Back from running sabbatical

I ran a total of 42.2 miles in January. After some high-mileage months (for me) with 80, 90, even 100 miles, I really needed a break. I was mentally exhausted from training and final exams and justย stuff, and realized that “sleeping in” (ahem, 7:30 am) and enjoying coffee in the morning was all it was cracked up to be. Amazing. Folgers or Starbucks, it really didn’t matter. I don’t know if I put on any pudge during my “sabbatical”… if I can call it that. I only took a true and complete break from running for nine days. Nueve.ย I’ve also been relishing in the fact that although this is my last semester of grad school, it’s way less demanding than others. And we’re also down to the last little bit of deployment, so it’s been a nice break over all. Thank God.

This week I ran 15 miles, which is 15 more than I ran last week. I meet up with my twin Elizabeth and we ran twice in what is left of winter in the desert. This morning Iย really didn’t want to get up and run, but 50K (!!!!!) training starts next week and I wanted to have something going into it.

50ktrainingplan

Shoot. This is gonna be intense. However, I amย loving the timed runs. My goal is to finish the 31 miles. To get up and over those mountains. Most likely during the week I’ll run out the door having a mileage goal, but the time guidelines put it all in perspective.

I think the differences of this training plan versus a novice-intermediate marathon plan are that I have an hour-long run the day AFTER the long run. Usually the day after a long run is like FREEDOM!! and rolling, icing, whatever. The other difference is that the long runs go up to a marathon. I have no doubt that these differences are for making your body get used to running on tired legs. I like the hill workout in the middle of the week; I can easily incorporate that into my schedule by hitting up McKelligon Canyon or other choice locations on the other side of town. Heck, even the treadmill will get ‘er done.

jemezmtntrail50k
Jemez Mtn Trail 50K Map

The hands-down greatest thing about this race is that my husband and I are training (mostly) together. Not sure about runs during the week, but long runs will be attacked in full force by the W’s. It’ll be great. I’m excited to show him some of the routes I’ve been running around town, and share in chasing down the sunrise. We’ll also be able to hit the trails on a regular basis; I tend not to go out there on my own. We are already planning on a couple of training weekends in the mountains of Ruidoso. ๐Ÿ™‚

2013 was a great year for running, just downright fantastic. Probably my best yet. I was at the peak of my physical running fitness at the Turkey Trot 5K. It felt so good to be at that point after months of training and pushing myself out the door before the sunrise. But I undoubtedly needed a break from the rise-and-grind.

Consequently, I dropped down to the half from the full (coming up on February 23), and with 50K training startingย this week, I’ll use the race as a training run. My 13.1 PR is 2:19:17, which was achieved after doing about the same amount of “training”, so we’ll see what happens. I can’t really compare the El Paso Half to the Transmountain Half… I won’t be running over any mountains this time.

I never ever thought that when I started my running journey four years ago that I’d really be able to run an ultra before I turned 30. It was a goal that was so crazy but here we are, two years before 30 (I’ll be 28 in April) and it looks like I’ll be able to cross this off the list! I’m gonna take it day by day and not get down on myself about pace. I’m just gonna trust the training and then enjoy the results of my labor.

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The year of no resolutions

As I get older, or maybe it’s just as I get wiser (ha) I realize how much I don’t like committing to multiple things for a really long time. Obviously I’m committed to my marriage, that’s kind of a big deal, and I’m committed to Jesus, grad school, and a lifetime of fitness. But pretty much everything else is up for grabs.

Something I’ve really been working on during this deployment is taking things day-by-day. I’ve always been a planner, a ridiculous, meticulous, INSANE planner. In some parts of my life it’s been a blessing to be that way, but in the rest of it, it’s just a pain in the butt. Like, a big one. Being that way has caused me to plan away all my vacation time, with a lot of the reason being that I’m afraid people will be mad at me if I don’t see them. Well, sorry, but I shouldn’t have a guilt trip complex on freaking vacation!

It’s caused me to overcommit to races in my head that I never ended up doing (Bataan last year, a few marathons, etc). And that only leaves me feeling like crap when I’m not running an insane amount of miles for a race I didn’t even sign up for in real life. Again, ain’t nobody got time for a guilt trip.

It’s caused me to get through things instead of enjoy things, as if my life were one giant checklist. Now, I love lists. It’s part of being a planner. But I’d like my lists to become more of a gathering of ideas rather than a “do or DIE” sort of thing.

I no longer want to be overcommitted to things, whether it’s church stuff, social stuff or just…. stuff. Don’t get me wrong; I totally believe that people should follow through with commitments, especially Christians. The world needs less flakiness. My goal is to not say “yes” to things I will have to say “no” to later, and to say “maybe” to things that I’m just not sure about. “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’,” ya know? I mean, it’s totally socially acceptable to not be sure about some event happening in a month. A lot can change in a month, especially this thing called life. But if I do commit to something, I will follow through. I think it sets a good example to myself, to others, to children, to people who have known only flaky people. Let’s just stop with the flakiness.

I’m gonna be honest; this week kinda sucked. While I’m glad to be back in El Paso because it means the semester starting soon and a returning husband on his way, I also miss life in Illinois. Having your heart in two places is just… painful. This week I’ve had nothing but time to myself in my house (I know you wives with full-time husbands and mothers, just any mother, is wishing you could have so much time to yourself in your quiet house) and so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, introspection, and prayer.

This year is the year of no resolutions. I’m not going to commit to not eating certain things, or running a certain number of miles a week, or plan out all of 2014. About the eating, I love eating, and I even like high fructose corn syrup and I can’t promise I won’t eat it sometime in 2014. So there. I’ll get to the running in a minute. And it is impossible for me to plan out all of 2014 because as we’re approaching our 3 years here in El Paso (and husband would like to transfer out of his unit) I don’t even know if we’re moving this year.

About the running. I signed up for the El Paso Marathon as soon as registration opened, because who wouldn’t want a $60 marathon?? I’m about 85% sure I’ll be dropping down to the half. I used so much mental toughness training for Transmountain. I’d never been so diligent and consistent in training for a race before. I kicked butt on that one, and then PR’d my 5K time, which was a 2013 goal. Since then, the holidays happened (need I say more?) and I did keep up with running (10 miles is kinda my fave long distance now) but I have lost all motivation and even guilt to do anything over 13-14. And it gets lonely out there on those long runs, ya know?

What’s more, the other night on the holiday fun run organized by Farrah atย Fairy Healthy Life, I felt some weird tweaks in my right leg, things that have annoyed me a little in the past few months. I definitely don’t want to push my luck and end up injured.

Aaron and I are signed up for the Jemez Mountain Trail Run 50K in May in northern New Mexico, and training for that will pick up at the end of February. I have to have motivation for that; a 50K is no joke. I mean, it’s a freaking ultra in the mountains!

So those are the races I’m committed to for 2014. Only 2. At least 2…

So my New Year’s Resolution? To not overcommit to things. And if I’m gonna commit to something, I’ll make good on my promise. I want to be reliable, not flaky. Oh and the other thing? I’m trying to make my bed every day. So far, so good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A Very Beth Thanksgiving

As I reflect on the Thanksgivings I’ve had since getting married in 2008, I’ve realized that we’ve had exactly one tradition: no tradition. And I kind of like it.

Thanksgiving 2008: I honestly don’t remember what we did, but I know we (my husband and I) spent it with our families. This was pre-layoff, pre-Army, pre-moving. Little did we know how much life would change….

Thanksgiving 2009: Aaron was in training in Arizona, and I flew out to Phoenix to spend the weekend with him. We stayed at this resort Thanksgiving night and had the dinner the hotel offered. It was awesome. We spent the rest of the weekend at a cheaper place, haha. One night at that place was enough for our bank account!

Thanksgiving 2010: Aaron was in Korea, and it was the first set of holidays we spent apart. I spent the day with my family and his, and I remember Skyping with him in my in-laws’ living room.

Thanksgiving 2011: This was our first Thanksgiving just he and I, and it was our first here in Texas. We had signed up for the Turkey Trot, but we decided to skip it to make a huge meal with all the fixins, including my first turkey. We had leftovers for dayyyzzzz.

Thanksgiving 2012: Aaron had just returned from an exercise overseas, so we were so happy to be together. We did the Turkey Trot in the morning (now one of my absolutely favorite things to do every year), and then stayed downtown for the parade. Later we spent the day with dear friends Alvin and Lacey and Lacey’s family just a few miles from our house. It was nice.

Thanksgiving 2013: This is what I have dubbed A Very Beth Thanksgiving. Even before Aaron deployed in the spring, I knew who I’d spend Thanksgiving with, my “adopted” family here in Texas. It was 24 hours of crazy fun. Wednesday night I went to a friend’s house and had a delicious ham dinner with friends from our college/20-somethings small group. Then, early Thursday morning Leah Beth, her oldest son, and I went downtown to run the YMCA Turkey Trot.

race2013

I had my sights set on running a new 5K PR this year, but after I took a little over a week off because I was sick last week, I wasn’t sure how I’d do. I was shooting for 26:30, but I’ll take this! My previous official 5K time was 27:33. I’ve taken nearly 6 minutes off my 5K time since my first 5K in 2010 where I had a time of 32:17. I really think though that if I’m consistent with speed and hill work I can improve even more. I also was hoping to see Farrah of Fairy Healthy Life and we ran into each other!

I PR'd! 26:49 official time!!
I PR’d! 26:49 official time!!

After the race, Leah Beth, Nolan and I were freeeezing from being sweaty. We headed back to their house, destinkified (yes, it’s a word) and finished up dinner. We did not cook our own turkey; instead, we ordered a smoked turkey breast from Rudy’s Texas BBQ. We had a slightly unconventional menu, including fruit salad, cranberry walnut salad, Texas potatoes, corn casserole, Hawaiian rolls (um, duh), apple pie, and Mississippi Mud. I have to say, this is the first holiday where I have not overindulged!

So, we had Leah Beth and her family; me, Elizabeth; and my “Mexican twin,” also Elizabeth, for dinner. We call each other “twin” because even though we have different cultures and first languages, it is freaky how many things we have in common. Seriously freaky. I just love having wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ! We truly are a family away from family.

Elizabeth, Leah Beth, Elizabeth (me)
me, Carson, Elizabeth
me, Carson, Elizabeth

Do not be deceived; our day wasn’t over after dinner. We watched Elf, which I am ashamed to admit that I had never seen. Elizabeth left and Leah Beth and I left to work a shift as “friends and family” at Old Navy. We worked together at a table giving cards to people who had received wristbands as they walked in for a chance to win a million. Most people were really nice and even offered to share a portion of their winnings with us, and we also of course had a couple interesting characters. After our shift was over, we shopped at Old Navy (50% off!) and then went to Target expecting it to be pretty busy. However, since the sales had started so early, at 1 AM it wasn’t busy at all. It was probably the calmest Target experience I’d had here.

photo_1
Working at Old Navy

We got home roughly at about 2 AM and weย crashed. Hard. I’d been up for almost 24 hours because silly me, I had caffeine late Wednesday night and couldn’t stay asleep. The Very Beth Thanksgiving was undoubtedly a Thanksgiving to remember!

As you can imagine, it’s difficult to be half a world away from your spouse anyway, let alone during the holidays. But I’m thankful for a family who’s adopted me as their own (I’m Aunt Biff in that house ;)). Not every military wife with a deployed spouse has that. Several times this week when I thought about how many people I know here who love me and would help me out at any time, I became teary-eyed and felt overwhelmed with gratefulness.

Now the countdown is on for the end of the semester. Monday begins the last week of classes, and then we have finals and then I’m DONE until the third week in January. My favorite aunt comes to visit soon, and then we spend the weekend together here before flying back to Illinois together. Both of my sisters have come to visit me this year at different times, but my family hasn’t been together in one place since last Christmas. A year is a long time to go between visits!

I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving!

Run When: Transmountain Challenge recap.

Run when you haven’t trained in awhile.

When I signed up for the Transmountain training group, I was more hopeful than nervous that it would help push me over the mountain. Aaron had just left and I needed something to keep me accountable, especially for long runs. Every long run was hilly except for when I went to Colorado. I’ve always hated hills, but I ran anyway.

Run when it’s hot and dry.

Desert heat is no joke. 95* and 12% humidity will can make for a slow, frustrating and dehydrating run. But I pushed through and ran anyway.

Run when you’re sad.

My husband’s been gone five months now, and I’ve missed him.. a lot. I’ve been wanting to share this whole experience with him, and he ran his first marathon this month. And I’m sick of sharing experiences with him secondhand. But running is something we have in common (and we’re both ultra-hopeful in 2014), and I ran anyway.

Run when you’re sick.

There were a couple times I was sick and still did the long run, and they were both eight-milers. For one I had been feeling sick to my stomach for a couple days and had only a few hours of sleep the night before. I seriously considered skipping the run, but I woke up on Sunday at 5:15 anyway. I figured since I was up, I might as well run. The other time I was coming down with an upper respiratory infection and at the top of the first hill I had a coughing fit. But I knew the next day I’d get some antibiotics and rest,, so I decided I would run anyway.

Run when you’re on vacation.

I went to Colorado in August and was soooo excited to run at lovely pre-autumn temps at 8,000 feet among trees and mountains and rivers. So of course I ran anyway.

Run when you’re busy.

I was busy with a class and work this summer, and now that the fall has started I am working on, but not limited to: grad classes, thesis, teaching a college class, preparing my teaching portfolio for a competition, and submitting research to conferences. Whew. But I made my mental and physical fitness a priority, got up early, and ran anyway.

Run when you have to start early(er).

There were two Sundays where I had to start at 5:45, and that meant getting out of my house at 5:15. That’s eaaarrrllllyyyy. Even the dog thought I was crazy. But I ran anyway.

Run when you have to do the long run alone.

September 15 I did the Color Run with some girls, which was a Sunday, so I did the long run the day before… a 13-miler on my own. That was more of a mental battle than anything. I finished with a 12-minute pace, and was pretty sure that was a good indicator about how I’d do on the half. I ran anyway.

Run when you feel good.

The last month of my training, I really hit it hard. I kept on top of my mileage, scoring 90 miles in August and 100 in September. I did all my speed workouts at the gym, up to 6.5 miles on a treadmill. I’m not a huge fan of the treadmill, but I ran anyway.

Run when you’re thankful.

Running encourages my relationship with God. It gives me perspective, helps me focus, and reminds me of how our bodies are created for such amazing feats. It gives me time to meditate, think, pray, and take in nature, so of course I ran anyway!

Run when you’re ready.

Sunday morning I woke up with a conservative 2:30 goal in mind. That’s roughly an 11:27 mile. My first half was in January 2012, and it was extremely flat and I finished with a time of 2:19:17. I knew I’d trained way more for this race than I did for that one, but I had a huge 6-7 mile climb in my way this time. But then I thought, my last two long runs were great — the 14-miler (10:51 pace) and the 6-miler (10:12 pace) — so I knew I was more than ready.

transmtn

We started at 7 AM with cloudy skies (thank you El Paso!) and in the low 60’s. Miles 1-4 were up a steady but slight incline. Mile 4 was pretty flat, and then miles 5-6.5 were TOUGH. However, by the time I hit mile 4, I knew I had this whole race in the bag. By the time reached the top (5280 ft) I resisted the urge to lean over the guardrail and scream. I was so excited that I had run to the top without stopping to walk. On virtually every long run, I walked a small portion of the inclines.

miles 1-6

At mile 7, we started the descent. Oh man, people, THIS is the reward I’d worked for for 15 weeks. I FLEW down that mountain and I felt AWESOME the whole way. The mountain really does look different when you’re not zooming past it at 60 mph. During the descent, I picked up a couple PRs along the way: 10K (58:26) and 5K (26:56).

miles 7-13

Mile 13 was HARD. The descent on a paved road through desert scenery had turned into a flat concrete road, and I really challenged myself to run fast. I was doing the math in my head, and knew I had blown the 2:30 goal out of the water, and probably the unsaid 2:25 goal as well. I predicted I’d finish somewhere between 2:15 and 2:20. I crossed the finish line at 2:19:58! I had put that mountain under my feet and finished a race on my bucket list. BAM. DONE. All the training was 100% worth it. Besides the Illinois Marathon in 2011, this was my favorite race so far. Our bodies can do so much more than we think they can. The battle is in the mind.

Run when you have bigger goals in mind.

What’s next? I signed up for the Turkey Trot 5K with hopes to PR. The first week of November I start marathon training for the El Paso Marathon in February. I’m going to add in more strength training, yoga, clean eating, and trail running this time around, and in 2014 I want to run my first 50k or 50mi with my husband. Now, go get you some!

The year of big girl panties: a recap.

My presence on my blog has been scant recently. I come to my laptop tonight from my sewing table. I always seem to think better when I’m sewing… my mind is free and it wanders while my hands are still busy. I’m so fidgety, just like my grandpa.

I doubt I’ll be posting much over the next few weeks; I finish up the semester this coming week, in a little over a week we fly to Illinois to spend Christmas with family, then we come back to Texas to go to the World Missions Summit in Fort Worth. I hope the last few weeks of 2012 go slowly and we’re able to enjoy them as much as possible.

So, the title. In the military-spouse world, when we talk about getting through “grown-up” things by gritting our teeth and putting our whiny ways aside, we call that “putting our big girl panties on”. A silly metaphor, maybe, but you can’t wear Disney Princess underwear forever. At least, I haven’t found any in my size…

This was a year of gritting my teeth and getting through things. It wasn’t a horrible year; I wouldn’t even say it was a bad year. But there were a lot of tough situations that have forced me to mature (we all need that, right??) and trust God more. That’s a generalization though, for sure.

Two-thousand twelve started out with me working a job that I severely disliked. Severely. Life is short, and in my 26 years I like to say that I’ve learned how to make sound decisions, so I decided to quit. I barely had another “job” lined up… nannying. It was enjoyable enough, but definitely something I wouldn’t want to do long term. I love kids. I love other people’s kids, for the most part. But I don’t have kids yet, so it’s safe to say that taking care of other people’s kids when I haven’t yet decided to go down that road just isn’t fun sometimes. However, on a farm in southern New Mexico, I finally learned what was important in life and became content in my situation.

I experienced a couple more firsts this year, namely the death of a close loved one, and the absence of my husband during this time. Actually, the absence of my family during the few days before I flew to Illinois. I would not relive those days or wish them on anyone. Never in my life had I been so anxious and desperate that I couldn’t even muster an appetite, and if you’ve been around me for even a day you know that I love food! It was awful. I am very lucky that I was able to go home and say a proper goodbye.

This year was also the first that my husband and I have gone on separate trips out of the country. While I would have loved to have him with me in Honduras, and I would have loved to go with him (sorry, still have to be vague about where!), it was a good experience to travel on my own. It only feeds my desire to travel somewhere every few months!

And as an ongoing event of 2012, I’ve finally become happy(ier) with my body and also with my fitness and eating habits. I haven’t been tracking my calories or paces for awhile now, and it’s freeing. Having no expectations of my paces makes good races and paces that much sweeter. I was just getting so bogged down with looking at my watch constantly and figuratively beating myself up over it, and then getting on the scale and beating myself up about those numbers. Damn numbers. Done. Done done done.

One of the most freeing aspects of 2012 was that I’ve finally,ย finally,ย FINALLYย surrendered my baby fever. We, my husband and I, came to the conclusion that we are not ready for children yet, despite what people say. What do people really know anyway? They just want to oogle and stalk pictures of your family on Facebook; they’re not thinking of the sleepless nights, poopy diapers, and expenses that come with having children. We want to be a little selfish for awhile still. We want to finish degrees and fly on planes to cool places and just beย us for awhile longer. Our family is complete the way it is now. It’s taken me awhile to be okay with that, but now I am. This pretty much sums it up:

my dog
Thanks, Jess!

…but really. My dog is awesome.

2012 was absolutely 100% essential for my development as an adult. I wouldn’t do it again, but I wouldn’t change it either, at least the things that weren’t outside of my control. 2013 will see a subsequently 27-year-old Elizabeth with her big girl panties on, guns a-blazin’. Strange picture…. but whatever. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Streaking!

…or, as others would call it, the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak. I did another run streak in the summer which spanned 38 days from Memorial Day to 4th of July. I was successful in running 36 out of the 38 days, 83 miles in total (average of 2.3 miles per day). This one is 41 days long, beginning on Thanksgiving and going through New Year’s Day.

This means that we have to run on all the holidays, in Illinois and in Fort Worth when we’re there for the World Missions Summit. When I was home in June I ran every day, so there’s no reason why I can’t do the same thing over Christmas.

I have to say, running and I haven’t really been the best of friends recently, but I get up in the mornings to take Missy for a pre-dawn walk so what’s the big deal in putting on my running shoes instead?

On Thursday we’re doing the El Paso YMCA Turkey Trot downtown, with the parade to follow afterward. I think I should sign up for another 5K shortly after the run streak is over; I PR’d the last day of the summer running streak with a 5K time of 27:08. Can I do it again? We’ll see… Who knows, maybe this will motivate me enough to sign up for the El Paso Half Marathon…

Tour of Central Illinois, and the end of the Run Streak

I’m back in Texas after a 10-day stay in Illinois. The last time I posted was the day before the visitation. I’ve rehashed the details of the following two days so many times in my mind that I honestly don’t want to talk about it here. There are some things better left unsaid.

I still can’t believe Grandpa’s gone. I get this question a lot, “Was he sick?” I know people are just trying to make conversation or show concern, but he was actually supposed to come home a couple days later. He was only 84. That’s young in our family. The man had been through bypass surgery among other things.

I stayed with Grammie for a couple days. I expected him to walk in the door after going to get mail, or walk up the basement stairs after getting some needlework that he needed to show me. His place at the table was vacant, and no one was fidgeting with a napkin or piece of paper. We still sat out on the patio after supper and visited, but it just wasn’t the same. So many things, even in my house in Texas, are a constant reminder.

I was able to go see my Nana (my great-grandmother will be 96 this month!) and my Mimi (other grandmother), and my in-laws took me out for dinner on Thursday night, and then we headed to Farmington to visit with Aaron’s grandparents.

I had a good time with Amelia last Friday. She took me on a “scavenger hunt” as a late birthday present…. we went to the tea room in Mackinaw, to Hollands in Washington to get candy by the pound, painted pottery in Eureka, went geocaching (for the first time!) by the lake there, ate at Lou’s Drive In in Peoria, and then to Les Miserables in East Peoria. I have never seen such an amazing show by a community cast! It was fantastic. Leave it to besties for planning a perfect day!

Saturday I got to see my nieces and nephew, and then went to my aunt’s house for the afternoon. She made my favorite, tuna and noodles, for lunch, and we drank tea out on the patio and then watched some Judge Judy. Sunday I spent mostly at home except for Tim and Leah taking me to the so-classy establishment of Steak n Shake. It just sounded good. Frisco melt, cheese fries, and a milkshake.

I managed to run every day that I was home. I used it as an opportunity to reflect and get some alone time. There were two days I didn’t run in the Run Streak: one day when Amelia was here, and yesterday. It’s hard to tell whether the run streak aided in my 5K PR or not, since I haven’t run a 5K in over a year.

This morning for the Up and Running 4th of July 5K, it was perfect weather… cooler, cloudy and with some humidity. It was a hilly course, being on the other side of town, and my official time was 27:33 (Garmin time 27:08). That’s a 23-second PR from last year, where the course had a gradual incline for the first mile and then it was downhill into the finish line. I am content with my time this year; I ran at 4,000 feet, up and down hills, and I had a 10-day trip sandwiched in there.

Stats for the Runner’s World Run Streak:

TOTAL DAYS RUN: 36 out of 38

TOTAL MILES: 83

LONGEST RUN: 7

What’s next?

October 14 :: Transmountain Challenge (13.1 miles up and over the mountain)

March 17 :: Bataan Memorial Death March 26.2 (Still haven’t decided if I’m going to try to run this or walk and carry a 35+ lb pack. Either way I’m doing it in honor of Grandpa.)