tokyo marathon 2014

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In February (yes, I know it’s April) I ran my second marathon. My friend Caroline came over from New York and we ran it together. If she hadn’t have been coming, I don’t think there’s any way on this earth I would have run. Prior to January, the only training I’d done was the half marathon I ran in Burma/Myanmar…for which I was also incredibly undertrained.

With five weeks to go before the race, I did the best I could to prepare…starting with a 16-miler. Go big or go home, right? My friends, Anne (with whom I’ll be running a marathon this summer in South Africa) and CoyLou joined me for some of my long runs, making them much more enjoyable. And somehow, even with the little training I’d done, I got to the marathon feeling like I was going to survive. And knowing that I’d finish before the cutoff (7 hours from the start time).

It’s an amazing thing to know that your body will be able to complete 26.2 miles, even when you’ve only trained for five weeks. I know I talked about this in my post about running in Burma, but every time I do a long race, I am in awe of what my body can do.

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While Caroline had come over to run the marathon with me, we weren’t exactly going to be running together. She’s much faster than I am (she’s a triathlon-ing nut) so we weren’t even starting in the same gates. I’ve never run in such a large race that there were gates, but with approximately 36,000 people running, gates there were. Seriously. 36,000!!!

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Caroline and I said goodbye to each other and headed off to our respective gates. The beauty of the Tokyo Marathon is that you have two out and back legs, so there was a chance I’d get to at least say hi to Caroline along the way.

This was the first race I was going to be running with my new toy: a Garmin Forerunner XT. I’d just started to do heart rate training and was excited to try this marathon with a focus not on pace, but on heart rate. Unfortunately, I never got my heart rate monitor working (I was so annoyed…the monitor left me both literally and figuratively chaffed!). Fortunately, I’d done enough HR training that I knew roughly the pace I should be running at the beginning.

I did a pretty good job (I thought) keeping my pacing down so I would burn out. As it turns out, though, while my heart was pretty content, my body was not so much by the end. But the happy news is I had my fastest half split I’ve had in over seven years. And my second fastest ever. I was pretty happy about that, even if the second half was pretty pathetic in terms of pacing.

It was an amazing experience. And what really helped me in those last miles was thinking about how lucky I was, as I saw many, many runners along the way at medical aid stations or stopped along the course nursing calves/shines/ankles/feet, just to be able to finish without having to stop and get medical attention.

The other major help was my darling friend Anne (pictured in the collage below)! When I ran the St. George Marathon almost seven years ago, I was doing it with another darling Anne. She was actually running with me, which was a huge boon! But on top of that, her awesome family had traveled down to St. George to cheer her and, by extension, me on.

If you’ve never run a distance race before, it’s hard to explain the support that comes from those cheering you on…the spectators in Tokyo were awesome, but having Anne there along the way made a HUGE difference! She trekked all over the course and I got to see her four times along the way. Every time was like receiving a little shot of energy! (Unfortunately, I busted my phone in Singapore a few weeks ago and in the transition to a new phone, I lost all of my pictures with Anne. Sad face. )

The last three miles were complete torture. While the marathon course in Tokyo is relatively flat for the most part, the last three miles consist of a series of bridges…bridges that are engineered for strength, and therefore are bowed…which means “hills” for a runner. To add insult to injury (or injury to insult, as it were), somewhere along the way I’d developed what I could tell was a ginormous blister on my right big toe in addition to a shooting pain at the base of my second toe due to the chip being too tightly attached. If I walked, I was okay. If I ran, every step hurt. So, there was a lot of walking.

IMG_1517The last miles of a marathon are also mentally challenging for me because I want so badly to be done that I do my best to force myself to go as fast as I can…but I just can’t go that fast. And it’s so difficult to not just give up. But, somehow I pushed through and the it was over. My goal was to finish under six hours (chip time), which is not fast at all…but was going to be a good finish for me given my lack of training and that I weighed about 20 lbs more than when I ran my last marathon. I came in at 5:58:20.

IMG_1513Of course, with a half split that would have put me in at around 5:30 had I maintained it, I was slightly disappointed, but then I remembered that I had set my goal based on reality and managed to feel pretty awesome about it when I thought, yet again, at how amazing it was that my body could do what it did.

Post marathon, I went through the finishers area and met up with Caroline for the most amazing foot soak ever (I wish every marathon had this!) and then met up with Anne, who was patiently waiting to congratulate me. Because of where the finish is, she wasn’t able to be at the finish line, but it was awesome that she had come all the way out to the end!

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Soaking my feet…this might be how my blister got infected and why I had to see a doctor for antibiotics, but at the time, it was worth it.

And that was that. Marathon #2 on continent #2 completed. And now I’ve begun training for marathon #3 on continent #3 which will happen on June 21st. Not sure what I was thinking signing up for two marathon’s in one year, but now the bug has bitten and the goal is to run a marathon on every continent, culminating in Antarctica in 2017! I’m both terrified and super excited!

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Elevator selfie with our medals after dinner and a movie.

decisions and sacrifices

The whole thought process started with the purchase of a diving magazine. It often happens that when I am in the airport I make impulse magazine purchases. This particular diving magazine had a list of the top dive sites of 2009. I was sold.

One of my dreams/goals is to dive the Galapagos Islands with their huge schools of pelagic fish. I want to spend seven days on a live aboard diving morning, noon, and night!

As I was thinking about this trip I want to take, I realized that I want to get some experience with underwater photography before I go, which means a trip somewhere not-so-expensive to learn (which will be expensive). It all adds up. Not cheap.

And then I started to think about all of the money I’ve spent this year on impulse. (Don’t ask me how much I spent on cosmetics I didn’t need this weekend…it’s embarrassing.) Makeup, eating out, music, etc, etc. It’s not that I don’t want these things (and really, I will never stop purchasing music…and yes I know I could get a lot of it for free, but being the capitalist pig that I am, I just can’t do it…see if you can make that one make sense). I blow money on a regular basis. I love to shop. I love new things. I love cosmetics and shoes. I love product. I love good food.

As I sat on my Southwest flight (still my favorite airline of all time) from Vegas to Salt Lake, I suddenly realized how immature I am in my spending decisions. I am all about instant gratification. I mean, I’m a grown up! Why should I have to control my spending? It’s my money (or will be when I earn it and pay off my student loans).

And therein lies the dilemma of decisions and sacrifice. Whenever I make a decision to do something, I am making an equal decision to not do something else. I know this probably sounds super basic, but I found it mind-blowing. Yes, I realize this is what is commonly known as opportunity cost…but somehow I never connected it with my personal life.

It’s one thing to think about the fact that I shouldn’t have such horrible impulse purchasing habits, it’s another to realize that I have purchased enough $14 eyeshadows (yes, I spend $14 on each little pot of pressed powder that I use to paint my face every morning) this year alone (academic, not calendar) to have paid for a diving trip…not to the Galapagos Islands, but to get me that much closer to my goal of fantastic underwater photography (or at least good enough to mount on my own wall).

Is that the most embarrasing thing ever? Probably not, but it’s pretty bad.

So, suddenly every decision I find myself making has become multi-faceted. It’s not just “should I do this?”, now it’s that plus “what am I giving up by choosing to do this?” I tell you what, it’s exhausting…and extremely rewarding.

Yesterday, the decision was running. I knew how hard it was going to be–a) I’m out of running shape, and b) I’m carrying around 20 lbs more than I was at this time last year–so, it would have been very easy for me to just put it off…again. I chose to run. The conversation in my head went something like this:

Instant Gratification Chloe: If you run, you have to take a shower again today and be back to school by 5 pm. If you don’t, you could go home and take a nap.

Self-Aware Chloe: True, but if I don’t run I am sacrificing a healthier me and risking my chances of finishing that stupid half-marathon at the end of March.

IG Chloe: See, you just called it stupid.

S-A Chloe: I wasn’t serious. In fact, the only stupid thing around here is going to be me if I don’t run.

IG Chloe: Really, that’s how it’s going to be. Running? Do you know how painful and agonizing this is going to be?

S-A Chloe: Yes, and when I’ve finished those four miles I will feel so good about myself, it will be totally worth the pain.

IG Chloe: What the hell? When did we decide on four miles?

And that was that.

It’s been a fascinating couple of days as I’ve listened to my inner dialogue and really come to terms with just how motivated I am by a “right here, right now” mentality.

the list…

So, I got a comment about how my gratitude posts are boring. I can definitely appreciate the sentiment. I also have had some people ask me about what I crossed off my list. To that I would like to say, had you been reading my boring (and I do acknowledge that the gratitude stuff is not so interesting, but with two more applications, a class and volunteer work, that’s what you get…although I do have a couple of great posts formulating in my head) gratitude posts you would know that I didn’t cross anything off of my list because I decided something else was more important.

However, I was going to go skydiving, which I am going to do in January.

ETA: I don’t really care that the commenter said anything…although it was fun to track her down and figure out that she (or he…who knows) made the comment from a computer on the campus where I work. I love technology!

st. george, here i come

So, I found out that I made it into the St. George Marathon. It’s a lottery and I kind of entered it on a whim. When I wasn’t able to run the Canyon Lands Half-Marathon, I was kind of bummed, so I thought I’d sign up for the full in St. George…probably hoping, somewhere deep inside of me (or perhaps on the surface), that I wouldn’t get in.

After I registered for the lottery, I mentioned to a friend that I had done it and he asked, “Is this your first time?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Then you’ll get in for sure. They always let first-timers in.”

Well, that would have been helpful to know about a minute before I registered. I might have thought about it a little bit more.

Not only did I get in, but it was one of the counselors at work who told me that I had. He came up to me and said, “I saw your name on a list. Looks like you’ve got some work ahead of you.”

My response: “What? I have no idea what you are talking about. What list?” I was truely at a loss, and this particular counselor likes to ‘banter’, so it took a few minutes to finally get him to tell me what the heck he was talking about.

This is my first year of running in races, and so far, I have been emailed whenever I have gotten in to a lottery, but there was no email this time, so I was grateful someone else was watching out for me. I am excited and nervous all at once. Running a marathon is on the list, and now I will get to do it before I turn 30 (yep…the big day is this year). I’m also glad that most training programs run about four months, so I have a month to get back into running daily.

And in true Andersen form, as soon as I found out, I decided it was time to purchase a running skirt. (This is a great blog post with lots of comments about the pros and cons). My voice instructor told me about them…so I did a little online searching and found these ones that have two pockets (how convenient! I can stick my iPod, gels, etc. right there in my skirt) and have received lots of positive reviews. I can’t wait for it to arrive!

Any words of wisdom or advice? Yes, I’m actually soliciting advice, so take advantage, as this rarely happens.

guitar playin’ fool

I was over at Jen’s house a couple of weeks ago and noticed her guitar sitting there, looking a little neglected (I can’t imagine why, given her newlywed status) and so I pulled it out and started messing around with it. Learning to play the guitar is on “the list”, but that’s a little difficult when you don’t own one. She told me I could borrow it (did I ever mention that I have the greatest friends), so the guitar came home with me that night, along with a tuner and a couple of books.

I am proud to say that I can now play (albeit poorly) Amazing Grace and I’m quite please with myself…however, I am not the “guitar playin‘ fool” (in the good sense). My dad gets that title. We were both taking a little break from yard work the Saturday morning after I brought it home and I mentioned to him that I had just about taught myself how to play one song. His eyes lit up and he got all excited and asked me to bring it inside. The next 20 minutes consisted of my dad playing and singing the songs he could remember how to play and sing. It was quite entertaining. Just one more reason I love my dad.

I love that you can see how much fun he’s having in these pictures!