Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking back at 2012

As I look back on the last year, there are so many high points and some incredibly low points. Goals met and dreams broken. The downs remind us that God is omnipotent and omnipresent. These down times help us appreciate the up times more and realize how truly blessed we are.

January started with a much needed admit to bring the business to a comfortable level. Not great, but enough that we had some breathing room. With that came a little extra spending money for more golf for Jeff and race registrations for me.

February was all about marathon training. First planned was Newport, a flat marathon with a long out and back along water. I love water. It is so calming. And lots of friends said it was well organized and would be there as well. Then later in the month I registered for a double. Yes, back to back marathons. I was so excited! Some major goals that were going to be tough, but I had the confidence I could accomplish them.

Sister Janelle, niece Rachel, sister Melanie, Dad, Loretta, me and Jeff

March. Typical with tons of rain. March is one of the main months I would like to move. Cold rain is so depression for me. A few disastrous runs mixed with some good runs messed with my confidence. I changed my training plans around and decided to go with the Hanson Plan with back to back medium long runs. We tried to escape the rain by going to Arizona to visit my dad and Loretta. All we wanted was heat and sunshine and we got cold and rain. I am not sure I will ever view Mesa the same way again!

Then April happened. On a 16 miler, I got horrible side pain which I thought was just a bad side ache. The next morning, I headed out for 10 miles and 2 miles in, my side hurt so bad I had trouble walking. I walked the 2 miles back home feeling completely defeated. How was I going to meet my goals if I got this horrible pain? The pain subsided and I thought through everything I had eaten or drank to try to discover the issue. Then the pain came back a few hours later. Maybe I had strained an oblique muscle. The pain didn’t go away. I was having trouble standing upright. A visit to the doctor and an ultra sound diagnosed gall bladder disease. The next week was a visit with a surgeon on Monday. I had surgery at 11:30 am on Wednesday and was home by 6 pm with 4 itty bitty incisions. Pretty amazing really considering the hospital stays and huge scars of the past. I was relieved to have it done and the pain gone, but the biggest disappointment was no exercise for 6 weeks. No running, no weight lifting, no rowing, no biking. Walking was allowed. With great sadness and disappointment, I sold my bibs for all my marathons.

Willy's family: Seraya, Colton, Juli and Will
In May, that disappointment became completely unimportant. Jeff’s sister in Hawaii called. Her husband was injured on the job. He was in terrible pain and was having trouble using his hands. After numerous doctor visits and tests, he was finally diagnosed with cancer. The end of May, Jeff and I headed to Maui. My job was to help care for Willy and train everyone how to do the same. Jeff was going to help with transportation to and from radiation. The cancer was growing so fast and the doctors hoped radiation would add months to Willy’s life. But God had other plans which we cannot understand. Just five short days after we arrived, Willy was called to God’s side. Even as I write tears fill my eyes. He left behind his wife and 3 young kids. I don’t understand God’s purpose in allowing this, but hold to the knowledge that He has a plan. I stayed another week and spent time crying and laughing with his family. It was so hard to leave, but so hard to stay. Going home meant leaving his widow to face reality. Going home meant I could leave this new reality and live more in denial. Jeff remained another week and a half for Willy’s memorial service and to cheer at his niece’s softball tournament. We were blessed to have the freedom to go to Hawaii and support the family. I believe there is no greater honor than to be allowed to watch a believer pass from this world to the next. We grieve our loss, but rejoice that God has Willy at His side.

Summer came to the Pacific Northwest—finally! I hired a running coach to get back strong and running again. It was a great decision and if anyone is looking for a great coach that is willing to work with odd schedules, give PRS Fit a call. Jeff began playing more and more golf. He maintained his membership at Summerfield Golf Course this year. It is a nice course that is close enough to just run out and play a quick round. He spent many afternoons in the sunshine…and the rain…and anything else… He kept track of the number of rounds of golf played. In 2012, he has played 91 rounds of 9 holes and 18 rounds of 18 with a total of 95 rounds of 9 at Summerfield. All in all a very good investment for the year. Running and golf allow each of us our sanity as well as each other’s sanity. We both get a little cranky if we don’t get out for our hobbies!

In September, I took a quick and surprise trip to southern California. When my niece texted about a surprise party, it took me only a moment to say yes and buy a ticket. I spent the first hours with her kids getting everything ready. There was a lot of laughter as we worked. It was so much fun to watch them work together to honor their mom’s “special” birthday. The surprise was a success. The look on my sister’s face when I walked out the door of her house was priceless. There is never enough time to be together so we have learned how to get the most out of the time we have. 

October brings my birthday month. I have decided that I should have an entire month devoted to my birthday. Jeff isn’t so sure about that, but since I didn’t tell him to get me a gift every day he just put up with it. Truly it was a month where I looked at everything as a gift. Whether it was a bit of sunshine, the changing of the leaves or a quick call with a loved one. It was a time to remember that gifts are not necessarily of monetary value. Gifts are a moment in time or a smile. This month also reminded me to give those same gifts.

I realize November is not technically winter, but it is the start of the days of darkness for me. I suppose it is good that it is a month to be thankful. Remembering my blessing is a good way to get through the doldrums.

December brings decorations, parties and fun. I did run 2 half marathons during the month. Working with a coach and all the weight lifting a core exercises is paying off especially in the later miles of a race. I was so happy to finish without losing my form or my shoulders hurting. December also brings one of my favorite days of the year—the Annual Beckham Family Christmas Party. The format has changed over the years, but it is still a time to see people we see just once a year. This year we brought back the caroling and visited a facility where Jeff’s dad lives. There were tears in his eyes as he sung along with the group. Several other residents also sang along. This was an amazing gift to give a group of often overlooked people. The afternoon and evening was filled with fun as I watched the next generation learn from their parents the best way to get the gift they want in the “Passaround”.

So this is the long version of our year. Even writing it out reminds me that I am blessed. Most of my days revolve around our business, but working from home with such an incredible group of people brings contentment. Sometimes I dream of normal schedules with weekend to run with groups or race, but that is not who I am. I am a solitary runner. I love being about to run during daylight all year round. I love that Jeff can get out to golf most afternoons during the week. We work as a team and it fits us. Now we look back with fondness and forward with excitement. What will the next year bring? Only God knows the plans, but they are “for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Change of Plans

I created my  own marathon training plan with 18 weeks to go.  It is a combination of Runner's World Smart Coach, Hal Higdon and a couple of other articles I read.  I haven't been happy with it.  I keep feeling like there is so much focus on the one weekly long run that the overall mileage is underwhelming.  I have been cross training so hard that I cannot hit my miles or pace for the key runs.  With all this, my confidence in my plan is failing. 

Ever since reading an article, Marathoning the Hansons' Way, a couple of years ago, I have been intrigued by the Hansons' Less is More Plan.  The idea of running medium long runs back to back hit a chord with me.  I keep looking at it and thinking "next marathon."  It scares me.  The idea of going into a marathon shooting for a PR with only 16 mile long runs freaks me out.  Yet, I see the evidence that it does work. 

This afternoon, I pulled out my copies of the Hansons Plan, Pfitz 18/55, Hal Higdon Advanced I, Smart Coach and my original plan.  I laid them all out on the floor.  I counted miles, analyzed paces and speed work.  I worked them around to work on my weekly schedule. 

Then I made a decision.  I choose the Hanson's Less is More Plan.  I am nervous about this.  Yet, there is so much about it I like.  I like the running on tired legs.  I like all the marathon pace runs.  I like the bits of speedwork.  It took a bit of work to move the days around since I cannot run long on weekends, but I can do the long run on Monday with the moderate long on Sunday.  Not perfect, but it works for me. 

I remind myself that I have run 23 mile training runs before every other marathon and it hasn't gotten me where I really wanted to be--sub 4.  So, why not try a new approach.  This may be what works for me.  It may not be.  All I can do is give it all I have and trust the training!  This week's super easy, brainless, treadmill miles seemed to make a difference in motivation and drive. And the body seems willing again.  So, with 13 weeks until the Newport Marathon, I am ready to get moving.

Friday, March 02, 2012

A Lesson in Listening

This week has been all about listening. Reading about listening to my body and working on implementing it. I had a cut back week last week, but the fatigue and lethargy continued. I set out thinking that is would pick up and headed into the week with high expectations.

It began on Monday with a disatrous long run. It started out as a 18 miles run with a friend. It was cold and it took a while to warm up. My lungs weren't happy. And neither were my legs. I don't know if it was late fueling or mental fatigue. My splits started out a bit faster than normal, but ended up slowing quickly. About mile 10, I started feeling a groove, but that didn't last long. I have never had fatigue like this even in the last miles of a marathon. Then the nausea started. Yep, that was a first, too. Ginger candy helped some. At this point, I urged my friend to go on if she needed to get done. We were starting and stopping and that is hard on someone having a good run. She wanted to stick it out. I could see she needed to move on, but was too kind to want to leave me. About a mile later, we passed the golf course where my hubs was playing. I did something I have never done before. I quit. I sent my friend on and went looking for the hubs. Finally found him at the 6th hole and caddied to the finish. The jogging to find him and walking the last holes were incredibly hard. I haven't ever seen a PGA caddy sitting on the cart path, but this caddy did.

That run shook me mentally. It shook my confidence. I took Tuesday completely off. Wednesday dawned and it was cold and wet. I couldn't bring myself to go outside. Loaded a movie and headed to the treadmill. One hour, fifty minutes and nine miles later, I was a sweaty, happy mess. Normally I hate the treadmill, especially mine. Nearly 20 years old and a broken incline that is locked at 1.5%--I think--makes for a slow, boring run. But it was good. I kept it easy and kicked the speed around to keep it more interesting.

Thursday, I was so tired. Bad sleep, low grade fever and achy. Took another day off. Yeah, another day off and no cross training at all this week. Maybe I am justifying laziness, but I am choosing to say I am listening to my body.

This morning was another cold morning. I had to psyche myself into running at all and headed back to the treadmill. An hour later, I was again a hot, sweaty mess and glad I had done it. I have never enjoyed running on the treadmill, but these runs have been exactly what I needed--easy and brainless. I am actually looking forward to getting back on the thing tomorrow. Go figure...

At least, I am looking forward to running again. So tired of the weather. I am so tired of cold and wet. So, I am listening to my body and running as it wishes. I will run easy until I am ready to run a good speed workout. I don't know if I am running as slow as my paces say. Does a treadmill lose calibration? I am trying not to get caught up on that. My effort feels about a 10 minute pace so I am sticking to that even though the treadmill is saying something different. Then again maybe I am just overanalyzing again...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Week...More Miles

Training is starting to ramp up again!  I love seeing the miles add up.  I wish I felt strong enough to add another day of running to the schedule, but I think it is smart to maintain 4 days a week and push the cross training 2 days.  The running base is not what I would have liked, but it is what it is.  Mid-week I was dreading a cut back next week, but on Saturday my legs felt like lead.  Now I am looking forward to cutting the miles back and getting a little bounce back in my step!  My miles aren't that high, but adding the cross training seems to fatigue my legs quite a bit.  Then the miles seem tougher and get the legs stronger.  I am enjoying the changes that the rowing is bringing in my upper body strength.  I am finding I am fatiguing later in the long runs.  That allows me to hold good form longer.  The hope is the added core strength is increased speed and being able to hold a good pace throughout the marathon.  I did not include any yoga this week.  My peroneal pain has increased following yoga for a couple of days.  I did do stretching, but not as much as I would have liked.  However, the ankle pain has decreased. 

Long Run: 16.3 mi

Rower: 60 min

Easy Run: 5 mi

Pace Run: 5 mi (Ave 8:59)
Easy Run: 1.9 mi

Rest Day

Easy Run: 6.2 mi
Weights: 20 min

Bike: 16.3 mi
Rower: 30 min


Run: 34.3 mi
Bike: 16.3 mi
Rower: 2 times

Yoga: 0 times
Weights: 1 time
Total Training Time: 8:36

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Three Things Thursday: The Quick Version

1.  I registered for the Firecracker Double.  Yep, back-to-back marathons.  Hubs asked if I have lost my mind.  I may have, but I am going to do it anyway!  The goal for these will be to just get to the finish line with a smile on my face!  It is great that both races are within 2 miles of my home.

2.  After 44 years of life, I had a first today.  I got bit by a dog.  Less than a quarter mile from my home and the neighbor was there with her two dogs--one off leash--and I got bit on the back of my calf.  however, I still completed my run--more than 6 miles with 5 at marathon pace.  I really thought the dog had just jumped on me.  The lady asked if the dog bit me and said the dog was know to "nip" at people.  I kept running a while then stopped to check it again.  Yep, blood running down my leg and two puncture marks.  It hurt, but really not too bad.  Yes, I cleaned it throughly.  Yes, I am watching for infection.  Yes, I reported it.  Reporting was a really hard decision.  Maybe it shouldn't be so hard, but it was.  Thanks to all the Loopsters on Loopville for the encouragement.

3.  This is the reason it is the quick version...I only have 2 things...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Running for Sherry and Week 2

This was one of those weeks that life interferred.  I only got 3 runs done, but all were very good runs.  Cross training was also decreased.  However, I did end up with a couple of positives in that I got yoga in twice.  I revised my training plan a bit.  Finding it really hard to get a good workout in on Friday.  It is my day off and the only day to sleep in.  And then I want to spend time with the hubs.  Now Friday will be a rest day with speedowrk moved to Thursday.  Monday's are working great for the long run.  Hubs plays golf while I get my miles done.  He gets home about when I finish my nice bath.  Works pretty good for both of us.  We shall see how it goes when the rain hits on a Monday...  So far we have been blessed!

Saturday was the Run for Sherry Arnold.  Sherry was a runner in Montana who was kidnapped and murdered on her morning run.  Runners around the world ran in her honor.  Such a sad story that hits home because it could be any of us.  Indy and I headed out for an easy run with Sherry in mind and wearing a bib created for this run. 

Long Run: 14.1 miles

Rower: 40 min
Weights: 25 min (Six Pack for Runners from Running Times)

Unscheduled Rest Day...

Speedwork: 7.3 mi (6 x 800 with 2 min recovery)


Easy Run: 8 mi (Run for Sherry)

Stationary Bike: 16.6 mi

Run: 29.4 mi
Bike: 16.6
Rower: 1 time
Yoga: 2 times
Total Training Time: 8:50

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Marathon Training is BACK!

Training for the Newport Marathon began on Monday!  I have a goal.  The next 18 weeks are about getting to the starting line healthy and to the finish line less than 4 hours later.  I know I can do it, but it scares me a whole lot!  I need to stay focused, but still relax and have fun with it.  This training cycle is about strength, flexibility and listening to my body.  Increasing my mileage is a given, but I am also going to focus on total training hours.  One of my struggles in racing is nerves.  I truly believe some of my issues in past marathons have been caused by anxiety.  So I am going to train hard, but leave the final results to God. 

Long Run 10 miles

Stationary Bike: 17. 3 mi

Progression Run: 6.2 mi

Easy Run: 5.1 mi
Rower: 30 min


Easy Run: 6.2 mi
Rower: 45 minutes

Stationary Bike: 17.3 mi

Run: 27.5 mi
Bike: 34.6
Rower: 2 times
Yoga: 1 time
Total Training Time: 8:42

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Running, Eating and Joe Paterno

Today has been a struggle.  My preference would have been to curl up with a bowl of Captain Crunch and a side of hot cocoa.  I needed a long run, but the rain and wind made me contemplate the treadmill.  But the thought of more than 2 hours of hamster running made me cringe.  Truly, if I didn’t have a marathon planned, I would have bagged the whole thing.  My inner child just wanted to eat candy, curl up in a fetal position and let the world pass by for a while.

With plenty of encouragement I headed out for 14 miles.  I told the hubs how long I would be gone and that my planned route was up on the computer monitor.  (For safety, I always give him an idea of where I go on long runs.)  Three miles in, I made a pit stop and texted the hubs that I was changing my route to something I could cut short if needed.  My right Achilles was really bothering me and I felt completely defeated.  I even turned on my mp3 player to see if music would help kick my attitude.

The music began to help and I turned a corner which would lead me farter from home instead of closer.  I walked a lot.  I moaned and complained to myself.  I couldn’t understand the extent of the pure defeat I felt.  I hated running and began to think it wasn’t worth it.  Maybe I should quit and take up walking.  Then To Fly by Day of Fire played. 

I can see it in your eyes
You were made to overcome
I can see it in your eyes
You were made to rise above
I can see it in your eyes
So take these wings and fly

Something clicked in my psyche.  I was angry.  I was sad.  I had seen the news earlier in the morning…just before the urge to eat comfort foods and curl up in a ball.  Joe Paterno was dead.  I was not grieving his death.  I was grieving for the unnecessary victims.  I was sad that they would not have the answers they needed.  I was angry that Joe Paterno would not answer to all the children that were violated due to his inaction. 

In my years of counseling, I had been warned that there would be things that would trigger memories and anger and grief.  Things that would have no connection to me and my experiences.  You see, I am an unnecessary victim.  My violation may not have happened if an adult had taken action.   Words were said and adults were aware, but nothing was done.  I wonder how many other victims there are that have said nothing.  I wonder how many were molested after me.  I wonder if I had said something years earlier could I have saved another victim.  I was a child.  I was afraid.  Others were adults.  They were in a place to protect children.  Yet their inaction caused great hurt and damage.

I believe in Heaven.  I believe in Hell.  I don’t know where Joe Paterno went.  I don’t know where the man that molested me went.  Only God knows.  And that is His responsibility.  My responsibility is to speak up against wrong.  It is my responsibility to feel the anger and sadness and respond to it appropriately.  The rest is up to God.  I am happy to let Him be the final judge.

Once I realize the cause of my attitude, I can accept it.  I railed at God for a bit and my eyes brimmed with tears.  Then I let Him have all.  My anger, my grief was gone.  They will return from time to time.  They are a part of me.  I am who I am because of all of my experiences. 

The remainder of the run was not suddenly wonderful and amazing.  I could only wish.  It was painful and tedious.  Yet, it wasn’t so bad anymore.  I can deal with the aching muscles.  I can deal with the fatigue.  When my mind is clear, I can take these wings and fly!

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

It's a first so have FUN!

The last couple of days I have been asked about running a first half marathon.  I started to write back and thought, "Hey, just blog about it!"  So here is my advice...take it or leave it!

THe half marathon is long enough to be a good challenge, but sort enough to really have some fun.  And your first half should be all bout finishing with a smile on your face.  If you are crazy dedicated enough to run more, then look at other goals.

1. Unless you have been running a while and have some speedwork under your belt, don't start while you are increasing mileage!  You may throw in a few fartleks here and there, but nothing serious.

2. Increase the distance of one run each week slowly.  Try adding a mile a week for a couple of weeks, then do a shorter run the third week.  Bring up the miles the next week and continue the pattern.  Many plans call to do at least one long run of 10 miles before the half. 

3. Listen to your body!  This is a MUST!  If you are tired or hurt, REST!  Rest is a very improtant part of training.  Your muscles cannot adapt to the greater strain, if they are not allowed to recover.  Learn your own signals and pay attention.  For me:  When my knees hurt, I probably need new shoes.  If my hips hurt, I need some extra stretching.  If I dont' feel like running--because I LOVE to run--I need a day off to rest. 

4. Reward yourself.  When you get out there and train when life gets tough, give yourself a pat on the back!  When you reach a goal, enjoy a new toy--maybe running gear or new music to listen to while you run.  Others are going to tell you that you are going to hurt yourself or running is bad for you, let them talk and move on.  Running is healthy and when listening to your body, you can run for years to come.  Studies show runners have decreased incidence of arthritis in the knees than non-runners. 

5. Those long runs, run slow.  If you think you are running too slow, you aren't!  Running slow allows your body to get used to spending time on your feet.  Running the long runs too fast will increase recovery time and increase the chance of injury. 

6. If you are feeling ambitious and you have no signs of injury or over-training, throw in a few fartleks on your easy run.  Runner's World has an article here that discusses a couple of ways to incorporate speedplay.  Keep it faster, but don't go all out. 

7. Ahhh, training diet...  This is a do what I say, not what I do item.  Running uses carbohydrates stored in the muscles.  You will need to eat carbs, but try to make sure they are healthy carbs--fruits, veggies, whole grains.  (This becomes a different story a few days before your race!)  I confess that I am as addicted to sugar as I am to running.  I have to remind myself that quick carbs do not provide the long term energy I need to run or give my body the proper fuel to recover.  I am a work in progress on this one.

There are so many things that can change as you train for your first half marathon.  That is part of the fun!  Learning to adapt and get to the start line trained and healthy is a balancing act.  Yet it can be done.  Just remember, you would rather be a little undertrained than overtrained.