Running a Half Marathon- My Thoughts and Training Plan (Confessions of a Slow Runner)

 

So, just like that…. it’s over!  I ran my first half marathon on Sunday!  After months and months of training, I can hardly believe it came and went 🙂

We had BEAUTIFUL weather for it!  It was about 60 degrees when we started and sunny.  I ran the Prairie Fire Half in Wichita (an hour from where I live).  The course was pretty flat and fairly shady.  I was a bit nervous, but my mom and I settled into a nice rhythm early on and stuck with it for the first 6 miles.  I tell ya, the first 6 miles felt really easy.  A year ago if you would have told me those words would be coming out of my mouth, I would’ve said you were crazy!  I could barely run 4 miles last summer, so to ever think 6 as easy shows how far I’ve come in my running!

Anyway, after the first 6, we started slowing down, but still kept a good pace from 6-9 miles.  And since I’m going to be very honest about my slow running, by good pace, I mean about 13 minute miles.  We were running 12:30 for the first half.  It seems like every running blog I read, they’re all about “Yeah, I only ran a 9 minute mile” blah, blah, blah.  If that’s you, well, I admire that!  If I ever get that fast, I will be beyond thrilled!  But, this post is to encourage all of you out there who are not fast 😉

From 9-13, we had slowed down to about 13:30 or so.  The hardest parts were between 10.5 and 11 (I thought that water station at mile 11 would never appear!) and between 12.5 and the finish line.  My phone told me “You are at 12.6 miles” and I thought, “Dang!  Where is that finish line????”  The last mile was also asphalt, with zero shade and it felt downright HOT!  But, I’m happy to say, I crossed the finish line upright and running, lol.  I did take some walking breaks during the last 6 miles.  I have longer legs than my mom, so I would gradually pull ahead and then power walk to let her catch up.

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I’m crossing the finish line! In case you’re wondering, I’m holding a handkerchief. I use it to wipe my nose and my sweat. Gross, I know 😉

You know what was the sorest part of my body on Monday?  My JAW!  Yeah, seriously.  My quads were a bit sore, but nothing bad and all of my joints (knees, hips, ankles) felt perfectly fine, but my jaw!  I always chew gum when I run (keeps my mouth from getting dry) but it’s not use to chewing gum for 3 hours straight, apparently.

Our finish time:

3 hours, 1 minute and 24 seconds.

We were VERY pleased with that!  We were not out to beat any particular time and based off our 11 mile training run, we figured it would take us about 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the race.

So, would I do it again?

Well, two weeks ago after our last long training run, I would have said absolutely not.

Now?

Yeah, I think I would 🙂

I love the fact that I did something that not many people can do and that I pushed my body to do something that I didn’t think it was capable of!  It’s a high that I wouldn’t mind repeating.

OK, so here is what my training looked like from January to race day.  First off, I mostly trained using the Galloway method (running walking intervals) with an interval of running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute.  Well, the last couple weeks of training, I started running the first 3 miles, then doing looser longer untimed intervals.  When we actually ran the race, we ran to each water station (about every two miles), drank our water (my mom drank gatorade) walked for a little bit (maybe a couple minutes?), then ran to the next station.  Like I mentioned before, I took some walking breaks to let my mom catch up, but they weren’t timed.  My mom pretty much ran the whole thing.

Week 1 (first week in Jan):  ran 3 times of about 2 miles each time.  I was just trying to condition my body to running again after a 6 month break.

Week 2:  ran 2 miles twice, then ran 3 miles on the weekend.

Week 3:  took 2 30 minute runs (approx 2.5 miles) then ran 4 miles on the weekend.

From there on out, my training was one week, running 3 times for about 30 minutes each time and then the next week, run 30 minutes twice with a long run on the weekend, increasing each long run by one mile.

So, every two weeks I took a long run and every week I ran three times.  Does that make sense?  I kept that up until my 9 mile run.  Then because of scheduling, we decided to skip the 10 mile run, run 6 miles instead and take an 11 mile run 2 weeks before the race.  Also, the last month before the race, I took a 6 mile run once a week with 3 mile runs in between.  The week before the race, I took a 6 mile run on Tuesday (race was Sunday) then rested the rest of the week.

Training for a half is definitely a time commitment, but only taking long runs every two weeks helped.  I felt like I kept up my running fitness in between just fine with those 30 minute/3 mile runs (it actually takes me 35 minutes to run 3 miles).

Since I wasn’t particularly sore after running the race, I think that my training paid off.  This isn’t probably the training you’d want to do if you were serious about breaking records, but for a busy mom and farmwife, this was quite doable for me!

Any additional thoughts about finishing a half marathon?  Would you do another one?

 

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What Are You Scared Of?

What are you scared of?

There’s the usual list of things, I’m sure.  Snakes, spiders, tornadoes, fires, floods, speaking in public, etc.  I generally consider myself pretty tough and daring (I AM a farmgirl, after all!  We pride ourselves on being a tough breed, lol!).  I don’t flinch in the face of most of those.  But there is one thing that absolutely paralyzes me….

FAILURE!

Because of that very real and debilitating fear, I don’t let myself do anything that I think I *might* not be good at.

I have no problem experimenting in my garden, trying a new recipe or even encouraging my husband with new endeavors on the farm.  But, really, I don’t feel like anyone SEES those things.  So if I fail, nobody knows, right?  When I was a kid, I was very hesitant to try anything new in front of anybody.  What if I wasn’t good at it?  What if they laughed at me?  What if they critiqued me and I couldn’t handle it?

So, I became very good at not doing much of anything outside of my safe little box.  This fear followed me to high school.  While it seemed that everyone else was trying different classes or new clubs or new sports, I stuck with my tried and true (which was orchestra.  I played violin and was pretty good at it, so I felt confident in orchestra.)  My junior year, I went out on a limb and joined the debate team, which I discovered I loved!  But… my best friend was already part of the team, so I felt like she paved the way for me.  So, it really wasn’t me 100% by myself trying something out of my comfort zone.

Enter marriage and kids in my twenties.  I married a farmboy and lived on his family farm.  Not a real stretch for me because I, too, grew up on a very similar farm.  Sure I moved across the county line, but it was only 8 miles from my family’s farm and the town that I grew up going to school and shopping in.  So, yeah, no fears to face there.  My life is pretty much just like I wanted it to be, which is a fabulous blessing, I know!  Not everyone gets to live that dream.

But, there are two things that I have been wanting to do and both scare me to the bottom of my toes- one dream I’ve had since I was a teenager and one that started about 10 years ago.

Wanna hear what they are?

OK, here goes…. I want to write and publish a book (my dream since I was a teenager) and I want to have a successful blog (my more recent adult dream)!

What if I fail?????

What if nobody likes them????

Those thoughts pretty much stop me in my tracks.

You know what I realized this week?

So, what!!

So, what if I fail!  So, what if nobody likes my writing!  God knows my dreams and my heart.  If I’m suppose to do those things, He’ll help me.  He does not give me a spirit of fear, right?  I do that all on my own.  So, I’ve been praying and talking to Him about it and I’m going to try my hardest to put myself out there and see what happens…..

 

What are your biggest fears?  What can you do or are doing to confront them?

 

 

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When You Don’t Get Your Miracle (Autism Journey)

Ten years ago, our family experienced a sudden shift in our life journey that no one saw coming.  Our son became autistic.  There were subtle warning signs starting when he was about 15 months old, but nothing jarring that really made us question his development.  That’s for another post. But, the fact of the matter is, at age 3 1/2 our only son swirled into autism and our life was changed.

I tend to gravitate towards challenges and I always like to be great at everything I do (or I won’t even attempt it- its a flaw of mine!) and once we had our official diagnosis, I was determined to beat it.  My son would be cured come hell or high water.  We would be one of those success stories.  Besides, having a less-than-perfect son was NOT in my life plan!

I jumped into exploring autism with everything I had.  I read and I researched.  I left no stone, no diet, no supplement, nothing unturned.  We found a bio-medical doctor four hours away.  After a battery of tests, it was determined that he was deficient in a bazillion different vitamins and minerals and he was intolerant to a bazillion different foods.  I ate, drank, breathed and slept autism (I seriously literally dreamed about all the diet and supplements he was on!).  At my ten year high school class reunion, I told everyone that I fully expected him to be cured by the next reunion.  I wasn’t gonna be one of those parents that just let it all go, come what may.  No, by golly, we were gonna beat this thing!!!

Over time, something happened. Or rather didn’t happen.  Our son wasn’t getting better.  We begged and pleaded with God.  I said the same prayer every day, “Lord, please heal him.”  I was doing everything I was supposed to do!  We were on the right diet and were giving him the right supplements.  But, he wasn’t healed.  Oh, we’d have our steps forward, but we had just as many backward.  I kept thinking that there was something else out there, that if we just found the last piece of the puzzle, that it would all be better and we’d have our “normal” son back.  I had our book written in my head.  You know, the one with our family’s picture on the cover where I tell all about our journey and how we healed our son.

But, about 3 years ago, I finally realized it- we weren’t going to be that miracle family.  It just wasn’t going to be us.  Our son would always have “special needs.”  God wasn’t going to grant me my miracle.  After seven years of desperately trying and hoping for that bolt of lightning, I stopped.

Our story doesn’t end there.  I didn’t spiral into depression and I didn’t quit loving our son.  I didn’t stop praising God or question His sovereignty over my life.  Instead, I looked back on our journey and thought about the what-ifs in a different way.  What if he was normal?  What would our life be like?  Would we be a happier family?  Would Jeff and I have a stronger marriage?

You know what?  When I changed my perspective (or perhaps God has changed it for me, slowly working on my over the years), I saw different answers to those questions.  My son and his quirks have made me a better person.  They have given us a stronger marriage.  They have made his sisters more compassionate kids.  They’ve shown me traits (both good and bad) in other people that I didn’t know were there.  Where once autism was the enemy to fight, the one bad thing in a really good life, I have found that autism hasn’t been the enemy.  A cure for it is not the miracle I needed.  God knew all along that for me to grow in my faith, for Jeff and I to become an extremely tight partnership, for my girls to be able to see people in a better light, for our family to be healthier and stronger, He would have to give us something to make that happen.  He chose autism for us.

While I still have hopes for our son to live a “normal” life, I also don’t worry as much about the future with him.  God has seen us through all the time.  He knows what we need and He knows what our son needs.  Who am I to question that?  That is the real miracle.

 

 

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Fall Harvest- a view from the combine

About a month ago, this thing called “Fall Harvest” started around here.  On our farm, we grow wheat, milo, soybeans, cotton, hay and have cow/calf pairs.  I grew up on a farm in the neighboring county and we had a similar operation, but without the cows and hay.  Since we are in southern Kansas, we plant our wheat in the fall and harvest it in June.  But the milo, soybeans and cotton all get planted in the spring and get harvested in the fall.  Hence, “Fall Harvest!”

Unlike wheat harvest, which is a fast paced, adrenaline pumping week or two with late nights, fall harvest is somewhat slower paced and drags on for a LONG time!!  Generally though, we love it 🙂

Off and on I have had the privilege of doing this:

combine

I absolutely ADORE getting combine time!!  I grew up operating all the farm equipment (tractors, trucks, the combine).  In fact, when I was little I idolized my dad and wanted to be just like him when I grew up.  I was the biggest tomboy!  As a teenager, I worked all summer long on the farm and whenever I could during the school year.  After going to college in the city, I realized I missed the farm and for my own sanity, NEEDED to live on a working farm for the rest of my life.

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My 9 year old took this picture while riding with me one day.  Yes, those are my arms 🙂

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When your in the combine cab, here’s the view to my left.  This is called a header and it literally combs the crop into what’s called the sickle bar, which cuts the crop off, then a round auger (its the green thing in this picture) pushes the cut plants into the combine.  As a kid, the reel (the black thing with fingers on it) was mesmerizing.  It will literally hypnotize a child and put them to sleep!

We have since finished cutting our beans and have moved back to milo.  If it dries down enough today, my 13 year old daughter and I will get to run the combine some.  I’m suppose to give her lessons so she can run in it, too.  We start ’em young here on the farm 🙂

Oh, and for proper pronunciation everyone says you’re cuttin’ beans or cuttin’ milo.  We ag people are sticklers for proper English 😉

 

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