Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A fellow runner said: 'You'd probably be faster if you didn't stop to take pictures of so many flowers on your run.' I busted out laughing because it's true. I did a 10:30 mile and everything to a 9:30 mile. I took pictures of some flowers, a couple of snails, chuckled at fat squirrels & skittish chipmunks. I smelled the still lingering scent of Greek Olives holding onto their blooms. The scent is so overpowering sometimes it is almost a thick syrup in the air. I pushed aside a bug flying in slow motion, the same direction I was running on the trail. It was a move from a science fiction movie. I smiled & felt bad for the bug at the same time. I looked for turtles or snakes but didn't spot any, today. I saw walkers & one lady running. I 'waved' at the park rangers as I passed & gave a thumbs up to each walker I saw.

Yep- trail running, even the more manicured trails, are a better time running than the monotonous country roads. Oak Openings is chicken soup for the soul.

Monday, May 22, 2017


We are wrapping up the school year- WOOT! WOOT! We finished our Spring races- all righty!

Juggling training, two girls in high school with abbreviated school days, attending the local college (40 minutes away), that don't drive or ride the bus, makes for a choppy day for Jim & myself. We've done it, though. Working in the afternoon & evening is the only way it's possible. Add, a mom/son duo that recently left our employment & the floodgates of heaven opening with people calling us to work= a busier life.

We have visited Jim's doctors since his race has passed and presented them with items from his race. We have one kid graduating; so, we decided to get our house ready for company. Out with the old carpet & get those wooden floors "done." While we're at it, we might as well paint the walls... and we never did paint the ceilings... we need to move all of the furniture... and let's get these overgrown flower beds tamed- from a year of Jim being sick... Lucy will help...

It will get done-- with miles sprinkled in for sanity until training gets "official" in June. There are still 1/2 marathon races in June & August as well as a full in October. I hope there is another Dave's Marathon in Training plan for me this Fall. Gotta' get my miles back up & get my wonderful speed work done!

There is a peacefulness in our family despite the end of the school rush, despite training, weekend getaways & extra work. There is cooperation as we rally around Jillian's big day, Jim's accomplishment, Hannah's future & improving our home. It's a really good feeling: working, together. I always HOPED I'd have a family like this: a partner I'd like, reasonable kids, a house. I have a warm fuzzy feeling despite living in a construction zone and chaos. We are alive & united... & that is pretty beautiful.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Not that anyone cares; but, I'm making it official. I was bummed for a day & received some encouraging words. My body was quite capable of doing the miles, this past weekend. I wanted to negative split my race & was prepared. The temps were forecasted to be warm but I've run in warmer temps. I was worried how the temps would affect my RACE times. (There is a difference between racing & running.) I gave myself permission on the days leading up to Canton to run not race. I had a much clearer head, this way. As the time came, the evening before was rainy but PERFECT running temps, in my opinion. You get what you get on race day. It's a gamble & part of the appeal to many. I had been training all winter long using Tailwind nutrition at a certain concentration. It got me through every training run- just fine. I had my nutrition locked in after years of trying "everything." --What I had never done was run a warm(er) race after a long winter & not practiced adding all the extra water I would need to compensate for sweating. I feel foolish looking back, now, thinking that my little sips of Tailwind would get me through 26.2 miles of warm miles. I fell apart at mile 15. I started taking water at the aid stations- guzzling water, actually. I didn't get sick because I wasn't "running". Eventually, after walk-trotting, I pulled the last couple of miles together, charging the last hill as I could, passing people left & right as they had given into the heat as well. I finished in under 5 hours. I was shooting for 4 hours. 😕 Needless to say, I was embarrassed; but, passing all of those physically fit runners that were walking, reminded me that it wasn't a normal race.

I had friends that did WAY better than I did. I'm sure they had their nutrition & hydration plan nailed down better than I did. -I'm in, again, for redemption. I'm training for an August 1/2 & a Fall full. I have some different distances on the horizon & am still not counting out ultra marathon training.

Some people have fast times, naturally. Some of us bust our butts to just be average. This girl has a stronger base & more knowledge to tackle the distance, again.

Sub 4-- I'm coming for you. Until then, I must say the BLING from this race was worth the discomfort.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

I am surprisingly calm considering where I will be in less than 24 hours. I will be more than a half marathon into a full marathon. I'm trying to figure out why I'm calmer than usual. I know it's because this training cycle has been so different than other times. My training has been consistent. I need a clear head to pull it all together into a good race, tomorrow. The weather & elevation are my biggest concerns, right now. 

Coach Eric helped me find speed that I didn't know I had. My fellow team mates believe I can do this. They have incredible abilities. If they think I can, there must be something to it. Hearing people call me a "beast" or ready to "kick @$$" remind me that I've proved myself this cycle. For the first time, I really am trusting my training. I've seen results I've never experienced & I've practiced mental toughness strategies. It has all been surreal. Training with Jim... training with a group... TALKING to people... learning what a slow start feels like & easing into a faster pace... restraining a faster pace then pushing when it hurt--> all new stuff for me. I met some really strong people, this time. I will be thinking of them as I run mile after mile. 

I will be holding a dialogue in my own head. I have coached people & believe anyone can become a runner. I doubted my own abilities & now I find myself coaching myself! When I doubt or think about the pain or obstacle, "Coach Me" slaps a strategy to get through it! It is the most bizarre thing to come out of this cycle. Sometimes I picture the information coming from Coach Eric. Sometimes I think of it coming from my fellow team mate, Bill. Sometimes Jim is speaking; but it's usually a third person "me" that barks me out of a panic. -I've run our business. I've guided kids through school & life decisions. I navigated through life threatening illness & insurance avalanches. I AM capable of talking myself through a race. I believe it, now. I have played it conservatively in previous races, this summer, and STILL out performed previous races. I plan to do the same here. Having confidence of a well executed, even though conservative, race makes me confident to "up" the performance, again, next time. 

I will run the mile I'm in. NOT holding to a pace relieves SO much pressure! I would be a bit more aggressive on a familiar flat Toledo course... but not knowing what the elevation will do to me, gives me a bit more permission to run "smart"- not run a "pace."

I'm doing this for my fellow Griswolds. I'm doing this for my MIT group. I'm doing this for my coaches and my family.:) THEY don't know how sentimentally sweet I am on all of them. Heaven forbid THAT awkward moment should arise that I bust out crying in front of them all, telling them 'how much I love them!!!' *WOWSAS* 

For now, we need to drive the few hours, get through the expo, get to our hotel, have dinner & work out the morning logistics. There is still PLENTY of time for old, panicky Sarah to show up. ;) I have a feeling that this race, despite the time on the clock, will be a break through race for me. I'm surprisingly excited. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Reflection: this cycle of training has been heads and shoulders above anything I have ever done, prior. I feel like this is my first "real" time seriously training. I had gotten by on 2-3 runs a week before heading into a marathon. I wished I could do more, but with kids, working, being accident prone & running a house (not to mention a sick hubby, last year)-- it was all I could do.

The BIG changing factors: running MORE days a week- I thought I would hurt "more" but in reality, I felt better the more I ran. I was better conditioned  as the long runs got even longer farther into the training schedule.

Change 2: Running with Jim got me out the door, regularly. At a slower pace, I didn't get hurt. 👍🏼

Change 3: The marathon training group was my biggest, personal "obstacle." As a naturally inclined introvert, running with others was a cause for anxiety. I had been doing this long enough, however, that I wanted REAL changes. The thought of track work was a mystery, a lure & a reason for anxiety.

I couldn't have stumbled into a better group. I came to a Tuesday track night because it fit into my work schedule. I had NO clue "who" to pick. I had always hoped for a 4 (or sub 4) hour marathon so I went "lofty." I approached the 4:05 pace group. I met an out going mother-hen of a coach & a quiet, soft-spoken coach duo. They would be the EXACT thing I needed to keep me coming back! Coach Mary learned my name quickly which made being a wallflower impossible. Coach Eric was of few words but he lead the marathon group on many miles at various paces. Coach Mary appealed to my heart. Coach Eric appealed to my brain. 😁 Numbers, laps, paces-- it was what I needed to build my confidence! "Holy crap! We were doing WHAT pace?!" Eventually I believed it & I dropped many doubts. 👍🏼

There were some in the group that I spent many miles with. I was leery about spending time with people running. I'm not a talker. Too much talking about "life" tires me out, mentally. I usually let my mind drift & I listen to music. There is a "transcendental state" when a group is in sync, just running. There was one runner in my group that shocked me at first but became dear to my heart. He was an older runner & blunt about my "crazy pants." There were a few of us that "packed" on longer training runs but little Bill melted my cold, "don't-talk-to-anybody" heart. I was there to work, not socialize. I guess I learned I could do both.

This week is my race. It is not flat coursed Toledo. It will be hilly & the forecast has been calling for HEAT & now thunder storms. I will start slowly & do my best. I do not expect a 4:05 time but I am optimistic. I feel strong. Come what may, I'm playing it conservatively at the start & I hope I do my training justice.

Hills, heat & high water, lets do this.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jim at mile one: Surprisingly, I feel really good! My legs feel good.

People around us chuckled. We had started toward the back. It would be Jim's race/ his pace & he did great! Each mile brought reflection of a person dear to our family. Mile one was for "us." Mile 2 was for Jillian. Mile 3 was for Hannah. Mile 4 was for my sister. Mile 5 was for Betsy, Jim's mom. Mile 6 was for Grandpa Tom. On & on: one for family members, Lucy, Toledo Roadrunners & mile 12 was for me. 💕 I only took 1/2 of it until mile 12 1/2. That was the farthest Jim had ever run while training so I said the last 1/2 mile was for both of us. "It starts & ends with us..."

We had people talking to us during the course. "Weren't you on the news?" We chatted. We said thank you to each spectator & volunteer. As we approached the stadium, we saw cheering friends & got many high-5's. I started crying but it was brief; because it's hard to run & cry. As we got to the entrance of the stadium, we saw Amanda, our head Glass City Marathon ambassador. I waved. She got a big smile, looks at Jim & says: "Get in there, you Bad A$$!" We busted out laughing & it gave us a charge into the stadium. I didn't hear my name. I expected Jim to surge to the finish & I thought I'd see him "from behind." Instead, he grabbed my hand. Yep- I started crying & kissed his hand. We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand then hugged & cried (more) at the finish. I put that medal around his neck & told him that I knew he could do it. We saw friends, talked more & saw my sister & our girls. They hugged us even though we were sweaty. We came home, got cleaned up & went to a late lunch. I was going to pay for my Spring babies: Anita, Jillian, Jim & Hannah. I love them all so much. Jim's brother was in town from Texas. He was going to surprise Jim & come to his race. We missed each other; but, he met us for lunch & there was an 'argument' as to who would pay between me, my sister & my brother-in-law. 😂

We jammed & sang Hamilton songs on the way home. It was quite a perfect day.

On the course, Jim told me: "Momma, I'm going to keep running." I believe him. Later he told me: "My next goal is 15 miles... & hill work." 😂

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Today has been emotionally draining. I got up early & volunteered at the Glass City Marathon expo.

Jim's past year of recovery & training was picked up, locally, by the paper & tv news. They asked for a personal interview. The reporter asked questions & Jim answered most of them. We discussed the support that we received from the Toledo Roadrunners. -Not only was it hard reviewing & reliving a year and a half of emotions and sickness in a couple of minutes, we had an OUTPOURING of well wishes & supportive words. I had complete strangers approaching at the expo, wishing us well & giving me hugs. -I AM NOT A CRIER... but I am completely choked up.

I kept quiet & distant from everyone during all of this. Only after Jim was out of the woods did we share photos (all with his permission) & the extent of his illness. Seeing genuine kindness & concern in response to the details is moving.

I try to take myself out of an equation sometimes. Only then can you really see the true points of any situation. I feel that others are genuinely happy when a human being survives illness. They are happy for the person AND the family- kids & spouse. I know I would be happy that a family stayed in tact.

I appreciate everyone's kindness. Tomorrow will be emotional. It will be a happy ending to Jim's ordeal. Jim still has side effects from his sickness but compared to what we've been through-- it is manageable.

Thank you, Everyone, from our entire family. If I don't say anything in person, tomorrow, it's probably because I'm holding back an ugly cry. Please know we're in a good place, right now. 💕