Friday, February 26, 2010

Napa Valley Marathon Last Minute Instructions

You know you are close when you get the 'Last Minute Instructions' email.....which happened today!! The final week before is a mixed bag of emotions. It's hard to explain, and probably seems silly to you if you've never run a race before, or spent months training for something, or gone through the 'taper' process. I think we are both excited, nervous, ready, not ready, sad to see the whole process coming to an end, looking forward to the whole process coming to an end......I know we both have a love/hate relationship with taper weeks. It is just counter intuitive. Here we've been pushing and pushing, increasing our long runs up to 24 miles, never missing a long run, bike ride, or workout...and then we are supposed to take it relatively easy for 3 weeks before the main event. It just feels wrong! But it is just one more of the necessary aspects of training. You have to let your body recover, your muscles need time to repair themselves completely from your last long run before the marathon. Your body needs rest to preform at its peak I keep reminding myself. We are still running an average of 25 miles during these weeks and getting our bike rides and workouts in. Taper or no taper, Brian's bike rides and my workouts are non optional for sanity's sake, although I will try to take it easy on my legs this last week before. We are doing our last weekend run tomorrow after service. We will be running the 13 mile See Jane Run course in Alameda as our last run. This is our favorite 13 miler as it is so beautiful and goes by very quickly, so looking forward to that as our last Saturday run.

This is also the time we are really focused on things like protein, complex carbs, getting to bed early, figuring out what to wear, weather (as of now it will be raining), what to eat the night before, morning of, which socks to wear, ect. Also the mental aspect of doing anything to feel more confident comes into play this week. Would more crunches help my core feel more stable? More push ups, planks, squats?? Would more (insert pretty much anything here) give me that extra boost of confidence thatI am strong enough to finish this when I have my doubts climbing the hill at mile 19?

I'm pretty sure this last week will go by way too slow, yet way too fast at the same time! One thing is for sure, it's all part of the process, and as crazy as it can be at the end, we love every bit of it!!

If you are curious as to what the 'Final Instructions' consist of, you can take a look here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our Little Runner

Every now and then, someone will ask the hubby or me what helps us stay motivated. There are many, many answers to that, but a major one is our kids. In the beginning, it wasn't even a matter of getting healthy so that we could keep up with them. It was a matter of getting healthy so we would be here at all. 10 years of being morbidly obese will drastically reduce your life expectancy, something we had somehow never stopped to think about. Another thing that we didn't give much thought to was the damage we were doing to our kids. It was an everyday thing to hit the drive-thru at least once a day, if not twice, and what we cooked at home was equally as bad. Emma, being the oldest, took the brunt of our bad habits. I hate to think of the amount of damage our choices did to her. The good news is nearly all of the damage of obesity and living an unhealthy lifestyle can be reversed with living a healthy lifestyle, including eating healthy and exercising regularly. We hope that by establishing a certain routine with the kids, it will become a way of life not just for Brian and I, but the kids as well.

Which, for the above stated reasons, brings me to one of my most "Proud Mom" moments..... Emma had started to express a desire to 'run races' like mama and papa about the time Brian was training to do his first half marathon. This was the Surf City International Marathon and they just happened to have a kids 1 mile fun run. So while papa was pushing through his 13.1, Emma, Sophie, Bubba and I headed for the kids mile. I thought Em would walk/run it, but nope. She ran like lightning and was waiting at the finish line w/a smile, a race official, and a medal when I came staggering across the finish with Sophie on my shoulders and dragging Bubba by the hand. That race if well known for its awesome surf board medals, and they were enough to get her hooked!

After that run, she ran the kids race at the Sound to Narrows in Tacoma WA with her cousin. No medal, but she got a great shirt and a loaf of bread! She also decided at that point that she was ready to try a 5k. A 5k, with the grown up runners. Hmm....I wasn't sure if she was ready for that or not. Its one thing to run a kids race and finish middle of the pack, but I wasn't sure how she would handle finishing not so middle of the pack in a grown up race. What if she was last, would she care?? Or would that be good for her, reinforce what Brian and I have always said about running, its the finish that matters, not where in the pack you are when you finish.

Well, I promised her by the end of summer I would run a 5K with her. I waited till the last minute and registered us both for a 5k trail run through Brazen Racing. On August 29, 2009, Emma and I ran her first 5k. It was our first of what I hope to be many runs together, and meant more to me than she could possibly have known!! And man, did she run!! It was record breaking hot that day, we started at 8 and it was already in the 80's. She pushed herself pretty hard, and the aid station workers were a bit worried about her, they dumped water over her for a minute and sent her on her way with a cup of M&M's. A runner who was in the process of passing us stopped and checked on her, said she looked a bit hot, took a bottle of Gatorade out of his pack and insisted she have it. Once we got into the shaded, woods part of the run, she flew, and I mean flew! I have blurry pic after pic of her from behind, ponytail flying!

She finished 1st in her age division (out of 2). Which is something she knows her mama and papa have always dreamed of accomplishing, but never have, so she felt pretty high on life!! She savored every moment of the after race activities, ate and drank, filled her goody bag and got a whopping medal. To her, it was a race, but to me, it was assurance that we are on the right track! However we had compromised her health by keeping her alive on curly fries for 5 years, we were undoing the damage!

She went on to run another race through Brazen Racing, the Rocky Ridge 5k. She ran this with papa, and loved every second of it! Brian found the hills to be challenging, but Emma was again loving life! She finished again with a huge smile, 1st in her age division (out of 2). Brazen has amazingly huge medals. Seeing how she gets a finishers medal and an age division medal, she has a nice collection growing on the shelf in her room. Did I mention she, at 7, is the youngest runner they had ever had? Or how much fun we had jumping cow pies? More importantly, she has developed her own love of running and specifically trail running. She is seeing the benefits of being healthy, and soaking up the beauty of the trail and creation at the same time! We are super proud of our Little Runner and her love of life!

I should also mention that we are in love with Brazen Racing. This is their inaugural year, and they put on a stellar event. Their runs are challenging, but the rewards are worth it. Really, the courses are beautiful and challenging, medals are huge,the aid station volunteers are super, and the shirts are great quality. They have wonderful post race eats including It's It ice-cream sandwiches!! If you are thinking about giving trail running a go, we would highly recommend any Brazen event.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

For Our Most Amazing Nephew

Auntie and Uncle hope you are home and feeling better very soon! Who really needs an appendix anyway?? I hope these pics and video will make you smile! We love and miss you much and
can't wait to see you (and mom, dad, and sis) in June!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why Do You Run?

It's so not about the win!
We all have our reasons.
Running is funny, you either understand the addiction, or you don't, and there's no way to explain it to those who don't.
This video made me misty,
thought I'd share.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Napa Valley Marathon Update

With one day under a month to go, I thought I'd do an update on how training has been going and other random tidbits related to the marathon.

First, winter training is not the same as summer training! The weather has presented a few challenges for sure. In the summer, we dealt with heat, but always had the option to head towards the coast for cooler runs, or get out there early in the morning. We've had a huge amount of rain for our area, and other than the treadmill, no way of escaping it! While Brian and I don't mind running in the rain, we'd be pretty bad parents if we drug our kids out for a 3 hour run in the rain! We did break down this weekend and buy a weatherproof cover for the jogger, so at least Bub and Soph will stay dry in sprinkles. They both thought it was the coolest thing that they had their own "tent" to ride in! Em asked for one for her bike...I told her she could wear a garbage bag but she opted out. (She took a muddy shortcut and biffed it, check out her wound!) So needless to say, it has been challenging to get our runs in, but we have managed to stay on track, which brings me to our training schedule.

For both the Long Beach Marathon and Napa we have used the Marathon Rookies 16 week program. We jump in at about week 6, making it a 10 week program. As you can see from the pics, we basically use it as a guide, but we alter it as we need to. One major difference this time is that we have done shorter runs during the week. Last time around we did more 8 - 10 mile runs mid week, this time we have pretty much stuck to 5-6 mile runs, 4 times mid week, then our long run Saturday after service. Shorter runs seem the opposite of what you would want to do, but we have noticed a huge difference when it comes to our long runs. We feel much stronger in our long runs, and continue to shave significant time off of them. Our past 2 long runs, a 20 miler and a 22 miler, we were able to sprint the entire last mile. Seems silly, but to run that far and still be able to kick at the end is a big deal for us! We've also had less over use pains this time around. Knees and hips are holding strong so far.

Miles wise - Long Beach we put in a total of 346 training miles. We are currently at 287, on track to hit 392, which means we will break 400 including the marathon. (418 to be exact) Hard to imagine.

Fun tidbits....this is our last hard week of training. We will do our last long run ( 24 miler) this coming Saturday. After much research we are going w/a 3 week taper this time. Mainly because the latest info we have read has recommended that if your last long run is over 20 miles, you should use a 3 week taper for max muscle recovery....which sounds good to me! We will still keep up our mid week 5's, and Saturday runs of 10 - 13 miles for the last 3 weeks before the marathon....but the end of training is within site for sure!

We booked our hotel finally! Of course we waited one day too long and prices jumped while availability plummeted, but we found a nice little relaxing place about 3 miles from the finish. Why the finish, not the start?? Well, you catch a bus at the finish that takes you to the start, so we wanted to be as close to the finish as we could get. It's kind of a hybrid bed and breakfast slash hotel....has an extra deep soaking tub and a fireplace....what more could you want??

Most importantly, I found our post race eats!!! It would be impossible to top our last post marathon meal....I can still taste the nachos, every last one...the cheese, the meat, the cheese......but this place looks like a good runner up!

Alright, there's your update!!
We are off to finish one last hard week of training! If you guys are training for something, comment and let us know what your training for, and how its going!!

Friday, February 5, 2010


Jillian - "Daris, who are you?"
Daris - after a long, tearful, quiet moment, "I'm the fat, funny guy that always goes home alone."
Jillian - "How about you try being 'Daris the athlete' who lost 50 pounds in 6 weeks."

You could almost hear the click in his head, and you could see the new light in his eyes.

Muir Beach Trail Run, December 13, 2008 - Our Click Moment

Up at 5, we head out with the kids to pick up our friends Chris and Jen, who have volunteered to watch the kids and play on the beach while we run. Why they wanted to do this at 6 in the morning in December I still don't' know, but we were very grateful.

This was our first time doing a race together. Looking back, we knew very little about trail running, other than the obvious, its on a trail, not a road. One thing we know now is that while there are a variety of distances offered, trail running is primarily an Ultra sport. Trail runners are about endurance and distance, not speed. Most run Ultra distances, meaning more than 26.2 miles. We were going out on a limb and running the 11k, 7 miles, which was farther than we had ever ran before.

It didn't' take us long to figure out we were with a 'different' running breed. We were used to seeing the long, lean, gaunt faced runners of the road race. The runners we saw as we pulled into the parking lot were not that! They were very sturdy looking, much more muscular, and much more rugged. These were not the pretty, polished, matching outfit runners of road racing. Some were sitting in the back of their cars wrapping their feet in tape. We wondered why, and if we should have done the same. Some were rubbing what looked like clear
deodorant between their toes. Again, we weren't sure what to make of it. There were notably more men than women. There were more trail running shoes than street shoes. There were backpacks covering the ground near the start area. We had no backpacks and were not sure why we may have needed one, or why so many other people did need one.

The insecurities were running rampant as we waited for the start. They always are, this is pretty normal. Did we train enough? Will we finish last? Do they all know we've never done this before? Can they tell by looking we are new to this whole scene? Do they know we've never ran this far before? Once we are on single track, will we be able to keep up? (this was a big worry because once you are forced to run single file because the trail is so narrow, you don't want to hold up the person behind you. You also don't want to fall and have them fall over you!) Will we get lost? Are we sure we understand the ribbon system used to mark the trails??

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, air horn.

It's hard to explain what happens at the start of a race. All the anxiety goes away, your heart is pounding, but you quickly switch from worrying about all the external stuff that is beyond your control at this point, to the things you can control. Mostly in this race it was just keep pushing, don't fall, breath. There were very few flat sections. It was a loop course with an aid station at the far end of the loop. The beginning was uphill, then rolling single track, then around a corner and into a wall of stairs, more rolling fire road, aid station, then a massively long uphill of over a mile, ending with an equally massive downhill.

Still focused on speed, I did not eat anything at the aid station. I wanted to drink and keep moving, not lose time stopping to eat. It came back to bite me on the hill. We quickly realized why walking the uphills is the norm in trail running. But even walking was hard. I literally had Brian holding my hand pulling me up. Death seemed a great option compared to having my hubby pull me up a hill in front of these true athletes all around us. I was sure we'd finish last. I had a lot of doubts on that hill. Why did we even attempt this? We aren't' in shape to do this sort of thing, why did we think we could? We are totally out of our league! We are here pretending to be runners, but we are totally out of shape still.

About then, I hear the most amazing voice yelling, "Your almost to the top, keep going. It's all down hill to the finish." I look up and she's right there, with a huge smile, telling us we did it, now its all down hill. Being green, we were elated to hear the words 'downhill', not knowing the down hill was even more painful than the uphill. It was also amazingly fun!! We flew down that hill. The trail was very dry and the ground was loose. If you hesitated or attempted to slow down, you started to slide. We had no choice but to go full speed, no fear, all out crazy fast. It was so fun!! While we are flying, a 68 year old man flew up next to me and asks me how far we are from the finish. I say just down around that corner, he smiles, hits turbo, and is gone!

We did finish, with huge smiles! We headed for the post race food, eat a little of everything. We were especially fond of the hot chili they had cooking in a pot. We waited for the next batch of finisher times to be posted and hesitantly walk over to take a look. To our surprise, we finished in the top half! We took 5th and 8th in our age divisions, in 1hr. 21 minutes. We did it, and we did pretty ok!

It took about a week for the race pictures to be emailed out. When i got that email, and saw the pic.....that was my click. The fact that we finished was a bit of an affirmation of how far we had come. Running a race together of any kind was unreal. We, the most out of shape people we knew, the heaviest people we knew, the funniest people we knew.....we just finished a race, together! But that's not who we were anymore.

My thinking didn't switch over until seeing the pictures. Realizing we didn't' look out of place, we fit right in with all the other runners! We looked just as fit, healthy, and determined as everyone around us. The only thing that was making me feel out of place that day was my own view of myself, which wasn't' reality anymore! CLICK!!

We've since learned a lot about trial running and have grown to love it....but that's for another post!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Best Workout Partner

I had a visitor today during my workout! I love his enthusiasm, although I could have done w/o his trying to feed me a plastic fry over and over again! He is surprisingly strong for 3! Mostly I love that he makes me laugh and forget about what I am doing, and that he has as much fun working out as I do!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Strength is measured in so many different ways. One persons strength is not comparable to anothers, largely in part because our lives and situations vary so greatly. This is a good time in this post to point out the obvious, any strength we have is from Jehovah, especially in our lowest moments. Which brings me to 1 week ago, today.

Last Tuesday I received word from a friend that she has breast cancer. It was her first day back to work after finding out, the day she was letting her co-workers know, and those of us who live a ways away. I could sense that while she was getting through her day, it was taking a great deal of strength to do so. I couldn't help but think that her jouney has just begun, and she's already finding inner strength she didn't know she had a month, week, day before she found herself at work in this situation. I have no idea how long a journey she is in for, but I know she will be amazed when its all over and she looks back at how strong she was along the way.

My friend is an amazingly stong woman. I have no doubt about the amount of strength, fight, and determination she will face this with. One of the things i have learned over the past 2ish years is that we have no idea how strong we are until we push ourselves beyond what we thought our limits were. When we hit our limit and we have no strength left,when we are drained mentally and physically.... and we refuse to quit, that is when we really find out who we are, what we are made of, and how strong we are. For some, this comes at the hands of circumstances beyond our control. For others, we choose to push our limits and see what happens when we don't think we can keep going. (see pic above of mile 26) I have also found out that strength is 90% mental, 10% physical. It's believing you can do something and convincing yourself to try even when you don't know what the outcome will be.

My immediate coping mechanism was to find my Alicia Keys CD and head to the garage to face my own nemesis, the treadmill. I can run for hours in real life, but to do 30 minutes on the treadmill nearly does me in. Today, it didn't seem like such a huge problem, all things considered. After the first 2 songs, a whole 10 minutes, I was about to be done. Then, 'I Am Super Woman' came on. Considering how i felt, I laughed, then as I listened to the lyrics, I cried.

Laugh, cry, repeat song....I ran my heart out on that stinking treadmill for an hour and a half, longer than ever before. (I would find out 2 days later, last Thursday, my Aunt has Multiple Myeloma and repeat a similar routine in the garage)

As I was running, I was thinking not just of my friend, but of all the Super Women I have in my life, all dealing with their own struggles of one sort of another. For some it is cancer, for some it is chronic pain, some have watched their children battle terrible disease, some have had their lives impacted by injuries and don't know 100% how it will effect their future, some deal with depression, emotional issues, loneliness. For some it is the smaller, pasta, ice cream, consistency in working out, getting and staying on track, bills, family, mile 26, ect....for all the 'Super Women' in my life, you amaze and inspire me and help me find strength when I need it, even though you may never know it! So, I thank you, and post for you the wonderful lyrics of Miss Keys.

Everywhere I'm turning
Nothing seems complete
I stand up and I'm searching
For the better part of me
I hang my head from sorrow
Slave to humanity
I wear it on my shoulders
Gotta find the strength in me

Cause I am a Superwoman
Yes I am
Yes she is
Even when I'm a mess
I still put on a vest
With an S on my chest
Oh yes
I'm a Superwoman

For all the mothers fighting
For better days to come
And all my women, all my women sitting here trying
To come home before the sun
And all my sisters
Coming together
Say yes I will
Yes I can

Cause I am a Superwoman
Yes I am
Yes she is
Even when I'm a mess
I still put on a vest
With an S on my chest
Oh yes
I'm a Superwoman

When I'm breaking down
And I can't be found
And I start to get weak
Cause no one knows
Me underneath these clothes
But I can fly
We can fly, Oooohh

Cause I am a Superwoman
Yes I am
Yes she is
Even when I'm a mess
I still put on a vest
With an S on my chest
Oh yes
I'm a Superwoman

Monday, February 1, 2010

Woo Hoo!!

Another new adventure begins! With the demise of my Facebook life, I feel rather disconnected from those of you who cared about what was going on in my/our lives. So, why not blog?? My family and a few friends have been at it for a few years now, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about their goings on and seeing pics of my nieces and nephew....and everyone else, too!

I especially have enjoyed keeping up with my sis in law on her journey of 'change'. She continues to amaze and inspire Brian and I as she makes her way through her process of testing her limits, and pushing herself forward. I don't think she really knows how hearing about her realizations and struggles and determination helps motivate Brian and I and keeps us moving forward. A small example of this is that she has registered for and will begin training for her first Half Marathon soon! Amazing! Knowing that she is about to start down a very challenging (yet very doable : ) few months was the boost I needed to refocus on my own marathon training. Visualizing her finishing her first half marathon, putting in all the training miles, seeing her get her medal....was just the boost I needed to finish mile 20 of my last long run. Seems like a small thing, but believe me, its not. We don't know how a small piece of our life can help someone else in theirs. Sometimes it is in a small way, sometimes its in larger ways.

Which brings me to this blog. As you may have figured out from the name, it will mainly be about Brian and my adventures in fitness and family. For us, those are intertwined pretty tightly. Our kids are with us on every single training run we do. So far for this marathon, we are nearing 300 miles. Most of those 300 miles Emma has ridden her bike along side us. The kids are also here at home with me for every workout I put in. That's 4 a week, about 1.5 hours each. They laugh when I yell, they laugh when I tip over. Sophie laughs when she can hold a side plank for longer than me. They laugh when I am at 60 jumping jacks and have to run to the bathroom because...well, I've had 3 kids so this shouldn't really need explaining.

Point is, you have been given warning that the majority of posts on this blog will deal with working out, running, and family. We will always have our picture site up and running, so for info about what we are doing from day to day not fitness related, keep up with us there. Brian has also been working on his blog, which will be mostly about our family adventures.

I promise to be completely honest about the ups and downs of my journey to stay healthy and on track. I hope you'll find some useful tidbits along the way, and hopefully have a few laughs along the way, too!
Also, when I have more time I will work on the look of the blog and get some pics up, but for now, I am off to do my workout...bring it on Jillian!