Monday, December 13, 2010

My name is Christa...and I'm a Boston qualifier!

On the 11th day of December, 2010, I qualified for Boston! That sounds so good. Almost too good to be true. It has been a long journey. A hard journey. Something I really did not know I was capable of.
Last December (the 12th to be exact) I started the Thunder Road marathon with the intent to qualify for Boston. However, somewhere along that 26.2 mile journey, my dreams were torn into. As I got sick along the course and could not even break 4 hours. I pulled out a 4:05 and signed up to run Myrtle Beach. The weekend of the marathon came, February 13th, but snow was in the forecast. It snowed, and in great southern form, everything shut down.... Including the Myrtle Beach Marathon. Boston was not in the in my future at this point in time.
Fast forward to summer of 2010..... My daughter started cross country with her school.... her assistant coach was none other than Michelle Larson. Michelle made the fatal mistake of asking me to come run with her group. There I met the UCRRs!
The Bible talks about a friend sticking closer than a brother. This team surrounded me, trained me, and on occasion (Dee, Holly, and Michelle) even dressed me. =-) Without the support of this group, I don't think I could have even made it to the starting line. Michelle and I did every long run together. She pushed me when I wanted to give up. I saw a strength in her that made me become a better runner.
The Race.....
My Church also had a group representing the half marathon... this included my sister and husband. They stayed till the bitter end (after finishing the half) and supported me. Thanks guys!
As we lined up at the starting line, Michelle reminded me that I was hers until mile 21...then I could do whatever I want. Ed was one of the UCRR members we had roped into pacing us. The engines sounded then we were off. The first few miles were a blur and I noticed they were ticking off quickly. This course had always beasted me in the past, but this time, with my running friends running with me and screaming for us, it was almost easy.
Mile 9, Michelle and I are still having fun. My brother-in-law snapped this picture of us. We ran on.... I remember thinking, wow, this is easy! The half marathon people turned off.... this is normally when I am done, but not today. We hit mile 13.1 around 1:52... feeling good! Mile 14, 15, 16...I look at Michelle and say, "Only 10 more miles!"
Around mile 17, Ed asks how I am doing. I am surprised to say fine. Now I'm not going to lie, I am tired, but doing pretty good. Then mile starts getting hard...mile 19 I am starting to be over this.....mile 20! I am so happy to see mile 20 but now I know the marathon begins. This is make or break time! Hit mile 21 at 3:00 and we see Holly and Dee. Dee starts running with us but then I notice I am all alone. Michelle is yelling for me to go on. She had been feeling sick for a few miles...not that I could tell. She is a solid runner and I can never tell when she is hurting. But she stops. She tells me to keep Ed in sight. I am now on my own and start to have a pity party for myself. I have been running a long time, I deserve to walk and rest, I can't do this by myself. This lasted from mile 21 to mile 22... then the song "The Climb" came on. It starts out by saying:
I can almost see it,
that dream I'm dreaming.
But there's a voice inside my head that says,
you'll never reach it.
Every step I'm taking,
every move I make feels lost with no direction.
My faith is shake'n. But I, I gotta keep try'n.
Gotta keep my head held high.
Then it hit me.... I have no choice but to do this. Michelle has introduced me to too many people as a Boston Qualifier, My friends and family are at the finish line waiting to see me cross at 3:45, I have run too far to give up, and I really don't want to start this journey over. So I get real serious with God.... I ask Him to help me "man up" and run this in.... and he does. I pick up my fallen pace and start to run. It hurts...oh, it hurts...but I can see myself going across that line and reaching my goal.
I get to where mile 25 is supposed to be and there is NO marker. But I know this course. I put in what little kick I have left. I cross the bridge on Central and see the city. My favorite part! I turn on 7th and hear Jonathan's words of wisdom in running down hills. I turn onto McDowell and run....I see the turn up MLK! And I see my husband... he yells for me to run! I do! I see the clock, hear people yelling for me, but I cannot take the energy to look at anything but that clock counting up....up...up! I cross over the line at 3:45.48 clock time, 3:45.22 chip time.
I did it! I cannot even put the thoughts together...
Hey y'all look at me, I Boston qualified....right after I finished.
Me, Hubby, Bree (who I ran my 1st marathon with), and Leigh! - I'm the Evil Queen of this group! They loved seeing Michelle telling me what to do... =-)
My girls - Michelle (in pink) Holly (back turned) Dee (blond and pink sorta out of the picture)... I could not have even started this journey without these girls!
Me and Leigh!

My real sis! Me and Matt (my hubby) They both PRed today at the half!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

This Is The Air I Breathe

As most of you know, I am in training for my next marathon. I run between 30 and 50 miles a week. My running happens on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. So what do I do for the rest of the week.
Thursday is a total rest day from physical activity. This is to get ready for the double long runs. They are not as easy as one may think.
However, Sunday and Tuesday is active recovery. This means I cross train. Sunday, I do a show at my church (at 2 different campuses) called "The Big Attic". Don't be deceived, this is about 3 hours of mayhem. By the time I am finished, I want to lay down and die!
Tuesdays (and Fridays after my pace run), I swim.
I have a love/hate relationship with swimming.
I love the fact it is easy on my joints.
I love that it helps keep me loose.
I love the coolness of the pool that helps with recovery.
I love that it makes me stronger.
I love how it makes my arms look and helps me look like I have (at least) small guns.;-)
However, I have a small issue with swimming.
I cannot breathe under water.
So when I get out of breath, it does not work well for me. I'm really not good at swimming. Not kidding. Pregnant women and 85 year old men pass me. I timed my 100 yard swim the other day and it was around 2:30. That is embarrassing. I plod along, doing drills and such, to get around 2000 yards. Then I pull my tired and hungry body out of the water and smell of chlorine the rest of the day.
So what's the point?
Well, about 2 weeks ago, I was doing my "fast" swimming and working on breathing on both sides. As I turned to my right and gulped down a huge amount of air, I had a few thoughts.
First, I thought that I was going to die because I was not getting enough air at each breath.
Second, I thought about just standing up, quiting, and breathing.
Third, I thought about how much I needed this air and wanted it.
Fourth, I thought about this is how I need to want God.
I need to want God as much as I wanted the next breath of air. Is that how I long for Him?
The Bible talks about this in Psalm 42:1
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So my soul pants for Thee, O God
The picture in this Psalm is that of a deer longing for water in the midst of a prolonged drought.
But God had to show me physically what this verse means. So the picture in my life at that moment was me gasping for my next breath while swimming.
Needless to say, that has stuck with me. I think it is easy to say that we need God and want to have a relationship with Him. However, it is very difficult to really want Him like we want air. There are so many distractions. Distractions that don't matter.
So next time you are gasping for breath (due to physical exercise, having a cold, or just walking up the stairs) think about wanting God like you want your next breath.
This is the air I breathe!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mind Over Matter!

Boston is in my sights.
I have started my marathon training to qualify for Boston.
I plan on qualifying at the Thunder Road Marathon on December 11, 2010.
If I run this race in 3:45 (and the Boston race is still open) I will run Boston in April 2011.
If I run this race in 3:50, I will have to wait until April 2012.
I want 2011!
I am on week 6 of Hal Higdon's Advanced I training plan. This plan has me do speedwork, hillwork, long runs, pace runs and tempo runs. On Friday and Saturday, I do back to back long runs to prepare my body to go the 26.2 miles in the time I need.
However, this is not enough........
To qualify for Boston, I have to change my mindset. Instead of fearing running up Morehead, I have to embrace it. Instead of thinking about pain as weakness...think about it as fresh bread that I will eat for breakfast. Everything that morning will have to come together perfectly race morning to insure success. To say the least, a marathon is as much mental as it is physical.
I have to do more than train physically. So what will I do different this year to insure success.
  1. First and foremost, I am confessing success. I tell people I have such and such days before I qualify. I look at myself as a runner. A runner who can hold the 8:34 pace I need for 26.2 miles.
  2. I have also found a group to do my long runs with. The University City Road Runners. We meet on Saturdays at 0700 and run. They run all distances from 100 milers to 10ks and they are fast. I just hang on and keep up. They are a wonderful encouragement to me. Last week, my 14 mile run went by so fast.
  3. I will run with a pace team. Several of the UCRR members are running Thunder Road and I plan to run with them. Some said they may even pace me. WOOT!
  4. I have several girls from the group who do my Monday runs and faster runs with me.
  5. I cross train! Very important! Instead of doing recovery runs as the plan calls for, I swim and or bike. This helps me recover without getting hurt....and it makes me stronger.
  6. Weight/core training......This hurts so good! And makes me a stronger runner! Core training helps me hold good form even in the later miles. This is important as I get tired.

All this has helped me get faster, gain confidence, and made running fun!

So anyone want to join on the race and help pace me?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What it feels like to WIN!

Saturday, August 14th, 2010 I ran my 1st race since the Charlotte Marathon. I have ran races with friends, however, after Charlotte (in December) being a train wreck and Myrtle Beach (in February) being canceled, I have not raced. Not sure why.
As a counselor, I am prone to over analyze these types of things. All I could come up with was a lack of self confidence in my abilities as a runner. Funny right? I have run many races...from the 5k to the marathon. I have placed in races and in the Grand Prix Series. So why should I feel this way. I think it goes back to me just not feeling like a "real runner". That somehow, I am a poser and soon everything will unravel and people will see that I am not a runner at all. Not that I know what a real runner is...
So in light of all that, I signed up to race. My plan was simple... Go out and run as fast as I can for 3.1 miles and see if I had what it takes to call myself a "runner".

The week before the race, I came out to run the course. However, I soon realized this out and back course was run in a not so good side of town. So I quickly ran back to my car. I did not get to preview the course for fear of my life.

Race morning:
As always, I woke up and spent time with God. I prayed for my family, my friends, my clients, the race, and the people who would run the race. I asked God to allow me to glorify him with my running. Because glorifying God is really all that matters. I'm not going to lie though, I prayed to run well. To place in my age group. To get my sub 23 that I wanted. Then I prayed a prayer that surprised even me. I asked God to help me love Him not for what He can do for me, but for the fact that He is God. At this point, it reoccurred to me that no matter if I am a "real runner" or what....God is all that matters.

The Race:
Lots of friends from church ran and scream teamed for this race. In fact, Bree's Sunday School class used this as an opportunity to have a social. I just love how AWESOME my church is! Many people in the class took this as an opportunity to take a chance and run their 1st 5k.
Lucas, Sommer, Bree, and Me after the race

To say the least, I was really anxious. I told Matt that I didn't know why I was so anxious before racing. He agreed. He exclaimed that, "It wasn't like it was my first race". I told him I wasn't this nervous at my 1st race.... He just shakes his head at me.
I line up with Sommer near the front. We watch the clock count down and then we went from zero to 7 minute miles in seconds. Suddenly Sommer and I were running like we were being chased by a mother bear that thought we took her cubs.
I felt like I was running in mud...or clay....or maybe cement. I felt slow. Real slow. But felt pretty good breathing wise. I got to mile 1 and saw I was running a bit slower than last year. Last year in the Grand Prix Series 5ks, I would hit mile 1 around 6:30. I hit this at around 6:50 something. I was hoping my slower start would help me not to poop out in the last mile.
It was an out and back course so we saw the mile 2 marker soon after passing mile 1....I didn't like that. However, I knew I would soon be back and see the real mile 2. I did see mile 2 at 14 something minutes. Oh, that's good, I can do 1 more mile!
I get to mile 3 and turn the corner. I see my wonderful husband and my JRT yelling for me to RUN! Can my JRT talk or am I that oxygen deprived??? I pass mile 3 at 21 something and do a bit of calculating in my head. I think I can PR. I think I can finish this race in 22 something minutes. Sub 23 has been a goal since June 2009. To date, my fastest 5k had been 23:07. All this went through my head.....I could see the clock. I put in my "kick" and started counting with the clock. I passed through at 22:38 clock time.....22:32 chip time. I finished well! Thank you God for letting me get my sub 23!

Post Race:
Soon after finishing, I saw the results going up. Should I look? No. Yes! Noooooo....YES! I go look!
My results show I placed 35th overall, 7th female overall, and 1st in my age group.

Did I read it right? 1st in my age group? I thought I was seeing things so I ask the guy standing beside me what this #1 means. He looks at me like I am crazy and says it means I won my age group.....WHAT?!?!?! I go from being excited to disbelief.
I "run" and tell Matt that I think I won my age group.

He suggests we stay for the award ceremony. I agree, however, there is still a fear that I read the paper wrong and I actually did not place.
My "Winner" picture!
I did place 1st in my AG.
Sommer placed 2nd in her AG!
Tim placed 3rd overall male!

I remember telling Bree that I always thought I would feel different if I ever won my AG. I still felt unsure. I felt excited. I wondered if I deserved it.
Then as I pondered how to write this race report it became clear to me:
I am a runner!
Not because I run fast, run long, win or get a personal best. But just because I run. Everyone who showed up today is a runner. From the winner to the person who came in last. They are a runner not because they finished, but because they choose to start.
That is what makes a runner.
The courage to start the race, the training, the struggle.
The run!
So now that I have "won" a race (in my age group) I have to say I really don't feel much different. However, when I ran up to accept my cheesy medal and $5 gift card to DICK's, I was proud. I was thankful. I was still in disbelief. Then as I ran the 2.5 miles back to my car, I was tired. Then the next day, I went back to training.

That's what winning feels like.
Now when is the next race?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

King Tiger 5k - 6/5/10 Running with Abigayle

Today, Abigayle and I ran the "King Tiger 5k". Her cross country team ran it, so I thought I would join. Hey, anything for a race!
It's funny, I ran this race last year as part of the Grand Prix Series. I came to it ready to compete. I finished in 23:32 and came in 7th in my AG. However, today was different. I got to run this race with one of the most important people in my life, my daughter. As sappy as this sounds, I have watched her change as she starts to train for cross country. She started out timid with her team.....and I can understand why. She is the youngest and only 7th grader on the team. But as she trains, I see her confidence build. It is a wonderful thing that she is learning. If you can push though the pain of a run, you can tackle anything in life,
We cheese for a picture in front of RFYL University store. She told me that she is not as nervous about this race. She has gone this distance before, so she feels ready. It is really steamy today. I am already sweating and we haven't even started running.
The team warms up, stretches, and puts on their chips. Everyone is really excited.
We start running.......
The plan is is to run 4 minutes walk 1 minute. Abigayle's goal is to have a good attitude no matter how hard it gets.
Mile 1! Abigayle is still looking strong and having fun. Bree decided to join to help me encourage Abigayle. However, at this point, Abigayle needs no encouragement. She is doing well and meeting her attitude goal!
Mile two comes and passes. At this point, Abigayle is running just over a 10 minute mile and doing well. She is in good spirits and even jumps for the camera. However, we start UP the last hill.............That lasts for about a mile.
Abigayle looks at me and says......remember what Joe says! She is referring to some advice Joe Sauerbrey gave me when getting ready to run a Myrtle Beach for a Boston Qualifying time. He told me, "When it starts to hurt, run faster". What a proud moment! =-) However, like me, Abigayle's tummy can only take so we have to go to a run 2 minutes run 1 so she can finish the race.
She passes mile 3 and puts in her kick! Sommer now joins me, Bree, and Abigayle. We are all yelling and screaming for her.
She passes the finish line and she took 6 minutes off her last 5k time. WOOT!
Then we see all the buddies who also ran while we grub on Rita's custard happiness!
My buddies Sommer, Ross, Tim, Kris and Tim's nephew ran FAST! I also got to see my buddy Chad from high school. He ran it in 21 minutes and is going to qualify for Boston in October! So here is a shout out for him! Hal will be his coach too!=-)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Abigayle's First Race Report

Tonight, Abigayle completed her first 5k. Every parent wants to instill their values, hopes and dreams on their children. I strive to teach my children love, faith in Jesus Christ, the joy of small things, honesty, and kindness toward others. I also hope to impart the joy of running on my children.
Here is Abigayle's story.
The last 12 or so weeks, she has been running. This happened with me and in PE. I must give a huge thanks to Coach Crystal Rhodes for teaching her PE students the art of endurance. She is a wonderful teacher and friend to me. With her help, Abigayle has decided to run Cross Country this fall at school.
With Cross Country in Abigayle's future and her training thus far, I signed her up for her first 5k. Now I think I was more excited than her.
We get to the race and I pin Abigayle's number on her. She has her game face on. I think the realization of this race has hit her. She suddenly becomes nervous. To her, this is a marathon.
We go into this hustle and bustle of the chip pick up. Abigayle is very quiet. I put her chip on and answer her questions. How many times has she seen me put this chip on myself and asked the same questions. However, today it is different. She is wearing the chip.
We get to the start and she takes a picture of me and Matt. He is running on one side of her and I am running on the other. Bree, Ron, Ross, and Sommer are also running. Greg, Wendy, Wendy's family and Ross's children and mother are scream teaming. Lucas will be pushed in the jog stroller.
One last hug from daddy and we are off and running. The plan was to run 2 minutes then walk 30 seconds. However, that went out the window.
We run for 4 minutes then take a walk break. Then we run until Abigayle wants to walk. Around mile 1 Abigayle is still looking strong having fun. Running is fun in a sick and twisted kinda way. Ha Ha!
Matt runs ahead and takes a picture. Look at those long legs and determination! That's my girl...and you can see me in the back ground smiling.
At the 1/2 way mark there is water. I had carried propel for her, but the water stop was a welcome break. She is happy to hear that we are half way done.
Mile 2. She is still looking good and sassy!
Mile 3 was Abigayle's best. She really started having fun. I think this is because she knew this was it. She would finish. She and her daddy play around near the Panther's Stadium.
Then we turn the corner and she puts in her "kick". She sprints toward the finish line. I took this picture then ran up with her. I must admit I had a hard time keeping up with her when she started sprinting. Go Abigayle, Go!
We cross the finish line and cheese for pictures.
The 3 Amigos!
The whole crew. Sommer had already gone home but this is everyone else. The kids ran the fun run and they all beasted it.
Now we go out and eat! Abigayle gets ribs and go girl!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Anything for a story!

Anything for a story...Yes, that's my motto. Hey anyone who dresses up like a dog every Sunday morning has to be a little crazy! Spot the dog, pictured below, thank you!

So how did I come up with this motto? Well think about it, If everything always goes right, would anyone ever have any good stories. My sister (pictured above as the cow) and I live by this. Mainly because if we can screw it up, we will...... so here are the funny, and not so funny, moments of my running.

So here is where it all began...well sort of. This is the 2004 Disney Marathon. Yes I am about 40lbs heavier in the pictures......

The 2nd picture, is Me, Ron, and Bree after we finished. Proud of the hardware! The 1st, is a picture of me around mile 23 with my hero...THE EVIL QUEEN! Isn't she awesome! However, all this joy was shadowed by sadness. Matt and I had to get right on a plane and go back home to Charlotte. Matt's father was dying.

Now move ahead to January 2006. Matt and I complete the Goofy Challenge. This is 13.1 miles on Saturday and 26.2 miles on Sunday. That is 39.3 miles. Bree and Ron also did this fun trek with us!

October 2006 I completed my 1st trail marathon. I got to know Ricky because Ron talked him into running with me. Bless his heart.....I learned how to crawl through mud and over logs. It was cold and poured down the rain for most of the race. In the picture below, I am running to the finish line yelling, "am I the winner"?

January 2007 finds us back at the Disney Marathon. Some way, we talked Matt's brother Curt into running it with us. Notice we are in is 0400 and already HOT! I finished with a PR of 4:12 in 88 degree weather.
Me, Curt and Matt are in the first picture. The 2nd is me at mile 25!

After the very HOT Disney marathon, and intense training by myself I was feeling a bit burned out. So what better fun than running with a sister. I trained her for her 1st half marathon and we ran it together in April 2007. Charlotte Racefest.

Here we are at the finish showing some grand hardware! Little did she know, she had only trained to 8 miles. I saw no point to tell her this until AFTER the half marathon.

A race is not complete without a port-a-jon picture.

At mile 7 Hope decided to get in touch with her inner chi!

2007 held many new adventures for me. I placed for the first time in my age group in a race. 3rd place on May 19th, 2007. It may have been because 2 guys were dissing my running skirt and I had to take them to town and show them how a girl runs! (Yes, I beat them!) never underestimate a runner.....respect the skirt! Here I am with my nifty major award!

2007 also was the first century ride for me! September 2007 to be exact in Myrtle Beach. Below is the crew in our group before we start.

And I couldn't disappoint.....another port-a-jon picture. I thought it was funny b/c they had "men" written on them...and I used them anyway! OOOOOH, yeah, I went there.

Here we fast forward to December 2007. Charlotte, Thunder Road Marathon. This was lucky #7 for me. And I have my lucky "Charlotte Hornets" sweats on. Below is the crew who ran this rather warm marathon.

Here I am at the finish. It had been a hard long road. I had acid reflux and swore I would NEVER do another marathon. Jeff and Colleen got me to the end.

Move on to March 2008. MAP Tri!

Nothing like dropping your pants and allowing someone to write your age on your leg. I hope I shaved!

Here is Bree, me, and Jeff! We all did the tri!

Like my helmet? It didn't come off until mile 3 of the run portion of the tri. Just in case you are wondering, that is not supposed to happen. But once again, I have a good story!
May 2008 brought me and Hope (my sis) together for another half.

We are at the finish line.....but it is time to start. That should have been the 1st clue that this was going to be a wacky race.

I get stuck in the mud....but it is ok. We are lost anyway!

And Hope seems to be handling it well. She must not have brought enough eat a sign....hey wait, what did that sign say? Goats?

Now on to Charlotte, Thunder Road Marathon 2008.... Why do I continue to run this marathon?

My goal was to break 4 hours. I am at mile 16 acting like I am shooting myself in the head. Do you think I met my goal?
Not today Zurg. I ran a 4:05. A PR by 6 minutes, but no goal met.

Then I went to Myrtle Beach 8 weeks later....and ran a 3:51. Goal met!

Me coming across the finish line at Myrtle Beach, Feb. 14th, 2009 in the pouring down rain!

So now on to try and qualify for Boston.....This would take speedwork over the summer.

I think the spring/summer speed work at the JCSU track has gotten the best of coach Ron.

April 2009 I competed in the Skyline 5k. I finally broke 24 minutes....and my truck.

So on to December 2009 to test out my speedy skills on the marathon. Yes, Thunder Road. This was marathon #10 and the goal was to Boston Qualify.....or at least break 4 hours.

I did neither......Got sick on the course and ended up with a 4:05....again!

But that is OK...I still have Myrtle Beach Feb. 2010.....................

But that was never to happen. A grand snow storm came and in great southern fashion, everything shut down. So the marathon was canceled. We ran anyway.......16 miles to be exact.

Here is the whole crew who came to run.......

So with no BQ or Myrtle beach marathon, I decide to run a half with friends....

March 2010, brings the Corporate Cup 1/2 marathon. Leigh, Ross, Me, Bree, Matt are the crew who run it!

Matt finishes and finds a nice soft sidewalk to lay down on.

So that is the adventures up to this point.....
What have I lost? About 40lbs, any pride I ever had, the ability to take myself seriously.
What have I gained? Many new friends, great pictures, and awesome stories that I will tell to anyone who is unlucky enough to start listening.
I had someone say that I make running look fun. This is because it is fun. The wonderful adventures that await the 20 mile run or the race.....the pushing your bragging rights....all this is fun!
And what is next?
Not sure about this. I am signed up for Myrtle Beach again....Hey, they gave us a 50% discount!
May do Disney Marathon (if I can fork out the $135 entry fee) with Matt.......
But not sure of what else.....but hey, anything for a story!