revisiting the 2012 LA Marathon

Six months ago I completed the LA Marathon.

I say “completed” because I can’t say I ran it. I ran some of it. I can’t say I walked it, either. I walked some of it. I also stood still for durations of time during it. So, I completed it. In six hours and seventeen minutes.

This race was in no way competitive for me. Calling it a race doesn’t actually make sense for my purpose of the marathon. I had two goals.

1. Raise awareness and funds for Love Without Boundaries, an organization that is doing FANTASTIC work in the lives and families of the poor, impoverished, and orphaned children of China.
2. Start and finish within the timeframe allotted. Cross the finish line with a smile on my face.

The first goal was the reason I signed up for the marathon in the first place. The second goal was established upon realizing what exactly I had done by signing up to run a marathon. Being someone who’s only memory of running is that of loathing the presidential fitness tests in high school because it required running a mile, signing up for a marathon was quite the undertaking.

So, how did I do it?

I bought running shoes. In fact, I bought barefoot running shoes, and to this day I am exceptionally pleased with them. Perhaps a post on my barefoot shoes will come in the near future. I started training in September 2011. I remember managing to jog 3/4 of a mile and feeling fine for the duration of it. And that was actually a surprise. I’ve tried running on and off for the past few years and never could get a feel for it. And there I went jogging 3/4 of a mile with no problems. That’s when I realized that running could actually become something I did, if I wanted it to be.

I credit my consistent, healthy lifestyle: a sleeping pattern that rarely changes, with enough sleep for me to be rested for the next day and eating three healthy meals a day. I also specifically credit eating quinoa at some point every day, and also including chia seeds in a glass of water with my daily breakfast. I read the book “Born To Run,” and was incredibly encouraged by it.

I started following a training plan, and I stuck to it. For two months. I built up to regularly running 3 miles every other day, and my long runs got up to 8 miles before I “deviated” from the training plan. And I suppose that here “deviated” means “stopped.” Life got in the way- a 10 day trip to China, relocation to Florida almost immediately upon my arrival back to LA, visiting PA for Christmas and New Years, heading back to Florida where I didn’t want to be, and finally finding my way back to LA at the end of January. For three months I couldn’t make structure for my days, and without that structure, I was unable to make the time to run. Yes, I could have found a way to make it, but I didn’t have the mental energy to fit it in. And then from February until March 18th, I ran here and there, still enjoying it, but feeling very non-committal because I knew there was still no way I could be prepared for 26.2 miles.

I may not have been a runner at that point, but I was still a walker. I love to take walks- and speed walks at that- and my job offered me the benefit of pushing around two children in a double stroller every day. I did take full advantage of that. I just wasn’t running.

In the week leading up to the marathon, I started reading about other people’s experiences. There are a lot of us out there who have attempted long-distance running with minimal training. I do not condone it, but hey, it has been done. By plenty of people.

The things I learned in these articles and blogs I put into practice on the day of:

I drank water whenever it was offered. I walked up hills. I ate every banana and orange slice available to me. I carried and used Clif Bar Shot Bloks. I walked when I couldn’t run. When I could run, I took it easy. I didn’t allow myself to be competitive (which is VERY difficult for me). I listened to my body and didn’t push myself too hard.

A huge help was running the first half with Jeremy. His knee unfortunately started hurting very early on, and he had to really take it easy. I was dead-set on staying with him and so I went a lot more slowly than I felt I needed to for the first half of the race. He decided to not finish once we got to the half-way mark, and I was feeling so energized and normal that I took off at a decent jog. That decent jog lasted two miles and then my legs decided they didn’t like working anymore- this was something I have never experienced during running, as I usually wimp out because I am tired in the sense of my inner body, not my muscles. Of course, this was to be expected, as I was attempting a very large amount of miles without enough training. So I am incredibly thankful, I suppose, that Jeremy’s knee was bothering him as much as it was. If I had jogged the entire first half, like I wanted to, my legs probably would have given out much sooner than mile 15.

Of course, that still left me with 11 miles to go, and this time entirely “alone.” I alternated between jogging, walking, and stopping to stretch my cramped legs for most of those 11 miles. Towards mile 22 or so, my knee started becoming an issue, so I stopped jogging and walked, very slowly. I was on a stretch of road that had a wide grassy area for the duration of it, so I walked on the grass to lessen the impact to my joints. I started limping; whatever was happening with my knee was not something I was able to stretch out. So I just listened to my body and didn’t push it. After a painstaking two miles of limping, the pain in my knee disappeared, and so I started a slow jog once again. Upon the quicker pace, I somehow realized that if I went back down to a walk, my knee would act up again. So I jogged the last two miles of the marathon. I listened to Sigur Ros’s “Hoppipolla” on repeat. I watched the ocean get closer and closer. I gave random people high fives. And I crossed the finish line. With a smile on my face.

And as soon as I started walking after the finish line, that magical pain in my knee flared up again, and stuck with me until after the 11 hours of sleep I got that night.

Is there a life lesson involved in this? Sure: Be prepared for whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. And if you’re not prepared, at least be prepared to put effort into it.

to run, and watch The Office

Well, March 18th has come and gone. It is 4 days later, and as I run around chasing after the kids I nanny, I can hardly even feel a hint of reminder in my legs that I did in fact run 26.2 miles on Sunday. Quite a few people have already told me that this is what happens when you are 24 years old, and if I were, say, 30 or 40, I’d still be hurting. I’ll consider myself lucky and consider doing it again next year.  Yes, the experience was that great.

I was never actually “hurting” after the race, though I couldn’t walk very easily for the six hours from the finish line to my bed and a glorious 11 hours worth of sleep. I limped along all afternoon as my left knee refused to bend naturally and the rest of my legs wondered why I was still trying to stand up.

I finished 26.2 miles in a whopping 6 hours 7 minutes and 18 seconds. A far cry from the 12.5 minute miles I would have loved to maintain (my pace ended up being 14 minutes and a few odd seconds), but hey — I finished!! Rounding the corner of the last mile to see the Pacific Ocean to the right of me and listening to the Sigur Ros song “Hoppipolla” was hardly short of epic. I may have shed a few tears. And then some more once I crossed the finish line and made a few phone calls. And then some more once I met up with the rest of the Love Without Boundaries team and we all relished in our success and subsequent happiness.

We did it- we raised money for Love Without Boundaries. We ran to raise money for kids who need medical attention, and money got raised. And the beauty of it all is that just because the race is over, the money doesn’t need to stop coming in.

So here I leave my final request in written form for some more sponsors for the beautiful kids over in China who have no family and cannot speak for themselves. I claim myself as one of the voices for these kids, and I ask you once more, if you have seen all my requests on here and Facebook and the like over these past few months and haven’t yet considered donating to Love Without Boundaries, that perhaps today you will? The page to donate on my behalf is still up here (and on the side of this blog) if you’d like to do it that way (these funds will specifically go to benefit Heath and his multiple surgeries), or you can check out the Love Without Boundaries website and find many other reasons to donate.

Here I am after the finish line. Medal in hand, blanket to keep me warm, and my spiffy Love Without Boundaries shirt telling the world why I ran. Thanks for all the donations!

*** *** *** ***

Jeremy and I celebrated the marathon day by watching the season 4 premiere of The Office (a day later, actually, but that’s of no consequence). This episode, first aired in September 2007, is called “Fun Run,” and it is when Michael makes everyone in the office run a 5k for a charity he made up while feeling bad about hitting one of his employees with his car earlier that morning. I found it enjoyable and extra comical to watch after having run my race the day before, and found myself laughing at all the events in the show that I could parallel with my own life at this time-

Carbo loading: Michael eats an entire plate of fettuccine alfredo just minutes before he attempts his 5k. He feels sick to his stomach not too far into the race, and I can’t imagine how hard it would be to run on a full stomach of pasta. Carbo loading for me involved eating a meal with pasta (alongside many varieties of vegetables), once a day for a few days leading up to the race. I also got rid of all cheese and most other dairy from my diet for the weekend of the race (and wine- no need to get anywhere near dehydrated before running a marathon). A plate of fettuccine alfredo is a BAD idea before a run. Nice try, Michael.

Water stations: Michael claims solidarity and refuses to drink any water while he’s attempting his 5k. He ends up in the hospital for dehydration as a result. My experience with the water stations? I walked through every one of them and had at least one cup of water at every mile. The odd miles also had an energy/hydration drink, and I took one of those every time I saw one as well (after doing research before the race to be sure it was not filled with bad ingredients, naturally).

Raising money for a charity: With Meredith in the hospital with a fractured pelvis due to being hit by Michael’s car, he is then overjoyed to find out later that as a result of her hospital visit, Meredith is given a precautionary rabies shot as many animal bite incidents are brought to light. Michael immediately takes credit for “curing” Meredith of rabies and decides that the office will host the 5k to raise money for rabies. An oversized check gets made out to “Science,” and is ceremonially given to a “nurse” who is there on an hourly rate. Michael asks the stripper nurse to be sure the check gets put in the right hands, and the race begins. Thankfully, in my experience I was raising money for an actual cause, and all the donations went straight to Love Without Boundaries. No big checks, no stripper nurses, no ceremony- the money was only spent on the kids.

That basically sums everything up for now. If only races did not cost so much money, I’d be running the Hollywood Half Marathon on April 7th. Until next time, thanks for reading these wandering thoughts of running and the other.

the new year post

Good morning to all on this first day of 2012! I hope you all enjoy this first morning, and that as the days of this year turn into weeks and months, any goals you set last night will be put into effect and met.

I’m not one for New Years resolutions, and to be honest I didn’t even think about them until right now as I am typing this, but my mind is still set on March 18th when I am to be running the Los Angeles Marathon in honor of baby Heath. I am sticking with that goal and will continue to set more as I get into the meat of the year and have a better idea of where my life is headed. Please see the sidebars to the right of this post to read more about how you can help me support Heath through running this marathon.

2011 turned out to be one of those years that makes me laugh, thinking back on it all. I have been put in circumstances that I never expected to be in, and have been living each day one at a time, because that is all there is room for in the thought process of everything that is happening.

July: After traveling home from a trip to Los Angeles and being awake at a late hour of the night that I typically am sleeping, it was jokingly suggested by my mother over the phone that I sign up for the Los Angeles Marathon, with the intent to raise money for Love Without Boundaries. (The “jokingly suggestion” being because I was not a runner.) I was just tired enough to say “ok!” And two days later my name was on the roster. Once again, please see the sidebars to the right of this post, or click here. I would love your support as I pursue this endeavor.

August: Moving from Lexington, Kentucky to Los Angeles, California was one of the biggest changes in my life this past year. I’m a country girl at heart, I prefer a slow-paced lifestyle, and I hate driving in traffic. But to LA I went, and by God’s grace I found a job just a month after arriving.

November: Watching my parents pursue another adoption, and traveling to China to bring Levi home was another huge change in my life in 2011. This was entirely unexpected by all of us, particularly the fact that my parents were called to adopt a 14-year-old boy.

December: Arriving back in Los Angeles from China, I found that my employers decided to move to Florida. Five days later, they were there, and two days after that, I found myself in Florida as well. I never expected that a move to Los Angeles would turn into a move to southern Florida, and I don’t anticipate this being a long-term move, but at the same time only time will tell where I am supposed to be.

With all the unexpected changes in 2011, I’m looking at where I’ll be in 2012 just a day at a time. I’ll keep on steadily training for the marathon, including heading out for a run in just a few minutes. That is all that is certain now, we’ll see what else the year brings as the months go by.

Happy New Year from the Witzers!