Monday, May 21, 2012

You Could Have Given Up, But You Didn't

I'll admit it- I'm awful at training. My busy schedule and injury prone life-style makes training difficult. So, it wasn't a surprise when I wasn't feeling confident and prepared for my fourth half marathon on Saturday.

But, my running partner assured me everything would be fine. She would be by my side during the race. She might run ahead of me toward the end of the race, but she too was feeling nervous about the hilly course and humid weather.

Thumbs up for rest and recovery.
My bib number.

I spent most of Friday night icing my foot, laying on the couch and tweeting. The amount of love from my Twitter family and fellow runners blew me away. I went to bed smiling - re-reading all of the kind words from the beautiful #PerfectStrangers, fellow runners (Paul), my amazing coworkers Chad and JD, and lovely friends Britt, Ann and Heather. It doesn't matter if it's your first or 30th race, reading good luck messages and inspiration never gets old! 

The Big Day

I woke up late on Saturday morning. I felt frantic as I rushed to get ready, eat breakfast and stretch.

Check out Bandit photo bombing the picture in the corner.
At least he is cheering us on!

 When we got to the parking area, we rode a school bus over to a drop off area near the start line. That's when I met Mike. He was an ADORABLE older man - probably late 60s or early 70s.

He proudly told everyone he had completed the Indy Mini Marathon just two weeks before. He said his daughter emailed me him article saying if you run  two half marathons in two weeks or less, then you could become part of a group called "Half-Fantatics" - Yup, I adored everything about him and wasted no time getting to know more about him.

"So, are you meeting anyone here?" I asked him,

"Yeah, the finish line!" he said back.

"I like your attitude," I said.

We chatted about his goals and expectations for the race and then we parted ways. I was hoping I would meet him with later or see him during the race, but our paths never crossed again.  My only hope is that he is proudly a member of his new group.

The Start

Before the race started, I ran into my first half marathon running buddy.

Britt looking amazing before her third half marathon.
Spoiler alert: She got a PR by nearly 40 minutes.

And we're off!
Our game plan was to do intervals of walking / running throughout the entire race. So when I was running, I took it one step at a time. One minute at a time.

The race started and I was feeling great. It was really humid and hot, but I decided not to focus on the weather.

Sabrina was running at a quicker pace than me right from the beginning.

She yelled back to me, "Come on, Ash!"

But she was running too quickly for me. And I knew I'd burn out early on if I tried to run too fast.

"That's not my pace, Bean!" I yelled up to her.

I was feeling good and confident with my pace. My foot started hurting early on, but it would eventually become numb. And it did.

Sabrina stayed ahead of me for about 10 more minutes and before I knew it, she was gone. With one walking interval, she was out of sight.

Barely a mile into the race, and I was faced with an uneasy realization:

I'm running this race alone.

The Fall

After realizing I'd be alone for 12 more miles, I started repeating all of the positive and inspirational tweets and messages from the night before.

"Be amazing."-  Meggie

"Rock those 13.1 miles!" - Amy

"Go on for it." - Christi

"Just wanted to tell you how incredibly proud I am of you! Your accomplishment list for 2012 is just ridiculous, and the year isn't even half over. No matter what your time is tomorrow it's going to be a kick ass job. Have fun, run smart/safe, & show your 4th mini who is boss! :)" - Heather

"Your mind is strong, your body is strong. You are an athlete and you will perform like one tomorrow." - Chad

I fought my way up the first two hills. I decided to only walk up hills that resembled roller coasters.

And I'm glad I made that decision. It felt amazing to battle up those hills without giving up. I felt like a super hero.

After reaching the top of the second hill, we crossed a bridge. The view was beautiful!

Even though I was running, I reached for my pocket to grab my phone and take a picture. A few moments later, my keys fell out of my pocket. Can't leave those behind!

As I turned around to see where they landed, I rolled my ankle (on my bad foot- of course) and my body came crashing down to the ground. Conveniently, I was close to the guard rail so I hit my head on that (not too hard -I didn't black out or anything mom, don't worry!). My ankle hurt, my butt hurt and more importantly - my pride hurt.

The picture I snapped right before my fall.
Guard rails and me don't mix very well together.
Within seconds, a fellow runner was there to help me up.

"Are you okay?" he quickly asked me.

I was laughing off my embarrassment and said, "Oh yes, thank you for stopping!"

I picked myself up and heard Justin inside my head, "That's what you get for trying to tweet and run."

Within a few minutes, I was crossed the 5K point at 12:30 pace.

I felt amazing. I was doing so much better than I expected.

Going Strong

Miles 4-6 were a breeze. I felt really good. I kept myself on track and motivated by thanking every single volunteer that I saw.

Everyone holding a sign.

Every water station volunteer.

The old grandma sitting in a lawn car and rocking the cow bell. 

The aid station workers.

The Blue Mile crew cheering us along.

The little kids playing music and dancing in their driveways.

I even thanked a guy holding four coffees on the side of the road. He was probably waiting to cross the street, but I still thanked him for being there to cheer us on. 

Miles 7-8 included a large hill in a neighborhood.

Holy cow. That thing was a monster. I definitely walked up that bad boy.

"Oh man, my butt is going to be so chaffed after this hill," a fellow runner said passing by me.

Once I conquered the death hill, I was excited to see a man standing next to a Mile 8 sign.

"It's all down hill from here!" he said.

Falling Apart

At mile 9 I realized how badly I needed someone there to perk me up. I needed someone to help me fight through my intervals.

Everything hurt.

My back was bothering me. 

My thighs were tightening up. 

My bummed foot started tingling. 

And I was struggling to stay in my "happy place."

I told myself I would walk through mile 9 to give myself a break.

But mile 9 turned into mile 10. And mile 10 turned into mile 11. I was still struggling and I ended up walking more than running during those last few miles.

 Around mile 11.5, I heard a two woman run up behind me. I was power walking at the time.

One of the woman started crying as they took a quick walking break.

"Don't cry," her friend said. "You're doing amazing. You didn't give up. I am so proud of you!"

The crying woman could barely get out a sentence.

"Are you hurting right now?" the non-crier asked.

The woman crying nodded her head.

I couldn't help myself. I had to chime in.

"Keep your head up!" I said. "You're doing amazing, and I know you'll finish strong."

The woman was still crying when her friend said, "Listen - you could have stopped back there, but you didn't. You could have given up, but you didn' kept going. You kept fighting."

Just then tears filled my eyes.

I wished someone was there to motivate me...but instead of feeling sorry for myself, I pretended that message was being delivered to me as well.

I ran down a few hills and repeated those words in my head the whole way down:

You could have given up, but you didn't. 

Before I knew it, I only had a mile left.

When I got to the mile 12 marker, I took advantage of the water, ice chips and a grape that one of the volunteers offered me.

I took off running with with a refreshed outlook and ice chips in my mouth. I've never been happier to eat a piece of ice.

Team Struggle Bus

Pretty soon, I caught up with Scott. I didn't know that was his name at the time, but we'd been neck and neck for the last 3 miles. I noticed he was limping when I got closer.

"We're almost done!" I said as I came up next to him.

"Yeah, I'm just happy the struggle bus hasn't picked me up yet," he said.

I laughed and told him I felt the same way. He told me he got into a bike accident the night before. He was really upset that he was walking, but he was simply in too much pain. He told me he was an avid runner. In fact, he finished the Indy Mini Marathon in 1:56 two weeks earlier.

With just a half mile left in the race, I told him we'd finish together. Team Struggle Bus. He said he didn't think he could run, even if it was only for a minute or two.

"I'll bet you can," I said trying to inspire him. "We can go as slow as you want!"

I knew a PR was out of the question- I'd done way too much walking between miles 9-12, so I was in no rush. 

We made plans to do a jumping high five right before crossing the finish line and that was all it took to get us running again.

We saw the mile 13 sign and I must tell you, that was the longest .10 mile of my life.

"Where the hell is this finish line?" Scott asked.

"I have no clue, but this is a huge teaser!" I said back.

Pretty soon, I heard Sabrina, Toni and Justin yelling for me.

"13.1 FOUR TIMES!! WHOOOAAA!" Justin yelled. 

A few seconds later, I saw my other friends (who also completed the race) Taren and Matt DeBolt.

"You have a lot of friends cheering you on," Scott said.

"Yes, I do," I said. "I'm pretty lucky!"

And just like a movie, it was the time to do the jumping high five across the finish line.

"Are you ready?" I asked him.

We jumped up in the air together -probably not high at all because we were both injured- and slapped our hands together.

I hope our picture is featured on a postcard next year. 

I'll probably never see Scott again, but it was a true blessing to finish the race with him by my side.

My official finishing time was 3:08. Not my best, but not my worst.

 I'll take it. I didn't earned a personal best, but as my friend Bri reminded me..not every race is about getting a PR. I dug deep within myself to find the strength to fight through hard miles alone. That is something no record could ever give me...

Toni proudly pointing to my medal. So happy she came to cheer me on.
Sweaty hugs for my biggest fan.
When I reached my cheerleading section, Justin wrapped his arms around me and whispered in my ear, "Listen - you did amazing! Don't even worry about your time- you finished and gave it your all. I am so proud of you!"

Surprisingly, I wasn't worried about my time at all. I felt so accomplished just for finishing with an injury and little training. Not to mention the tough course and weather conditions...

And to top off my amazing morning? Stepping on the scale and seeing this number:

37 lbs down!!!!!!!

Thank you to EVERYONE who cheered me on Saturday morning.

I'd be lost without your support and love. 

And yes, I've learned my lesson about making time to train for a race. I'll wake up early and run- even if that means sleeping in my gym clothes and getting ready for work in a YMCA locker room. 

Much love,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I'll Take a Size Medium

I don't think I've worn a size Medium since fifth grade.

Or birth.

Either way.

It all started two weeks ago at Dick's Sporting Good's store.

Size medium running shirt.
Run, Run, Run.

I almost cried tears of joy. I couldn't believe a size Medium actually fit me!!

And when I found the shirt I really wanted... I was bummed it was only available in a size Men's Small or Men's Large. But, I grabbed both sizes and hoped for the best.

Size Small!
Are you kidding me?!!?!!

But tonight was the most rewarding moment... I found this adorable J-Lo dress from Kohl's- AND it was  50% off.

At this point, I thought the dress was cute.
Eat your heart out J-Lo.
And at this point, I realized the dress was really a size Medium.
(The hanger said size Large so it threw me off).
The first dress in my closest with a size Medium tag. 

"Shut the front door!" I said outloud to myself.

The person next to me probably thought I was crazy!

Or she thought my dressing room door was wide open for a hot minute.

But I didn't care what she thought! I wasn't about to hold in my excitement!

 It's taken me almost a year to see results like weight loss has been full of extreme high's and low's. I'm so thankful that I haven't given up. 

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many times you fall down. 

It matters how many times you pick yourself back up.

Much love,

Today Is Not That Day

Four half marathons in less than 2 years?


 I'm not sure...but for starters I am:




More confident.

I run when I'm stressed.

I run when I'm happy.

I run when I'm sad.

And most importantly, I run races to keep me motivated and on track with my fitness goals.

My hope is that one day...I'll be the ADORABLE old grandma power walking my 50th half marathon - or some crazy number!

But for now, I'm preparing for my fourth half marathon. I've never done the Geist Half Marathon. I've heard it's a beautiful, hilly and challenging course. So, I've got mixed emotions...but I do have a few expectations.

Both good and bad.

The Good

Run to live. Live to Run.
Perfect motto for my 4th half marathon.
  • I've got an amazing running partner. Even if she runs ahead of me to complete her own personal goal, I'm confident she will remain by my side most of the race. Sabrina always knows what to say and do to motivate and keep me positive when my body is hurting and I want to give up.
  • I'll have fabulous friends there to cheer me on! Having your own cheerleaders at any race makes a HUGE difference. I can't even explain how happy I get when I see one of my friends or Justin during a race...their presence and cheers always seem to home at the most perfect moments. And if Justin is smart, he will bring Bandit. Yes, that's a hint Jdog.
  • My race shirt is pretty legit. I wanted to get something that wasn't tight + wouldn't ride up the entire race. I hate when I'm running and I waste most of my energy adjusting my shirt or pants.
  • I can eat whatever the heck I want on Saturday and NOT feel bad about it. Seriously, this is a gigantic perk of doing a half marathon.

The Bad
  • The weather won't be my friend on Saturday. It should be very hot. Hotter than any race I've ever completed. The medical director of the race emailed all the participants today - reminding us to listen to our bodies, drink plenty of water and slow our pace if needed.
  • The hills. Oh the hills. I'm NOT looking forward to the hills, but I'm reminding myself that every hill I go up...means I am one step closer to a Kim Kardashian booty. Not that I like anything about her. Just her booty.
  • My injured foot is going to hate me.Most of Saturday afternoon will be spent elevating and icing my foot and cuddling with Bandit. I'm sure of it.
  • My lack of training will certainly get the best of me. My poor training is 50% injury-related and 50% spreading myself too thin aka not making the appropriate time to get in my long runs. And when searching for inspiration today, I found this picture and set it was my desktop background:
No excuses.
Overall, I'd be ECSTATIC to  complete the race in under 2:50 - that would give me a PR by about 7 minutes. BUT if I don't, I'm still so proud of myself for trying. With minimal training and an injury, I'm going to complete my fourth half marathon. I'm going to push my body to new limits (with the hilly course) and challenge my mind to remain strong when my body wants to fail me.

I'll be live tweeting through the race- so follow me on Twitter @AshleySieb all Saturday morning! It'll be the best way to share my experience with you in "real time" - the good, the bad and everything in between!

This is what I'll repeat in my head on Saturday morning.
Much love,

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gotta Get Down on Friday

How far down?
31.5 lbs down.

Happy Friday.

Much love,

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Somebody That I Used to Know

While running today, the song "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye came on.

I didn't cry. You should be proud about that...

However, I couldn't help but think of a few people in my life who drifted away from me.

One moved away without even saying goodbye.

One has completely shut me out...I think I've seen this person 4 times in the last two years.

Another has made a decent effort to keep in touch, but it feels forced.

I suppose part of growing up is growing apart...

But when I love someone, I love hard.

My friends are my family.

So with each of these fading friendships, I feel like I am losing part of myself.

"But you treat me like a stranger and it feels so rough" 

It's like a break-up. I'll find myself looking at their pictures...remembering our old memories.

So many memories. 

As I'm writing this post, I'm somehow finding the courage to smile. I know that some friendships are "over" - but others are just starting. And I couldn't be happier about the friendships I've developed over the last year.

Everyone is in (or out) of your life for a reason. 

Much love,

Think About Solutions + Compete Againist Yourself

I wanted to share a few awesome quotes from my inspirational quote calendar.

"Leaders think and talk about solutions. Followers think and talk about problems."
 -Brian Tracy

Apply this quote to your work life. Complaining about issues and problems gets you no where. You really will stand out if you make a point to be solution-driven! People will start coming to you for ideas, inspiration and process improvements. You will build better relationships and establish great credibility across the company by taking this quote and running with it. Don't be a follower. Stand out in the crowd.

 "The ultimate is not to win, but to reach within the depths of your capabilities and to compete against yourself."
-Billy Mills

Apply this quote to your fitness goals. There will always be someone faster, stronger, and more talented than you. But they aren't more HUMAN than you, as Maya Angelou once told me (well, a room full of people). You can do anything you put your mind to accomplishing, but make sure you are competing against yourself in the long run. You will thank yourself for it later.

Much love,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Running Alone

On Saturday, I'll wake up at 5:45 am.

I'll drive to downtown Indy alone.

I am guessing I'll blast Nicki Minaj to wake me up and get motivated. 

I'll need the motivation more than ever before....Why?

Because I won't have a running partner.

I won't have anyone pushing me through the final mile.

I won't have anyone waiting for me at the finish line.

When I'm hurting, I'll have to push myself to finish. And when I'm running too fast, I'll need to slow myself down. I need to have a consistent pace to meet my goal.

Saturday morning will be a challenge.

I have a lot to prove to myself.

To be honest, I'm feeling really good about this race.

I went for a quick run tonight - the first "real" run since my injury.

Rocking my hipster glasses.
Straight out of the 1970s from Grandma Kaye.
I told myself to run the fastest mile I could - and then I would finish home with intervals. I knew by going faster early, I would prove that I still my running mojo.

And I had an amazing pace - the best I've had in a LONG time!!

Yes, a bird crapped on me while I was running today.
The first mile was VERY strong - about a 10:20 pace. I slowed down (obviously) during the second mile because I was doing walking and running intervals. I didn't want to over-do anything with my injury.

My goal is to finish the 5K in under 38 minutes. That would be maintaining a 12 minute mile or less, which I believe is definitely possible!

For the half marathon on May 19, I'd like my pace to be under 13 minute miles, which would put me finishing in about 2:45- a PR by about 10 minutes!!

I can do hit my goals.

I will hit my goals.

I'll be reading tweets, Facebook posts, texts and emails all morning - so maybe I won't be alone. I'll have you all to inspire, encourage and motivate me. Thank you for your love and support! I'll really need it this weekend!

Much love,