Friday, June 24, 2011

Final Pre-race Reflections

I'm about to take my sedating (hopefully) shot of Nyquil in preparation for my 8:30pm bedtime, and tomorrow's 4am wakeup call. Before I enter into that altered state of conciousness, I wanted to get in one final blog post.

Today was incredible! Seattle is such an amazing city. I could definitely see myself living here!! Spent the day with my parents being touristy, including Pike Market (awesome breakfast, browsing flowers and produce, witnessing fish throwing in action), an official Duck Boat tour that was lots of corny fun and showed off several other must see spots like the house from Sleepless in Seattle, and the filming points for Seattle Grace (but not Frasier, what's up with that?). A monorail ride back to Pike Market where I had the most amazing Mac n Cheese at Beechers (thanks for the tip, Meredith). Also several more food places I'd like to check out there tomorrow at some point. (So many carb options, so little time). Then to wrap up the evening I met up with one of my greatest friends and mile sponsors, Gerard for coffee and dinner. Fantastic day all in all!

The reality of running 26.2 miles up and down these Seattle hills is slowly starting to set in. This being my 4th marathon, I'm not nearly as nervous as I was for the first few- though I don't think even the most experienced marathoner ever gets completely comfortable with the distance. It's a generally accepted phenomenon in marathoning that math doesn't really work out as it usually does. 13 miles + 13 miles does not really come out to 26. It comes out to about 21 or so. Regardless of how much preparation you put in, you're just never quite sure how your body will handle those last 4-5 miles. This is where the marathon really begins. Generally it's about this point the tears will come and you get a lot of opportunity for reflection and time to really look deep inside yourself to find a way to get to the finish line. By that point your body has put in all it's capable of, so those last few miles tend to be run on just pure guts and determination. In short, those are the miles that make the finish line such a valuable experience! I'm excited to see what tomorrow will bring. Thanks to some incredible friends and supporters I have successfully prepared for this race. Now I'm very excited to see how the Seattle marathon story will go!

26.2 miles, and as always, it's not about the running. Something I have a feeling I'll need to keep reminding myself on those hills tomorrow. :-)

Thanks again to each one of you for your support and making all this possible!


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hellooooo Seattle!!!

I arrived in Seattle this morning. Fantastic city!! Weather is beautiful. Partly cloudy skies and 50 degree temps. Every time I turn around I see another Starbucks. Hotel is right downtown in all the action. Spent some time touring the expo with my parents this morning. Race number 25211.

The biggest news of all is that thanks to an additional very generous donation from Steve Lucas- we are over the top of our fundraising goal. Thank you, thank you, thank you Steve, and to all of you for your support!! Of course there is always room for more donations right up through race day. I'll be glad to add as many names to Finish Line Sponsors as necessary. Now we just need to find 8 more fans of our FB page, and that goal will be met too. AMAZING!!!

I'll have many more details and photos to post later. Just time for a quick update now. Heading out to dinner with my cousins. Haven't seen them in a VERY long time. So great to be spending this weekend with family. What an adventure!!

Thanks so much to all of you who have been sending/posting your mile messages. I love reading them, and will re-read them several more times before race day morning.... in just ONE MORE DAY!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Inspire Your Mile

Mile Sponsors---

With just 3 days to race day, the time has come to inspire your mile! Any words of wisdom, advice, encouragement to offer? Maybe just something you'd like to proclaim to the world? For one day you own a mile of Seattle real estate- so put whatever words on it you feel are appropriate. In the past we've had everything from motivational messages to sentimental, funny, or just plain odd ones that make no sense! lol. Regardless, these are the words I'll be dwelling on as I run your mile- so make them count!

Ideally, please write your comments on the Anna's Marathon50 Facebook page, although you can write them as a blog comment if you prefer. Also be sure to include your name and what mile(s) you have sponsored.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Where to start?

Both my thoughts and emotions have been all over the place the last few days... and you'll probably find this post to be about the same way. Fair warning! :)

Sunday was a rest day from both running and tennis. My first in a long time and yes, it felt very strange and uncomfortable. I wouldn't like to make a habit of it. But on the plus side it gave me some extra hours to get caught up on research. Today I continued number crunching on my new data for 8 hours straight. Exciting findings, but should have taken a few more breaks, because I was pretty wiped out come 4pm. Went to tennis tonight and felt a little better getting some movement in.

More and more awesome people are continuing to step up and make generous donations to Susan's Foundation!! We're now down to just $130 more dollars to raise, and only parts of 3 miles remaining.

Depending on the moment, I'm near tears with gratitude toward all of the incredible support this fundraiser has received, or in periods of deep reflection thinking of Susan, as well as a friend whose mother was diagnosed with brain cancer this week. Though I am excited/nervous for the 26.2 mile start and finish line come Saturday, it's thoughts like these that are keeping me focused and keeping things in perspective. Really it's just too overwhelming to describe.

I heard from Susan's dad (my uncle) today, and just this year through website donations this marathon endeavor has raised nearly $1,000. Combined with the donations made for last years attempt as well- that number is even higher. And of course add that to the three marathons prior to this and... it's just amazing!! I feel so honored and blessed to have the support of Susan's family for this project. It started as a fairly simple idea, first by Susan wanting to help other young adults in her position, and then me training for my first marathon around the same time. I really didn't expect how much bridging those two dreams would change my life. I have met so many incredible people though this journey!! Running marathons by itself is always an incredibly insightful and amazing experience, but combining it with a cause so close to my family, and one I've learned touches so many other lives as well-- just makes the whole experience difficult to describe.

Like I said.... lots of random thoughts and emotions going on right now. But more than anything I'm feeling GRATITUDE!!!! Thank you again to each one of your for your continuing support!!!!

4 days....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Taper Madness

To say I've been a little wound up this week is an understatement. I have had patience for almost nothing, which probably explains why it's been such a bad week for both research and tennis.

After yet another few hours of tennis aggravation this morning- come afternoon I find myself alone in the research lab running the statistics on my most recently completed study. Not my typical way to spend a Saturday, but right after Seattle I get to enjoy more than a week visiting family in Arizona and finally meeting my newborn niece. So I'm prepping for the long time off by getting my research ahead of schedule. But now I'm nearly ready to take my tennis racquet to this computer (about the only thing it might be useful for this week apparently), so to take a breather I decided to look back at some past blog posts.

I found this one, 14 days before I ran my first marathon, to be particularly relevant:

Sunday, January 4, 2009 Race Countdown- 14 days- Building Insanity

I'm reading a great book, Marathoning for Mortals (John Bingham), and particularly had to laugh at the start of chapter 14...

"This is where the real fun begins. Those last few days and hours before the big event are filled with excitement, terror, joy, frustration, calm, and panic. It's the best time of all. At least it can be if you're open to the mood of the moment and the sometimes wild swings of emotion from well-placed confidence to abject terror. If this is your first marathon, the last few days before the big event will be unlike anything you've ever experienced. The emotions feel like a cross between a surprise birthday party and jumping from the 100th floor of a building. Don't worry if your friends and family don't understand you. Don't worry if by the Thursday before race day no one is even willing to be in the same room with you, let alone try to have a conversation with you. These last few days are the closest to being possessed that you will ever experience."

So, I apologize in advance to anyone who's still brave enough to associate with me for the next 2 weeks. :)

[Cut back to present day....]
And I laugh because despite the fact that I've run 3 marathons now and expected to be much more comfortable with the thought of 26.2 miles, I have again found myself in this same taper madness mentality.

Now the nice thing about associating with so many distance runners is that all you have to do is mention you're tapering for a marathon and they understand!! They know the physical and mental torment you're going through, and consequently tend to be very forgiving of any blowups which may occur during this time.
However, I'm not sure there's an equivalant to taper madness in tennis, which I've been playing even more of since I've been cutting back on running miles recently. So I'm fairly sure all of my tennis acquaintences are plainly wondering if I've just completely lost it lately. Well...yes! lol.

For future marathon tapers, I'm considering getting a t-shirt printed up which plainly says... "Marathon Taper in Progress: BEWARE!!!!!"
But until then, please pardon my insanity! lol.

It seems the only thing that has helped to ease the madness this week is the many great people who have stepped up to donate and sponsor miles. THANK YOU!!!!! And an additional thank you to all of you who have taken the time to offer up your words of support and encouragement during what has been a difficult week. Your kind words mean more than you could possibly know.

6 days.... :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bad Night

You know that feeling when you go somewhere, and within minutes know that every single person resents the fact you even showed up? I'd forgotten, until tonight. But that pretty much describes how I spent my evening. I'm tired. I'm discouraged. I feel like giving up.
Trying to see a positive in this, I guess it gave me a renewed appreciation for all the supportive people in my life. From the closest of friends, to the casual bystander who just has an encouraging word to say. It seems artificial to intentionally surround yourself with those people-- or maybe it's not. Maybe this is why we have the friends we do and choose to spend time in the places we do. I don't know. But I do know I wish today would have ended better.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Carb Loading vs. the "See Food" Diet?

The past several weeks I've been focusing a lot on nutrition. The reason being that I've been anxious to get back my "pre-dating" runners body, and looking back, the times I've felt the best are when I've been eating the best and had my lowest body fat percentage. The challenge now was how to cut body fat, gain muscle, and keep up the long distance runs required for marathon training.

If you haven't already heard, long distance running is not necessarily the best form of exercise to pick up for weight loss. (Not without some education anyway). Why? Because as you run more miles, you tend to find yourself justified in eating more and more food; usually much more than your body actually needs. Most people are familiar with the general concept of 'carb loading' for distance runners- by taking in a lot of carbohydrates your body will have the necessary energy for long runs. So it's become somewhat of a tradition in the running world to load up on huge amounts of food or big plates of pasta in the days leading up to long runs or races.

Have I done this? Absolutely! Particularly those first few marathons. The week just prior is a huge celebration of sorts. I just finished training for a MARATHON, and I'm going to celebrate by eating everything in sight! ("See Food" Diet) :-)
Was it fun? Sure. The only problem being that by the time I actually made it to the starting line of my race, I felt 'fat' and lousy. So recently I took on the challenge of learning how to eat the best for my body and maintain the long run miles. While it was very frustrating at first, I seem to have finally found the plan that's working for me.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutrition expert by any means. This happens to be what has worked for me. I'm just sharing. And you should always consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise or weight loss plan. (Ok, now that I've satisfied the legal department, here we go...)

Most of what I learned here was from this book, by far the most user friendly I've found on the subject. If you want some very confusing ones which talk all about the research studies backing up the recommendations, and ones that require advanced degrees in math, I can recommend those too.Here are the Cliff Notes version of what I've learned:

1. Take your current weight and multiply it by 13.
- This is your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn in a day doing pretty much nothing).

2. Find a way to track your 'calories in' and 'calories out'.
- For me, I found an iphone app (called Nutrition (very original), that makes this very easy. Start by setting your calorie 'allowances' (BMR).
Calories in- Now log in all the foods you eat. This is actually not as hard as it sounds since you can save them as Favorites, and select them again and again. You can also look up info on Common Foods or favorite dining out places.
Calories out- Log in the number of calories you burn (above and beyond your BMR) every day. I get this information from my Garmin for runs or walks, or you the app allows you to look up calories burned based on activity and time.
**All of this information gets saved in your 'Journal' and tells you exactly how many calories you've consumed compared to how many you've burned.

3. Losing Weight
- Obviously the idea is to make sure you burn more calories than you consume. If you want to lose about 1 pound a week, then you need to burn an average of 500 calories more than you eat every day. (3500 calories = 1 pound)

4. Carbs/Proteins/Fats - Does it matter?
Well, yes. Particularly if you're trying to stay active (long distance runs or otherwise). Cutting out all the carbs is bad news for athletes. Sure you'll lose weight, but you won't have energy for much more than sitting on the couch.
Shoot for about daily ratios of consuming 50% carbs, 25% fats, and 25% proteins. Sound confusing? Again, the iphone app saves the day by automatically creating a nice little pie chart showing how you're doing throughout the day.

5. When to eat what...
This was the real key for me to learn! While it's good to try and eat balanced amounts of carbs, fats and proteins at every meal- in general you want to focus on consuming more carbs during the meals or snacks during which you're most active during the day. (AM if you're a morning runner, PM if you work out in the evenings, etc.). During your less active times (post-workouts or between workout meals), focus more on the proteins and fats as these will make you feel fuller longer.

6. Invest in a good scale that tells you not only your weight, but body fat percentage as well. These don't have to cost a lot, I found a decent one for about $45.

So far this plan has worked amazingly well for me. As far as the nutrition part of things goes, I've been feeling great for workouts, and never feel hungry or deprived of food. I am getting very close to my body fat percentage goal. Sticking with this current program, I should be there by August. (I was going to insert a joke about dating possibly messing that up again here, but I'll hold back). :-)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fighting the Triple Digits

I don't have too much to say today. Dallas hit the first triple degree temp of the summer today. For those of you who know me well... that pretty much says it all. Tough day! But I had a productive day at work, dealt with a few nagging to-do list items, and somehow pulled myself through 2 hours of tennis.

So it's probably not a coincidence that several friends posted this quote from Jerry West on Facebook today:
"You can't get much done in life if you only work on the days you feel good."

And, the latest issue of Runner's World arrived- with a very appropriate topic of focus:I think that pretty much says it all, and will provide good reading material before I fall into bed... which tonight is going to be in about 5 minutes.

11 days to Seattle.....Peace be the Journey!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Getting Chased Around the Lake...

***Anna's Story***
4:30am wakeup call for my last lake loop (9.3 miles) of Seattle training. Pulled into the parking lot to meet my running buddy at 5:33. I was greeted by two empty cars in an otherwise deserted parking lot- ah, another pair of runners had discovered our 'secret' meeting spot. I was at least grateful to see I wasn't the only one running slightly behind for our 5:30 meeting time. So I kick back and relax a bit, expecting James to pull up at any moment. 10 minutes go by, then 20. No response from text messages to James. RATS!!! James had overslept and since I'd left my ipod at home, was going to be doomed to a hot, lonely, and silent 9 mile loop. Oh well!! I started off around the lake.

***James' Story***
James pulls into the parking lot at exactly 5:30, anxious to be on time so as not to leave me waiting alone in a deserted parking lot. He sees my empty car and panics- thinking our meet-up time must have been 5am and he missed me. But if he hurried he might be able to catch up. He races down to the lake, engages in a quick logic game guessing which direction I'd gone, and raced to catch me. No matter James was still adjusting to running training again and hadn't run a full loop for awhile- he ran the entire thing, sacrificing water stops to catch me. After an entire loop at record pace for James, discouraged he'd never caught me, he headed back to the parking lot- only to discover his car, my actual car, and the car he'd mistaken for mine 2 hours earlier. Reality sets in.... UH OH!!

***Anna and James' Worlds Collide***
Gratefully just finishing the last mile of my hot, lonely lake loop- I begin to see a familiar figure approach. James?? Yep! He told me the story that explained how he'd been attempting to chase me around the lake for the last 2 hours before realizing what had happened. We got a good laugh out of that and enjoyed a very slow mile walk together back to our cars, trying to cram our planned 9 miles of conversation into just 1. (Because the talk is really the most important part anyway!) :-)

***Story of the Mystery Car***
So what of this empty car parked between us that created so much confusion? According to the parking citation left on the windshield, the car had been parked there for several days. Hmm... there was no Law and Order theme music playing in background, so we decided against checking the trunk for bodies. Either that person figured it was a good long term parking spot, or they really are setting a record for the most number of continuous lake loops. I guess we'll never know....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2 week countdown

Just 2 weeks until Seattle race day--- I've still got a little ways to go on fundraising so I'm taking a new approach. I need to raise $555 in the next two weeks to reach my goal so I can run the marathon. Donations of any size are welcome! If you are unable to adopt a whole mile, just tell me how much you'd like to donate and which open mile you'd like to be a part of and I will add you to it. The more the merrier! :)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sometimes I Wonder...

I had kind of a rough day today. Thanks to my Facebook supporters Brent, Vicky, Nelson, and Magdalene for the extra encouragement! Your comments may have seemed small, but they really meant a lot to me today. Fundraising stress combined with life stress (sudden impending move) has been taking it's toll. As I'm sure many of you know, long term fundraising projects and blogging like this can be very lonely at times. Sometimes it can be easy to start wondering if anyone is listening or anyone cares. Thankfully, all I have to do is look back at the many mile sponsors and friends I've had supporting me through these marathons and I remember that is not the case.

I tried for an 'easy' 5 mile run this morning and came up very short. This heat is really starting to get to me; even at 5-6am. The A/C in my apartment complex gym has been busted for months now (just one more thing prompting the move), so I've been stuck outside for runs.

Today I also made a visit to the great people at ChiroSport, who have been helping me keep my body put together for almost 2 years now. I was never a believer in chiropractors before I found them, but I definitely am now!! I'm already feeling much better than this morning. I also enjoyed visiting and getting some extra encouragement from my friend, Libby, while I was there; who is doing amazing job of training for her first marathon after just having a new baby in the last year.

Yet another reminder that this whole thing is not about the running! It's about PEOPLE! The people I'm running for (young adults fighting cancer), and the amazing people I meet during the process of this journey.
Thanks again to each and every one of you for being there!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011


If you're not already a Facebook follower, you may not know that I spent last weekend in New Braunfels, TX at Newks Tennis Camp. 2 1/2 days of almost nothing but tennis and I loved every minute of it! I've already made plans to go again this fall.

As great of a weekend as it was, I do have to admit that it did wear me out quite a bit. I've tried to take some more rest time than usual this week, but I can tell that my body is still not quite caught up. It's felt a little like half marathon race recovery. Late Thursday already and I admit I'm still exhausted just keeping up with basic running and tennis workouts, along with work and class deadlines. I'm looking forward to a pretty relaxing weekend to rest up some more and get caught up on the rest of my life.

Hope you all have some fun and/or relaxing plans this weekend yourselves!! :) 17 days and counting....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

18 days and counting....

Marathon day is rapidly approaching... which became even more of a realization tonight as I got my bib number: 25211. I can't believe it is just 18 days away, and even sooner before I get on the flight to Seattle.

One of the cool (and difficult) things about marathons is that there is absolutely no way to cram in preparation at the last minute. Either you put in the solid, consistent effort day after day for the months leading up to the race, or you don't make it to the start line. Well, if you do it's almost certain that story won't end well.

I'm happy to report that while there have definitely been some struggles along the way, all in all this has been the smoothest marathon preparation I've had. Of course things could always be better- but this round I've managed to get in two 20+ mile runs in the training schedule. This is a first for me. Even with the recent temperature increases in Dallas, things have gone pretty well.

We've had a lot of people step up and make very generous donations in the last few weeks to help sponsor miles. There are only 9 more remaining. Back when I started this fundraiser I committed to only run each marathon if I was able to get all the miles sponsored. So yes, after all this work I've put in, theoretically it is possible I'll fly all the way to Seattle and end up not running. But for every previous marathon, things have always worked out in the end- so I'm trying not to focus on that thought.... though I admit it's starting to keep me awake at night. :)

Honestly, asking people to donate money, even for something I believe in as strongly as Susan's Foundation, has never been something I'm very good at or comfortable with. It is definitely making me step out of my comfort zone a little at times, as well as find more subtle ways to increase awareness. One way I've been doing that is wearing this cancer awareness bracelet I found online. Each color represents one of the types of cancer individuals are fighting against every day.
I've found that it has not only been a good way to spread awareness to others, but remind me to keep perspective in day to day life. It gets so easy to get caught up in the little frustrations of research, classes, home life, etc. Having this visual reminder of the fact that there are individuals fighting much bigger battles than my day to day issues has been good for me. Now I just need to find a more tennis friendly one.... because I get very frustrated there too at times. :)

I have more things to get caught up on.... so up until race day you can count on daily blog posts. Please keep checking back, and please do what you can to help spread the word about this fundraiser. We now just need 13 more 'Anna's Marathon 50' Facebook fans to reach our goal of 100. Thank you again to all of you who have supported me and this fundraiser for Susan's Foundation in so many different ways!!!

White Rock Centennial Half

The above picture is my friend, Roxanne and I after the White Rock Centennial Half Marathon. This was the race I posted about several weeks back. Very happy with a 9 minute PR.... but I think even happier my body tolerated the heat as well as it did. :)