Virtual Run for Sherry

Guess what friends?! I am one step closer to completing one of my 2012 goals. Today I signed up for my very first 10K.

An instant PR! Gotta love it! This race is one week after my very first marathon. I am not sure how I will be feeling at that point, but I thought it would be a good recovery run and help keep me motivated for the Lakestride Half Marathon that is the following month.

I am getting all giddy knowing that I have some great races on the horizon. My heart is full of running love! Ha!

On a more serious note I wanted to bring attention to the story of Sherry Arnold. Sherry was a 43-year-old wife, mother, and teacher who left for a run in the early hours of January 7th and never returned. For days volunteers searched for any sign of Sherry, but only her right running shoe was found.

A week after she went missing a tip lead the FBI to two men. One of these men admitted to abducting Sherry one mile from her home and then killing her. Her horrific death has not only rocked her tight-knit community, but also the running community at large.

Beth of Shut Up and Run is Sherry Arnold’s cousin and she has set up a virtual race in her honor. The race will be held on February 11th at 9am and you can find more details here.

I encourage you to dedicate your run that day to Sherry. A woman who is like so many of us. Who had a passion for running and was loved by many. As Beth posted on her blog, “My goal is to get the MOST love, momentum and energy moving in honor of Sherry. This run symbolizes the beginning if healing and honors a woman who was courageous, strong and loved by so many.”

 

Three Things Thursday: Basketball, Charlie, and Wedding Bliss

I rarely do a ‘Three Things Thursday’ post, but today I had a few things on my chest that I wanted to tell ya’ll about. So here it goes:

  1. Forgive me running friends, for I have sinned. I skipped my 7 mile run last night. Normally I would feel really guilty about this (and there was a twinge of regret, but that lasted all of two seconds). Why did I blow off this training run you ask? Well I scored tickets to the Michigan State -vs- Minnesota basketball game. GO GREEN! I am sorry (not really), but I could not pass up the chance to see my boys play and to celebrate Tom Izzo’s 400th win. Nope. Wasn’t even a question. I tossed my running shoes aside and was Lansing bound without a look back. State won (68-52) and I had one of the best nights that I have had in a while.
  2. My niece is still in the hospital. She takes one step forward, two steps back. The doctors have decided to do a third (and hopefully final!) heart surgery and they are looking into scheduling that soon. I am so looking forward to the day when she will not be hooked up to so many IVs and can be a normal baby.
  3. My adorable and super creative photographer from my wedding recently posted a blog about my BIg Day. Big kudos to Emily-Waid Photography for capturing so many amazing memories. I hate getting my picture taken because I am super un-photogenic, but Jen, the photographer, worked around this and got some great shots. You can check out the blog featuring me and my handsome Italian here.

Your turn! Tell me one, two, or three things that is on your mind this Thursday…AND GO!

Marathon Training, One Month Down

I have officially been training for the Kalamazoo Marathon for well over a month so I thought that I would go a little bit in-depth and tell you how it is going so far. I will start by saying that I do not think that I could train for this race with out the help of Borgess Run Camp. I can not rave about this group enough. They are not only making this experience so much fun, but they are giving me so much support and confidence along the way.

There is no shame in acting like a complete dork at Run Camp.

TRAINING: As far as a training, I have decided to go with a low-mileage plan for a couple of reasons. The obvious one is that this is my very first marathon, uncharted territory if you will. I was also not logging in any serious mileage before I began training, so I want to make sure that the plan I follow is attainable. What I like about this plan is that it builds your mileage up, reigns you in, builds you back up, reigns you in, ect. I feel like this will help prevent me from burning out.

My goal is to run four days a week. Last week that looked like this:

Monday 1/16: 6 miles
Wednesday 1/18: 7 miles
Thursday 1/19: 4 miles
Saturday 1/21: 11 miles
Total : 28 miles

BODY: So far I am feeling great! My energy level has been good. My muscles and joints feel strong. No nagging aches or pains. I have been pretty religious with my dynamic warm-ups and stretching after my runs. I think that this has been a definite factor in helping my body stay feeling great. I have also been rocking my compression socks and I feel that they help aid in my muscle recovery after my long runs. The only complaint is that I developed my first blister on my toe after Saturday’s 11 mile run:-( I need to remember to use my body glide next time!

PACE: I am not going to lie, I am having a hard time with my pace. I keep reminding myself that I am not going for time with this race, but rather endurance. I love long runs. I would take a half marathon over a 5K any day! So as I am learning to adjust to these longer miles and distances that I have never ran before, I need to slow it down some. I am just afraid that I am losing some of the speed that I worked so hard for this summer.

My average runs have been in the 11:30 per mile range. Ouch! I know that I can do a little better than this, but one factor has been playing a major role in slowing me down. Nope, not the distance, but the weather! 

I am having a hard time trekking thru the snow and ice. I have been slowing it down to ensure that I stay safe and upright!

A lot of trails and sidewalks have not been plowed making it even more challenging to manoeuver around. I keep reminding myself that there is no shame in slowing down, and I will work on my speed when I begin training for my half marathon this summer.

To help my mind and body stay more focused on this goal I have been running sans GPS for most of my runs. Instead of focusing on the numbers on my watch, I have shifted that focus to how my body feels. Running a marathon is a big race for me and I want to make sure that I feel good throughout my training. I want to find a pace that works for me. One that I know I can run 26.2 miles with. It might be 11:30 minute miles and I am ok with that.

GROUP RUNS: I have been doing most of my training runs with a group of friends. This seems to be working very well for me and I explained why in my last post. Most importantly, group runs are making marathon training so much fun! I am truly having a blast out on the road with people who share the same passion for running that I do.

Overall training is going really well. I have over three and a half months to go before the big day so I hope that this trend continues. I am looking forward to the challenges and hard work that will come in the following weeks as I set out to tackle personal distance records.

Have you had struggles with your pace when training for longer distances? What is your favorite part of training for a race?

The Benefits of Running with Friends

I think that there is something magical about pounding the pavement alone. For me, it is a time to be quiet with my thoughts. A time to think through a problem, pray, or mediate on what is good in my life. It is a time where I can in vision an upcoming race, jam out to my ridiculously cheesy iPod playlist, or just zone out on life in general. These are often some of my favorite runs because my mind, body, and soul all seem to connect, if even for just a few short miles. Afterward, I often feel renewed.

They can also be some of the most challenging runs due to the fact that you are all by yourself and therefore it is up to you alone to get you through the aches, pains, boredom, heat, cold, fatigue, ect.

Sometimes running with a friend or a group is just what you need to keep going. These past few weeks I have been doing most of my runs with a group and it has been awesome. When I am training for something, in this case the Kalamazoo Marathon, I like to pound out my miles in a group setting and here are some reasons why:

  • Running with friends holds me accountable. Take last night for example. I had a four mile run on the agenda. By the time I got out of work it was freezing out! After a long day at the office I was exhausted, cold, and a tad bit cranky. If it was not for the fact that I had a run date set up, I am certain that I would have skipped my run and went home to veg on my couch instead. But I had made plans and I knew that I had someone waiting on me so I showed up. That was half the battle, just showing up. And I am glad I did because I felt so good after my run! It was nice to know that someone else was holding me accountable to stick to the plan. No excuses!
  • There is safety in numbers. At this time of the year in Michigan it is usually pitch black outside by 6pm. I don’t live in the safest of neighborhoods and I often feel uneasy running by myself. I feel so much better when I am running in a group. When there are five runners all lit up like Christmas trees, it easier for people in cars to see us and slow down. It is also a benefit to have others with you incase you get injured or hurt.
  • Learning new routes. When I am by myself, I often run a route that is around my house because it is what I know and what I am comfortable with. When I run in a group we often meet at different locations and we tend to mix up our routes for variety. A change of scenery is nice and keeps boredom at bay. Last night I ran around Western Michigan University’s campus and it was a nice change of pace. A lot has changed there since I went to school!
  • Meeting new people. I have met so many new faces since joining Run Camp. People from all different walks of life and of all ages with one thing in common, a love for running.
  • Learning new tricks of the trade.  When you are spending all that time out on the road with your running buddies, it gives you a perfect opportunity to talk about your favorite hobby, running of course! You can swap tips and knowledge on how to get the most of your GPS, how to survive an ice bath, your favorite brand of compression socks, and what cool and upcoming races there are.
  • Motivation. Your tired and sore and you are ready to call it quits. This is when running in a pack becomes the most beneficial. There is something so great about having a running partner there to encourage and motivate you. Someone to tell you that you’ve got this, only one more mile. Someone to tell you how awesome you are doing. Someone to tell you that….
  • Time flies when you are having fun. When I am running and chatting away with my run group, the miles fly by! I think that there is a big difference between 13 miles by yourself, verses 13 miles with company. When you are listening to a fellow runner telling a funny story or sharing your day with someone, you are focused on the conversation, not the miles. Before you know it your run is wrapping up and you put in a good two hours on the road!

As my miles increase, I am so happy that I have found such a core group of people to share the experience of marathon training with. I am learning so much and having so much fun in the process. I would love to hear how your training is going and if you enjoy running solo or with friends.

What are some reasons that you like running with friends? If you are a solo runner, what helps motivate you on your long runs?

Winter Training = Spring, Summer Racing

*Warning: this post may be all over the place because I am currently watching the very close in score Michigan-vs-Michigan State basketball game and I am shouting, “GO GREEN!” and jumping up in excitement every thirty seconds. It’s a little intense over here….

Ok, I am about a month into my marathon “training” (and I use that word loosely because I am terrible at following a too structured plan) and things are going really well. I basically went from running a little to training for the mother of races, the 26.2. I did not want to increase my mileage too fast and risk injury so for the past month I have ran only three times a week. Two mid-week runs (one of which being speedy-for-me pace) and a long Saturday run. I have also been walking, stretching, and doing some dynamic and core exercises.

We do lots of dynamic stretching at Run Camp

I feel that I have a good running base and this week I will add another day to my schedule, making it 4 days. I feel like from here on out things are going to get intense. Fun, but intense!

This past weekend I hit double digits on my long run. Yep, 10 cold, snowy, beautiful miles.

The roads were icy and so I took it slower than usual. Some of the roads on our route were a little challenging and not very well plowed. Navigating took a little extra work and caution, but totally worth the beauty of the winter morning. It was so, so pretty out!

The snow did not last long and by yesterday it was raining. Yep, only in Michigan can you have a snow, rain, sunshine, fog, 50 degrees to 15 degrees all with in a three-day span. I did six wet and rainy miles last night and my feet were sloshing in my shoes the whole time. Nice.

Oh, and then this happened today…

Dearest Ludington Lakestride Half Marathon, 

I am going to PR the hell out of your course, mmmmkay. 

Love, 

Amanda

This race will be a month after the Kalamazoo Marathon, so I am hoping that a PR is doable. It should be, right?! I am pretty excited, I hear that the course is beautiful (right along lake Michigan!).

So a recap: training is going well, I am ready to increase my mileage, my first ever marathon is in May, and a half (PR?!) marathon is in June. Good run-happenings on the horizon!

*Shit, F#*&, shit…Michigan State just lost by ONE point!   :-/ DANG IT!

Friday (the 13th!) Favorites

Happy Friday!! I don’t know about you, but this week seemed extra long. Maybe because of the fact that it was the first five-day work that I have had in a while. That’s ok. I put my game face on and conquered it and now it is FRIDAY! Yes! And it is not just any old Friday. Oh no. It is Friday the 13th!

Yep. That pretty much sums up how I feel about this superstitious day.

But lets not get all doom and gloom on this notoriously bad luck day. No way! There are things to celebrate! Let’s get down to it, my Friday Favorites:

  • Charlie Rocking her Second Heart Surgery: My sweet little niece is still in the hospital, but she is recovering nicely. Thank you again for all of your prayers and support for my little peanut. We are hoping to bring her home soon!
  • Google Reader: Where have I been? Seriously. Why did I just now discover this gem. I set up my google reader account this week and my life is now so much better. And no, that is not an exaggeration. All of my favorite blogs and websites in one tidy place. Yes please!

  • Breaking Bad:  Again, where have I been?! Joe and I started watching this show on Netflix and we are smitten. Totally hooked. The show is about Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with lung cancer. With only a couple of years to live he finds a new sort of power and fearlessness. In hopes of securing his family’s financial future after he passes, he begins to cook and sell meth. This show is super addicting (no pun intended…ok, it was intended!) and I recommend. Highly (this time no pun intended, I swear!)

  • Brooks Utopia Thermal Running Pants: So comfy! I bought these pants with some gift cards that I got for Christmas and I love them. They fit great and I think that they would be perfect to wear over my leggings on the super cold days (kinda like the tundra of a day that I woke up to this morning).

  • White Wine: After a long day, a glass of white wine does this body good.
  • What to Expect When You’re Expecting: My husband and I are total dorks and when drinking said wine we like to watch movie trailers on-line. Gosh, we are exciting. Anyways, this trailer had us both laughing out loud...
  • The Denver Broncos: Choo, Choo! All aboard the Tebow train! I can’t help it. I am a fan. I was jumping on my coach, Tom Cruise style, when they won this past weekend. Best. Game. Ever.
  •  Toms Ballet Flats: Mark your calendars ladies, Spring of 2012, our beloved Toms are coming out with ballet flats. I can’t choose a favorite. I want them all! (Yes, I know that this is in fact the true definition of first world problems.)

Your turn? What is rocking your world this Friday the 13? Are you superstitious? 
Any new movies that you are looking forward to? Who are you rooting for in the Playoffs? 

Sprinter

Sprinter - Feels like spring, but the calendar says that it is in fact winter.

Southwest Michigan is getting spoiled so far this season!  It has been unseasonably warm in the mitten state with the current temperature in the 50 degree range. Usually this time of year we are around the 20 degree range, so we are absolutely loving these Spring time temps.

I have yet to bust out my yaktrax and my winter boots and ice scraper for my car are currently collecting dust. I have been running with only long sleeve tech shirts, leaving the coat at home. It has been nice. But I am no fool. I know that this has to be the calm before the storm. There is in fact a storm heading our way. Today is supposed to be the last day of Sprinter before the ugly old man Winter comes back to claim his throne.

Tonight I am meeting up with my run group for one last hurrah before the snow hits. One last run without my coat, face gator, and  yaktrax. By this weekend, we might be back to this:

Yuck! I am not ready.

How is your winter training going? Do you run outside no matter what the conditions are?

2012 Goals

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was pretty good. On Saturday morning I did eight beautiful, hilly miles with my Run Group before heading to Ann Arbor to visit my niece Charlie. She is recovering from her second heart surgery nicely and was even moved out of the ICU today and into her own private room. YAY! This is such good news! Thank you for all of your prayer, encouraging words, and thoughts. They are working! I will keep you posted on her progress.

I also spent some time this weekend thinking about and establishing some goals that I would like to work on and accomplish in 2012. We talked in Run Camp this week about the importance of setting goals, writing them down, and taking ownership of them. There is so much power and accountability in putting your goals in writing. So without further ado, here is what I would like to focus on this year:

RUNNING GOALS:

  • To complete my very first marathon.  Boom! The Big One. The race that I have started training for. The race that scares me, excites me, and has been consuming my thoughts for the past year. 26.2, I am coming for you! I am not so much worried about time, but more about starting and finishing this race healthy. I have no idea what to expect, but I am so excited to work towards this goal and experience how the hard work will pay off.

Source.

  • PR a half marathon.  I already have a half marathon in mind (more on that later), and I am so excited to hopefully crush my current time of 2:28. I know that I have this in me. I love this distance and I am ready to see what I can do!
  • Run a 10k.  I have never ran a 10k and I would love to try one. Hey, an instant PR!

FITNESS GOALS:

  • Incorporate more strength training into my lifeYep. I talk about this, but I need to DO IT!
  • Take a spin class.  My husband LOVES his spin class, I know that it is a great cross-trainer, and I have always wanted to try it out. No more excuses. This year, I am getting on that bike, dang it!
  • Have arms that I am proud of.  This is kinda vain and lame, but I want toned arms. BAD! I don’t care about flat abs and I like my legs (thanks to running!), but my arms….I want to tone them. I will. This year. Done.

PERSONAL GOALS:

  • Buy a house.  Joe and I have finally saved enough money and we have been looking high and low for our first home. We have yet to find ‘the one’, but I feel that we are getting close. We both would like this to happen soon so that we can fill it with little ones!
  • Find a church home.   Despite both of us having the same beliefs, Joe and I grew up with different religious backgrounds and we are having a hard time finding a church that fits both of us. Our plan is to start visiting more churches until we find one that we can call home.
  • Spend more time with loved ones.  If I have learned anything in the past year, it is that life is short and fragile. It is important not to get too caught up in work and routine, and to make sure that you are spending time with the people who matter the most to you. This year I want to spend as much time with my mother as possible. I want to finally take that honeymoon with my husband. I want to schedule more girl weekends with my bestest.

I know that each  of these goals are very attainable. They are all rather simple and uncomplicated, they just take focus and dedication. I am super pumped to see what this year has in store. I think that this year is going to rock. You know why?…..

…..St. Patty’s day is on a Saturday this year! That means that I can start drinking green beer earlier because I do not have to go to work. Score!

…..It’s an election year. That means we have the power to rock the vote and make changes!

…..Kalamazoo is experiencing an unseasonably warm winter. Not scraping ice off of my windshield is a major win!

…..Oh, and I AM RUNNING A MARATHON THIS YEAR! (Deep breath!)

What is one goal that you would like to accomplish in 2012?

A Quick Update on Peanut

Charlie is out of surgery and in recovery. They were unable to do a complete repair today, but they did connect some collateral blood vessels which is going to help her breath better and help her with blood flow. Her blood pressure is perfect and her skin is pink which is a really good sign. They will schedule another surgery to finish the wonderful work that they have started. Today was a step in the right direction of baby Charlie being healed. God is so good!
 
Here is a picture of my sweet little niece taken at Christmas time:

I want to give you all a BIG THANK YOU! Your emails, tweets, and comments of support, kind words, prayers, and encouragement have meant so very much to me. Words do not even give justice to my heart of gratitude. Please know that it has touched me deeply.

Charlie is known for having setbacks in recovery, especially during the night, so please keep her in your prayers. I will keep you posted on how everything goes. Thank you again!

-Amanda

Charlie

Tonight I ran 5 miles with my run group and it was one of those awesome, winter runs. Cold, but not windy. My legs felt fresh. Pace felt good. (I left the GPS at home so who knows, I could have been super slow. But I FELT fast and strong!) It was fun chatting with friends the second half of the run, but for the first half I found my mind drifting to my niece Charlie. Charlie was born with a rare heart defect and has been in the hospital for the last month.

On Friday morning she goes in for a second open heart surgery. She is still in the hospital from her first heart surgery that she had on December 9th. In the middle of her first surgery they were able to repair some of her many heart issues, but then she had some complications and the doctors decided to close her up. They told my sister there was nothing more that they could do.

Prayers began pouring in. Charlie, being the fighter that she is, has overcome complication after complication. She has a very rare heart problem(s), problems that doctors have never seen before. Her surgery is uncharted territory.

A team of surgeons have studied Charlie’s case, and now they are prepared to open her back up on Friday morning for her second heart surgery. They told my sister today that she will probably have to have many more surgeries over the next few months in order to heal her. Ideally they would like to fix everything in one shot, but she is so young that they are not sure if her body could handle it all at once. They are also unsure of how complicated it will be until they open her up.

This little peanut has become such an inspiration for me. She is such a fighter. And her mother, my little sis, has also wowed me with her attitude and fight for her daughter. They both have had mountain after mountain placed in front of them, and they keep knocking them down.

I feel that no matter what challenges I face, I can channel something from them both. The fight, the determination. Whether it be going through a tough day at the office, or pushing through the mental block on long run, or dealing with any difficult situation, I am often reminded of the fight that my loved ones are going through and I find so much strength in them.

I want to thank you all for your comments, encouraging words, and prayers. They have meant the world to me. And they are working! Charlie has already beaten so many odds! God is good!

On Friday morning Charlie will need more prayers, so if you are the praying kind, I kindly ask you to say one for my sweet little niece. I thank you so much for reading her story and keeping her in your thoughts.

I will keep you posted on how everything goes. I will also be back soon with those New Year Goals! Promise! Still working on those;-) I am so excited for what 2012 will bring, and I hope that it will bring healing and good health more than anything.