Marathon Training Update

Back at the beginning of August, I set the goal of being able to do a half a marathon (13.1 miles) in three hours. That probably doesn’t seem like that big of a goal considering that I’m training for a marathon and have been for a good portion of the year now. Plus, back in May I walked 26.2 miles at one time – but the problem is that I walked a lot of that time. I have to cut nearly two hours off of the almost-eight-hours that I did back then.

So, to make a long story short: During the time I was in North Dakota I not only ate whatever I wanted (instead of being Paleo like I normally am), but I didn’t do any running whatsoever. Sure, I walked 2-4 miles a day, but that is not the same as running. Then, when I got back to Ohio, I still wasn’t home, and although I walked more, I still didn’t get much running and healthy eating in. So, I was woefully behind in my training.

One of my first training walks/runs in August made me feel as if I were about to melt into a little ball of nothingness. At the end of an hour I was huffing and puffing and feeling quite dramatic and out of shape. When I figured it up and realized I hadn’t even gone at a fast enough pace to complete the marathon in the six hour time slot I had to work with, I was horrified. I couldn’t even keep up the pace for one hour? And I needed to do it for six! I promptly (as in that very moment), decided to be Paleo without any “cheat days” until after the marathon. Then I dove into eating healthily, drinking lots of water, and walking/running as much as possible.

A week later I was thrilled to accomplish my goal of 13.1 miles in 3 hours. Actually, a little over two minutes less than three miles. *cue happy dance* (haha, actually, cue aching legs and exhaustion)
I continued training, although most of the subsequent days I went for more of a 5 or six 6 practice, instead of 13 miles. Long walks/runs like that really take a lot of my energy, so I can’t do them too often or I wouldn’t accomplish much else. 
Eventually I did do 10 miles in 2 hours walk/run, which made me happy because it was by far the fastest I’d gone. (It also helped me put stuff in perspective: Instead of just being annoyed at myself  because I’m not faster/better than that, it helped me recall how until this year I’d never even done ten miles at once. Plus, about six months ago I literally couldn’t even jog for more than two or three minutes.)  

I wanted to get one more good run in during August, so I juggled things around yesterday and set aside three hours to work with. I then decided to have fun with the run and do it inside on the treadmill while watching a movie. (It’s still hard work, folks!)

By the end of two hours my legs were beginning to beg me to slow down, but I was like “haha, no.” Most of the time I traded off between 4.2 (which isn’t running, but for my short legs it’s still a really fast walk), and 5.2 (which is running…It feels like I’m galloping, actually, although I once saw my reflection and thought my legs looked like they were moving extremely slow).

When I reached the three hour mark, I was so very close to have gotten a whole extra mile in, that I went for 3 more minutes and ended my run with 14.1 miles. (And yes, I might have freaked out a little bit about keeping that pace up for twice as long, but hey…I’ve got 45 more days to train…)

Overall I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity to run a marathon. I’m so grateful that God has blessed me with the health I now have, and that I can work toward improving it by eating healthy, exercising, and getting proper rest. It’s been a long road, but an exciting one.

Thanks for letting me share my marathon updates with y’all. I hope you’re having a fantastic day!

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Have you ever run (or wanted to run) a marathon? Does it even sound like fun to you? 

A Childhood Dream

I’ve been fascinated with marathons since I first found out what they were, and I’ve known for a long time thanks to Patch the Pirate’s Mount Zion Marathon audio adventure. My sister and I listened to that story so many times that I can still quote about half of it. (Once when I was seven I got in trouble for quoting a sentence to the wrong person at the wrong time. Ooops.)

The main character in the story is Christian, the adopted son of the King of Mount Zion. Christian has been training to run in the olympic marathon and his goal is to win it to bring his Father glory. Obviously the story is a parallel of the christian life, a concept I don’t think I quite grasped as a child.
Throughout the adventure, a marathon is pretty much portrayed as the most physically exerting activity in the world. I was in awe when I first realized that normal people were actually able to run marathons. And my dream of running one was born.

As I’ve mentioned on here, this last February I started training for a marathon that’s taking place in October. Last week I broke all previous records I had with walking and managed to get 26.2 miles in over the span of two days. I was thrilled. Of course that just made me itch to do a marathon length in one day. I mean, if I could do it in two days, how hard could it be to do it in only one? 
Well, today I found out. 
Our time in Mexico is fast drawing to a close, so I decided today might be my last day to get a really long walk/jog in. Last night I planned to go to bed early (although it was probably around 11 when I got to sleep), and set my alarm for 4:39. After confusedly awakening this morning I remembered what was going on and hastened to get ready for the day, including some stretches since I hadn’t stretched well after my last long walk/run and had felt it for several days. 

It was 5:10 when I started walking. Since it was still dark out I ran on the little curving and breaking sidewalk behind the house where there are outside lights. It’s only 93 steps from one side to the other, so I went back and forth a lot. After a little over four miles it was pretty light, so I took my shoes off and headed down to beach. 
The first 9 miles included a lot of jogging. Then my legs began aching and the next four miles were a little slower, although I was still fairly pleased with my progress. My original goal was to do 26.2 miles in one day, not all at once. After thinking about it though, I figured Why break it up? and so I didn’t.
Several of my siblings kindly left water bottles for me to pick up (since I was going back and forth on the beach, this was rather easy). And, my little bro even brought me a banana and peanut butter per request, since I hadn’t eaten anything before starting. By that time I was at around mile 16 and my legs were really tired. I couldn’t help but be amused as I walked down the beach with a container of peanut butter and knife in one hand and a banana in the other. The people here are probably wondering about the strange habits I exhibit. 
About this time it was beginning to get fairly hot and my feet were aching, so I wanted to put shoes on, so I headed toward the house. Last week my sister had dared me to walk a mile in the house, just going around and around. Now I’m the kind of person who totally ignores dangerous dares, but a harmless one? Well, lets just say that altogether I ended up walking around the table and living room furniture hundreds, if not thousands, of times as I wracked up 6 or 7 miles inside. It was also nice because I was needing some distraction so I downloaded an audio book and listened to that for a while. 
I had fun shaking my head at my reflection in the windows as I walked outside for the final bit. And when I say “walk,” I really mean “limped pitifully.” It was quite laughable. Before today I’ve never done more than 10 or possibly 11 miles at once, and 16 in one day. I’ll leave it up to y’alls imagination  to picture just how slow, limpy, and dragging those final miles ended up being.  
Then, victory! 7 hours, 58 minutes, and 47 seconds after I started, I finished the 26.2 miles. Yay! Except for a few stretches during the last couple of hours I basically didn’t stop at all the whole time. It was an amazing experience. I’m very much looking forward to cutting down my time between now and next time I do a 26.2 mile day. But, of course before that happens I have to regain use of my aching limbs… 

Walking Goals: Twenty-Four Miles in Two Days Challenge

I’d been hoping to accomplish my 24 Before 24 challenge of walking 24 miles in two different days while here in Mexico. Monday walked 8 miles in the morning and then did 2 more in the evening. (It’s so hot here I can’t walk a lot during the day.) 

I was excited about the possibility of getting my 24 miles in during two days – I only had to get 14 miles in on Tuesday and I’d be able to mark it off my list. It was a slightly daunting task though, since I’ve never done more than 10 or 11 miles in a day, and I’ve only done that about twice. Nevertheless, I set my alarm and got up early Tuesday morning and then set out to beat the heat. 

Walking on the sand is fun, especially with the cool water washing over my feet, but after a while my feet start feeling the lack of support. So, Tuesday morning I started out wearing tennis shoes – one of the first times I’ve put them on during the last month. The problems is that the beach is wet and damp shoes aren’t exactly my forte, so after 3 miles I took them off and was instantly relieved. 

It’s amazing the amount of changes that occur on the beach in a several-hour time period. I was walking back and forth over about a mile and a half range, so I kept seeing the same stretch of beach over and over again, yet the sand looked different with the tide sweeping in and out. Shells would arrive, ripples would appear, and a fair amount of dead fish would wash up.

Tuesday morning was cloudy which meant I was able to walk longer than usual and I got 10 miles in. Then, the sky was over cast again in the evening before supper so I rushed out to try and get my last 4 miles in. During most of this time I’d been walking at a moderate pace, only a little over 3 miles an hour. I know that’s not much at all, but the sand really does make it a bit more difficult than regular walking.

I was excited to get over 4 miles in during the next hour before supper. It took quite a bit of jogging (I don’t power-walk on the beach very well), but I stashed a water bottle on the beach and the water helped keep me going. By this time I’d discovered that no matter how soft sand appears to be, after walking over it for 24 miles, it loses it’s softness. I quite literally sanded my feet and they hurt.

By this time though, I was no longer satisfied with reaching my 24 Before 24 challenge, instead I wanted to do a marathon over the period of two days. My family kindly excused me from dishes after supper so I could hurry out and get two more miles in before it was too dark. I’d been out walking at sunrise and sunset for two days now and I was enjoying it a lot. 

The sky was cloudy and therefore there wasn’t anything to see when it came to the sunset, but the wind was blowing nicely (some evenings it’s difficult to walk in because it blows so hard) and the air was cooling down from the 100 degree day. It was perfect weather for finishing up my two-day marathon. 
I was tired by this time, but determined to keep going. I knew that eventually the pain of the exercise would abate and I’d be that much closer to reaching my goal of running a marathon in October. I went back and forth between listening to an audio book on fast speed and praise and worship music, and finally, right before dark, I accomplished my goal. 
26.2 miles in 7 hours and 45 minutes isn’t spectacular, it’s not award winning, and it’s not a what most people dream of, but to me, it was fantastic. It showed me how very far I’ve come along in my quest for health and reminded me that my goal of a marathon really is within reach. 
That night my feet ached and my sister kindly rubbed them for me, but it was so worth it. I gave myself a break yesterday and this morning from long-distance walking, but I’m eager to jump back and and cut my walking time down considerably.  
And now for a 26.2 miles in one day… 

Hitting Milestones and Celebrating

On December 20th of last year I was musing about health issues I’d been experiencing (a leftover from my years fighting Lyme disease and some chemical allergies) and I wanted to pray that I’d feel better during 2016, then I realized something rather convicting. I wasn’t actively caring for my health like I should, so therefore praying and asking God to make me feel better was actually a lazy way out. Yikes.

Back when I was actively getting over Lyme disease I’d been very intentional about what I ate, making sure to fill my body with proper nutrients by eating Paleo. Paleo is a very natural diet consisting of vegetables (although not things like white potatoes, and peas), fruit, meats, eggs, nuts (not peanuts), and seeds and cutting out processed foods, white starches, grains, dairy, legumes, etc…

So, I decided to eat Paleo for 100 days and see how I felt. Not one to delay starting a challenge, I jumped on board the next day, although I did allow myself to have Christmas day free. (By the way, I don’t think everyone needs to be as strict as me, nor do I plan on always being strict, it’s just that overcoming other hurdles means I have to work extra hard.)

Over the next 100 days I noticed a shift. It wasn’t long before I began feeling better, but even on the days when I didn’t feel well, I wasn’t nearly as discouraged because I knew I was doing something to make a difference in my long-term health.

Then I began walking more, wanting to get into shape. On February 15th a friend suggested I start training for a marathon, which has been a life-long dream of mine, so I jumped on board. Around that time I also began rereading Every Body Matters. I started the book feeling confident that I could breeze through it, being encouraged but knowing I was on right on track. As I read though, I realized that although I was doing well with eating and excising I didn’t have healthy habits regarding sleep. Oopps. So that changed. Instead of staying up until the wee hours of the morning, I began trying to go to bed by 10:30 or 11:00 four to five nights a week.

And do you know what? Those changes have made a gigantic difference in my life. I am so incredibly, wonderfully happy that I committed myself to changing my lifestyle and I’ve been feeling leaps and bounds better than last year.

Take for instance my training for a marathon. At the beginning of March I set a goal to walk or jog 100 miles during the month. That was quite the daunting task since I’ve probably not even walked half that amount in a month before, but I was confident it could be done.

The first week I managed 25 miles and was pretty excited. Then I was informed I should jog and after doing math on how long it would take me to walk a marathon, I agreed. The next week I had a goal of jogging 20 minutes out of the entire week, 1 to 2 minute spurts at a time. It was hard folks, really hard, and I barely accomplished it. But by the end of the next week, guess what? I jogged (at 5 mph) for 28 minutes out of 60 minutes, mostly going in 3 minute spurts. I was ecstatic. Seeing the difference that less than a month of training had made was amazing. Then week 4 came and to my great surprise I ended up jogging (again at 5. mph) for 24 minutes straight, which was two miles.

I seriously never knew that I could change my health, my stamina, and my lifestyle so quickly. Each week I take two rest days from training (per the advice I’ve received), and genuinely miss walking on those days.

Yesterday was day 100 of Paleo, and I had told myself all along that no matter if I decided to stay on Paleo or not, I’d take day 101 as a celebration day where I could eat whatever foods I wanted. This morning though, instead of chowing down on the cheesecake I’ve been saving for the last week, I headed up to the treadmill with my computer to celebrate with an early morning walk/jog.

The most I’ve done in one day is 8 miles, and today I wanted to do 10. Two hours and twenty-five minutes later I had accomplished my goal. Excitedly marking it down in my book, I added up my miles for the entire month and… Not only did I reach my 100 miles, but I blew past it, walking or jogging a total of over 121 miles in 31 days.

It’s been a good 100 days and I’ll be back at Paleo soon, but for now? I think I’m gonna go and eat that cheesecake and then nibble on some white chocolate.