Check Up Time

One of the reasons that I have been working so hard on my health/fitness is that diabetes runs in my family (on both sides). Today I had blood work done (last time was 3 years ago). We have Kaiser and they keep sending me alerts when results are posted. the first test that came back was about white and red blood cells and everything was right in the middle of normal ranges. Just now I got the one the tests for diabetes. Normal is 4.8-5.6%. Mine was 5.6%. This is thankfully in the normal range but just barely. And this is after I have eliminated most processed/added sugar from my diet and lost about 50 pounds. So…continued exercising and eating well are in store for me! Good thing I’m enjoying distance running.

I also need to lose another 40 pounds (according to BMI charts). That sounds daunting but the motivation has been easier because I want to lose weight so that I can run faster.

Hopefully I never go over the line into actual pre diabetes or actual diabetes.

The Ventura Marathon #3 – A Recap

The Ventura Marathon (and half marathon) is in its 3rd year and I’m proud to say that I’ve participated in some way each of those three years. Here’s a bit of a recap:

Some volunteers at our aid station in 2013. See the fog? And the need for long sleeves? I want to run in that!
My husband is in the center and two very good friends were volunteers at our aid station in 2013. See the fog? And the need for long sleeves? I want to run in that!

Year #1 (2013): I had been running for a couple years at this point and had even completed my first half marathon (Santa Ynez Wine Country, 2:31:01) by the time of the inaugural Ventura Marathon. So I guess I could have run, but instead I signed up as a volunteer for a water station. Actually not just me but me and another dozen or so members of my church. The date of the marathon happened to coincide with a special day of service in the Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), where church members were encouraged to volunteer in the community in some way. Other church members participated in some volunteer activities at the church. We all had a very good time and I was inspired to actually try and run the full marathon the next year. And… it was a nice, cool day.

Year #2 (2014): Once again our church participated in the marathon by volunteering at a water station. This year some students from nearby Cal Lutheran University joined us. I’m told that all who participated had a good time and were inspired by all the runners (and walkers) who passed by. As for me, I attempted my first marathon this day. Thankfully I was able to meet my goal, which was to finish. I did so in 5 hours and 51 minutes (course limit was 6 hours!). The entire second half of my inaugural marathon was hard, it was hot, but I did it! I was sore and tired for days, and already thinking about trying again. I then signed up for the LA Marathon, but then backed out because I had a series of nasty colds in January and February and thought that I wouldn’t be ready. The day I decided not to run the LA Marathon I signed up for my second Ventura Marathon.

Year #3 (2015): I wrote a post the other day about my preparation for this race. You can find it here: https://girlrevrunning.com/2015/09/12/preparation/

I had a very ambitious goal of 4:59:59, which would mean I needed to shave almost 53 minutes off my time from last year. Up until race day I was mostly confident about this goal. I wasn’t entirely confidant because of the weather. It was forecast to be even hotter than the year before… plus humid!

See the concerned look on my face? This was about 4.5 miles in and the sun was starting to shine. I actually felt really good at this point!
See the concerned look on my face? This was about 4.5 miles in and the sun was starting to shine. I actually felt really good at this point!

I awoke at 3:30am on race morning and saw that it was 70° outside. That was the low…and did I mention the humidity? In a calm, let’s do this frame of mind I prepared breakfast, got dressed and headed over to the starting line. Once there I sat in my car, ate, drank a cup of coffee and tried to relax. Then 30 minutes before the race I covered my back and legs with frozen towels (a strategy I read somewhere during the week for pre-cooling).

Race time! In my training I had been using a run/walk method for my long runs as a way to ease into my pace. This was helpful because I tend to go out too fast. So for the first hour I usually walked .04 every half mile. This worked very well for me in training and it was my strategy for race day. However, because of the heat I decided that I would keep up the run/walk pattern for 16 miles and then evaluate. I then decided that I’d go ahead and keep the pattern for the whole race.

I saw the photographer and mustered up a thumbs up and a smile!
I saw the photographer and mustered up a thumbs up and a smile!

I felt good…actually I felt awesome… until I overheated at mile 20. Mile 21 was hard but I knew my church members and family were at the mile 22 aid station and they could give me an emotional lift. Also, and importantly, my daughter, Megan was going to run the last four miles with me. I am so thankful that she did because she was able to gently encourage me in what became the hardest 4 miles ever.

I eventually began a run/walk pattern of 30 seconds walk and run as far as I could (usually 30-40 seconds)… just like when I was a beginner! With a half mile to the finish I felt very faint for a few seconds and decided that it would be prudent to walk all but the last .10 mile. With about .3 to go the 5 hour pacer passed me and I only cared a little! I just wanted to finish at that point.

And finish I did in 5:04:18. A personal record by a whopping 47 minutes! In 80° and humid conditions. I know I’ll get to below 5 hours…way below 5 hours eventually. For today I’m celebrating 47 minutes.

Finish Line!!!!!
Finish Line!!!!!

Preparation!

A little over one year ago I attempted my first marathon, the Ventura Marathon. Last year I had two goals. The first was to finish the race. The second was to “hopefully” not finish last. Thankfully I achieved both of these goals… I finished in 5:51:54 and had a handful of people behind me. The course limit was 6 hours!

Tomorrow I am doing the very same race. However this time I am more prepared…way more prepared thanks to the wonderful training program offered by the Ventura Marathon. In fact when I compare my training efforts this year to last year I am truly amazed that I was able to finish.

In addition to running and running and running, this month I am meeting with all of the members of my church (we’re small so this is doable). During one of my meetings I mentioned my mantra for Sunday’s race: “I’m fit; I’m strong; I can breath”. Well this nice elderly woman said that she has a new mantra, something that she found in her reading:

“You don’t get what you want in life, you get what you prepare for.”

I love this! Not so much as a mantra but as a bit of wisdom. Of course one could always find exceptions to this, but it doesn’t defeat the valuable piece of advice in these words.

Since our meeting I’ve been thinking of all the preparation that I’ve done over the past few months. In addition to the mental work… including prayer and meditation while running I’ve put in more physical work than I ever have.

Here’s what I’ve done since May 1, 2015:
Miles run    648.10
10k races    1
5k races    8
Track workouts    6
Hill repeats  49

Reviewing all this gives me confidence that I am prepared. Tomorrow’s race will be hard. I will have moments when I feel great and I will have moments when I’ll have to dig deep. But I’m ready!

Welcome to GirlRevRunning

My husband, me, my daughter, and son-in-law at a local race in July
My husband, me, my daughter, and son-in-law at a local race in July

Welcome to my new blog. Well, its not completely new as this is my 7th post! One of those early posts explains the blog title, but doesn’t really let you know who I am or why I’m here. If you’d like to learn a bit about why I chose this name you can look here: https://girlrevrunning.com/2015/08/25/why-girlrevrunning

My name is Nancy Switzler and I live in Oxnard, CA. I’ve been the pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Oxnard for more five and a half years. I am also a second career pastor, and so even though this is my first Call (technical word for appointment) I am now 52 years old. I’ve been thinking about writing a blog the entire time I’ve been at Our Redeemer. I’m happy to be finally doing it!

One of my not so favorite
One of my not so favorite “before” photos.

Another (new) passion of mine is running, an activity that I’ve been doing for about four years. I started running because after starting my position as a pastor I focussed so much on starting this new (and rewarding) vocation, I had become pretty inactive physically. This resulted in awful weight gain! I’ve always struggled with weight, even as most of my life I’ve been fairly active with some sort of exercise. But four years ago my lack of activity combined with not too healthy eating, my weight ballooned to 243. I’m 5’7″ so this was in no way good.

So I started running…slowly! Over the course of four years I’ve lost 51 pounds. These are actually among topics that I plan to write about. I’ve also successfully run 3 half marathons and struggled through 1 full marathon. I will be running my second marathon September 13.

As my running distances have increased over the years I’ve realized that for me running is one of my favorite spiritual practices.I pray, meditate, and reflect on my work as a pastor. Sometimes I’ll have my whole Sunday sermon in my head after a run. This has been a wonderful discovery and I plan to write about the beneficial nature of exercise to our spiritual lives.

I guess that’s enough of an introduction for today!

 

Me Worry? Getting to the Starting Line of the Ventura Marathon

Ten miles into my last 20 mile run. My husband carried water on his bike. I went on this long rung in the afternoon to help prepare for possible heat on race day.
Ten miles into my last 20 mile run. My husband carried water on his bike. I went on this long run in the afternoon to help prepare for possible heat on race day.

Maybe you’re worried about an upcoming race or event or difficulty.

Generally speaking I am not a person who worries. For the most part this is a helpful trait. Sometimes though, when I do board that worry train I can feel a bit overwhelmed.

I can remember that when I was younger my coping strategy with any big task ahead of me was to ask myself “what is the worse that can happen? Death?” The answer was always “no, I’m not gonna die!” so I didn’t worry. One day, while in college, I was sitting at my desk reading a novel just before a mid-term exam. A fellow student asked me, “how can you read before this test?” I replied, “if I’m not ready by now, no amount of last minute studying will help.”

Later, when I began to follow Jesus I learned that not even death can separate me (or anyone else) from his love. This caused me to rethink my earlier coping strategy, as death was not the worse that could happen. So it was even easier not to worry… until it wasn’t!

A week from tomorrow I will run my second marathon. My first was the very same race, which I completed in 5 hours and 51 minutes. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever done… so of course I decided to do it again!

This year I participated in a group training program (highly recommended by the way). Amazingly, up to today, 4 months after starting with them I haven’t missed one workout. I’ve lost another 15 pounds in the process and my easy training pace is improved enough that if I just run at that pace I would take 40 minutes off my time. So I am ready! Last week I was even enthusiastic.

If I were my younger self I should be reading a novel and relaxing. But instead I’ve spent the last few days worrying, mostly about the weather forecast of +80°. So what to do? I need to follow some of the pastoral advice that I give to others. Maybe it can help you too.

  • Pray and meditate. As you do this, try to clear your mind of distractions. I sometimes visualize wiping all the worries away as if I were smoothing out some sand on the beach.
  • Think about other things. What plans to you have for after the race or next week or next month?
  • Don’t close yourself off from others. Catch up on what’s happening with family and friends. Visit someone who may be lonely. Volunteer.
  • If you are worried about something health or well being related, let others know what is happening so they can help you.
  • If you are like me and worrying about a race, remember your training. You’ve put in all the hard work so be confident in your accomplishments thus far.
  • Focus on what you can control. I have no control over the weather, but I do have control over how I will respond to it. Each of us has great power over our attitudes.
  • Know that you are not alone!

What tips do you have for combatting worry?