Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I survived 26.2 and I can't wait to do another one!!!

I packed up my multiple bags on Saturday morning getting ready for the drive to Iowa and I made sure to wear my running shoes so I would not forget them! (Thank you Chris Hankins for being my reminder...) I packed two pairs of running capris, cold weather gear, hot weather gear, like 4 pairs of socks, a jar of peanut butter, many bananas, clif bars and GUs, and an extra pair of shoes just in case I had a tragedy with the ones I was wearing...I was ready to go and a little nervous!

I rode with my parents, sister and niece and tried my best to zone out on the 2 hour ride, unfortunately, traveling with a 2 year old means constant entertainment that you don't want to miss, so there was no zoning out for me and many rounds of camp songs...

My grandparents and aunt Beth were at the hotel when we arrived and it was so nice of them to join in the festivities!!

Liz, Katie and I met up and headed to get race packets for Katie and I, check out some of the route, and browse around the expo. It was so nice of Liz to make the trip (and for Nicholl, Chris, and Katie's mom to come too!!) - Katie and I had awesome cheerleaders throughout the race!

I vegged out in my hotel room thinking about what I've been through in the last year and how amazing it is that I was even at this point - going to be at the starting line of a marathon in the morning! It was only a year ago this October when I ran my first "official" 5K and now here I was, going to attempt a marathon.

I was really done being nervous by Saturday and just ready to get the show on the road. There was nothing more I could do to prepare, so now it was just a matter of going out there, doing my best and seeing where it would take me!

My parents took Katie and I to the start line and we decided we should go to the bathroom before hand. A word to all of the race planners out there - if you have an event with 2,500 runners - you should probably have more than 10 bathrooms at the start/finish line...just a thought!!

Anyway, as most of you know I have a bit of an obsession with being late for things. 5 min. early equals late to me - it drives me nuts and I get a little crazy. However, the race did not start with out me and I was able to make it into the bathroom which was awesome since I didn't want to have to stop on the route! (I know that you were all dying to hear about my bathroom issues for the day!)

Katie and I squeezed into the crowd in between the 4:15 and the 4:30 pace groups as we started out - crossing the Mississippi river for the first of 4 times. I was feeling awesome and stayed between those pacing groups for about 18 miles. I fell back a little bit - with the 4:30 group and chatted with the pacer who had completed 24 marathons and a couple of Ultras (50 milers)!

The first 20 miles could not have been better - I felt amazing, I had awesome notes from people with things to think about - and think I did! It was an emotional roller coaster for me though - at times feeling that this was totally absurd and laughing to having mini melt downs with tears that I didn't want to expend for fear of dehydrating, but they came anyway and it was ok. It was part of the experience. It was a wide range of emotion but I never once felt like I hated it or like I wanted to stop and that in itself was awesome.

Coming across the Mississippi for the last time at mile 20 I saw my family and I don't know if they'll ever really understand how much I needed them at that point - or how much I needed my dad to walk out onto the course and give me a high five - it was awesome and it gave me a boost of endurance - that lasted you know until mile 21.

People have said that the last 6.2 miles of a marathon are the hardest. You train up to 20 miles, if you're lucky to get it in (which thank God I was!) so you know what it feels like to run for a long time, but nothing but running an entire marathon will prepare you for the hell that you face at mile 21.

I'm not even joking, at the mile marker, my right foot cramped up and then my right calf just tightened to the point where I had to stop and stretch it out. I walked a little ways and then would run until my foot cramped again and I continued this run/walk theme through out the rest of the race. I didn't feel bad about it though because it seemed to be a common theme with people all around me.

Those last 6.2 miles I focused on nothing but getting to the finish line. I was hell bent on getting there as fast as I could without injuring myself or having to crawl. I wanted to run across that line and do it with as much strength as possible.

The last 3 miles I started chatting with a guy who has run marathons before and even did an Iron Man in Brazil once and he really helped me get through. I hope he knows how much I appreciated him. He could have left me in the dust, but he stayed with me and would run with me as far as I determined and then walk for a little while and we ran the last .2 miles in.

As I crossed the finish line I thought I was going to cry and have all this emotion since I went through it all during the route - but I didn't. I laughed. And I hugged my family (I think my mom took all the emotion from me as she was sobbing!). And I said I was ready to do another one, and I am! I'm looking forward to checking out my options and doing it all over again.

My official chip time was 4:41:45 - not the 4:30 I was thinking I would hit, but ultimately, timing didn't matter for this one. I achieved my goals. I finished. I didn't die. I want to do it again.

A big thanks for all the support everyone has given me through this last year and especially in this last month as it came to be crunch time. I could not have done this without the support of my awesome friends and family...

Monday, September 22, 2008

DC (Area) Reflections - Finally!

I spent September 9 - 12 in Alexandria, VA attending a conference on Disproportional Minority Contact (DMC) in the Juvenile Justice System, as the Chair of the DMC ad hoc Committee for Rock County.

I'll forgo the big discussion of DMC issues for now, but it'll be coming soon, as it is a VERY interesting subject matter - one Rock County is on the forefront of addressing.

Instead I'll entertain you with all of the fun happenings of the week (it's much more fun to talk about non important social things anyway, right?!?).

After arriving in VA on Tuesday afternoon, I hopped the Metro up to DC and had dinner at a delightful Tapas place called Oyamel in DC with an old friend from college. It was so great to catch up with Becky about her amazing policy job with Planned Parenthood and about the fun things she is getting to do around the city and some reminiscing about the old times.

It sometimes seems funny to me how easily I can navigate DC - I will say that it is a VERY easy one to navigate but I haven't been there in a few years and can still manage to walk in the right direction - and get on the right Metro, even when trying to find something I don't really know the location of. I'd like to thank my father for my amazingly good sense of direction.

After dinner I met up with some of the guys I traveled with from Rock County and a friend of one who lives in VA. I was amazed at how hard it was to find a bar that was open past midnight there - now granted it was a Tuesday night, but HELLO, we're from Wisconsin where the bars are open until 2 am 7 days a week!!

We managed ok and I sang bad karaoke and drank way too many gin and tonics followed by an end of the night tequila shot which was just a really bad choice. I certainly do not have the tolerance for alcohol that I used to have and ending the night with tequila was not a good decision on my part. However, it was a GREAT time - you know, until the next morning.

I really love to eat when I'm on vacation - and in places that we don't have access to in Wisconsin and I had some good food on this trip. Our "data guy" and I had amazing Indian food one night, and the Mexican food that Becky and I ate was awesome. One of the nights we had dinner on the conference and had some awesome crab cakes (they were really in balls though) and amazing bruschetta, and the best chicken wings ever, great fruit every day and lunch one day was amazing salmon and turkey and fresh veggies. It was a great food week.

It was fun to get to know a couple of the guys that are working on DMC in Rock County a little better and they're all great and have really good ideas about the issue and for our county.

I also met some very interesting people - some from the DMC network, a couple of locals, and a really cool SoCal man (and just an FYI, when you're totally adorable, from SoCal, and amazingly fun and funny, I swoon...there will be more on him later too...I hope...)

Anyway, it was a great trip with lots of fun intertwined with a really good conference. I learned a lot and I'm really excited to move forward with this project in Rock County.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What a Way to Start a New Year

28. Seems a little crazy to me. Not scary, just a little strange and I can't pin point why. However, if the rest of my year as a 28 year old goes the way it has started, I'm in for a rockin' good time (yes, I just wrote rockin' good time, I'm apparently channeling the olden days lately).

I started my birthday out with a 20 mile run - what a way to start the day. It was a pretty solid run minus a foot cramp around mile 18 that I've never experienced before. good note to self to keep breaking in my new shoes and hydrate a little better. My time was great, even with the cramping incident and I'm ready to kick some marathon ass.

Some friends and I headed to Milwaukee for a great dinner at Fratellos and a trip to my favorite 3rd Ward bar where, as I walked up to the bar, I had a signature birthday drink ready for me. I have no idea what was in it, but it was green and edgy and a little bit sassy - a drink that had my name written all over it.

The rest of the night was followed by many more drinks in the form of gin and tonics (Brenda recently filled me in on a study that noted there was good potassium content in these - so really I was just helping alleviate the foot cramps...), fun shots, crazy dancing, lots of laughing and a nice walk back to our hotel.

It's always so much fun to get people together, especially to celebrate, and this was a great celebration! I'm looking forward to many more nights like this one for sure!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reflections on 27

So I know I did the whole big post filled with lots of picture reminders about what my 27th year was all about but I think I need one final reflection as I say goodbye to 27 today and hello to 28 tomorrow.

I've learned that people come and go into your life that either make you a better person or make you learn something about yourself, both of which in the long run are equally appreciated.

I've learned that it's ok to be strong and stand up for what you want. And while I've always tried to do this, I've realized that I'm sometimes too much of a people pleaser and in the long run am not really making myself happy. I have opinions, strong ones, ones that I need to share. I know what I want and I need to make it known.

I'm learning to be comfortable in my (new) skin. That I'm really great just the way I am and sure there will always be things that I don't love about my body but I know that right now, I can be happy with what I have to work with.

I'm learning to accept compliments without an addendum. I don't need to say "thank you, but" I can accept the fact that I'm doing something well and be proud of that. Which is easier said than done sometimes.

I've learned that people change. People grow and learn and move forward and sometimes the people that you thought you would always move forward with are not the ones that end up by your side.

I've learned that I can push my limits. I can test myself - both physically and mentally. I'm strong and I will adapt - I can, I will and most importantly, I am able.

I've learned that tough times don't last, no matter what tough challenge is put in front of me, "this too shall pass" and I will make it out on the other side a better, stronger person than I was before.

I worked my ass off (both literally and figuratively) in the past year. I've had some major accomplishments both personally and professionally. I've also had a lot of tough things to get through and while I'm still working on some things, I am completely ready as this new/not so new person to take on 28, kick a little ass as a tough woman and do it with style.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

LA Woman

I love LA - everything about it really - including the smog and the traffic. The second I step outside of LAX I take a deep breath and know that I'm home. Even more so when I'm behind the wheel of a car with the windows down, a little Bob Marley in the cd player, cruising down the 405.

I recently had a whirlwind weekend in LA with my friend Rachel, who had never been to my glorious city, so I was excited to show it off. And show it off I did.

We seemed to hit everything of importance, including the beach twice in three days, ate at some amazing places, saw all of my friends (if only for a little while here and there it was great!), saw a couple of her friends AND managed to do some hard core yoga at Maha Yoga with the "main man" himself, Steve Ross. Dance Club music filled the small space, as well as about 60 students with mats stacked upon one another and it was the most intense fun I've had in a "yoga" class. My abs still feel the work we did. And while I'm still a major fan of Iyengar yoga, and my lovely Brenda, this class would be an awesome thing to wake up to everyday!

Saturday was beautiful and we spent a few hours on the beach in Santa Monica body surfing, jumping the waves and just relaxing. It's been awhile since I've actually been in the ocean since most of my LA trips come when it's too cold but this was heaven. I always "feel small when I stand beside the ocean" as the song goes. Even more so when I'm in it. It's a great place to remember how big the world is and how small you and your troubles really are in comparison with bigger things that surround us. While in grad school, the beach would be my escape. I often went by myself to think and study and just be. It's hard to really explain the effect that the ocean has on me but it's unlike anything else. I feel at peace with myself and my world...it's kind of like running!

This was my end to summer, and in my dramatic fashion, it was a great way to say goodbye to summer and to start looking forward to fall.