December 14, 2008

Marathon: Accomplished :)

by Maria Torres

Well, I'm about a month late in posting this, but better late than never, I guess. Stacy did a great job of describing the marathon experience, and I don't have a lot to add to her account of it. I will say that completing the marathon feels like one of the biggest achievements of my life so far. I will be forever grateful to Stacy, who motivated me to scratch off one of the items on my "bucket list", as Justin put it. As corny as it probably sounds, the marathon taught me so much about myself. I think it would be impossible to run those kinds of distances week after week and to spend so much time alone out on trails without learning a thing or two about yourself.

Right before I moved to Denver - about 3 weeks before the marathon - I wrote that I would keep everyone posted on the wonderful runs I planned to do in and around Denver. Unfortunately, those runs never happened. Right after I went home to Arkansas for my friend Sara's wedding, I fell off the ol' training bandwagon. It wasn't pretty. In the month before the marathon, I did about three short runs and that was it. It's funny because I really wasn't too concerned about it. I figured that once I ran 19 miles during training, I could do the marathon, no problem. This probably wasn't the best approach in retrospect, but at least I was confident.

It wasn't until the day before the marathon (my birthday, no less) that panic set in. I think I was short of breath pretty much the entire day. My friends Laura, Julie, and Cheyanne came in from Fayetteville and Little Rock to take me out to lunch. That was pretty much the only relaxing time of my entire day. It didn't help that I hadn't made a playlist yet and hadn't really even picked out what I would wear to run. I had decided against a running skirt (which I ended up wearing) because of the bruises covering my legs from lifting boxes and moving all over the place. Instead, I just slapped on some self-tanner and went for it ;)

Like Stacy, I took a sleeping pill the night before the race. My dad, who knows my sleeping habits (and me) all too well, said, "I think you can pretty much bank on not ever sleeping a wink the night before any major event in your life." That's why the little pill of slumber was a lifesaver! I went to bed just after 10pm, and got up right around 5am. That's a lot of hours of sleep for me, so I felt pretty decent. I was trying to arrange songs on my ipod right up until my Dad and David yanked me out of my hotel room, and we headed downtown. It took a little while to find a parking spot and to get to the actual starting line, so I never had time to freak out before the race. It was all very rushed. My dad was securing my time chip to my shoe as David was pinning my race number to the back of my running skirt. After that, I ran into the mass of people and found Stacy just in time. I was SO HAPPY to see her. She had gotten there much earlier and didn't have her phone on her (of course). I was really worried that I wouldn't see her, but it all worked out.

Right after that, the gun went off. I felt strong at the beginning - and actually ran at a 9:30 pace up until 13.1 miles. At around mile 6, my calves started cramping up and it only went downhill from there. Stretching pre-race might have been a good idea, but it was too late for that. By mile 20, they were in so much pain that every extension of my legs felt like someone was jabbing knives into them. It was awful. Mentally, I was telling myself to go faster but just did not have it in me at the end. My running bib said it was my first marathon, so every once in a while a veteran marathoner would cheer me on. One guy yelled, "good job newbie!" which I thought was pretty cute.

The hills were just icing on the cake. Starting around mile 22 and ending after mile 25, there was NO downhill, and very little level ground. I came across a guy while running the hills who looked like he was in a great deal of pain as well, and we helped each other through it. Then I passed him. :)

The final mile seemed to drag on forever, but at long last, I finally saw the home stretch and my dad and David cheering me on. Seeing my dad choked up - and both of them so proud of me - is really something that I will never forget. Although my time (4:40) wasn't what I had wanted, I never quit running during the entire race, and that was important to me (I might as well have walked during the later portions though I was moving so damn slow - hehe).

My legs literally gave out right after I crossed the finish line (you can see David holding me up for the group picture in Stacy's post). I think that as soon as I stopped, my calves completely tightened up and quit working. Justin, Sharon, Abby, and Joe were all there to support and congratulate us, and it meant SO much. Thank you Sharon for seeing to it that I got my "First Marathon" medal in addition to my Finisher's medal. I really appreciated it, and I have them both hanging up in my room!

Walking through the DFW airport the next day was HELL. I don't even think it would be classified as walking - it was more like a limpy shuffle. David and I would act like we were looking at interesting signs and other stuff along the way to our gate so people wouldn't think something was seriously wrong with me. I woke up that morning crying because my legs hurt so bad, but a hot bath helped. I seriously thought I would have to miss my flight. It continued that way for another 4-5 days, but it was worth it. It was one of my biggest dreams to run a marathon, and I had the best supporters a girl could hope for (including those of you who followed this blog). THANK YOU for reading these posts (eh, em...this one goes out to MIKE WALL - without whom none of this would have been possible).

Anyone up for another marathon (and by marathon, I mean sitting at home on the couch eating pizza)?

November 20, 2008

I Finished a Marathon!!!

by Stacy Hogle

My marathon journey has come to an end. The idea of completing a marathon seemed daunting in June, but as the months have progressed completing a marathon is exactly what I finally accomplished. This has been an amazing journey, not just physically but mentally as well. It has taught me how to conquer mental and physical barriers, it has taught me patience, humility, gratitude, discipline and a million other things I could continue to list.

So we headed to Tulsa Saturday afternoon to check into the Doubletree Downtown (host hotel for the marathon). After a short detour through Wagoner – Justin was on a mission for ducks as usual – we checked into the hotel and headed over to the Expo for packet pickup. We got my t-shirt, race number and chip for the race. We thought it would be a good idea to check out the course to make sure Justin could ride his bike close to the course so we set out with our maps to drive the 26.2 miles. Luckily the majority of the course is on Riverside Drive so he would be able to ride on the running and biking trails. Being the “planner” that I am, we mapped out where I would meet him to take energy gels along the way at miles 5, 10, 15 and 20. I knew there were hills on the course but did not realize how steep they were until we drove them. It was scary enough to drive them, little did I know that they would be much steeper and agonizing running them. It makes me hurt to think about it! Maria’s birthday was Saturday (pretty neat that she turned 26 the day before running 26.2 miles!), so we went out to eat at the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate and “carbo-load” for the Marathon. We settled in for bed around 9:45pm and I maybe slept for a few hours during the night. I kept waking up with the sinking feeling I had slept through my alarm and missed the marathon. Of course, by the time I actually fell asleep it was time 6am and time to get up! I ate my bagel with peanut butter in bed while my stomach starting doing cartwheels…I couldn’t believe the day was actually here!

Justin and I left the hotel at 7am to get a parking spot close to the start line. Steve, Maria and David weren’t too far behind us in the Prius. Steve and David, both of which had been placed on the Injured Reserves list during training, were going to drive to different mile markers to cheer and take pics. Around 7:30am I remember letting out a yell in the truck…I couldn’t help it! The marathon was here and there was no turning back now! By then my stomach had switched from cartwheels to triple backflips and I also had to pee! We headed to the start and got in line for the porta-potty’s…with about 5 minutes to spare I escaped porta-potty land, gave Justin a big kiss and went into the corral. Thank goodness I found Maria right away and we were able to start the race together. We ran about a mile before she left me in the dust! I didn’t want to start too fast so I let her go…waving good bye and good luck!

The first 10 miles were great! I stayed with the 4 hr and 30 minute pace group (experienced marathoners that lead a group to keep you on pace to complete the marathon in a certain time), met Justin at mile 5 for the first gel and got back in the groove with the 4:30’s. At that point my strategy was to stay ahead of the 4:30’s so when I stopped for a gel I wouldn’t get behind. That worked until mile 10. At mile 10 I took a gel and watched the 4:30’s run by. We were coming up on Jenks and I thought I could catch them pretty quickly … I was wrong. I hit the halfway mark at 2 hrs and 15 minutes – still on pace for that 4:30 marathon – and I was happy with it, but I wanted to catch those balloons! The pace group leaders carry a set of balloons with the pace time on them so runners and stay with the group. All I could think was “Catch those balloons!” (you can see the balloons behind me in this pic...)

But after a while I knew I couldn’t catch them. I wasn’t running out of gas, just slowing down a bit. I met Justin at mile 15 and he could tell I was a little discouraged. He was doing his best to keep me motivated and was a great source of encouragement. It was fun to see him riding along the race course pumping his fists to encourage me. Around mile 17 I felt the most horrible pain on one of my left toes. Immediately I knew it was a blister….ugh! I knew I had to run through the pain but it was tough. I had already fought knee pain and my left arch had been curling up a bit for the last few miles so this was the icing on the cake – so I thought. I ran through it but knew it would be ugly when the race was over. Around mile 20 I had to stop and walk for a bit. My stomach had decided it was really pissed I was doing a marathon and was letting me know all about it. I couldn’t get to a porta-potty fast enough. I will spare you the details, but I will say if that had not happened you could take about 5 minutes off my time… After that pit-stop it was time for my final gel and about time to tell Justin goodbye until the finish. At 31st and Riverside we took a right and headed up the dreaded hills. We had driven the hills the day before but they were much bigger on foot. Every step was a struggle but I am proud to say that I ran up every hill and only walked through the water stations to take a drink of water. I was cursing a lot during the 3 miles of hills but made it out alive and with a friend! I met a girl from Chicago named Sarah – we had seen each other at the start and had both ran with the 4:30’s for a while. We met around mile 24 and helped push each other to the finish. I don’t know her last name, but I do know she might have been an angel! It felt so awesome and surreal to turn the corner and see the Finish Line. was over! The pain was over! HA! I finished the marathon in 4 hrs and 47 minutes!! It was a little slower than I had hoped...but I FINISHED A MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!!

It turned out to be a great day. I pushed my body to the very edge and it didn't fail me because I had been dedicated and trained to the best of my ability. After the race we went back to the hotel to shower and rest for a bit. When we got to our room we realized that the room key needed to be reset so Justin left me at the door and went to the front desk. I thought now was as good a time as any to take my shoes off for the first time. What I found were bloody socks and blisters the size of marbles. I wish I would have taken pictures of the blisters...they were amazing - and still very painful! I let Justin pop know it's true love when you can pop each others blisters just for fun! Check out my socks!

I want to give a big THANK YOU!! to everyone who has supported and encouraged me during this journey. I am sure the last thing you wanted to hear was how many miles I ran and how bad my feet looked...but it meant the world to me. THANK YOU for all of the emails, text messages and phone calls the day before and the day of the marathon. I really needed the encouragement and I know they helped push me over that Finish Line. THANK YOU to are my biggest supporter and rode that bike like a champion! I couldn't have asked for a better training partner than my very best friend. THANK YOU Maria, for taking the challenge and rocking the marathon with me! THANK YOU to our mobile cheering squad of Steve and's too bad the guys got injured but they were awesome support and took some fantastic pictures! THANK YOU to Sharon, Abby and Joe Joe for being there to cheer us on at the Finish Line. It was great to see familiar faces cheering us on at the end! THANK YOU again to all of our friends and family that supported us through this amazing journey!

November 2, 2008

The Countdown begins...

by Stacy Hogle

Two weeks until the heart beats a little faster just thinking about it. Just over 4 long months of training is finally about to come to an end. It's bitter sweet; it will feel great to get rid of the mounting pressure and finally see our hard work pay off, but I know from past big runs there will be a void and sadness when it is over. This has been a great journey for me, one I will never forget! I can't wait to start the race and enjoy every minute of it, and if I can do math right it will approximately 270 of them if I can finish around 4 hours and 30 min...that's a big IF! ha!

It has been a while since I have posted and A LOT of things have happened since then. Justin and I went to Telluride to see Maria & David and also complete a 16 mile run. The altitude got me and I only finished 12 miles. I was a little down, but glad to at least do 12 solid miles there. The next week was a short long run and then the following Saturday we set out for the 18 miler. That run kicked my tail. It was the first time I have had to walk and it starts to mess with your mind. The conditions to run weren't the greatest but that's not a good excuse. The winds were strong and the temperature and humidity were just sucked. The good thing is, usually when I have a bad run the next long one is pretty solid. Luckily that was the case this time too. Two weeks ago we set out for the big TWENTY mile run. Just thinking about it was very intimidating but Justin was riding that bike supporting me the whole way. We got out to Hatbox around 8:20 and hit the road. After about a mile my ipod crapped out on me... I started to freak a little. I had charged it the night before (or so I thought) but it shut itself off and never came back on. All I could think about was that the next 19 miles were going to be really hard! We made our way back to the truck and Justin stopped to give me his ipod and loaded his bike in the truck. He told me to keep running on the trail and he had an extra ipod at his office and would be back in 20-30 minutes. Listening to someone else's music is definitely an experience. One song would be old school rap then it would turn to least it made it interesting!!! He met me back on the trail and we kept going. I don't know what I would do with out him...having him there was so great. We went all over the place, downtown, ran around the mall parking lots, around downtown again and back to the entrance. When it was all said and done we did 20.15 miles in 3 hours and 28 minutes...not too shabby! It felt great to be done. I was so hungry so we stopped at Wendy's for a cheeseburger and a frosty. I read somewhere that chocolate milk after a hard run is a good recovery drink and I figured a Frosty was pretty close to chocolate milk. I don't know if it was the cheeseburger or the frosty but it turned out to be a bad bad choice of post-run food. I was a sick little girl for the rest of the afternoon. I was able to recover though for a bachelorette party that night though. What a long day! I am two weeks until marathon and I have only run 3 times since the 20 miler. I have some tendonitis on the outside of my left foot and it makes it hard to even walk without pain. I have been trying to rest it the last two weeks and it has been tough. Lots of ice, Aleve and anti-inflammatory cream... I just want to get out there and run!! I tested it out today on a 3.5 mile run. It did pretty well until the 2.5 mile mark and it started to hurt but after a little bit the pain went away. If I can get a few more runs in this week and do a 10 mile run next weekend I think the marathon is a go! Keep your fingers crossed... I already have my outfit picked out and everything!

October 29, 2008

The Recent Lull

by Maria Torres

It has been several weeks since I last posted, and I am happy to report that Sooie has made a full recovery. I'm glad some of you enjoyed the graphic photos of her wound (Haley) so I'll be sure to post more if anything else like that comes up in the future.

Alright, so about running...two Sundays ago, I ran just about 19 miles - my longest run yet. I got a later start than I had hoped, and I knew I would be running part of it in the dark. I packed a headlamp in my Camelbak, and set out around 4:40 p.m. I wore my gloves the entire time because it was so cold, and the sun going down didn't help with that. I have only run a couple of times at night, and it actually worked out better this time because there was a full moon to light the streets. All things considered, I felt pretty good at the end of the run and know that I could have kept going had it been marathon day.

Unfortunately, in the last two weeks, I have fallen off of my running schedule. But luckily, I've managed to come up with some really good excuses. First, I traveled home for Sara & Taylor's wedding, and that took about 3 full days of driving. Next, I returned to Colorado with poison ivy covering my arms, neck, and eyelids. That made running just a little painful - the sweat really irritated my already swollen and bright red eyelids. Finally, I'm in the process of moving to Denver at the end of this week. The disorganization and chaos that comes with packing and moving has pushed running to the bottom of my priorities. I need to get it back up to the top though, because the marathon is 18 days away. *GULP*

I'm excited to spend the last couple of weeks trying out some new runs in Denver and Boulder. While in Denver last week, my friends Annie and David suggested an excellent route which follows the river downtown. I had a lot of fun on that run - it actually started pouring rain, and all the homeless people gathered under the bridges for shelter. They got a big kick out of Sooie running along right by my side, and she relished the attention.

With the marathon just around the corner, I have no choice but to really pick up the pace, so to speak, in the coming weeks. After moving this weekend, I plan to post much more frequently up until marathon day. I appreciate all of you who have followed this blog since July - it makes me feel so good to know there are people who actually do read it. When I saw Sara (now Mrs. Staley :) & Kathy (now Mrs. Farver)in Arkansas, they mentioned my latest post and it made me so happy! Thank you girls for reading it!

Finally, I want to ask all of you to be thinking about Stacy, my running cousin-with-the-mostest, who has been diagnosed with tendonitis. She had to skip the Tulsa Run, and has had to take some time off to let it heal. Allowing it to heal by not running on it is pretty much the only way she would still be able to run the marathon. Please keep her in your thoughts!

October 10, 2008

Pumpkin Bread Batter for the Soul

by Maria Torres

My little running buddy was injured yesterday at some point during our 9 mile run, so this post is dedicated to her :) Outfitted with her new dog pack to carry our water, Sooie was stylin' for our early afternoon run.

It fit everything we could possibly need: water, treats, an energy gel, and her leash. Several people on the path laughed at Sooie because she looked so freakin' cute, but the pack is really practical too! Since she has more than enough energy left over after every run, why not let her carry some of the weight? It worked really well, and I didn't even know she was hurt until later that night.

On the car ride home I noticed Sooie was licking her lower leg, but when I looked at it I didn't notice anything. She was unusually quiet the rest of the evening and hung out by herself downstairs. When it was time for bed, I noticed a blood spot on the comforter. David held Sooie so I could get a closer look - it turns out she had a deep gash on her inner arm. I guess she was licking her lower arm after our run because she couldn't reach the spot where it actually hurt. Poor baby! She has never been hurt before, so I was pretty upset. She let David and me put first aid foam & antibiotic ointment on her without even squirming. She's such a good girl. My brother said it was past the point where she could get stitches, so we're just going to have to let it heal on its own.

I'm not sure where/how it happened, so I'm having second thoughts about letting her run off-leash. There are certain areas of the trail that are completely away from traffic, so on those parts I just carry her leash and let her run free. She always stays close by, and it has never been a problem before. The only thing I can think of is at the very end of the run, I stopped and pointed down to the river where she could go drink some water. She walked through thick brush to get down to the river, so something sharp could have been hidden in there. I've seen guys sitting in that area drinking before - maybe there was some broken glass covered up by the brush...I don't know.

It's a well-known fact that nothing makes a puppy feel better than pumpkin bread batter, so:

She's acting just fine now, but please keep her in your thoughts! And keep me in your thoughts this weekend, when I have to run 18 miles. *Gulp*

That's me modeling the wool running top with thumb holes (my new obsession) David gave me :)

October 2, 2008

A New "Mile"stone: 16 Miles!

by Maria Torres

I was in Tempe, AZ, the weekend of the 15 mile run and I ended up skipping it altogether. I did find a gym there to do some of my shorter runs, so at least that was something. I am disappointed with myself that I didn't just go ahead and run it on Monday when I got back to Telluride, but I am still planning on running it in the coming weeks. This will be increasingly difficult as the runs get longer with each passing week, but I want to have completed every single training run before I run the marathon on November 16th.

The 16 mile run was this past weekend, and I finished it feeling great. The only real obstacles that stood in my way were: 1. the wind at the end of the run, and 2. my poor decision not to take my Camelbak with me. Stacy and I didn't stay together during the run (she did do really well considering the high altitude & the hilly terrain here), and I had planned on drinking some of the water Justin had on his bike. That didn't work out, so by mile 15 I was delirious. I finally stumbled into a gas station and asked the guy at the counter if he had any "bottled water...fountain" - he could tell that I needed water pretty badly. When he asked how many miles I had run, I told him I was almost at mile 16. He seemed pretty impressed, and he offered up the gas station as my water headquarters for my upcoming runs. He was a lifesaver!

The wind tried to see to it that I didn't complete mile 16, and I just barely won that battle. It didn't help that the last leg of the run was uphill either. I felt like I wasn't moving towards the end. I am really glad I have 1.5 months of training left, because I didn't have 10 miles left in me last Saturday. The best part of the whole run though came at the end. David had already finished his 16 miles, and when he saw Stacy & Justin and realized I hadn't had access to water for the entire run, he got on his bike and rushed out to find me. When I saw him, he stopped, quickly jumped off his bike, and held out the hose to his Camelbak so I could drink some water. It was the sweetest thing - I knew how exhausted he must've been, and that didn't stop him. I'm getting a lump in my throat typing this, so I'm moving on...

To make up for the 8 miles I missed last Wednesday (9/24), I ran it on Monday, my day off. I ran 4 miles on Tuesday, and 8 again yesterday. So after I finish my 5 today, I'll be up to 25 for this week - and that doesn't even include my 12 mile run this weekend. We're definitely starting to put in some serious miles, and my appetite sure reflects it. In the morning, a bowl of cereal only keeps me full for about an hour. By the end of training, I'll be craving a big steak dinner for breakfast. Ha ha!

Happy October everyone!!

September 20, 2008

15 Miles of Total Entertainment!

by Stacy Hogle

Today has been a great day. I never thought I would say those words after a 15 mile run, but I definitely mean them today. I have been dreading this run all week...this is the longest distance I have ever attempted to run. Earlier in the week Lindsey said that she and Trent would be in Fort Gibson to see her family for the weekend. They were going to come up Friday night so we decided to run together this morning. I would get to Hatbox early and she would meet me around 8:30am when I was hitting the 9 mile mark. She is training for the Route 66 Half Marathon and her training schedule called for a 6 mile run. This was going to be perfect!! I was so excited to have someone to run with and push me through the last of the run and help encourage her through the 6 miles she was running. Unfortunately it did not work out, her dog had been at the vet and Trent had dental work done Friday and didn't think he could make the drive from OKC Friday night. I don't blame him a bit!! I was bummed most of the night since I had really looked forward to running together. Justin could see that and was trying to find ways to help. He had to be at the duck blind drawings by 9:30am so it seemed like he wouldn't be able to do much.

Right before we went to bed last night I noticed that he was missing for a while... To my surprise he had aired up the bike tires and put it in the back of his truck! He said we were going to get up at 5am (uggg!) and be at the running trail by 6am so we could finish the run around 8:30am giving him time to get to the blind drawing. I was so excited, not to mention love struck, that he would do that for me!! We made it to the trail by 6am, right after a quick 'pit-stop' for Justin at the Kum & Go (gross name, I know!) convenience store. It was still really dark out and the trail is not lit so we ran the parking lots for 2 miles before heading out on the trail. Justin used to ride his bike alot growing up and in college so his skills started coming back to him really quickly. Out of the corner of my eye I would see him jumping a curb or zooming by me like Lance Armstrong. I felt good, the weather was great and I was excited to have someone to share the run with. It was light enough to hit the trail so we did. I kept running through little spider web strings that would stick to my face...eww! That was easy until I hit the mother of all spider webs. I swear it was the size of my whole body with the middle of it hitting me right in the face. Justin didn't know what to think when I screamed and started waving my hands like a mad man trying to get the webs off of me. Then I started wondering if there was a spider and its babies riding on my back...gross and creepy for sure. We regained our composure and kept running. At the end of the trail I needed to make a quick pit stop at a different Kum & Go then we got back to it. I can't begin to tell you how thankful I am that Justin was there. He had a great attitude and was so cute on the bike. He was my mobile water boy, I felt like a pro! We continued on and decided to go back through the parking lots to break it up a bit before doing the trail again. Justin rode ahead of me for a while and I wondered why he was sitting funny on the bike. He only had one butt cheek on the seat and was alternating cheeks! He said the seat wasn't wide enough and I think it was a fun game for him to pass the time, I don't know but it was hilarious. He went down a different street and realized we had access to the old runway. Hatbox used to be an airport back in the day. We started running the runways, which was really neat and helped add a few miles to the run. At 9.5 miles I stopped to take a gel and wash it down with water. The vanilla flavor tastes like cake icing and makes a huge difference keeping my energy up. After a minute break I went out to finish the runway while Justin was riding with no hands on the bike next to me. We hit the entrance to the trail again with 3.5 miles left. If we went out 1.75 miles and came back we would end up at the truck, so that's what we did. There was a girl running ahead of us on the track our last few miles and I made it my goal to catch her. It helped having a challenge to make the last little bit go by faster. I ended up passing her with a half mile to go and it felt so good! Not to mention that was my fastest mile of the whole trip. It's amazing what the body will do when you put your mind to it.

Justin was a trooper, I don't know about you but 2 hours and 35 minutes on the bike doesn't sound like fun to me He was a huge support and I don't know if I would have enjoyed the run or finished with a faster time without him. I love that man!

15.12 miles in 2 hrs 35 min 44 secs!