"Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don't have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Gary Bjorkland Half Marathon (aka Grandma's)

Alright folks.....here's a race pic :)

The weekend festivities began on Friday, October 18th. Jeremy and I got up at 6:00AM to get a light run hammered out prior to our road trip to Duluth. After a nice run, and a quick shower, our friends Trey and Patrick came over, and the four of us took off for Duluth. We visited the marathon expo, got our bib numbers and chips, and took advantage of the free food! Jeremy made a nice sock purchase--and we were race ready.

We checked into the hotel, grabbed some grub, and made our way back to the boat to cheer on Patrick, who was running his debute 5k race!!! It was so fun to cheer him on in his first running endeavor. We also met up with Dave Mowers, and two new friends, Eric and Rachel who were prepping for their first marathon. We had dinner, and went back to the hotel to crash for the night.

Saturday morning--Trey, Jeremy, and I got up at 3:45AM (yeah, gross, you're telling me), and fueled our bodies, and hopped on the bus to the start line. Race conditions were not perfect, but far better than last year! At 6:30AM it was a hopeful 64 degrees, with a 15mph windspeed. Much better compared to last years 78 degree start! The trouble with the wind was that the course is pretty much a straight shot, so we had the wind working against us for most of the race. However, as I mentioned before--far happier with these conditions! I felt strong and in control of this race. I wasn't sure how I would do at this race, given I had never completed the half marathon. I arrived with a mission....my mission was to beat my time from the Minneapolis Half Marathon, two weeks prior. My time from Mpls was 1:44:40. How did I fare at Grandma's you ask? 1:41:23 (average pace: 7:45/mile). I'll take that!

So here are the stats:
Time: 1:41:23
Divison Place: 90/1890
Sex Place: 122/3324

This race left me feeling very encouraged! I have another half marathon in two weeks (the Red White and Boom Half Marathon, on July 4th). This is going to be a tough course. Not looking to PR, just chalking it up as an extremely challenging training run through NE Minneapolis.

After our race, Trey, Jeremy, and I went back to the hotel to shower, and then made it back to the race to cheer on Eric and Rachel, as they completed their first marathon! Between Jeremy, Trey, Patrick, Dave, Rachel, Eric, and myself, we covered every race offered this past weekend in Duluth (minus the Whippersnapper for lil kids).

However, this blog cannot come to an end without mentioning the incredible effort exuded by my buff husband! Jeremy has done his road races a little backwards.....his first road race was the Chicago Marathon, following the Turkey Trot 5k, and now this half marathon! ;) Prior to the race, I had asked Jeremy what I thought he was looking at for a finishing time. He mentioned 2:15ish. To be honest, in my head, I was leading more towards 2:20ish for him. He pulled out some incredible mental toughness and physical strength, and finished with a fabulous 1:59:38!!! That is a 9:08/mile average for 13.1 miles! He blew it out of the water! WOWZERS!!!!!!!! I couldn't be more proud of his accomplishment. If you see my husband, be sure to tip your hat to him and say, "well done sir." What's next for him, you may be wondering? Me too :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I Haven't Much to Say as of Late........

To my faithful blog readers, if there are any out there (other than my charming husband), I apologize for my absence in blogging. To be quite honest, I haven't had much to report. It is tough to beat the bird story, and I haven't had a race lately. I do however, have the Gary Bjorkland (aka Grandma's) Half Marathon coming up this weekend! I am very much looking forward to this half, as my husband, and friends Trey and Dave will be running as well. One of my co-workers, Shannon, will be running as well, and this will be her first half marathon. I'm convinced she'll be hooked after this.

My training bud, Trey, and I, scoped out the Red White and Boom Course on Sunday. WOWZERS. I'm going to be honest and say that is the most difficult looking course I have seen. There are multiple ginormous hills on that half marathon course. There is one hill in particular, in a neighborhood called Demming Heights. Demming Heights?! Doesn't that just sound like someone's about to get slaughtered (or at least someone's legs)? It will be fine, and we will all finish. However, I am anticipating my slowest half marathon time. I'm simply chalking it up as a tough training run--only further preparing me for Chicago, come October.

My mileage has looked good this week. Since the bird attack on Saturday, I pushed my long run back to Sunday. I hammered out a 13 miler that felt good. Monday I ran a comfortable 5 miler; however, it was evident that my legs were dead tired from Sunday still. Tuesday I ran a little over 5 miles on the indoor track at Lifetime, because it was raining like crazy. After the lovely track run (please note the lack of enthusiasm towards an indoor run), I suited up and did five down and back laps in the pool. I thought I was doing pretty good, until I realized that it's not an olympic size pool! I'll celebrate my mini-victories I guess. After the swim, I changed back into my sweaty running clothes and pounded out 15 minutes on the bike. I guess you could say I did my own triathlon on Tuesday--only very out of order! Then to top off my fabulous Tuesday, that evening Jeremy and I went and did some rock climbing and bouldering at the Lifetime Fitness in Plymouth! That was a great upper body challenge. I didn't stay on the wall long, but it was a nice change of pace in regards to strength training. Looking forward to going again! Wednesday I was back on the road, doing a quick 5 miler. Today (Thursday), you would have thought the pavement was on fire! I ran 6 miles, and held an average 7:27 pace. It's been a while since I've done that. Maple Grove doesn't allow for fast times given there is virtually no flat terrain. What doesn't kill me will make me stronger I guess.

We hit the road tomorrow at 8AM for Duluth. The race starts at 6:30AM on Saturday morning. Should be a great day for a run along the shore :)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Alfred Hitchcock's "Birds" Takes Over Maple Grove!

What a story I have for you folks today! So my husband Jeremy and I are running the Bjorkland Half Marathon (aka Grandma's up in Duluth, MN) next Saturday (June 19th). We have been training. Some days better than others. Well one day, Jeremy went for a run, and he came home telling me as he was running around the lake, a black bird dove at him, and attacked his head. I did not believe him. Well, maybe I believed him, but I thought maybe he had fabricated the story a bit. He then goes on another run, this time the other way around the lake. He spots the tree, and the bird, and once again the bird comes diving at his head. This time he swatted it away, so it didn't attack him. He comes home, and tells me the story. Now this seems odd for lovely Maple Grove. Is there really a psycho, Alfred Hitchcock bird in Maple Grove?! Or does my husband just want to get out of his run?! Finally, Jeremy, Becky Paulson, and myself decide to take Brodie for a walk around the lake. As we get to the infamous killer bird zone, I'm wondering if we're going to get attacked or wondering if Jeremy's going to tell the story again. As we near the bend, where the bird sits atop a tree, we see not one, but TWO hand written signs reading the following:

"Beware, black bird diving at peoples heads. At your own risk!"

How funny is that? Someone who lives near the lake took it upon themselves to warn fellow runners/walkers/rollerbladers/bikers that there is a crazy bird diving at people. The three of us cautiously walked through the danger zone, flinching at any bird we saw in a tree or in the sky. I am happy to report we made it through, without a bird attacking any of us.

But the story is not over. Yesterday, I decided to go for a run around the lake. Knowing full well I would put myself in the danger zone, I made a decision ahead of time. If the signs were still there, I would turn around and run a different path. If the signs WEREN'T there, maybe someone took it upon themselves to shoot the bird, in order to protect their fellow Maple Grovians. As I came upon the bird's hiding place. My entire focus was on the tree I suspected the bird was hiding in. To my surprise, there were no signs, and I could see no bird. Happily, I passed the tree, feeling safe, feeling strong, and ready to let my guard down, and enjoy the rest of my run.

Not more than 3 seconds after I passed the tree, Alfred Hitchcock's bird came diving down (from behind, so I did not even see it coming), and attacked my head! Literally, the bird's beak pecked my ponytail! Needless to say, I screamed bloody murder. Now mind you, this was at 6:30AM on a Saturday morning, I'm sure the surrounding neighbors thought I was being attacked, BUT I WAS!!!

Moral of the story: If you live in Maple Grove, and enjoy running around Rice Lake--BEWARE OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK'S BLACK BIRD. It will dive at your head!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Relentless Pursuit

Last night I had a wonderful workout with my buddy and training partner, Trey. It's always a joy when you're sweating profusely, working hard, and you have someone next to you doing the same. Trey and I have had some good runs and some bad runs. Some non-stop runs, and some "stop and poop" runs. I appreciate his friendship, his insight, and his encouragement along all our routes. His passion for running and coaching only encourages me to want to be better.

I had the opportunity to connect with Tom Tisell yesterday, the 2nd consecutive winner of the Minneapolis Marathon (pretty good considering this race has only been in existence for 2 years!) It's pretty encouraging to talk with a man who can hold a 6:01/mile pace for 26.2 miles! I asked him his secret, and he said he doesn't do much hill work, but he tries to get a tempo run in once or twice a week. His daily mileage consists of running to and from work. 8 miles to work, 8 miles home. 16 miles a day! WOWZERS! After we talked, I was very energized, and very motivated to get in a tough workout!!

Last night the poison consisted of 5 miles of speed work, and 1 mile of hills (on a treadmill). Let me tell you, that is an easy way to exhaust yourself! I left the gym reminded that I am in a pursuit to become who God created me to be.

I am in pursuit. I am in a relentless pursuit. A pursuit to discover who God created me to be. I need to learn who this person is who God keeps insisting I already am. Although I do not find my identity in running alone, I do find that this integral part of my spiritual walk teaches me deep truths about myself and about God.

As I think about the rabbis in the day of Jesus, they chose their disciples based on the fact that they believed their students could become like them. And Jesus took twelve ordinary men, because he believed they could become like him! What a weighty idea for the church to follow after. As I think about this whole idea, they didn't choose Jesus, but he chose them, and told them to follow him. To think, that Jesus didn't get frustrated with their shortcomings, but rather their greatness; and the lack of faith they had in who God had created them to be.......So I am in this relentless pursuit of chasing after God and earnestly trying to receive heavenly eyes that see me, and others, as he does.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Minneapolis Half Marathon

Well it finally came, and went. And quickly I am happy to report. The Minneapolis Half Marathon, and my opportunity to strike back after last year.

Here are the stats:
~Chip time: 1:44:40 (which is an 8:00/min pace)
~Division place: 6/221 (very pleased with this)
~Sex place: 63/2206 (overall female finishers)

An 8:00 min/mile pace seems slower for me, but I guess when I take into consideration the water stations, the slow start, and the rolling hills of the W. River Parkway, that's about right for me.

There were times that got felt exhausted, especially up those hills. Each time I started to cramp up for start to feel extreme fatigue, I'd pray for someone/something. It's amazing how your own phyiscal pain can temporarily disappear when you take your eyes off yourself, and focus on someone else. Thank you Jesus!

I had so many wonderful friends out there supporting: My husband at the start, Paul Dunning and his girlfriend, Andrea Erickson and Shannon Westlake, Sarah Johnson and Kris Ann, Sara Hale (Ryan's wife), even one of my business clients, Barbara, made an appearance on the Stone Arch Bridge. And who can forget, my most faithful personal training client, Kent Wheelock, who followed me (on bike) for almost the entire race, cheering me on, and making me laugh. My branch manager, Ryan, also ran the race. I am so proud of his accomplishment!!!

I have two more half marathons in the near future: Bjorkland Half Marathon (aka Grandma's up in Duluth, MN) on June 19th, and the Twin Cities Red White & Boom Half Marathon (in Minneapolis, MN) on July 4th. This is going to be a great season!

Keep on keepin on. Dare to do something you never thought possible! "Believe you can. Know you will!"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Owning the Road, Conquering Fear

Today I wrestled a huge fear of mine, and I won. The Minneapolis Half Marathon is rapidly approaching (this Sunday). As I've been doing easy runs this week, I've been trying to mentally prepare for the race as much as I can. I have studied the course map. I know the turns and at what miles they take place. I know the elevation increases. I know where it peaks, and where it dips. I know when I can push, and when I need to ease up and conserve energy. However, the one part of the race that has been plaguing my mind is the end of the half marathon course. There is a hill that begins at mile 12.30, and ends at mile 13.1. That is almost a mile of a straight incline. It is a beast of a hill. I remember it well from last year. I remember Jeremy and Stephanie on their bikes, riding alongside me, cheering me on. I remember them telling me I could do it. I remember crying and yelling back at them, "No I can't, I'm weak, and not cardiovascularly prepared for this!" (Having had a torn meniscus earlier in the year, I was not cardiovascularly prepared, it had been a true statement). I remember walking up the hill and crying. Knowing full well, that the finish line was right around the corner, yet not being about to muster the physical strength or mental toughness to continue running.

This year, I know the hill. I know it because I have walked it. And I know it because tonight I ran it. My friend Lacey Peterson and I went on an adventure tonight. I needed to conquer the W. River Parkway. I needed to run up and down the hill, and let myself be reminded that it is doable. And it was. Tonight I owned the W. River Parkway. Tonight I ran up and down the hills, and laughed when I finished; tickled by the fact that earlier in the day, I had knots in my stomach, thinking about the poison for the evening.

Not only did I own the road, but I conquered the fear. God felt so near to me throughout this run. It was almost as if He was whispering to me as he did to Peter, "You of little faith; why did you doubt?" I will tackle these very hills on Sunday, only this time it will be after running 12 miles (not 3 miles, like today), but I know my God is mighty to save, and when I'm weak, it is He that makes me strong.

May this be an encouragement to anyone reading today: Own the road (wherever that road leads you), conquer fear.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

National Running Day

Happy National Running Day, my fellow crazies! I hope you get out and enjoy a nice run, even if it's brief.

I had the pleasure of being woken up by the pounding of rain slamming against our roof. There went my opportunity for an outdoor morning run. It was so loud I decided to get up and high-tail it to the gym to get my run accomplished. Today's poison consisted of 5 x 1 mile repeats of speed work on the treadmill. I started at a speed of 8.0, and increased by .1 every .1 of a mile. (i.e. 8.0 for .10 mile, 8.1 through .20 mile, 8.3 through .30 mile, 8.4 through .40 mile, 8.5 through .50 mile, etc to one mile). I did this 5 times, for 5 miles. It wasn't bad, other than I was sweating profusely. As I ran, I contemplated I why I do this to myself.....it would be easy to just run 5 miles at a comfortable pace, not pushing any boundaries. Here's what I came up with. I run because it reminds me there is always more to learn. I run because I am reminded that I am weak. I run because I feel the presence of God's spirit in me as I push beyond what I thought I was capable of. I run because I am not content with who I am, but am constantly striving for the person I aspire to become.

After my interval run, I nervously made my way to the pool to embarrass myself, by swimming 5 down and back laps. I am not a good swimmer. My form is not pretty, and by the time I make it down and back once, I usually need a breather. I am a work in progress, but I love the challenge of the swim. It's great for cross training, and reminds me that I have much to improve upon, and much to learn.

Happy National Running Day folks!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Preparing for the Process.....

It's the week leading up to the Minneapolis Half Marathon (Sunday, June 6th at 7:00AM). http://teamortho.us/2009113029/Minneapolis-Marathon-Course-Map.html I've logged the miles. I've done some speed work and hill work. I have been injury free, minus the dumbell falling on the top of the foot, which left nothing more than a large bruise (praise God). I ran this half marathon last year with my good friend Suzie Finger and Keith Erickson. Last year was a baaaad race for me. Last season I had torn my meniscus and strained my ACL. When it came time for the race, my injuries were healed, but my cardiovascular endurance was virtually non-existent.

I am nearing the time for the race again. I have no excuses. My time last year was 1:47:49. The anxiety of hoping to beat last year's time, and questioning if I will beat that time is plaguing my mind. There are no stoplights to take a breather at during a race, the time doesn't stop for me to get a drink of water.

I have the hunger and the desire to have an amazing race. This week is all about getting enough zzzzz's, getting enough nutrients, chugging water, and visualizing an awesome race. I am preparing mentally to PR on this half marathon. I am determined.

"To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality." ~Anita Roddick

I have passion.....and I believe.