Hiking before a Marathon

     This may sound odd but I enjoy a short hike the day before I run a Marathon.  So much so that I've done it the day before 5 of my past 7 Marathons.
It's kind of a newer thing I started last fall, nothing too far, usually only a few miles.   A few times I've hiked through sand or up steep hills that I've actually gotten myself a little sore for race morning.  Oddly enough those times were actually on some of my best race times in the past seven months... Go figure...

I think in a way it's a good way for me to stretch out my legs, and get them ready for the next morning.  But truthfully it wasn't something I originally planned to do, it just started to happen.  I love adventure and I love to explore, traveling to run all of these Marathon's is fun in itself, but spending an extra day or two checking out the surrounding area's makes it even more fun.  Each state I've been to so far has had plenty for me to do and see.  Sometimes I even purposely pick a Marathon in an area near something else I've always wanted to see, I love exploring our country and seeing some of America's hidden treasures.

I'm gearing up for my next Marathon in a week, and beginning my taper down week before the race.  (Most do a longer taper, but because of the amount of Marathons I am doing in a short time, I can only allow for a week of it.)  Generally when I taper, I don't run more than 6 miles a day and closer to the race I even go down to about 3-4 miles.
My Marathon next week is in a hilly and what I believe is a mountainous area, so I am sure I will have plenty of options if I choose to find a pre-marathon hiking adventure to take :)
--Keep Running--

The Perfect Job

     Owning a wedding and event decorating company is the perfect job for me.  I absolutely love working with brides and their families to plan their wedding decorations.  Usually everyone I meet with is so nice and fun to work with.  Occasionally they'll meet with me on days they've met with several other vendors and they can start out being a little stressed out.  But part of the fun of my job is taking away their stresses.  I love hearing after I do a wedding how nice it was for the brides family and how easy I made it for them.  Of course I also love hearing that they loved my companies work.  (who doesn't enjoy a compliment on something they take a lot of pride in?)
     I've been in business since 2007, and I hope that I am able to do this for a long time to come!  It's one of those jobs that is a lot of really hard work and at times many sore muscles (the set up decorating part).  But its also a job that is extremely rewarding in several aspects.

To Run or Not to Run....

     To run or not to run, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is probably a question that everyone from the novice runner, fun runner to the elite runner has asked themselves.
I'm sure all runners have woke up and their body just isn't in the mood to run.  If they manage to get themselves out the door, then every step feels like you have weights attached to your feet.
Sometimes you get going and after a few miles you start feeling great again.  Other times no matter how in shape you are, you practically fight to finish even the shortest of distances.

     It's a tough one for me right now.  Prior to this 50 State Marathon goal, when this question would come up I would either just rest or take it easy.  (sometimes too easy :) 
But right now since I am running a marathon a month or at times every few weeks, I don't really have the old options I once used.  Because once I finish one, I immediately need to start getting ready and keeping the distances up to remain prepared for the next one.

    Some races are easier than others to recover, but sometimes like this past week it's almost like nothing I do can zap my body out of the painful slump it's been in.
Sure, I know the reasoning behind it, running the OKC Marathon in the cold rain took a bit more out of me than a race normally does and I could definitely work on losing some pounds.
But usually I pull a few tricks I've learned from the past out and within a couple of days it's running fun as usual.  Unfortunately the old tricks aren't working this time, so I guess it's time for new tricks.

     I've training and ran 17 Marathons over the past ten years and one thing I have learned is listen to your body.  There is a big difference between "bad pain" and "good pain" and how to run with each.  
I've also got another pain that I like to call "tired pain".  Right now I'm fighting through tired pain of the legs and feet.
I know I technically don't have to go through this and I could take a long break, but frankly I don't want to.  I am having a blast with this goal.
Plus, I've got two marathons coming up over the next month and a half that I am really excited about.  So I really have no other choice I guess but quit my complaining and toughen up and push through the tiredness and hopefully in two weeks (the next Marathon) I'll be back to normal again in time for race day.
So here is to a New Trick, I'm going to try pushing through the "tired pain" and see if pushing it a little more than usual will be just the thing to work.  Time will tell I guess :)   --Keep Running--

"A Run to Remember"

     I ran the Oklahoma City Marathon May 1, 2011, they phrase it as "A Run to Remember" they hold it to honor and remember the 168 people who were killed during the bombing.  The phrase took on a double meaning for myself, as I took time at the beginning of the race during the 168 seconds of silence to think about what had happened at that site (Even if I was in the port-o-pottie for most of the moment of silence, hey when you gotta go :).  But as the race began, it also became a run I'll always remember due to the weather conditions that I was able to experience.
     26.2 Miles of constant light to heavy rain, mild to heavy winds, temps between 46-42 degrees, sleet like rain and hail and cold stream like streets at times with several inches of water to run through.
Believe it or not, even after all of that I actually had fun, and enjoyed the race and the experience.  I ran the entire race in a yellow windbreaker jacket and black garbage bag, pink Nike hat and black shorts (yes I was styling :).  Thankfully I planned ahead and dressed what I felt was perfectly, even if it won't win any fashion awards.  I also grew to appreciate my Saucony shoes, and my pink socks they were worth every penny of the price paid for them, as they released the water from my feet as much as possible, giving me not even a single blister, hot spot or lost toenail.

     At one point around mile 12ish, it stopped raining for about 10 minutes and was just windy.  Believe it or not, I actually thought to myself "darn I wish it didn't quit raining, I was actually almost enjoying the drenching conditions."  (No, I don't actually want or ask for misery, but the conditions hadn't really taken their toll on my by that point.)
Little did I know what was coming a few minutes later, what I felt was a colder storm, stronger winds dropping the temperatures.  Heavier rain, sleet like rain, and off and on hail storms.
Between miles 17-18, the conditions were starting to take their toll on my body.  I was struggling to keep warm, but I kept on using tactics that I had learned from the previous 16 Marathons I had ran to help me get through it. (Thank goodness for experience!)

     The last mile of the race, I wanted at least one picture of me in the race and I hoped that a camera team would be at the finish, so taking my now frozen fingers, that were so cold that it took everything I had to get them to move somewhat, to struggle to unzip my jacket, pull my big number on the shirt underneath straight to show, then push the garbage bag up around my neck for the picture.  (Hey I ran 26.2 miles with that black bag, that probably saved me from hypothermia, I was having it in the picture, and taking it home with me to scrap book in my race book.)  I've never before experiences my hands being that cold, it was discouraging not being able to move them to do what I needed them to do.

     I made it, and loved it, I wouldn't trade a single mile of it!  Sure I'd of loved to finish it a bit faster, but even that didn't really matter because I got the opportunity to experience something new and different in a marathon.  I think it even toughened me up, every time the conditions worsened, I enjoyed trying to push a little harder through it to make it through.

    The race wasn't complete misery, there were several things along the way that I enjoyed and appreciated.  The volunteers, had such great attitudes.  They may have been dryer and warmer than the runners, but it still couldn't have been completely fun for them, but I didn't see any sign of negativity, they were so happy and supportive to all the runners, I was very impressed with so many of them! 
The scenery was also great we ran through some beautiful neighborhoods, believe it or not Oklahoma isn't as flat as one would think.  (Or at least I thought, it's also not as field and prairie like as I thought it would be.)  It's beautiful and green, even rolling hills I'd say most the hills are during the last five miles of the race.
I also loved listening to the thunder roll in.  It sounded different than in Utah, in Utah you hear a crashing of the clouds and then you hear it roll on a little and echo some.
But in Oklahoma, you hear the thunder crash, and then the sound rolls on and on, and on into the distance.  I really enjoyed listening to it!

Great race, I am thankful to some new friends who suggested it to me!  I'd highly recommend this race, it is for a good cause, and it's well organized and on a non rainy day you'd probably say it is a fast course!  OKC, is a beautiful city, full of many murals and art of their states history.  If you go, you need to see the Oklahoma City National Memorial.  Fun eating establishments and shopping in Bricktown, and I highly recommend the National Cowboy & Western Museum (Aside from the race, it was my favorite place to visit.)