'm also a little nervous seeing as how I'm the Camp Director for our ward, so I have added responsibility instead of just being there. But, I'm always up for an adventure and a challenge. I also really can't wait to spend time outside! I feel like I've been so busy this summer (mostly getting ready for camp) that I haven't been outside much at all! Bring on the farmer's tan, baby!

In lieu of my absence, this is the last you will hear from me before I make my spectacular comeback. Which will surely include crashing in bed for a week straight before hitting the pool every. single. day.

I also just wanted to share a running update:

I'm usually a really good example of what not to do in life...

2 Monday's ago I started running harder, faster, and longer. I tracked about 17 miles averaging a 9.5 minute mile after my first 5k. Then last week, I could only run about 12.5 miles because the knee pain began. I tried to slow my pace, but suddenly, and very oddly, a 9.5 minute mile feels really comfortable for me. However, I have to back off a bit if I want my knee to stop hurting and be fine for my upcoming race on the 30th.

Girls Camp will be a good break, but I'll be sad to not run.

I talked with my mom about it briefly (oh yeah, she's been running for about 5 years now), and she said in her experience she had knee pain when: mileage increased to quickly, speed increased too quickly, and/or lack of cross training on the rest of the body.

I guess she may be right because I haven't been cross training. At all. OOPS. I also really increased my miles and speed (not purposely!) at the same time the week before I started hurting. So, when I get back from Camp, I may have to run slow and short for a few days before I can resume my normal training. I also plan on cross training more and doing some weight lifting.

So, let that be a lesson to you, beginner runners (including myself), to not over train too quickly! Otherwise, injury may sneak up on you. And there's not much worse than getting injured right after you find a good groove and right before a big race.

Happy Sunday and have a good week everyone!
Until I'm back from the great outdoor adventure.... 


P.S. Because I know you miss him, and because I am the coolest mom on the block, here is Bubs last Sunday:

Yes, that is my kitchen sink.
Yes, he climbed in himself.
Yes, he turned the water on himself.
Yes, he is completely soaking wet.

Yes, he was absolutely thrilled and laughing the whole time.
It's okay to go "swimming" in the sink, right?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10 tips to start running

I still don't consider myself a runner, but I thought I'd share some tips about getting started.

1. Start small.

Choose a small distance you want to run and then run it without stopping. For example, once around a track, or from here to that mailbox, or one mile. Take a one or two minute walking break, then run the distance again.

2. Gradually increase your distance.

As it gets easier running a set distance, start increasing that distance. Push yourself to see how far you can go beyond the landmark you were trying to meet. Celebrate the small and big accomplishments! You're stronger than you think!

3. Don't worry about your speed. Yet.

I was talking to a runner friend of mine and asked for some tips about speed and distance. She told me it's much more important to build up your endurance first before your speed. She said the speed will come in time, but you need to build your distance and increase your mileage. My mom told me she read somewhere that you should be running for 3-4 years before trying to increase your speed. I think it's a personal decision, but I have found as my endurance and distance has increased, my speed has increased slightly as well. When I run, I don't try to run fast, I try to find a comfortable pace that I can maintain for the miles I've planned. I time every run and plug in the miles and minutes. Sometimes I run faster, sometimes slower. My speed really depends on how my morning goes, how awake I am, what the weather is like, how I feel, and what type of terrain I'm running.

4. "Run until you can't run another step, then walk to catch your breath, then repeat."

I picked up some old Runner's World magazines from my mom and found this quote in there. It was from a track couch to an old student who came back for running advice. I've found that when I think this way, I'm surprised at how far I can go. I really like to compete with myself and beat my goals in my mind. It's a fun mental game I play when I run.

5. "I've never been on a run that I regret, but I always regret not running."

My mom shared this piece of advice with me one day. Now I repeat something similar every morning when I wake up. It's incredibly motivating and ridiculously true. I have yet to run a run I regret. But every time I think about running and don't go, I feel guilty and regret it. Even if you have time or energy to only run a mile, that's better than sitting on the couch doing nothing.

6. Find a time to run that works for you. Before someone else finds something else they think is more important for you to be doing. My time happens to be at 6:00 am. What about you?

7. Fight through the pain. (unless it's an injury!)

Every time I go out to run, the first 1/2 mile kills me. I became quickly aware of this and now I remind myself that once I get past the first 1/2 mile, I'll feel much better. I usually feel another plateau around 3 miles, but I found the other day that once I hit 4 miles, it was much easier to keep going. Moral of the story? Fight through the plateaus and you'll be surprised at how strong you are.

8. Stay hydrated and eat well!!

Drinking tons of water is so important for running. I'm still a work in progress on this, but I feel much better when I drink more water. Eating is also important. Protein, fiber, and complex carbs will provide more energy and sustenance than refined and processed food. Also, the more you run, the hungrier you'll be, so stock up on good snacks. I've been a fruit craving machine since I started running. Especially berries. I should probably stop eating a nightly bowl of ice cream though.... ;-)

9. Get at least one outfit that is good quality running gear (and cute, too!)

Some good spanx on bottom (and top for the ladies), as well as a shirt that is comfy and breathable is important. Also keep in mind what type of weather you're running in. If it's 50 degrees or below, I wear pants and a t-shirt. 55-65 degrees I wear capris and a t-shirt. 65-73 degrees I wear capris and a tank. Anything above 74 degrees I'll wear shorts and a tank top. But that's my preference, in Missouri weather, for now.

10. Good shoes make a world of difference.

If you're going to run, and can only invest in one thing, invest in shoes. Would you drive a car on bald tires? Would you play a football game without pads? Would you swim without a swimsuit (don't answer that, please!) Whether it's running barefoot, running in five fingers/skeletoes, or running in tennis shoes, find something that works for you. Old, worn out, shoes will provide blisters, sore muscles, and achy joints. Not fun. I like my current shoes, but the more I run, the more I'm considering even more of a minimalist shoe. I have found that running with a toe strike alleviates alot of pain in my knees and ankles vs a heel strike.

Bonus: If running to music is your thing, put together a rockin' playlist that will keep you motivated. What's on mine? Favorites first:

-Na Na Na, My Chemical Romance
-Party Rock Anthem, LMFAO
-Starships, Nicki Manaj (wish it was edited better though)
-Throw It On Me, Timbaland
-Sexy And I Know It, LMFAO
-Good Feeling, Flo Rida
-You Make Me Feel Good, Cobra Starship
-La La La, LMFAO
-Stronger, Kelly Clarkson

Some others that I like alot:
Jump, Flo Rida
Let It Rock, Kevin Rudolf
Moves Like Jagger, Maroon 5
Gettin' Over You, David Guetta
Party Poison, My Chemical Romance
Boom Boom Pow, Black Eyed Peas
Imma Be, Black Eyed Peas
Never Again, Kelly Clarkson

And of course, the song I always play first, out of habit:

I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas

I may or may not change the words in my head to "today's gonna be a good run, today's gonna be a good good run." 

What's on your playlist? What are some things you've found to be successful as you've started running? I'd love to hear from ya!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Non-runner running: My Story

For months I have been searching for something to define me. When I was younger it was dance. Then teaching kindergarten. Then I got pregnant, moved, and had a baby. I haven't found anything since to define me.

I'm not very good at crafting.
Sewing is not appealing.
Making jewelry takes too long and is too frustrating (and expensive).
Photography is not my passion.
Every Mormon mom knows how to cook.
Competitive dancing is unrealistic with a child (in my mind).
"School teacher" and "stay at home mom" can't belong in the same sentence (unless you're home schooling).

And the list could go on.

Then one day a friend of mine invited me to start walking with her in the mornings. It felt amazing to be moving my body and chatting with a friend. Soon after we started talking about running. Running 5k's. Then half marathon's. Then she posted this video on my facebook:

It struck a chord deep inside. From the moment the video began, I knew I had to run a half marathon. 

Then life hit. 


I slacked off and stopped walking and running for a few days. My coping mechanism for the family turmoil I was experiencing became indulging in chocolate, sweets, snacks, and doing nothing. I gained a couple pounds and felt so emotionally and mentally drained I didn't want to function. This didn't last too long, but long enough for me to be really unhappy with myself. 

In the back of my mind I kept thinking about running. Wanting to, but not wanting to. Then one morning, with the support from my husband, I laced up my new shoes and took off for a run around the neighborhood. I had to take several walking breaks, but the defining moment was when I began jogging up a long, gradual hill. I pushed myself through the pain and didn't give up. I was so overcome with emotion when I reached the top, that a few tears came to my eyes. I believe it was a sort of a wake up call. 

I continued walking with my friend in the mornings and one night Scott and I decided to take a short run to grab a movie. Not wanting to look like a slacker, or weak, I tried to keep up with him. Lovingly, he kept a much slower pace than normal and stayed right by my side pushing me and encouraging me. Before I knew it, I had run nearly 3 miles without taking a walking break. 

I realized I was much stronger than I thought. 

In the days and weeks that followed, I started running when I could, which was mostly easy since Scott was on break from school. The week before he was to start classes again, he devised up a plan that had me running every morning before he left, and him running on campus between or after class. I was pretty hesitant, but I knew I wanted to run. Badly. It took me a couple weeks to get into a good groove and to realize I could wake up at 5:45 am to run. Every time my alarm clock beeped I thought: "If I don't get up and run, I will surely regret it. If I do get up and run, I'll be happy I did."

I still repeat that mantra every time my alarm beeps.

I've now been running consistently for 3 weeks. I don't consider myself a runner, yet. 

For me, running is free. 
It's an escape.
a coping mechanism.
something for me.
And symbolic of so many things in my life: 
my marriage
my little family
taking control of my life

When it gets hard, keep running.
When it hurts, keep running.
Fight through the pain and endure to the end. Never give up. You're stronger than you think.

Since I started running I have accomplished things I never thought possible. I never thought I would be able to run like I run. I never thought I would love running like I love it. I never thought I would crave going farther, pushing myself harder, just to beat my previous PR and see what my body is capable of. I never thought I would enjoy the physical pain that running can be. It helps numb the emotional pain that I've felt. When I think about the recent events that have happened, it only makes me fight harder. I feel conviction and passion. The anger and hurt fuels my body and pushes me forward. 

Running has given me confidence. I feel good about myself. I feel good about my body. I feel strong. I feel capable. I feel empowered.

Running for me is so much more than running.
It is everything I have been searching for.
It is everything I have been needing.
And boy, does it feel GOOD

p.s. I am officially signed up to run a 10k, another 5k, and a half marathon, between now and September. I'm so dang excited!