A Leave of Absence

It’s been a while since I last took a complete week off from any form of exercise, until my doctor ordered it.  Last week was wonderful; I spent QT time with my family and enjoyed the Derby (mint juleps and all).  Thinking of Derby reminds me of Wedding Crashers:  What’s your favorite time of year Christmas or DERBY season?  Oooo pick me!  Derby season!  My hiatus came at the perfect moment.   My husband and I were able to go on a few dates and even drink together (something we rarely do).  Since the birth of my daughter I have not been able to relax when I am away from her until recently.  I was able to enjoy all the Derby festivities without constantly thinking of her.  I let loose and trusted she was okay without feeling guilty.  I have never bet the ponies but I thought What the hell this year.  The first horse I bet on was Sassy Image (because it reminded me of my daughter, of course) and I won $50.20 (I made note of this in her baby book)!  I have never won, this was a big moment.  Normally I do not like to bet because I’d rather put the money towards tangible items (such as shoes).  However, I was ready to let me hair down.  I continued to bet and throw back the good’ ol mix of bourbon, mint, water, and sugar.  I was me again (something I have not been in a very long time).  I was care free and goofy.  Although my husband would never admit it, I think he was secretly ecstatic to have the girl he dated in college back.  Having a child changes everything about a women’s demeanor and personality (maybe not everyone, but some of us).  Don’t get me wrong being a mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me (after all my kid is awesome) but it has made me up tight and full of worry.  It is nice to part ways with her and not feel the guilt that use to come with it.  Slowly but surely things are getting back to normal (whatever the hell normal is).

My husband did a wonderful job reminding me of what a wonderful mother I have become by making me a book.  He titled it, “Mommy and Me the First 16 Months,” By Sloane.  My heart melted as tears filled my eyes as I flipped through the pages.  It was neat to see the pictures he picked out and place accordingly throughout the book.  He wrote little sweet captions under each photograph.  He used Shutterfly to bring his unique idea to life.  It made me feel wanted and loved that he would take the time to make such a personal gift.  At times I question if I am making the right decisions for my daughter, Shane let me know I am by presenting me with my mother’s day gift.  It is priceless to me.  It was a great way to end my week off.  I value every moment spent with both Shane and Sloane (even the bad ones that end in sleepless nights).      

Now that my favorite time of year has come and gone, I am back to the running grind.  I started training for the Indy marathon (November 5, 2011) on Monday.   My body is feeling much better but it is not 100%.  My normal base pace is 8:30 and the last 2 days it has been closer to 9:15.  My legs are still fatigued from the Boston and Derby marathons (I am sure the mint juleps did not aid in my recovery).  I am confident with time my body will gradually return to its ordinary self.  To quote Marshall Ulrich, “I can feel my body turning into a running machine.”  As this process takes place it will bring pain, discomfort and fatigue 100% guaranteed (I have been reading too many Dr. Seuss books lately).  I am approaching training differently this time around (focused on hill repeats and intervals).  I am determined to hit 3:27 or less (I would love to be under 3:20, but I am taking baby steps).  I want to secure my spot in Boston 2013 (I will have to miss 2012 because we are planning another love child).  I would also like to run NY City by qualifying (3:23 marathon or 1:37 half marathon).  I would never buy my way into a race (I am thankful for those who do because they keep the road races alive).  I have too much pride to not at least try for a goal time. 

Here’s to the next 179 days leading up to the Indy Marathon!

 Training log:

5 minute Dynamic Warm-Up

Morning Base Run 4 miles

Drills – 20 seconds run with no arms & 20 seconds 1 leg hop

Evening 30 minute recovery run @ recovery pace

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Renewed

“It hurts up to a point and then it doesn’t get any worse.”  –  Ann Trason

I can finally touch my toes!  The last couple of days I have been moving like a feeble person and experienced disturbed sleep.  Something wonderful happened yesterday, I was able to see Dr. Kyle Bowling.  He helped me tremendously on the road to Boston and now he is aiding in my recovery.  The most intriguing thing about his practice is his ability to help patients recover and maintain health long enough not to repetitively return.  Most businesses survive on returning patients (however, if the patient returns often he would not be doing his job).  He implements a variety of techniques to help remove scar tissue and improve range of motion (ROM).   I am walking proof that seeking treatment can change how your body feels within one day.  For the first time in 5 days I can run up a set of stairs (I have to climb a flight of stairs every day to my office).  On Monday I was winded when I reached the top leaving little strength to open the door (this continued through the week).  Today I jogged up the stairs with little pain/soreness in my legs (awe, what a refreshing moment).  I am not 100% but I am now on my way.  Most runners (me included) are use to feeling sore and tired so often we never seek treatment.   What’s the point if I am going to go pound the road again and again? 

I have learned when I am healthy I have my best runs, no heavy legs or exhaustion involved.  Before I started treatment I was conditioned to run through any and all pain (isn’t that part of running).  Once I was introduced to Dr. Bowling through Derby City Crossfit my mind set on running changed.  He taught me to care for my well being through education.  He provided certain exercises to strengthen my hip flexors, IT bands, and knees.  He’s advice has paid off (after all I had a PR on one of the toughest marathon courses in America).  There is no reason for any athlete to perform in pain.  There are options to help you stay in tip-top shape; you just have to find what works for you.  I want to continue to run on into my 80”s, 90’s, 100’s (if I live that long).  I know in order to do so I must take care of my soft tissues and joints.  I am still stubborn but I am learning slowly when to take it easy.

I am cleared to run this Monday and I wasn’t sure I was going to be capable of doing so until today.  Through the help of Kentucky Sports Chiropractics I know I will heal and continue to run as much as I possibly can.  Thank you (Dr. Bowling) for allowing me to do what I love.

Happy running!

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The Results Are In

“Listen to your body. Do not be a blind and deaf tenant.” – Dr. George Sheehan

For all you extreme runners out there listen to your body.  I listen to my body when I am training but it is hard for me to fully tune in on race day.  When the going gets tough I typically ignore.  After I conquered 2 marathons in 10 days (yes this was on my bucket list, I needed to know how it felt to run on truly fatigued legs if I was ever going to run an ultra) my body was left mangled.   I had the normal fatigue and pain that comes with marathon running and then some.  My abdomen was tender to the touch and grew with pain whenever I attempted to eat or walk (it is getting better).  On Monday I saw my doctor (a man I don’t care to see too often, it has been 6 years since we last met) to examine my body.  After blood work and an ultrasound the results are in and I am going to live (yay)!  I should not make light of my situation, it takes one hell of a runner to know when enough is enough and clearly I did not.  My mother and in-laws think I am selfish and should think of my family before taking on these endeavors but it is who I am.  I do think of my family (often) and I know I am making the right decisions for them and for me.  I have always thought of myself as invincible when I run because I train, hydrate and eat properly.  I care for myself and take time off when needed.  However, after the 2 marathon extravaganza I was reminded that I am still human and I have limits.  The body is an amazing thing.  It can take us where ever we want to go and it can keep us from going anywhere. 

Today my doctor informed me he found high levels of muscle enzymes in my blood.  He believes my cramping is due to dehydration (causing my GI and colon to become inflamed due to a lack of blood and water during prolonged activity).  The significant tears in my muscles forced most of the water and blood in my body to feed the muscles and repair damaged cells.  Leaving my organs and GI track deprived of both.  He also believes this is why I had trouble taking in fluids around mile 20 (my body was trying to warn me something was wrong and I needed to stop or slow down).  Of course I did not listen fully.  I slowed down a little and came to terms with not setting a PR.  I began solving math problems to ensure I had not lost my cognitive ability.  I could think clearly and speak fluently all the way to the chute.  I knew I was hurting but it didn’t seem that bad.  I have learned in this small experience to not take life for granted. 

Happy running!

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.” –

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KDF Marathon – Push to the Brink

For a moment I thought I could be like Dean Karnazes or Marshall Ulrich, boy was I wrong.  After my high from Boston I knew I could handle running yet another 26.2 miles 10 days post Boston.  Why not?  My body felt amazing besides some general fatigue and I wanted to PR again (it is such a great feeling)!  I figured I could get under a 3:30 because I felt so well after Boston.  I almost felt like I held back too much at the beginning of the race but I was still over the moon with my finishing time, 3:32:50.  This Saturday morning I laced my Kinvara’s up and headed to the start of the Kentucky Derby Marathon.  I began the race with my husband (which was a first for me, I have never started any race with another person).  It was nice to have him there but I think it forced me to count on him.  I like the independence of running (that’s a big part of why I do it) and having others I know around me takes that away.  He was enjoyable to have alongside me but it was definitely different.  Around mile 6 I told him I wasn’t sure I was capable of finishing the entire 26.2 miles and if I did my pace would be closer to 4 hours.  Another first happend to me, I had to stop to remove my KT tape which was falling off (I wear it almost every run and it has never come off).  The tape lead to the bottom of my foot which meant I had to take my shoes and socks off in order to remove the tape (this cost me valuable time, about a minute).  My husband was nice enough to stop with me (he is much more thoughtful than I).  At mile 8 we went on our separate ways, he headed left with the mini marathoners and I headed right with the 1564 other marathoners.  The course was lonely and the sun was hot.  Coming from Boston to this was a huge change.  There were little to no spectators, the water stations lacked volunteers (forcing us to pick up our own drinks which cost time and congestion among the runners), there was no consistency (example, some water stops had bottles, others plastic cups (which do not bend making it hard to take a drink without spilling it all over the place), some were stocked with paper cups (my favorite) and the course was odd (the first 11 miles were completely flat (which kills my hips and causes me to loose form), then rolling hills for about 5 miles, flat again until mile 20 and then 3 rather large hills during the last push).

I was thankful to see the park because we would be running hills (I excel in hill running).  There is something about running up and down that helps me maintain form.  I picked up the pace in the park dropping below an 8 minute mile.  It felt good to have my second wind.  For a few moments I thought, “Maybe I could pull this off, and PR.”   At that very moment my shoe string became un-tied forcing me to stop again (2 stops in one race, you have got to be kidding me)!  I have never stopped to pee, take a drink or mess with a shoe until now.  Stopping only made me run faster to make up for time lost.  On a positive note the park was beautiful and provided protection from the sun and headwind.  There was a drunken man in the park singing to the top of his lungs, “Hey runners, you have running shoes, I have Jim Beam….”  I think he scared a few of the others because they quickly moved left when they saw him.  I moved closer to the right and extended my hand and we engaged in a high-five.  He may have been drunk but he was refreshing for me.  Up until that point I have not seen very many “cheering” spectators.  I’ll take what I can get.  While in the park I was amazed at how much other runners run back and forth instead up keeping a straight line.  The park is full of hilly turns, my plan was to stay in the center of the road and not hug neither the left or right turns (this way I would use less energy).  I had 8 other runners within in my view and 3 of them were close to me.  As we would turn right all of them would cut in front of me to hug the inside and then the course would take a quick left and they would all come back across to hug the left side.  I watched and laughed as they wasted an emense amount of energy.  For the entire 5 miles I stayed in the center of the road (all of them were well aware I was there, or so I thought).  The woman who continued to weave back and forth almost caused me to knock her over (I really thought about it).  As we were approaching a strong right turn I was in the center and she was off to the left.  The moment I saw the turn I knew she would be coming in my direction.  I picked up pace because I didn’t want to be cut off yet again.  As she cut in front of me I could hear her labored breathing; I didn’t think she would be able to keep the same pace as I for long.  As we entered the turn she came right across, as if she were a car cutting me off, and slowed down right in front of me.  I almost lost my footing because I did not expect her to almost stop (there was about an 1 inch space between us).  My initial reaction was to push her in the back and then I asked myself, “What would Jesus do?!”  She is lucky I found God or she would have ate asphalt.  I moved a little to the left to pass her.  She dropped off far behind me (thank God)!

As we exited the park my legs and knees began to lock up.  For the first time in my running career I envisioned myself being carried away on a stretcher.  It took everything in me to keep form and keep my legs moving forward.   I never thought about quitting or slowing down.  To me 26 miles no longer seems that far of a distance.  I figured I could get through it (or have an EMS escort) but I was not going to quit by choice.   I was not well but I was able to carry on until mile 20.  Around that time I lost the ability to get down any fluids.  My stomach knotted up (it felt as if I had 20 side stitches at once).  For the following 6 miles I swooshed the water around my mouth and then spit it out.  I tried to swallow it when I could but it seemed to aggravate my stomach even more.  The final 4 miles I felt no pain just the will to complete the race.  I focused on finishing and holding my daughter; I imagined how good it would feel to be done.  I couldn’t wait to stop and take a real drink of water. 

At mile 21 we headed up Barret hill (a hill I have ran many times during training and it is murder).  Prior to the hill I heard many voices chatter around me, “Are we going up that?! F***!”  As I began to power up the hill a girl in front of me yelled, “Dad, come on you got this.  Let’s go.”  The girl was barely jogging and her father was walking up the massive hill.  He turned and we caught eyes.  His face said everything I wanted to, he was miserable.  As I approached I scream, “Less than a 5K, that’s it!  It’s a walk in the park.  Come on!”  The girl said thank you as her dad return to running.  I feed off the energy we exchanged.  I hope the duo was able to keep running to the finish. 

When I hit the chute I picked my feet up and sprinted until the end.  Upon finishing an EMT asked me if I was okay.  My response was, “Yeah, I’m great, but I don’t think I can reach my feet and I need to loosen my shoes.  Can you help me?”  I think the EMT thought I was kidding because all he did was smile and tell me to keep moving along.  I could feel my feet swelling with each step.  I was beginning to think my feet may ripe through the shoes.  I was starting to panic because I could not get to my feet.  I finally spotted an empty table (the trick was getting my leg up high enough to prop my foot on top of it).  I literally picked my leg up with my arms and placed it gently on the table top.  I was finally able to reach my feet and loosen my shoe strings. “Awwwwwe!”

The finish chute was confusing to maneuver through.  I kept looking for an exit or a face I recognized in the crowd.  I saw no one.  The finish area was one big party (it was clear the race director put most of the marathon funds into the post party).  I was in too much pain to enjoy the finish festival (personally I think the post party money should have gone towards the race).  I quickly looked everywhere to find a way out and to reunite with my family.  I needed a familiar face to console my worn soul.  I began walking back to the hotel hoping to find a friend along the way.  I ended up seeing my cousin and a friend approaching the finish of their first mini marathon (they both walked the entire thing, talk about pure endurance), my other cousin racing down the street to see them finish, and an old co-worker.  I had yet to find my husband and mom; I was in need of a warm welcome. 

Soon after I made my way into the hotel room my husband arrived.  He had missed my finish, I know it wasn’t his fault but I was disappointed he wasn’t there (mainly because I was in so much pain).  Eventually everyone showed up to the room to enjoy breakfast, drink bloody mary’s/mimosa’s, take photos and rehash race day.  We had a lot of first timers and it was refreshing to see their enthusiasm for the sport.  Three in our group had PRs which meant a lot to them.  Unfortunately I could not join in on all the fun, eating and drinking.  My stomach was uneasy and full of pain.  I spent most of the afternoon in the bathroom.  I thought I was suffering from runner’s trots which last about 24 hours. 

When I woke up on Sunday morning the pain in my abdomen had intensified.  It hurt to walk, laugh, cough, and go to the bathroom.  I knew something was wrong but I kept telling myself it was just a pulled muscle.  I thought for sure the pain would subside by Monday however it did not.  I ended up in the doctor’s office (who I have not seen in 6 years!  He let me have it) that day.  At this point he thinks I am suffering from an inflamed colon which can be cause by dehydration and BMIs.  Race day was hot which lead him to the assumption that I was unable to consume the same amount of water my body was losing (this can aggravate certain organs).  He ran some labs and I had an ultrasound this morning, now it is just the waiting game.  I never thought that this could happen to me.  I have always felt strong as a runner and in tune with my body.  I try to listen but when a potential PR is dangling in front of me it is hard to hear.  I hate quitting and I am learning my physical limits.  I have a long way to go and some time off to think about it.  I have 24 weeks before my next marathon and by then I will be recovered and ready to hit the ground running.  This is only a small bump in the road.        

Placement:

156 out of 1561 – Overall

17 out of 554 – Women

7 out of 99 – Division

post KFD marathon

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No Rest for the Weary

“Ability is what you are capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it.”
– Lou Holtz

Last night I returned to the “thing” I love, running (no rest for the weary).  My husband and I ran from our house to Fleet Feet to join the Wednesday night group run.  The usual crowd was there.  The few people I run with welcomed me by congratulating me on my first Boston.  As I headed back to the bathroom the owner of the store yelled my name.  He processed to tell everyone I had completed Boston.  On moment later they all cheered and clapped for me.  It was nice to have so many individuals say congrats but at the same time I do not like attention (I hated my baby showers because people were looking at me.  I like to blend in).  I blushed terribly and darted for the bathroom.  I am not the type to wear my medal the rest of the day post race and on into the following day after competing.  I rarely wear the swag too close to the race either.  I understand why people like to though.  For me personally, I like keeping it a secret.  It is fun for me to see others and think, “They have no idea what I have just done.”  I did wear my Boston Marathon jacket around Boston leading up to the race.  It was neat because all the other runners wore their jackets too.  We could give a head nod or a, “Nice work,” to each other.  There was no guessing in Boston who ran and who did not.  A couple of the people I pace with commented on the fact I was wearing a Philadelphia Marathon tech shirt from 2006 and not a Boston shirt (I did have on my Boston logo shorts because my Nike shorts weren’t dry).  I laughed and pointed to my shorts.  My first Boston moment had come and gone.  I have a few apparel items, coffee mug, medal, and photographs to remind me of the greatest running experience I have ever had.  It is time to focus on the KY Derby Marathon, only 8 days away.

As we began running into the hilly parks of Louisville my legs grew heavy and tired within the first half of a mile.  I was not experiencing pain just heavy legs (everyone who runs knows what I am talking about).  It is an awful feeling.  I felt like I was picking my feet up as high as I could but they were only going a few inches off the ground.  Our group ran off in front of us as Shane and I stayed back at an 8:24 pace.  Overall I felt good, just tired and fatigued.  It was nice running next to my husband.  He and I were able to talk about things, nothing important.  We spoke a little about the Ironman and his plan to start training more intensely, our daughter, our trip to Boston, work and life.  I am blessed to have found my perfect match.  He understands and accepts me in a way I did not think was possible (as he says, “We are two peas in a pod”). 

Our group waited for us to catch up at the end of our run.  We gave each other high-fives and congratulated everyone on a good run.  The men and women I run with every Wednesday and Saturday are remarkable people.  They are supportive and cheerful most days.  Running is a great way to get to know someone.  You are with each other when times get tough and when times are magnificent.  When one of us is down the other one picks us up.  We never allow each other to quit.  I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know everyone in our group over the past few months.  It is a mix of men and women ages 23 to mid 40’s.  We have a movie buff who always suggest great movies each week, the smart college grad student who is witty, a young girl who is always positive (and very speedy), and of course the funny guy who always like to have a good time.  Everyone adds a little something different to our runs.  I must say, “Thank you,” to our little group for helping me on my road to Boston, you made the long runs not seem so long! 

8 more ‘til my next marathon…..

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Marathon #2 (within 10 days of each other)

“Tomorrow is another day, and there will be another battle!” – Sebastian Coe

I have never trained for back-to-back marathons.  I ran Boston on April 18th and the Kentucky Derby Marathon is approaching (this Saturday).  Initially my plans were to race my heart out in Boston and run the Derby Marathon for fun (no worries about pace or time).  However, something changed in Boston.  After the grueling 26.2 miles of constant decline in elevation and enduring Heartbreak Hill, I felt like a million bucks!  Not once did I hit the wall nor did I think about quitting (this is a first for me).  I ran with my heart and paced myself the entire way (by pace I mean when the road was flat I ran faster and when I was going up or down hill I held back).  I took the advice of the pros and kept my feet under my hips with a slight lean forward.  Each step I took my mid-foot struck the ground (saving my legs) followed by a quick turnover (well, quick for me).  All the studying pre-Boston paid off because I had a great race with a great finish.  The Tuesday following Boston I still felt good, my legs were “tired” but not sore or in pain.  Over all my body felt amazing considering what I had just put it through.  I realized I could potentially race the KY Marathon maybe even PR (better than a 3:32).  I had a few training challenges in front of me, “How do I maintain my running without overtraining.  How do I run and recovery at the same time within 10 days?”  I still do not have the answer but I hope I have made smart and sensible decisions recently. 

My approach has been SLOW and steady runs (more of a jog).  I ran 7 miles (8:40 pace) 2 days post Boston, took Thurs off, Crossfit on Friday (plyos and stretches), 6 mile recovery run on Saturday (8:30 pace), took Sunday off, 6.5 mile recovery run (8:48 pace) on Monday, Tuesday went to hot yoga, took Wednesday off, Thursday 3 mile morning run with hot yoga in the evening, Friday 3 mile recovery run (is planned) and Saturday is race day once more.  I normally do not go to yoga (mainly because I can’t afford it) but I had no choice after my Monday night fall.  That’s right, I ate asphalt (and part of a tree).  I saw the curb I tripped over but was not able to pick my feet up high enough to maneuver over it.  Within the first .12 miles of my run I was flying in mid air and crashed onto the sidewalk and landed partly on a tree.  I quickly picked myself up and ran a few blocks up the road (I was so embarrassed I didn’t want anyone to see me.  It hurt my pride more than anything).  Once I felt like I was far enough away from the accident I stopped to examine myself.  My left leg and arm were sore, bruising had begun and I had a little road rash (which I am completely okay with).  Nothing appeared to be broken or out of place so I continued on.  My left arm throbbed the entire way as it began to swell.  I think God felt bad for me because he held the strong thunderstorms off until I step onto my porch.  At that moment the grey sky unleashed sheets of rain and high winds.  In one run lasting less than an hour I learned, “You win some and loose some.”

The following day I noticed the fall hurt my body more than I knew.  When I awoke my neck and shoulders were tight and sore, my left elbow was sore to the touch and my legs were bruised worse than I remembered.  I assume I tensed up on the way to the ground.  It was like having DOMS (but not from running).  I was worried my fall could throw a wrench into racing the marathon.  My solution was hot yoga.  I use to go to yoga all the time and rarely suffered from injuries.  Since I gave birth to Sloane there is little time and money for extra activities (it was run or yoga but not both).  I forgot how slow and calming the classes are (and how extreme the heat is).   I enjoyed stretching and the warmth of the room but I did not have the patience for the duration (it was a test of pure endurance).  Before I had a family and it was just me I had all the time in the world.  Now that the world does not revolve around me I am constantly thinking about all the things I need to do or should be doing.  It was tough for me to relax the full hour and thirty minutes.  I wish I could enjoy it the way I use to.  I made it through the lengthy class and was happy with the results.  The next day I felt renewed.  I was no longer locked up, the only evidence of my fall was a little tenderness. 

After weeks of severe weather this morning was nothing but clear skies (it was nice to see the sun again)!  I was excited to lace my shoes up and run in the clear without wind or rain.  The morning was cooler than I expected, 46 degrees with a nice breeze.  For the first time since Boston I did not feel like I was picking bricks up with every step.  I was able to move swiftly (what a great feeling).   I only covered 3 miles but it was better than nothing.  I am returning to the 180 degree room at hot yoga tonight for one final stretch before the Kentucky Derby Marathon.  I hope I was able to maintain my running ability and recover at the same.  I will soon find out, until then happy running!

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It Always Starts Small

As of late I have been reading books written by top ultra marathon runners (distances exceeding 50 miles).  I am currently fully engaged in Running on Empty by Marshall Ulrich.  His story isn’t as colorful or motivating as Dean Karnazes but it is a realistic and relatable tale.   He gives a unique look into his life which is completely unfiltered (from his verbiage to his experiences).  So far I have gained respect for him and lost it all at the same time.  I am in all of his running career which started late in his life but disappointed in his ability to put his family first (again his story is very realistic).  He started running to cope with the stress caused by his wife’s terminal illness.  Soon after she passed away his addiction morphed into a full time job. 

The individuals depicted in each book seem to have a few things in common; middle aged, lost, excessive personalities (they do not half ass anything), determined (they push pass any wall 100 times over), a true love for the great outdoors, enjoy living outside of their comfort zone (somehow this makes them feel alive), introverts (they are not flashy nor do they need a trophy or medal to prove they have completed a task) and their love affair with running started small.  Most of them started with 5k’s or running to improve their health or running through a drunken stooper.  Most of them were never the track star at their high schools or colleges.  They are just people who set high expectation for themselves.  Running starts much like a small seed, which seems to grow slowly at first but soon cultivates out of control (almost like a weed).  The addiction becomes unruly.   I have always thought I was different until I started reading books profiling “normal” people who are runners.  Their lives on the outside are no different than the people I am friends with, work for, and meet daily.  On the inside however they have a secret, a passion for running.  Whether they admit it or not they spend most days checking the weather, looking for new adventures to push pass a pervious mileage or pace, day dream about completing a mission no one has tried before or few have succeeded in, and live each day for the moment they can step outside and begin putting one foot in front of the other.  I know because each year I run and each goal I meet I crave for more (something bigger and better). 

Compared to the runners I am reading about I am young.  Their running addiction started later in life (typically due to a tragedy or some sort of an awaking).  I am no different.  From a young age I experienced loss and no one taught me how to cope with it (mainly because I didn’t want help).  I pretended as if all those who left me went on vacation.  At the age of seven my mom was diagnosed with cancer (given a 1% chance to live through surgery) and my best friend was killed in a bus wreck.  I remember going to his funeral and not being able to cry because he didn’t feel gone (his mother passed away recently which makes me smile because she is finally at peace with her baby boy).  I had a very hard time understanding death and the afterlife, which forced me to ignore it.  In middle school I lost another friend to drugs, in high school a close friend was hit by a car while waiting for a ride, and my senior year a friend ran off the road and hit a tree.  I continued to bottle all my fears of death and anger up.  I drank my despair away, until there was no more pain to feel.  I was throwing my life away because I had no idea how to live without those I cared so much about.  By the time I began picking the pieces up and putting myself back together I lost a relationship I once valued.  This was my breaking point, I began running.  I took my anger out on the pavement beneath my feet and it felt incredible.      

I ran Chicago, Louisville (many times), Philadelphia, Columbus and Boston.  It seems the more I run the more of a challenge I want but I have no idea how to go about it.  I am reading about the great ultra marathoners in hopes to figure out how to make it happen.  My thoughts tend to get a head of where I am physically.  How can I run 100+ mile race and hold my family together?  How can I train and work?  How do I get the appropriate funds and still save money for my daughter’s future?  We are young, which means we have little disposable income to support my habit.  Today I realize I have all the time in the world and I can do things one step at a time (I no longer fear death, my heaven is running).  At this point the farthest I have run is 27 miles.  I log about 35-40 miles a week currently (mainly because that is all I have time for if I want to see my husband and child).  This week I am doing something I have never done before which is run two marathons within 10 days of each other (this is the beginning of my ultra marathon addiction, I can feel it).  Following this I plan to run a 50 miler, 100 miler, run from Louisville to Lexington, run across the state of Kentucky, and maybe one day run Western States.  My plan or list (whatever you want to call it) may take me 1 year, 5 years or a decade, who knows.  The one thing I do know is I will complete any and all challenges I set for myself because that is who I am and that is what I do. 

I look forward to meeting you (meaning the Kentucky Derby Marathon) head on this weekend.  I will show no mercy as I move across the 26.2 miles of our city.  Here’s to determination and pushing your internal limits to their brink.  There is no stopping the truly determined.  This is what I live for.

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