Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last run before the big one

Today was my last run before my half on Sunday. Four miles at a 12 minute mile pace - faster than I have been lately mostly due to the drop in temperature. Thanks to an outpouring of generosity, I have almost enough for my trip, and am pretty sure I can scrape the rest together. Hubby and I leave Friday morning, and after I wash these stinky running clothes I will start getting my stuff together to pack.

I've decided against wearing my hydration belt during the half and hope that I don't regret it. There are water stations every mile and a half or so, and I just don't feel like messing with my belt the whole time. Thanks to a $15 rewards certificate to my local Fleet Feet, I will be able to purchase a smaller fuel belt to hold my, well, fuel. And possibly a camera. I can't decide whether or not my iPhone will suffice to take pictures of all the things Disney will have going on.

Speaking of fuel, I went to a wonderful seminar on fueling and hydrating during long runs at Fleet Feet, and learned a lot. I was neither eating nor drinking as much as they recommend - did you know that you should have 100-150 calories every hour that you are running on a long run? For me, that means I end up eating about 3 times during my really long runs. Remember that time I tried Gu? And hated it? Well, that was the last time I tried any actual fuel. I took along some gummy bears, which were tasty but didn't lend much lasting energy. After the seminar I bought a couple of things to try - Clif Shot Bloks and Honey Stingers (which is something that Molly recommended but I hadn't tried yet. I should have tried them sooner!) I tested them out on my last long run, the 10 miler. Shot Bloks? Gross. Only a half step up from the Gu. But the Honey Stinger Organic Chews? Wonderful! Like a gummy bear but better for my lasting energy. 

And don't even get me started on the Honey Stinger Waffle - perfect for eating before I run (a bit messy during the run, but oh my gosh it was good!) I noticed a difference in the way I was feeling towards the last couple miles of the run, so I am a believer that fuel is important.

As far as hydration, even after the seminar I was having trouble getting the recommended amount while running - 20 oz per hour - but I don't have time to experiment with that before this half. Maybe next time. (I can't believe that I actually think I might do this again - I should probably make it through this one first!)

I am starting to get really excited about the half - I am not nervous at all which really surprises me. I expected to be a mess. I know that I will be anxious the night before and the morning of, but right now I feel good. I know that I am slow, I know that I will probably walk a bit, but I am okay with it. I am completely accepting of where I am at, and I know that I will finish, which is what is important to me right now.

Time to go get ready for breakfast - Hubby set his alarm to get up when I would be returning this morning so that he could make me food - love him!!! Have a good day everyone!

Monday, August 29, 2011

With a Little Help From My Friends

My half-marathon is in 6 days. I have been waiting for an insurance reimbursement to come into my account to pay for my trip to Anaheim for the race (the hotel is paid for, but nothing else is.) I've been checking with the insurance company all month to ensure that the funds were coming - I spoke to 4 people 4 different times in fact. Last Friday, I called again, just to be sure. And was told that "something looked funny in my account." Words that are not good to hear. I was transferred to someone else, who informed me that, in fact, the money would not be coming. Ever. Even though the last four times I called I was assured everything was good and the money would be here shortly.

With 7 days until I was scheduled to leave, I suddenly had no money to pay for the gas and food for my trip. And nowhere to pull it from, no family to borrow from. I was panicked. Sure that all my training and hard work was going to go to waste. We have bills to pay and mouths to feed, and there was nowhere to find anything extra. So we fasted and prayed, any my husband came up with a plan.

"Post it on Facebook," he told me. "You have tons of people who have been following your journey and supporting your training. I think they will want to help." I really wasn't sure about that course of action. It felt like begging. It was embarrassing. But after talking to a friend of mine and sharing the idea, she told me "I HONESTLY love that idea. People are invested in your progress. They want to see you finish. I know I am inspired by you." And so I decided to do it - what did I have to lose? If I didn't get some money somehow, I was missing the race.

So last night I created a Facebook page titled "Please help Morgan get to her half-marathon." And I wrote this post, titled "I really need your help":

The money we were expecting to get us down to my half marathon didn’t come through at the last minute, and I now find myself with four days to come up with the $300 needed for gas and food for my trip.
As you know, I’ve spent the last several months training hard for this race. I’ve been through physical pain and emotional highs and lows, and fought to change who I am and meet my goal. Throughout my journey, you have followed my progress and setbacks, my highs and lows. Your comments have inspired me and lent support when I’ve needed it. I’ve thought back on your words during my long runs and you have all motivated me to push harder and just keep going.
I have found myself so close to reaching my goal, but without the money it seems as though it might slip through my fingers. I hate to ask for more than you’ve already given, but I am out of options for how to raise this money to get me to the starting line. After all the sweat and tears, I really want to see it through to the end.
If you can spare $10, $20, or any amount, I would be eternally grateful, and you would be part of my success.

This morning I sent out links to my Facebook friends - not all of them but the ones I thought might be interested. I shared it on my wall. I posted pictures. And I waited. And worried.

But not for long. Soon emails started coming in. Messages asking for my mailing address and telling me money was coming. From friends. From family. From people from high school that I haven't talked to since our reunion 3 years ago. I got text messages from people from our new church who I hardly know. One woman I work with in Young Women texted me and told me that she was bringing me the money from her date night jar. "It isn't much," she wrote. "It is amazing," I responded. I have been brought to tears more times today than I can count. I don't have the full amount yet, but I believe I will get there. I am in awe at people's generosity and love. I am humbled.

I used to think that running was solitary. That I was alone out there. Turns out I could not have been more wrong. And now, my first half-marathon will mean even more to me, because I will have all that love and goodness with me, spurring me on. I will succeed, for myself, and all those people who support me.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

9 miles

Tuesdays are my long run days - today was 9 miles. After feeling like I totally killed my last long run, I was kind of nervous to head out for another one. I've been fooled into thinking that I am over the hump before, only to be smacked down when my next run is painfully difficult. But today I added a mile to the distance and was still ok. The run wasn't quite as awesome as last week, but still pretty great. I am able to recognize how differences in the weather affect my run - this morning there was no breeze and the sun was on me most of the way, making it hotter than last week. But I powered through and was proud to make it back home again. 

My half-marathon is in less than a month, and I am pretty excited. I am thinking about getting a visor to wear while running to keep the sun out of my face - I can't wear sunglasses while I run as my face sweats a lot and they slip and just bother me in general. Any of you out there run with visors? Have any words of wisdom for me?

Thursday, August 4, 2011


The alarm blasted on at 5:30 this morning to rouse me for my run. Having gone to bed at almost midnight, I promptly hit the snooze button and immediately fell back asleep. When it came on again 10 minutes later, I turned it off completely, and the battle commenced within my head. 

"I don't want to run."

"I should get up and run."

"I'm tired - I want to go back to sleep."

"I should go run."

"No, I think I'll just stay in bed. Maybe I'll run tonight, or definitely tomorrow morning."

"Hmmm, ok that sounds good."

And yet, ten minutes later, I got myself out of bed. And into my running clothes. And, eventually, out on the street. I did my four miles, and it went well. On the way back as I was running, I remembered that I had almost stayed in bed. I smiled and thought "And now I'm almost done, and I feel good, and now I don't have to worry about doing it later. Which I probably wouldn't have." This Morgan is not the Morgan I am used to. That Morgan would have stayed in bed, skipped the run, felt guilty all day, and never have made it up. As I thought about it, I identified a few more ways in which I have changed.

I miss my chickens - fresh eggs are the best.

I eat eggs. I have been disgusted by eggs since I left my childhood (I ate them when I was little, but at some point that stopped.) I don't like fried eggs very much, but I am all for a good scramble filled with eggs and veggies.

I eat bananas. I have always had a texture issue with them. The only way I ever ate them was on toast with some peanut butter, and even then it was few and far between. But lately I have been forcing past the gag reflex and eating them, before running or after, and it is going pretty well. They have to be just the right ripeness or I have a real problem, but for the most part it is fine.

I also eat oatmeal. When I was a kid, I hated oatmeal. It made me feel like throwing up. My dad's girlfriend at the time, who was not a nice person, used to make oatmeal pretty frequently. When I would gag while eating it, she would tell me, in all seriousness, that if I threw up in it, I was going to have to eat that too. So even as an adult I have loathed oatmeal. But when I started trying to lose weight and working out, I kept reading about how good oatmeal is for you and so on. So I started eating it, a little at a time with different tweakings, until I was over the immediate gag that came from the memories of my childhood. Now I like steel cut oats, and I don't even need brown sugar to eat them (although I do love it that way - and sprinkle some in from time to time as a treat.) 

I know that I have probably changed in a lot of other ways too, but the eating and exercise is the easiest to see. I have cut out sugars for the last little while, and the scale shows that I am down 2.8 pounds as of this morning. It is nice to feel like I am on a roll again. I hope everyone else is doing well too!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nothing fuels a blog post like accomplishment. And old people.

I just pulled myself out of a cold post-run bath (didn't have enough ice to make it an ice bath, but according to Jeff Galloway cold tap water is cold enough) and I am sitting here in my sports bra and a towel because I really wanted to write this post before the rest of my day gets going and I lose my momentum for it. This morning something happened that I had ceased believing was possible. It was so surprising to me that I couldn't help but laugh a little in shock and look around me to see if anyone else was aware of what was going on. 

I KILLED my eight mile run today. I left it out there gasping its last breaths of life, wondering who had just stomped all over it. And I feel fan-freaking-tastic. Mentally and physically. My running has been stagnant for weeks and I've been struggling, feeling like the goal I set for myself was insurmountable and I was a fool for starting this thing. But today, things were just grooving. I set a pace and I kept it (without any fancy doodad, which I didn't think was possible for me) and just kept moving. And those moments when I wanted to just stop and maybe cry? They were missing completely. I wasn't fast, but I was persistent, and the negative whispers in my head were silent. Take that, American River Bike Trail. You have no power over me. (And neither does David Bowie. Labrynth anyone?)

In other news, I went to my aquacize class last night, and found it to be just like the picture I posted yesterday. Heads turned as I entered the pool area and walked past a row of older women (and one middle aged man) who were waiting for the ok to get in the pool. To the point where the instructor (no spring chicken herself) looked at me and said sweetly, but confusedly, "Are you here for aquacize?" I replied yes, and she proceeded to ask me several questions meant to verify that I did, in fact, mean to be there. Apparently the rest of the women have been going all summer for the past couple of years, and they all know each other and live in the neighborhoods surrounding the pool. 

Refusing to be deterred by the geriatric set, I got in the pool. The instructor of this class does it along with everyone, which is new to me - all the classes I have had before the instructor stayed on the pool deck and, well, instructed from there. She kept a close eye on me and talked me through everything, not with the utmost patience but that's ok. Halfway through the class she asked the man in the class if he was glad not to be the newbie anymore (apparently he started last month) and he enthusiastically said "Oh yes!" and then turned to me and told me I had better not quit. Made me wonder if the teacher keeps a continual close eye on the new person until someone else comes along, thus freeing them. At the end of the class, she seemed genuinely surprised as she said to me "You did really well - I think you've got everything!" Pretty funny. I can tell that I am going to have to put in extra effort to really get a workout, because it is definitely geared towards the slower, more aged people, but I think it could be fun once I get to know some of my classmates - I love old people!

Have a great day everyone - a veggie-egg scramble is calling my name. Maybe I should put some pants on first.  

Monday, August 1, 2011


I have had a pretty awful day wherein I sat in an office for two hours after my scheduled appointment time waiting to be called in, then ran around town for the next 4 hours trying to gather what they wanted me to give them, only to turned down after supplying everything to them. It wiped me out, physically and emotionally. But I've decided that none of that matters. Because in the midst of that I was able to run into the Parks and Rec office and sign up for my aquacize class. And it starts tonight, and I can't wait. In just over an hour I will be in the pool getting my workout on. 

I know this is typically what people envision when they hear the word "aquacize." And the first class I took (when I was pregnant - an hour of weightlessness in August when you are 8 months pregnant is heaven!) very closely resembled this demographic. However, since then I have also taken classes on the college level, which  had a good mix of ages and difficulty levels. 

This class is at a small community pool, so I can't guess what it will be like, but one thing I've learned from all the water classes I've taken is you get out of it what you put in. If you choose to sit on a noodle and lightly kick the entire class, you won't get as much out of it as you will if you ditch the noodle and tread water the whole time. I plan on getting as much out of it as I can, and I can't wait!