New goal and focus on the horizon

Running has been my stress relief, saving grace, way to meet people and my alone time. It’s pushed me way beyond physical and mental limits. But right now, it’s just plain hard.

Over the past year, I’ve been in a slump and feel like I’m back at square one- those days that I just started running. I started training for Grandma’s Marathon and while it’s been tough, my only goal has been to finish each long run and get as many weekly training runs in as possible with a busy work schedule.

This weekend, I set out to run 20 miles, the pivotal run of any marathon training program. At mile 5, I knew I couldn’t go much further. I felt like I was literally dragging my left leg. I called it a day and decided that I’d try again on Sunday. I hurt.

Saturday afternoon I went to visit my massage therapist, Carrie. Her advice was to not run. I know that if I plan to race on June 17, not running is not an option. The muscles in my butt are hard and over stretched- no knots this time. Carrie said she’s only seen this one other time in another client. I left physically feeling a bit better but mentally, I was wrecked. I feel like I’m going to have to make a decision on whether or not I’m going to continue to try to run Grandma’s Marathon, and I’m dreading that decision, so I’m putting it off for now.

Sunday I knew that once again that I wasn’t going to be able to get 20 miles in, but thought I’d venture out for an easy 6 and see how I felt. Long story short, the pain got the best of me and I called my husband after 4 miles and asked him to come pick me up.

I rested Monday and Tuesday and today I went back to my new chiropractor. He confirmed that the muscles in my butt are super inflamed and adjusted my pelvis, back, neck, and ankles. He gave me the go ahead to run, but suggested I wait on strength training until after the race.

When I got home tonight, I hit the treadmill and struggled through 3 miles. Three, very rough, miles. My butt feels a lot better after the chiro appointment, but still pretty sore. I’m currently sitting on an ice pack.

If I only had one word to describe this training cycle, I would say “discouraging.” I almost gave up on training several weeks ago. My mom asked me to stick it out for a few more weeks and to get a few more long runs in and then decide. It’s not quite what I was hoping her to say, but I appreciate her extra push. Especially when I reached my 16 and 18 mile runs. She had another piece of advice that I took seriously.

She told me that she could tell that I was really getting down on myself and instead of focusing on my own goals, maybe I should consider helping others reach theirs. It’s been in the back of my mind to start a running club in my small town, but it wasn’t until she said this that I really took it to heart and knew it was time.

I’m currently laying the ground work to start the Ottawa Running Club in July. The group will meet at the local Rec Center on Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings. I’m really excited to help others run their first 5K or their 100th marathon. I see lots of runners out and about in Ottawa, but no running group currently exists. I miss running with friends and think this might just be something that re-ignites my love for running. I believe in doing things that energizes and not drains you. I believe that with my career, volunteer opportunities, relationships and hobbies. Right now, running for myself is draining, but thinking about the future of the Ottawa Running Club excites and energizes me! If you’re in the Ottawa, Kansas area, please come join me!
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In the meantime, I’ll keep alternating heat and ice on my buttocks and try to figure out what I’m going to do about the marathon… Stay tuned!

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Being okay with where you are in your journey

It’s no secret that running has been a struggle for me recently. This weekend I ran my worst half marathon ever. My times have gradually been increasing over the past 18 months or so and I often find that my heart just isn’t in it.

Rock the Parkway on Saturday is one of the easiest half marathon courses in the area and the weather was near-perfect, yet I struggled with every stride. I started out feeling very sore and my glutes, hamstrings were on fire in the first mile. I’ve been working hard at strength training with my personal trainer over the past 3 weeks and I could feel the burn. (On a positive note, I think I’m seeing some baby arm muscles poking through.)

At mile 5 I knew that I needed to pick up the pace and I literally couldn’t do it. At mile 8 I wanted so badly to be done. At mile 10 I got a thoughtful text from my mom and cried. At mile 11 I texted her back and told her I was in a lot of pain and was feeling devastated about my projected finish time. At the finish I took a photo with my medal and put a fake smile on my face.

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I should have felt proud for completing my 15th half marathon. I should have been thankful that my body allowed me to travel 13.1 miles that morning. Instead, all I could think was that I ran the same race 28 minutes faster just a couple years ago.

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I’ve been having a hard time letting go of the past. I need to forget my past PRs and race times and focus on the now. I so badly need to let go of where I could be, and be okay with where I am and concentrate on where I can go from here.

After the race I walked to my car where I cried and felt sorry for myself. That is, until my mom sent me some words of encouragement and recommended that I take a step back from my worn running and consider how I can help other runners. Helping others is always more rewarding, right? I talked about this later in the day with my friend, Val, as we spent some time riding through pastures on the side-by-side and enjoying a few beers. It was good for the soul. My heart was happy when I left. I now have some ideas of what my running future looks like, so stay tuned for more info!

On Tuesday, I travel to my alma mater to speak to graduating Communication Arts seniors and give the keynote address for their banquet. I’ll be sharing my “Life Lessons Learned Through Running,” and will post my speech for all of you next week!

Getting my mind right

I’m aboard the struggle bus and I’m desperately trying to get off!
We’ve passed my stop! GET ME OFF OF HERE!

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Every run is a struggle. It doesn’t seem to matter if it’s 3 miles or 12, inside or out, morning or evening… my legs are heavy, my breathing labored and my heart feels like it’s in a thousand little pieces. I used to love running. I used to look forward to it. I used to run at a much faster pace without feeling like I was going to drop dead. Didn’t I? Those memories seem so distant that I don’t remember.

I went into this training cycle thinking that I would have to let go of past marathon experiences, past paces and times, and focus on the present. Focus on finishing.

Even that seems nearly impossible after this weekend’s terrible 12-miler. I cried at mile 4 and thought, “How will I ever complete another marathon?”

In addition to the running, I’m struggling with keeping my eating in check and losing weight. All of these things go hand-in-hand.

I’ve started incorporating more weight training into my schedule, in hopes that it would make me a stronger runner, tone up a bit and keep me injury free for Grandma’s Marathon in June. I am not totally sure what all I should be doing and have relied on Pinterest workouts  to get me through. This week, however, I had my first workout with a trainer. It was a test run. I officially start next week. I’m hoping that she can help me accomplish my goals and help me be more accountable. She’s a marathon runner too, so she gets me.

All of this comes down to my own mindset. Why am I such a Negative Nancy lately? Or Defeated DeEtta?

Today that changes. I’ve been following the T-Rex Runner’s blog and she’s been killing her races after coming back from injury. She’s also been focusing on the mindset piece and finding her mantra during each race. I’ve started listening to running podcasts on the way home just to get myself motivated to put my shoes on and get outside. The podcasts are working and I’m going to try out a new mantra on tonight’s run outside (because it’s beautiful)!

Stay tuned. My bus stop is near. Changes are coming.

 

 

2017 Marathon Training Begins

I went on hiatus from blogging, but I’m back! A lot has happened since I last posted.

In August, I moved back to Kansas and in October, Jared and I were married! We had the perfect day, surrounded by friends and family.

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Rocking my running shoes!

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Now that we’re settled, I’ve begun setting my goals for 2017. On New Year’s Eve, I signed up for Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN. I didn’t run a marathon in 2016 at all and I was feeling pretty down about it, even though I ran 6 half marathons.

So, last week the marathon training started up again. I’ve been running minimal miles since last fall, so I feel ready to start building up those miles. I’ve been hitting the treadmill a lot over the winter and doing interval training and speedwork. I’d really like to work on my pace (I’ve slooooooowed down so much!) but have no time goals for Grandma’s at this time. My goal: FINISH.

It feels good to be back writing again. Stay tuned for some guest blogs, running gear reviews, and some other random thoughts. . .

Injured

As a runner, being sidelined by injury isn’t fun, but if you run long enough, it will happen at some point. Some people are more prone to injury than others, but I’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve experienced IT Band issues, plantar fasciitis and a few aches and pains along the way, but nothing too serious.

At the end of my last race, I was experiencing a tight hamstring which quickly turned into a tight calf and excruciating pain in my Achilles tendon. At first I tried to run through the pain (we’ve all been there). As it got worse, I could no longer run. I took two weeks off before resorting to a chiropractor. The chiro gave me stretches and tried the Graston Technique to loosen my calf muscles.

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With no results, (other than finding out I bruise like a peach) I finally visited with my primary care physician. That’s when I got the news: micro tears in my Achilles tendon and no running for three weeks. That doesn’t seem so bad, and it could certainly be worse, but I immediately asked about what I COULD do during this time.  I planned on marathon training right now. What could I do to burn calories and clear my mind?

The doctor told me I could bike and swim in the meantime. I don’t have access to a pool, so I was down to biking. I assumed I could continue the Bikini Body Guide workouts I got from a friend and I have been doing for some time now as well.

On Saturday, I went on a 20-mile bike ride on an old rail trail. It’s just what I needed. It give me my alone time, gave me a place to listen to nature and the sounds of my own heavy breathing, all while sweating like crazy.

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It’s now been 8 weeks since my last long-ish run and it’s been 6 days without running. Last night I did a combo of the bike, rowing machine, and StairMaster. One of those things has my leg hurting today. I’m looking forward a walk with a friend tonight at my running club meet-up but I’m going to miss the run.

So, for those of you who have experienced injury, what did you do while you were sidelined to keep your endurance up? Please help!

Race Recap: Marine Corps Marathon 2015

WHAT an experience! The Marine Corps Marathons is the most amazing race I’ve ever been a part of.

My brother and my mom arrived in Kansas City on Friday and we headed for the airport to fly to Washington D.C. Our flight was delayed twice but we really weren’t in any hurry so we just chatted catching up on life and talking about all the things we wanted to do in D.C.

We finally arrived to Reagan International and took the Metro to the stop near our hotel. We decided it was just less than an mile and that we could probably walk the the hotel. Bad idea. We each struggled carrying our luggage and reading Google maps on our phone. Finally, Hank led the way and mom and I followed. It was dark. I was frustrated. AND I wasn’t entirely sure we were going to make it.

When we arrived to the hotel, we realized they had a shuttle that picks people up and takes them to the Metro stop. Whoops! Good to know!

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On Saturday we traveled over to the Expo. It had a variety of great booths and I got myself I nice Brooks 1/3 zip pullover as a souvenir. We ate at a lovely restaurant that night and watched the Royals win another game of the World Series!

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4:15 and I began my pre-race activities. Oatmeal for breakfast, applying lots of Vaseline, and packing my rain gear… and by rain gear, I mean a throw-away poncho. 🙂

We were out of the hotel at 5:20 and on our way to the start line. We took the Metro and followed the giant mass of people walking. I stopped at a porta-potty where I spent over an hour waiting in line. Next, we had to get through security. There were only about 6 metal detectors for 30,000 runners PLUS spectators. It was chaotic and we were crammed in a tight space. The starting ceremony began while I waited in line. We saw the paratroopers with giant American flags. What a sight! The race started and I was still in line.

Some runners simply ran through security, until more guards were stationed in the area. While it’s stressful to not be where you’re supposed to, I refused to let this ruin my experience. Thousands of people were still behind me and my time wasn’t going to start until I crossed that start line. So, I took my time.

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I crossed the start line about 15 minutes after the official start. It was amazing to see the Marines lined up. Of course, I took pictures with them!

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One of them told me, “YOU’RE a Marine today!” Wow.

The energy was phenomenal. Patriotic. Loud. Positive. Runners carried full-sized American flags. Some ran in their full military gear. Some ran with photos of their fallen comrades on their backs. With every flag that passed, Marines paused, and saluted. I was in awe.

At mile 8 or 9 I decided I couldn’t pass another porta-potty, so I joined about 15 others waiting in line. Around mile 10 I got to see my mom and brother!MCM15

Mile 12-13 is the Wear Blue to Remember mile. The first portion was a tribute to fallen Marines. Photos and a little about them were displayed on signs on each side of the path.

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The whole route was pretty loud until we hit that mile. At that point, I could only hear the footsteps on the pavement. Chilling.

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The second portion featured the families, each holding an American flag and cheering for us. There was no holding back tears and I began to sob. I had to reign it in because it is VERY difficult to run, cry and breathe! I slowed down and took it all in. Truly amazing. unnamed

I was surrounded by runners the entire way and dodged slower runners for 26 miles. During other races, it often thins out at some point. I got to see my family two more times around miles 16 and 17. Seeing my mom always helps me to keep going. She’s always so positive, smiling and cheering loudly. LOVE IT.

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I wasn’t wearing my watch. I chose not to. Instead, I decided to take it all in and enjoy the race. I knew I was moving slowly but I felt good. My left foot was the only thing giving me problems. Mile 20-21 is the “Beat the Bridge” portion that everyone talks about. It’s a mile long bridge, with no spectators. Again, it grew quiet and more people started walking. After we crossed the bridge spirits were up and I was ready for donuts from Dunkin Donuts at mile 24. The last 1.2 miles felt forever long. Up until this point, I had only walked through the water stops but that last portion I stopped to walk twice before talking myself into finishing it.

In true Marine fashion, the finish line is up a steep incline. I felt it, but I didn’t even care. I was SO excited to almost be done. I pushed through and accepted my medal from a Marine and asked him for a photo.

finishfinsih2Walking through the food line after was pure torture. I just wanted to sit down. I saw my mom and started to cry. Every marathon finish- I cry. All I could say was, “I just want to sit down!” My brother took one look at me and pointed to the curb. He suggested I sit. And I did. I just needed a moment.

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After a bit I was able to walk towards the Metro station and go back to the hotel. That night we had some awesome pizza for dinner and reflected on the day. My mom said that she didn’t even notice people checking their watches like at other races. Everyone was there to BE in the moment and to enjoy the race.

The next three days my mom, brother, and I spent sight-seeing. We viewed Arlington Cemetery, the monuments, American History Museum, Air and Space Museum, Holocaust Museum, Union Station, the White House, a show at the Kennedy Center, the Capitol and more.

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Medal Monday!

Medal Monday!

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It was truly a fabulous trip and I am so happy that my mom and brother, Hank could enjoy it with me. THANK YOU for being the best cheerleaders!

What’s next?
The Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa is only another week and a half away!

One Month from Running with the Marines

I’m only ONE MONTH away from flying to Washington, D.C. to run my 8th marathon. One month!

Today, I dropped down to 12 miles for my weekend long run. I didn’t have anyone to run with today so I hit Sunday Runday. Sunday Runday North is a great group of runners in KC that I don’t usually run with but there’s great water stations along the 8-mile out and back marked course. The first 7 miles flew by. I felt great my pace was great and I was confident this was going to be an awesome run overall.

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Then, all of a sudden, I realized nothing looked familiar. CRAP. So, I began to back track. I never did find the corner I missed, but I run into another runner, who directed me to the closest water stop. GREAT. Nope, I was at the 8-mile stop. By this point, I had ran 9 miles and wasn’t prepared to run 8 miles home. I needed 12. My heart was set on 12 miles. I only wanted 12. 17 miles wasn’t in the cards. Not today.

I was chaffing. I was over it and I just wanted to get back to my car. So, I went off course to look for the most direct route home. One problem- I hadn’t the slightest clue where I was and my GPS wouldn’t pick-up. I called my mom… surely she could tell me which way to go by pulling it up on her computer even though she’s 180 miles away. No answer.

Next, my boyfriend…. No answer.

Enter meltdown here.

I quickly started to think of everyone I knew. Surely, SOMEONE could just come pick me up, right?! The few people I know around here were out of town. The meltdown continues…

I got a hold of my mom who was able to direct me towards home and I walked/run back in severe pain, without water. BUT I made it and I enjoyed the rest of the afternoon at the Royals game with a friend (even though I locked my keys in the car AND lost my car in the parking lot—yep, it’s been a day!).

Next weekend, I’ll run my 23-miler and then begin to taper. Tapering is the most difficult part of training for me. During taper I prepare mentally for what’s ahead. I didn’t taper enough for my last marathon and it didn’t end well. I started the race tired and begged my parents to let me in the car at mile 13. It was by far, not an enjoyable race for me. I’m determined to taper as I should this go around.

Lots of foam rolling lately

Lots of foam rolling lately

I’ve been to D.C. a few times, but my mom and 17 year-old brother are going with me and my brother has never been. So, we’ll do the usual monuments and museums, but if you have any recommendations of things to do, please leave them in the comments!

Speedwork on the track this week

Speedwork on the track this week