Friday, August 20, 2010

Change of Plans...

After several weeks of silence regarding my running journey, I'm sure you've all been sitting on the edge of your seat wondering what in the world I'm doing... all two of you that read my blog. ;)

Well, there is good news and bad news.

The bad news?

It looks like my Portland Marathon 2010 dreams are officially going to be put to rest.

The good news?

I've got a new running partner...

That's right.  The Congdon family is adding a new little addition sometime spring 2011.

After "starting over" with my mileage twice due to back injuries, it seems logical to me to put my marathon dreams in the "not yet, but someday" category and put my focus on having a fit and healthy pregnancy.  I'm sure it's possible for people to train and race during pregnancy - and I hope to get in a few 5ks & 10ks along the way - but I don't need the pressure of completing a marathon riding on my shoulders while I'm growing a new person.

So there you have it.

My marathon journey is taking a little detour.

Stay tuned for future discussions regarding pregnancy fitness!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Clawing my way back from the beginning.

I successfully completed my 7 mile run this morning!  No back pain, no tired legs, no cardio-wimpiness.  It's safe to say my body is back in business and I'm seriously training for a marathon.

I mean... I have been for the last 3+ months... right?

Seriously though, for the last month or so I actually had given up in my mind and heart.  I've already "quit" training... yet here I am back at it again.  My body seems to be cooperating, and now I just have to wait for my mind and heart to catch up again.

For some reason, during my run, I kept dealing with this tape in my head that was saying "this is hard! I want to quit! Please stop!"  But when I assessed how I was doing physically - all systems were a "go!"

Legs - not burning, actually comfortable, no cramps
Back - feeling strong and loose (but not too loose)
Breathing - feeling strong, right on track and comfortable

I chalked it up to that whole "mental game" thing.  I guess when you "quit" in your head, it takes your head a little while to "un-quit."

It probably also has something to do with the fact that all week I've been running "tiny" miles... way less than where I was when I had to take my break a few weeks ago.  There's something a little discouraging about going from 11 & 12 mile long runs back to FIVE mile "long" runs.  Especially when you were doing 5-milers on your "easy" days.

I guess I'm just going to have to get over myself and keep training in order to get back to where I was before the break.  Although - perhaps instead of trying to "catch up" to where I was... I should just focus on where I currently am and where I am going.  There is definitely still enough time for me to train for the marathon - so I'll just have to let go of those first 3 months and focus on one run at a time.

If you'll excuse me, I need to go email the coach and find out what my marching orders (running orders?) are for Monday.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Great News!!

I visited that Physical Therapist this week and was given clearance to keep running and prepare for the marathon.  It turns out my lower back issues don't have anything to do with my abdominal separation, and that my issues stem from a couple other things. The "short-story" version of the deal is this;
My right leg twists to the right at the hip and has since I was a kid...
I've always had a habit of leaning my body-weight on my left leg...
My left psoas muscle (that connects your legs to your core and is responsible for lifting your leg when you run) is tighter than the right...
My right hip was significantly "higher" than my left hip at the beginning of the appointment...
Which means my right half of my pelvis is twisted posteriorly (to the back)... (what?)...

Verdict = My right leg *might* be slightly longer than my left leg + I sleep like a twisty pretzel when Ethan crawls in bed with us for the last few hours in the morning = I got myself all jacked up on my long miles.

The Physical Therapist explained that since my right side is twisted to the back, it makes my whole pelvis want to arch back, which means puts a lot of pressure on my lower back.  I haven't noticed it on other runs because apparently my core is strong enough to hold things in the "right" place until about 10 miles. 

The great news is that with some simple stretches and a commitment to strengthening my core with a simple 10-15 minute pilates routine - I should be in top shape and still have time to train up to comfortably finish the marathon.

It was such a relief to find out I'm not broken beyond repair.  Wee!

Now I've just got to dig my spirits out of their "Ican'tdothisit'stoohard" dark-place and hit the road again!

The PT gave me a modified training schedule for the next two weeks that looks like this;

Saturday - Long Run of 5 miles
M: 2 miles
T: 3 miles
W: 2 miles
Th: 4 miles
Saturday - Long Run of 7 miles

It's reassuring to have a plan in place and to know that the coach believes that I can complete this challenge of training for a marathon.  I can't really figure out in my head how exactly I'm going to get from these measely (haha... measely!!) 5 miles up to 16-20 miles like I need to before the race... but she knows!  All I can do now is trust her, do what she's told me to do, and keep communicating about how I'm doing and what I need.

I guess things are like that with the Lord, too.  Most of the time I look at where I am now (selfish, whiney, weak) and where He promises I'm going to end up eventually (showing Christ's character in complete maturity) and I cannot for the life of me figure out how I'm going to get there from here.  But He knows!  And in His word He has given me some clear action-steps and the truth I need to get my heart in the right place to have strength for the journey.

So here's to trusting our Coach.


Friday, July 2, 2010


I think I can...

I think I can...




I wish that I were writing to tell you all how wonderful I feel and how well training is going now that I'm back on my feet.

But, alas, that is not what I'm writing about.  :(

Since my last post I've run two miles.

2 miles...

I've got an appointment schedule for the 8th with a Physical Therapist.  She did have some encouraging things to say in her email, as she believes that my diastasis shouldn't prevent me from being able to train for this marathon.  Our meeting on the 8th will give her a chance to assess things "hands on" and give me a better answer.

My back has finally calmed down for the most part, but for some reason I've just been feeling really fatigued and weak.  My wonderful husband reassured me today that it's probably because we've just come through what could he described as "the hardest season of our lives" in the relational department.  I have to laugh on the inside a little, because I've definitely been through things of equal -if not worse - caliber than these last few relationally confusing and hurtful months.

I'm currently recovering from a sore throat.  I don't know if having a sore throat means that you *can't* run, but I have a feeling that my body giving in to germies means it's crying out for some sort of break.

The truth is - I haven't been that nice to it.  Because of all the stress we've been experiencing, I must confess that I've done more than my fair share of emotional eating.  No one eats lots and lots of veggies when they are emotionally eating.  I'm completely ashamed at the amount of Taco Bell I've consumed in the last month, and feel like what my body REALLY needs is a "reset" button.  I'm honestly considering doing some sort of dietary cleanse to start things over - but don't know exactly what that would look like.

I realized tonight - as I was sitting down to write this - that I'm definitely in the "ohwowwhydidIdecidetodothisIdon'tthinkthisisgoingtowork" stage of marathon training.  Literally.  I honestly don't think my body is capable of training for and completing a marathon this time around.  Which has me feeling rather depressed and down about myself.

Perhaps this is one of those things I need to push through and overcome and triumph through...
Or is this one of those things where I need to accept my limits, re-evaluate my goals, and choose a different marathon...

Who knows.

I know I'd love your prayers.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Taking a little break

After my somber post, I figured I should keep you guys in the loop about what I'm doing instead of leaving you hanging. 

Good news:

Last week I got ALL my miles in!
The week before that I only missed a couple.
Both weeks I did 12 miles on the long-run - that's definitely the farthest I've actually "run."  At the Princess Half-Marathon I walked a good portion of mile 9/10.

Bad news:

The reason I walked those parts of my half marathon was because my back was freaking out on me.
Which it is starting to do now.

I've actually been noticing lingering lower-back pain for about the last three weeks - ever since our mileage passed the 10 mile mark.  I start noticing fatigue in my core and lower-back around/after mile 8 or 9. 

My 12 mile runs were a big of a wake-up call, as I spent the last four miles dealing with very real lower-back pain.  This past Saturday, I had to stop every 100 yards or so during the last two miles to stretch out my back.  It felt like it was one wrong move away from spasming and laying me out on the pavement. 

I've emailed the coaches and team physical therapist with the Marathon Training Clinic to get their input.  For now, I've decided that taking a few days off definitely couldn't hurt.

I assume this all has something to do with the abdominal diastasis (or separation) leftover from my cesarean delivery back in 2008.  My lower-abs are still about two finger-widths apart in the center - which has me wondering if I've got the basic core strength one would need to train properly for a marathon.

I could spend all kinds of time worrying about worst-case scenarios and freaking out that this could ruin my hopes of doing a marathon on 10.10.10.  But I won't.

I started this whole journey to do something postive for my body, heart and mind.  Facing the truth about where my body is really at and doing the best at my "next step" is part of that journey.  Whether that means a few days of rest and then back into the training with some tips for developing my core strength, or whether that means readjusting my marathon timeline, I'm still learning and growing through this process.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hanging in there...

That's how I've been responding to people when they ask that customary greeting, "how are you?"  The Congdon family has had quite a lot on our plates in the last several months.

Our church family is embarking on a new season of refocus and purpose after a very rough transition.
I've embarked on the fun adventure of starting my own business working as a consultant for Arbonne.
Ethan is in the prime stages of being ready to transition to the "big potty."
One of husband's jobs informed him they'd be cutting his hours in half starting in the fall.
Marathon training is kicking into "no really - are you really going to do this" mode.

On top of those things we've got our son's 2nd birthday, our 3rd wedding anniversary, and two trips home in June - and things get pretty dicey in the whole sleeping/eating/resting rhythm.  Daniel and I are both hardcore perfectionists and work horses.  So the last few weeks have been full of junk food on the run, late nights finishing projects and WAY messed up sleep schedules for all three of us.  No bueno.

Especially no bueno for my running.  Last week my schedule called for 14 mid-week miles (over four days) + my third 10 mile long run.  What did I accomplish?  ONE two mile run.  ONE.  The coaching team of the marathon clinic recommends cutting your long run short when you miss your mid-week miles, and then repeating that week's assigned miles over again.  I actually ended up running a water station for our group run and skipped the long run all together.  Somewhere over the course of the weekend I tweaked my back, and getting back into the groove yesterday was a bit of a challenge. 

I had another full day planned (Arbonne party, Life Work Coaching sessions, naps/lunch in there somewhere... oh dear!) but was able to squeeze my run in "before dinner" at 8pm.  Ethan fell asleep while I was out running and was done for the night.  So Daddy and I stayed up with a campfire until midnight catching up and trying to nail down a realistic schedule to help us keep our sanity.

We're going to have to make some important decisions about what's got to "give" in our current system so that we can stay focused on the most important things, take good care of each other, and not lose our minds - or our hearts!

I'm really, REALLY, hoping that marathon training isn't one of the things that has to "give" - as we've already invested over $200 in my commitment to it (sign-up fee + clinic fee).  But I've had some lingering pelvic pain and am just enough behind in the schedule that I could talk myself into quitting.  Uh oh...

I'll definitely keep you all posted.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Of Gummi Bears & Dollar Bills

For my long run this past weekend, I chose to skip the group run and stay in my neighborhood.  There was talk of meeting at the top of some trailhead, carpooling to the start of the run, and needing special "trail shoes."  Far too many new things for this little "agoraphob."  Oh well.

My training plan called for 10 miles this week, and I have the perfect 10 mile route in my part of town.  It was the perfect "comfort run" - just what I needed to trick myself into running 10 miles.  If I start from the end of our driveway and head east (?) on Glisan, I just have to run 5 miles out and 5 back.  At the 5 mile mark is the high school my husband attended (and that his father taught at) as well as this huge playground he calls "Imagination Station."  I talked Daniel into grabbing me some gummi bears and water, and meeting me at the Imagination Station as an aid station.  There's nothing like the promise of gummi bears to make me shut my mouth and move my feet.  It also helped that there was a nice sunbreak as I left the driveway.  And that my husband commanded me to leave our property and not come back until I'd run 10 miles.

Yeah... I almost completely wimped out of this run.

But I have my husband to thank for not relenting to my whining, complaining, bargaining, yelling and general b!tchiness.  He seriously deserves a medal of some sort... or at least his own bag of gummi bears.

I'm glad I got out there. 

Once I started running there was that sunbreak I mentioned, and I really felt strong and got into enjoying the run almost immediately.  I approached the "big hill" that's about 2.5/3 miles in and did some good self-talk to coach myself up the hill.  I tried saying all sorts of aggressive things like, "I'm going to kick this hills @ss!" and "I'm going to make this hill my b****!"  But that only resulted in me giggling and losing my cadence.  So I just decided to keep saying, "I can do it, I can do it, I'm doing it!"   Much more my style.

I grabbed some gummi bears and a water bottle from Daniel at the halfway point and then set out for home.  As I was headed back down the "big hill" two things happened;

1.) I found a random dollar bill
2.) It started raining

I put the dollar bill in my pocket and tried to keep my head up and look awesome in the rain.  I always wonder what people think when they see me running through the rain.

What is that crazy lady doing?
Is she in trouble? 
Where's the fire?
Why does she run like a gerbil?
Wow - she's super awesome!

All speculation... it's quite possible no one even notices me shuffling along. 

When I was about 2 miles away from home, the polite drizzle transformed into this ridiculous - and I mean REDONKULUSS - downpour.  I got a text from my Mom asking how my day was going and managed to text back (while running) that I was running my ten miler in the rain.  I felt really cool.

As I approached a crosswalk, Daniel pulled up in the van and asked how I was doing.  Part of my complaint that morning had been that I didn't want to run in the rain.  By this point, however, I was so determined to finish out my ten miles that I didn't care about the rain anymore.

During my half-marathon training, I only did that 10-mile run once.  I actually ended up walking a significant portion of the last 4 miles, which was pretty discouraging at the time.  A little more experience - and some helpful coaching - had me in a different head space this time, and I was able to get through all ten miles feeling strong and accomplished. 

It's just going to get fun from here!  I believe I have one more 10 mile run, and then the miles start building...


I'm really going to need those group ones once we hit the 13+ mile runs... mostly because I'm a big chicken and will psyche myself out and come up with some awesome excuse NOT to run.  I'll just have to decide which sounds scarier; 

a) finding parking downtown
b) running 12+ miles ALONE...

Oh dear...

Monday, May 17, 2010

9 miles is the new 10...

At least that's what I'm saying after my long run last weekend!

I managed to brave the freeways and make it to another group run last Saturday.  Our small group of "the slow kids" did 9 miles together, I'm so proud of all of us.  As I fell into conversation with different people throughout the run, I discovered that many of them are training for the Portland Marathon as their first race.  Crazy!  Crazy brave!  After over a month of working with this Team Oregon coaching staff, I actually have a great deal of confidence that we'll make it to the start line AND the finish line.

Our run this last week started at Road Runner Sports out in Tualitin, and took us up the same crazy hill from a few weeks ago.  I felt really strong for the first 7 miles, and then started feeling my legs fatigue during the last two.  Fortunately, we all run slow enough together that I was able to maintain pace and not fall behind. 

At the halfway point we stopped at our first (well, my first) aid station.  Water, some green energy drink and RED VINES!!! 

What?? We get to eat CANDY out here?!?!  Let's run every day!

I'm going to start bringing gummi bears with me when I run, and giving myself a gummi bear for each mile.  This should prove to be both yummy and awesome.  I'll just have to figure out where to store them so they don't melt into a gooey-gummi-bear puddle.  That would be sad... and gross... and sticky.

In other news - I've recently decided to join my friend Cheree Hayes as an Arbonne consultant.  More news to come, but the short version is;

Cheree introduced me to Arbonne's stuff about 6-7 months ago.  All of their skin/body care products are vegan, and free from gnarly cancer-causing & hormone altering chemicals (which I have since learned are in ALL the products I was using before... bleh!).  They're made without all that junk because they're formulated in Switzerland, where they have better rules about what you can put in skin care products.  (I'm still grossing out every time I remember the episode of "Dirty Jobs" with Mike Rowe, where they followed the guys who pick up dead cows and take them to be "rendered" and turned into a goop that goes into beauty products.)

Anyways - I started using it, fell in love and talked with Cheree about the business opportunity available through Arbonne.  It's so exciting to have a way of contributing to our family income, still being able to stay home with Ethan, AND getting to use my favorite stuff (my shampoo smells like a smoothie!) that I've hardly been able to sleep at night. 

That's all.  I'll keep you guys posted!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

In which I kick a baby squirrel...

True story.

On my 8 mile run today I accidentally kicked a baby squirrel.  It was one of the saddest moments of my life.  But before I give you the details, let me back up a little bit.

I was dreading waking up "early" this morning (AKA - 7am on a weekend).  We usually wake up by then during the week anyway, but I still have leftover feelings of entitlement when it comes to sleeping in on weekends.  Even though I have a toddler.  Silly Mommy. 

Alarm goes off at 7am, Mommy grumbles and rolls over. 
Daddy says, "Don't skip your run."
Mommy, "I won't."
5 minutes elapse and the second alarm goes off.
Daddy says, "Don't make me say it..."

I'd previously told Daniel to help me get out of bed for runs at all costs.  Even if it means he has to flip on the lights, steal my blanket, and say, "Get up fatty - you have miles to run!"  He has had to do that routine only once so far.  Fortunately I remembered that I'd given him those specific instructions and so it was actually a really funny way to wake up.  Minus being stripped of cozy blankets.

Anyways - back to the real story...

I manage to get out the door after spending some quality time with Ethan (AKA - stalling by letting him drink the milk from my cereal bowl) and head towards Lake Oswego.  I was especially nervous about this drive, as every time I've headed towards Lake Oswego I end up getting horribly lost.  I had been very thorough in checking out the google-map directions, writing directions out turn-by-turn (including how far to drive before the next step), and studied the arial map of the surrounding four blocks to try and guess the best parking location.  I headed out the door with about 30 minutes until the run was supposed to start - not the best move on my part, as the google-directions predicted a 28 minute drive.

I made it within one mile of the park when I hit a road block.  Apparently today was some sort of Lake Run in Lake Oswego and their downtown was shut down to route traffic away from the park.  Oops.  Whoever planned our run this week must not have checked the local race calendars.  I was directed away from the main road and sat in a parking lot for a moment to problem solve.  I couldn't tell whether or not the park the Lake Run started from was the same park I was supposed to be held.  By the time I worked my way back to the main street (they had a detour) it was already 8:15.  I figured that even if I could work my way through the standstill traffic, find a parking spot and run to the field - everyone else would be long gone before I arrived.  So I decided to head back to my part of town and run my 8 miles at the Glendoveer Fitness Trail.

The weather was perfect for a run this morning!  Clear skies, a tiny little breeze and the sun shining down on a nicely shaded fitness trail.  I wasn't the only one out enjoying Glendoveer this morning.  It just so happens that I was passed by the same pair of speed-walking Grandmas not just once, not even just twice, but THREE times.  They were really booking it... or I was going slow.  Probably a combination of both.  In addition to some speed walking Grandmas there were also several families with kiddos in baby joggers, a handful of really serious looking soccer players, and two other women who were putting in at least 8 miles. 

What about the baby squirrel?  Well apparently there was a recent proliferation of baby squirrels at Glendoveer, because they were all over the path in this one spot.  Each time I passed I'd see one or two tiny little grey squirrels darting around in bushes, running into the path to stare me down, and then running back to hide.  On my second lap, one of the little guys was just chilling in the middle of the path.  They're all conditioned to expect you to feed them (thanks a lot well-meaning elderly people with bags of peanuts...) so they will actually run at you when they see you on the path.  I slowed down a bit as I approached and tried to guess which direction the squirrel was going.  Then he sort of spazzed out and darted DIRECTLY into my foot.  He just bounced off of it and ran off into the bush.  I felt bad - who wouldn't feel bad kicking a squirrel? - but also couldn't stifle a little giggle at the whole situation.  I'm sure I would have felt different if I'd killed him.  Hopefully he'll learn not to rush at people on the path.  Now if we can just talk those sweet older people out of hand feeding them!

Squirrel-kicking aside, my run was actually really great this morning.  8 miles is the longest I've run since I've been home from the half-marathon back in March.  I was a little nervous about turning out 8 miles today, especially when it meant doing the same loop four times, but I did it!  I really have no idea what my pace was as I've stopped keeping track and really don't care.  Thanks to Coach Patti from the Training Clinic, my focus has settled onto endurance rather than speed and I'm feeling really happy about that.  I may not be able to do a sub-9 minute mile in 2010, but I'm definitely going to finish 26.2 of my slow-pokey miles all in one shot in October. 

With my first fully completed training week under my belt, I'm headed into next week with the same goal; finish all my miles.  This will mean planning, doing, and not whining.  Maybe a little whining... but just a little.  :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Quick Update :)

I've put in all of my midweek miles this week!  For some reason, completing the entire schedule/plan for a week has eluded me until this week. I'm sure it's partly a busy/Mama-life, and partly a psychological thing.  Well I did it! 

2 miles on Monday
4 on Tuesday
2 on Wednesday
& 4 on Thursday.

Plus, I was able to get a core workout in (Monday) and an upper body workout (Thursday) this week as well. 

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to do 8 miles, and our group is meeting at a trail.  I'm not exactly sure how doing 8 miles for my first trail run is going to go - but it should be pretty entertaining for all of you out there in the blogosphere. 


Monday, May 3, 2010

Back in The Saddle... er... Treadmill?

I was finally able to get back to the gym this week after 6 full days of NO running at all.  For those of you who run, I know you can feel my pain.  Becca Sue not getting to run for a week is pretty similar to trying to talk a smoker into quitting cold turkey.  My poor husband can testify to the mood-lifting power of a good run and - inversely - the cranky-monster effect of NOT getting in a good run.  I receive no end of grace, patience and love from this poor man.  I love you honey!

Why the absence?  My toddler had some tooth restoration done on Friday which required him to receive general anesthesia.  In order for him to "go under" he had to be 100% healthy and cold free.  My little guy has a knack for picking up cold bugs at the gym nursery every four weeks or so, and it'd been over two months since the last time he was sick.  Whether it's science or superstition - I wasn't about to risk exposing him to a cold if it meant pushing his tooth restoration off another three months.  The poor kid inherited my rotten teeth and all of his top teeth had cavities.  I didn't believe it at first and we actually sought a second opinion.  That doctor showed me the cavities himself and I was horrified.  Ethan has been telling us his teeth hurt since Christmas and hasn't been using his front teeth to chew for the same amount of time.  We're completely stumped trying to explain what happened.  He doesn't eat sugary treats or candy, and he's only had juice maybe six times in his whole life.  We brush his teeth religiously each night.  The only explanation the dentist could give us was that some kids just have genetically weak enamel.  That makes sense based on my own dental history... but it doesn't make it any easier to let your kiddo get put under and worked on my strangers with sharp instruments.  I'm glad it's over.   And glad my little guy is feeling better.  He doesn't fight when we try to brush his teeth now, and he seems to be sleeping better.  Hopefully both of those changes will be permanent!

So there's a real life glimpse of what happens when Mom-responsibilities throw a wrench into the usual plan.  I could have asked my husband to watch Ethan in the evenings so I could get those miles in, but by the end of the day last week I just wanted to be home with  my guys.  At least I learned the importance of getting my miles in first thing in the morning so I can get on with my day without feeling "behind."  The Saturday long run was an alarm-clock issue technically.  Technically... but deep down I'm sure there was a part of me that felt defeated from being so "behind" and just wanted to wallow in my warm snuggly bed with my husband and toddler.  Yeah... probably that.

I received some great advice from my friend Janelle back when I was training for my half marathon.  She said that when you miss a run, forget about it.  Don't get caught in trying to "make it up" or beat yourself up for being "behind."  Just move on and get over it.  That advice would have served me well last week - and it'll serve me well this week. 

One two mile run down for the week... four more runs to go!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Portland Marathon Clinic: Run #3 -AKA- I DID THE HILL!

One of the best things about not knowing Portland very well (even though I've lived here for over 7 years) is that I can't be intimidated about the runs long enough in advance to talk myself out them!  Ha! 

Our run today started at Duniway Park in West Portland, near the YMCA on Barbur Blvd.  Actually is started on a track near there.  When I approached the track I saw that huge hill that OHSU sits on, and freaked out a little bit.  I took a picture of the hill with my cell phone and sent it to my husband saying, "as long as we don't run up this hill I'll be okay."  To which he reponded, "be strong babe!"  Thanks dear.

It turns out we did run up that hill, and it was nearly as bad as I was expecting.  We ran 3 miles out and then 3 back.  I ran with the 5hr+ group again and met some new friends again this week.  We ran up Terwilliger, which is definitely a hill.  However, because we were running 1-2 minutes-per-mile slower than I usually run, it actually felt doable.  My calves were a little tight at the very beginning but warmed up quickly and didn't give me any trouble.  After the run Patti explained that most people do hills way too fast/hard and end up wearing themselves out.  She showed us some proper form for running up hills, which was very helpful. 

I met two ladies who raise chickens, several who were training for their first marathon, and one who joined our group after realizing her own pace group was too fast.  I didn't end up running next to the three gals I'd met last week, which I was hoping to do in order to get to know them better.  I've been out of the "making new friends with strangers" gig since well... my whole life.  So this "driving somewhere new to run with strangers" thing is almost harder than the actual runs themselves.  My goal for next week is to be brave and go say hello before our run starts.  What's the worst that could happen? They decide I'm a weirdo and tell me to drop dead?  Maybe.  Not likely.  It might be worse for me to be so shy that I come across as a snobby lady.  I've noticed as I've gone along in life that the "snobby" gals are usually just really shy. 

So, next week = 7 miles and being friendly.
Lord, beer me strength!

Running School!

Part of the training clinic is 5 evening sessions of lectures and information about running.  We're supposed to cover topics like training science, nutrition, injury prevention, race planning, and all sorts of fun stuff.  It's a running nerd's (and a regular nerd's) dream! 

The first session was this past Wednesday and took place at the Kaiser Interstate Hospital's "Town Hall" building.  For those of you who've been around this blog long enough - you might be thinking, "Kaiser?!  How did they trick you into going back there?"  It's quite ironic to me that my journey to glorify God and reconcile with my body would put me in a Kaiser building.  Ick.  But I went!  I drove down there all by myself and found the building - thank you google-maps!  I love being able to use the satellite view to locate buildings and parking lots.  Less stress for me is a good thing.

This session of the class covered some basic introductory topics.  The clinic leaders - Patti and Warren - told us about their running history and shared their goals for us.  Basically, they want us to finish injury free and feeling great.  I'm definitely on board with that plan.  They asked us to trust their 30+ years of experience, especially when their coaching directions seem counter-intuitive to us obsessive newbies.  Hey, anyone who tells me I should be running slower is a good friend of mine. 

They explained some of the basic science behind training your body to endure long mileage, and gave us this huge book they've written called "Marthoning: Start to Finish."  So if you see me in a back corner with my nose in a book... call me a nerd.  Then go run 8 miles. 

I'm looking forward to the next 4 sessions and will keep you guys in the loop with all the fun running nerd stuff I'm learning.

Better Late Than Never?

I was just sitting down to write an update about week 3 of marathon training, and realized I never actually wrote one for week 2.  Apparently writing blogs in your head does not actually count as publishing them online.  Perhaps someday someone will create a program that can read my brainwaves so I can write a blog WHILE I'm running and publish it without having to wrestle a toddler off of my laptop?  Maybe that's too science-fictioney...  yeah, probably.

In the meantime - here's my short version of Run #2:

Our second group run with the Portland Marathon Clinic started at Road Runner Sports out in Tualitin.  I'd never been out to the store before, so I'm really thankful that I was forced to drive there.  It's a HUGE running store filled with all kinds of fun (and useful) running gear, shoes, and really great looking clothes.  I'm saving my pennies for a nice "pretty" outfit for the marathon.  I did silly and whimsical for the half-marathon, now I'd like to look pretty... well, as pretty as one can look when they're running 26.2 miles.  A girl can try!

Anyways - I stuck with the 5hr+ pace group led by Patti Warren.  This woman is an absolute hoot!  She and her husband Warren are in charge of the clinic, from what I can tell, and have 30+ years of experience running marathons (and ultra marathons), coaching other runners and leading the Portland marathon clinic.   It's so refreshing to be able to just trust the coach and settle into the training program.  Especially when they keep saying things like;

More isn't better... it's just MORE!
Faster isn't better... it's just FASTER!
Slowing down by just 5% can help you go twice as far.
"Walk" is not a four-letter word.

I finished that run feeling comfortable and energetic, like I could have done it twice.  According to Coach Patti - that's exactly how I should be feeling.  Yay!  I'm really looking forward to feeling that way when we run 10, 15, and even 20 miles.  I'll definitely keep you posted.

Our run was 5 miles long that week, and included a pretty substantial uphill.  We ran by a park (can't remember the name) and through some neighborhoods.  For a while - after the hill - I got to be the caboose on the slow group.  That's not a very glamorous role, but finally one of the other gals dropped back to check on me and chat.  I ended up chatting with a good handful of the gals in the group and met three gals who are training for their first marathon with this clinic.  I'm looking forward to getting to know some of them and being "friendly" - which is quite a stretch for an introverted homebody like me.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My husband is a rock star!

Earlier this week my hubby ran his very first consecutive 3.1 miles ever in his whole life!  I'm so proud. 

We were on treadmills at our gym on Wednesday and I had just hopped on to do a little two miler easy run.  It was our first time back to the gym after getting over a fast-and-furious bout with the stomach flu, so I decided I was going to take it slow and just do a 4mph jog rather than do intervals.  He chose to do the same, and when we made it to the two mile mark he got so excited that he decided he was going to shoot for 3.1.  He usually does his Couch to 5k intervals at a 5mph and ends up having sore knees and getting tired easily.  But when he ran "slow" with me at 4mph, he said he felt great the whole time and wanted to see how far he could make it. 

The actual run was rather uneventful, as treadmill runs tend to be, but when we finished he was so excited!  He's been told by a couple different doctors that he'd never be able to run.  Once in 6th grade because he had bad knees, and once recently because of his weight.  He proved them wrong and he was so thrilled!  He told me then that the longest he'd ever run before that was during PE when they made everyone do 1.5 miles.  He even thanked me for encouraging him to get started and said he's ready to actually sign up for a race now.

So stay tuned, ladies and gentleman!  There should be some fun news about Team Congdon signing up for some 5ks this summer. :D

Portland Marathon Clinic Long Run #1

It's been a little too long since I checked in with an update so I figured I'd better write this one out as soon as I had a chance!  Thank You, Lord for Ethan's nap - please let it be long enough for me to write a blog.  :D

This morning was the first official training run with the Portland Marathon Clinic.  The actual training runs are free to the community and draw quite a crowd.  We were CRAMMED in a pretty big Nike store in downtown Portland while we waited for things to start.  Driving downtown is a crazy step of courage on my part, especially going by myself.  Hubby asked me how I was feeling this morning before I left and I told him I was nervous to be driving downtown to meet up with a bunch of strangers. He reassured me that they probably wouldn't beat me up.  I replied that I wasn't worried about them beating me up, I was afraid they wouldn't like me.  Oh silly junior high feelings!

But I did it! I braved a drive downtown, to a Nike store (always have avoided "real sports" stores because that's where the cool kids hang out), to wait with a bunch of strangers, to run.  And I'm really glad that I did. 

Pace groups were sorted by anticipated marathon finish time.  I was put in the slowest group, which is just great with me.  We had the option of doing 4, 6, or 8 miles and I decided that I'd just do 4 because our family just got over the stomach flu and I was only able to put in half of my training miles this week.  We shuffled/jogged along at what felt at first like a SUPER slow pace, but which eventually felt comfortable.  The gal leading our pace group shared that she's in her 60's.  She told us that if we want to finish our first marathon (all of us were newbies) and even still be runners in our 60s, we were going to have to trust her and the other coaches when they tell us to do silly things like run slower than we think we should.   She also kept saying, "more is not better... it's just "more" - referring to the amount of miles you run during training.  I liked that encouraging piece of advice.  She said that if we are doing our long runs the right way, we should feel comfortable the entire time and finish feeling like we could do another 2-4 miles.  That's defiitely how I felt today, so I guess it was a good run.

I even made a new friend!  Well, sort of.  Our group had a handful of race walkers along for the fun, and I ended up doing my slow jog right next to a gal who was busting out a really fast race walk to keep up with us.  She started chatting with me and was really encouraging when she found out this was my first marathon.  It turns out she's actually one of the race walk judges this year for the Portland Marathon.  I didn't get a chance to catch her name but hope to next week.  :)  She went with the half of the group that went on to do 6 and 8 milers when I turned back with the 4 mile group. 

Now I'm all home and showered and letting my little one sleep while I get ready to head out to a wedding for a dear family friend.  All in all - it was a great first day!

Friday, April 2, 2010

True Confessions of the Glutton Kind

As I've been moving along in my running and weight loss journey, I have found that keeping a food journal has been a key to success.  I seem to follow a pattern of having a big weight loss "jump" one month - usually about five pounds - and then hitting a plateau  for a few months.  With the stress of these past few weeks, I've found myself mindlessly eating to escape my emotions.  Big 'oops.'  Mindless emotional eating is BAD for running, for weight loss, and - to be frank - bad for your soul.  I teach my students in my Life Work class that God created us with emotions with the intent that our emotions would draw us to Him. 

He means for our grief to draw us into His presence for comfort. 
He means for our anger to draw us to Him as we trust in His justice. 
He means for our joy to draw us to Him in praise and thankfulness.

So, anytime we take our emotions and try to "eat them" rather than following them to Jesus we miss out on the comfort and grace our souls really need.  And we get fatter.  No bueno.

I like new beginnings, so I figured April 1st was as good a day as any to start keeping a food journal again.  Sparkpeople has been my favorite so far, so I signed back in today and started keeping track.  I figure I'll spend this week just tracking what I eat, and then maybe give you guys a summary of what I'm learning.

I am embarrassed to say that I managed to pack in nearly 4000 calories today.  No joke!  Part of that is due to attending a Pampered Chef party and indulging in some Hot Lava Cake, Banana Bread and wine.  Part of that is due to grabbing Taco Bell for dinner on my way over there.  Bad call both directions.  I know that the Lord means for me to glorify Him with every aspect of my life, including the food I put into my body.  When I go on auto-pilot, I eat more than I really need.  I also tend to choose low-quality, high-calorie foods. 

Menu planning and actually taking the time to prepare healthy snacks and quick-meals will go a long way to helping me reduce the amount of junk I eat during the day.  But the real change will have to come at a heart level.  Sadly, I fear that I am not capable of changing my own heart.  I'm just too in love with the crunchy, cheese, melty numminess that is Taco Bell.  So I'm left with trusting God at His word - that He is the one who works in me both to want to change and to actually have the ability to change (Phil 2:12-13).  Then I just have to take it one step at a time and lean into the grace and love of Jesus when I feel tempted. 

Lord - I'm hosed if you don't step in and change my heart.  You promise to do it, and I know you're faithful to keep your word.  So here we go!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Marathon Training: Week 1

I got an email late last week from someone with the Portland Marathon Clinic, with a link to the Beginner's "pre-training" schedule.  Our training program officially starts with our first group run on the 11th.  In the meantime they recommend that we follow this schedule;

M: 2 miles
T: 4 Miles
W: 2 Miles
Th: 4 miles
Weekend: 6 mile long run

Sounds pretty doable to me!  I've been posting all my details so far this week on dailymile, so I won't rehash them here, but I've put in 9 miles already this week and have 4 planned for tomorrow's workout (+ some pilates) and then my own lonely long run on Saturday.

I also happen to have a spa morning planned for Saturday, thanks to Daniel's parents.  Their birthday present to me back in December was a gift certificate for a facial, foot bath and massage at this place downtown. I saved it for after my half marathon as a way to celebrate that accomplishment.  I'm BEYOND excited.  :D

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I recieved an email from Anna with a while back, asking me to check out their website to see if it's something I'd be interested in sharing with all of ya'll via my blog.  I finally had a chance to skim through it, and wanted to share a quick-post with everyone.

Run Reviews is a website full of treadmill reviews and other treadmill specific articles and information.  It's pretty ad-heavy, but there are some interested tid bits along the way.  For those who are in the market for a treadmill, it seems like a good place to start to familiarize yourself with the different options available to you.

I especially appreciated this article, "How to Buy the Best Treadmill For Your Budget" which helps first timers answer some quick questions to help narrow down your search.  I'd love to own my own treadmill someday when we have the space for it, and will be saving this article for future use. :)

Ooooh... and I really liked this short article, "Don't Buy a Treadmill If..." which has a list of "deal breakers" to help you know which treadmills are NOT for you.

Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think!

Jesus as King of a Runner's Slump

I've been oddly quiet since my return from the half marathon trip, and I don't know if anyone noticed and wondered what happened.  I've been walking through what I've heard other runners describe as a post-race "slump" or "crash."  After all of the excitement and planning for a first half marathon - and an epic Disney vacation to boot! - our homecoming was rather intense.

My husband and I are deeply invested in our church - Core Life Church in Gresham, Oregon.  Daniel has served on the worship band for the last 4ish years we've attended, and has done tons of work with their graphic design and production support.  I've had the privelage of teaching in the Core Life Training program, which are our discipleship classes.  I teach a class called "Life Work" - which focuses on helping people connect the truth of the gospel and the truth of their real life experiences.  For most of us, our view of God has been shaped by our experiences with our parents and other authority figures.  Sadly, a lot of those experiences leave people thinking God is mainly concerned with our obedience and is usually bent out of shape because we can't seem to "get it right."  The "Life Work" class seeks to help people identify big life experiences that shaped their view of God, in order to process those experiences for what they are and to allow God to speak for Himself.  The God of the Bible created us for a love relationship with Him and longs for nothing more than that our hearts would be consumed with love for Him.  If He has our hearts, all of life flows happily to Him; our obedience, our service, etc.

As we returned home from our trip we've been walking through some really tough conflict between our two head pastors.  Both men we know personally as mentors and friends, and both men we love and highly respect.  Things had gotten so heated that a professional mediator was called in to help them sort things out.  Somewhere along the line in the process, one of our pastors - and one of our dearest friends - decided to resign his elder and staff position so he and his wife (one of my best friends) can seek a new season of healing and begin a family.  The issues between the two of them are still unresolved, though they are both committed to working things out and eventually being at peace with one another.  Through this whole thing, both my husband and I have been heartbroken.  To see two men that you deeply love and respect, and whom you know truly love one another, in such sharp conflict is unsettling.

But it's real life.  And as messy and confusing as it has been, we are comforted and reassured by the fact that we know both of these men truly love Jesus.  Things haven't ended in the way most of us would have hoped, but we trust that Jesus is still King of this whole thing and that He does have a plan.  Our preaching pastor gave a great sermon on Palm Sunday (yesterday) before the resignation letter was read.  The topic was Jesus as King, even as He gave up His life.  It was a timely and much-needed truth for our church, which has a season of grieving to do now, and a "new normal" to find as we say goodbye to a leader we dearly love.

Check out the audio here and let me know what you think;

Now - what does that have to do with a runner's slump?

Well it just so happens that while all of this difficulty has been unfolding, I've run... 6 miles total.  6 miles since my half marathon.  Ouch.

Sometimes real life gets in the way of running.  It made me realize how much my body has come to depend on running as a way to process and to release tension.  It has also made me realize that as much as my body is aching and crying out for a good run, my spirit is aching and crying out for a good cry.

What I need most deeply at this time, is to experience the comfort of knowing that Jesus is still King.  The Bible calls us to cast all of our anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us.  Believe me, I've been taking God up on that one these past few weeks.  None of this is a surprise to Him, and He knows exactly how He is going to work everything out for our good.  I don't see it now, but I know from past experience that I can trust Him.  One step at a time.

As I head back into a training season this week (did my first two miles today!), I do so with a renewed commitment to run hard after Jesus.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Official

I'm officially registered for the Portland Marathon!  
I'm also doing the Marathon Training Clinic with Team Oregon.  Should be quite the adventure!

The event also has a half marathon, a kid's run, a mayor's walk, a race walk and a wheel chair division.  
Anyone else want to play?

Race Report: 5k/10k with Becca Sue & Friends

Last Saturday I had the awesome privilege of being the guest of honor at a race that was organized  in my honor.  My friends Melody and Teagen got the sweet idea to put together a race celebrating my accomplishment in training for and finishing my first half marathon.  It was such a special day!

We all met at the Gresham Main City Park and ran a course marked out by the lovely Teagen.  The 5k route was an out-and-back course marked at the halfway point with this lovely sign;

Look! It's "Muffins & Love!"

Then the 10k course was a repeat of the first 5k.  There was a great crowd!  15 people in all, if my count is right.  Mostly people from my church, Core Life Church, and a couple people even used the opportunity to bring some of their run-loving friends along!  We were also joined by two doggies and a toddler... mine. :)

We all lined up together and took off when Teagen announced the start of the race.  My hubby surprised me by bolting off right at the start.  It took me a while to catch up with him, and I still didn't even catch up with him except for when he was doing the "walking" portion of his Couch-to-5k routine.  Apparently he's a super-stud runner in hiding.  
My son humored me by riding along in his stroller for quite a while.  At one point he looked up at me and said, "running!... DOWN! running!"  I asked if he wanted to run with me and he said, "YEAH!"  So I unbuckled him and we kept going.  As you can see from this picture, he was really plowing along. 

And then he fell hard on his hands.  After a little snuggling and a couple kisses from Mommy he was ready to keep going.  Daddy had heard Ethan crying and came running back to us so we could all finish together.  Ethan ended up riding Daddy's shoulders for the rest of the race.

So my stud of a husband finished his first 5k while running and walking with a toddler on his shoulders.  What a champ!  While we were slowly making our way along the course, I got some great pictures of our friends having a fun time.

Kaylee & Janelle - PUMPED!!

Kelly and her awesome pony-tail hat!

New friend, Nina - friends with the Yeagers

Charity, fresh after her first 5k race the week before!

Daniel and I took quite a while to finish, but eventually we did!  We ended up catching our friend Jonie who had gone past the turn-a-round point quite a ways, and she finished with us.  Everyone was at the finish to cheer us in, and even used an extra dog leash to put up a "finish tape" for us.  So much fun!
Finishing strong!

After all that fun, we all went and had a nice big breakfast at McCrae's.  And then us Congdons went straight home and took a family nap!  The proceeds from the race were given to me in support of my running journey.  Having that many people show up because they've been inspired by my story or just want to cheer me on was a huge blessing in itself.  But then to see all those people fork over dough to show their support was pretty humbling.  After covering the costs of the race (ie, awesome post-race yummies, water, and some sweet customized race-bibs!) they gave me nearly $100.  

So what's a girl to do with $100? 

I've been sitting on that one for almost a week.  Should I use it to pay for the Marathon training clinic? For a race fee? To cover the hours my husband lost (he has no vacation pay) for taking us to Florida?  Hmm...

Then I had a fabulous idea!  The whole point of this journey has been - and will be - because I want every aspect of my life to bring glory to Jesus.  Thanks to the solid teaching I've experienced at Core Life Church, I've been really impacted by the urgency of spreading the truth of the gospel to those who don't have access to it, and to the mission of training up people who can go take that message.  Right now our church has a college student who is away studying at Capernwray Bible School in Europe.  As part of their training, they are spending part of the summer in Africa.  The main goal of short-term trips is to get people exposed to the fact that God can use them in HUGE ways if they are just willing to take a risk.  I'm stoked for my friend Becca Norman and the journey she's taking, and thought "what better way for my journey to bring glory to God, than to pass along this money - God's money - to be used for His kingdom?"

So, there ya'  have it.  I'm beyond thrilled to be able to pass that money along, and can't wait to hear about the ways the Lord works in her and through her while she's following Him one step at a time.

You might even consider checking out her story and throwing some money her way to help her and her classmates get to Africa.  I promise your gift will have eternal impact for the glory of God. :)

I had to close with this awesome picture of me, Kaylee, and Janelle.
Yes, that's me in a tutu
Yes, Kaylee looks grumpy... my fault.  :) haha.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Athleta Giveaway

One of the gals from my CafeMom RunningMoms group also happens to write an inspiring blog.  She also happens to have an AWESOME giveaway going on through her blog right now, and I wanted to send you all her way so you can check it out.  Just click on the link to learn more.  While you're there, you should definitely read through some of her other entries. She uses her blog as a way to share her weekly goals for the various roles she has in her life.  She may even inspire you to start writing out your own weekly goals!

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

The long awaited Disney post is here, friends!  I hope that it will be everything you hoped!

We left for Florida on Thursday around lunchtime.  Our trip started out with a nice adventure - my friend Ashley met us at our place and drove us to the airport.  Upon reaching our drop-off point and unloading our bags, we discovered that I'd left my wallet - with my photo ID - at home.  OOPS!  Daniel took our bags and got us checked in while Ashley and I drove back to the house to get my wallet.  When we reached the house we discovered that Daniel had kept the house keys with him and just left Ashley with the van keys... OOPS!  I raced up to Daniel's parent's house in hopes of telling Great Grandma that we needed her copy of our house key (we live next door).  By the time GG got me the key, I turned to find Ashley standing in our open doorway.  Apparently I'd left the windows unlocked, and it took her less than 10 seconds to break in to my house.  OOPS... but WOOHOO!  We grabbed my wallet, locked the windows, and headed back to the airport.  Fortunately, I'd checked us in (for our tickets) the night before and already printed our boarding passes.  We actually made our way to the gate and had time to spare.  Yay! 

Ethan was a champ on both of our flights.  He actually slept through most of them, and watched Blues Clues and ate Goldfish crackers while he wasn't sleeping.  We arrived in Florida a little after midnight Friday morning, and took the Disney Magical Express bus from the airport to the Disney Port Orleans Riverside Resort.  I had checked us in online the day before, so all we had to do was go up to the desk and ask for our folder.  They pointed out where our room was, and Daniel and I carried four bags and a toddler to our room.  We'd purchased one of those Kelty kid-carrying-backpack-thingies to make our trip a little easier, and Ethan seemed to enjoy his bird's eye view of things while our hands were free to manage luggage. 

The Port Orlean's Riverside is a great hotel.  Our building was on the opposite side of a waterway/river/marina, and we crossed a footbridge, walked around the swimming pool island (it had it's own island) and crossed another footbridge that took us right up to our building.  We did happen to be three floors up - but at 2am... being at Disneyworld makes all of that make sense somehow.  We actually spent an hour unpacking, getting settled in, and just enjoying the fact that we were finally there!


Friday was our day to attend the Fitness Expo, pick up our race packets, and meet up with Daniel's family.  I am not a big fan of expos, but I pulled myself together long enough to get my packet and check out all the cool gear offered by the vendors.

Me waiting for my packet (yellow shirt)

I survived a fitness expo - and got my baby these Mickey Ears!

After grabbing my packet, Ethan's packet, and ChEAR Squad packets for Daniel and his parents, we headed out.  We did stop to take some pictures of the outside to commemorate our visit to the Wide World of Sports.

Ethan was tired of the expo by that point.

After visiting the expo, we went back to our hotel and enjoyed the pool.  Ethan had a blast swimming with Daddy.  Eventually we had to drag him, kicking and screaming and shivering and dripping wet, back to the hotel so we could get changed and meet Daniel's parents at Downtown Disney.  We were able to ride a boat from our hotel straight to Downtown Disney!  We ended up having dinner with Daniel's parents and his Uncle Chuck and Aunt Pat and cousins Austin and Payton - at an Irish Pub.  We rode the boat back to our hotel and tried to get some sleep in anticipation of Ethan's big race the next morning.

Ethan enjoys the last of the bread pudding


 Daddy helping Ethan with his bib
The Royal Family Kid's Races were a blast.  They were held on the track complex at the Wide World of Sports.  Papa got to run with Ethan.  There must have been at least 100 kiddos in the 100m dash.  All of the kids recieved finisher medals and lots of cheers!

A very serious finish

The back of his Race Shirt - so cute!

I took videos of the actual race, so I don't have photos of my little man in action.  As soon as I figure out how to load videos, I'll share those gems with ya'll.

After the Kids' Races, we had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe and spent the afternoon in the Animal Kingdom Park.  Ethan especially liked the dance party in the street near closing time.  We also saw the Lion King Festival, which had animatronics, life performers, acrobats and a fire juggler.  Too. Much. Fun.

We returned to our hotel and hoped for a quiet evening of relaxation before our early wake up call for my race.  That is not what happened.  In the course of throwing a fit, Ethan flopped himself down onto the tile flooring in our hotel.  Daniel was trying to keep him from hurting his head, and was holding on to his hand... which popped.  We're not sure exactly what happened - did it sprain? Break? Dislocate?  Ethan screamed and cried and held his arm for a good hour while we snuggled him and tried to figure out what to do.  We ended up calling the advice line through our doctor's office and they told us as long as it wasn't discolored, and he could still move his fingers, then it wasn't broken and there wasn't really anything they could do to help him.  We kept an eye on him all night, and gave him some Children's Motrin when he woke up next.  After more crying and screaming and arm-holding, he fell asleep again for about an hour, and we joined him.  Around 1am, he popped awake as his normal happy, whole, energetic self and asked for something to eat.  He then fell asleep sprawled across me with a pizza crust in his hand.  We never heard another peep from him about his arm and still haven't solved the mystery.  

Sunday - Race Day!
We got up at 3:30am and I got dressed.  In this;

My mom made me this rad tutu and mailed it to me just in time for our trip.  For the race, I chose to wear my old faithful Target brand running pants and long sleeve tech shirt, with my Running on Muffins & Love tank top over that.  I topped it all off with my fleece long-sleeve shirt because I knew we'd be doing lots of standing in the cold waiting for things to get started.  Daniel and I headed out to our bus stop around 4am, and watched 3 buses pass us by while our stop filled with more and more race participants.  Eventually we did get on a bus that took us to the race start.  I have never seen such a HUGE crowd of people in my life... seriously.  The organizers had things laid out pretty well, though.  I gave Daniel a nice big hug and headed out on that 20 minute walk to the starting gates that they promised us.  They weren't joking!  It was a long walk, but the huge crowd kept moving along and made it a little more bearable.  As we got closer I could hear a huge sound system pumping Miley Cyrus.  They had a stage set up and were running some sort of camera with pictures of the crowd and the speakers so we could all see.  I also wonder if it was broadcast somewhere.  I was assigned to Corral B... for some reason?... and so I headed there and tried to get to the back of the crowd so none of the fast kids would trip on me... lol.  My tutu drew lots of compliments and attention.  We all waited as the countdown to the starting gun kept ticking.  Some announcer taught us the Cupid Shuffle - which was a nice way to stay warm and get our bodies moving before the race.  

Eventually it was time to start and the Fairy Godmoter wished us luckormagicorsomething and they lit fireworks to signal the start for each corral - that was pretty special.  We started in one of the backlots near Epcot and found our way out onto the freeway - which they'd blocked off for all 14,000 of us.  Along the course there was something fun during each mile.  There was either a water/powerade station, or a set of Disney characters, or someone with a big sound system and music in each mile.  Each mile was marked with a large sign with Disney Princess pictures along with the clock time of the race.  We ran along the highway towards the Magic Kingdom, through the Transit station, through the gates of the park, and then through some backlot into the actual park.  Running through Magical Kingdom was one of my favorite parts because I knew it meant we were halfway.   I ran by Daniel right before I ran through the castle and he got these great shots;

This is my race face... apparently... I'm not sure if there's a way around it

This was almost cute - as you can see, the sun was on the rise at this point

Running towards the castle!

After making it through the castle, the rest of the race was a little foggy for me.  We went back the way we came, but on the other side of the freeway.  There were some onramps and bridges and some green army men and more pirates and princes.  I had noticed on the Garmin that I was maintaining under a 12min/mile pace, and I was STOKED!!!  I felt like I was really running comfortably and not pushing myself hard, so I was shocked to see how fast I was running according to the Garmin.  I did end up stopping to use a porto-potty somewhere after the castle which is HORRIFIC when you are wearing a tutu.  I also ended up stopping by the side of the road to stretch out my hamstrings and lower back at miles 4, 7, 9, 10 and 11.  For some reason my back kept tweaking and I'm not sure why... probably the faster than normal pace?  Somewhere in mile 9 (or was it 10) I approached a medical tent, thinking it was an aid station.  They wrote down my number and handed me water and a tylenol.  I wasn't in search of them, but I figured if they were handing it out it wouldn't hurt to take one.  I also scored some Biofreeze from some gal who was just plopping it into peoples' hands.  I've never seen it or heard of it before but it smells all minty and medicinal.  I looked around and saw ladies wiping it all over their legs and assumed it was to help with sore legs so I rubbed it into my calves.  Up to that point I'd been feeling tight in my achilles and calves and was a little nervous that they might freak out on me.  As soon as the biofreeze sunk in - which took less than a minute - my legs felt perfect.  It made me wish I'd put some on my entire legs... lol.  

I did finally move on from the medical tent and finished my last three miles with renewed vigor.  The last little bit of our race took us through a side entrance to Epcot and we ran through Tomorrowland (? or something?) and up the walkway towards the World Showcase.  We looped around a great flower scultpure of Mickey and Minnie and headed back out another side entrance to the finish line.  

Throughout the whole race I kept finding myself wrestling with wanting to embrace the magic of the moment, but also feeling silly about how emotional and "big" it all was supposed to seem.  I spent the last three miles reflecting on the journey I've been on this past year, and just talking the the Lord and asking Him to help this whole thing really count for His glory somehow.  It was a little weird to be approaching the finish line with so many mixed emotions.  I was really excited to be DONE (I was tired by that point), but I also wanted to make the magic and excitement last for a lot longer.  And I was questioning whether this whole year of training and planning was really worth it... all of that time for just this moment?  As I was pondering those thoughts I rounded the corner to the last 100m of the race and was shocked by what I saw and heard.  To the left of the course was a PRAISE CHOIR.  And they were singing praise songs... to Jesus... at a Disney race.  I broke down sobbing at this demonstration of worship and hoped it was a sign that God was confirming that He was - in fact - going to use this whole journey to benefit more than just me.

Crying when you're trying to sprint to the finish line of a 13.1 mile race is NOT conducive to finishing that race while breathing.  My throat and chest started to close off and I had to say, "PULL IT TOGETHER CONGDON - YOU'VE GOT A RACE TO FINISH!" and push myself that last little bit.

I did it!
The finish was a blur.  I know I saw my Aunt Salli and Uncle Greg cheering for me.  I made my way through the finishing area and claimed my medal, then worked my way through the food line and snagged a bagel and a banana.  I also managed to get a powerade and a water before finally figuring out where the exit to the family reunion area was.  Greg and Salli found me first, and soon after that Daniel and his parents (with Ethan in tow) found me as well. 
My first real medal!

After it was all said and done, I rode the bus back to the hotel ahead of the family so I could take a nice luxurious ice bath and shower.  Ice baths are my new favorite thing... I would actually take one right now if I had enough ice (which I don't).

We actually spent the rest of the day in Epcot after my race and ate dinner at this rocking Japanese restaurant.  I'm sad to say that after capturing the race photos, we kept leaving our camera in the room.  We had TONS of fun in Disneyworld after the race, but the memories will have to be kept alive in our hearts rather than on photo-form.  

On Monday we enjoyed Magic Kingdom.  We road Space Mountain and spent about two hours riding the train around the park so that Ethan could nap in my arms.  I think that might have been one of my favorite parts.  Ethan got to spend time playing in Mickey's Toontown Country Fair, and then in Winnie the Pooh's Happy Place.  We rode the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with Ethan, and he recognized Pooh and Tigger from our story books at home.  Nana and Papa even surprised him with his own Pooh bear "for keeps" when he got off of that ride.   It was a truly special day.

Tuesday morning came too early.  We were up at 4:30am to get dressed, pack up the last of our stuff, and meet the bus that would take us to the airport for our flight.  The great news about our trip back is that I was able to get us first class tickets using our airline miles.  A six hour plane ride with a toddler is WAY more tolerable when you're in first class.  After that we had a short little hop from Seattle to Portland and we arrived home around 3:30pm.  We promptly went to bed and slept until about noon the next day.  

And that, my friends, is the end of that story.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

6 days and a Tutu!

Only 6 full days between now and race day!
My sweet Mother spent a big part of today making me a tutu to wear during my race.  She was kind enough to take pictures of the tutu in process specifically so that I could share them with all of you.  Thanks Mom!

A couple of the colors she picked out - she's a trooper to work with tulle for me.  Apparently it creates LOTS of static to work with this much tulle.

I'm guessing this took a while... Such precision - the little white dots are pins. Thanks Mom!

And now to tie a bajillion knots...

Getting close!

The finished project on my brave younger brother.  He helped, and then he even modeled it so I could see it.
Rumor has it this little number will be in the mail tomorrow.  My mom is shipping it express from South Dakota to Oregon.  I'll be watching my mailbox with great anticipation! I can't wait to rock the Princess Marathon in this thing!  Woohoo!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

7 days left!


Only 7 full days remain between now and my race - yay!  Which means only 5 until we leave.  My "to-do" list is one thing shorter after my long run this morning, which was FANTASTIC!  I felt really strong and it was such a sunny and beautiful morning.  We had one of those mornings where the sky is bright blue, and the clouds are all puffy and cute.  This was a nice change after a couple days of constant rain!  
My experience with the Clif Shots was uneventful.  Perhaps they deserve credit for how great I felt during the run today? This is the first time I've actually used any sort of nutrition on long runs (or any run for that matter).  I keep reading that you should use some sort of food, or liquid, nutrition during long runs - but haven't ever "gone there."  I think I've been nervous about bumping into something that doesn't work and sends me sprinting for bushes (or a porto-potty if I'm lucky!) with tummy troubles.  I've done all of my long runs up to this point without any sort of hydration or nutrition.  Maybe this is why some of them are harder than I'd expect them to be?  I'll keep experimenting now that I've "gone there," and will keep you posted.  I bought two Clif Shots at REI yesterday, and had one of them 15 minutes before I left, and one at about 2.75 miles into my 6 mile run.  I was concerned that 6 miles wasn't nearly "long" enough - in terms of "long runs" - for me to see how my body would respond, so I guessed that having one before I left and then having a second one might exaggerate their impact enough to help me see if they'd betray me and send me running for bushes.  :)  The great news is, I was just fine.  Aside from getting my fingers all chocolatey while trying to open the pouches while maintaining my pace, it was seamless.  Oh, and then there is deciding what to do with the litter after you empty the pouch.  I opted for licking it clean and folding it neatly to put in my pocket.  Yep, I'm one of those people.  Thank goodness I had pockets to put it in.  I actually don't mind licking chocolate off my hands when I'm running, it was a nice little highlight.  Though I didn't appreciate still feeling a little "sticky" afterwards, which is inevitable when you get chocolate hands... now I'll have to decide if I'm going to carry wet naps, or if I'll just get over it and run with sticky hands.  Will my embarrassment over carrying wet-naps overcome my OCD avoidance of sticky-hands?  If I'm carrying gels, a cell phone, keys, and maybe even water at some point - I'm not too far away from needing some sort of fanny-pack or belt.  I'm just not sure I feel ready for a fanny pack.  The jury is still out.

 Did I mention yet that I got to borrow my friend Jenn's Garmin?  Because... I got to borrow my friend Jenn's Garmin!  She has the Garmin Forerunner 310XT, which she uses for runs, biking and swimming - as she's training for her first triathlon.  She was even nice enough to come over and explain how it works (I'm tech-illiterate), set it up for me, and even let me borrow her heart rate monitor.  


My final verdict - I. LOVE. this. thing. 

It kept track of how fast I was going, my distance, my time AND my heart rate ALL at one time.  At the end of each mile it buzzed at me and displayed my split time for that mile.  It even stored that information for me so I could see my data for each mile.  For those who are interested (and because I am excited to write it all down somewhere) - here are the details;

Mile 1:
Time: 11:38.94
Speed: 5.2mph
Avg HR: 152bpm
Calories: 152

Mile 2:
Time: 13:06.54
Speed: 4.6mph
Avg HR: 160bpm
Calories: 175

Mile 3: - The Mile with the HUGE hill...
Speed: 4.4mph
Avg HR: 161bpm
Calories: 181

Mile 4:
Time: 12:56.53
Speed: 4.6mph
Avg HR: 175bpm
Calories: 193

Mile 5: Headed to the Imagination Station!
Time: 12:38.29
Speed: 4.7mph
Avg HR: 174bpm
Calories: 184

Mile 6: In some neighborhoods around the High School
Time: 11:55.30
Speed: 5mph
Avg HR: 179
Calories: 182

"Mile 7" - AKA... the .01 mile it took me to figure how to shut it off... 
Time: 04.69 seconds
Speed: 5.3mph
Avg HR: 173 bpm
Calories = 0 (ha!)

Distance: 6.01 miles
Time: 1:15:50
Average Speed: 4.8mph
Average HR: 166bpm
Max Speed: 7.3mph
Max HR: 189bpm
Calories burned: 1057

My husband brought our son to the Imagination Station - a little park by the high school where I ended my run - and we all got to enjoy the sunshine and the park for a little while.  I'm hoping that doing long runs and ending at the park for a family picnic might become a family tradition during the summer.