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

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