Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Tide Turns...

I'm celebrating some running milestones today. The tide has (finally!) turned in my running life. I feel profoundly grateful. If you follow my Page on Facebook Catalysts to Connie's Wellness, you probably know that I'm in training for my very first Half Marathon. I have friends coming from all over the country to run with me and support me in the St. Jude HM on December 7th. My birthday is a few days after that so we'll celebrate my first 39th birthday, too.

About a year ago I started training for the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Foundation's first 5K, and my first 5K. This 2 time gyn cancer Survivor couldn't run for 30 seconds at a time. Last night I posted on FB about my run and then after I wrote it and laid down to sleep I had a deep thought. I didn't doubt my ability to run 5 miles. Not even a tiny bit. And I didn't put that in my FB post, because it was a given to me. This is MAJOR for me. In fact, I feel quite confident that I could run a HM right now, I just wouldn't fall into the race's time limits yet. Maybe. This is an overwhelmingly amazing and proud realization... Wow!

Today I joined the Breakaway running store's St. Jude M & HM training group at 7 AM for 5 miles. On a Saturday. After a really long and challenging week. I've never run with a group like this before, and I was intimidated and anxious because I'm one of those 'slowest winners'. I met up with a lady I met on FB and she made me feel welcomed.

I attended the St. Jude kickoff a couple weeks ago and learned from Coach Kevin to use long run days as experiments. So I tried out a new bright teal sports bra- and love it! I was going to try out a bigger water bottle, but decided this morning to stick to my usual outdoor running bottle and it worked just fine. I had trouble with my new favorite socks on my last long run, but that was on the 'mill. They work beautifully outside, and I'm thrilled!

I also experimented with my food fuels. I ate 1 piece of cinnamon bread with grass fed butter and drank a dark almond almond milk on my drive to the meet up. I pre-mixed my own post run electrolyte water (1.5 tablespoons organic maple syrup, 3 drops Young Living's orange essential oil and 2 drops of lemon EO with 1/8 tsp of Himalayan salt). I brought 1 baggies of organic bunny gummies for my halfway point and that worked really well and fits perfectly in my shirt pocket. So all my experiments were successful!  Love that!

Apparently all the cool running kids have Garmins. I have a RunKeeper app, which works pretty well for me. I've never been a 'cool kid', and that's okay. I've learned to accept and love myself as I am right now and challenging myself to soar higher.

There were about 50 people or so running, some going for 10 miles and others for 5. We all started together at 7. I started my RK a bit early. After about 3 minutes everyone, and I do mean everyone, passed me. No one else was run/walking. It threw me off a little but I found my groove. Run a minute. Walk a minute. Repeat. Right Left Right Left.

Then I came to a fork in the Greenline and took the wrong path. They had the map available on the Map My Run app but that app baffles me. I was frustrated... but I knew that I would be okay. I had missed 2 runs this week due to allergies and sinuses challenges so I was okay with running extra today. Then I came to another fork and went the wrong way again, but didn't get too far before passing a nice lady who set me straight.

I have RK to set to give me feedback every 15 minutes, but I hadn't heard anything in what seemed like a really long time but I could see that it was on. So I pulled out my phone and checked, hoping I was at least a mile in. I was pleasantly surprised to see 1.81 miles! Astounding!! A couple minutes later I was blown away again when I earned a 2 mile personal best- of 32:07!! Holy moly!! All that treadmill work has been paying off!!

At 2.5 miles there was supposed to be a water truck, but my RK accidentally got stopped and I lost track of exact mileage. I went further than I thought it would be but never found the truck. It may have left. I was glad I hadn't counted on it and had plenty of water.

So I turned around... The Greenline is gorgeous and well shaded! And there's even a bathroom! I hadn't brought my iPod because I wasn't sure if there were rules about that when running in a group. I noticed that most people had them, though. So I ran without music or sound, and instead filled my head with positive affirmations. I was determined not to let negative thoughts sneak in.

I was shocked- absolutely blissfully shocked- when RK announced that I had just finished mile 5 at 15:23 pace.  This is my fastest pace EVER!! And for it to happen on mile 5 is even more amazing... WOW! That pumped me up to finish the run strong.

I ended up with 5.77 miles. My RK split it up because it had gotten shut off in the middle. These are my BEST paces EVER and that's what matters for me. YOUR best paces are what should matter to you. Not what other runners are doing.. .they are running their own race.

Also for the first time EVER on a outside run I successfully did negative splits, meaning my second half was faster than my first. I really struggled with this before I started running the 'mill. That 'mill has it's purposes, though I much prefer running outdoors.

Mile 1: 16:33 (this is about 2 minutes faster than my usual 'mill times- crazy!)
Mile 2: 15:42
Mile 3: 15:55 (I took 2 longer walking breaks to eat my gummie bunnies)
Mile 4: 15:23
Mile 5: 15:56

90:01 minutes
Average Pace 15:50ish

In comparison on June 1st I ran 6.03 miles outdoors with an average pace of 17:53 with my fastest mile at 17:29. I'm totally blown away, full of gratitude and just amazed at how far I've come since then!

I'm not sure I'll do a lot of group running in the future. I like knowing that I'm not totally alone, but it's tough when everyone passes me and I'm left alone and miss the water truck. I did really enjoy the Greenline, but would feel safer running with someone.

For a long time I felt like I would never gain speed, and that I wasn't improving as a runner. But I kept going anyway. I slay negative self defeating thoughts with positive ones. I make up little fun chants to keep me going. Like- You Rock You Runner! I can't believe how awesome I am! It pays off when you least expect it. It's a sweet surprise. And it makes me push on, and keep on believing (cue Journey). Hope it's true for YOU, too!

Would you please take a moment and donate? Every little bit helps and goes to St. Jude. Connie's Heroes Team- Strong & Lean Ladies Thank YOU!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A 7th Birthday & 6 Miles

I'm bringing the BLOG back out, because some things are blog-worthy and too lengthy for my Facebook Page. I'm grateful for all the new friends aka Likers on my Page, most recently some incredible and inspiring runners. 

Today is a very special day, and so it tomorrow. But let's stick to the now. 

Seven years ago today my oldest niece Zoey was born, and she has brought beauty, joy, comfort and laughter to our family. Through her I've gotten to know a tiny bit of motherhood. She's the reason I could easily and quickly decide to have a hysterectomy after my first cancer diagnosis (endometrial) in early 2008. She and my other nieces and nephews fill up my heart and helps me to see the beauty and wonder in life. I'm so grateful for her- and all of my Peeps- and for my sisters who allow this Auntie Mommy to hold this honorable title. 

This is me with newborn baby Zoey- 2006.

This is her a couple days ago with her sister and brother playing Tea Party. 

Seven years old. It blows my mind. 
Happy Birthday, my SweetPea!! 
I love to pieces, and am so proud of the lovely young lady you are blooming into. 
It's truly my honor and joy to be a part of your world.
 She always says 'this is my world, Aunt Connie.
 And indeed it is.
 I hope that belief, that deep knowing without question, stays with her forever. 
Create your own beautiful world, Z, using your own colors and style! 

I took a couple of weeks off from my Jeff Galloway 10K Training, but made a come back this week. I had stalled in the middle of Week 8. Six miles seemed really hard and there was always a decent reason I couldn't get it done. Then I went on vacation in the mountains of New England. And came home sick. I put it off, but this week I knew the time had come to face those 6 miles. 

I owe this push in motivation and inspiration to all the runners pages I've recently found on Facebook and a couple of (tenaciously awesome) running friends. I prepared all week- hydrating, eating veggies and protein, not drinking alcohol, getting good sleep. 

I got up early, took my thyroid med, went back to sleep for a few minutes then drug myself out of bed- with the help of a text from one of those tenaciously awesome friends- and ate breakfast. I probably need to eat more and give myself more time to digest in the future, I'm learning as I go. I had 2 slices of thin raisin toast with butter and low sodium sausage patty and a big glass of water. I remembered sunscreen and my hat. I put on my purple Road ID in case I melted into the sidewalk. Grabbed a bag of gummies and filled up my water bottle. I was determined, excited and ready to get it done. 

It was 76 and 87% humidity at 8:15 am in Memphis. But there was a decent cool breeze, and thunderstorms coming in later today (unfortunately for Z's pool party). Beat the rain, that's what I told myself when I started. 

I used to drive to a nearby park with a 8/10 mile loop. When I first started running last August I could barely make it around once. Today I ran 2.5 miles TO the park, then around the loop once and back home. 

Amazing! Astounding! Mind blowing! 

This body that has been through abuse as a child, several major pelvic/abdominal surgeries and carries the extra weight of those pains on the outside CAN RUN 6 MILES. I'm learning that despite the extra weight on my body, running- and succeeding in any goals- is much more about what I THINK in my mind. 

I told myself all week that I'll be running 6 miles today. I can do THIS. I'm a runner! I gained strength from other runners, thanks to Facebook. I believed I could do it. And then I did it. 

The first 2.5  miles were really good. I ate my gummies and took a couple extra minutes to walk about mile 3. That boosted me up until about mile 5. I could feel a big blister forming on my inner bottom right heel. My thighs were cramping a little. I was starting to get chills off and on, just for a few seconds. I commended myself for what I was doing, then showed my body love and respect by walking for about 3/4 of a mile. Then I ran 30 seconds and walked 90 seconds for the rest of the way- until the very end. Somewhere in there my interval timer died. It was really handy that my Coach taught me to count every other step, so I could still keep loose track of time. 

When RunKeeper said 1 hour 45 minutes at 5.85 miles I started running and didn't stop until it said 6 miles. I was soaking wet, sore in more ways than one and ELATED that I finished in 1:47!! I had figured it would take me 2 hours and I was perfectly okay with that since it's my first time and I haven't been running consistently for a couple weeks. 

 For the first time, and I'm doing it again next week. 

I'm so grateful to be able to run, to be an Aunt, for the breath in my lungs, and the Love that I live in. 

Tomorrow is a Cancer anniversary for me.... but that's tomorrow. Today I celebrate 'my' 7 year old's birthday and pray it doesn't get stormed out.