Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I've encountered a recent issue with motivation loss. I'm not yet sure where it's stemming from. It could be one of several things, or a combination of them all. Or maybe I'm just getting lazy! Or going crazy!

First of all, I've decided to take a break from training for anything, and that is weird for me. I'm almost always pushing myself toward some crazy goal, and right now I've got nothing on my schedule for races (except for walking the 5K with Adam on Feb 13!). This has been, and still is a pretty major adjustment. Second, it's December. It's cold outside, which I don't mind at all, but maybe my body is telling me to sleep more, eat more and move less. This is bringing on a slight weight-gain, which is only a few pounds at the moment, but it's something I need to control before it gets out of hand. It's a big part of my feeling bummed out... I really don't feel like buying bigger pants! This December is just providing me with some on-and-off blues. Finances, traveling, cookies, tight clothes... all these things bring on a little extra stress.

What it comes down to is that my mood is not a cheerful one right now, and I don't quite understand why that is... and I don't like it. I am already frustrated with myself for trying to find excuses for it... and because I find that I'm feeling sorry for myself. I need to find my stubborn switch, say to hell with always trying to interpret the "reason" for everything and just "do what I need to do to get done what I need to get done."

I've almost got it. I can almost feel stubborn-mode kicking in, but then it fades back... I've got to find a way to hold on to that.

I've come up with an idea. It's just a simple workout schedule for me to follow after the new year. I will keep up with what I'm doing now, but once my Monday night class at FVTC is done (next Monday is my last class - yippee!), I'll be able to go back to kickboxing. I'm pumped about that!

I've got more to work on -- not just my workout routine, but I find that some sort of routine or schedule usually puts me back in alignment and I can get a ton more accomplished throughout the week. So here goes. I'm writing it down for everyone to see. This will hold me accountable and hopefully I'll stick to it... and if I do stick to it, I should be able to jump into the Oshkosh 1/2 marathon without a problem if I feel up for it. But -- I'm not training for it. I'm just picking my running back up again... it makes me feel good and makes me work really hard... I didn't realize how much I loved running until I stopped doing it!

Monday - Kickboxing
Tuesday - Run
Wednesday - Spin
Thursday - Run
Friday - Aerobics/Weights
Saturday/Sunday - Day off/Run

I might switch it up a little here and there once I get into it, but it's a base for me to start on. I might be really crazy and continue my Monday morning spin class AND do kickboxing in the evenings, but we shall see. As long as I get around 3 runs/week in, some weight training and cross-training, I'll be a happy camper.

I'd still like to get into swimming, too. That's a really tough one for me to start...

Then... then... winter projects, camping, hiking in the snow, sledding, walking with Adam, movies, websites, goals, dreams... there's just so much to do. I can't do it moping around with my head hanging low and a bummed-out pout on my face!!

(There... I've almost got it. I can almost reach that stubborn switch!)

Passenger Seat

It's one of them songs that makes me feel at complete peace.
It's "Passenger Seat" by Death Cab for Cutie
I listened to this song a lot when I was hiking across America in 2006, and just daydreamed about Adam picking me up in California and driving me home. I love to bring myself back into that dream and just stay there as long as I can.

One day I might get my head out of the clouds... but hopefully that never happens. I love to dream. Sometimes it seems as though it's the only thing I've got.

I roll the window down
And then begin to breathe in
The darkest country road
And the strong scent of evergreen
From the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

Then looking upwards
I strain my eyes and try
To tell the difference between shooting stars and satellites
From the passenger seat as you are driving me home.

"Do they collide?"
I ask and you smile.
With my feet on the dash
The world doesn't matter.

When you feel embarrassed then I'll be your pride
When you need directions then I'll be the guide
For all time.
For all time.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Daydream on a Tuesday

"Start livin', that's the next thing on my list"

I've got a little cabin on a hillside with mountains all around in the distance. In the morning I wake up before sunrise and start a pot of coffee. I pet my dog and cats, feed them, then sit on the porch and watch the mountain silhouettes and the sky turn pinkish-orange behind them as I listen to the coffee dripping. I have my coffee with my dog laying next to me and my cat on my lap as I watch the sun peek over the top of the mountains and light up the gravel road that winds up to my driveway, the pine trees in the yard and the field and hillside in the distance. When I feel satisfied with my coffee intake, I slip into some hiking boots, put on a small backpack and step out the back door with my dog and start hiking into a patch of trees behind the house and up into the hill. I keep walking along some sort of game trail until I reach a creek. I stop for a snack and give my pup a treat to tide us both over until lunchtime. I lay back and stare at the blue sky through the tops of the trees. The sun peeks through in patches on my face and feels warm and comforting. There's huge, puffy white clouds that float by slowly setting me in shade for a few seconds at a time. I start to feel like I'm dozing off, so I get up, put my pack back on and continue down the light trail I was following. I start a steep climb and come to a place where the woods open up into a high meadow. There are different colored flowers surrounding my feet as I step through and continue up the steep hill. I can see a higher pass up ahead and decide that will be my destination for the day, but first I need to climb back down this hillside, then through some more thick pine and patches of flittering aspen forest, then up a steep, rocky hillside to the saddle I've got my eyes set on. My pup and I head on over the hill and down the other side, which is also covered in wildflowers. Back into the forest, we find a nice rushing creek with big, flat rocks lining the shoreline. I find one large enough for me and my dog to lay on, and it's covered with sunshine. Perfect! I take my pack off and pull out a sandwich and an apple. I sit listening to the water trickling over the rocks next to me as I have my lunch and my puppers munches away on his kibble. I lay back and soak in the sunshine. The sky is clear blue now, so I've got no cloudy shade interruption. I doze off for about 15 minutes just listening to the chirping birds, a squirrel jumping around in a tree above me and the creek water gliding by along side of me.

And I have the ability to let this dream stand still within this moment... what a beautiful advantage to a dream.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My First Marathon – the LONG story!

If you've already read my last blog post, "I just ran a marathon! (the short story)" then you can skip this one if you want... unless you want the SUPER-LONG detailed version of it!! But you've been warned! :)

At the start of the race

 After 26 weeks of training, a week of obsessive preparation, and a night and morning of nervousness, I was at the start line in Ashland, WI to attempt running my first marathon. I kept going over the things I could’ve done differently in my training, wondering if they were going to come back to bite me along the 26.2-mile route that lay ahead of me. It wasn’t perfect training, but I felt like I gave it my best – I can’t say I felt 100% ready, but I was as close to that as I could’ve been. I was there. I was at the start line. So I must have done something right up to that moment.

I took Friday off of work. The Whistlestop Marathon is on a Saturday, and I wanted to have a full day to mentally get ready for my run and I needed the time to get up to Ashland so I could get my race packet. Adam and I left Friday morning and took a very slow, scenic route up to Ashland. It was a really fun drive – we took country roads, small highways and drove through little towns. We even stopped for a Subway lunch in Crandon. We enjoyed the fall colors and the scenery along the way, too.

Once in Ashland, we head straight to the Bay Area Civic Center so I could get my bib and race packet. Everything went smoothly. We then head south to Phillips, where we were staying at Adam’s mom’s house for the night. We pulled into the driveway, and my mom called to wish me luck. I was talking with her on the phone, and as I opened the door to the car and went to step out, my foot got wrapped up in a strap on my backpack and I went down onto the driveway like I was catapulted from the car. Adam came rushing around the car as I lay on the ground – his first thought was, “Oh crap! 6 months of training and she’s going to break her leg the day before the race!” He was concerned, and as he offered to help me up, asked me if I was alright. Thankfully I only scraped my elbow. It’s never fun to take a digger!

I ate my dinner in the car on our way to Phillips from Ashland. I had a whole wheat bagel with veggie cream cheese – simple and satisfying. Once we were at Adam’s mom’s house, and I was settled in and calm after falling out of the car, I laid out all of the things I needed for race day. It never even crossed my mind that my race bib wasn’t in the pile. I took a picture with pride because I was “oh-so-prepared,” or so I thought! Haha!

All my stuff laid out and organized, ready for race morning... well, almost all my stuff...

Well, the next morning, Adam and I woke up and had coffee and breakfast with his mom and sister, took our showers, and head out the door. I got into the car and thought, “I need my race bib!” Thank goodness it popped into my mind, because I wasn’t getting a timing chip at the start line without that bib. I searched the car with no luck. I went back to the house and there it was sitting in the entry-way! Whew!

Found my bib!

The drive up to Ashland went quickly for me. Adam drove as I dozed off here and there. Once in Ashland, we head west on Hwy 2 towards Iron River right away, where the actual start line was for the race. We pulled into the designated parking area for runners and spectators where we had to catch a shuttle bus. The shuttle and parking area was already busy and buzzing with runners and their families. Adam dropped me off at the port-a-pottie line and he went to park the car. By the time I got in and out of the bathroom, he was back from parking. We waited in line to get on a shuttle bus to the actual start line of the race.

Once at the start area, I was in awe. The area we were in was beautiful. First of all, it was a perfect fall day and we were in the woods. The temperature must have been in the mid-50’s – I was standing comfortably in my running capris and sleeveless running shirt. We were standing in a section of northwoods with all the leaves a vibrant golden color. Runners were ambling around, stretching, jogging, talking with family members, and waiting in line to use the port-a-johns. I went over and got my timing chip, then got in line for the bathroom myself.

Runners and spectators buzzing around the start area before the race started

Once I was done with the bathroom, I had about 10-15 minutes to do a little warm-up and some stretching. I took off down the road and jogged for a minute or two, took a quick little 15-20 second sprint, did some high-knees and butt-kicks, then I walked back to where Adam was waiting for me. I stretched my calves a little bit and noticed someone was singing “God Bless America.” I glanced at my watch and realized it was 8:56!! Four minutes to the start! I had Adam take a photo of me with the fall colors as a backdrop, then head over and joined the start-line crowd. There weren’t any signs indicating pace times or anything, so I just blended myself in about half-way down the line.

Waving to Adam as I waited for the race to start

As I was waiting for the race to start and the line to start moving, I noticed someone looking in my direction and waving. She looked familiar, but I didn’t want to be that girl that waves back excitedly only to realize that person was waving to someone directly behind me… but she looked so familiar! Finally she and her friend walked over by me and I realized it was two girls from my hometown of Phillips! It was Britt and Kristi! How cool to see them there amongst a crowd of runners! We chatted a little bit, wished each other luck and started to walk as the line moved forward.

Before I knew it, I was crossing the start line and jogging shoulder-to-shoulder with almost 700 other marathoners -- with Baba O’Riley by The Who playing on my Shuffle, which is my favorite race-start song! Alright! Here we go!

The race has begun!

We first ran a short distance down the paved Long Lake Road in Iron River. Then we turned left onto the crushed limestone recreation trail that parallels Hwy 2 for about 10 miles. It was weird getting used to the surface of the trail at first, but after the crowd of runners spaced out a little bit, it was easy to get into the flattest groove on the trail, find a runner going the same pace that I wanted to go, put myself on auto-pilot and just run.

It was a gorgeous fall day, and the leaves were just past peak, so they were flittering down all over the trail each time a breeze blew by. It was pretty and peaceful. I enjoyed the woods all around me, too. It was so different than a straight road race where you’re looking at buildings, traffic and houses the whole time. I remembered to look off into the woods and up into the treetops every once in a while to remind myself of the prettiness around me – and the lack of vehicular traffic (what a joy)!

This is a shot of the trail we were running on. Beautiful!

It was a neat experience to be running a full marathon compared to a half marathon. The first 13 miles were pretty much like all other half marathons I’ve run before, except, obviously most people were taking what seemed to be a more leisurely run. Nobody really seemed to be in a huge hurry, and once everyone got into their “groove,” I was running most of the race leapfrogging with the same 10-12 runners. I know I was trying to keep it at a safe comfortable speed, too. The adrenaline was racing through me, and I could feel myself wanting to run faster and faster, but when I noticed that happening I got myself behind someone and followed their pace for a while. I started my watch a little late at the start, so I wasn’t exactly sure how my starting pace was, but I think I was somewhere just a little under a 9-minute mile. I forced myself to slow down every once in a while so I’d have something left in the tank for the last half of the race.

The first couple of miles went really smooth. I had so many distractions – my pace, my footing, watching other runners, how they run, what kind of gear they had with them, the scenery, runners passing me, me passing other runners – it was a busy first two-mile stretch. I think after the first water station things started to air out a little bit and I was really able to get into my own groove.

I thought about bringing an audio recorder with me and taking voice notes along the way, which would have been really freakin’ awesome to play back later, but I thought of it too late. I didn’t want to carry something new with me that I haven’t trained with – especially it being something technology-related. All kinds of things could’ve gone wrong, and I had enough to think about! So I tried to take good mental notes.

I do remember coming up to mile 7 and thinking to myself, “I’ve been running for an hour and I feel like it’s only been a few miles.” I felt strong and smooth, and then I started to really look forward to seeing Adam along the trail. I got to the half-way mark and did a cheesy little “raise-the-roof” motion with my hands as I ran past the sign. The few steps past that sign was the farthest I’d run in an actual race, and I felt great! Then to make it better, just a half-mile later I saw Adam! I ran up to him and gave him a kiss, told him I loved him, heard him tell me I had a good pace going, and ran on. I smiled for about the next five minutes on the trail. Seeing Adam was a huge boost!

It was really quite cool not having spectators stretched all along the entire course. I was worried that I’d miss that part of a popular road marathon, but it was the total opposite. I was able to relax and enjoy my surroundings, just running along at an easy pace with a bunch of other like-minded runners. It felt like a dream. I did look forward to the spectators, though – again, this was a cool part about this race – they weren’t lined up everywhere along the course, so they were like a treat that I could look forward to. I’d be bouncing down the trail, see the white tops of the port-o-johns up ahead and that’s how I knew I was coming up to an aid station where there would be spectators (and water!). These came just about every two miles, so I was able to almost break up the entire race into two-mile segments with some other personal milestones in between.

I ran and ran and smiled and ran. Each mile was marked by a simple, skinny wooden post about 10-feet high with a small white sign about 12” wide by about 20” high. I remember coming up to one of the little white signs that read “Mile 18 – Marathon” and it hit me hard – not a wall, not a cramp – a huge smile. I remembered back to my 18-mile training run and how DEAD I felt at the end. I remembered my 20-mile training run and how the last 4 miles made me want to crawl into the ditch, curl up into a ball and cry -- but instead I got stubborn and forced my sore, heavy legs to trod on. But today… I was at mile 18 and I felt… well… amazing! I smiled again, looked up into the sky and thanked God for being there with me. I prayed at the start of the race that He run with me, and I don’t know if it was adrenaline or what, but I sadly wasn’t feeling a strong connection for some reason. It bothered me, but I had to just keep my chin up and keep going. As the race went on, I felt more and more thankful to be there… and to be healthy enough to be there. Then I started to feel it, almost like a balloon of happiness being blown up inside. It made me so happy – and at that 18-mile mark I felt like I was beaming from the inside!

At mile 20 I saw Adam again. I heard him say that I had a really good pace going and to keep it up. I didn’t have any idea when I’d finish, and I didn’t want to concern myself with time. I reminded myself to take it easy and enjoy the run. Just after that 20-mile mark I started to feel a little tired, and I whispered (and repeated) to myself, “Come on, Robin… just a 10K away… good miles, good miles… make these last six good miles…”

A little while later, somewhere between mile 20 and 21 I realized that I’d just run the farthest I’d ever run before and felt better than any of my training runs. It was some sort of miracle! I started to think of how far I’d come that morning, and how far I had to go, how I was feeling, then I whispered to myself, “I’m going to do it!” I felt a rush of emotion come over me, but quickly focused back on the trail.

I had a couple of reality checks that hit me kind of hard along the way, too. It seems like once I hit mile 20, there were quite a lot of people walking and stopping to stretch. I saw one male runner that was stopped frozen in the middle of the trail just trying to lift his toes, and as he tried, he shook his head in frustration – I felt so bad for him – he was so cramped up he couldn’t even move! He had a friend helping him, so I hope he was able to get his cramp worked out and back to running. I saw the ambulance fire up its sirens a couple of times and race off, and the scariest moment during the run was when I ran past a downed runner lying in the ditch with emergency personnel holding their feet up. The runner was completely covered with a heat blanket from their ankles to over the top of their head. All I could see was their shoes. A minute later a pick-up truck was heading towards us down the trail with a crew of EMTs and a stretcher. I got a little emotional, said a little prayer for that runner and kept going.

It was almost like once mile 20 hit it was a different race. I felt like I was playing with the big boys, and this was where we stopped screwing around. It was getting serious, now. Each time I ran a half marathon, I’d watch the full marathon runners come down the final stretch and I would be in complete awe. It was always just amazing to me how they could run that far! I had so much respect for them and always thought to myself, “Someday I want to be like them.”

Well, part of “being like them” also involved dealing with common issues they are all too familiar with. There’s a big one that happens to runners anywhere from the novice level to the most experienced racers, and I couldn’t avoid it, either… it was the wall. The sign for mile 22 came and went, my posture slumped, my legs felt heavy and my feet landed hard with each step. I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, I just didn’t know when. I told myself the week before, as I tried to mentally prepare for and visualize the race, that when I hit the wall I’d recognize it right away and try to push through it. I knew it was going to be mostly a mental exercise. I was starting to feel soreness in my left leg – but that was normal – after all, I’d just run 22 miles straight! But the rest of my slumpiness was just in my head. I was tired, and I had 4 more miles to run. But at that moment those 4 miles seemed like 400. I wanted to walk. I ran past a few people walking and envied them, but at the same time I knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I’d stopped to walk, especially having made it this far! It just simply wasn’t part of my game plan.

Then I did something I knew very well how to do: “Stubborn mode: ON”

I straightened my back, sunk my eyebrows down as if angry, turned up my music a few notches, forced my stride to hop along as if I were on mile 1, and said out loud, “F*** the wall!” and I took off. I didn’t go with an all-out sprint, but I picked up my pace enough that I ended up passing a couple of other runners. Once I felt as though I’d pushed through, I slowed my pace back down to a comfortable trot and ran on. No wall was gettin’ me down!

At about mile 24 I realized that today was the day I was going to be a marathon finisher. This was my fourth attempt at training, and I’d gone the distance (well, mostly at that point!). I only had a couple more miles to go! I actually started to get teary-eyed as I ran. I felt proud, happy and awesomely exhausted all at the same time. As I nearly cried with joy, I noticed I was starting to hyperventilate a little bit! I shook my head back and forth quickly a couple of times and told myself to save it for the end. This happened about two more times in the last couple of miles. I’d just shake it off and think to myself, “save it for the finish line.”

Between mile 25 and the finish, there was no fooling my mind – we were almost there. My left knee started to hurt, and the whole side of my left leg felt tight. I was way too close to the finish line to stop and stretch, so I just ran through it. During each training run I did, I felt things tighten in about the last mile but then I'd be just fine the second I was done – I knew this was pain from running 26.2 miles, but I also knew it probably wasn’t quite as bad as it felt that very moment. It was mostly in my mind. Had I felt this pain in mile 17, I’d have stopped and stretched.

I came around a corner and took off my headphones so I could hear the buzz of the finish-line crowd. There were a lot of people cheering me on as I ran through the last couple of curves. As I futzed with my headphones to tuck them away in my pocket, I looked up, and a very nice gentleman said to me, “Remember to SMILE!!” and I gave him the biggest, happiest smile I had and it stuck. I ran around the next corner and saw the finish line and the clock. The clock had JUST turned over to 3:59, and I quickly realized that my official chip time was going to be under 4 hours! I was excited about that, but instantly distracted when the announcer said, “Oshkosh, Wisconsin -- Robin Grapa.” I threw my hands up in the air and cheered myself across the finish line.


A volunteer took my timing chip off, another volunteer asked me if I needed any aid (I didn’t -- I felt great!), got my mylar and wrapped it around my shoulders, another volunteer put my finisher medal over my head, and I walked into the food tent. I almost felt like I was in a cloud. I grabbed a few things out of the food tent and came out to look for Adam. Once I saw him walking towards me, I lost it. I started crying and he gave me a huge hug. He asked me if I was okay – he thought I might’ve been injured – he saw me trying to tuck my headphones in my back pocket when I came down the final stretch and he thought I was holding my back as if it hurt… that was scary for him! I told him I felt great and that I was just so happy! I did it! I finally ran a marathon!

First photo after I finished. My face is covered in salt and I'm a big, proud crybaby!

I was amazed with how great I felt. I was a salty-faced, teary-eyed girl, but I was happy! I laughed after Adam hugged me, because I left behind a dusting of salt on the shoulder of his black t-shirt. I felt my face and it was caked with a layer of salt from sweating for four hours!

I originally didn’t want to really focus too much on my time for the race. I’d never run that far before, and I had no idea how my body was going to react. My first goal was to just finish the race. I wanted to cross the start line and that finish line under my own foot power. My second goal was to run the entire way without slowing to a stop – which I did – I even jogged through the water stations. Thankfully I only got PowerAid up the nose one time, and it made me laugh, so it was alright. My third goal was a time goal – but it was my #3 goal so I didn’t think about it too hard. I originally wanted to finish under a 10-minute mile, but looking back on all my training runs, I was pretty certain I’d do that without any problem – so I told myself maybe I could finish with a 9:30-minute mile.

The problem with the 9:30-minute mile is that I would’ve finished in 4:09 and probably would’ve left the race thinking, “Wow, I’m just 9 minutes above the 4-hour mark… I could run another marathon under 4 hours…” This same sort of thing happened to me on my first half-marathon. My ultimate goal was to finish, and that was pretty much it. When I finished in 2:02, I had to run another one. I did, and crushed the 2-hour mark with a 1:51. But the marathon took so much more time to train for! I had it on my list to run one before I die, and I wasn’t certain I’d want to do another one. I’ve heard people say with marathons, “It’s either one and you’re done, or you get addicted and do more.” I think I could easily go either way, but because I like doing so many different things (and have so many more things to cross off my list), I’m going to go with the former (at least for now!). And especially because I surprised myself and confidently ran it under four hours, I’m going to walk away proud and fully satisfied. Who knows, maybe some day I’ll feel a hunger to qualify for the Boston Marathon. 3:40? Hmm, that’s a ways off! Haha!

After I calmed down a little from running across the finish, we walked into the festival tent, and Adam bought me a beer. It tasted amazing! I then collected my official finisher shirt and we head over to the Civic Center. I was going to sign up for a massage, but the wait was about an hour, so I decided to head to the car to get my clothes so I could shower. By the time we got back they weren’t taking any more massage requests. Oh, well. We hung around a little bit, I had my medal engraved, took my shower, went to the finish area to watch a few more excited runners cross the finish line, then got on the road back towards Phillips.

Post-race celebratory beer!

I had a strong case of runner’s high. I was stoked the entire way home. I thought I’d be passed out and sleeping, but there was no chance of that! I was a little stiff-legged whenever I had to move after sitting down, but other than that, I was feeling awesome. We drove to my parent’s house, and my mom and dad made an amazing celebratory post-race meal for us all. Dad made tasty, dripping ribeyes over the open fire, and mom put together salads made with all fresh ingredients right from her garden in the backyard… and she made some really great sliced baked sweet and white potatoes with fresh herbs (from her yard) and cheese melted on top. We stuffed ourselves silly, then we collectively decided to go out. Even after the long day I already had, there was still a little fight left in me, as I was out until wee hours in the morning! What a great day!

Amazing steak dinner! Thank you, mom and dad!

The aftermath hasn’t been so bad. At least it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I had a tight left leg for the first few days after, a couple of nasty chafe lines on my chest from where my sports bra rubbed, and my big right toenail is getting darker and uglier each day. I didn’t feel the chafing or my big toenail during the run at all, so for that I’m thankful. I clearly remember my knee stiffening up on me late in the race, so I’m certain if I just stretched faithfully for a few days, my leg would be right back to normal. I really need to get better about stretching.

Also, about three days after the run, I started to come down from my runner’s high and began to feel a little sad. I’ve been focusing on that one day for 6 months, and was constantly working towards that one big event. I never had more than two days off from running, and during those two days, I was usually doing some sort of cross-training. But I needed to rest my legs and body, which I’m actually finding difficult. And I decided that once I get back into a workout routine I’d take a break in training for a while and try some new workouts – and maybe take a few runs just for fun. Normally I’d transition right into training for the Frozen Otter in January, but since I completed the 64 miles this January, I think I will volunteer this year and cheer on other participants. I’m going to miss it like crazy, and the thought of not participating in the race eats at me quite a bit, but I guess I need this break. 2010 was an awesome year. I completed the Frozen Otter, then spent months recovering while starting to train for the marathon. I don’t have a lot of lasting recovery to deal with from the marathon, though, so that’ll be nice.

My mind is reeling, though. I’m not really sure where to go with my own workout routine. One goal I did have was to start working on Adam and helping him get into shape, so I think whenever I feel that “want” to pick a new race or a new event, I’m going to focus that energy on him. Haha! Adam – baby, you better watch out! Hah!

My goals going in and results:

Goal #1: Finish the marathon
Goal #2: Run the whole marathon without slowing to a walk
Goal #3: Finish in 4:22:11 or under. That's a pace of 10 minutes/mile*
* I actually wanted to finish under 4:09, which was a 9:30 minute mile, but I set my time goal low because I didn’t want to stress myself over a particular time, having no idea what it would be like to run past 20 miles.

Final Results:
Chip time: 3:59:02
Pace: 9:07 minutes/mile

301/682 total
23/50 female age group (30-34)
80/247 division (female)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I just ran a marathon! (the short story)

2010 is the year. This was my fourth attempt to train for a full marathon, and it happened. I did it!

I trained for 26 weeks, and I must’ve done something right (in addition to a delicate balance of luck), because I ran my first marathon and it was an amazing, positive experience!

This is the short story. I’ve got a 4-page word document journaling the entire day in full detail – mostly for my poor memory so that I’ve got something to look back on when I forget the little bits and pieces of the day a few months from now.

I took Friday off of work since the marathon was on Saturday. Adam and I enjoyed the day by taking the long, scenic route to Ashland. Once there, I picked up my race packet and bib and head to Phillips where we were staying the night at Adam’s mom’s house.

I had my running clothes and gear layed out and ready to go, and we got to bed early. We woke up at 4 a.m., ate breakfast and hit the road towards Iron River where the start line was. It’s incredible when I look at a map of Wisconsin and see Iron River and Ashland and think that I ran that whole distance!

We got to Iron River, parked and got on the shuttle bus to the start line. I got my timing chip, stood in line to use the port-a-john, then warmed up and stretched. I stood amongst the crowd of marathoners, and slowly it started moving, and by the time I got to the start line I was running with the high hopes of becoming a first-time marathon finisher.

A couple of things stood out in my mind throughout the race. At mile 7 I couldn’t believe that I’d been running for an hour and was feeling as good as I was. I had a little twinge in my hip up to that point, but it was going away.

At mile 13.1 I was half-way there and still feeling good. I enjoyed the fall leaves flittering down along the trail in front of me, and when I got to a road-crossing at mile 13.6, Adam was there to cheer me on! I gave him a quick little kiss and ran on.

The miles were marked on simple, skinny wooden posts about 10-feet high with a small white sign about 12” x 20” or so. For some reason when I think about the marathon, the first thing that pops into my mind is the sign that read “Mile 18 Marathon.” I think at that point it really hit me that I was there -- actually running a marathon. Everything up to that point was busyness in training, preparing and getting into the stride of the race. At mile 18 I realized I was feeling good and finally there. I said a little prayer thanking God for everything I had in my life, and for being with me throughout the process and giving me the strength and determination to do it. I smiled and ran on.

Mile 20 rolled around and Adam was again standing along the edge of the trail to cheer me on. This pushed me happily beyond the farthest I’d ever run. Each time I saw Adam I couldn’t help but wear a huge smile on my face for probably the next mile. It meant so much to me to have him there supporting me.

I started to feel sore around mile 22 and hit the wall. Every runner talks about hitting a wall at some point, and I decided I was just going to be prepared for it. When I realized what it was that was happening, I said out loud to myself, “F*** the wall!”, picked up my speed, bounced along as if I had fresh legs, then slowly came back down to my comfortable speed. That’s all I needed to mentally get through it.

At mile 25 I knew I only had one more mile, and my knee started to stiffen up on me, but I pushed through it, and when I got close to the finish line I took off my headphones so I could soak in the cheers and energy of the crowd. I rounded a couple of corners, and…

…there is was! The finish line! There were claps and shouts and cheers on both sides of the road, and the announcer said, “Oshkosh, Wisconsin – Robin Grapa.” I threw my hands up in the air, cheered and ran through the big, yellow blow-up finish-line archway. I was sore, but I was on top of the world!

I made my way through to get my medal, a bit of food, then met up with Adam. When I saw him I got emotional and cried. I was so happy that I finally did it! Four attempts to train for a marathon since 2005, and finally – 2010 was the year! Adam gave me a huge hug and congratulated me. Then he bought me a beer! :)

I got my finisher shirt, had my medal engraved, got a pickle-on-a-stick, took a shower, watched a few more finishers come in, then we head back to Phillips.

I had runner’s high, and I had it real good. I was a little stiff-legged, but I was feeling awesome. We drove to my parent’s house, and my mom and dad made an amazing celebretory post-race meal for us all. Dad made ribeyes over the fire, and mom put together a fresh garden salad and potatoes. We stuffed ourselves, then decided to go out. Even after the long day I had, I was able to go out until wee hours in the morning. What a great day!

Now it’s Wednesday, and I just started to feel like I was coming down off of my runner’s high yesterday. I started to feel tired, but I had a nice 30-minute massage scheduled with our at-work massage therapist. Today I rode my bike into work, and that is the first “activity” I’ve done since the marathon, and I realized that my legs were still VERY tired. I struggled to pedal the three miles to work and decided I’d continue my rest until at least Friday (silly me -- I was actually thinking about going to kickboxing class tonight!).

I was fortunate to not have suffered any major injuries during my training. There were only a couple of teeny after-affects after the race, but nothing I can’t deal with. I noticed that I had two deep chafe marks on my chest from my sports bra, but they will heal up just fine. I also have a darkened big toenail on my right foot. I think that with the surface of the trail during the marathon and my toenail already being kind of goofy (I lost it about six months ago, and it was almost fully grown back), it must’ve rubbed funny on my shoe. I didn’t feel either the chafing or the toenail during the run – so for that I’m really thankful! But I do think I will lose that toenail again… oh, well. Who needs toenails anyway!! That little sacrifice is so worth it!


My goals going in and results:

Goal #1: Finish the marathon
Goal #2: Run the whole marathon without slowing to a walk
Goal #3: Finish in 4:22:11 or under. That's a pace of 10 minutes/mile*
* I actually wanted to finish uner 4:09, which was a 9:30 minute mile, but I set my time goal low because I didn’t want to stress myself over a particular time, having no idea what it would be like to run past 20 miles.

Final Results:
Chip time: 3:59:02
Pace: 9:07 minutes/mile

301/682 total
23/50 female age group (30-34)
80/247 division (female)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marathon Prep

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
~Philipians 4:13~

I am here. Week 26/26. This is the week before I run a full marathon. I've trained for 25 weeks. 25! Looking back at my summer, every weekend involved finding a way to work in a long run - wherever I was - Montana, Phillips, Oshkosh... it didn't matter, but I had my running shoes and I ran. This is the hardest things I have trained for. Running is hard for me, and the training really took a lot of time. But I knew that going in, and was determined to make it happen. Once I cross that finish line on Saturday, I'll be able to cross it off my list.

Right now I'm reading about how to prepare the week before, and one of the things that keeps coming up is to prepare mentally. I need to stay relaxed and visualize the run - the whole thing, but mostly I need to visualize myself coming down that last 2-3 mile stretch confident, strong and happy. I'm trying - but I laugh every time because I'm fairly certain I will be in quite a bit of pain at that point - but I am still not loosing that "positive" attitude I need so that I can be as ready as I can mentally. As tired or as sore as I will be at that finish line, I will smile - and I know I will feel proud.

While working on the "stay strong mentally" part of preparing, I'm also trying to drink a lot of water this week so that I'm well-hydrated on Saturday. Another part of staying well-hydrated means to cut back on caffeine and beers. The beers haven't been a problem, but the coffee... I usually have a few *large* cups each day, so I'm cutting that down to two. Quitting right now would probably not be a good idea... I don't need to deal with caffeine headaches!
I'm also trying to boost my carb intake, which, to be perfectly honest, has been absolutely joyous! I love carbs. Tonight I'm having whole wheat spaghetti and ice cream for dessert. I'm trying to keep the rest of my diet in check, so I'm trying to keep with my eating 2-3 fruits each day, about 4 servings of raw veggies, my daily yogurt, egg sandwich, almonds and oatmeal. That all keeps me munching throughout the day.

I've tried to clear out my week so I can get ready physically, too. Yesterday (Monday) I had a late class, so I wasn't able to do much to prepare. In fact, it was a really stressful day. I had a 110-point project due that wasn't working, and a test! So I was pretty much freaking out all day yesterday, but I got my project to work in the last minutes before going to class, and my test actually went pretty well. I'm glad that's over, because now I can really focus... I hope!

So I guess there's this thing called "Taper Madness" and I keep getting emails with articles about how to avoid it and stressing how important it is to notice it and keep in control. Well, the last 4 weeks have been taper weeks for me (meaning my miles became less and less with no super-long runs on the weekends), so I started to read these articles. Apparently, most runners get into the 4-week taper and just decide to throw in another 18- or 20-miler just because they want to do a long run. What!? I saw my miles taper down and sighed with relief! A break! Woo-hoo! I figured I didn't really have to worry about this whole "taper madness" nonsense - I easily followed the mileages on my training schedule. But now -- the week before -- I can't help but think to myself, "I haven't done a long run in FOUR weeks. How on earth am I (or my legs) going to be ready to run 26.2 miles!?" And then I started to understand the taper madness. Maybe it doesn't necessarily have to be because I *want* to run 18 miles, but I kind of feel like I should. I won't, of course, it's way too late now, anyway. But I'm starting to understand this crazy phenomenon.

Tonight (Tuesday) I'm going to run 6 miles, eat my spaghetti, drink lots of water and do some stretching. Tomorrow night I'm going to pack my clothes and make sure I've got everything I need for race day. Thursday night I'll run 4 miles and get to bed early. I read that getting a lot of sleep the few nights before the race is really important, too, because most runners get little sleep the night before. This makes so much sense and wasn't something I thought of! So I'm trying to get more sleep this week than normal.

Friday morning Adam and I plan to wake up nice and early and get on the road. We've talked about taking fun back roads from Oshkosh to Ashland and maybe stop somewhere on the way up for lunch. At 3:30 the packet pick-up begins, so Adam and I will both pick up our race packets (he's walking the 5K), maybe visit the Expo, then head to Phillips. Friday evening will consist of a *very easy* 20-minute run to keep my legs limber, stretching, a somewhat bland, high-carb dinner, and lots of relaxing and sleep (hopefully).

Saturday morning at 3:30AM I will wake up and shower, get ready for the day, make coffee and breakfast and hit the road around 4:00 or 4:30. Drive the 1-1/2 hours to Ashland, find a place to park, get our stuff together and jump on the shuttle bus. Get to the start line, go for a jog, stand in line to pee, stretch, stand in line to pee again, then find my place at the start line.

Then... 9:00AM... I run.

Right now I've got a few goals in mind, which I always do before a big event like this. I usually set three -- one that I'm pretty certain I'll be able to achieve, one that I have a good chance at, and one that could be tough, but still possible.

Goal #1: Finish the marathon
Goal #2: Run the whole marathon without slowing to a walk
Goal #3: Finish in 4:22:11 or under. That's a pace of 10 minutes/mile

Okay, okay... here's a moment of pure honesty -- I always tend to push myself, and admittedly sometimes a little too much. See goal #3 up there? I really would like to finish under 4:09. But I read over and over again not to focus so much on time for your first race, so I'm trying really hard to just keep it out of my mind -- that's why a 10-minute mile is goal #3 and not goal #1. I have never once run over a 10-minute mile during my training, so I really shouldn't have a problem reaching that goal. But I don't have any idea what those last 6.2 miles will be like, so having that mental time-buffer in there might be all I have to hang onto if the going gets tough.

So that's the plan. My obsessing will hopefully pay off and not irritate too many of my friends and family! Adam has been super-supportive throughout my entire training, but I know he's getting pooped from all of this and I don't blame him! I drive myself batty! But I feel really lucky to have him by my side. He's talked me into going on runs when I didn't feel like it, encouraged me when I was feeling tired, and he even drove out on my long-run routes a couple of times to cheer me on. One time he was holding a piece of chocolate cake that I was looking forward to eating when I got done - the faster I ran the sooner I got that cake! He really helped make some of it fun - and made me feel important to him. But I know he's looking forward to the break in training, as am I.

...but first things first...

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Our Hike" for Bone Marrow Disease 2010

The "Our Hike" booth about the hike my mom and I took across America in 2006 -- complete with a worn-out pair of holey hiking boots!

Another fundraiser has come and gone, and once again, we'd like to thank everyone involved in making it a great success. However you were involved... by making a donation online, hiking with us, donating raffle items, spreading the word and awareness or even just wishing us well - we thank you! We couldn't do it without our supporters, friends and family.

The event was held on Sept. 11, 2010 this year, and we raised over $1,600 to be sent to the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation! To date we have raised nearly $130,000 to raise awareness and to find a cure for these deadly bone marrow failure diseases. This is why we continue to hike every year. Every little bit adds up to a bigger amount - and in the end we can all feel like we've worked together to make an impact. We just hope to help save lives. We need more awareness so the correct diagnosis can be made. We need constant patient education materials so patients and their caregivers can get the support they need. Research dollars are also so very important for Bone Marrow disease... these diseases are too often mistaken for cancer... but they aren't! There are no cancer cells involved, which would be a good thing to hear from your doctor... but in the case of bone marrow diseases like Aplastic Anemia, that doesn't mean you're out of the woods by any means. It's not as well known as cancer -- so there aren't as many huge studies done, and there aren't as many widespread support groups out there.

I have a little side-story here about my diagnosis, and I've heard similar stories from other patients, as well. When my mom, dad and I were at the clinic with our hematologist and they told us that it wasn't cancer, or leukemia... there was a sigh of relief. Why wouldn't there be, right? Well, when the doctor then explained that the disease I had was more rare, and that he's only seen one other patient with Aplastic Anemia, we started to feel scared and confused again. Now what, right? Well, my hopes are that upon diagnosis, more patients will be able to say, "Oh, I've heard of that..." and even better yet, "I know someone that's survived that!" What a positive outlook that would start a newly diagnosed patient with!

So we just keep on plugging away. We hope that everyone that joined us this year will be back next year, and we hope if you weren't able to make it out that you can next year. In the big picture we might be a small group, but we sure are a tough one as we continue to hike each year!

As of right now, we plan on having the next event on September 10, 2011, but we might try to move the hike out a couple of weeks so that it's closer to peak fall color season. We will be sure to let everyone know if that time does change, but go ahead and mark your calendars for 9-10-11 for now. :) 

A little synopsis from this year's event... and a few pictures!

We started out with registration at the Corner Connection where we gathered to start the hike. We raffled off two Gregory Daypacks this year for registered hikers - one ladies' and one men's. Ken one the men's and Brenda won the ladies' (Brenda is from Blue Door Consulting in Oshkosh and was a HUGE help with media when my mom and I hiked the ADT in 2006 - she was also someone I'd call if I needed cheering up - she's so bubbly and always picked me up when I was feeling down. She surprised us by showing up with her husband, Alex, to hike with us!)

 Hikers on Hwy. W

We hit the road, going in the opposite direction as we have in past years. We started walking on Hwy. W for a short jaunt, then turned onto Skinner Creek Rd., which is a gravel country road lined with trees. It drizzled on us a little bit, and it was a enough for me to throw on a poncho, but it didn't last too long. It was just enough rain to give the woods some super-vibrant color.

Then we took a slight left onto White Birch Lane - still a gravel country road - then onto the Georgetown ATV trail. The trail narrows and gets prettier as you go. We all enjoyed the woods, and there was even a spatter of fall colors in the trees here and there.

When we finished the hike back at Corner Connection, they graciously held a meat raffle for us! So paddles went around, we drew tickets for some door prizes, and pigged out on a lunch special of pulled pork, chips and a bunch of goodies that family and friends made to share with the hikers (THANK YOU to those who made treats, too!!!).

I think several of us took a little nap before heading to Club 13 in Phillips for dinner, raffles and music. We started out with a yummy spaghetti dinner, then the DJ set up and played some music, and we started up some paddle raffles in between songs. We had a lot of baskets this year (THANK YOU to everyone who helped with baskets by donating items and helping put them together!).

 Baskets for raffling!
We had a couple of "big ticket" items that we sold separate tickets for, too. This was something new we tried, and I think we can improve on it a little bit, but it was still a success. Ken's Carpet in Phillips, WI donated a recliner at cost for us to raffle off. My mom made another crocheted Sock Monkey - those are always a big hit. That sock monkey ended up being the man of the hour for sure! I think everyone got a dance with him! :) Mimi Seamens, the mom of a good friend of mine (Jake!) and her Quilting club put together an "Our Hike" quilt made with our signature bandanas! It was awesome! In fact, my mom and I usually don't get in on the raffles, but we both decided we'd put a ticket in for the quilt... and my mom's name was pulled! It was really funny, because when her name was called she didn't hear it at first... then she saw everyone looking at her and she exclaims, "What!? Who won!?" When we told her it was her, she jumped up and down and squeeled! She was so excited. I think everyone was happy to see she won it. And I'm totally cool with it because she already told me she's gonna' will it to me! Tee-hee! :)

The "Our Hike" Quilt with some raffle baskets

 After the music and raffles were done, some of us were headed out to the Phillips Fairgrounds where we had a group camp set up. Mike and Joan, the owners of Club 13, arranged a limo ride for those of us staying out there! That was an awesomely fun perk to camping! I can honestly say I've never had a limo ride to my tent before this!

The campers got a limo ride back to camp at the end of the night 

Our night ended at camp with a nice campfire, a midnight snack of sweet corn on the fire, a ringing bell and some great conversation. Thanks to everyone for such a fun time. I already can't wait until next year. Again, we hope to make it bigger and better next year!

We'd like to send out a special thanks to The Corner Connection, Club 13, Mimi Seamens and the Sassy Quilter's, and Kens Carpets.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Highlights from Summer 2010

Well, now that summer is nearly over and I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, I can play a little catch-up with my blog.

Probably starting in January, I started to fill in those two little blocks in my calendar that land in the “Saturday” and “Sunday” columns… in every month through September. Before I knew it spring was over (those weekends were full, too), and summer was here, full blast. While making the decision that 2010 was going to be the year I run a full road marathon (so I can finally check it off my bucket list), I kept myself so busy that I don’t know where I found the time to run.

After all is said and done, I look back and see that I didn’t spend as much quality time with Adam as I should have, which is bad… but every weekend was stuffed-full of funness, which is good… and I’m now finding myself feeling exhausted… which is good and bad. I have no regrets from this summer, but I have to admit that I’m looking forward to the second half of October through the end of the year. I don’t know what’s next, and right now – in all honesty – I don’t care! I love that!

I don’t have enough precious time to write in detail about all my summer adventures, so I thought I’d do a little rundown of it with a picture popped in here and there to illustrate it all. First of all, I need to point out that training for a 26.2-mile marathon is REALLY hard and time-consuming. I didn’t get backpacking nearly as much as I normally would because it just didn’t work with my running schedule – and an even more honest reasonI simply had too many things already planned. But I decided that if I could make it through my and Adam’s 2-week road trip vacation in June, the marathon was ON. No excuses at that point. Long story short, I stuck with it – I’m now 2 weeks away from that marathon, and I’m not quite sure I’m 100% ready, but I’m 100% sure I’m as ready as I can be… if that makes any sense at all.

In May we did our annual Canoe Trip. That was fun as always. We paddled, partied, enjoyed campfire, family, friends and had an overall good time. I always love spending time up north doing stuff outdoors. There’s so much! Rivers, woods, paths, roads, fire pits, gardens, lakes… it’s never ending!

Mom and Dad in their canoe.

Towards the end of June Adam and I went to Country USA again. It was fun and crazy as always! It’s nice to have those five days for us to spend together, and at that time we’d both just gotten back from our awesome vacation to Montana. We were kind of “out-of-sorts” I suppose you could say. We were coming off of a vacation high and some other things he and I were working through at the time. So it was kind of a whirlwind.

Before Country USA and before our vacation, Adam and I started talking about all kinds of things and learned some new things about each other… some good, some bad, some scary… and we both knew we had some things to work on. What better time to get into a rental car and drive together for two weeks? A lot of friends and coworkers thought that we were crazy, most of them saying, “I wouldn’t last a day cooped up in a car with my spouse!” But Adam and I are a little different that way, and very different from each other -- the list of activities that we both enjoy is a short one. But one thing we both have always enjoyed -- and enjoyed doing together -- is road-tripping. So that's the trip we planned and it was perfect for us.

One random day before we left, I told Adam, “We need to give our vacation some sort of name…” for which he replied, “How about Gus?” I laughed and that’s what stuck. So GUS became the theme name for our trip.

We got a rental car, dropped our kitties off at Adam’s mom’s house (she was kitty-sitting for us while we were away), and we hit the road. We drove through South Dakota, hitting the Corn Palace, Wall Drug, the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. From there we drove into Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. We stayed there a couple of days and toured as much as we could. We stayed in the canyon area, so we hiked to upper and lower falls, then on our way out toured around the loops to see buffalo, a grizzly bear, some bighorn sheep, Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, among some other awesome scenery!

Adam and I at the bottom of Lower Falls, Yellowstone

On our way out of Yellowstone, we took the famous Beartooth Pass. We left in the afternoon, and the roads were nearly empty of all traffic. There was still 10-20 foot snow banks along the side of the roads in some places, and it was kind of scary riding around the hairpin turns. Adam did most of the driving, and he did an awesome job. The best part of Beartooth pass was the sunset. It was incredible. I won’t even try to explain it because it wouldn’t do it any justice at all. Please, if you go anywhere near Yellowstone, this you – must – go – and – see.

Beartooth Pass at sunset. Not even close to how gorgeous it actually looked!

From Yellowstone, we drove up to Bozeman, Montana, which we both immediately fell in love with. We dreamed of what life would be like living there (and still do). Maybe one day we can call it home, who knows! We spent some time at museums and relaxing, then took off again, but this time north towards Glacier National Park. On the way to Glacier we hit Skulkaho Pass and its amazing waterfall, the Sapphire mines at Philipsburg, and a cool little place to get huckleberry shakes. We tent-camped one night in West Glacier, but the second night we upgraded to a small, one-room cabin. We took road tours as far as we could go on the Going to the Sun Road – it was still closed at the top. But we went as far as we could on both sides and saw some great scenery.

Adam and I at Eagle’s Falls, Glacier National Park

From the East side of the park, we took the Going to the Sun Road to St. Mary’s Lake and pulled over at a famous photo-taking spot. There’s this tiny little island in the middle of the lake with about 3 little pine trees on it. As I had my back to the island, and Adam about to snap my picture, he suddenly got this look on his face like something was behind me. His jaw dropped open and his eyes got HUGE. I turned around and there stood this teeny little spotted fawn! I grabbed the camera and took a quick picture, then continued to take some video. He wanted to walk straight up to me, and almost did before realizing I wasn’t his kind, then he turned and ran off. It was definitely one of the highlights of our entire trip!

Little fawn that surprised us, Glacier National Park

After Glacier, we hit the road heading back home. We hit a winery and a BBQ festival on the way home, landed at a family gathering in Wisconsin, then back to Phillips to get the kitties… and home to Oshkosh. It was a great two weeks. Adam and I never got sick of each other, I kept up my running, we ate fairly healthy and inexpensive (Jetboiling meals in the hotel rooms), we talked a TON about all kinds of things, and came back feeling refreshed. It was a real vacation, and it was our first.

July rolled around pretty quickly. Adam and I went to Green Bay and saw Star Wars in Concert. It was really cool. The orchestra played a bunch of Star Wars theme music and a huge screen behind it played scenes from the movie. It was hard to remember sometimes that the music you were hearing was actually live. I had to keep looking down at the orchestra to remind myself. It was amazing with all the lights and fog, too!

My running training picked up pretty heavy in July, but I just kept at it. We had time for an 80’s party with friends Anne, Craig, Shannon and Kevin in Sheboygan. It was fun getting all dressed up in 80’s attire and getting together with friends for a fun-filled night.

Adam and I at 80’s night in Sheboygan

In late July Adam and I started making secret plans of a crazy future. He was going to go back over-the-road truck driving. We were nervous about the change, but excited for just that reason – change. But we wanted to start something different, and we thought maybe this would be a fun new adventure… and if things were going well, I’d eventually join him on the road. So a lot of the first part of August was planning things and getting Adam set up with a trucking company and orientation. I dropped him off in Chicago for a 3-day packed orientation, and on my way home, alone in the car I cried. The thought of not seeing him for 3 weeks was really making the change hard. I knew it would be difficult, and so did Adam… but neither of us know how close we’d actually become in the past few years. We both struggled, but Adam finally got officially hired and hit the road. After only a few days, and a LOT of patience, Adam started to realize that this company wasn’t just dragging him through the dirt because he was new… they were dragging him through the dirt because that was they way they ran. Needless to say, it didn’t work out, he quit, and he came home. We both privately prayed to God that He give us some sort of sign if it was the right decision or not… I think we got our answer loud and clear. We are both glad he tried it, though… or we’d both still be wondering “what if?”

So on to the next chapter! What that is, I have no idea!

While Adam was working out a way to get home from his trucking run (he was stuck in Springfield, Ohio), I had plane tickets, along with 2 of my girlfriends, to visit our friend Sarah in Colorado. She was on vacation there with her boyfriend for 7 weeks and invited us to come out for an extended weekend. At first I wasn’t going to go. I thought of a bunch of different reason why I shouldn’t (like money and time and blah, blah, blah...), but after Heidi and Becky both bought tickets, I decided to just jump. The tickets were really cheap, and after a conversation with Adam when he said, “Quit stressing about it... just go and have a nice time,” I got online and put in my credit card information. Before I knew it, I had a confirmation email from the airline.

We flew out to Colorado the last weekend in August and stayed with Sarah and Michael for a few days. We dayhiked one day, visited Rocky Mountain National Park the next, shopped the day after that and just chilled out and relaxed the rest of the time. It was a really nice way to spend some quality time with friends.

Heidi, me, Becky and Sarah at Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

A couple of other things that happened in August were Manly Man Movie night, which was an event Adam put on. It was originally for guys only. They were going to go to Prime Quarter to grill their own steaks, then hit the movie theater to see “The Expendables.” I wanted to go, but felt I’d have to “be a guy,” so the rule was in place – women could go if they wore a fake moustache… facial hair was required. So the guys all grew out their beards and moustaches and goatees, and I sported a fake fu manchu. It was a great idea, and a lot of fun!

Me sportin’ the fu manchu

The day after Manly Man Movie Night, Adam and I joined friends Jamie and Eric for the Green Bay Tall Ships Festival. We enjoyed the day looking at all the ships, all the people, eating, and freaking roasting in 100-degree weather! It was so hot that day, but we managed to pull off a fun day. We went and went and went until the heat took everything out of us. We did enjoy a sail-tour on the Appledore boat, though. That was really fun. Once on the water and out in the bay, the captain even let us steer the boat for a little bit… which is fun for kids, but adults, too!
Adam and I steering the ship at the Tall Ships Festival, Green Bay

Over Labor Day weekend I went on our backpacking group’s annual backpacking trip at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Upper Michigan. I was stoked because it was going to be my first (and biggest) trip of the summer and fall. And boy oh boy, was it a trip to remember! The first two days were crazy with weather! We survived 40-60 mph winds along the shores of Lake Superior, which had 20-23 foot waves! We called it Lake Superior’s first hurricane: Hurricane Aardvark! It rained, the wind whipped, the waves crashed, and on the actual shoreline, sand and spray from the waves would sting us in the face. The first night we were all tucked away in our tents at 7:30pm! That’s early! But after the weather calmed down the third day, we really enjoy the scenery that this place has. It feels like you’re in a whole other world with how clear and colorful the water is. I really enjoy time in the woods, and the crew we had was awesome. Everyone that came along was loads of fun, and we all really weathered the storms together!

The backpacking crew at the Grand Sable Visitor’s Center at the start of our hike.

Me standing on a cliff edge overlooking Pictured Rocks.

The weekend after Pictured Rocks was our annual “Our Hike” for Bone Marrow Disease fundraiser. I will be posting a separate blog entry about that, but we had a fun time, as we do every year! Below is a photo of a bunch of us packed into the little tent my mom and I used while we hiked the ADT. Oh, the good times!

A bunch of us crammed into the little tent

On September 19 (which also happens to be my mom’s birthday – Happy Birthday, MOM!), I ran in the Fox Cities Half Marathon. According to my marathon training, I was supposed to run 10 miles that weekend, so I opted to make some fun of it and join a race. I felt great, the weather was perfect, and I ended up making a personal record! I was so excited to cross that finish line that I nearly teared up! My fastest half marathon had been 1:51, and I finished this one in 1:49:53. Close, but still faster!

After the Fox Cities Half Marathon with my finisher’s medal

One other thing I want to share that’s really awesome (but not directly my adventure) is that my brother and his wife had a new baby boy on May 5th! So that’s really cool!

So many little things in between all these fun and good things happened, too… most are small, but some bigger… some bad, some good -- but there’s just not space, time or energy to share it all… and besides, some things are best left to tuck away into the ol’ memory bank… or what I’ve got of one (my memory it terrible and that’s another HUGE reason I blog!).

Coming up is the Oshkosh Dragon Boat Festival this weekend. Our 4imprint team is once again competing, and I’m looking forward to that full day of fun! I’m also running the event’s 5K run in the morning – so it’ll be a tiring one for sure! Here’s hoping we don’t tip the boat!!

The first weekend in October our backpacking group is heading to the Porkies in Upper Michigan for a fall colors hike. We got POURED on last year, and for the first time I was actually a little miserable while hiking… I’m hoping the weather is a little nicer to us this year. But I’m going rain or shine, and I know I’ll have a blast either way (despite the misery last year, we still came out with smiles and great stories… so it’s always worth it!)

October 9 is a big day for me – that’s the day of the Ashland Whistlestop Marathon. I’m signed up to run the whole 26.2 miles, and I’m freakin’ nervous as can be! I’ve run 20 miles during my training – that’s the farthest I’ve run, and it was H-A-R-D. During the last 3 miles I wanted to curl up in the ditch and cry, but my dang stubbornness pushed me. I can only hope my body and my mind can hold up to do the other 6.2 on race day! But more on that later….

I should give a prize to anyone that read all of that! But I don’t have much to give… I just know it was a long freaking entry with playing so much catch-up. I always say I’m going to write more often, but I know better than to make any promises. So everyone enjoy the rest of what’s left of summer (if any), enjoy the fall, and look forward to winter, because there really is a lot to do when the flakes start to fall!