Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ogden Marathon 2012

I ran a marathon.  It was amazing beyond belief.  I want to remember every moment of the run, so here's a recap.

I went to bed way too late gathering my things, couldn't get to sleep because of pre-race jitters and my brain imagining every possible scenario of race-day, and then my alarm went off at 3:20 a.m.  I hopped in the car, picked up my sisters, Steph & Lori, and my girl, Kalie, and drove to Ogden where we met up with the masses of other crazy early risers who make us feel so much less crazy for putting ourselves through all of these early running hours, cold temperatures, and running pains.  We loaded a bus and drove to the start line.  As we drove further and further and further, I kept wondering how in the world I was going to be able to run all the way back.  What a long ride!

We waited in the 36 degree weather at the start line for about an hour before the race started.  I was so badly shivering with cold and nerves that I decided to keep my jacket during the run, a decision I regretted two miles into the race when the sun came out and I had my jacket tied around my waist for the entire run.  I would have ditched it on the side of the road had it not been my absolute favorite jacket.

The minutes close to 7:00 rolled around, and we made our way with the masses to our individual pace groups.  Saying goodbye and good luck to Kalie and Lori made me nervous, and I ran every step with them on my mind, wondering how they were doing.  I lined up with Steph with the 4:15 group.  Then we were off!

As we began running, I was struck by the beauty of the experience.  The early misty morning air.  The rocky hills around us.  The masses of bouncing runner's heads that completely filled the road ahead of us as far as I could see.  It was all so beautiful!

My strategy for the run was to stay by Stephanie's side.  This was her 4th marathon and I relied on her experience to get me through the training and race day.  She was my vet and my rock.  I cannot imagine running 26.2 miles without her.

My fueling strategy was to carry a clif bar and sport beans in my hands, munching them along the way.  Steph and I were also going to walk through every water stop to hydrate.  I ate so much that morning because I was terrified of running out of energy!

At mile 2, I admitted to Steph that I my hip was hurting with every step I took, but I was going to try not to complain about it.

At mile 7, we ran a section of road that wound around a field of horses.  We could see a stream of runners ahead of us, and the horses were running with us.  They came right up to the fence by us, looked at us, and then raced off ahead, as if to say, "You runners are awesome, but we're still faster than you!"  They looked like they were having so much fun!

The time began to move, and I was surprised at how quickly the miles ticked off.  The first 13 were practically a breeze.  We kept the 4:15 Pacer's balloons in sight until we stopped at the bathrooms at the halfway point.  We made a quick stop, but never saw those darn balloons again.

It was at that point, as we started up again, that I realized how much pain I was in.  My whole body was tired and much more sore than I hoped I would be this early in the race.  My injured leg hurt so much to start running again that I probably should have stopped.  But I didn't want to.  So I kept running.  I knew that if I could just get going that I would be able to finish.  I just couldn't stop to walk again.  That meant that I jogged slowly through the remaining water stops, and I sloshed Poweraid down my face and clothes every time.

Mile 17 was one of my hardest.  It was hilly, sunny, and seemed to go on forever.  During this mile, we chatted with a guy who was running his 41st marathon, his 3rd this year.  He is doing another one in three weeks.  It was an inspirational little push to get me to the 18 mile mark.

We passed the 18 mile marker, crossed the dam, and headed down the canyon.  It was beautiful beyond belief, but Steph and I both found it difficult to swith to downhill running.  My quads started burning at this point.  Steph didn't say anything about it, but her knee started to really hurt her with the downhill.  Good thing it wasn't very steap for very long.

I did a little dance inside when I passed the 20-mile mark.  It had previously been the farthest I had ever run.  Everything that was left was a PR in my book.

At mile 21, I found myself thinking, "I am almost done with my first marathon!  I cannot believe that I only have 5 miles left.  I can't believe I'm almost done."

At mile 23, we came out of the canyon and ran on a hilly greenbelt the last three miles back into Ogden.  Steph began to tire out.  She continued out plan to walk through the water stops.  I couldn't stop running, and found myself getting a few steps ahead of her.  I thought about continuing on without her to the end, but stopped myself.  We were in this together.  We had run every step together, and we were going to finish together.  She caught up, and we continued on our way together.

The route from here to the end was packed with people on the sidelines cheering on the runners.  Our names were printed on our bibs, and it was such an awesome little boost to hear someone I didn't know call out my name and cheer me on individually.  They have no idea how much they helped me to the finish line.

Mile 25 was the hardest and the longest.  I had carried food in my hand the entire way and still had a bag of sport beans and a small clif bar.  My hands were swollen, and I thought about tossing them at the 25-mile water stop, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  What a waste, I thought!  But at 25.5, I just couldn't hold them anymore.  I tossed them on the side of the road!  And then I cheered myself for making a frivolous and wasteful decision!

The course turned the final corner, and I rejoiced when I saw the finish line.  Steph and I crossed the finish line hand-in-hand at 4:25.  It was 10 minutes off our goal, but I knew that we had both given everything we had, and I am as proud as can be of that finish time.  I had a feeling of overwhelming glee to have just finished my first marathon!  Amazing!

Then I made it through the little finisher's shoot to the grassy area, lied down on the grass and didn't move for an hour while we waited for Lori to come in.  During that time, I got the chills (a lot like I do after I have a baby...in fact, I can compare the whole experience to labor!), and my whole body set up.  My legs have been more sore than they ever have been in my life (do you remember the burning quads on the downhill?), and my silly injury is pretty bad.  I fought nausea from the pain of walking and ended up in the medics tent, which made me feel like a total pansy.

I also got really emotional.  It took so much out of me that I couldn't think about the experience, my sisters and their hard work, Kalie and her successes, my friend Lindsay who showed up to cheer me on (even though I never found her) without choking up.  It is a truly soul-reaching experience.

But I finished.  I'm glad I did it, even though the past three days of recovery have been some of my hardest ever.  Thank goodness for my wonderful parents who have watched my children while I have been practically immobile!  I think I would have always wondered and regretted it if I had decided not to do it, even though it definitely wasn't the best thing for my leg.  I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.  Thank you to everyone who made it possible for me.
And I can't wait to do another one.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Marathon Tomorrow!

Well, because I know you're all dying to know, here's a little update before the marathon tomorrow.

Did I just say "tomorrow"?  I did, didn't I?  Oh, gosh, that's scary. 

Okay, moving on.

It has been a tough couple of weeks.  I was so sore last week.  I literally limped for most of the week, with shooting pains up into my groin every time I took a step or stood directly on my left leg.  Difficult to take care of the kids, put on my pants, care for my house, or anything else.  I cried all week long, seeing this goal of mine being taken away from me after working so hard because of something that I didn't understand.  And poor Spiff, since he was working nights all week long, I only saw him for about 5 minutes each day, and I cried at him for all 5 minutes every day.

Gunner asked me what was wrong one day.  I told him that my leg hurt, and that I didn't think I would be able to run my marathon.  The sweet guy replied, "It's okay.  It's going to be okay, Mom.  I'm going to run your marathon for you."

I love him.
Anyway, I saw a sports medicine doctor on Monday.  He did some ex-rays and an exam.  It was inconclusive.  He didn't think it's a pulled or torn muscle.  He couldn't see anything on the ex-ray.  He did say that he thinks it's probably the beginnings of a stress fracture in my hip bone, but it's new enough that it doesn't show up on the picture.  Scary thought, the stress fracture.

He did tell me that I can run the marathon as long as I'm smart about it and am listening to my body.  Too much pain = stop running.

I went on a short test-run yesterday.  It was okay.  I didn't feel perfectly better, but I wasn't in pain.  Mostly just stiff.  And I have felt okay since then.  So, I'm going to run tomorrow, and I'm hoping for the best.  I feel weird going into it not having really trained for the past three weeks, and knowing that there is a good possibility that I won't finish.  But I'm going to give it my best shot, try to be in tune with my body, and hope for the best.

My sweet sister-in-law has been so nice to me through all of this, calling and checking up on me, etc., and she dedicated her latest blog post to me yesterday.  It made me smile.  Thanks, Mhana!  And if I end up dropping out, I will be expecting that shirt.

Wish me luck!  Here we go!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Bad and the Ugly

Spiff is on his second surgery rotation right now, and he is working nights this week. Nights shifts are hard on the whole family. The pressure to be quiet all day so daddy can sleep is very stressful for me and the kids. And Spiff is so tired. Poor guy.

Hobbes is not sleeping at night these days. Again. Sleep training is miserable every time.

Gunner is recovering from Spiff's family togetherness reunion and a second fun weekend spent with my family. He is so tired, and he is reaching new heights of grumpiness and defiance.

We're moving in 5 1/2 weeks, and I haven't had the energy to even think about packing.  I don't want to pack up my house again.

My marathon is in a week and a half, and I'm battling a new injury. I rested for a week, without many healing results. I am frustrated, disheartened, sad and afraid. My whole training has gone so well up until now. In fact, our last 20 mile run was the best run of my life. And now I am in constant pain. I want to run this marathon. I can't fathom the thought of not doing it. My goal from the beginning has been to run well, feel good, and finish strong. Now I am facing the possibility that I will be running with pain, and that I might not be running at all if I can't get better in the next week. It is killing me, and I am constantly praying for a miraculous recovery as I limp around taking care of the kids.

And I feel like I'm coming down with a cold.

Hard days right now. Blah.  Anyone have any words of encouragement for me?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Mhana's Purse Cake

I made my sissy-in-law this purse cake and shoe for her birthday.  We had a rare occasion to celebrate her day together, so I went all out on the cake.  Fun, huh?!  It was so fun surprising her with it.  She loved it and it made all of the effort totally worth it.  I have posted pictures on facebook, but I wanted to write out a few of the details, in case anyone is interested, but mostly for my reference.

The Cake:
Mhana requested chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  I used this recipe for the cake.  It's a recipe to gussy up a regular box cake mix and make it more sturdy and easier to shape and carve.  The recipe calls for vanilla-flavored everything, but you can use any flavor w/ the corresponding pudding flavor.

I filled the cake layers with chocolate buttercream frosting. (You just have to scroll down and look for the powdered-sugar-based buttercream recipe.)  One weird thing: the recipe calls for 3 T. vanilla!  Do not use 3 T. vanilla!  It will change the texture of the frosting entirely, and then you'll have to add twice as much powdered sugar to fix it.  I only put in 1 teaspoon, and it was fine. 

I topped the cake with chocolate ganache. (Again, scroll down and find the ganache section.)  It was my first time making ganache, and I will definitely try it again.  It's very versatile.  It can be poured over the cake while it's thin and warm, spread over the cake while it's slightly cooler, or used as filling between the layers when it is even cooler.

I used this tutorial to make the purse cake.  She gives very detailed instructions on how to do it, and it's a whole lot easier than I thought it would be.  I wish mine looked as good as hers, but for my first one, I don't think it turned out too bad at all.

The cake is covered in marshmallow fondant.

The brown details on the purse are made of modeling chocolate, rolled into pipes.  My sister made the flowers.

The Shoe:
I found a pattern I liked online, printed it out, made the heel, then rolled and cut out the pieces of modeling chocolate.  Then the pieces are place together in the shape you want them using water to hold them together.  Piece of cake!  Well, it would have been if my modeling chocolate had set up like it should have.  It never really did fully set, although I don't know why.  Too much corn syrup and not enough chocolate?  I don't know.  But I did create a very elaborate support system for the shoe to sit on and dry for several days before giving it to the Sis.

What I learned:
Making cakes it time consuming.  I liked it, but I will like it even more if I am more prepared next time.  I will read up on any techniques I want to use in advance, and I will make the fondant, modeling chocolate, ganache, and frosting several days ahead of time.

Gunner got into the cake-making spirit while I did this.  He played "Cake Boss."  He squished and rolled out fondant like play dough, and he made a Shark Cake.  It was really just three oval-ish pieces of pink fondant squished onto the table, but to him, it was a monster-sized Cake-Boss-Style cake with a life-sized moveable shark coming out of the center.  It was pretty awesome.  The kid's got talent, for sure.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Short and Sweet

Gunner came running in from playing outside at my sister's house tonight after falling and hurting his nose. He was scraped up, bleeding a little, and very upset. After cleaning him up, comforting and calming him, I asked him how he got hurt.

 His reply: "I was climbing the porch fence, and it had strong powers and bucked me off."

 I sure do love him and his cuteness.