Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday

Thought I'd share a picture from a Halloween party a few years ago. 
John McCain and Thelma. What a couple.. haha. 
You can't see my awesome orange socks in that picture so here's the full outfit:

Happy Halloween!
<3 Amy

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Running Through Deployment

I've started packing. I'm heading out with my mom pretty soon to Fort Lewis area to search for a place to call home and wait for James. 
My running accomplishments of the deployment.  
In pretty much one picture, this is what I accomplished during the deployment. This included my 10k medal, 5 half marathon medals, the caution tape "human lives" that I claimed from 4 human runners in my Zombie 5k last Sunday, and my greatest accomplish: my first marathon medal. Theoretically, I may do another race or two in 2012 but I'm done with racing until James gets home.

I also included my Team Salute singlet. Even though it was pretty uncomfortable, I did end up wearing it in the marathon. I exceded my goal of $520 and raised $657 for Salute Inc, an organization for military families in need. The Chicago Marathon Team Salute runners (about 100 of us) raised over $75,000. Training for the marathon became about something greater than just me, and I'm so proud that I was a part of it. 

It felt strange to lay it all out for the picture and step back and think.. did I really do all that? I also added up how many miles I ran. 751 miles since the day he left. Crazy! 

And of course, all the support I had from family and friends (and fellow blogger friends!) was amazing. My #1 fan is my husband. He supported me even from across the globe in ways that he could. Like a little encouraging note with some brand new nike running clothes in the mail.  
Nike running clothes beat flowers in my book any day. 
I thank God for the ability to run. Honestly, I'm not sure how else I would have gotten through this frightening year. That many races and miles and I remained injury free- praise God! Running is my therapy and antidepressant. It's how God introduced me to James and it's how I've been able to stay a (somewhat) sane and supportive wife for him through this deployment. 

Thanks for being a part of this journey with me. We're in the home stretch. 
<3 Amy

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Scary Picture Wednesday

I did a zombie run. Again. James and I actually did one last year. This year I did one with my brothers.  This year I actually did catch 4 humans (humans had 3 flags to signify "lives" and got a 20 second head start)! Here is a picture of the zombie start. Maybe not a "happy picture" but it was really a fun race so I'm using it anyway. And the zombie dude next to me does look pretty happy.
That's me in the orange singlet and my two brothers to the right of me. I know. I look pretty scary. We added some blood last minute so I actually didn't even know I looked that scary until later. 

Then afterwards we went out to dinner and still had our Zombie make-up on. And yes, we got some stares. And scared a few children (unintentionally, mostly). It was fun. 

<3 Amy

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday

I'm the one rockin' Ranger shorts and the yellow socks. Yep. 
These are most of my favorite girls from the youth group that I volunteer for (including my co-leader and one of my best friends Sarah on the far right). This is back during a winter retreat and I know them and love them even more than when this picture was taken. I'm going to miss them a lot when I leave to go back to Fort Lewis.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Recovery and Relief

I hadn't heard from my husband in a several days. That always kind of makes me nervous when he's not able to give me a heads up about it. If I wake up randomly in the middle of the night, I'll sometimes check my iphone to see if I have any new emails from him.

Then this morning, he emailed me and told me that he was at his new location. He's now at a much safer place for the rest of the deployment and doesn't have any more patrols. No more worrying about IEDs or getting shot. He's on a big base with walls and barbed wire and guards with guns and lots of Americans. It took a few minutes for that fully to set in. Then I told my mom and asked her if we could break out some wine to celebrate. At 10am, haha. And then I started crying out of relief. 

The danger is pretty much over. I say pretty much, because it still makes me nervous that he's in Afghanistan at all. But really, the danger is over. I have to keep telling myself this, because I thought that I would feel a lot more relaxed than I do. There is still a part of me that will not be totally convinced until he's in my arms. 
It's been weird since the marathon. It's been 10 days and I haven't gone running at all since. I told myself that I would take a full 2 weeks off, but my brother just convinced me to do a Zombie 5k on Sunday. So I think I'm gonna have to try to do a few miles before then. It's probably a good time because I've started to feel restless anyway, especially with the beautiful weather. 
James is safer and I'm a lot happier. The ironic thing is that he's actually pretty unhappy with the new situation. He has less access to internet (long lines with 30 min limits) and only paperwork to do now. He's gonna be bored out of his mind. He did mention that at least he will be able to go running. 

I'm just sitting here after a long day and I'm praising God. For my husband's safety that I can't even totally believe yet. And for the fact that the end of the deployment is near. And for beautiful weather. And for running. Tomorrow, I'm going for a run. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Happy Picture Wednesday

Just in case you're new, I post a happy picture every Wednesday while my husband is deployed. This one makes me especially happy. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chicago Marathon

Chicago, I always knew you would be my first. Oh goodness, where do I even start?

The Expo. It was the biggest expo that I've ever been to. I kind of felt like I was at Disneyland for runners. They had a really cool wall that you could scan your number and your name would appear with "Amy Owns 26.2" or "Amy Owns Chicago." I actually waited in a line to get this silly picture but I'm glad that I did.

Not quite yet in this picture, but just hours away from owning! 
Nike Chicago (formerly Nike Town, which just opened back up after about 6 months of remodeling) had this pretty cool thing going with the hashtag #ownchicago and the @chimarathon tag. There was this screen (that Nike Chicago also tweeted) that was made of twitter names. The more that you tweeted about it, the bigger your name was. Apparently I tweeted about @chimarathon a lot. 

@RunningArmyWife in red on the left! 
So I thought that was pretty dang cool. Then I went over to try to sign up for one of the official Nike Pace teams and hit a conundrum. There was a 4:10 group and a 4:25 group. Not a 4:15 group. Dangit. I decided that I was cautious too often with my pace so I decided the heck with it, I'll sign up for 4:10. I still figured I could use the 4:15 pace tattoo as a backup plan. This actually meant that I had to move back in the corrals (for some reason I ended up in a fast corral that I should have had to qualify for) so the number up in the picture above is not actually the one I ran with. 

The Morning-Of. I woke up at 4:30. Well, that's what time my alarm went off anyway. Jumped in the car with my parents and my brother and drove into the city in the dark. 
Seeing the Chicago Flag and the American Flag made me even more excited. 
My family stopped and had breakfast (still dark) in a Dunkin' Donuts downtown. I ate exactly one Pop Tart, which has been my "long run" breakfast ever since I discovered that it worked for me earlier on in training. I had my gels in my Camelbak, along with my iphone so my parents could use "Find My Iphone" to know where I was. 
My brother, me, my dad pre-race 
Then around 7:15, I said bye to my parents and headed off to the start. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about how hard it would be to find my corral and pace group. But it wasn't hard at all. 

I was a little annoyed to see that it was supposed to be 4:15 group that apparently got changed after the sign was printed. Oh well. Then I turned around and literally 3 feet away from me was a friend of mine from my old running club. 
Me and my friend Julie
45,000 runners and we end up next to each other in the corral? Pretty amazing.  

I kind of wish that I had taken more pictures at the start, since I had the phone. But I was just too nervous. So I put my phone away at 7:45 and waited anxiously for the 8:00 start. 

The Race. I'm not sure if it was girl-issues or just the emotion of the moment, but I got a little teary-eyed as I crossed the start line. I know! The start line? I guess it was just all that training for 18+ weeks had lead up to this moment. I quickly told myself to "man up" and concentrate, so the moment didn't last long. I ran with Julie and the pace group for about the first 8 miles or so, but they were going just a bit fast for me so I decided to drop off. 
The Garmin did work pretty well, except for a couple times in the Loop area. Just too many tall buildings. I'm pretty sure my first mile was not an 8:20. We ran right into a tunnel so I think that's what made it screwed up there. I also don't think that mile 3 was 10:58. But honestly, the rest of the splits look pretty dang close. 

I got into a pretty good pace and stayed pretty much around 9:45 on my own.  My parents took this quick video of me around mile 16. My mom is shouting "1 mile to Kelly!" because my best friend Kelly (a 2-time Chicago Marathoner) jumped in and ran with me for miles 17, 18, and 19. She was so encouraging and awesome, and it really helped looking forward to running with her. 

"It's going to get really hard, but you have to decide to keep going," Kelly told me at one point. She was awesome. Up until about mile 20, I wouldn't have said that the marathon was really any harder than I've worked in a half marathon. In fact, I would go as far as to say that mile 1-15 were actually pretty fun. Then 15 up to 20 was bearable. Then it hit me at 20. 

Hal Higdon said "there is something about crossing the 20-miler barrier, often referred to as 'The Wall,' that tears us apart." Even afterwards, it was amazing how many people I heard talking about those last 6 miles. All the sudden, everything started getting really really tight and hurting everywhere. My feet, my legs, my back, even my butt muscles hurt. If you look at my splits above, you can see my times start to drop. I just wasn't prepared for it mentally. Up until that point, I was on pace for a 4:15. The reason I ended up with a 4:20 was all in those last 6 miles. 

The Finish. It was pretty amazing to see the finish line. I got a little teary-eyed but I can't say I was super-happy at that point. I was happy with my time, but honestly I felt so crappy that it was hard to enjoy it. I honestly don't even remember if I raised my arms or not (like I kind of wanted to when I pictured myself finishing) because it was all sort of a blur. I do remember that I instantly felt cold. I got my little foil wrap thingy to put over my arms and I got some Gatorade. Then I had to walk .8 miles (I measured on satellite later) to meet my family at the Team Salute tent. 

The .8 mile walk was every bit as (if not more) miserable than the last 6 miles. I was in pain from the tightness in my muscles. The cold was making everything tighter. I was cold. I wished that James was there. I was thankful again for my huge sunglasses, because I cried a little bit (again) because of how miserable I was. 

Post-Race. Once I got back to the tent, everything got better. I got about 6 coats and sweatshirts piled on me, some hot coffee, and Kelly and my family was there to hug me and tell me congratulations. Eventually the trainer that Team Salute had in the tent helped me stretch out my of the tight muscles. He pressed half a dozen places and asked me if it hurt. I said yes to pretty much all of them. "Wow, you're in bad shape aren't you?" Honestly, I was kind of proud to hear that. If I had been in good shape, I could have pushed myself further, right?  

Then I got home and immediately got under my covers and went to sleep. Without even changing. I still even had my numbers on (the race bib and the pace group number on my back). Then I woke up in panic because I realized I was nauseous from being so hot. I think once my legs finally warmed up, they got really inflamed. So I took an ice bath (NOT fun but I told myself the pain was nothing compared to what I just did. It still sucked) and some ibuprofen. I guess I just wasn't expecting it to suck so much after the race

Conclusion. I completed my first marathon! Seriously, praise God. I didn't hit the time I was hoping for exactly, but it was a bit of a shot in the dark, since it was my very first one. I'm actually really happy with my time. I'm incredibly proud of myself for training for this all pretty much on my own, but I was still really sad that James couldn't be there. 

It's now really strange to be done. The whole year has been a countdown to the marathon, knowing that James comes home really soon afterwards. It's almost surreal that it's over now.  Now what am I gonna do with myself for these next couple weeks? I guess I do need to start packing.. :) 
<3 Amy

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Butterflies & A Badly-Fitting Singlet

Oh, golly it's coming fast. It's hard to believe that I signed up for this race 8 months ago. Holy cow. I just got my confirmation ticket/packet in the mail the other day. It's a 36-page participation guide booklet. I'm a little overwhelmed to say the least. Soo much information.
My pace tattoo also came. For 4:15. Ah I don't even know if 4:15 is realistic for me. I'm still going by Jeff Galloway's Magic Mile calculator.

Also, I met my goal for my Team Salute fundraising. Yay! Actually I went over. I have some awesome friends and family. Here's the only problem.. I'm not really a fan of the Team Salute singlet.
So.. in Brooks and Nike stuff, I'm pretty much always a small. This is actually a medium. It's too short, and the neck holes and arm holes are too small. Plus, I kind of wanted to wear a bright color so that my family could pick me out easier in the crowd. Since I hit $500 in my fundraising, I'm supposed to get a Team Salute running hat. I'm hoping that me just wearing the hat will be a nice compromise. I looked on the site and noticed that EVERY single person in the marathon last year wore their shirt, at least in the picture. I'm hoping that I can either exchange for a different size or just be a rebel and only wear the hat. Or only wear the shirt for the picture.

Overall, I'm pretty nervous. Of course, I had to pick the second largest marathon in the world (The New York Marathon is the only one that has more people in it). I think the sheer hugeness of the race is pretty intimidating. But also very exciting. I've always wanted Chicago to be my first.

The weather is supposed to be awesome.
A low of 37 degrees the night before and a high of 53. That's actually a lot cooler than I was anticipating too. I might even wear arm warmers for the first part of the race. My mom has an old pair of sweat pants that she said I could wear and then leave at the start (local charities come by to collect clothes that people abandon at the start), so that's my plan for keeping my legs warm.

So anyway.. I basically get butterflies whenever I think about it. I'm super-excited and kind of scared to death at the same time. I know I've done everything I could do to prepare for it, but I'm still nervous that I'll have a bad day after all the preparation that I put in. I honestly don't remember the last time I was this nervous before a race. My first half marathon? My first college race? I have no idea. But it's definitely up there.

*deep breath* Okay, how to you prepare and calm yourself for big events like this? Any tips?