Thursday, September 22, 2011

About Me

My name on the internet is K.  Friends and family refer to me as Karen.  I am blessed to be a "stay-at-home", Catholic, homeschooling, running, swimming and biking wife and mom who is hardly ever at home!  My husband and I have 6 wonderful children and 2 even more amazing grandchildren!   We have been homeschooling since 1999 and I have been running since 9/16/2006.  This blog is a blend of my life as a mom, wife, friend, daughter, and child of God.

I dedicate this blog to the memory of my Mom, Lynne, whom was one of the first inspirations to become healthy, Hans, who was the catalyst to running my first 5K,to Kelly who was a dear friend and one of the strongest women I have ever known, and to my family who are the biggest cheerleaders and most awesome crew anyone could hope to have. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Are you Awesome?

I haven't been feeling so "awesome" this week thanks to a nasty cold and tired ankle.  A friend sent me this post from a blog she reads and it picked me up instantly! 

Boo and Little NG are both 5 years old, and they are still AWESOME!  Enjoy the post!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Casa For Kids 5K

I had registered for this race on a whim a few weeks back, thinking I could somehow fit it in between a series of back to back long runs.  Some of the Texas Trail Nerds, Bill, Erica, and Nicholas were planning to be there as well.  Our kids were registered for the 1K fun run and they were very excited about participating in their race.

As my week unfolded, I realized that planning to run this race was probably not the smartest thing I have ever done, as it was cutting into the only real time I had to get my long run in.  I planned to run 30 on Friday night and then 15 or 20 on Saturday.  Well, Saturday also happened to be the day of this race, Homecoming for my son, and the Third Day concert that I was NOT going to miss.

Friday night didn't go well at all.  It was one of those runs where nothing felt right from the first step till the last.  I had issues with calf/ankle pain that would not release it's grip until the 6 mile mark.  Oftentimes after a rest day, my legs have a hard time settling into a run, but after about 3 or 4 miles, they are ok.  Not this time.  I was having watch issues, mp3 player issues, attitude issues, etc.  I also had quite a bit on my mind and while running typically helps me to figure things out, that was not the case on Friday. 

I stopped at the park rest room only to find a line at 7:30 at night!  I lost a good 15 mins waiting as I really couldn't run much longer without a visit and there were no other rest rooms along the route that would be open when I would be passing by them.

I kept plodding along, trying to lose myself in the music, in prayer, in anything, but nothing was working.  When dark set it, I was not were I expected to be on my route.  There was no shoulder to run on and the pathways were too dark to navigate.  My light was sitting on the counter at home, yet another glitch in the run. 

By the time I reached Grogan's Mill, I had to run with the flow of traffic, no lights, no shoulder, and the calf/ankle pain set in again.  I had to start walking to get my focus back on the run and off of the pain.  By mile 17, I called Mark and told him I would finish up my 20 but I would not go back out for the 10 mile loop that he was planning to ride with me. I was behind about an hour and we needed to have at least one of us home for the kids.

Mark convinced me to let him pick me up.  He knew that I was in quite a lot of pain to call the run off.  He drove out to meet me and my run ended at mile 18. 

Saturday morning I knew I was not in any shape to run a 5K.  But I donned my bib, just in case.  We got the kids up and ready and headed out to the race.  We met the Nerds out there and had a great time visiting with everyone. 
Evan and I
Erica and I and her beautiful daughter behind us

Time came for the kids to run and it was so much fun to see such little cuties running their hearts out!  Fish and Boo were among them and Foo ran with Boo to encourage him.  Seeing those boys come across the finish line was so incredible!  I am so proud of them!  I know that they had a great time and I hope that they continue to show interest in running.
Boo Crossing The Finish Line
Fish Crossing The Finish Line

As the 5K racers lined up, Mark asked what I was doing.  I told him I would run, but take it slow.  I wanted to see how my leg felt.  It hurt a little, but not like it was hurting the night before.  Mark yelled out that I should run it fast because the kids were hungry...

Gary, the RD made mention of the Trail Nerds which was nice!  He also mentioned that someone at the start line had run a 30 miler the night before (that will teach me for posting on Facebook about my intentions!).  I hung my head in shame.  I was so embarrassed to have someone build me up like that knowing that I had failed.  As outgoing and extroverted as I am, I really don't like being the center of attention.  I did mention to his wife, Denise, when I saw her that I did not reach the 30 mile mark and she was kind enough to let him know that. 

The race started and I settled into a fairly "moderate" pace that felt comfortable and I had no pain, at least nothing more than I had just standing around.  I really didn't feel like I was pushing myself too hard, but I did notice I was passing several people.  Susie and I even ran together and I consider her to be a very talented runner, and quite speedy!  She was trying out her new shoes and we were chatting along the way.  Soon she passed me and I kept both her and Evan in my sights.  I never tried to catch them as I really didn't intend to do anything except enjoy the run.

Around mile 2, I noticed my leg was beginning to ache a bit more, so I figured the sand wasn't helping.  I tried to stay on as much of the packed dirt as possible.  At mile 2.5 or so, I heard someone yell out, "You are the 3rd female!"  Something in my brain said, "WHAT?!  How is this possible?"  And the next thing I heard was a man yelling out to someone behind me, "Kelly, you can pass her!  Come on!  You can pass her!"  I don't know what happened, but I decided at that moment that no one was passing me, picked up my legs and crossed the finish line in 24:55.  That was good enough for 1st Overall Female Masters winner.  I was about 20 seconds behind Susie who took 1st Overall Female.  Amazing race for her too! 

Susie!  Amazing woman, amazing athlete!

Best Family on the planet!

This 5K was a PR for me.  What is strange is that I never felt as though I was racing it until the last 2/10s of a mile.  A PR on a dirt trail.  Maybe my running is paying off?  Maybe I got lucky?  Maybe I wasn't hung up on numbers and pace (watch was at home) and just ran by feel?  I have no idea how or why it happened, but it felt nice and I hope to always cherish this moment.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

40 Done

The course was laid out and the decision was made to run as far as I could taking my breathing into consideration.  Thankfully, this was never an issue the entire day.
I started out on my first ten @ 4:45am.  I was actually awake at 3, but couldn't bring myself to actually start running at that time.
Running under the night sky is always so surreal for me.  The air was humid, but the sky was clear (no smoke from the fires) and the stars where bright.  The moon was full and provided adequate light for my run, though I still wore my own lights for safety.
The first 10 miles clicked by quickly.  I met Richard at mile 10 and we had a nice run through the old Nature Trail of Grogan's mill.  I love that trail, but after an unusual experience out there I won't run it by myself anymore.  It's not really a "trail" as it is concrete, but it is very serene and more wooded than any other "trail" in The Woodlands.
We looped around the Millbend loop and saw lots of folks out on the run, many of them preparing for fall marathons.  I had heard from several people that they were running 20+ milers and they invited me to join them.  I tried to figure a way to make it work, but that would involve me driving to a location just a few miles away and I really preferred to use my home as an aid station and meeting point.
Richard and I had 7 great miles together.  Love running with good friends!  Talking about whatever comes up and changing subjects about as often as our minds feel is necessary.
Richard and I parted ways as he headed home and I headed to my "aid station".  The first 20 seemed almost effortless.  I can tell I'm in good shape when I feel that way.
I heard from Bill that he was on his way, so I decided to wait at the house for him rather than have him try to find me on the road.  He was coming quite a way to support me and I will  never be able to express how much I appreciate his efforts!  I checked my facebook to see how Paul was doing on his run and he was at mile 37 looking for some motivation.  I sent mine along and sent a prayer or two with it!  I was a tiny bit jealous that he was already at mile 37...but I knew I would be there soon enough.
Bill arrived, prepared his bike, and we were off.  I wasn't sure how long he would ride with me.  I figured maybe 10 miles or so, but then he shared that he was riding the rest of my 20 with me, I was blown away!  Amazing!  I was going to have company the whole time!
I had originally planned to run all of the Villages this side of the freeway.  I had mapped out routes that would allow me to hit even Creekside which is in a different county.  But when Bill showed up, I changed my mind and decided I would rather show him some of the trails that I run in the Nature Preserve.  I had planned to run one 20 mile loop and then two different 10 mile loops.
We left out of my home and headed towards the Nature Preserve.  It's about 2.5 miles to Mitchell and by the time we arrived, it was much warmer and the trails were very busy!  There was an Adventure Racing group from Houston out in force.  Seemed like a great bunch of people and they even invited us to a race in Huntsville!  One of these days...
I was happy to be able to share the trail with Bill.  We don't get to see each other's stomping grounds very much at all.  I hope to get to his neck of the woods this coming weekend.  I'm dying to see Lake Houston's new trails.
The trails felt like heaven to me.  No pain, soft ground, and of course, lots of beautiful dirt.  It's just who I am.

We headed out the short way home to take advantage of the park restrooms.  A pretty funny event occurred on the way back in.  As we were waiting to cross the road at Woodlands Parkway, I noticed a friend of mine, Ellen, waiting at the light in her car, as I was saying hello to her, a landscape truck was driving past.  Out of no where, a large industrial lawn mower rolled off the back of his pull-along trailer and rolled directly into the oncoming traffic.  All of this was happening directly in front of Bill and I.  We flagged down the truck and I ran to the mower trying to pull it out of the way of oncoming traffic.  It weighed about two times more than I do and I'm sure it had to be a sight to see me trying to pull this mower out of a major roadway.  To say I was unsuccessful would be an understatement.  Bill came to the rescue and pulled the thing to the side of the road.  Motorists were thanking us and the lawn guy casually strolled up to us to get his mower.  I don't know why he wasn't more concerned about moving a bit faster, but after 27 miles, I didn't really care. Coming back into my make shift aid station, we were short about 3 miles.  One thing I don't like to do is to add miles on at the end of a run, especially a long run.  I'd rather add on at the beginning.   I knew this last loop was going to be a bit more work than the first 2.
We refueled, I even got to harass my son for a bit before we headed out for the final 13.  The loop was fairly uneventful, though the last 3 miles were quite challenging mentallyI thought of Paul and his request for inspiration at mile 37.  I chuckled to myself that I felt the same way.
50K mark
 I wanted to stop, but I knew I couldn't.  There were several early cut backs to the house and to pass them up was almost like torture, but with Bill hanging with me, I was able to keep my eye on the end goal.  I had received a text from Nicholas letting me know that he was running the loop in reverse looking for me.  This helped my spirits and kept my head in the game.  I knew that us finding each other was a rather slim possibility since I changed my route a little bit to add on the extra 2 miles, but knowing he was out there offered me great support.  Also knowing that Paul and Reece were putting down some tracks made me feel as though we were all running together, if only in my mind.
The home stretch was just that.  I allowed my legs to stretch out and just embrace the final few miles of the run.  I wasn't worried about pace nor overall time. I wanted to hit 40.  I asked Bill to make sure that no matter what happens, when we hit my door at 39.5 miles, his main job was to get my butt to 40.  No matter what.  I shared with him how I did not want 39.anything showing up in my log that day.  It had to be 40.  I don't know why I get hung up on a number, but I do.  39.7 would not have been 40.  Neither would 39.9.  I knew that if I hit the driveway under 40, I would tell myself that was good enough and that I would regret it later.  He promised he would make sure we hit my goal.

We arrived at my driveway and he quickly set his bike aside and ran with me.  It was pretty hot (around 97 I think) by this time and the sun was unforgiving.  The saying "the last mile is the toughest, no matter what the mileage goal is" was definitely ringing true.  We finished up the final mile and then celebrated our little accomplishment.
 I have always said that my running is not something I am able to do alone.  Yes, some of my runs are solo, but I am never alone.  Thank you to everyone who offered kind thoughts, words, and prayers for me and to Richard, Bill, and Nicholas, thanks for getting out there in a very real way to help me reach my goal!

I get by with a lot of help from my friends!
My nutrition for the day went well.  I carried the hydration vest for the first loop, handhelds for the last 20.    I ate S caps every 30 mins. and honey chews every hour.  I also ate a soy yogurt and some fruit at the house in between loops.
My stomach never felt upset and I never felt dehydrated.  I came in 6 pounds under my start weight and I have yet to gain it back. 
The hardest part of this run was the 10 miler I did on Sunday and even more, the 6 I did on Monday.  Things are sore now and I really don't want to injure myself so slow and patient miles are the order of the day/week.  This week will be another heavy mileage week.  I have had to let some of my cross-training go this week in order to fit it all in and keep up with the family schedule.
As always... run with joy in your heart and peace in your soul!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mental Preparation

I have been struggling to wrap my mind around the idea of running a 40 miler on the roads this weekend. Seems ridiculous to worry about it, but I suppose after my DNF at The Shoe, this training run will be more about the cognitive aspect of running rather than the physicality of running 40 miles.

I found my post from this past January that I wrote after I ran that 40. It was helpful today to help me recall that this run will only be as much fun as I allow it to be.

I have extended an invitation to whomever would like to run some or all(!!) of this run with me to let me know and I will be happy to forward along a map of the route.

Run with Joy in your Heart!

Monday, September 5, 2011

40 Days

40 Days till Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd. Just coming off of a week of recovery from The Shoe, I feel fairly rested and ready to hit the training as hard as I can to endure the crunch time before the race.

I am scheduled to hit two fairly long runs which will most likely be solo adventures and unsupported. There are obvious negatives in that, but I need to focus on the positives at this point. I would like to try to hit Huntsville for at least one of the long runs. Running there alone is definitely not the smartest thing to do, so I will seek out a few companions.

Running on my own will help to prepare me mentally for the later stages of the race before Brad picks me up and paces me in.

40 Days. Uniquely significant number in my life. Lent. Days Christ spent in the desert. A time for reflection, repair, and preparation for what was and what is to come. I have an opportunity to grow in this 40 days or stay exactly where I am. The choice is mine and today, I chose growth.