Tuesday, January 26, 2010


It's just how dinosaurs say, "I love you!"

I've been working on some crochet patterns this month and wanted to share the cute little yarney-dinosaurs I've come up with.

A Tyrannosaurus Rex


Side View of the Stegosaurus


Side View

When I can find the time to turn my chicken-scratch versions of the pattern into an actual, readable, PDF file - I'll be posting the patterns on Etsy.  Very exciting!

In case you missed it - I'm actually selling these guys to help raise money for my half-marathon trip.  Suggested price is $15, but if you're feeling generous you can always pay more.  ;) (ha!)

Monday, January 25, 2010

I did it! I did it!

I ran all the way up that hill I told you all about in my last long run summary.  Yesterday afternoon I did my second 9 mile long run and I managed to make it up the entire hill without stopping.  As a matter of fact, I continued running ever after the hill and only stopped for crosswalk signals and to tuck my shirt into my droopy running pants.

As a side note - I would be irritated at how quickly I get too thin for my running pants... but really... who gets annoyed at losing weight?  From now on, I'm only allowed to buy cheap running pants until I hit my goal weight.  It's time for me to start using safety pins to keep my pants from falling off while I'm running.  Having to choose between slowing down (and losing speed on my miles) or running with my tub flopping around (AND getting rained on) is not a very motivation inducing choice.  I felt rather silly when I'd be readjusting my pants as people drove by, but I just had to remind myself that I'd rather someone see me awkwardly stuffing my shirt into my pants than have them see my pasty-white Mama belly flapping out over my droopy running pants.  And that reminder is enough to make one laugh out loud and keep running. 

Seriously, though, this was a great run.  It almost didn't happen.  It was raining nasty the entire afternoon, and I had decided I wasn't going to run.  I told my hubby that I'd decided not to run, and he was like, "yes you are - you have to run, see ya."  I was very annoyed.  But I'm glad he kicked me out of the car and made me hit the road.  I'm very proud of myself for finishing strong and getting the miles in.  With the break I took these previous two weeks, I think it would have been a bad thing (at least for my mental game) for me to skip this long run.

I was feeling rather sore towards the end, but as long as I'm careful to run with good form, I felt fine.  Just have to remember not to roll on the outside of my feet.  :)

My running schedule for this week looks like this;

Wed: Couch to 5k (W1D2) w/Dan (2 miles)
Fri: Couch to 5k (W1D3) w/Dan (2 miles) + another round alone (2miles) + Run home (3) = 7
Weekend: Long Run = 10 MILES!!!!

Pretty exciting stuff, if ya' ask me!

Oh, and I've spent the last four days making a test batch of "flooded" sugar cookies for my Valentine's Day "Operation: Love Muffin" thing.  Thought I'd share some of the fun with you guys;

My favorites from the test-batch

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hubby is a Runner!

My husband did the first day of Week 1 of Couch to 5k today, I'm so proud of him.  He's had trouble with his knees bugging him in the past, and has always avoided running.  But I told him that it would really mean a lot to me if he would do C25K so that we could just do one race together.  Then my friends announced that they were planning a 5k/10k Fun Run to help us raise money for the trip, and I got a bunch of people on Facebook to talk Daniel into trying it out. 

He did very well today!  Through the first interval he did mention that his knees were hurting, but we talked about some modifications he could make to his form and he said they weren't bugging him at all once he started rolling through his foot, rather than stomping.  When it was all said and done, he said he even thought it was "easy."  Which made me laugh, because when I was doing that first run, I wanted to fall over and die.

For my part, I did our two miles in just about 32 minutes.  I spent my one-minute "speed" intervals at 6mph, and felt really strong.  So next time we work out together I'm going to bump it up gradually to see how it feels.  I've really felt lost in my "speed training" workouts, but I think that using the C25K intervals will be a good way for me to pass the miles and stay entertained. 

Less than 6 weeks until the big race!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time, there was a Becca Sue.  She was very unhealthy and overweight and sad.  One day she decided that she wanted to do something about being unhealthy, overweight and sad.  She started running and set her eyes on finishing a 5k race.  In her training process, she found a nice group of Running Moms on Cafemom.  They inspired her to keep running when things got hard, cheered with her when she had good runs to report.  Then one day one of the Running Moms said they should all sign up for the Disney Princess Half-Marathon in Florida.  Becca Sue never thought she could actually run a half marathon, but thought that she might TRY if it were in Disneyworld.  She checked her calendar and realized it was long enough away for her to train for a 5k, then a 10k, and then the half marathon.  As long as she didn't spontaneously combust or blow out a joint, she thought she might be able to do it.  So she signed up for her first 5k.  And she started a blog.

People started reading her blog and cheering her on from all over the interwebs.  They watched her train for and complete her 5k, and then her 10k.  Some even started running because they were so inspired.

Becca Sue realized that in order for her to actually run in Disneyworld, she was going to have to work hard to raise money so her poor husband could come home before 9pm a few nights a week (he's a hard worker).  So she started baking and selling muffins.  And people actually bought them!  Then she got the crazy idea to crochet little animals.  And people bought them, too!  Becca Sue was so blessed by everyone's generosity and support, and she thought of them every time she went on her long runs.  

One day, a group of people who'd been inspired by Becca Sue decided they were going to celebrate with her by planning and hosting a fun-run in her honor.  Becca Sue was so humbled and thrilled and just excited that she cried a little and almost wet her pants (true story).  Then she wrote a cheesy fairy-tale sounding blog about it.


Seriously, though.  My friends Melody Olsen and Teagen Andrews just surprised me this past week with news that they're planning a "fun-run" in my honor for March 13th.  There's going to be a 5k and a 10k, and then everyone who comes will have breakfast together.  There's a small race fee of $10, and they're giving all the proceeds to... me.  For my trip. 

If you're not crying yet you should get that checked out... I think your cry-er broke.  :)

If you're in the area and want to check it out - there's a link on my Facebook wall and you can link directly to the event by going here; 5k/10k with Becca Sue and Friends!

Operation: Love Muffin... in Blogform!

Hey All!

I just wanted to announce that I made up a quick little blog to feature all the goings-on with Operation: Love Muffin.  You're welcome to check it out and share it with anyone you think might be interested.  I wanted to make sure that the information was available outside of Facebook in case anyone needs it that way.

Let me know if you want to place an order!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

You Don't Scare Me, 9 Miles!

I freaking DID IT!  I ran 9 miles today.  By myself.  In the rain.  And there were hills.  Three of them, actually.  And I felt absolutely amazing, a new pair of shoes that actually fit makes a world of difference apparently.  Every run I can remember - since April - has felt like slogging through mud for the first two miles.  Usually I have a couple miles after that where my calves/achilles would loosen up, but then around mile 4 my feet would be swelling up (as is normal) and my outer three toes on both feet would sort of curl under my foot, forcing me to hobble like a ballerina.  How do I know all of this?  Because it didn't happen today.  Talk about being clueless!  I finished 9 miles today and I actually felt strong enough to do more - I think I'm going to actually make it!  I'm really going to run a half-marathon in less than two months.

This is a little map of the route I took.  I'd like to point out the hill on 212th between Burnside and Division.  It's the biggest hill I've ever seen, and I actually ran up most of it today.  I've seen it while driving before and have always considered it the "monster of all hills."  I'll have to take a picture of it and post it here so you can appreciate how scary it looks.  The hill happened to be in mile 8 and I almost talked myself out of it, but decided I was going to just try it.  My first thought was that I'd just not look at the hill while I was running up to it, but then decided it would probably be a good idea to just stare it down and take it all in.  Confront the fear and then tackle it.  So I did!  I made it over halfway up the hill, and then started feeling dizzy.  So I walked up to the stoplight and then kept on going.  It is now my personal goal to run all the way up that hill.  I'll keep you posted!

Look out hill... I'm coming for you!
(Not actual hill... lol)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Operation: Love Muffin

On Facebook I started a little fan group called, "Running on Muffins & Love" to help keep my Facebook friends in the loop about my training process.  It's been a fun way for me to share blog posts, race pictures, and to sweet-talk people into buying muffins to help me raise money for the Disney trip.

I got this crazy idea back in December to buy some cute boxes to put muffins in for Valentine's Day, and Daniel encouraged me to find some other sorts of things to offer as well.  He gave me some great tips on putting together little packages that would make Valentine's shopping simple for guys and that would help us raise money for our trip.  The idea got bigger and bigger and I was getting nervous about investing money into the project.   

"What if we buy a bunch of junk and no one is really feeling in a Valentine's-ey mood?" I asked him.
"Well, then we'll chalk it up to a good learning experience for you, and move on." was his response.  Along with telling me that he was proud of me for how hard I've been working to raise money for our trip, and that he was impressed with how "industrious" I am.  He's just too sweet. 

Then he actually laid down some of his own money to help cover the cost of some of the materials, and he encouraged me to really go for it.  And I did.  I'd already done tons of research, and I found some great sources for roses, candies, cute packaging, and even some great ideas for crocheting little Valentiney amigurumi friends.  I've been getting Fed-Ex packages every day this week, and am expecting a nice shipment of 100+ roses to be delivered to my door on February 11th.  Giving me just enough time to hydrate, arrange and deliver bouquets to people in time for them to be dropped off at work on Friday the 12th, or delivered at home on the actual V-Day. 

So there you have it.  That's the story behind Operation: Love Muffin.  It's a short story, but it's a fun one.  I'm humbled to have such a supportive and encouraging hubby, and I'm looking forward to blessing him by taking more of the load off his shoulders as I raise money through Operation: Love Muffin.  :)

(If you'd like more information, check me out on Facebook!  I'm listed as Rebecca Sue Congdon and have created a fan page which you can find here.  And here are some pictures to spark your curiousity!)

I made this little guy!

I also made this little guy!

The "You Have My Heart" Package (I'm really cheesy, sorry)

The "Say it with Cookies" Package - with personalized cookies!

The "So Cute Your Head Might Explode" Package - with yarn + cookie cuteness

The "Triple Threat" Package - with body care items, chocolate AND roses

Don't miss out on the info about the Diamond Pendant I'm giving away through Operation: Love Muffin!

Feeling Warm & Fuzzy!

I got some more miles in tonight, thanks to Daniel offering to stay home with Ethan so I could get some gym time.  Turns out our little man has a lingering ear infection now that he's mostly over his croup.  Not sure if he'd still be contagious or not, so we went the safe route and Daniel stayed home with him.

My workout was such a blessing!  I did my upper-body weights routine again, and realized that tonight's workout officially marks 16 straight weeks of completing my upper-body routine.  I only do it once a week - according to the plan I put together with the personal trainer - but I have definitly seen a difference in how toned my arms look, how strong I feel, and how many pull-ups I can do.  :)  I'm still using the most assistance possible on the pull-up machine, but have gone from barely being able to do 3 sets of 8, to having done 4 sets (12, 10, 10, 8) for the last two weeks.  I might even get brave enough to switch out to a lower amount of assistance.  Right now the machine is actually lifting about 112 lbs of me, so I'm only having to put out a about 84lbs of lifting.  My goal is to be able to do one complete pull-up unassisted, and then build up to ten.

After completing my upper body workout, I was able to hop on the treadmill for my first baby-free run since I took my break.  I originally intended to do 5 miles, but got into mile 2 and realized I only had about 20 minutes left before I told Daniel I'd be home.  Woops!  So I decided I'd finish out three miles and call it a night.  I'm really thrilled to report that I felt A.MAZ.ING while running tonight!  I did a warm-up mile at about a 4mph pace (for the first lap at least - I eventually got up to 4.5mph for the last two laps) and then was planning on doing speed intervals.  My plan was to do a lap at 5mph, then take it back down to 4.5mph for a lap and repeat until I was done with the mileage.  I felt so great at 5mph that I ended up doing the entire mile and calling it a "tempo" run.  Hehe!  Then I finished off with taking it down to 4.7 for the last mile.  At the end of it all my total time for the three miles was 38:33.  Not a PR - but definitely the best feeling run I can remember!

My  new shoes are working great!  They feel buttery soft in the cushioning realm, but yet still manage to provide a firm sense of stability.  Maybe it's just that I've missed out on those endorphins from taking a break these last two weeks, but after that run I'm in love with everything and everyone.  lol!

I'm planning to jump back in to my long run schedule, and have 9 miles staring me in the face for Saturday.  As of right now, I'm going to bask in the glow of my wonderful 3 miles and not worry about the cold 9 miles I'll be tackling alone on Saturday.   Kaylee is out of town so it looks like it's just me and the pavement.  Unless someone wants to join me for part of the journey!

For now, I'll just have to slip into dreamland thinking about this cute little Minnie-Mouse-ish skirt I've got my eyes on for the Disney race;

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

Ethan checking out my new shoes

Er... make that "back in the running shoes again," maybe?

Monday of this week was supposed to be my first official "back into training" week.  I teach a class on Monday nights called, "Life Work," and  ended up using the afternoon to finish preparing for our first class of this term.  So no run on Monday.

Tuesday morning greeted me with promises of only "scattered showers."  In Portland that can mean anything from "no rain at all" to "torrential downpour" or any combination.  The weather around here really is comical.  At least it makes for beautiful scenery, which makes for relaxing outdoor runs.

So yesterday - Tuesday - I purposed in my heart to finally get the jogging stroller out again and get my two miles in.  First thing in the morning I packed it up in the van, chased Ethan around to wrestle some warm clothes on him (in case is got rainy while we were out) and the chased him down again to put him in the car.  Running with the jogging stroller has always been a little intimidating to me.  Ethan tends to get bored quickly, and there must be something metaphysical about that darn thing - because EVERY time I use it - it rains on us.  EVERY time.  It could be just a coincidence because it is the Northwest.

We headed out for attempt #1, in which I stopped by the post office first to pick up a package we'd been told was waiting for us.  It was sunny when we went in, and when we came out it was gray and raining hard.  Boo.  I decided to take Ethan home in hopes that he'd take an early nap, which he did.  He was all napped and ready for action by 2pm, which is a world record for us.  He's usually running in circles and avoiding naptime around 2pm.

The sky was actually clear, and there was sunshine in our yard!  So after cleaning the kitchen and chasing Ethan around to get him in warm clothes again - we ventured out to Gresham Main City Park for attempt #2.  As we drove out to Gresham - only about 10 minutes - the sky started getting gray and I realized all the sunny weather must be back closer to our neighborhood.  I figured it was at least worth trying to get a run in, so we went to the park anyway.

I got Ethan loaded into his jogger, added his nice rain coat on top of him, strapped him in, arranged all my accessories where I wanted them (water bottle, cell phone, wallet, keys)... and then it started sprinkling.  I stood there for a moment and looked at Ethan.

"Do you want to go home, now that it's raining on us again, buddy?" I asked him.
"NO! Wunnin'!" he exclaimed.

It started raining harder.

"Are you sure?" -me
"GO!" -Ethan.

That settled it.  We started off down my usual out-and-back loop.  I run out one mile and then back a mile, and it makes for a nice little easy run.  We got about half a mile into the trail and the rain stopped - yay!  It was going to be a good run after all!  A young man on a bike approached from the other direction.  I always make a point of making eye contact with and acknowledging the other people on the path.  Mostly to be friendly, but also so that I could give police a full description if anything went down (I'm so paranoid!).  As the kid got closer, I could see that he had a hockey mask on his face and a green wig.  I also noticed that he stared me down as he passed us, but that he kept going along his way.  CREEP-O!  I maintained my composure on the outside and kept eye contact and nodded. On the inside I was feeling a combination of terror and animal-like-protective-mother-rage.  The words, "just try me you mother-f***er!" actually went through my head.  Wow.

I decided it was best for us to keep running our path, rather than turn back for the car.  I figured the kid was probably headed back to the park to hang out with the big group of kids I'd seen when I was parking.  Bunch of weirdos.

We made it out to our turn-around point and as I made the turn it started raining on us again.  I tried pulling the cover over Ethan so he wouldn't get soaked, and he got mad at me.  I think he actually likes the rain.  He's a true Northwest native, apparently.  He enjoyed the rain until our last quarter mile, and then he started screaming about it.  So our last quarter mile converted from an "easy run" into some speed intervals for Mommy.

When we arrived safely back at the car, there was no sign of creepy-hockey-mask kid.  Praise the Lord.  I packed Ethan back into the van, put the jogger away, and drove us home.

I was so distracted by the rain and the weirdos that I didn't notice until afterwards that my legs felt amazing while I was running.  A week of rest and shoes that fit really will do wonders for a stiff achilles and knotty calves.  It was nice to feel my quads and my bum getting a nice burn from the run, rather than slogging through stiff ankles for a change. :)

So that's it - I'm back in business!  Stay tuned for the final weeks of training, and the long-anticipated half-marathon trip.  Less than two months away! Wee!

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Week of Rest, And Looking Ahead

Dreaming of Disney!

A Week of Rest?
As you may recall, I took last week as a rest week.  I had all the best intentions of using my week to cross-train.  But when Ethan started showing signs of croup last Sunday night, I had a feeling cross-training was not going to be in my future.  It's officially Sunday night/Monday morning as I write this and so far he's sleeping soundly.  But each night this week we've been playing the *sleep*cough*cry*drool*nurse*repeat* game.  And in the spirit of loving my neighbor (doing unto others as you wuld have them to unto you... you know) leaving Toddlerman in the Kids Club at the gym was not an option.  Thanks to my wonderful husband, I did manage to make it to the gym once in order to do my upper-body weight routine.  I was so excited that he was home early and that we had a free evening to hang out as a family that I really didn't want to leave.  He had to demand that I leave, actually.   

Oh, and I also managed to pop an exercise DVD in and do a ten-minute total body workout.  Ethan was not amused to see Mommy squatting repeatedly and not sharing her cool basketball.  He was also not impressed with my exercise DVD competing with his Blue Clues viewing (on the laptop).

Looking Ahead
I plan on starting off easy tomorrow with an easy two miles and a pilates class.  For Christmas I got cash to pay for a personal session with Wendy Foster of Mamalates here in Portland.  She's putting together a running-specific core exercise routine for me and my friend Kaylee and is going to spend an hour making sure we are doing it right.  I'm so excited!  I attended a COREnection Workshop (a class specifically tailored for women who've had cesarean deliveries, recent or not) last year that Wendy offered and was impressed with her teaching ability and demeanor.  She has a special talent for helping women of all physical fitness levels to connect to their bodies and learn to strengthen the core muscles that support your bodies movements as you go through your day.

From there my plan is to jump back in to my weights routine, take a mid-range test run to make sure my achilles is ready to train, and then perhaps a long run on the weekend?  I'm going to play it by ear (er... by achilles?) before commiting to a certain number.  According to my training plan I'm due for a 9 miler this weekend, but I'm not stressing about it at this point.  Between now and the race in March I've got 8 weeks training and only 3 miles to add to the long-run.  The plan I'm using has me do two 9 milers, then two 10s, then two 11s - then the race.  If I have to give up one of those long runs this coming weekend, I'll have to do some thinking and decide which one to sacrifice.  I don't know if there's any strategy to it on the physical end, so I'll just have to think through the mental training aspect.

I should be sleeping right now, so I'll have to get back to you on what I decide.  I'm open to input!

Oh - and keep checking back. I have some really exciting surprises lined up for February.
Operation: Love Muffin

Don't miss it!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

January 2010 - Fitness Update

I cannot contain myself - I'm absolutely ecstatic!  I wish I could figure out how to spell the noises I'm making right now. 

Today I finally did my "official" weigh-in.  Here's the great news;

Current Weight: 178
Current Body Fat %: 29.3
Current BMI: 29.6

Not jumping with excitement yet? Let me break it down for you;

Since January of 2009 I've officially lost 37 pounds.  Woohoo!
My body fat percentage has dropped from 38.4% to 29.1% - and I'm officially in the "acceptable" range!
My BMI has lowered 6.5 points, and I'm not longer considered "obese!"  Just "overweight." :)

Couldn't wait to share it with you all.  Woohoo!

This is my excited face :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Muffin Update & Thank You!

2009 was the year of the muffin.

At least it was in the Congdon kitchen.  One of Ethan's few regularly used words is "muppin?"  Always posed as a question and with outstretched hands, as if to say - "Mommy, may I please have a muppin?"

I wanted to take a moment and thank each and every one of you for the outpouring of love and support you've shown me on this journey.  Specifically (in this post) those of you who've put your money where your mouth is, and then put your muffins there too.  :)

I used this great Wordle website to make a visual "credits" list.  Note my Mom has been the most avid supporter so far.  Gotta' love Moms, right? :)

You can see a bigger version of it - and see the names a little more clearly - by going here.

Thanks everyone!

An Ode to Fit Right Northwest, but mostly Jesus.

I mentioned in my most recent race report that I've been experiencing some achilles stiffness and that I deduced that my shoes were too small.  I promised I'd fill you all in, and so I shall!  So here's the short version, in a timeline format;

  • Late November: Get my first ever fitting for a real pair of running shoes, lay down $100 in cash. 
  • Early December: Take first run in new shoes and notice toes go numb, chalk it up to new shoes needing to be worn-in.
  • Mid-December: Notice (on mile 5 of an 8-miler) that my toes are bumping into the front of my shoe and it hurts.  Consciously decide to scrunch toes to keep them from bumping so I can finish my 8 miles without walking.
  • Late December: Charlie horses and stiff calves are my constant companion.  I'm clueless as to why.  Start feeling stiffness just below my calf.
  • Christmas Vacation: I point to where my legs are stiff and ask a running friend "what is this?"  Find out it's my achilles.  Make note to self, "google achilles stuff."  
  • January 2nd: Take short 2 mile easy run in preparation for first 10k of the year, where I will attempt to set a new PR.  Notice my stiff achilles are REALLY stiff and those two miles feel like I'm sludging through concrete.  I tend to whine a lot the first two miles anyway, so I push through it anyway.  Get home and google, and find this info about achilles tendonitis.  Based on descriptions of severity I figure I'm in the earliest possible stages (no popping sounds or pain when I'm not running) and that I have lots of time to deal with it.  Can't figure out why in the world it'd be flaring up now.
  • January 3rd: Run my second 10k, set a new PR.  Connect all the dots in my head while running,  
"muscles that are tight and rigid can transfer a greater amount of force through the tendon and cause greater stress and chance of injury..."  My calves were tight first, I remember noticing that.  Oooh... and then before that I noticed I was squinching my toes because they were bumping... wait... could my shoes be too small?? NO!!

As soon as I got home I searched through my spam folder for an email from Fit Right Northwest, where I'd bought my shoes.  I remember them saying they would email me to check in, and I'd been waiting for it but never put their email in my "not spam" thingy to make sure it didn't get into the spam folder.  And I found it.  I searched their website for a phone number and came across their 30 day exchange policy.  Then I checked my email for the purchase date, did some calendar math and realized I was a full week past the exchange deadline.  I actually almost cried.  I emailed to check in and see if I could talk to someone about my situation.

Putting $100 down on shoes was a pretty big deal for me.  Knowing that my shoes might be too small, and that I might have to choose between laying down another $100 (which is NOT an option right now), running myself into an injury (not good stewardship of my body), or ending my training until I could afford the right shoes (which would mean goodbye to the half marathon), was a really sad place to be in while I waited to hear from them.  They would be completely in the right to leave me stuck with my shoes, as I was past the exchange window and had already put nearly 60 miles on them.  I was stuck and feeling really discouraged.  It was one of those situations where you have to decide what you're going to do with your heart while you wait.  You can either get all invested in things going the way you want, and end up feeling either entitled (if it does go your way) or bitter (if it doesn't) - or you can acknowledge that you're not in control and don't have any hope of fixing things yourself and trust that if it DOES happen, it's only going to happen because God provides it.  Then you can either be thankful (if it does go your way) or you can grieve with hope, knowing that God knows what He's doing and that the most important thing is that you believe He is good and has your best in mind.

I do have great news to report. :)  I ended up connecting with the customer service rep for Fit Right, and she had me come down to the store to assess my fit the same day I talked to her on the phone.  She took one look (and a little feel) of my foot in the shoe and said, "those are obviously too small for you!"  Then she re-measured my foot, noting that my second toe is longer than the first.  I apologized and told her I'd always had trouble buying shoes because of my weirdly short big toes.  (Seriously, I should show you guys pictures - the left big toe is even a whole knuckle shorter than the right big toe!)  She grabbed a shoe a whole size bigger and in a Wide and had me try them on and run up and down the hallway.  It was glorious! My feet could breathe! My toes were able to flex!  Then she packaged them up for me, did some things in her computer and sent me on my way with a brand new pair of shoes.  For free!  I did cry a little as I walked back to the car with my new shoes.  Yay for Fit Right Northwest and their amazing customer service!  And Yay for Jesus, for giving me a heart surrendered to Him in the middle of so much emotion over a material object.  It's amazing how our hearts can get wrapped up in our "things" and the plans and dreams they represent to us.  My prayer is that this entire journey would lead me closer to Jesus (by His grace), and that everyone who travels along with me in the blog-o-sphere would see His glory in my seemingly insignificant and trivial story. :)

I decided to take this week off to cross-train, to give my poor little gams a break.  It's been three days since I ran the 10k and I'm definitely feeling like I'm ready for a run!  Which is a good thing - because next week it's back to training, and my next long-run is supposed to be 9 miles.  No more kid stuff, we're breaking out the big guns!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Race Report: ORRC Y2KX - January 3rd 10k

Hmm... ORRC Y2KX... how's that for a weird bunch of acronyms??  This race, hosted by the Oregon Road Runner's Club, is unique in that the distance changes from year to year, depending on the new year's numbers.  It started back in 1986 with an 8.6 mile run, and the distance changes each year to keep up with the new year.  This year they offered a 20.1k, a 10k, and a 2 mile race.  It was also the ORRC's first 10k in their 2010 10k series.  For only $100, you can sign up for 8 races and get a nifty monogrammed fleece and the chance to participate in a bunch of extra drawings and contests.  If you're interested in signing up - check out the information here.   Now I'm sure you're all chomping at the bit to read my race report, right? So here it is!

My friend Jenn met Daniel and Ethan at I at our place bright and early - 7am-ish - and followed us out to Warner Pacific College where we met Janelle and Kaylee.  These two ladies are my running heroes.  They both finished the Portland Marathon in October, and I even got to run along with Kaylee for a little over two miles right around the time she hit her "wall."  They kindly agreed to run with me while I reached for a faster PR at the 10k, in order to earn my way into a sooner starting corral at the Walt Disney Princess Half Marathon.  Back to my update:

After picking up Kaylee and Janelle, we made the hour long drive to Forest Grove and finally found the Tom McCall Elementary School.  Due to my astute planning skills... we arrived a full hour early.  Oops!  Fortunately, they had the school cafeteria open for registration/check-in, and we didn't have to wait out in the cold.  Yay!  Daniel took this first picture of me as we got out of the car.  I tend to get pre-race jitters, and apparently this is my "I'm nervous face."

Pre-race jitters

Not the best angle... thanks honey :)

Daniel was kind enough to wait in the car with Ethan while we went in and check-ed in.  Ethan was less than impressed with our early start that morning and slept until the race started.

Race? What race?

The race volunteers had things organized pretty clearly, and check-in was a breeze.  I get really excited about getting my race numbers, still as you can see from the pictures.  My friend Jenn was sweet enough to take a whole bunch of pictures on her phone.

Yay Check-in!

I got my numba!!

All checked-in and officially nervous :)

Once I was checked-in, I started getting really nervous.  I'd made a BIG mistake and done a tough leg workout the day before.  What was I thinking?!  Newbies!!  I was actually limping around before the race even started, so I knew I was in for a tough race.  On top of that, on my last two long runs I'd been experiencing stiffness in my achilles that made each step feel like I was just dragging lead weights or something.  Right before the race it occurred to me that my shoes were probably too small (more on that in another post) and I started officially freaking out.  Thankfully, they had bathrooms.  You can always find the bathrooms right before a race... "just follow the poo smell" - as my friend Kaylee says.  That's one of those less-than-glorious details about running that gets left out when people talk about running.  

When it was time to start the race, a volunteer invited us all outside and had us line up.  Kaylee and Janelle and I ended up in the middle of the pack and spent the last few moments chattering and debating about our pace.  I can't remember what we decided, but I knew it'd be fast. :)

Ready to race!

I was so excited!
We started off a little fast - trying to keep from getting run over.  We let that quick pack at the front get out and ahead of us within the first mile.  I felt pretty good for the first few hundred yards, and then my "too fast" start caught up with me.  I find that every time I run, the first two miles are full of negotiating about when the walking gets to happen.  As my goal for this particular race was to set a PR, I knew there would be no walking.  So the arguing in my head, and the pleading to God for strength started right after we finished the first mile.  

Mile two found us passing - and being passed by - and passing again, etc - by a couple of men in their 70s who were talking about the other races they'd run in the last month or so.  It's fun to pass Grandpas.  It is not fun to be passed by them. Over and over and over.  Apparently they'd picked us out as their pacers and would let us get far enough ahead so they could get a good run in before passing us and then walking for a while.  They were adorable though, so it all evened out.  

Miles 3 and 4 were sort of a blur - Janelle put some distance on us by that point and I was starting to fall behind Kaylee by several paces.  She kept looking back and telling me how good I was doing and to stay strong.  Somewhere in miles 3 and 4 we hit three hills.  THREE!  Now that I look back on all my training runs, I am SO, SO, SOOOO thankful that we did them all with hills involved.  I was able to run up each one of them and not lose a step.  I think I even felt stronger on the hills for some reason - who knows!  

We passed the only water station somewhere in mile 5... I think?  But we got to pass it twice.  :) It was at the top of a hill that they had us run to the bottom of, and then back up before taking a turn in another direction.  Yay for aid stations you get to pass twice!  As we passed, one of the volunteers said, you've just got one more hill, and then you're home!  

The hill must have been at least the last 200/300 meters of mile 6.  When I saw it from a distance I thought - "There's no way that's our hill, surely we will be turning to the right and finishing just around the corner."  Thankfully, I didn't have my glasses, so I wasn't able to see all the runners in front of me heading up the hill.  Which meant I had less time to freak myself out about it.  By the time I realized we'd be hitting the hill, I was ready.  Then a Grandma passed us.  She had to be at least 80.  And she blasted up the hill.  WOW.

Kaylee blasted up the hill as well, and I shuffled along - willing myself and praying to God for strength to just keep running.  The hill curved around to the right, and as I saw Kaylee disappearing around the corner I thought, "I have to keep up with her, I've got to be able to see her so I don't wimp out and start walking!!"  Just before she disappeared, she must have reached the top of the hill because she turned around and jogged in place and cheered me on until I caught up with her.  And the Grandma passed her.  :)  She let me know we'd done 6 miles and only had a few meters left.  When I could finally see the finish line, I actually almost cried.  I'd almost done it! My first 10k without walking, AND it had 4 hills! FOUR HILLS!?! (Who the heck signed us up for this anyway?)

Finishing just behind Kaylee - I'm almost smiling this time :)

We sprinted in the last little bit, thanks to Kaylee's suggestion.  As I finished, I saw Ethan up on Daniel's shoulders and heard him cheering for me, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"  What a wonderful welcoming party. :)  Janelle was there at the finish as well, and there were high-fives and cheering and water all around.

Then we remembered there was also a pancake breakfast.  Best race so far.  :)

Here's some stats for the number fans;

Finish Time: 1:13:46
Pace: 11:54
Overall Place 180/215
Gender Place 92/117
Age Place 14/18

So you're probably wondering if I was able to set that PR?  I certainly was!  I took nearly ten minutes off of my Gresham Jazz Run time.  I'm officially signed up in the 2:30:00 starting corral.  Pretty exciting stuff!

2009 - You Were A Good Year

I'm a few days late for one of those reflective, "Goodbye 2009" sort of posts - but what can you do?  Better late than never, right?

January 2009 - Not a great angle... :)

January 2010 - Better Angle :)

2009 was a truly life-changing one.  Here are some running-related highlights;


After 10 weeks of training with the Couch to 5k interval program (which is FREE!) I ran my first 5k at the Oregon Road Runner's 4th of July fun run.  You can read a full race report and see some awesomely embarassing finish-line pictures here.  I finished in 38:09, running approximately 12:30 minute miles... in the HOT HOT sun.

A little over three months later, I completed my 10k training using an audio coaching program (also free) offered by DJ Steveboy.  I ran the Gresham Jazz Run on October 11th. You can read the full story and see some (only slightly) more flattering finishing shots here.  We finished in 1:23:38, averaging about 13:42 minute miles (which includes some walking... so we must have booked it for some part of it...)


When I first weighed in back in January of 2009, I was 215 pounds.  My first (unofficial) weigh-in of 2010 was 181.5.  During 2009 I lost nearly 35 pounds.  I don't miss any of them.


In my quest to relieve some of Daniel's work stress by helping to pay for our trip, I started baking muffins back in October.  By the end of 2009, I'd baked and delivered over 1000 muffins!  I want to say thanks to everyone who has supported me by buying yummy treats in 2009, and keep your eyes out for some fun surprises!


All of the training runs, races and support I've received along the way has changed me.  I'm not just stronger physically, but mentally as well.  I feel confident in my body's ability to master seemingly impossible challenges, and I know my heart and mind were as much a part of that victory as my body.  Running has taught me that I am stronger than I think.

I've done a great deal of reflecting on my 2009 as it pertains to the other areas of my life as well.  Right now I'm debating about whether to include some of that reflection (and goals for 2010!) in this blog, to start another blog, or to keep things to myself.  I'm open to suggestions from the blogosphere.  (Look it's interactive!!)