Sunday, October 20, 2013

Journey to the Marine Corps Marathon

It’s almost here! I am one week away from reaching my BIG running goal for the season! My stomach is flip-flopping, my nerves are jangling, and my heart trips over itself every time I think about it, but I’m ecstatic that the main event is only seven days away.

How did I get here?
It all started six months ago when a friend of mine suggested my next running goal not be just a marathon, but the Marine Corps Marathon. So when registration opened up for the Marine Corps Marathon, I was one of the thousands of people who sat at her desk and entered her information and waited then did it again, and again, and again until it finally went through. Yes, the registration site couldn’t handle all us crazy people coming at it all at once.

Once I received the email saying I was registered, that’s when the fun began!
The first thing I had to do was come up with a training plan. Yeah, well, just do a search on the Internet and you will find any number of them. I looked at them and basically took my race schedule for the year and incorporated several with that. I’m not an all-out runner, I do the intervals of run then walk so I trained according to that. The hardest part for me was working in the longer runs. Ugh! Running more than 10 miles by yourself or without a carrot dangled in front of you is challenging to say the least and sometimes very boring.

The boring is where I learned about getting the right music playlist. It gave me something else to focus on beyond the strides, the staying upright, and the timing of when to drink and when to toss a Gatorade Chew in my mouth. Once I got enough Eminem on my playlist I was set! Not kidding. Those of you who know me know I am a country music girl. Yeah, not when it comes to running. When Eminem hits my ears it’s just the right motivation to keep you moving even if you have blisters on the bottom of your feet or you can barely lift a leg for the next stride.
My training plan definitely included many races, way more than I am sure some professionals or elite athletes would recommend. But, for me I needed the added motivation of the people and the exuberance of crossing a finish line. More for me was the goal of getting faster. The races allowed me to challenge and push myself to improvement. Add to that I kept a spreadsheet of every race and the finish times so I could track progress or not. Oh, yeah, I got better, stronger, and faster!

Running alone is not enough to train for the Marine Corps Marathon or any long distance race. You need to work your core, strengthen your upper and lower body and learn to eat right to achieve a fitness level that will allow you to endure.
Thank goodness I already had the best trainer. Jon Tobey of The Fitness Factory is a fantastic group and one-on-one trainer. He listens and designs plans to help achieve your goal. And the training is never static, which is a personal pet peeve of mine. Every Friday was different! I never knew what to expect. Some days we’d kill my core, others we would do supersets of arms and core or legs and core. My favorites were the days he added in some boxing. Who doesn’t love to punch something! If that wasn’t enough, I did a double workout on Tuesdays where I incorporated Jon’s thirty minute metabolic meltdown class and his forty-five minute bootcamp. On Thursdays, I did just the metabolic meltdown. Great fitness classes that will challenge every part of your body.

So I had the running plan. I had an amazing trainer. Now all I had to do was figure out how to achieve the weight loss and eat for the fitness level I was trying to achieve. This was harder for me. Until I found my naturopath, Dr. Kristen O’Dell of Bedford Natural Medicine. This woman saved me! Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with kidney issues without knowing the cause. Kristen not only identified the issue, she treated it naturally! On top of that, she identified a root cause as to my health problems that I wasn’t even aware of. I have something called leaky gut syndrome. We identified the foods my body wasn’t absorbing, which just so happened to be almost all the foods I ate on a daily basis. Then we changed my diet and added a nice amino acid called glutamine to my daily routine. All I can tell you is that her supplements and the change in my diet have gotten me to be much more physically fit from the inside.
People ask me every day how I can eat like I am. For those of you who do not know, I am not eating gluten, egg, or dairy and many fruits and vegetables. I eat nothing processed when I can help it. The only vice I have not given up is my Mountain Dew. I have it every morning with my glutamine and magnesium powder poured into it. Yeah, both Jon Tobey and Kristen O'Dell cringe when I say that, but you know, a girl has to have one vice. [GRIN] When you want something bad enough you will do whatever you have to do!
In every pursuit of a physical goal there are bound to be injuries. Luckily my big one came early on in the training. I woke up one morning with excruciating back pain. I tried to blow it off, but that didn’t work. I ended up at a doctor office. Much like my kidneys, I was not satisfied with not being able to identify the issue and fix it. I’m a smart cookie though, and I found a magnificent chiropractor. The issue is my SI joint. Apparently, it doesn’t always like to stay where it belongs. Dr. Mark Stagnone of Stagnone Chiropractic has kept it in line and kept me running. I am grateful because I believe seeing him once a week has truly helped improve my running. Plus, he recommended I take glucosamine for my joints. Bonus! I no longer have to run with a knee brace.

Thanks to these three people I have a fitness level that I am ecstatic about and that I know will allow me to reach that finish line.
Speaking of people, I have to mention several people who have supported, harassed, harangued, and goaded me during this training. There are more than a few, but there are three that have done so on a regular basis and it is much appreciated. First, my friend Tony, a fellow runner who talked me into this life-changing goal. Thanks to Tony pushing me, I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon and more than likely, I will be running even further next year. My friend, Brendan, who whenever I started to doubt myself and my ability, would post words of encouragement or plain old tell me to get over myself. Can you ask for a better friend that one who tells you the truth?! Then we get to Heather. Heather is a runner I met this past year and we would meet up at several races. When I wasn’t scheduled for a race on a weekend, Heather would send me links to races and egg me on to join her. Who needed rest! Heather has always been faster than me so she became my carrot in those races.

Thank you all, and thank you to all my other friends and family who supported me. I will keep all of you in my heart when I run the Marine Corps Marathon next Sunday, October 27.
For those of you thinking about chasing a major goal in your life, here's a quick word of advice.
No one else can do it for you. There are no shortcuts. Will it be difficult and challenging? Yes! Will you wonder if you can do it? Yes!
All it takes is discipline, determination, and heart. If your heart wants it, your mind and body will follow.


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