The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Front Porch Goes POP!

This may comes as a shock to some, but I do more things in life than run.  I know, I know it doesn't seem like it by the blogs I write, but I do.

One of my favorite things to do is change things.  While weeding one day I looked at my front porch and I mean really looked at my front porch.  It was boring.  The kind of boring that would make you want to curl up and sleep rather than sit and visit.  Or ring our doorbell.

See what I mean...

Not exactly thrilling is it?  By the way, I did see you yawn.

My son happen to run by me while playing a mean game of tag with the neighbor kids and his neon green shirt caught my eye.  And it made me wonder - what would my front porch look like with a big ole pop o' color?

I made a quick trip to the home improvement store to look at spray paint.  All those pretty colors on all those spray cans made my senses go into overload.  After staring at them for almost an eternity, I decided on lime green and bright orange.

With my spray paint in hand I stopped by the fabric store and found the perfect match for the cushions I was making for the chairs.

The project now finished, I must say, I really like it.  The front porch now announces our home's personality and the rambunctiousness that comes from a home of all boys. 

Wanna takes bets on how long it'll last before a football knocks down the artwork?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Winthrop Marathon

Kathy and I roll into town close to noon.  The town is small; built around a four way stop created when the state highway takes a turn east.  It is a western town where cowboys are not a marketing ploy but rather a way of life.  Working ranches pepper the landscape.  Cowboy hats and boots differentiate the town folk from the visitors.

After an afternoon of driving the marathon course, checking into the hotel and shopping all three blocks of the western store fronts we settle into a large, carbo-loading dinner at The Barn located at the edge of town.  As part of our $65 registration fee, we are fed a large meal in which no one walked away hungry.  Kathy and I met Trevor (a pastor) and his wife Angie (a nurse) who came from Missouri.  Angie's hope is to qualify for Boston with this race.

By 8 p.m. armed with our race numbers, we began to say our farewells and head to our hotels.  My friend Trevin, who was running his first half marathon, received the bib number 666.  We wondered if this was an omen.

Before retiring for the night, Kathy and I talk of the course, check the hourly weather forecast for the 100th time and layout our race day clothes.  Pre-race jitters have taken over us both and we know we are headed for an anxious night's worth of sleep.  Yet we do what we're suppose to ~ turn out the light and pretend to sleep.

At 5 a.m. I am peeking out the hotel window and praying the clouds have held over.  I am greeted by a brilliant blue sky.  Knowing my body does not do well with running in heat, I am immediately anxious.  An hour later Kathy and I are driving to The Barn where we board buses taking the full marathon runners to the starting line.

Riding up the mountainside, Kathy and I talk with Cat and Janet, two fellow Marathon Maniacs hoping also for a sub-4 marathon.  We talk of everything and nothing to pass the time and calm race day jitters.

Once at the start, Kathy and I break off from the others to do some light running to warm up our muscles.  Coach would be so proud.  We follow the trail up the hill and I notice my breathing seems to be labored.  This confuses me and I wonder if it is due to the starting line being at 3100' elevation.  I push it out of my mind.

We stand atop a forest road's steel bridge.  Melted glacier water rushes below us bringing a sound of serenity to those of us standing there.  Brief instructions are given and someone yells the command, "GO!".  After months of preparation, the race has finally begun.

A downhill start quickens our pace.  Kathy checks her watch to ensure we stay on our desired pace and stick to our plan.  Mile two approaches and I tell Kathy I feel I'm breathing too hard.  She assures me we are right on pace.

The forest road winds along the crystal clear Chewuch River.  I am unsure if I have ever run in a place more beautiful.  The large trees give us shade, yet the sun sparkles on the river.  Split rail fencing border private property, old salt-box farm houses stand amidst bright green fields.  The land gives the impression neighbors still have conversations with each other while leaning against their fences and sipping their coffee.

An hour after the start, we have lost 800' of elevation and I begin to feel my legs turning to jello.  My breathing is still labored and I know oxygen is not getting to the muscles I need them to.  Mile 9 comes and I can no longer hold onto the pace we are doing.  I tell Kathy to go ahead.  She stays on my shoulder.  Knowing how important this time goal is to her, I tell her I can not go on and I stop to walk.  Kathy pulls ahead.  After a handful of walking steps, I continue to run knowing now I will not hold her back from her goal.   It kills me to not be beside my friend, but I could not live with the fact I had held her back.

Mile 10 comes and my legs are playing havoc on my mental game.  The day is warm and the shade is less.  My average pace is slowing, yet I hang onto the goal time of making 3 more miles to where the half marathoners will start.  Getting a high five from Trevin will give me a boost that I need.

The water stop gives me a break and I work on collecting my mental stamina.  My watch confirms my goal is not going to happen, but a PR is still in the works.  Hitting the half way point I see there are no runners and I have missed the half marathon start by three minutes.  A part of me is crushed.

Trees no longer line the road to give us shade.  A bright sun hangs in the sky robbing me of my energy.  Mile 16 greets me with a hill and ushers in the next 10 miles of rolling hills.  My watch confirms what I did not want to see; a personal best is not going to happen.  Emotion floods over me ~ an odd mixture of sadness, determination and anger.

My hopes and goals sizzled away on the hot pavement of the East Chewuch Road.  Stretching on the side of the road is a young man to be in his late 20s to early 30s.  I ask him if he's alright and if he needs some salt.  He declines my offer and tells me the heat is killing him.  He takes off at the fast pace I could tell he was capable of.

A water stop lays ahead and I see the young man walking.  It doesn't take long and I catch up to him.  "Come on, we walk the up hill and run the downhill."  He says, "ok" and falls in line right behind me as we run the downhill.  We both grab cups of water at the aid station and continue down the course.  He no longer follows my lead.

The course turns onto a road in town leading us to a 3 3/4  mile out and back section.  I wonder if I will see Kathy and then hope I don't as I know if I do it meant she didn't meet her goal.  In less than a mile I see her coming towards me.  We meet in the middle of the road and give each other a hug.  She leaves me and heads toward downtown and her finish line.

Not much longer I come to the turn around, high five the volunteer and head toward the finish.  A 25 mph head wind greets me.  First the sun, now the final two miles will battle the wind.  I am spent.  My mental fortitude crumbled.  It is in these final two miles where my struggle wins.  I think about the other races I have this year and wonder if I have the strength to do them.

In what seemed like an eternity I finally see the finisher's shoot.  Trevin is cheering me in, while Perry is snapping pictures.  Kathy stands next to James, the race director, waiting for me to cross the finish line.  James gives me a double high five, Kathy gives me a hug.  It is finally over.  The clock reads 56 minutes later than my goal time.  I am heartbroken.

Neither Kathy or I thought the race would have turned out the way it did.  In talking with runners at the finish line, not one had a good race.  Not one.  The sun became the clear winner.

A few days removed from the race, there is still some sadness (which I talk about here). The future holds more races and more opportunities.  Although this race is by far the most difficult for me to get over, I am blessed to be surrounded by my family and friends who refuse to let me give up. 

Sometimes in life you need to rely more on the belief loved ones have in you than you do in yourself; that belief gives way to hope and in turn births determination.  Then you wake up one day and find yourself standing at the starting line of another marathon saying, "Yes I can."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hopes and Heat

To say I struggled in writing this is simplifying the post. As I type this opening line I am still unsure if I'll publish it.  Yet, this is a blog about running, struggles and honesty regardless of how brutal they are.

In signing up for The Wintrhop Marathon I knew it was to be my race.  The course is beautiful (preventing boredom) with a large net elevation loss boasting huge PRs to those running it in previous years.  A small race with big extras ~ I was fed the night before and after the race which also included free beer ~ all at no extra cost outside of my $65 registration fee.  

Coming back from injury, my training started out cautiously.  Once I saw the healing had taken place I ramped up in preparation for a very strong race.  My speed got faster and I had some of the strongest long distance runs I've seen.Two months before the marathon I set a 30 second 5k PR. 

Months leading up to the marathon I monitored my eating and increased my rest.  Everything I could do to prepare for this race, I did.  Lasered in on my goal I knew it was mine to take.  Never in my life had I felt more ready, more determined or more focused on this goal.  I was ready.

Peeking out the hotel window at 5 a.m. there was not a cloud in the sky.  It was going to be hot.  I do not do well running in heat.  AT ALL.  I sharpen my mental game.

Before the race, Kathy and I did our normal pre-race routine which included light running to warm up our muslces.  Here I felt a struggle to breathe and was taken aback by  this. Allergies?  Elevation?  I am confused.

The race proceeded and although the day got warmer I held right on pace until mile 9.  Mile 9.  I backed off my pace in hopes to have a strong finish despite losing my goal time.  By mile 16 my watch told me a new PR wasn't in the works.  And that is where anger collided with disappointment and sadness.

The raw emotions I feel are many, yet one stands out overwhelmingly, and that is sadness.  Don't be mistaken, this is not feeling sorry for myself and it is not self-pity.  I am standing neck deep in the heartbreak of a goal hoped for and pryed out of my grasp by the heat of the sun.

Just as in the race I put one foot in front of the other and I will continue to do so with my training.  There are other races this year and more training to do.  My motivation is gone and I am mentally exhausted.   Not one to ever curl up into a ball and give up, however I do feel as if I am sitting on a curb emotionally and physically spent.  My crossed arms perched on my knees cradling my head which rests on them. I am sitting on the curb and have no desire to get up from it.

And that's ok.

One day the spark of motivation will come and it will be the extended hand I need to pull me up off the curb and start my training again.   Until then I'll lace up my shoes, run, and heal.