Saturday, January 29, 2011

13 Miles in the Windy City...

On March 7, 2010 I wrote this in my running notes, "Great run! Signed up for Chicago Half with Candace tonight!!! This is who I am now! I run!" Up until this day I had logged a total of 240 miles in 7 months and had run one half-marathon. So when Candace called me to run the Chicago half with her it just seemed natural, I felt like a runner. I haven't looked back since. Granted I have had good months and bad months, but I have kept registering for races in hot pursuit of a great month!

I realize that it's January of 2011, but I'd like to recap my 2nd half-marathon in Chicago while it's on my mind.

On September 9, 2010 I flew from Houston to Chicago and met up with Candace, her friend Kim, and her family. Over the next few days we had a blast eating, visiting neat Chicago places, riding the train, eating, shopping, walking, eating, and hanging out! We ate a lot if you didn't get my gist. We had so much fun and the city was beautiful.

Candace & Me
The famous bean sculpture
The Magnificent Mile!!!
The three of us in Millenium Park
I'm a Nike Girl!
Riding the train to and from Chi-town

Saturday afternoon we rode the train from Candace's sister's house into Chicago and checked into our hotel. We picked up our race bib and walked around the expo. I got to meet Coach Jenny Hadfield whom I had been following for months because she and her husband had started a Running Cruise that I had been researching. I came to find out she and her husband had done much more in the health and fitness industry than I knew about. I felt like I had met a star, she has been such a source of encouragement for me.

Meeting Coach Jenny Hadfield

We walked around a bit and then had dinner at Bucca di Peppo's, a famous family-style Italian restaurant. We wanted to get our pasta (carbs) in the night before the race so we would be raring to go come morning. After dinner I felt stuffed and wanted to burn a few calories so Kim and I went to the hotel pool. It was an indoor pool so all the kids' splashes, giggles, and yells amplified in the pool area. Not the ideal relaxing swim I was hoping for. I swam in place for about 20 minutes to burn off some of those carbs and also to try and make myself tired. (I always get excited the night before a big event and don't fall asleep easily.) Right before bed I got online for a bit and got an invite from the Goldins to come and run the New Orleans half-marathon in February 2011. The thought above replayed in my head, "I'm a runner now, this is what I do" and immediately said yes to another race! All of my best cheerleaders were on saying "good luck", "we're so proud of you", and "imagine us at the finish line waiting for you." These people have no idea how encouraging they are and how they inspire me to run mile after mile! Huge shout out to Mandy & Aaron Goldin, Teri Bayless, Courtney Tucker, my parents, Jason, and everyone else who has spoken life into my weary feet!

At the expo picking up our bibs
Laying out my gear the night before the race.
I used to do this in high school for my basketball games too. :)

Sunday, the 12th we got up early and hailed a taxi to the race. Future note to self, on race day arriving an hour early to the race is NEVER enough time to find your starting corral, stretch, take a potty break, stretch some more, get your iPod set, and get physically and mentally in position to run for the next 2 1/2 hours (in my case that is).

Getting excited!!!
Ready to run!

At 7 am, the gun went off and the first few hundred people started running. We were squished behind those few hundred so we shuffled along until we hit the actual starting line where our chips would start registering our time and then we took off! I was so excited for Candace as this was her first half-marathon and because she is much faster than I am we didn't see each other again until after the race.

The first 3 miles went by fairly fast. We ran along Lake Shore drive for the next 9 miles. This was kind of brutal because it was a loop around course. We ran about 4 1/2 miles down Lake Shore drive and then ran up onto the overpass and turned back around running the next 4 1/2 miles in the opposite direction. So the first half of the race we could see the fast runners already making their way to the finish line and we were just beginning the Lake Shore trek! That'll make you feel slow! There were only a few bands playing on this course and to be honest they weren't very memorable. The fans I like best are the ones that have cool signs to distract you, the ones that yell out your name, and the ones that hang over the overpasses with huge speakers blaring fun music from "Rocky" and yelling for you!

Running and smiling for the cameras! (Note to race runners, you have to get the photographers attention...make a face, throw a fun hand gesture and they'll gravitate to your lovely face!) :)

View of water station, I'd hate to be on the clean-up team here!

Good fan signage!
My favorite fan by far!

The last half was good and I only stopped at the port-o-potty once. This race was different than my first because there were 20,000 people alongside me running the 13.1 miles instead of a half, full, and 10k combined. I was constantly surrounded by people and most of them were passing me, but some of them I passed. :) I try to pick a few steady runners and see if we end up finishing together.

The last mile was great because you could hear the music blaring from that far away and the announcer cheering in the finishers. There were also hundreds of family, friends, and fans waiting on the sidelines screaming, clapping, and taking pictures. As soon as I finished they put an awesome medal around my neck and directed me to all the bananas, chocolate chip cookies, and water that I wanted. I found Candace, her parents, and Kim and took victory pictures. Candace had finished about 30 minutes before me, she had a great PR for her record books!

We did it!!!

Nike+ Stats
(My app started 10 minutes early while we were still shuffling along...not cool!)
My Nike + GPS results

Stretching, popping Excedrin, and napping were next on my list and I accomplished those too. This trip and race was one I'll never forget. Can't wait to do it again and next time it will be in Louisiana!

Classic vacation pic...Feet up on the train ending a great day!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Story of Us...

It all started about 12 years ago when I attended a Freshman choir concert at the public school that I would be attending the following year. I was going to see a girlfriend of mine perform and in the middle of the production I noticed a cute, tall, dark haired boy turn beet red from something the boy(his brother) next to him had said or done. I asked the lady I was with who he was and she said, "that's Jason Sandefer." That's when it all began...

About three years later Jason began actively attending the church I was going to. He was sweet, quiet, and everyone loved him. He had a confidence about him and his Spiritual walk that made him that much more attractive to ALL the girls in the youth group. Of course I had a tiny crush on him but nothing more. We became really close friends.

During my Senior year we remained close friends as he went off to Baylor. We would chat on AOL messenger a lot. In December of 1999 I asked him if he'd come back home to go with me to our Christmas school dance called "Jingle Bell Ball" just as friends. He said yes and we had such a good time. Of course I hoped that he would show interest in me, but I wasn't really expecting anything to happen b/c our friendship was so great!

(Senior Christmas Dance)

Over the next few months we kept talking but we also started flirting. When he came home to visit his parents we hung out and started going on dates just as friends but those progressed too. I remember standing in my parents driveway one night and we began talking about the future. I didn't realize how serious we were until he said, "I always said that the next person I dated would be the one I would know that's what I'm going for with us right?" I about melted to know that he was thinking of me as his future wife.

(My Senior Prom)

(Right before going to my Operation Graduation)

(Playing racquetball at Baylor)

(Photo booth at Astroworld)

(Fishing in the rain)

(At Jason's Baylor Glee Club Concert the Winter before we got married)

(Our first youth camp together before we got married)

Over the course of our relationship we spent a lot of time on my parent's front porch swing talking and falling in love. The night after our youth pastor died he drove home early and threw rocks at my window to get my attention...I met him downstairs on the porch swing and he just held me. We were very close to Steve and it was so nice to be comforted by someone that felt the same pain. On December 24, 2001 I came home from work and he was waiting at the front porch for me. We sat on the swing and he looked so nervous...he fiddled with my hand and my "True Love Waits" ring and as he twisted it on my finger he said, "Do you love me, do you love me enough to give me this ring?" And he took it off and replaced it with the engagement ring I had picked out. I was elated!!!

(Engagement Pictures)

(At the court house picking up our marriage license)

(Luau themed wedding shower)

(Heading out to begin a new Sandefer family...)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Marathon Rewind...

This is my "Marathon Rewind" post where I'll do my best to look back to a few weeks ago when I ran...really jogged, walked, huffed & puffed my first full-marathon!

Let me rewind just a tad before that...on February 28th I ran my first half marathon in Fort Worth, Texas and it was AWESOME!!! First off I trained really well for this race, I stayed on my training, running 3-8 miles almost daily and ate really well. My goal for the Half was to run it without stopping and I DID it! It felt so amazing to accomplish that. I'm not a fast runner and never have been, but I'm good at pluggin' along. In fact I was less than half way through when the "average" runners were finishing.

During the 2 months in between the Half & Full, I patted my back so hard for the good job I'd done in the Half that I sat back and enjoyed the good feelings I was having. And I sat and I sat some more and I almost backed out of the Full b/c I knew I wasn't ready. But then I started thinking that if the 400lb Biggest Loser's could complete a marathon then surely I could too even without the necessary training.

Fast forward...morning of May 1st...woke up at my parents about 5am to get ready to go...even though the race was in our hometown we ran late because the race detours were so wacky! I didn't prepare ahead with a pre-race breakfast so I settled for McD's sausage biscuit...probably not my best choice! Arrived and there were about 300 people still setting up. This was Beaumont's first race ever and things were off to a slow start. I found my virtual running friend Teri and we caught up, stretched, and synced our iPods for the race. Teri and I were something like acquaintances in high school but over the last few months we found a connection in running and finally got to know each other 10 years post high school. I found this to be an awesome perk to being a part of the running community.

Before the race started a gal asked if Jason and I wanted our pic taken together and then we took her pic as well. We started chatting and found out that she had run 8 half-marathons in the past 8 months! Wow! (Sidenote...ya know how in baseball there is a stat for everything? Well personally I find it to be a bit overkill, but when you throw stats around like 8 half-marathons in 8 months and and 142 marathons in a lifetime or running a marathon in every those stats are impressive! In my humble but accurate opinion)

(This is the gal(Robyn) that ran 8 Halfs in 8 months!)

Lining up at the starting line, Teri and her running posse were chatting and laughing, Jason was walking around taking pics, and I was standing there thinking, "What am I doing here, what have I done, I didn't train for this, for the next 5-6 hours I'm going to be running and I'm not even in shape to do it! Internal screaming followed!" The gun sounded and we all took off. We ran a small 3 mile loop and came back through the start line for the first time where all the 5k-ers were cheering us on, that was kinda cool. I ran alone most of the time, like I said before I'm a slow runner. The entire race was hot and humid, weather conditions that I hadn't been training for. Thankfully there were PLENTY of water stations chock-full with GU (love the new blackberry flavor), water, powerade, bananas, and oranges (my new favorite fruit thx to the Gusher)!

About mile 9 it became such a mental battle for me and I was already so tired. At mile 12 I saw a little girl in the distance with a Hello Kitty shirt on and I was hoping and praying that the little girl was Bethany...and it was! My parents, Bethany, and Ethan were right there yelling for me and waving their hand-made signs! Sweet-relief...exactly what I needed to get me to the half-way point! My Dad said, "Are you ok? Are you going to make it?" and I said, "I don't know". That got me thinking how badly I wanted to stop and that if I did stop no one but my family would know, but then I thought of the commitment I had made and that even if I had to walk the next 13 miles that I would finish it!

Mile 13.1...The cruelest part of the course for sure b/c it was the half-way point for me, but the finish line for all those half-marathoners! So I kept going, I ran right across that finish line where proud families were hugging their recently medaled half-marathoners, not many seemed to realize that there were a few crazies running right past the finish line on to the rest of their race.

(Me at the half-way point...see everyone around me looking past me to the half-marathoners finishing)

I ran for about a mile looking behind me every few seconds to see if I was the LAST full-marathoner because it sure felt like it. Finally "Old Guy" was in my hindsight so I was encouraged. The next 7 miles were a blur. I felt so out of it and exhausted and I walked a LOT. I probably drank too much Powerade and ate way too many oranges just to give me something to do. :) As I wrapped around the downtown course I kept an eye on "Old Guy" to gauge how fast I needed to go b/c I didn't want him to pass me.

Mile 19...a very handsome guy in khaki shorts and a Baylor shirt started running toward me...he was running so fast that I thought something was wrong. When I met up with him he was smiling and I realized nothing was wrong, he had come to rescue me! My hero! He wasn't even in his running clothes and he still ran with me the rest of the way.

Mile cute little Hello Kitty, Ethan(with a broken foot), Mom & Dad, and Teresa(SIL) were all waiting with signs and cameras. This race was so small that I was the ONLY one on the road for most of the last half so it didn't bother me to have my Mom & Dad yelling "Go Jambo, Jambolina, etc." :)

Mile best friend in the world and her daughter were waiting at the bottom of a hill with a big sign...oh how I love my friends and am so very very blessed! Lindsey joined Jason and I for the rest of the race, I was so thankful for their company. I could not have finished it without them! For the next 4 mile markers Melissa would jump in her car with the sign and park at the next mile marker to get a new position for cheering! Have I mentioned how much I love her? :)

Mile and parents were waiting again with signs, such a boost! I was fading fast! "Old Guy" was gaining with speed.

Mile 25..."Old Guy" caught up! He said, "Please don't run just because I've caught up to you." :) Boy am I thankful he sped up (or I slowed down, not sure which one) b/c he had a cool story! This was his 142nd marathon, he runs a marathon every month (b/c that's all "Old Wife" will allow him), and he has run a marathon in every state! Very cool "Old Guy"!!! Jason especially liked his shirt..."Batman & Joker: Arch Enemies"! :)

Mile 26...almost there, I was envisioning myself sitting or laying on the pavement as soon as I stopped! At the end Lins & Jason broke off to meet up with the family and I ran the last bit alone. Home free! I was so emotional that I had done it. Even though it included a lot of walking and moaning, I had completed 26.2 miles in a single day. About 30 people were still on the sidelines waiting for their families so they graciously cheered me through the finish line. Oh sweet victory, I finally felt amazing with my family and Jason's family all there congratulating me. The medal gal draped a beautiful "Gusher" medal around my neck and I was "gushing" (haha) with pride!

And then I sat!

I looked something like what I imagine "Old Wife" looked like for the rest of the day. I sat in a bathtub half-full of ice water and I know that really helped my legs recover! I took lots of Excedrin and just soaked up the pampering I was getting from the family. At that moment I thought "I'll never do a full again", but this marathon made me realize how much I really enjoy the Half and know with the right training I can do them well and it also made me realize that with the right training a full may be in my future again someday...distant future that is!