Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Shorter races, like a 5k or even an 8k are often referred to as "fun runs." I never really did understand this, because running, no matter how much I enjoy the results of it, isn't really that fun for me. However, after training for and running a marathon, I now at least sorta feel like anything shorter than say eight miles is "fun." At least in the sense that it will probably only take me an hour or so to complete.

So, in the spirit of running a race a month and in an effort to pre-burn calories before the Thanksgiving meal, Mr. H. and I signed up for the Cleveland Turkey Trot five-mile race. Originally I thought this was a 5k, not a five-mile race. But hey, what's a couple extra miles, right? Actually, not that bad, though there was a hill right in the middle that slowed me down.

The good news for me is that after all that marathon training, I really have increased my speed. I finished in 46:57, which was 91 out of 296 in my age group and 3163 of almost 7,000 runners. Mr. H.'s stats, for those of you interested, were 20/251 age group, 401st overall; finishing time of 35:17.22; 7:03 pace. My pace was 9:23. I'm really happy with that. I'd  like to keep pushing myself to a pace closer to 9 minutes, at least for a 5k.

But to do that, I really need to get back on the wagon about running during the week. A once a week 4-5 mile run on Saturday or Sunday just isn't going to be enough. During my marathon training, I had been lucky enough to be able to find some time during the week to run on the treadmill in our small workout room. I've been working on a couple of larger projects at work, so I haven't been able to find that time. I keep telling myself that I need to get up early and run before work. But with the temperatures dropping, I'm not sure how realistic that will be.

Mr. H. and I need to find a race for December to run. In January we're thinking of doing a 1/2 marathon in Chicago - cause we're crazy like that. I predict it will either be a slow run because it's so icy or a fast run because it's so cold and I want to get it over with. Either way, it'll be interesting.



As an added bonus, you can see the one and only photo they managed to capture of me: http://www2.brightroom.com/105115/3142, lovely isn't it. Mr. H. fared better: http://www2.brightroom.com/105115/3141. A blog topic for another day, why-oh-why my race photos are usually dumb looking.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

"Being" something is so much easier at 2.
Remember back when you were a kid and you thought you could be whatever you wanted? Sure, you had no aptitude for science, engineering, math...but you were going to be an astronaut. And for a while there the call of ballerina was strong. But seeing the of hours upon hours of nothing but training and not eating required made you rethink that real quick. Of course, by the time you were in high school, you wanted to be something else anyway. Your moods for careers changed the same way little kids want to be four different things for Halloween in the course of about four hours (how does one dress up as a monster/fire engine/astronaut/pumpkin/superman?).

And then you get to college. And you start to hone your choices based on, one hopes, the skills you have displayed and what you like to do. Through the course of your education, you have found you have a way with words, or at the very least, an ability to put them down on paper in a semblance of something close to a sentence. And you don't let the fact that you can't seem to spell your way out of a paper bag stop you. And your spotty grammar education just means that once you do decide to be a writer, well, you'll finally learn how to use a comma and write in active voice.

Fine, so now, through trial and error (acting), you have a settled upon career path. You may not have a five year plan, but you know the general direction you're headed in.

And so you go out into the great big world with the skills you've learned over the past 23 years and you get a job. And you learn more skills. And you get a new job. And then you get laid off. But then you find a different job. And then you earn an advanced degree to advance your career. Then you get new a new job. And then you've stumbled  into a career which isn't really the direction you wanted to go in college, but it's not too bad and it pays the bills and then some. But then you hate your job because your boss micromanages without telling you what he really expects, so you get another job. And you like this job because your team is great, and you have fun, and you like what you do. But then someone moves your cheese and now this job is just another job. And you're beginning to think that maybe you don't have a career, you just have a job. That really you're just another cog in the machine. And the best you can do, and the most you want to do, is to do your little thing, nothing less, and certainly nothing more. And maybe that's OK. Because at the end of the day, the things that make life worth it aren't always what you do from 9 - 5 (8:30 - 4:45), it's the stuff you do on the weekends and after work and with friends.

Of course, you'd love to be one of those people who "love" what they do. But I think it's a little too late to become a ballerina now.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finding balance

I have just read this post by Cary Tennis, Salon's advice columnist, about working at a job you don't really enjoy and what to do with your life. It hits pretty close to home. There are many aspects of my job that I really like. I like the team I work with. I like the flexibility (in some ways) this job affords me. Of course, I've earned those vacation days and flexibility by having worked here for six years (not to mention the fact that I've been working pretty much since I turned 16). To some extent I even like the work. Is it my life's calling, communications at a multinational financial firm? No, not really. But I'm not working the check out counter at the Jewels? No, but there are days that I think the check out counter might be better.

The days when I remember that the firm I work for is part of this whole financial system that is "too big to fail' and doesn't actually "do" anything other than make people (and not real people, other firms and banks and the such) money. The days I arguing with the powers that be that sending a communication should actually communicate something and not just be spin that you want your employees to hear. The days we are told we need to do more with less and work smarter.

Some of these problems, issues, would be issues no matter what firm I might work for because that's just the way companies are. At their best, most companies are dysfunctional families. Everyone takes their turn being the black sheep. Everyone gets scolded for doing what they thought their parent/manager wanted but didn't really want because they don't know how to explain their expectations. This is because companies are run and populated by humans and, annoyingly, humans are human.

People put up with this because...well, I guess because that's the way our world works. We are in no Caillou dreamland where things are easy and wonderful and cute. We are square in the middle of Dilbert where bosses are idiots who think they are showering you with love when they provide free coffee and a wrist rest so you don't develop carpel tunnel syndrome. I put up with it because I have grown accustomed to my level of living and I have a child to provide for, and a car payment, and student loans, and a husband who is looking for work. Have I cut back to the bare minimum so I can live more freely? No. I like nice (but not crazy nice) clothes. I like my iPhone and cable and stuff. And I don't even think we have that much stuff. I know people with a whole lot more stuff than us. But do I live better than a lot of people in this world? Heck yes. Do I live a better than a lot of people in this country? In this city? Yes. I know I do. And I am grateful for that. 

So while I would LOVE to follow Cary's advise and give it all up, cancel the cable, and the phones and buy all my clothes at Salvation Army and only check books out from the library and commute via bicycle - seriously there are times I would actually like to do that stuff because I know we could live on way less than we do right now and one of the things stopping me from really finding my dream job (whatever in the hell that might be) is knowing I'd probably have to take a pay cut - I just can't.

But like everything else, maybe we take it in moderation. Maybe we say this month we're not going to eat out at all and make more meals at home. Next month we're going to only enjoy entertainment that is free. And someday, hopefully soon, I'll figure out a way to create a better balance in my life. Between my job, and my passion and my family. If you have any tips, send 'em my way.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Actually missing running

Going to try and hop on the treadmill for a couple of miles today. Thinking how nice it would be to get up and go for a jog by the lakefront on Sunday morning. It's only been two weeks since my last lakefront jog (the only bad part of the marathon is that it's all on the roads) and I miss it. I miss seeing the same people and stopping at the same water stops. What's happened to me? Have I turned into a runner (aka slow jogger)? I predict this feeling may pass by Sunday morning, but you never know.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thank You!


Back when I first signed up for the marathon, the initial reason was because I wanted to do something for Children's Oncology Services and more specifically, I wanted to support my former nanny and friend Colleen. The love and care she showed my son and my family made her a great nanny. The passion she shows for Children's Oncology Services and camp make her a great person. When she told me she was heading up the effort to find runner's for this year's Team One Step marathon team, my first thought was "Great; I'll definitely give a donation." Only after a couple of crazy conversations with my sister, husband and mom did I think "OK, maybe I should show some real support and sign up for the marathon". 

By signing up to raise at least $1,000 for COSI, I knew I'd have two very difficult tasks: (1) training for a marathon and (2) raising $1,000. If you've been following along with the blog, you already know what training/running a marathon is like. Raising funds, that's a different story. I've raised funds for causes before. It's hard to go out there and ask people for money - especially when the economy isn't the greatest. Most of the people I know are wonderful people who already have their own charities they give to or raise money for. But that's why I signed up to do this race. To let my friends know that I was willing to do the really hard work if they could just kick in a couple of bucks for a great cause. And you know what, they did - you did.

So I'd like to take this moment to say Thank You. Thank you for all the wonderful donations and words of encouragement. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog each week and cheer me on. And most importantly, thank you for helping give a child with cancer something that many other children take for granted - the chance to be a kid enjoying camp. 

Thank you Angela and Chris, Uncle Tim, Jen, Barry, Mike, Ben, Ken, Katey, Terri, Earl and Sasha, Jessica, Dawn, Sara and Mike, Jennifer, Tracy and Simon, Alana, Grandpa, Nachama, Kirk, Tamara and Gus, Dad, Angie, and Dave ... and Karen and Sharon (the donations just keep coming in).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What it's like to run a marathon

Of course, this may or may not be similar to anyone else's marathon experience. As they say, your mileage may vary - but not much more than 26.2.

The beginning of the day started out early, around 5:30. We had done as much as possible the night before, so all we needed to do was get dressed and head on out the door. As I suspected it would be, the train ride was surreal as everyone else on the train was headed downtown for the exact same reason. After dropping our stuff off at South Branch where the Team One Step pre-race gathering and after party was held, we headed to the start line. I suspect downtown is pretty barren at 6:45 a.m. Sunday mornings. Marathon day is no different except runners and the wonderful volunteers already starting to set up aid stations. After a quick port-a-potty stop, we head to our corral and wait around nervously with all the other runners. During this time you do things like jump up and down to keep warm, contemplate taking off your extra outer layer of clothing but then decide to wait until the last minute and think about the possibility of just hopping in a cab and going home.

Jackie's smiling because she's only run a few miles.
Fun fact: In cooler temperature races, runners will often shed an outer layer of clothing right before or along the race course, which then gets donated. It's fun to see all the shirts, gloves and what not fly overhead. What's probably not fun is getting hit by a fleece because Mr. H. didn't quite make it to the sidelines. Again, anonymous runner who my fleece landed on, we're sorry.

I won't take you through a mile by mile breakdown of the race because that would take too long and probably be boring. But here are some quick thoughts on different things:
  • Even though I peed right before the race, I pretty much had to pee again right away. I waited until the first set of port-a-potties around mile three. However, many men decided that any old wall would do, and there were several of them lined up along the Columbus underpass. So if you're down there and it smells like pee, it's not the homeless people, it's runners.
  • Everyone tells you not to go out too fast. And I told myself not to go out too fast. And I knew I was running too fast the first few miles and tried to slow down, but still was running too fast. It's hard to pace yourself at the beginning because it's just so amazing and exciting and crazy. I guess that's why the pros have rabbits whose job is to pace them for the first several miles.
  • It's great running along the streets with no cars and people cheering. Cannon Drive, Sedgewick, Jackson Blvd, the IIT campus, south Michigan Ave. - all great running streets and such a different view without cars and traffic.
  • You can actually run (even at my slow pace) down Sedgewick faster than you can drive down it in normal traffic.
  • Going north for 7 miles and then turning around and going back downtown is great (this part made even better by seeing my first cheering section Sara, Mike, Sasha, Sophie, Abbey, Jackie, David, Mom, Stephen, Eva Kay, George, Alexander, Issac, and Aiden). Heading west out of downtown and knowing you're only half way to the finish line, not so great.
  • I LOVED running through all the neighborhoods. I was so happy to have so many people cheering through the back half. Pilsen, China Town, even along South Michigan Ave. where there weren't that many people, but those who were there knew how to give you that last bit of encouragement.
  • People love to make clever signs such as: Cheer for this guy (arrow pointing down); Go Anonymous Runner Go; I'm clapping but you're chaffing; Try not to poo your pants (lots of variations on that theme); If you poo your pants, I will judge you; Run like zombies are chasing you; Run faster, the Bears play at 3; Chuck Norris never ran a marathon; Beat Oprah; I thought you said 2.62 miles; Only 26.1 miles until free beer (lots of beer related signs). Of course my favorite sign was the one Sasha and Sara made saying Go Melly Go.
  • An orange has never tasted so good than after you've run 22 miles.
  • Bananas taste even better at miles 23, 24, 25.
  • Knowing you have to go up a hill right before the finish line doesn't make it any easier, but knowing as soon as I turned that last corner onto Columbus I would be able to see the finish line made me determine to keep going.
  • You will never be so happy to stop running as you are when you've just run 26.2 miles (even if your watch says you have done 26.5).
  • You'll probably cry a little bit when you see the finish line, cross the finish line and have a medal placed around your neck.
  • Those Mylar blankets really do keep you warm.
  • Walking a mile back to the after party hurts a lot and takes a long time.
  • Sitting down feels great, getting up, not so much.
In the end, I didn't go as fast as I wanted to go. My official time was 5:23:05. My watch time was closer to 5:11, because it doesn't include the two stops I made. I hit the proverbial wall somewhere between mile 20 and 21. I didn't necessarily want to stop totally, I just knew that I didn't have much more in me to continue to "race" anymore. Luckily I had my sister with me to help me push through.

And now the question, am I going to do this again? Amazingly, I am not that sore. I pretty much went to sleep right after we got home and rested most of the next day. But we did get up and around and by the end of the day yesterday, I was amazed at how good I felt. Part of me thinks that's because I didn't push myself as hard as I could but I also think it's because I trained and was in a good place for the run. I do know I could go faster. Nothing crazy, but I'm pretty sure I could reach my goal time of somewhere between 4:45-5 hours. Does that mean I want to try and do that? Maybe, but not anytime soon. Right now, I'm just happy to be done and to have a really good excuse for NOT going for a run.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I guess this is it


I own (or may own) all of Chicago
Not much more to do now but wait, rest, eat carbs. Yesterday, Mr. H. and I headed to the Marathon Expo at McCormick Place. It was pretty fun. We were able to pose for pictures in the Nike area as well as with Da Coach.  We walked around, got our packets, tried on shirts and picked up a cow bell.

Earlier in the day, Mr. H. made a trip to Salvation Army to get some throw away clothes for the start line. Good news is, they'll just be donated again, along with the thousands of other items that will be shed at the beginning of the race. 

So this is it. You want to know what it feels like the day before you run a marathon? Sort of like the day before you get married. Or the day before you start at a new school. We're pretty anxious, excited, overwhelmed. I just hope I'm able to get some sleep tonight and that this excitement means I get through at least the first half of the course on sheer adrenaline. 

Mr. H. only gets 26.2 miles of it
If you're in Chicago, I'll look for you along the course. I'll be wearing a bright yellow hat, jogging about 11 min miles and wearing a Team One Step t-shirt. I'm sure you'll be able to pick me out. For those of you playing along at home, here's how to follow along.

Tracking Runners
The link below has a section on it called, Runner Tracking. Once you go to that section, you register, and then you can sign up to follow me and any other runners you know via text, Twitter or Facebook.  I've signed up to track myself via my Twitter feed and Facebook page. My Twitter feed is over to the right of this page. So you should be able to see when I cross 10k, 1/2 way, 30k and the finish on both this page as well as my Facebook page.
You can also follow along with the race on NBC 5 - and for any of you out of towners, their website has quite a bit of info: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports/2012-Bank-of-America-Chicago-Marathon-160596815.html

I think we all know who this is
So this is it. Thanks again to everyone who has donated and supported us. A special thank you goes to my mother for coming over every Sunday for the last 18 weeks to watch Baby H. Mr. H. and I wouldn't have been able to train for this without you.


Running/fundraising stats for week ending October 7 (except for you know October 7)
Miles run this week: 7
Training miles to date: 402.22
Miles left to run (including the marathon): 26.2
Dollars left to raise: ZERO!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 17 - The last long run

Eight miles - that was all I needed to do yesterday. Eight measly miles. Of course, it was hard getting out the door, but once I was out, it was a good run. Well, actually it was one of those runs where I felt like I was going slow but after I was done and looked at my watch, I saw I was going quite a bit faster than I had imagined. 

This upcoming week, the final week's training runs are pretty short, just 4, 3 and then a final 2 mile run. I don't know where I'll find the time. 

I can't describe the anxiety and anticipation I have going on right now. One minute I feel great, I can do this. The next I'm wondering at what mile will my leg fall off. I guess I'll just have to trust that I've trained enough and that there isn't a whole lot more that I can do. 

I've had a couple of additional donations to my fundraising page, thank you so much Uncle Tim, Jen, Angie and Michael. There's still time to give you you want. You can by clicking on the link on the right hand side. Also, Mr. H. is still working to meet his fundraising goal. So if you haven't had a chance to contribute, you can do so to him here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/johnpaulhiggins/chicago-marathon-2012

Running/fundraising stats for week ending September 30
Miles run this week:12
Training miles to date: 395.22
Miles left to run (including the marathon): 35.2
Dollars left to raise: ZERO!!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 16 - Stepping back into Fall

This week is the first week of the two step-back weeks leading up to the race. As in previous weeks, the idea is to allow your body to rest before pushing forward with a new distance. Of course, this time, the new distance is the marathon.

Thinking about running the marathon pretty much scares me to death. I get nervous just sitting at my desk imagining going out there and running. I have so many things to think about before then - what will I wear, will I be able to sleep the night before, will I listen to music during the run or hope that the excitement of the race will be enough to get me through 26 miles, will I hit the "wall" at mile 20, 21, 22... 

I'm trying not to concentrate on all that stuff. Just working on doing my miles over the next two weeks and reaching some zen-like place that I've done the training (for the most part) and there isn't anything else I can do. It may take me five hours (it will probably take me at least five hours), but at the end of the day on October 7, I will have run (jogged/walked) 26.2 miles.

Yesterday I ran 12 miles. And since it was such a lovely Fall day, I didn't do it at 5:30 or even 6 a.m. I waited until about three in the afternoon to go for my run. These "short" long runs are a little weird because in your head you're thinking, "it's only 12 miles" except 12 miles is still a pretty long run. So you have to be careful not to go out too fast and to mentally prepare yourself for the mileage because otherwise about half way through you'll be pretty pissed you're only half way through. I kept reminding myself that even though it was only 12 miles, it was going to take me two hours to run. The weather was so nice that I stayed cool throughout, which is such an odd feeling after a grueling summer of training in the sun. You can't ask for more perfect marathon weather, so here's hoping that two Sundays from now, it's like this.


Winding down my training has meant a bit of stepping up on my fundraising. The good news is I have surpassed my fundraising goal by $55. Thank you to everyone who contributed. You can all say you helped send a child with cancer to camp.


Mr. H. is still working to meet his fundraising goal. So if you haven't had a chance to contribute, you can do so to him here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/johnpaulhiggins/chicago-marathon-2012


Running/fundraising stats for week ending September 23
Miles run this week: 22
Training miles to date: 383.22
Miles left to run (including the marathon): 85.2
Dollars left to raise: ZERO!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The cost of running

A lot of people start running because it's a low cost to entry type of sport. Really, the only "specialized" equipment you need is a pair of shoes. Unlike cycling, you don't need a bike and a helmet. I guess swimming is pretty low cost of entry if you already have a pool. Running can be done pretty much anywhere at any time by almost anyone (I am a testament to this last statement).

However, once you start to run a lot, or even more than a few miles at a time more than once a month, you'll see that there are some things you need - a proper pair of shorts, a running bra (if you're a girl) a  wicking shirt and good running socks. And, unless you want to do laundry every day after every run, you'll need more than one of each of these if you plan on running more than once a week.

Then, there comes the moment when you start to do something crazy like train for a half marathon or a marathon. Then the stuff you suddenly need starts to pile up. Recently I started thinking about all the stuff I've accumulated because I've been doing so much running.  The list below doesn't count all the stuff I had before I started training for this race (shorts, shirts etc.). But here's a run down of some of the stuff I've purchased in the last couple of months:
  • Two pairs of shoes (approximately $110 per pair) - You'd think one would be enough, but when you have a foot that suddenly starts hurting at mile 5 regardless of what you do, you go back and make sure it's not the shoes you're running in.
  • Insoles for said shoes ($40) - In addition to a different shoe, mr. shoe guy decided maybe insoles would correct my gait.
  • Two or three pairs of shorts ($20 each) - I had some shorts, but only one pair that I really liked. So I went out and bought a couple more that are not as great as the one pair but are OK. 
  • Two hats ($20 each) - I never thought I'd be a run in a hat person, but running in the summer sun, the hat does really help. What doesn't help is losing the first hat you bought and having to replace it.
  • Five pairs of socks ($50 total) - I had a couple pair of really nice running socks and then several pair of cotton "athletic" socks that you get at Target. However, I kept having an issue where somehow neither of my good running socks would be clean on the day of my long run and one bloody heal later I vowed that wouldn't happen again. So now I have a pair for every day.
  • Road ID ($25) - If you run and you don't know what this is, go check it out. I hate thinking that I or Mr. H. could get hit or hurt on the road and not have any ID on us. This solves that problem. 
  • Glide ($12) - Runners chafe, enough said. 
  • iPod case ($25) - At first I wasn't running with music. But then the long runs got just so LONG. So a must to have something to listen to. Also, since my iPod is really my iPhone, I have my phone with me just in case.
  • Water bottle ($20) - I have only used this little hand held water bottle a couple of times because luckily the lake front has so many water fountains. However, the run in Cleveland didn't and longer "around the neighborhood" runs in the middle of summer meant I might need to bring some water with me.
  • Nuun tablets ($25) - This is like Gatorade but without the sugar and more compact. Must have after 12+ miles of running.
  • Countless Gue shots ($1.50 a piece) - Again, longer runs necessitate additional energy.
  • Cliff/Luna Bars ($40 for two boxes) - I gotta eat something before my long run
  • Run entry fee ($60) - I would have loved to run the 20 miles all by myself, unsupported...but not really, so I paid to run the CARA Ready to Run 20 Miler.
  • Cold packs ($25) - Tired, sore, achy muscles need cold packs. We've gone from having one of these in the house to four.
  • Foam roller ($30) - Tired, sore, achy muscles need to be rolled out. You think it's weird until you've tried it and realize how good it feels. 
So, if I add it up, I have, approximately, spent more than $650 training for this race. Well worth it I would say to raise awareness about childhood cancer and help send a child with cancer to camp.

Melanie: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/melaniehiggins/chicago-marathon-2012

Johnpaul: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/johnpaulhiggins/chicago-marathon-2012


Monday, September 17, 2012

Week 15 - The longest run

The start of my 20-mile journey.
The culmination of most marathon training programs is the 20-mile run three weeks before the marathon.  To some people this makes no sense. How do you know you can run 26 miles if the longest you've run is 20. To them I say, beats me. Except, knowing that I have somehow worked my way up to being able to run 20 miles without falling over dead leads me to believe that maybe, just maybe, it's possible.

Needless to say, running 20 miles isn't something one does lightly, or usually, unless you're Mr. H., by oneself. So for that added support I knew I'd need, I signed up for the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) Ready to Run 20 Miler, where I was able to run with other people going the same speed as me. Though I started in the back with the other slow people, it was great to be with such a huge group of people. We pretty much took over the entire Lake Front path and I genuinely felt sorry for any other runners or bikers who were on the path. At around mile three I made a friend and we ran together until about mile 13. I neglected to get her name but I know she's a high school English teacher who lives in Beverly, this is her first year running the marathon, her husband is also running it and, like Mr. H., is much faster than her. So if you're out there, thanks for running with me. It made those miles so much better - hope to see you on race day!

If you look down at my miles left to run, you'll notice a nice drop off. That's because these next three weeks are all step back weeks before the big race. Each week is a shorter distance until I have a super light week of only a couple of three miles runs before three rest days before the marathon. I know that the step back weeks have given me the energy to build up to the next push forward and so I'm really looking forward to taking this time to recover even though I'll still be putting in some miles.

I'm also starting to get excited/nervous/anxious/somewhat let down for the marathon. I know that it's going to be a big day, and I'm not sure how I'll sleep the night before. Training for a marathon is in and of itself a marathon of sorts. A lot of work and dedication. My summer was pretty different than what it would have been had I not decided Mr. H. and I should do this. So getting near the end of this has me already anticipating what it's going to be like after. I won't have to get up and run four days a week (not that I've been that successful at that this last month). I won't have to get up at 5 a.m. to run on Sunday mornings.  In a way a relief. But also, what am I going to do with myself? I want to keep running (just not quite as much), and we're already talking about some half marathons we might do. All this training for one thing. A big thing. And to make it even bigger and more important, I'm not only doing it for myself, but to help raise awareness about childhood cancer and to help give a kid a chance at a summer camp experience. There are times it's overwhelming. But in that great, I'm glad I'm doing something, even if it's just a little bit, way. For all of you who have supported me, with donations, or encouraging words, I am truly grateful. I couldn't have made it this far without you. 

Fundraising update
This last week saw a couple more donations helping me to my goal of $1000 - Katey and Ken, thank you very much. I have only $240 left to go. Mr. H. is making headway on his fundraising too. If you'd like to donate to either of us, you can do so at the below links.

Running/fundraising stats for week ending September 16
Miles run this week: 28
Training miles to date: 361.22
Miles left to run (including the marathon): 85.2
Dollars left to raise:  $240

Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 14 - "Only" 14 Miles

It's a strange thing when you start to think of something as long and grueling as 14 miles as an only. But that's exactly what I did. I guess that's the mindset you start to get in when you're training your body and mind to run 26.2 miles. 

I know that the race is going to be pretty mentally challenging. This week I'm actually sorer that I was last week after my 18 mile run. That's probably because I kept up a 10:32 pace for the 14 mile run. I don't mind being sore. I even enjoy it a bit because I feel like it's the badge of having really worked my body. And getting through these long runs has really helped me prepare mentally for the task at hand. I remember my first 8k (the Shamrock Shuffle) and I thought that was long. And the first time I did a 10 K all I could think about was how I'd be running for an hour. Yesterday I ran for over 2 hours and it really didn't seem that bad.

Yesterday was the Chicago Half Marathon, and I knew quite a few people who participated. Part of me really wanted to do it so I could have the nice experience of getting a little something during this process for training - having some feedback and support and t-shirt and a medal actually helps sometimes. But in the end, I didn't want to spend the extra money. So as I said on Facebook, I ran 14 miles and some people on the South Side only ran 13.1 and got a medal. Well, I got the satisfaction of knowing that I kept up a pretty good pace (my fastest yet at this distance) and didn't even have a crowd cheering me on and nothing waiting at me at the finish line other than a cup of coffee lovingly made my Mr. H. (come to think of it, that's a pretty good incentive to run fast)

This upcoming week is the last long, long run before I have three step back weeks leading up to the marathon. I'm looking forward to the Ready to Run 20-Miler this Sunday. It will be the first time I run on the lake front path that I don't do a there and back route. Just start up north and keep going to the Museum of Science and Industry.

I'd like to thank all those who have  donated to Mr. H. and me in the last week. The Reyes', Jessica, Terri and Dawn. Thank you all so much for giving. If you haven't had a chance to donate to one of us, please check out our pages:
Running stats for week ending September 9
 
Miles run this week: 19
Training miles to date: 333.22
Miles left to run (including the marathon): 125.2

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week 13 - 18 F'ing Miles!

This week I had a special guest along for my run, my sister. She was kind enough to ride her very fast bike very slowly next to me for the entire run. At first she was going to run part of the run with me, but then decided it would be so much more fun to ride along side me. It definitely did help me get through the miles, especially the last couple when I really thought I wasn't going to make it any further. 

We covered a lot of topics during those 18 miles. But she never seemed to run out of things to talk about. Sometimes I would get little singing interludes (she's wacky like that). She even gave some little motivational one-liners like:
  • You've just warmed up for X miles, for your X mile run (she did this a couple of times, like at mile 12 and then again around mile 16)
  • Every step you have run up so far has led you to this point
  • Only 1 mile to go, don't stop now!
Each week I think I've pushed my body the farthest it will go, and then I go ahead and add a couple extra miles. This week was no different. I have no idea how I'm going to make it through my 20-mile run (much less my actual marathon), but hey, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. 
 
Also, thanks to everyone who contributed song suggestions for my playlist. Some great ideas that I will be adding next week when I do my (just) 12 mile run before the next push forward towards 20.
 
On the fundraising front, I had a couple of great donations from Dawn, Jessica and Anonymous. I have just $330 left to make it to my goal of $1000. If you haven't had a chance to make a donation, please do. Every little bit helps send a child with cancer to camp.

Running stats for week ending September 2
 
Miles run this week: 30.11
Training miles to date: 314.22
Miles left to run (including the marathon):158.2

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Week 12 - Running Music

This week was a step back week, so I had "only" a 12 mile run. Unfortunately, it was one of those runs that I just wasn't feeling it and it was slow and long. One of the ways I get through my long runs is listening to  music. I have a running playlist called, wait for it, Running 1.

This play list ran out last week right as I was finishing my 16 miles. So I need to add some more - probably about 2 hours more of music to be on the safe side. Let me know your suggestions.
  1. Dance This Mess Around - B-52's
  2. Back in the USSR - The Beatles
  3. Helter Skelter - The Beatles
  4. Heart of Glass - Blondie
  5. Subterranean Homesick Blues - Bob Dylan
  6. Speed of Sound - Coldplay
  7. You Spin Me Round - Dead or Alive
  8. Behind the Wheel - Depeche Mode
  9. Hungry Like the Wolf - Duran Duran
  10. Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Elton John
  11. Freedom 90 - George Michael 
  12. Been Caught Stealing - Jane's Addiction
  13. The Safety Dance - Men WIthout Hats
  14. Blue Monday - New Order
  15. Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John
  16. Common People - Pulp
  17. Nobody Does it Better - cover by Radiohead
  18. Take me to the River - Talking Heads
  19. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2
  20. Joy to the World - Three Dog Night
  21. American Pie - Don McLean
  22. Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
  23. Atomic - Blondie
  24. Black Coffee In Bed - Squeeze
  25. Chocolate Cake - Crowded House
  26. Creep - Radiohead
  27. A Day in the Life - The Beatles
  28. Faith - George Michael
  29. I Believe in a Thing Called Love - The Darkness
  30. I Drove All Night - cover by Cyndi Lauper
  31. Personal Jesus - Depeche Mode
  32. Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
  33. Ray of Light - Madonna
  34. The Reflex - Duran Duran
  35. Take on Me - A-Ha
  36. Here It Goes Again - OK Go
  37. Hit Me Baby One More Time - cover by Travis
  38. Holding Out for a Hero - Bonnie Tyler
  39. I've Got a Secret Miniature Camera - Peter Murphy
  40. Is She Weird - Pixies
  41. Mr. Blue Sky - Electric Light Orchestra
  42. Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO
  43. Call Me Maybe - Carlie Rae Jepsen
  44. Sexy and I Know IT - LMFAO
Running stats for week ending August 26
 
Miles run this week: 17
Training miles to date: 284.11
Miles left to run (including the marathon):194.2

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Week 11 - Happy Anniversary

A better way to celebrate an anniversary.
Mr. H. and I celebrated six years of marriage on Sunday, August 19, by getting up around 5:30 and going for a quick jog. Except it wasn't that quick. I completed 16 miles and Mr. H. ran the first of three 20 mile runs his training calls for. It was a fairly long and grueling run for me and when he passed me as I had a little more than three miles to go, I was pretty sure that I was going to stop, but I didn't. Even with my hip hurting, I managed to finish my longest run to date. I just have to add 10 miles on top of that and then I'll only have two tenths of a mile to go before I've completed the marathon. 

I haven't had very much movement on the fundraising front lately, neither has Mr. H. With just less than 7 weeks to go, not only are we going to have to really find the strength in us to keep up with the training, but we're also raising money to help send kids with cancer to camp for a week. Of course, this is where you can help out. Any amount gets us closer to our goal. You can give to me here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/melaniehiggins/chicago-marathon-2012 or if you want, please help out Mr. H. with his fundraising efforts here: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/johnpaulhiggins/chicago-marathon-2012

Running stats for week ending August 19
 
Miles run this week:25
Training miles to date: 267.11
Number of times I said I'd never be doing this again while on a 16 mile run: too many to count

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Week 10 - A New Frontier

My super power = running faster.
Each Sunday I wake up as Mr. H. practically bounds out of bed and I dread the next few hours. Actually, I usually start dreading it the night before. And to make it even better, I've been waking up around 3:30 a.m. on Sundays just so I can remind myself that in a few short hours I have to get up and do my long run. Can you tell how excited I am to do this?

As I drag myself out of bed, Mr. H. is careful not to meet my eye or get in my way. I can be somewhat surely in the early mornings, especially when I'm about to torture myself. The odd thing is, once it gets going, it's really not that tortuous. Even this week when I somehow managed to run 15 miles (the longest I have ever gone) averaging a pace of about 10:45 minutes per mile. Even though my left hip start to hurt around mile 7, I kept going - I attribute this to the Gatorade supplied by Fleet Feet near Navy Pier. Even though Mr. H. passed me with about 5 miles to go (as I predicted he would), I kept going. And even though I wasn't wearing my favorite socks, shirt or shorts and that I was getting a bit of a blister on the back of my right heel due to disintegrating socks, I kept going. 

And so it goes. Next week I have a 16 mile run and then I get the wonderful step back week before pushing myself to 18. So even though each week I'm trying to figure out how I'm ever going to do this, somehow I do.

Running stats for week ending August12
 
Miles run this week: 21
Training miles to date: 242.11
Number of songs on my long run playing list: 44

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Week 9 - Half Way (one more time with feeling)

I am officially half way through with this 18 week training. Unfortunately, I don't think it's all downhill from here. Just more running more miles. 

I was all set to get back on to the training horse this week after my back injury last week and then I caught a cold. It was mostly in my throat so I managed to run on Tuesday. But I felt awful on Wednesday and  skipped my 7 mile run. Then I felt better on Thursday, so did 4 miles. I had plans to make up my 7 miles on Friday or Saturday, but that never happened. I ended the week with a 10 mile run on Sunday.

It was actually cool outside on Sunday morning at 6 a.m., like it's supposed to be. Cool being anything less than 80 degrees at this point. It may have actually been in the low 70s when we started running. Before going out I looked up my previous 10-mile time. It took me 1:49 to run 10 miles in hot steamy weather in Cleveland. I knew I should be able to do better, and I did, clocking in 7 minutes faster for a total time of 1:43. If I can keep up this pace (about 10:20 minute miles) for the marathon, I would be over the moon happy. 

Things are starting to get real as this upcoming Sunday I have a 15 mile run. This will be the first time I go into a new distance. This week is also the last of my 3 mile training runs. After today, my Tuesday runs will go up to 4 miles. I won't see anything as short as three miles until my final week of training.

Running stats for week ending August 5
 
Miles run this week: 17
Training miles to date: 221.11
Approximate calories burned this week: 13,277

Monday, July 30, 2012

Weeks 7 & 8 - Half Way There (again)

Sorry for missing a post. These last couple of weeks have been interesting - for me at least.

Sunrise over Lake Michigan.

Week 7

My Wednesday runs are starting to get long, as I think I mentioned in my last running post, so I got up on Wednesday morning and did 6 miles in the neighborhood. It was a nice change of running scenery and I had a good run. On Sunday, I did 12 miles in yet once a blistering heat. Even though we're hitting the lake front by 5:30 a.m., it's already in the mid 70's at the beginning of the run and topping 80's by the end. I slowed way down and finished in about 2 hours 10 min. Not too bad, just under an 11 min pace which is all I can ask for when it's this hot outside.

Mr. H. and I were wiped out and probably dehydrated (even though I'm pretty sure I stopped at every single water fountain on the course). Back home, after drinking lots of water and eating, I did something I do all the time, I picked up Baby H. He's weighing in around 30 lbs and just at that moment my body decided I'd done enough work for the day because my back gave out. I pulled a muscle and sent it into spasms and that pretty much ended the rest of the day for me. For the next three days I was bent over in first pain, then acheyness, then stiffness. After three days of rest and muscle relaxers, I ran 3 miles on Thursday. I was a little stiff, but overall feeling OK.

Week 8 - The Half Way Point

Getting up on Sunday to run 13.1 miles after not really training all week was a little scary. When I first started training for the marathon my goal was to not miss any training runs because I know how easy it is to start letting them slip once you go down that path. But I also know the importance of taking care of yourself when you're injured and not making it worse. So a couple of missed days probably wasn't going to be the worst thing. After neither one of us feeling that well after last week's long runs, Mr. H. and I both prepared better with more fuel before the run and added fuel during (oh GU how I do love you). And, to our delight, it was merely in the 60s when we began our race and really a beautiful morning which was why I stopped and took that picture posted above.

That's not to say my run way easy. It wasn't. I had pretty good splits, averaging around 10:40 the whole way. I did slow down toward the end because my iPod stopped working/it was getting hot/I had already run 10 miles and when is this insanity going to end? The good news is, I found some inspiration to make it through the last few miles after I ran into a former coworker and friend Little Debbie. Just seeing her was enough to get me through those last few miles.

Next week is a step back week, only 10 miles, but seriously, I'm starting to wonder how I am going to start doing some of these longer distances by myself. The week after next is 15 miles. I have mental ways of dealing with it- like dividing it up into 3 chunks of 5 or maybe even 5 chunks of 3. But really, what I need is someone to run next to me helping me, pushing me, encouraging me. So, if anyone wants to join me on Sunday mornings at Montrose and the lake around 5:30 a.m. and then go for a run (ranging from 10 - 20 miles), let me know. If you are unable (or unwilling) to do that, maybe shoot a few dollars to my fundraising page. Believe me, it helps too. 

Running stats for week ending July 29
 
Miles run this week:16.1
Training miles to date: 204.11
Approximate steps  it takes to run 13.1 miles - 24,000

Friday, July 20, 2012

Grieving Parents

I am not the first one to comment on this phenomenon nor, I'm sure, will I be the last. But there is something so different about the love you have for a child. It gets in your soul, the very core of your being and sits there, grows there, radiates outward. There are times I physically feel the love for Baby H. when I look at him and I can barely stand it.

Lately I've been reading "Llama Llama Misses Mamma" to Baby H. before bed, and when we get to the end of the book he will say "someday me go to school too." Yes, I say, some day. But not too soon. I take joy in him every day and the new things he says and does. But I also ache a little each time he takes another step away from me. Thinking about him growing up and moving away makes me have actual moments of feeling bad about leaving my mother even though we live less than a mile from each other. In those moments I am glad I have at least another 16 years to keep my son close to me.

Whenever a tragedy like a shooting happens, or a little girl dies, I internalize and think how on earth can these parents who have lost their precious babies, no matter how old, how can they go on? I hope to never know that kind of pain. I know they do go on. I look at my mother-in-law who lost one of her sons at only 28 and know that she goes on. Heartbroken to be sure, but she lives. Maybe she finds the strength to go on to honor him. To honor all that he was and what he could never be by dying so young. I don't know if I could do the same. I'm pretty sure my instinct would be to lie down, curl up in a little ball and stop breathing. And chances are the mothers and fathers out there today, not only in Colorado, but all over the world who have lost their children to war, sickness, accidents, want to do the same.

There isn't much we can do to keep loved ones from dying. As they say, it is part of the circle of life. And I don't have any words of wisdom about living life to the fullest and enjoying each other while you can. I can't make a vow to live today like it's my last day on earth. If I did that I would get up from my desk, grab my son and husband and go to the beach and have a picnic. I can't even say that I'll tell all those I love how much I truly love them. Sure, my husband, my sister, mom. But making calls to my grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, everyone of my friends? Does an e-card count? How about a text? That's the problem with these moments. They are fleeting until the next one comes along and reminds us that life is short and sometimes, usually, quite tragic.

So a modest proposal, today I will take off work a little early. I'll go home and give my husband, my son, an extra hug, an extra kiss and that person on the train that wants to sit down - go ahead, I can stand.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Week 6 - Half Way There

Half way there - at least in my fundraising goal. I've got  12 more weeks before the marathon and training is getting harder, but every dollar raised keeps me motivated and reaching for that goal. As my Anonymous donor said "Alright, now you're to the half-way point!" - that little bit helped get me through this last week.

Of course, it also helps to remember what I'm doing this for. Last night on WGN, One Step at A Time camp was featured including an interview with our very own Colleen. If you have a few minutes to watch the video, it will give you some great insight into why this camp is such a special place and why I would even consider putting myself through this experience. You can watch the video here.

This last week was a step back week. You don't realize at the beginning how refreshing it is to say to yourself, next Sunday I only have to run 7 miles. As usual, Mr. H. had to drag me out of bed to do it, but once back out on the Lake Front path, I was ready to go. I had a good run averaging just over a 10 minute pace. Right where I want to be. Next week I'm up to a 12 mile run on Sunday. Not sure I can hold that pace, but if I can stay between 10:30 - 11 min/mile, I'll be happy.

My mid-week run is starting to get longer too. For the next two weeks I'm running 6 miles, then 7 miles for two weeks, then 8 miles for two weeks (you get the idea). With the heat being what it is (100 degrees today), and my desire to NOT run more than 5 miles on a treadmill unless I'm watching a really good movie, Mr. H. and I are devising plans to get up early and run before work, taking turns who is at home (apparently it is still against the law to leave your child alone even if he's sleeping in his crib and totally safe and not going anywhere - what could possibly happen?). We'll see how it goes because it means getting up at 5 a.m. Dragging myself out of bed at 5:45 a.m. these last couple of days to do yoga before I work has been hard enough. Pretty soon we'll be going to bed at the same time as Baby H. just so we get enough sleep. 

Running stats for week ending July 15
 
Miles run this week: 18
Training miles to date: 167.01
Approximate steps this week: 90,000

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Week 5 - Running in Cleveland

Well, Rocky River to be exact, which is just west of Cleveland and next to Lakewood where Mr. H's family lives. We went to Cleveland for a long weekend over the holiday and somehow braved the 90+ degree weather and Saturday afternoon power outage. But the good news is, running on the Cleveland Metroparks multi-use path was delightful.

Major differences between Chicago Lakefront path and Cleveland Metroparks path:
  1. Deer to human ratio much higher. I saw eight deer (including two baby deer) during my run. They seemed to be saying "what the hell is wrong with you, it's 6 a.m. on a Sunday."
  2. Water to human ratio much lower. The one problem that I see with the path is that there are few water fountains. There was one fountain at my five mile mark (where I turned around since I was completing my 10 mile run). To prepare for this and to cope with what we assumed would be quite warm weather, we bought hand-held water bottles.
  3. Other people on the path at 6 a.m. much lower. There were a few miles there where I basically only saw the back of Mr. H. running away from me. I had a couple of minutes of "wow, I'm really alone out here." But by mile 3 I started to see some other people come out and by the time we got back to where we parked our car, the path was practically teeming with people. But still no where near the amount on the lakefront on the weekend.
  4. Shade. So much shade! Most of the path winds through the trees, so most of the time you are shaded. It's so nice.
It was great to have a few runs away from my treadmill, or my usual path around my neighborhood or even the lakefront in Chicago.  I might even have to schedule a trip to Cleveland later in the marathon training just to give myself a break from the doldrums of running the same path over and over again.
Finally, I'd like to give a shout out to my two newest supporters, the Steins and Alana. Lest you forget, I'm doing all this to raise money for Children's Oncology Services to help send kids with cancer to camp. It's easy to donate, just click on the Donate button on the right.

Running stats for week ending July 8
 
Miles run this week: 19
Training miles to date: 149.01
Steps this week (approximate as there was some missed counting during the week): 80,000

Popular Posts