Tuesday, February 19, 2013

26.2- My first Marathon Story

I ran 26 miles on Sunday.  I keep repeating that to myself in my head and I can hardly believe it.  It feels like it was a dream...an out of body experience...except that my legs are a constant reminder that it really did happen. 

I ran in one of our nation's greatest cities...Austin, Texas.  The Austin Marathon did an amazing job organizing the race.  This event supports the LiveStrong organization.  LiveStrong raises funds to find means of improving the quality of life for those affected by cancer and increasing cancer survivorship.  I could not imagine a better cause to run for, and Sunday I reminded myself this every time my legs begged me to stop.

My average pace was a 9:14 minute mile and I completed the race in 4 hours, 1 minute and 49 seconds.  My training pace averaged an 8:40 minute mile, but did not account for the Austin hills. My fueling strategy was Gu Energy gels at miles 6, 10, 14, 18 and 22.  I carried water and refilled my bottle at miles 12 and 20.    My diet the day before a long run or race consists of drinking 90-100 oz. of water followed by G2 formula Gatorade.  I eat foods high in carbohydrates the entire day and flood my body with protein rich Greek yogurt.  This plan works for me, but one thing I've learned is that this process is trial and error.  Find what works for you and stick with it...consistency is key.

I ran by myself, but my husband and his best friend followed me around the course.  They met me at miles 4, 10, 16, 21 and 26.2.  They took my shed jacket, gloves and head wrap at mile 4.  Matt ran with me at mile 10.  They watched me dance at mile 16.  They watched me cry at mile 21...and gave me the words to get me through the last 5 miles.  They watched me cross the finish at mile 26.2. 

Today, I am proof, that you can do anything you set your mind to do.  It is not "If", it is "When".  Live "Strong" and live each day to its fullest...never knowing if it could be the last.  Challenge yourself to do something you never imagined possible and don't quit.  The reward is AMAZING!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


My eyes are burning and cloudy.  Crying lots of tears will make that happen every time.  I made one of the hardest drives of my life today.  Our old girl rode next to me in the passenger seat and I fed her Barbecued Lay's the entire way.  It made us both feel better.  She didn't care that she was in the car, she wasn't licking the windows or panting with anxiety about an unexpected trip.  It was the end of the road and we both knew it.  Her huge paw stretched across the console and came to a rest in my lap...her simple way of comforting me as I wiped tears from my face.

Our story started almost 13 years ago.  Matt and I were newly married.  We were young, fresh out of college, and both working.  Bursting with energy, we wanted something to nurture but knew we weren't ready for kids at 22 and 23.  We decided on a dog.  We drove to Matt's parents house and grabbed their newspaper.  We searched, but couldn't find a dog for "us".

A few weeks passed and Matt said...I found our dog.  We had decided on a weimeraner.  The breeder lived  in Lufkin, Texas, but was coming to DFW.  He explained we could meet him in the town of Crandall on a Friday night in August.  There's an old Cotton Gin in Crandall that was turned into a restaurant and that was where we first saw our pup.  We wanted a blue female and he told us he only had one of them...which he would save for us.  My little sister rode with me.  Matt met us there after work.  We found our girl and she was perfect.   As I was holding her I noticed another tiny puppy crouched in the corner of the van.  She was all by herself and away from the other dogs.  I was immediately drawn to her.  He told me she was the runt of the litter.  I held her and instantly loved her.  We put her back...I had asked him to save another puppy and I felt obligated to take that one.

I left with our new dog...the dog we had reserved, but a little sad that I had put the itty-bitty runt back in the van.   Matt  stayed behind and paid the breeder.  On the drive home, we passed each other on the highway and Matt held up another puppy.  He bought my runt.  In that moment we had two dogs...they were Autumn and Blue.  Autumn was the runt (and lighter in color) and Blue was our big girl.

Those two go together like peanut butter and jelly.  They're Ole' Dan and Little Anne.  They've never spent a night away from each other in the last 12 and a half years, until tonight.   They were partners in crime and Autumn was the ring-leader.  She chewed siding off of the house, could eat a windowsill like it was a rawhide, sprayed doggie poo all over the walls of our kitchen, figured out how to eat a collar off of her sister's neck, pulled the neighbor's dog through the fence, killed cats, birds and even a skunk.  She would submerge her head into a water bowl and blow bubbles, she loved to eat and she loved to lay in the sun....most importantly, she loved us...unconditionally.

She was always there.  She was there when we learned our grandparents had passed away.  She was waiting for us when we brought the boys home from the hospital.  She was there when we were sick, healthy, happy, sad.  She was there every single day.

 She adjusted to a toddler who poked her in the eyes...

....and rode her like a horse.

 She accepted Rustin once he came along and never even yelped through all of his ear tugging.

She's been fighting cancer for a little over a year now.  Today she looked at me and I knew she was ready.  The boys were at school and Matt was at work.  I laid down on the ground beside her and all of the sudden I was sobbing.  Uncontrollably sobbing.  I buried my head in her neck.  She always made me feel better and she didn't let me down today.  She nuzzled in closer.  It took every ounce of strength in her body...but she lifted her head up and licked me square on the nose...then dropped back to the ground.  Her eyes were fixed on mine and full of hurt.  I had given her every pill we had trying to pull her out of pain without doing the inevitable, but suddenly I knew it was the end.  I gently lifted her into my car and closed the door.  I opened a bag of Barbecue Lays potato chips and her ears twitched up.  No matter how bad she felt, she couldn't turn them down.  I fed her chips, cried, and we drove.

Matt met me at the door of our Veterinarian's office and he carried her inside.  She couldn't walk.  The four of us (Matt, myself, our beloved Veterinarian and his assistant) sat on the floor around her and she simply fell asleep as everyone gently stroked her face, leg and back.  I've never seen her more peaceful.    Its been a few hours, but I can still see traces of her fur on my shirt and catch a whiff of her scent.  We feel empty without you "guirrel", but are so thankful that you don't hurt anymore.

You will always be our baby...our little spunky, feisty, alpha, "no other dog is gonna mess with me"... Autumn Leaves.  All of us loved you more than you'll ever know...I pray that you felt that love from the first day we had you until your very last breath.  Hugs and kisses baby girl!