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, 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 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!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Working out all the Kinks

Today was the longest run before the marathon - 22 miles.  I think Christian and I are both in agreement when I say, it was also our worst run ever!  I am OK with that, though, in that we worked out all the kinks so we are prepared for the big day - the day that counts - marathon Sunday! 

We are counting down with just over a month left.  As I look at our training schedule we only have three hard weeks of training including this week and then two weeks of tapering until the marathon.  Tapering, is the gradual decrease in mileage and intensity in preparation of running 26.2 miles.

When we planned our run today, we both decided that we weren't so worried about the mileage so much as we just really didn't want to get up early.  We got up at 5am and were out the door by 6:02am.  Needless to say, we are really looking forward to a Sunday when we can sleep in.  As we left the house, it was dark; the weather was chilly but not too bad. After about mile 18, the weather turned.  First, light snow, then heavy wet snow, then rain.  We are now prepared for every kind of weather condition on race day - except warm and sunny. 

Running wise, I felt pretty good.  Christian on the other hand had zero energy most of the time.  I think he has now learned that, yes, you do need more than pack of gel chews to get you through 20+ miles - or at least I hope he has. I really don't want to go into all of our gory details that encompass the comedy of errors we experienced today, as I need to save some face. Let's just say that we learned a lot, we experienced some different things, we had a few epiphanies and race day will be great! 

With only 5 weeks left, I'm really glad we're on the downhill slide.  We are both just done.  We are ready to get this show on the road and get our lives back.  We are also wondering whose idea this whole marathon was to begin with.  It was mine, but don't tell will be our secret.  We are excited for race day, but mostly so this torture we call training will come to an end.   As Christian tells me every time we go out for a run...he's tired of running.  Then he tells me today, that maybe he'll train again next year...WHAT?!  Well....we'll see. 

One month and four days and counting....if you haven't checked out the marathon site lately, take a look:  Kalamazoo Marathon.   We are hoping to have a lot of fans cheering us on. We would love for that to be you.  I know it begins early (7:30am), but what else do you have to do?  Check it out, cheer us on, or leave a comment with some encouraging words.  Thanks for your support and encouragement!