I resolved that 2012 would be the year of the half marathon for me. My goal is to finish 3 of them. I've made the first step by registering for three: the Tinkerbell in Anaheim on January 29th; San Diego half on March 22nd; and the San Diego Rock & Roll half on June 3rd.
It is now only 10 days until my first half marathon. I've been working hard at getting in condition for it. I use an app from Runner's World called "Smart Coach." It basically tells me each day how far to run, how fast, and whether it should be a steady (easy) run or with some speed intervals. I've been averaging about 27 miles a week for the past few weeks. Once a week, it has me do a "long run." The long run started out at 7 miles in December. Yesterday, I did 11!
The long runs can be a challenge. Two weeks ago, I attempted to do 10 for the first time. At about mile 8, I literally ran out of gas. I couldn't even run on a zero incline. Walking up the hill to my house, I had a few moments of wondering if I would even be able to get home! I've done a lot of thinking about what happened so I can avoid hitting that wall again. Now when I have a long (or hard) run, I make sure I have a dinner with some carbs the night before. It doesn't have to be a lot, just some. I also have started to have my "running breakfast" of an egg with 1/4 cup of egg white and a bananna along with my green tea. A friend who has run a few half marathons also suggested I get some "Gu" energy gel. I had tried to use fruit leather as a pick-me-up, but it didn't help me on the day I hit the wall. I also carry a "fuel belt" with two 8 ounce liquid containers. I put water in one and some electrolyte mix in the other.
Yesterday, I killed my 11 mile run. The course I run has a lot of hills. You can't get away from them where I live. I figure it is good training. All in all, the elevation increase/decrease is almost 1,000 feet. As I set out, I didn't care about my pace. I just wanted to run the whole thing. I ran from my house, past Isabelle's school, through the back trails to Discovery Lake. I did 4 laps around the lake, then ran home. I took the Gu at about mile 6.75. I did it. Not only that, but it felt GOOD. I felt like I could do 2 more miles. It would have been hard, but I could have. When I got home and checked my average moving pace, it was under 11 minutes per mile. (Okay, it was 10:59....but that is under 11!) It took me 2 hours, 3 minutes to do the 11 miles. I can't believe that this girl who HATED running day and would walk 4 laps to get a C in P.E. at Alvarado Jr. High just ran for 2 hours straight!
As I finished out the run for the last couple miles, I kept repeating, "the Lord is my strength....the Lord is my strength." I ran across a new verse this week during my bible study: The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's [feet], And He will make me walk on my high hills." (Habakkuk 3:19) How perfect is that? Of course, the verse from Isaiah 40 also runs through my mind: "Those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings like eagles. They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint." As I repeated this mantra, I could feel strength increasing in my legs as I ran up hills. Running is a way for me to put cancer behind me. The more I run, the stronger I am, the further away cancer seems.
The end result from yesterday is that I feel totally ready to run 13.1 miles in 10 days. The course is going to be much flatter than I'm now used to, so it should be pretty "easy" in comparision. Yesterday was my last "long run" before the half marathon. I have one more hard run on Saturday-a tempo run where I am supposed to warm up for a mile run hard for 5 at a fast pace and then cool down for a mile. 7 total. I do those on a treadmill so I can keep track of my pace. A 10 minute mile on the treadmill is much more difficult for me than a 10 minute mile outside. The treadmill is relentless! After that run, its shorter distances of 3 and 5 miles next week.
About this blog
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.