You’ll Get There, I Promise

I think I’m in the habit of trying to do the impossible…

Or at the very least, what might seem impossible to me.

In the midst of training for Chicago I got an e-mail from The NorthFace Endurance Challenge. I have a soft spot for this race, you see, a weak-in-the-knees adoration for this endurance challenge.

It was my first marathon ever last year.

So, you know it pulled at my little heart strings until I officially registered for a second round. Only this time I decided to go for the even more impossible.

The mini-ultra.

The 50K.

I just added a few more weeks of training after finishing the Chicago Marathon. I was tired, wornout, overwhelmed, scared and nervous…but I was stoked to complete another new challenge.

Come beautiful Saturday morning on November 17th, I had all the same feelings. I was tired, but excited. Overwhelmed but prepared. Nervous but amped. And when the race started I was off again on cloud nine. My feet, one after another, doing what they know best, my eyes on the road ahead, my hot pink fingernails waiting to give me my superpowers when I needed them. I know my mom thought I was crazy when I stayed up late just to paint my nails on race eve, but there was method to my madness. Superpowers, duh.

And I definitely needed them.

There’s no play-by-play for this race recap, just as there wasn’t for Chicago. I think what is happening is that I’m becoming so overwhelmed by emotions that everything seems to happen in a blur. I am so humbled by my running experiences, grateful for my capabilities, and beyond thankful for all the support I’ve received. I remember the race in moments, and these are moments I hope to remember for the rest of my life…

…all the runners lined up at the start, nervously chattering about how it’s “just five more miles.” Me, standing there in the middle of it, smiling like a kid in a candy store.

…reliving all the sites of Kansas City and remembering running the same streets last year and how magnificent I felt when I finished my first marathon. The same hill, the same bridge, the same buildings…they all felt so nostalgic.

…my friends who were running the half marathon catching up with me and giving me words of encouragement. Then watching them as ran ahead, finishing a great race of their own.

…coming to the first aid station that offered sliced oranges. An orange has never been so delicious.

…the stairs. Four flights to be exact. At least they were going down.

…splitting away from the marathon runners and beginning the out and back route that added those no-big-deal five more miles.

…looking down at my pink fingernails and summoning them for some of those superpowers now.

…the smiles, waves, thumbs up, nods, and words of encouragement as the leader 50k-ers passed back along the out and back route. Those small gestures meant oh-so-much.

…seeing my dad at mile eighteen. I knew it was him from half a mile away…pride just beaming out of him.

…wanting to stop around mile twenty. I’ve never wanted to stop so bad. I decided to walk and eat another orange…then dug deep and found some way to keep going.

…seeing my sister. Her voice screeching as she cheered me on. Then seeing her again, driving in her car, yelling out her window. And again.

…coming to terms with the fact that I needed to walk again. So I did. And at the encouragement of one of the wonderful Kansas City Police Department officers, starting to run again.

…striking a conversation with another runner. Come to find out the only race he’d ever ran was a 5K, and here he was running a 50K right next to me. I told him he was doing great, and he admitted that it was only because he knew I’d been behind him for awhile and he didn’t want me to pass him.

…a mile later, passing him.

…walking for a third time up the longest and hardest and steepest hill, probably in the world.

…the feeling of knowing I only had two miles to go. I was actually going to finish this.

…the little girls who were cheering and told me that the finish line was so close.

…coming around the corner…the same corner that I rounded on August 27th, 2011…hearing my sister’s voice again…trying to hold the tears back and myself together long enough the make it a few more yards to the finish line…seeing my dad standing there…hearing the announcer call my name…

…and crossing the finish line after four hours, forty-seven minutes, and thirty-three seconds. Another seemingly impossible task…finished.

If there is one thing I can tell you, it’s that you can really do anything you want to in life.

My heart is so full of pride and gratitude and thankfulness. For everyone who has given me so much support through everything, I can’t thank you enough.

ang

On October Seventh…

…at 4:30 in the morning I jumped out of bed, put two long french braids in my hair, and applied two coats of waterproof mascara.

…at 5:30 in the morning my husband dropped me off somewhere in the middle of downtown Chicago and I nonchalantly followed a group of strangers in running shoes who looked like they knew where they were going. As I walked the sidewalks of Chicago I felt so small between the seemingly never-ending streets of skyscrapers. Butterflies filled my stomach, not because of what I was about to do, but because I was here in this big city for the first time in my life.

…at 7:10 in the morning I nervously waited in line with hundreds of other runners waiting to use the oh-so-delightful porta-potties.

…at 7:20 in the morning I made my way to my corral and held my head way up high for having the privilege to be in corral C. Everyone around me looked like pretty serious runners…and there I was…right there with them. And then I started to tear up (cue praises for waterproof mascara). I looked all around me at the people, the runners, the buildings, the skyscrapers. How lucky was I to get to be right there in the middle of Chicago about to run one of the biggest marathons in the world.

I quickly blinked those tears away. I needed to look serious. Focused. Hard-core. (Because hot pink nails, shorts, headband, and shoelaces emit hard-core, right?)

…at 7:30 in the morning I was off! I was running my third marathon in a beautiful city that I had never seen with my own two eyes before.

And this is where my minute-by-minute memory seems to fail me. It’s hard to put this race recap into coherent words in a time-wise sequence. The entire twenty-six point two miles were quite a blur of events, emotions, thoughts, and googly-eyed smiles.

What I do remember is the hundreds and hundreds of spectators screaming, ringing bells, snapping photos, and cheering us all on…from the very second the race started. At the one mile mark I saw one spectator holding a sign that read Only Twenty-Five More Miles To Go! I remember thinking that he must be a real mean guy. I also remember at one mile my Garmin ticking at eight minutes and five seconds. That’s when any strategy of going out slow, conserving energy, or running smart flew right out the window.

That morning when I was getting ready I had plastered the pace tattoo on my right forearm for a lofty finishing goal time of 3:45. I remember as each of those beginning miles passed coming in thirty seconds…one minute…two minutes under pace for that goal.

I remember crossing over each timing mat, thinking about my friends and family who were keeping track of me. I could picture my dad’s proud smile and my mom’s worried face. I wanted to push on to make them proud. And then I remember PRing my 10K time.

I remember running past Elvis singing on stage.

I remember the spectators that had a table set up with cups, orange juice, and champagne. They had a sign that said Stop For Mimosas. I remember really wanting a mimosa.

I remember beaming when I PRed my half marathon time.

I remember one spectator yelling, “Go braided hair girl!” I remember high fiving a row of little kids. I remember all the signs that read Run (insert name here) Run! and thinking that they were all intended for me. I remember running way too fast, but before I could convince myself to slow down I told myself that this could be my last marathon for awhile so I’d better not run with any regrets.

I remember passing the 3:45 pacing crew. Then, somewhere around mile twenty, I remember them passing me back up. Before I let any negative thoughts enter my mind, I reminded myself that I truly was giving it my all.

I remember my pace faltering, ever-so-slightly during those last five miles. But I also remember the energizing salsa music, the smell of deep-dish pizza, the band blaring Lady Gaga, and all the wonderful volunteers eagerly waiting to give me water. And I remember willing myself to continue on.

I remember thinking of my girlfriend who was also running the race. I remembered her telling me that she sings Little Nemo songs in her head as she runs. “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…”

Just keep running, just keep running

I remember counting down the last mile. Eight hundred meters. Four hundred meters. I remember that hill, the only hill as I rounded the corner with barely a quarter of a mile left. I remember thinking that it was pure evil. But then I remembered the crowd…the bleachers full of spectators…the fact the my husband was waiting somewhere in the runner meet up area for me.

And I pushed on.

I remember crossing that finish line. My third marathon finish line…on October 7th at 11:23 in the morning. A feeling indescribable. Unworthy of complete sentences.

…and at 11:35 in the morning a nice lady poured my a beer. She said, “Honey, you just ran a marathon and your mascara isn’t even messed up!”

Three hours, forty-eight minutes and thirty-four seconds of heart-filled, gosh darn hard work.

On October 7th, 2012, all the early morning wake-up calls, all the long runs, all the hot pink nail polish and waterproof mascara sure became worth the feeling of 3:48.54.

ang

So Shiny

It’s been over two months since I’ve sat down to write a blog post. My time seems to belong to other things these days…school, little volleyball players, work, my running shoes. However, with the amazing weekend I just had, I’m definitely going to have to make some time to write it all down.

However, right now my thoughts are still somewhere on cloud nine. A finish line has never felt so sweet, a medal has never given me so much pride, and a PR has never been so shiny!

But, you’ll probably have to wait until next week to hear all about it!

ang

I’m Back!

No, I haven’t left town or gone anywhere exciting, not yet at least.

I’m back to the pavement! After several weeks away from running, trying to give my pesky knee some time to heal, and working on increasing my strength (soon-to-come: unassisted pull-up), I’ve finally been able to officially start training for the Chicago Marathon!

I’m a week and a half in, and I’m absolutely loving living by my beautiful, colorful training calendar. Obviously having not run very much the past month, I’m starting out pretty slow with low mileage, but I hope to be working both (speed and miles) up in the very near future. I also want to keep focusing on strength training and incorporate a lot of speed training!

Last night the tall man (a.k.a. husband) and I hit up the track for some speed work. We did several 100 meter sprints, a few 200 meter sprints, then we split up and I continued with an 800 hundred sprint (um, can you call that a sprint?), and my fastest ever mile run…seven minutes and twenty-one seconds.

To some, that might not seem all that fast for just one mile, but when I pressed the lap button on my pretty little Garmin and saw 7:21 flash before my eyes, I was ecstatic! After watching the Olympic track trials on television, witnessing 200 meter times in the 20 second range, and then running my own huff-and-puff-tastic 200s in 43 slow and agonizing seconds, I thought I’d lost any resemblance of speed I might have once had. However, 7:21 is at least 15 seconds off my mile PR, so I guess somewhere in these quads of mine is some super-duper-fastness waiting to get out.

I have to give credit to my precious little dog Tia. We took her to the track with us so she could get some fresh air, and after Matt was finish with his workout he took Tia off her leash to play. I was halfway around the track into the first lap of my mile when I heard some cute little footsteps chasing behind me. After nose-diving in a hole in the grass and flipping three times, little Tia eventually passed me and stayed a few steps ahead of me the rest of the mile.

What a good little pacer she is. :)

And what a wonderful husband this guy is…

On Sunday he woke up at 5:00am (a huge accomplishment in itself), drove us an hour to downtown Kansas City, and ran the All Star Game 5K (third race ever) in the crazy midwest heat with me. #proudwife

I think I’m turning us into a cute little family of runners! Maybe. :)

 

Wanting and Wishing

My little sister has naturally curly hair. Beautiful curly hair. She has always had this curly hair…quite unruly at times, as evidenced by her third grade school photo in which my fifth grade self attempted to french braid it for the picture day.

She always wished for straight hair.

When I was little I had the straight hair, and wouldn’t you know it, I wished for it to be curly. My hair was long and boring, and all the cool kids had perms. Sure my mom fixed it beautifully everyday, curled bangs with a headache-inducing side ponytail, but I wanted more. This just goes to show that we all wish for the things we don’t have.

But, I’ve learned that it’s important to be careful what you wish for…now in my adult life I have this wavy/curly/straight/frizzy combo hair. Hair that doesn’t go out in public unless a blowdryer and straightener or curling iron has been put to it.

What I wouldn’t give to have my childhood hair back.

A few months ago, near the end of my spring marathon training, I told a friend of mine that I wished it was after my marathon and I could run shorter distances, less mileage, and strength train more. Long runs are hard and time consuming, and marathon training in general takes a toll on a person. I wished for the night I could drink a glass or two of wine and not worry about it hurting my long run the next morning.

And now that I can’t go on that long run…that’s all I want to do!

I vaguely scratched out a training plan for Chicago that started last week. By vaguely scratched out I just mean that I planned my long run schedule for each weekend. This past Saturday has an “8″ written in the box.

I didn’t run eight miles. I didn’t run one mile. Girl, be careful what you wish for.

This morning I went out for a short “test” run, and fingers crossed, I think my knee is on the up-and-up. I made it a mile and a half, stopped for thirty minutes of a bootcamp workout in the parking lot with four other lovely ladies, then another mile and a half back home. All pain free.

The moral of the story friends? Be grateful for what you have going on right now. Today. I’m excited for my long training runs to come, but today I enjoyed running short, squatting low, and lunging forward.

And, I guess I’ll be grateful for this pile of frizz I have knotted on top of my head, too.

ang

Because I Love To Run

Guess what I’m doing on this beautiful day…National Running Day?!

source

…not running.

At first I was utterly disappointed about the fact that I am not running today. I love running, and not participating in this wonderful and challenging sport that I love on its own national holiday just doesn’t seem fair.

But yesterday, as the day went on, that little pain in my knee started to go away. This morning when I woke up there was absolutely no evidence of any knee pain.

And for Chicago’s sake (and successful marathon training’s sake and potential PR’s sake), I want to keep it that way!

So instead, I am going to celebrate National Running Day by spending some quality time with some weight machines and dumbbells…so that when it’s time I will be running better than ever!

Today I don’t run because I love to run.

ang

Time For Chicago…Kind Of

This week marks the start of training for marathon number three!

Chicago!

Well, kind of. I’ve printed out blanks calendars from now through October, but I’ve only filled in maybe one fourth of the days. It’s always a tricky little thing deciding how I want to go forward with training…do I want to incorporate hills (ummm…not really, but I should), speedwork (heck yes!), strength, cross training, intervals, yassos, and so on and so on…? And by the time I fill in all the days, I probably will change it around a million and a half more times before October seventh. And then I have to consider how I am going to train while I’m on vacation at the beach in July. Where will I run? Will I want to run (or will I want to happily nurse a Corona hangover every morning instead?!) Do I run on the beach? If so, do I run with shoes on or barefoot? What if I’m running and I step on a seashells and cut my foot?

So many things to consider. Clearly all logical.

And as excited as I am to run Chicago, it still feels like a long time away.   Which, at this point, might be a good thing considering that as soon as my right inner thigh finally stopped hurting (last week!), my right knee is now hurting. Is there a correlation here (the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone…the knee bone’s connected to the shin bone…)? So frustrating.

I’m getting old.

So on top of my obviously logical concerns above regarding a training plan, how do I get started? Do I rest a little longer and postpone training to try to get my knee to stop hurting? Do I push through it like I did last summer and hope the pain goes away like it did last summer? Do I make my husband give me leg massages daily until it heals up? Do I yoga more? Stretch more (duh)? Roll more?

Too many questions and choices and decisions to make. All I want to do is run…and start running faster. And strength train…and start getting stronger.

So for now, that’s what I’m going to try to do.

ang

A Lovely Muddy Time

Recovering from my marathon two weekends ago has basically consisted of no running. That’s probably not the smartest way to recover, especially since I plan on continuing running, continuing running long distances at that, and especially since I had a race on Saturday.

It was no marathon, but an extremely challenging 5K nevertheless.

That required face paint…

…and muscles…which are for the most part lacking on me. (Oh, did my neon bright white skin blind you? I’m also lacking any semblance of a tan. Sorry about that.)

My hubs and I along with two of our friends, a.k.a. the Ultimate Warriors, ran the Warrior Dash in Kansas City!

We met up at one of the guys’ houses where we found his beautiful wife diligently painting his face. His wife continued to paint our other teammate’s face while I sat my own hubs in front of me for his makeover. Apparently there is a famous wrestler (dead or alive, I don’t think anyone was sure) named the Ultimate Warrior and all of the guys wanted to “be” him for the race.

I, myself, chose to just go with a little multi-colored eye-black.

After everyone was made-over and arm-tassles and headbands were created, we headed to the race. Again, the boys all listened to the opening theme music for this Ultimate Warrior wrestler the entire way there. Oh the joys of a thirty minute car ride with three boys, err, men. Grown men who apparently love professional wrestling.

Once at the race site we had to take a bus over to where the race actually took place. We proceeded to initial and sign our waiver forms, pick up our packets and t-shirts, use the port-a-potties (always a definite must for me), and head to the start line. We were very early, so we were at the very front of the start line for our heat. After thirty minutes of nervously waiting for the countdown to start we were finally off and running!

I knew I’d be racing with the boys, and while I trusted in my running ability, I was worried about keeping up with them on the obstacles. Right out of the gate, though, the course was very downhill, and I warned them all that we were probably running at a sub-8 minute pace. I definitely knew that I couldn’t keep up a pace like that, and I secretly (so not to harm their egos) questioned the boys ability to keep that pace, too.

After three quarters of a mile we approached our first obstacle which required crawling under barbwire. Fortunately, I was short enough that I could crawl regularly without having the put much effort into lowering myself closer to the ground. My hubs, on the other hand, had to army crawl the distance of the wire. Once the four of us completed this obstacle our pace slowed drastically as we were hit with our first (of many) uphill climbs to the next obstacle.

We proceeded to crawl through trenches, climb up walls, slide down poles, swim through nasty, muddy, swampy water, hoist ourselves over walls, cross a balance beam, run through a field of tires, climb up a cargo-net, and finally leap over fire…all the while running uphill through a muddy field between obstacles.

Just a little over three miles later we crawled out from under the last of the barbwire through the last muddy water pit, all four of us hand in hand, and crossed the finish line together.

Mud and all, I had an absolutely lovely time.

ang, the only female member of the Ultimate Warriors ;)

All I Want To Do

All I want to do is run. After completing a long training plan and running a full fast-for-me marathon I thought I’d be itching for a break from it all. My life has been all live-by-my-planner-and-training-plan for the past four months I thought I’d like the idea of relaxing, letting loose, and going with the flow for awhile. Yeah…that’s not so much the case. Since setting my new PR on April 21st, my mind has been stuck on one thing.

Running.

Running faster.

(Side note: Running a marathon is definitely worth a free beer. But notice that my Garmin says I that ran 26.49 miles. Point. Four. Nine. Not 26.2, but 26.49. Don’t get me wrong, I am ridiculously pleased with my 3 hours 54 minutes and 1 second finish…but when my ticker had me clocking 26.2 miles in 3 hours 51 minutes…that extra .29 seemed excruciating, teasing, and downright mean. But I guess it was worth 2 free beers.)

Unfortunately, this urge to run has been halted by a little thing called finals week. And studying for finals week (which I should actually be doing right now for this phantom final that is in two and a half hours that no one truly knows what it’s about). And work.

(Insert dramatic sigh here)

But only two finals stand between me and summertime. Beautiful summertime…warm weather, bright sunshine, no tests, new training plans, speedwork, pavement to be covered. With this new amount of free time back in my schedule, the wheels in my head have been rolling with possibilities. I still feel like superwoman after my marathon, and reading other pretty bloggers recent marathon recaps, my motivation level is flying freaking high. With Chicago in my sights, I feel like the possibilities are endless if I put the work into it.

And that is definitely what I plan to do…only after I tackle this multiple-choice-but-all-the-answers-seem-right final. Running a sub-3 hour marathon seems more possible than this!

ang

Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz Race Recap

In true fashion of this training cycle I debated with myself today…write my race recap or study for my finals next week? Typically school would beat out training, although I’d usually still find time after schoolwork to lace up my running shoes. However, the endorphins have been slowly declining since last Saturday, and in an attempt to keep them alive I’m forcing myself to sit down and recap the day I ran the Garmin Marathon in the Land of Oz…the day I ran my second marathon…the day a ran a sub-4 hour marathon…the day I kind of got this feeling that I can do anything…and the day I couldn’t stop smiling.

I arrived at Garmin International where the race started and finished with enough time to make my final decisions on what to wear, pick up my packet, pin on my race bib, and dance in my car to a few songs.

I headed to the port-a-potties where I came upon a familiar scene. One year ago this is where I ran my first half marathon ever. And, one year ago I pretty much started my race from the port-a-potty. Luckily, I left myself with plenty of time to actually start this race from the start line.

Soon enough the race began and I was running. I didn’t have a detailed plan of how I wanted to run this race, I just knew that I needed to go out nice and easy, not too fast, and that I wanted to be under two hours at the halfway point. Before I knew it my ticker notified me that one mile had already passed…and at 9 minutes and 2 seconds. I had held back a little bit, but I was definitely worried that I hadn’t held back enough. However, I felt good, and plan or no plan, I just like to run how I feel.

The second mile…8:41. The third…8:38. Fourth…8:46. Fifth…8:37. Angela, you are running too fast. You are going to get too tired. I ate my first mocha Clif Shot at mile five, and I clocked in mile six at 8:37, and then mile seven at 8:27.

8:27…Angela you are seriously running too fast.

I was worried. I never trained to run this fast for this long. But my legs felt great and it was a gorgeous morning, so I just kept running. Mile eight…8:35, mile nine…8:30. Mile ten came in at 8:42 and I ate some delicious Clif bites. Around this time I was running near these two men who were very entertaining. I just listening to them cheer on each other and every runner that they came across. They seemed so full of energy I just thought to myself if I can stay near them then I’d be doing well. Mile eleven…8:38, mile twelve…..8:31.

Mile thirteen…8:26. Goodness gracious…that’s fast for me…especially at mile thirteen…especially since I had thirteen more to go. I reached the halfway point around 1 hour and 52 minutes. I just may have PRed my half marathon time, too.

As I was running too fast, but feeling amazing at the same time I was literally smiling the entire time. I even heard one spectator say around mile 20, “Why is that girl still smiling?” I knew a sub-4 hour marathon was definitely within reach which motivated me to keep going.

The second half of the marathon was an out-and-back on a paved trail. The trail was beautiful, and it was so lovely to be able to run for so long through the pretty trees and scenery. However, I knew that my family would be trying to find during the second half of the race, and running this trail was not going to be conducive to them finding me. My family was such a big motivator for me during my first marathon, I tried to prepare myself not to see them until the finish line this time around. Mile fourteen came in at 8:30 (you’re still going too fast), mile fifteen at 8:40 (downed another mocha Clif Shot and thought you are still going too fast), sixteen and seventeen both at 8:43, and eighteen at 8:50.

I reached the turnaround point and I knew I was on the final stretch. I was still feeling ridiculously amazing, but I knew the last part would be difficult. I kept running along, and as I passed a water station I heard the best sound ever. “ANGELA! It’s Angela! There she is!!!” my sister screeched as I ran past her. Somehow her and my dad managed to find me along the trail. I’d given my dad a map and my potential splits to help him navigate, but after being on the trail for so long I just didn’t expect to see anyone. Later they told me they had been close to leaving that spot because according to the splits I’d provided them I should have been coming from the other way. Little did they know that I was running like crazy that morning.

I saw them once again…I can’t explain the excitement I felt as I heard both of their voices. Later I saw that my sister had posted this…

Mile nineteen…8:48, mile twenty (and more Clif bites)…8:53.

About this time I had another very welcome surprise. I saw the most gorgeous six foot eight inches walking toward the trail as it passed along a main road. My beautiful husband also managed to track me down and give me some encouragement…he also added in there, “You are way ahead of your splits!”

After mile twenty ended my rein of sub-9 minute miles. Mile twenty-one…9:01, twenty-two…9:12 (I knew I had been running too fast), and mile twenty-three…9:20, I was slowing down quite a bit, but I knew without a doubt that I would be coming in under four hours. After mile twenty-three I felt really exhausted. To make matters worse, I had noticed that my Garmin had been ticking anywhere from a tenth of a mile to three tenths of a mile before I passed the actual mile markers along the course. My Garmin would notify me that I’d completed another mile, then two minutes later I’d pass the course mile marker.

Mile twenty-four…9:33. Come on Angela, you are almost there…less than thirty minutes more of running. When you are running for so long, it’s definitely okay to talk out loud to yourself. Keep going!

Twenty-five…9:34. Hold on girl. Keep running! Twenty-six…9:37.

I saw the twenty-six mile marker. I could hear the crowd at the finish line. I rounded the corner…I heard them announce my name, “Angela Habermehl, twenty-six point two miles…!”

I saw the timer…I saw the “3″…

3:54:01.27. Sub-4 hours.

And that’s when I knew that anything is possible. It really, honest-to-goodness, is. This whole training cycle I questioned my ability…my ability to actually train for the marathon, my ability to get faster, my ability to sub-4 hours. But I did it. I did it all.

I know that I had so much more than just my two feet moving one in front of the other working for me leading up to and during the race. My husband, dad, and sister who all came out to support me…my family and friends all thinking about me from home…people sending up prayers for me…that little redbird I saw the day before…all kept me going. So much more…thank you.

much love, ang