Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Healthy, Happy, Blessed: My Post Marathon Blog!

My last blog post was in November, which is not surprising to me since I had a busy school year along with MARATHON TRAINING that started in January. I've been meaning to write about marathon #4's success, despite the heat on race day. I'm happy I'm blogging and reflecting on it right now, because it makes me pumped and excited for marathon #5 that I will begin training for in August: the St. Jude Memphis Marathon!

I started my marathon training in January after some healing, cross training, and strengthening the plantar fasciitis that struck my foot in late June of 2016. Plantar fasciitis is no joke. There were some days that the pain was so bad that you could barely walk, and sleeping (yes, sleeping) was a nightmare. This injury is so unpredictable. I talked about this in my past blog, but long story short, I did what Dr. Ocampo told me to do, and that also meant to not run, which NO runner wants to hear that. June, July, August, September, October, November...but then December came, and all the cross training (thank you Bikram Hot Yoga Huntsville), strengthening, resting, Aleve, good running shoes and good work shoes, and rolling my arch paid off! The picture below is from a yoga/pilates challenge in January; I attended 22 days in the month of January! Fleet Feet also recommended the Sacouny Guide 9s for me along with Superfeet insert (I had NEVER worn inserts, and I had NEVER worn Sauconys). Despite my second thoughts on both recommendations, they were right, and those inserts and shoes helped me cross the finish line for marathon #4! 

I was so excited to be back, and it felt so good to be back. I've said it once and I'll say it again, fitness pals are the best, and the Panera Pounders along with the rest of the running community in Huntsville are amazing. It was like I never left, like I was never sidelined with plantar fasciitis, and my friends made me feel so welcome, so strong, so encouraged...it made training for marathon #4 even more fun! These people have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly on short and long runs, and I'm just thankful for their friendship. I used Hal Higdon's "Marathon Novice 2" training plan (he has A LOT of free and detailed training plans: click here) and I incorporated my Bikram Hot Yoga practice along with my hot pilates classes into the marathon training plan, and I can honestly say training for this marathon felt much easier than any other marathon or 50k I trained for (cross training is your friend!). I felt much stronger, my pace was really consistent in my long training runs, and I didn't have as many aches and pains. I even got close to a 5k PR (Cookie Dash 5k) and a half marathon PR (Mercedes Half Marathon) during marathon training, which is crazy to me! My long distance training runs were faster for me as well, close to a 10 minute mile. But again,  training was great, and I was down to 120 lbs as well, which I hadn't been in awhile. It was just a good feeling. :) During the last few weeks of marathon training, I was sure that I would have a new marathon PR and beat my previous 4 hour 35 minute time because my training runs, and especially my long runs, were strong, consistent, and pain free, but race day had different plans. ;-) 
HES Running Club at the Cookie Dash 5k. I missed a 5k PR by 20 seconds!

Days earlier, we received an email that the temperatures on race day will be hotter than normal (it ended up being the hottest Country Music Marathon to date), so I was hydrating even more with water and gatorade to be ready for race day. After that, another email was sent out that the start time will be 45 minutes earlier due to heat. For some odd reason, I wasn't really nervous, I kept my cool, which is surprising for me. I just kept reflecting on how training had gone so well, and that the hot yoga room also had me prepared for the heat and how to handle it. I was right. Long story short, around mile 7, it become REALLY hot and humid, and my whole mindset changed. I remember at that point thinking, "Holly ,it's so great to be back running, but I need you to run SMART today. Listen to your body. Let's back off on this pace; a PR is not the goal anymore. Let's get water and/or gatorade at every station. Run the mile you're in; focus on one mile at a time and celebrate the victories of each mile." 

My gut instinct was right. I am so happy that I slowed my pace down and continued to hydrate. The temperatures continued to climb, and conditions got scary. I saw people pass out, fall out, runners on stretchers, and even two runners having seizures. Medic tents were full.  It felt like a death march from mile 13 to the finish line, but, once again, I felt trained and prepared (here is an article about the race conditions here). I honestly felt at peace and I really felt like I could finish the race. Due to the conditions, the race directors even cut back the cut off times, and as I was at mile 24, I saw volunteers and police ask runners to stop running at mile 20 due to the heat and humidity. People were angry, crying, upset, frustrated, EVERYTHING emotion you could imagine. So much emotion. I can't imagine being told at mile 20 that I had to get off the course, but I knew it was done due to the tough conditions. I remember that I started praying for them  because I felt so bad that they got that far and were asked to quit. I also remember at mile 25 that I was jogging  but I didn't even feel like I was doing the moving, it was like my legs were going on their own and I was just on cruise control. :-) When I saw that finish line, I cried happy tears because I was still moving, I was still upright, and I had never been so relieved to see a finish line! Even though it was my "worst" marathon time (4 hours, 56 minutes), I was so proud to finish and I was just so happy to be running again after dealing with painful plantar fasciitis! It may have been my "worst" marathon, but it was my STRONGEST marathon! Needless to say, the post race nap was GREAT, and the Mexican food with Leslie and Kayla was even GREATER! 

This was my third time running and fundraising as a St. Jude Hero, and I have met my fundraising goal every time! A St Jude Hero is a runner who pledges to donate, fund raise, educate, and post about St Jude Research Hospital throughout their half marathon or marathon training. A St Jude Hero chooses the fundraising goal that they wish to reach by race day. I am now running as a St Jude Hero for the 4th time. I am signed up for my fifth marathon: ST JUDE MEMPHIS MARATHON! I am so excited about training for a marathon again starting August 1st. Our donations make St. Jude happen, so if you can, please donate toward my St Jude Heroes account. YOU ROCK! Click here

I titled this blog "Happy, Healthy, Blessed" due to a sermon that my pastor preached on this past Sunday. I REALLY needed to hear that sermon; the last few months have been a challenge for me...BUT...I can't let the past, circumstances, choices, people, negative thoughts, etc bring me down, but I did. I really did. I felt like it showed to my family, my friends, my spouse, my coworkers, everyone...and that really frustrated me. I want to be that person that is happy and people want to be around, but there were days that I didn't even want to be around myself. Part of my pastor's message, he reminded us that yes, you will have trails in your life, with your friends, with your health, with your job, etc, but our attitude, our words, our prayers, our thoughts, etc play a HUGE part on how things play out. Another things that hit home for me was that as a Christian, I am all about praying for others, but why do we not pray for ourselves? I'm the worst about being so hard on myself and not giving myself the prayer time and the "me time" that we all deserve. It's not being selfish if you are taking care of you. 

I am healthy. I am happy. I am blessed. I have TOO MUCH to be thankful for, and reflecting on marathon #4 and preparing for marathon #5 is reminding me of just that. :) I really do need to start blogging more; I am slacking! 


The main things it takes is a great pair of running shoes and a good training plan: don't do too much too quickly! As always, PLEASE message me if you have any questions. I never would have thought that I would enjoy running, let alone distance running. Here are a few links to help. As I mentioned in previous blogs, I HIGHLY recommend getting fitted for shoes; everyone's running gate is different. We have a place in Huntsville called Fleet Feet, and they will look at your feet, your walking gait, your running gait, etc and put you in the right shoes! Once again, feel free to message me! 

Until next time...go for a run, it might change your life! 

-Holly :)