Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Awesomeness stalled

In trying to regain my awesomeness, yesterday I did the Shred in the morning. Then, when Hubby texted in the afternoon asking if I wanted to go for a jog when he got home in the evening, I said absolutely. (For the record, my husband doesn't run. Every once in a while he will decide he feels like it and he will jog around the block, but that is it. In all fairness, he isn't supposed to run much - he has something of an enlarged aorta - a story for another time. So getting a text saying he wanted to go for a jog was kind of rare and a big deal. And it wouldn't have been very awesome of me to say no.) When he came home, we ran a quick mile (and by quick I mean we were moving faster than I normally do, so I was huffing and puffing by the end) and then walked 3/4 of  mile home. 

Last night before bed I set my running stuff out and set my alarm for 5:40, since awesomeness doesn't sleep in and skip a workout. However, when I got myself out of bed and into the hallway, I found my boys' bedroom door ajar, and was faced with a carpet covered in vomit. Good times. So rather than running this morning, I found myself cleaning up that mess and taking care of a little 7 year old boy who told me "I didn't get much sleep last night." Which is an honorable trade-off. Then why do I feel like not making my run today makes me decidedly lame and un-awesome? I am battling the same feelings of guilt that I experience when I purposefully and consciously do not work out. Is that an appropriate way to feel, or should I be ok with having to miss out on my run in order to take care of my family? I thought about running now, because my 12 year old is also home feeling really sick, and thus I could leave the boys here with her and go, but I don't feel like I should leave when two of the three here are sick. 

Any thoughts on these feelings? Are they normal? Am I just copping out?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I miss feeling awesome

Here is what I have been thinking today: I miss that feeling that came with working out 5 days a week as I trained for my first 5k and also took a class that challenged my fitness every time and made me stronger. I miss feeling like I could do hard things, give them all I had, and go back for more. I miss feeling awesome. The past few weeks I have had a really hard time motivating myself to get moving and get my butt back in gear. I keep telling myself I'm going to do it, but in reality I end up running a couple days during the week, doing the Shred once or twice, and that't it. I can't seem to drag myself out of bed in the dark and get myself moving, and as the day goes on I just won't do it. Well, for me, Sundays are the days when I feel like I am ready to conquer the world, and I make great plans and have great ideas for the coming week. So today, in Morgan tradition, I am going to sit down and write out a workout schedule for the coming week. But not in Morgan tradition, I am actually going to stick with it past Tuesday. It's time to bring back the awesome.

Friday, September 23, 2011

One week down

One week down with no sugars and I weighed in this morning. Last week I started out at 179, and this morning I weighed in at 175.2, for a loss of 3.8 pounds. Yay! I don't lose weight in big increments like that usually, and I know it was just because it was the first week, but I'll take it!

While my exercise isn't bad, it could be better, so I will be making an effort to increase the number of days I am doing that. My step-mom wants to do another weight loss challenge until Thanksgiving, like we did last year, (which I won, by the way.) The problem is that while last year my sister, brother-in-law, and niece also did it with us, this year they don't want to. So right now it is just my step-mom and myself. So we might just do more of a support thing and less of a challenge, which is too bad since I won $60 last year and would love the chance to repeat.

Any of you out there doing holiday challenges to keep yourselves in check?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Running Tip #34

Running Tip #34 - Don't run on the surface streets on garbage day.

This morning I started out on my normal running route along the American River Bike Trail, but about a mile in decided I wanted something different. I was already throwing in sprints here and there (as I am trying to increase my speed) but didn't want to do them all on the trail. So I headed over to the surface streets, just to shake things up a little. In my area, Thursday is garbage day. Which had me running by garbage cans that hadn't been emptied yet (abnormal - they usually are picked up bright and early.) Why is this such a bad thing? Just try taking deep breaths to support your running as you are passing cans full of trash. It was even worse during my sprinting, when I was gulping more air, and thus more of that nice rancid meat smell. Yuck. But over all I got a good run in, and didn't pass out from the smell, so it was a win. I'll know better next time.

I cut out sweets and sodas last Friday, and am feeling really good. My runs have been better, I feel stronger and less pudgy. I have currently set the time frame for no sugar for four weeks from when I started, and then I'll see how I want to proceed from there. I'm running and also throwing in some workouts from the Shred, and overall it is working for me. Now I just need to be more productive during the day - something that I am fairly certain is being affected by my anemia. Just need to remember to take my iron pill and try to work some more iron-rich foods into my diet. Maybe I'll go make some oatmeal for breakfast...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A heartfelt, heart wrenching post - well ok, a link to one anyway

I just read this wonderful, poignant post, and had to share it. In light of things that have been happening in my life the last few months, this really touched me and hit my heart. Go read it and let me know what you think.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Half-Marathon Part 3 - In which nearly 2,215 people don't finish the race, but I do!

Warning - more pictures ahead. And some words.

I left you all at mile 6, with me making a dorky video about my progress so far. I was still going (pretty) strong, despite the sun beating down on me and the fact that I was facing another 7.1 miles. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people who were also suffering trying to achieve the same goal. There were many times on the course that I wanted to yell out encouraging, fun things like "Who's having fun?" and "How is everyone doing - let me hear you yell!" and "We all rock!" but, unfortunately, I was too embarrassed to do it. I wish I had had the nerve.

Mile 8 took us through the parking lot of the Honda Center, where the Mighty Ducks play hockey. While most of the first 4 miles were on Disney property, as well as the last 1.1 miles, the rest of the race was on the streets of Anaheim. We ran by a lot of strip malls, over train tracks, and through an industrial area. All of that was pretty ho-hum, but I didn't figure that it was much different than any normal half-marathon. I have heard that the Disney World races are completely on Disney property, since that resort is so much larger, and that because of that there is a lot more of that "Disney-feel" and entertainment to the runs. Which would be awesome, but I still felt that this race was a good one.

Around mile 7 I started getting texts - since I use my iPhone for my music when I run, every once in a while I would hear a chime letting me know I had a new message. Turns out my hubby had put out a Facebook post encouraging people to text me, especially between 8 and 9, to cheer me on. It was so sweet, and every time it dinged I got a new burst of motivation and inspiration. He would text me funny things, and friends and family would encourage me to keep going.

Between miles 8 and 9 we ran along the Santa Ana River Trail, which really made me laugh. Here is what the "river" looked like:
You could see the bottom of the ditch (I guess it is a river bed?) and the whole thing was obviously man-made. The reason I laugh is because I am from Northern California, where we have lots of river access, ad our rivers are natural and beautiful and lush. I run on the American River Bike Trail all the time. I would have considered this river more of a reservoir. Whatever.

Ahead in the distance I could see our next destination:
 Can you see it in the distance?
 Angel's Stadium - coming up!

I have to say, before the race, I knew we were going to be running through the stadium, and while I thought it sounded cool, it didn't really mean anything to me. I'm not a huge baseball fan or anything, so I thought it was just something to break up the run a little. I was wrong.
 Headed through the tunnel into the stadium

 As we came through the tunnel, I could hear the roar of the crowd inside. It echoed down to us, and this wave of excitement hit me. I felt like an athletic superstar with a stadium of people cheering for me. I was running, ducking around people, wondering how they could be walking at a moment like this. We were on the outfield, running through a stadium, something people don't normally get to do, with excited fans cheering us on. Move it people! I ran around the corner, and looked over in the seats, and had the best surprise of my day:
 That guy in the grey shirt and khaki shorts, pointing at me? Yeah, that's my hubby. I had no idea that he was going to be there - I actually thought he wouldn't. It was a fantastic surprise - it put more pep in my step and really gave me a boost. It was awesome.
After we headed out into the parking lot, I shot another video. I am looking distinctly more red, sweaty, and exhausted in this one. And don't you love the frame it freezes on?

By the time we hit mile 10, I was really starting to wonder how much longer this was going to take. 10 miles was as far as I had ever run during my training, the furthest I had ever run in my life, and now was the time to run the last 5k to finish out the race. It was at least encouraging to see the signs for Disney Way, and to start seeing signs for the parks. At this point I had to just dig deep. I thought of all those people who donated money so that I could make it down to the race, all those people who had so much faith in me and my journey and wanted to see me meet my goal. I knew I owed it to them as well as myself to finish as strong as I could.

Tower of Terror in the distance - I knew we were closing in on the end.

 One mile to go!
 The back of the new "Cars Land" they are building at California Adventure

 Unfortunately, this Genie didn't have any ability to grant my wish to be done already

The last mile, I thought about my kids. I thought of how I want to be a good example to them, to show them that we can do hard things. That we can do anything that we want and set our minds to, and that their mom is capable of big things. Thinking of them, and also getting texts from my hubby that said "Be strong Morgan" and "I'm so proud of you Morgan" kept me running that whole last mile.
 It's blurry, but it's there - the Finish line!
Just before you crossed the finish line, Minnie, Chip and Dale, and Goofy were all lined up to give high-fives and clap. I moved to the side where they were just so I could high-five them - I may be a dork, but I earned it!
Self-portrait immediately after crossing the finish line - I was so happy and proud of myself!

Let's bask in this moment for a bit. It was amazing. It was unbelievable. Last year at this time I was starting to train for my first 5k, and I didn't think I could even finish that. I would never have thought that I would be running a half-marathon. No matter how slow I was, I finished what I started. After twelve weeks of training, and 13.1 miles of sweat and (mostly happy) tears, I finished what I started. It was a wonderful feeling.

However, shortly after this, things went downhill alarmingly quickly. After crossing the finish line, I was handed a "cooling towel," which was a terrycloth towel in a package that resembled those portable baby wipe packages. I got my medal, picked up a water bottle, and headed down the line, opening and wiping my face down with the towel. The area funneled you past the medical tent, to the food, and then out through lettered tents (corresponding to your last name) into the family reunion area. I stopped in the medical tent to look for ice and pain pills. The ice was being replenished, and there was a line. 

I was anxious to get out and find Jon, who was supposed to be waiting in the reunion area after watching me finish on the big screens. So I got a handful of this stuff called Bio-Freeze and slathered it on my calves. Then I wiped what was left on my had onto the towel. Moments later I wiped my face, which was streaming sweat. I grab a bagel from the food line, and simultaneously realize that something I've wiped on my face had menthol in it.

I tend to have allergic reactions to menthol. Those Icy-Hot patches, Ben Gay, anything like that gives me itchy, swollen patches of skin. I panic as I realize it is all over my face, and I am having visions of myself all puffy and itchy through my afternoon at Disneyland. I realize that it was in the Bio-freeze, and try to wipe it off with the towel, or at least the portions where I hadn't already wiped the gunk off my hands. Meanwhile, I am still being funneled through the line, I have my hands full with a bagel, water bottle, towel, and who knows what else. I figure my best option is to find Jon, so I go through the appropriate tent and start looking. 

Now, at 6'7", my hubby is not hard to spot in a crowd - a fact that I have always been grateful for. And yet, as I am looking around, I can't see him. I find a nearby table with an open corner and set down as much as I can so I can focus on cleaning off my face. I pour some water on the towel and keep wiping my face, which is stinging a bit. Finally I decide that I have gotten as much off my face as possible (and my skin is feeling a bit tight and shiny like I just had a chemical peel.) At this point, I am starting to feel nauseous, and can't manage to swallow any more bagel. I trash it and grab the rest of my stuff and renew my search for my husband. I can't spot him anywhere, and so I manage to wrestle my phone out of my arm band so I can text him and find out where he is. Only I am in a complete dead zone, and can't get a message or call out.

Hot, sweaty, tired, nauseous, face burning, and feeling abandoned, my high just plummets. I finally manage to get a text out, asking Jon where he is, and get one back saying that he is still trying to get in and park. He isn't there and didn't see me finish. Things are not looking so rosy through my eyes anymore. I look around for a place to sit, hopefully in the shade, but there are no chairs anywhere and the sun is brutally bearing down on me. So I leave the reunion area and shuffle over to the road (which is closed) where I know Jon will be walking once he is able to park. I feel dizzy and sick, so I sit down on the curb. 

After 20 more minutes (and many failed texts) I get up and stand under the only shade I can find. I finally see Jon looking for me, and wave him down. At that point, any joy that I wanted to share at my finishing has been sapped by the events after crossing the finish line, and all I want is to get back to the car. Which it turns out is parked at the far end of one of the top floors of the garage. As we are walking out there, I realize that I need at least one post-race picture with my medal, but I have tears in my eyes and just can barely muster a smile. Hence the picture below in all its ugly glory:
I stumbled back to the car, at which point it took us another 20 minutes to get out of the garage. Jon told me his story, which basically was that since so many roads were closed for the race, he got stuck coming back from the stadium to the park, along with everyone else trying to get back to the finish line. We had set it up through the race website for Jon to be texted at different points along the race, and he told me that he was crushed when he got the text saying I was finished and he hadn't even made it to the parking garage yet. It was a low point for both of us. He could have parked at our hotel and walked over in less time, if he had known. I told him he needs to write it all up so that in future years, people watching their loved ones race will know what not to do.

He got me back to the hotel, put me in the shower, and then went and bought me a chocolate milk. By the time I drank that and was dressed, I was feeling better. We prepared to head back to the park for our day at Disneyland (crazy, I know, but it was the only day we had!) As soon as we got in, we ate lunch (Jambalaya for me - yum!) and soon I was ready to walk the park and ride some rides. We ended up spending 12 hours at Disneyland, just taking it slow in the crowds and riding and eating. It was a great ending to the weekend. But I paid for it the next day when I couldn't walk so much as hobble. 

I don't normally put magnets or stickers on my car, but I earned this one!

Overall, it was an amazing weekend, and I would do it all again. Previously, I was fairly certain that this would be the only half-marathon I would ever do, but during and even after, I realized that I am not done. Now all I can think about is doing another one, and trying to improve my speed. I am planning on trying to get a group of people together to run the Disneyland half next year, but I am also going to pepper the coming months with some as well. Finishing my training and the race proved to me that I can do this - which is why I signed up for the run to begin with. Achieving my goal has been an amazing experience for me, and has given me more self-confidence. And I can honestly say that if I can do this, anyone can. So does anyone want to join me?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Half-Marathon Part 2 - In which I get up really early and begin a run with 15,000 people

Warning: This is a picture-heavy post. Really picture-heavy.

When last we left our heroine, she was trying to get some sleep before the biggest athletic feat she had ever attempted. I actually slept pretty well, despite my body waking me up at 2:30 and my brain telling it to knock that off. I was able to fall back asleep and woke instead at 3:30, a half hour before my alarm but I knew I would need the extra time. I tried to get up and start getting ready quietly so as not to wake up Hubby, who's plan for getting ready involved only throwing on his clothes and a hat. By 4:20 I was pretty much ready to go.

Hydrating - very important 

They tell you never to wear new clothes for a race. I didn't listen. I should have.

We left our hotel and started the short walk over to the park. The closer we got, the more people we joined, until there was a steady stream of racers making the journey to the starting area. 

 Guess I was anxious
 Some of the crowd
 Hubby said to pose. What I am really thinking here is "Please don't leave me. Once you leave, I have to wait in a crowd of strangers for an hour and then run 13.1 miles."
Me and my support team

Once we got over to the general area of the starting line, we talked a bit, I stretched a little, used the bathroom, and we wandered towards the corrals. Too soon, it was time to leave Jon and find my corral. I hugged him, teary, as he whispered lots of words of encouragement in my ear. Finally I broke free and headed through the gates to where everyone was lining up. I'm really bad at goodbyes, and I was getting nervous. 

Getting into my corral took a while - things bottlenecked at a certain point while people tried to figure out which way they were supposed to go. I was in the second to last corral, and once I got the found that it was only half-full. That changed rapidly. The race was scheduled to start at 6, starting with corral A (obviously) with each subsequent corral leaving 5 minutes after. Which meant that my corral wasn't scheduled to leave until 6:25, and I was in the corral (at the organizers insistence) by 5:25. So I stood around for an hour, taking pictures for groups who needed a cameraman, but generally feeling lonely as I listened to the pairs and groups of runner chat with each other. I really wished someone had signed up to run with me.

The sea of people waiting in front of me - there were many many more to the left and behind.

One thing I didn't get a picture of that was really cool was when they sang the national anthem. At the point where the man sang "And the rockets red glare" red fireworks shot into the morning sky - it was really beautiful and the crowd just went crazy. There were also more with "the bombs bursting in air." Beautiful moment.

The race started on Disneyland drive and headed out onto Katella, one of the four roads bordering the resort. Then we hooked a left on Harbor, which ran us (eventually) right by my hotel. Hubby was standing out in the road waiting for me - I loved seeing him! He shot a video - forgive the unflattering nature of it please.
So a word about my new running skirt that I (foolishly?) wore. I had a running skirt already that I had been wearing to train in, but it was boring and grey and when I was at the expo I saw this one from which was totally cute. I tried it on, it fit, I loved it. Now, it is an inch or so shorter than the one I am used to (which is not the same brand) but I thought it would be fine. Well, when I started running, the compression shorts underneath started riding up a bit. Which does happen with my other skirt. But the difference is the length - way more of my thighs were visible than I am comfortable with, and things were rubbing together a bit higher than I am used to (but I did Body Glide up there too just in case, so that was covered at least) and I spent a lot of time in the first mile or so pulling things down as I ran. Not my favorite thing. Eventually I got used to it, or it got better, or I just forgot, and fidgeted with it much less (unless there was a camera coming up that I knew about.) Who can say if my other skirt would have been better? I just know that I spent more time being concerned with it than I would have liked. This shouldn't deter you from purchasing one of their skirts - they are great and comfy and I will continue to wear mine. It is more a statement that you shouldn't try something new on race day - which I had already heard but apparently didn't take to heart.

Anyhow, next we headed into the parks - first California Adventure and then Disneyland. I planned to stop and snap pictures with some of the characters - I wasn't going for time or anything, and just wanted to really enjoy the experience. One of my favorite things about going through the parks was all the maintenance and cast members who stood along the route to cheer us on. Some pictures are blurry - I was running after all!

 Phineas and Ferb - my family loves this cartoon so I had to stop!
 Coming into Disneyland - so exciting!

 Darth Vader had a long line, so I got a pic from the side. The storm trooper kept going over to try to pull people out of Darth's line to take pictures with another trooper - it was funny.

 Flora, Fauna, Merriweather, and Princess Aurora were on the carousel
 Maleficent kept harrassing people, telling them they should be running
 Going through the castle!
 Backstage - some really cool stuff back there
 Ignore the times on the mile markers - they weren't accurate to me since I started a half hour after they did

 Me and Louis
 First hydration station - ah, Powerade, nectar of the gods

When we left the parks and hit the streets again, we were at mile 4 already. Those first few miles went by so fast and were so easy. It wasn't until we got out to the road that I realized how much background music and noise there had been in the parks - suddenly it was almost silent save for the pounding of feet and heavy breathing. 

 Lots of people walking already - it was a real challenge for me not to walk when everyone else was, but to run until I really needed to walk a few steps. This is when having someone with you comes in handy, to encourage you and feel like someone else is suffering too.

 There was entertainment every mile - dancers, bands, cheerleaders yelling - so fun!
 "Why am I doing this again?"

 Crazy costumes - these guys had the teapot, saucer, and candelabra, and knocked into me trying to pass.

Once the sun came out, the temperatures started to climb. Those first few miles had been in the lovely overcast Anaheim morning, but alas, it was not meant to last. Just after mile 6, I made a video, knowing that my husband would enjoy watching it, and figuring that if I was crazy I could post it here. Apparently I am.
One thing I remember from running is, for the most part, not really realizing how long I had been in motion. That was a good thing. So, we're six miles in, and I am still running, and haven't died or passed out, nor do I want to. I passed a medical tent and didn't even need to stop in. Successes in my mind! Part 3 will wrap the race up. Tune in later, followers, when you can hear our heroine say "How much farther until the finish line?!"