Monday, May 16, 2011

Wow! We really ran a Marathon!

Here we are a week after the marathon, and it is really just dawning on me that what we just accomplished.  We actually ran 26.2 miles - and less than 1% of the population accomplishes this task.  Isn't that awesome!  I am continually so proud of Christian, because I still feel that he could have tapped out at anytime, due to his dehydration, but he didn't.  That took a lot of perseverance.  This photo is at mile 16, just before Christian began to get a lot of leg cramping.

We are finally beginning to feel like normal people again. Our bodies don't ache and I actually ran a short distance today.  It is amazing how much of a toll that far of a distance takes on your body.  None of our long runs compare to the pain we felt for days after the marathon.  The amazing thing is that now that the pain has subsided, we are definietly considering another marathon.  I haven't been able to get Christian to commit to when, but we will definetly do another.

This is a picture of the fab four!  We all finished the marathon!

For those of you who have enjoyed reading my blog I want to encourage you to continue reading about our family with my new blog:   http://blendedfamilyoffive.blogspot.com.

Although this chapter of our lives has closed (for now)...there is still so much more to share.  Thank you for your support!! You can also follow me on Twitter @ stajaca

Monday, May 9, 2011

And in the end....

Christian and I have now officially completed our first marathon!  We did it, we came, we saw, we ran and we finished the first ever Kalamazoo Marathon!  It was a tremendous experience and made for the best Mother's Day!  My son raced like a champion and I am so proud of him.

First, let me tell you that Christian had a great time at prom.  Prom was Saturday night and he ended up getting home just after midnight.  He got right to bed so he was "fresh" in the morning.  He and his date made a great pair and I am glad he had a fabulous time.  I promised a picture and here it is.


So onto the marathon news.  We learned a lot yesterday.  We learned that you never know what to expect on race day, and frankly anything can happen, so go with it.  Like I said, Christian was a champion.  We started strong and had a great pace going for the first half of the marathon.  We felt great.  The weather was a little warmer than expected but still very nice.  Around mile 16 Christian began to experience some very painful leg cramps in his quads and hamstrings.  Not wanting to cause any injuries, we needed to slow our pace and eventually had to turn to walking and running.  Although this did slow us down quite a bit, we never gave up.  We decided to adjust our goals.  Our original goal was to run the marathon in 4 hours or less, we changed our goals to 1) finish the marathon and 2) have fun. We accomplished both. We finished in just over 4 1/2 hours and I feel that all things considered we did great.  We finished strong and gave it our all.  As we approached the finish line there was another runner right in front of us. Christian turned to me and said, "Let's beat this guy!" I nodded, we went around on either side of him and sprinted in to the finish line...together!   We raised our hands in celebration - we just ran our first marathon!

My brother, Erik, finished in 3 hours 11 minutes and won not only his age group, but also came in 2nd in the master's division.  My dad finished with a fantastic time of 5 hours 5 minutes and after a beer he felt great!  I am so proud of you both!

The crowds that came out to cheer everyone on were fantastic!  The support for all the runners was great! Thank you to all who made it such an unbelievable day - the public safety officers, the volunteers, the race organizers, and most importantly our family of who we couldn't have done it without your support!

Christian and I are still feeling the affects of the marathon but will be looking forward to my mother's day gift of massages on Saturday.  Once we are pain free, then maybe we can contemplate whether we should attempt this adventure again.  I decided that it is kind of like giving birth; you must first forget the pain before you can decide to jump back in for more. 

My dearest readers, alas I feel that I must relay some sad news, and that is the inevitable end of this blog. As this chapter of our lives comes to a close, so must this story.  This is a sad moment for me as I have enjoyed very much relaying our fun journey.  I am contemplating the beginning of a new blog for your enjoyment and hope to begin soon.  On a brighter note, tune in for at least one more post, as I hope to have some pictures to share from the marathon.  I appreciate your feedback and comments; or if there are subjects that peak your interest which you would like me to blog about, please me know and I will put them under consideration. 

Stay tuned for a final entry and thank you for your support and encouragement!

Monday, May 2, 2011

We're Famous!!

We were featured in the newspaper this weekend!  How exciting!  There was a pullout section in our local newspaper, the Kalamazoo Gazette, all about the Kalamazoo Marathon and it included an article about our family and how we have three generations of runners running the first Kalamazoo Marathon.  So, I am sure you're wondering...yes - we sign autographs! 

We are down to 5 days until Marathon Sunday!  My brother, Erik, and his wife arrive on Friday.  He was the first to register from the state of Georgia for the 50-state challenge:  50-state challenge article.   Then it is par-tay time!  We definitely have a busy week, with not only the marathon, but Christian has junior prom on Saturday night.  I'll be sure to post pictures!

I had a friend ask me today if I was tired of running.  I'm not tired of running, just tired of training.  It will be nice to go for a run because I want to, not because I have to. I know Christian agrees.  I am also kinda nervous, but of course, Christian isn't nervous...yet.  Do you think he knows what is happening on Sunday??   Of course he does, it's the Sunday before the Sunday he gets to finally sleep in! 

We invite you to come cheer us on in Kalamazoo. There is music throughout and lots of excitement.  We're going to have a great time!!  Finish line here we come!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Unsung Heroes

With only 9 days left until the Kalamazoo Marathon, I have been thinking more and more about the unsung heroes of our race.  These people would be our everlasting support and our constant cheerleaders.  They are the people who have to love us but don't necessarily want to hear about the marathon 24/7 but they do, and they listen and smile anyway.  They're our family.

We owe them a lot.  For Christian and I, this is mostly my husband, Roger, who deals with our early rising every Sunday morning.  He patiently waits for us to return so we can get ready and leave for church - which always seems rush, rush, rush.  He never gets angry if we're running late, he always asks how the run was and even fixes me coffee to-go for the car ride.  He never seems to tire of "marathon talk" and is our biggest advocate.  He cheers us on and is so excited that there are three generations of our family running.

For my dad, his unsung hero is my mom. Since Dad is doing all of his training alone, she goes out and rides her bike with him or meets him along the way to cheer him on or at least make sure he's still running.  She too never seems to tire of the marathon talk.  She will be running a 5k the day of the race and I am sure will be our loudest cheerer at the finish line - More Cow Bell, Mom!!!

Erik, who is coming from Atlanta, is wonderfully supported by his wife, Danielle.  She knows the routine of his neurotic training regiment but is a great support.  We are so glad she will be here to help cheer us on as well - we can use all the help we can get!

So, THANK YOU to our wonderful family, our cheerleaders, our support, our unsung heroes.  We know its been a long 8 months, thanks for hanging in there!  We'll have a big party at the Finish Line!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Well, THAT was a Long Drive!

Happy Easter!  I hope you enjoyed a beautiful Easter Sunday!  Our weather was beautiful and perfect for running, which we did bright and early at 7am - 14 miles strong. 

On Saturday we drove the marathon route.  I have been fortunate to run a few parts of it during my weekday runs but Christian hasn't really seen any of the course.  Christian was my navigator as we scoped out mileage and terrain. We discovered a few pretty tough hills; one at about 9 miles and another at about 21 miles.  We got a little lost in one of the neighborhoods we run through because the street signs weren't visible.  Fortunately, I noticed the roads are getting their mileage markings and arrows, so hopefully we won't have the same mix up on the big day.  We found a few key spots where I am hoping our cheerleaders will hang out to cheer us on.  We returned to the finish line what seemed like an hour later.  We all decided that was a long drive.

So if that was a long drive, do you think it will be a long run too?  Let's try not to focus on that right now.  Here are the directions and a map if you want to check out the official route:  Kalamazoo Marathon Course

During our run on Sunday, I told Christian we shouldn't focus on the mileage so much for the marathon, but more on having fun.  I told him we will see the city in a whole new way, so let's just have a good time and do our best.  I don't think I got a response.

We did agree that we are both getting excited.  Christian followed up with:  "So, I can finally sleep in on Sunday."  I agree that will be nice too.  It is getting exciting and I am sure we will be flooded with all kinds of emotions when we cross the finish line.

With only 12 days to go, the end will be a definite change.  We will have to expand our topics of conversation since the marathon encompasses so much of it now.  I guess we can rely on at least another 1-3 months of marathon discussion, replaying the race, the hills and each turn.  We will also have so much free time on our hands, what will we do?  I hope we don't fall into a post-marathon depression.  Nah!  We'll just pick up another race to do! 

Keep on Running!  May 8th - here we come!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's the Beginning of the End

Today is the first day of our last week of hard training.  We got up at 6am, out the door at 7am (well...7:15..someone was dragging his feet a bit) and ran 18 miles this morning.  For the most part it was pretty painless.  Sure, our muscles are a little sore, and we are a little tired, but 18 miles just doesn't scare us like it used to.

Yesterday, as I ran a mere 4 miles, I couldn't help but reflect on our early days of training.  Christian and I joke about it often, how in those days (just 6 months ago), 7 miles was a long run.  On our first 8 mile run, we had to take a water break half way through.  What amateurs we were.   OK, I guess we are still novice marathon runners, seeming how we haven't even got to the big day yet, but we chuckle a bit at how many obstacles we seemed to over come in those early days.  Eight miles..HA....that ain't nothin' now!

It's been an amazing journey so far, and we still have 20 more days until race day.  As we look over the route and get mentally prepared, I can't help but get a little verklempt.  First, it is a huge accomplishment to run a marathon.  Not everyone can do it, not everyone does it, and if it was easy, everyone would.  Second, I get to run it with my son!  I know that is the whole point of this blog.  You're telling me you got it, right?  But I have to admit that this training together has really been fun.  We have certainly had some bumps in the road, but how many parents can say they get to spend several solid hours of quality time with their teenager every week.  How many teenagers are willing to spend that with their parents?  I've enjoyed every moment and I feel so lucky to be having this experience.  Christian and I have had conversations we may never have had otherwise, and we will certainly partake in an event that very few accomplish.  I feel that I am the luckiest mom in the world!  When we are all through, I will certainly miss this time together.

We have two more Sunday runs before the marathon which are 14 miles and 10 miles and we both agree that's not so bad.  I do have to admit that we are both looking forward to Sunday number 4. That's the Sunday after the marathon when we finally get to sleep in.

I just have to add that Christian has worked really hard over the past several months.  I mean, yes, we both have, but I think a lot is to be said for a 16 year old who is willing to go through months of hard training such as this.  See, it's not a school sport. There is no medal at the end or cheerleaders on the sidelines.  There's no state finals or picture in the yearbook.  It's just us and we haven't given up - Christian hasn't given up.   "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize."  1 Cor 9:24

We're determined, we've worked hard, and we won't be the first to cross the finish line, but we WILL win the prize.  Mark your calendars - May 8th.  Race begins at 7:30am - come out and cheer us on. We can use your support!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Promise

I have been hesitant to blog about "the Promise."  I guess because I am really excited about it and I don't want it to go away.  See, if you know Christian at all, you know that he can change his mind...frequently.  One might say he changes his mind as often as a woman.  I wouldn't know what that means really...OK, maybe I would....no, I was wrong, I don't know what that means.  Anyway, Christian made me a promise and I don't want him to change his mind.

This is the story:  Several weeks ago we were on a Saturday run, nothing too strenuous.  We're talking and laughing and just enjoying the casualness of it.  Up to this point, we had been running most of our long runs (which we do on Sundays) together at first and then Christian would run ahead the rest of the way.  This was no problem for me; his pace was much faster and I know I was holding him back.  I had figured that based on his pacing and continued training, he would have a very good chance of running the Kalamazoo Marathon at a pace that would earn him a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon.  So we are about a quarter of a mile from home and here's what Christian says:

          "Mom, I've made a decision.  For the marathon, although I could run ahead, and I might really want to, I'm not going to. We are going to run this together the whole way and cross the finish line together."

Like any good mom I respond:
         "Christian, it's OK if you want to run ahead.  Don't let me hold you back."

          "Nope, we are running together the whole way."

I nearly broke into tears to know that my 16 year old, actually wants to spend time with me - I mean a solid 3 to 4 hour block of time.  I didn't cry though, because as any parent of a teenager knows, that would have been grounds to nullify the promise and I didn't want that to happen.  I am so excited.  We are going to have so much fun.  I mean sure, that was what my hope was when we had started this whole adventure, but as I have seen Christian progress, I was very much OK with the solo act.

Since the big declaration, we have had a few subsequent conversations about the promise.  These conversations have included stipulations by Christian where if any of the following happen, he will in fact run ahead.  These stipulations include:

        1.  I yell at him during the marathon (Do you think he means words of encouragement?)
        2.  I have to stop to use the bathroom (This may be inevitable, but I think it's just an empty threat)
        3.  I do anything to embarrass him (I'm a parent, and of course would never do this in any situation)

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed, and hoping for the best, that nothing breaks the promise.  I am pretty sure it won't as I figure he needs me as much as I do him.

27 days and counting....now we just have to decide what to do for our finish line celebration.  Whatever it is, we will be doing it together!  Leave a comment with any celebration suggestions!