Monday, January 27, 2014

Training for my First Marathon! 2013

I had been running for about a year and had run in a 15K (9.61 miles) and 3 half marathons (half marathon is 13.1 miles).  I have found that I actually like running in these events.  The people are amazing and the whole experience is different each time.  I am not a fast runner especially when it comes to actually running in an event.  For whatever reason I run a full minute, sometimes more, slower than when I am out running alone, solo.  The only thing I can think of is that I am so use to doing things alone that when I get around so many people, so much different energy, it must throw me off.  I am also a surfer and that is done alone, well there are people around you but your the one doing the surfing, just like running, you are the one running.

The first time I ran a half marathon I was nervous, very nervous!  While running it, all I could hear where so many different people talking about this and that.  I think I was distracted.  Since then I now run wearing my iPod,  I love my iPod.  The music is uplifting and energizing.   When I am hurting and want to stop, magically a great song will come on and lead my mind away from the pain.

Pain you ask....why run if it hurts?  Well it doesn't really hurt in the way you might think.  Sure your muscles hurt and your body feels tired and heavy but at the same time you feel good, proud of yourself.  

During a surf trip to Baja where my husband Glen and I spend 8 months out of the year, I decided I wanted to try a full marathon, 26.2 miles!  I had been thinking about it for awhile but gave it some serious thought on this trip.  I asked Glen what he thought and he was 100% for it!  He is always very supportive in anything that I want to try.  A marathon I!  So when we came home, I signed up for my first full Marathon, The Carlsbad Marathon, held in January.  The month was August 2012, I had a little over 5 months to train!  While signing up I noticed that lots of people did fundraising for this and many other marathons.  So I decided to do the same.  I was gonna run anyway, why not raise some money for a great charity.  I choose to run for a wonderful charity called Fresh Start Surgical Gifts here in San Diego.  They help children who are born with deformities and their families can't afford to have them medically helped.  These kids, I learned, are very much like me!  Yes me!   I too was born with a deformity, club feet.  And for many years I never spoke of this and was very shy about how my feet look.  Growing up with this as a child was pretty awful, kids can be very cruel and say things that hurt.  Those hurt feeling stayed with me for many years but through this "marathon" I was been able to open up about this part of my life.  

After a few months here training and fundraising it was time to leave for Baja for 2 months for some surf and I would continue to train for the marathon there.  The area we go to during the fall is in the middle part of Baja, very isolated.  Perfect!  The waves are amazing and the dirt trails are endless.  I ran almost everyday and followed a great training plan.  I was feeling strong and my average daily run was now 10 miles.  No problem.   By the beginning of October my longest run was now 22 miles.   My training plan only gave the highest mileage at 22 miles but I wanted to go farther.  I wanted to pass 26.2 miles so that I could feel what my body would be faced with on marathon day!  So I began to plot a route that would take me 30 miles. The first 8 would be on the dirt, rocky trail out to the main highway in Baja.  I would then run another 7 miles to the nearest town and then turn around and come back to camp, another 7 on the pavement ending with the last 8 on the dirt and rocky trail.  Total mileage 30!  Glen was my support crew, along with our 2 doggies, Apollo and Taxi.  

I wanted to run on the perfect day, preferably cloudy and cool.  I waited almost 3 weeks for this day!  Then it looked like it would happen in a few days so I began to prepare for it.  Got all my tunes ready, clothes, gels for energy and water.  Glen would drive the first 8 miles and then wait for me and then while on the highway he would go ahead of me a mile at a time, stopping and giving me water and filming my great run!  He was amazing!  The run was amazing!  I didn't want to push myself to hard, I just wanted to run, feel it and see what happened.  I can truly say it was one of the best experiences of my life!  I felt so good and I was so happy.  Maybe longer distances were gonna be my thing.  I had clouds and cool temps most of the way until I started the last 8 miles through the desert back to camp.  It was now sunny and warm, I was sweating but feeling really good.  

I remember that last mile and seeing Glen up at camp waiting for me.  I felt so good and yes sore and tired but amazed at what I had done.  Those 30 miles took me 6 hours and 25 minutes!

  Glen is the best husband, he is always there to help me.  After that run, he helped me in to the ocean for a cold soak on my tired legs and body.  He then made me a little food, not much as my appetite had not returned, he massaged my legs and helped me to bed for a much needed rest.  Without him the experience would not have been the same. He is truly my best half.

I rested the next day from running but got up as usual, walked around, not too sore, good sign.  The surf had come up, perfect timing, so I spent the next 2 days surfing for hours.  My training program includes cross training; weight lifting, bike riding, and surfing.   All of these things help to keep you healthy no matter what you want to do in life.  Just get out and move.

By mid November it was time to head back to San Diego for our family Thanksgiving.  (I usually stay home after that until we leave again in mid March for Scorpion Bay for 4 months. Glen heads back to Baja after Christmas for another 6 weeks.  The surf is usually BIG, his favorite! But he planned to be home for my first marathon!)  Now that I was back at home, training continued and so did my fundraising.  The donations were coming in and my feet were pounding the pavement.  I received many emails from people who donated giving me so much encouragement, so many kind words were said to me.

On my fundraising page I told my story of my childhood and all the fears I had and tears that I cried. I had to tell my story.  I needed to let people know that I understood how these children feel and how important it is to help children feel loved, feel beautiful and good about them selves.  In early January 2013 I received an email from the folks at the Carlsbad Marathon that I had been nominated for "Hero of the Marathon"!!!  WOW!!!  What an incredible honor.  It was told to me that my story inspired people and this was why I was voted for this honor.  They also learned that I had been in a car accident in 1993 and broke my neck, once again facing an incredible challenge in life.  The whole experience was, to say the least, incredible and also abit over whelming.  Remember, I am the one who pretty much stays to herself so all this attention was new for me.  Also talking about myself to the public and media was scary.  Glen was great.  He kept encouraging me and was with me every step of the way.  When he heard that I had been nominated for this honor he left Baja earlier than planned and came home to be by my side.

Two days before the marathon there was a beautiful awards ceremony where I was honored and given an incredible award for my inspiration and dedication.  Amazing!  

Two days to go and I would be standing at the start line of my very first marathon!  I was not nervous, I was ready to run.  I was however still abit overwhelmed by all of the attention.  By marathon morning it was chilly out and drizzling.  My favorite running conditions.  As I stood there ready to go, I can not really explain the feelings I had, but one word comes to mind, Proud!  I was really proud of myself.  Proud of all the consistent training I did, Proud for all the funds I raised; $4500, Proud to be awarded as Hero of the Marathon, Proud to be able to run.  

The gun went off and so did all of us marathon runners!  Amazing!  I was smiling and giggling as I ran, listening to my music.  When I hit mile 9 I saw the staff from Fresh Start Surgical Gifts!  They set up a water station each year on the marathon course.  They had signs out with my name on them, they were cheering for me as I ran by!  So encouraging!  I was smiling from ear to ear!!

So many emotions were flooding thru me as I ran.  I thought about how I couldn't walk as a kid, how the other kids in the neighborhood would laugh at me when they saw my feet, how hard it was to pick myself up and learn to walk again after breaking my neck, how blessed I was to have met and married the man of my dreams, how blessed I am to have such an incredible family who love me no matter many thoughts passed thru my mind along with tears of happiness.  Yes I was tired from time to time but not one time did I ever think of stopping, no way!

There were different bands along the course with so many volunteers along the way. A race would not even be able to be done without the help from these people who come out, volunteer for us, giving us water, energy gels, lots of smiles and encouraging words.  I thank them every time I run by.

By mile 20 or so the clouds were gone and the sun was out.  The temp was not bad, it was still cool with a breeze.  I was feeling great!  Mile 20 and I felt good!  I did have alittle stomach ache from some water I drank but not enough to stop me!  There were so many people along the course cheering and smiling and so many different fun signs to keep us going!   I saw friends too as I rounded that last final turn towards the finish line!  Then as I headed down the final stretch there was Glen!!!  Cheering and saying my name and filming too!  
Crossing the finish line of my very first marathon was an experience I will always remember.   Always cherish.  Running and fundraising was a marathon.  Everything that happened in that journey was a marathon. Learning to accept my body and put some of those sad memories to rest was a marathon.  But ya know what?  I am so happy I did it.  In fact, I plan to run The Carlsbad Marathon again and again...and maybe I will run other marathons too, who knows.  The future of running for me is endless....just like the waves I ride...endless.