Tuesday, November 23, 2010

3 1/2 marathons in 3 months..DONE

I have successfully completed all my planned 1/2 marathons for the fall season. This past Sunday November, 21, 2010 I finished my third of three planned halves in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This gives me a total of 6 states I have run a half marathon in: Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. I have also run full in Florida (Disney).

There were 27,000 participants for the Philadelphia 1/2 and full marathons. The 2 events started together in wave style format. So although the race 'started" at 7:00 AM, I didn't hear the horn go off for my heat until 7:30. It was a very energized crowd. This was a beautiful run, and really it could not have been better weather. It was around 38 at 7, and warmed up to around 55 during the day. There was a very slight breeze and it was nice and sunny.

How did I wind up doing the Philadelphia half?? Well I am a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, and there is a national conference every year that takes place the week before Thanksgiving. This year the convention was taking place in Philadelphia. I had 2 graduate students who completed research and were accepted to be presenters. As their mentor this means that TU would pay for my trip to go as well. My colleague then told me they had their run on Sunday. So then I weighed the pros and cons of flying home late Saturday night and running the Route 66 in Tulsa with my run group, or taking a chance and running the 1/2 in Philadelphia and staying there one extra day. So I decided to try Philly.

I had psyched myself up that the course was going to be very hilly. I think I just associated Pennsylvania with the Appalachian Mountains. After putting over 20,000 steps on my pedometer Thursday, Friday and Saturday between conference sessions and sight seeing, I knew that it was going to be a pretty flat course. This made me feel more calm and relaxed. Here's a little about the course:

It started right by the Rocky statue at the Museum of Art. It was amazing it was very well organized and didn't feel like a herd of cattle in their given corrals dazed and confused. Everyone was very helpful and I had no problems finding my back of the pack starting area. At each wave send off they played the theme from Rocky. I managed to drop my driver's license at the start while I was getting my phone out of my pouch to take some pictures. I randomly here a lady yelling my name...I was so confused. So finally I"m like I'm right here...well she had found my license. So kind.

We headed down Ben Franklin Blvd...a very busy and well traveled street..they had closed the whole thing for this event...it's 6 lanes wide. Talk about having plenty of room to move and navigate through people. We headed through the "downtown" district..lots of hotels, by the Love statue, around a fountain, by Reading Market, by the National Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell, and Independence Hall. This got us all the way to the Delaware River...we then followed the river for a bit then headed back towards the Museum of Art. On the way back we went by China Town, "Jeweler's District", the Philadelphia Zoo...a large park I don't remember the name of and finally onto a road very similar to Riverside in Tulsa. It followed the Delaware River and led back to the Museum of Art.

This was my worst 1/2 marathon ever. The course was fantastic, and the weather was great. I just wasn't mentally or physically in the game. At about mile 6, I had really bad stomach pains. Every time I tried to run, I thought I would hurl. So I decided to try to walk my quick walk pace, that didn't last long because then my knee that had been giving me a few issues started feeling not so good. So at about mile 7, I decided to approach the run as a walking tour of parts of Philly that I hadn't yet seen. My finish time was around 3:18. I was very glad to have finished. The crowd at the finish line had to be around at least 5000 people. I would highly recommend this run to anyone. Although in November the conditions in Philly, I would imagine would be quite variable. It was a nice flat fast course, with only 1 pretty noteworthy hill that had a huge reward downhill on the other side.

I am now going to take a running hiatus. Don't get me wrong I'm still gonna head out and run/walk, walk/walk, who knows. I am ready to be out of "training" mode for a bit.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

A 5K PR and Terrible Run All Together

I have no pictures to contribute to this entry, so just bear with me.

I decided to participate in the Route 66 "Double" challenge on August 7th. This event involved completing a 5K and a Quarter marathon back-to-back. Not back-to-back days but as soon as you cross the finish line of the 5K you then proceed immediately to the start line of the quarter marathon. So in total the distance would be 9.65 miles. I was game. My half marathon training group was scheduled to do 7 miles for the training run that day, and well I have a half marathon coming up in September and need to make sure I am ready to give that my best shot.

Well....then I got myself in trouble in the mental game. I tried to tell myself over and over it was just a 10 miles training run (that would be a little short). One of my dear friends lost their daughter earlier in the week and the Celebration of her life was scheduled for 10 AM on the same day. The 5K started at 7:30. It was very important for me to be at the life Celebration of Lilian Grace as I had been privileged enough to meet her in person and hang out with her and watch some Nick Jr. So Friday night my head got to spinning around whether I should bail out of the event entirely, run just the 5K, run just the Quarter. So I was calculating times in my head. I decided that I would complete the Double, because I think Lily would have been okay with that.

So, I tried to do the "right" thing Friday night. I ate a well balanced meal with a few extra carbs. I went to bed around 9:15 to try to get a good night's sleep. However, going to bed and going to sleep are 2 different things. I tossed and turned and tossed and turned. I couldn't get my brain to shut off. I was thinking a lot about Lily. I was thinking that the last time I did an official timed 5K was about 18 months ago. I was thinking about what I thought I could do if I was having a great run day. I was thinking, thinking, thinking. I finally went to sleep around 11:30ish, only to wake up around 1:15AM having a panic attack. My stomach was churning itself inside out, my head was throbbing, I was sweating and cold, I was a mess. So I got out of bed, took some medicine for my anxiety and got comfy in the recliner in the living room to try to get some sleep. I was able to rest for a bit and then go lie back down in bed without feeling like I was going to vomit at any time. The alarm went off at 4:50 so I could go meet up with the Optimists who were doing the regular training run. It was a very short night, and I was still a bit squimish and not feeling quite right. I woke up making the decision that I would shoot for a 5K PR. My previous 5K personal record was 37:04. I knew that I was becoming a better runner. So again WRONG mind game to play!!

I had fun sending off the Optimists that met with the training groups. It was then time to head to the start/finish area of the Rt 66 Double event. I enjoyed seeing all the people that were getting ready to complete their first 5K. My mood had perked up and I was like let's go! I saw some of the Optimists that were going to do the Quarter. They were pretty nervous and excited. I was pretty nervous and excited too. Then it was time, the gun went off. I was off with my trusty Gym Boss beeper. I decided to do a 2/1 for the first mile (to warm up) and then try to do a 3/1 for the rest of the 5K to go for that PR. Well I did what I tell everyone not to do (fortunately I caught myself) but I took off with everyone...started my Garmin..started my Gymboss...and then kept running through the beeps that were telling me it was time for a walk break. Finally about a 1/2 mile in, I was like "Sandra you need to run this like you train...listen to the beeper...get on the plan..." So I begin walking at the next beep. I alternated from a 2/1 to 3/1 after every walk minute. I was feeling good, I was feeling strong. It was great to see some familiar faces at the water stops. As I turned the corner and saw the finish line, I then saw a whole slew of Runners World friends cheering everyone on ....I was in great spirits...I knew my time was going to be decent. As I neared the finish line, I noticed the clock had just clicked to 36 minutes...I was stoked..I knew that I was about midway through the pack and I was going to beat my PR! It was a great feeling. I crossed the finish line, stopped my Garmin and hit the reset button without even looking at the time. I was then told to walk around the tents to get to the start of the Quarter. This is when everything went downhill for me....

As I was walking through the tents to get to the Quarter marathon start, I realized I really didn't want to do it. I mean I did, but I knew that I gave a lot of effort on the 5K and that getting through the Quarter was going to be a challenge. My mental status won over my physical abilities. I should have been able to complete that quarter even after the 5K without a lot of struggle. I mentally planned to do a 1/1 interval on the quarter because I knew I was going to try to run the 5K hard. I couldn't do it. Okay, yes physically I could, but mentally I couldn't. I started worrying about not making it to Lily's Celebration. I started worrying about being an embarrassment to my group. I started letting myself getting into my own head. It is somewhat ironic that at the 1/2 mile mark of the quarter (the same spot I realized I needed to stop running on the 5K) I made the decision that I was going to walk the quarter as fast as I could. I let the mental game get in the way of physical abilities. So I ran parts of the quarter here and there, but it was lousy. I feel lousy about my performance. They didn't have any more medals by the time I finished, I was like very appropriate, because my effort on the event wasn't really worthy of a medal.

As the title of my blog indicates, Running is 80% mental...and that mental game kicked my butt on the quarter. I am glad that I got a new PR for a 5K (official posted time: 35:59), but if I should have stopped there instead of doing that horrible quarter....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Half Marathon Training

I am having so much fun being a run leader for a half marathon group training for the Route 66 half marathon that will take place in Tulsa in November. I named the group "The Optimists: We're half full".

As my blog title indicates, I really believe that getting through an event is 80% mental. I am truly trying to inspire through the power of positive thinking during runs. It has helped me tremendously. I battle the mental monster in many different aspects of life. I am trying to take control of my mental state during runs. The people that make up The Optimists have been wonderful!

I am continuing to work on my interval running. It is still working quite well for me. I have been able to keep my average pace under the 12:30/mile for the majority of my runs. I am hoping to be at a really solid 3/1 or 4/1 (run/walk) interval setup for the fall half marathons. I have had several of the Optimists join me in my interval running on Saturday mornings and it has been quite nice to have the company. It has been so humid that running has been quite a chore. We are going from days of feeling like this:

To having days that feel like this:

I am definitely having more Homer days than the eager beaver runner. However, I have been doing this running thing long enough that I know that to run through this awful summer heat and humidity has a payoff in the fall when things cool off and the humidity dissipates. It has been very important to hydrate with plenty of water. I have been a diligent run leader and make sure that I encourage everyone to stop at all the water stops along our routes.

We are starting to incorporate some hills into our Saturday routes. I have actually found the challenge of them fun and exciting. I think it is partly due to the fact that I am still in a good running place. So even if the hills seem like this:

Remember that it still just takes one step at a time to get to the top of the hill. Of course anyone that wants to use my method of conquering the hills is welcome...I like to chant (sometimes aloud and sometimes in my head) "I love the hills they work my butt"! It makes me smile and keep on moving forward.

I have 3 half marathons planned for this fall, and hope that they will all be at a 2:45 time or better. The first one will be in Nashville, TN: the Womens' half marathon on September 25th. So my training will continue and I hope that it will continue to be fun and successful

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Free Wheel 2010

On Saturday June 12th, Sue and I packed up our bikes and headed off to Hugo, OK to begin our adventure of the 32nd running of the Oklahoma Free Wheel bike ride event from the south Oklahoma border to north Oklahoma border. I posted updates on each day on facebook, and I am going to copy and paste them here and then add the information about the last 2 days of riding.

Free Wheel is an absolute adventure. Sue Marlof and I arrived in Hugo Ok on Saturday morning around 10:30 am. It took us both a litle while to acclimate, process and adjust to the while concept of Free Wheel. After about an hour and half we figured out our tent wasn't going to be ready for several hours. We knew we wanted to make the extra ride to make it into the Texas border. So we put on our bike clothes and headed out for the first ride. It was listed as only an 11 mile out and 11 miles back. It had a few hills but the worst part was a couple mile stretch that we were on a well traveled highway. It was a little tricky, but we managed. Once we made it back into Hugo we were both famished. We decided to eat at a local cafe place that was just across from where we would be camping. We walked in and the food looked absolutely delicious. We were so excited. The food was Great, but it took about 45 minutes from when we ordered to when we got our food. Oh well it was dinner. We then found out that our tent was set up around 5 so we set up our home. Then we set up chairs from the Shuttle Guy and found a semi shady spot. We met two nice guys, Steve and Brok who are a father and son riding Free Wheel together. Steve has ridden it before but this will be Brok's first ride. "Tent city" really does become a quick little family. We went to the nightly meeting and learned some of the ins and outs of how free wheel works and that "start time" is typically around 6:30 am and there is typically breakfast served starting at 4:30 am. This kinda changed our plan of action. We set the alarm for 5 am and decided to try to leave with the mass exodus. When they say mass exodus they mean like the 50 people out of the 900 that wanted to be part of the "mass exodus". So funny.

Neither Sue nor I slept very well. There were many people who snored in tent city but Sue and I were fortunate enough to have one in front of us and one next to us. The good news is that only one would snore at a time. Therefore we had persisent snoring. We quickly understood why they recommended bringing ear plugs. We ate breakfast. It was not great but it was calories and food. Our first ride was scheduled to be 55 miles. We made the mass exodus and were on our way at about 6:35am. We quickly realized why they start so early. It was almost cool and pleasant until aroun 8:15 am. The first 10 miles went by so quickly and we were cruising around 15 mph. We enjoyed the fruit stop and ventured on our way. During the 2nd 10 miles. We saw the biggest road kill beaver ever. That then prompted our let's count how many different road kill animals we see on our journey. Throughout the ride we saw: beaver, deer, racoon, and snakes. The ride went pretty well. We made it to camp at 11:55. We made sure to stop at all water and rest stops and stopped to have lunch. It was a good ride. It was very hit. We heard at camp that the tempertature was 95 with a heat index in the 100's. It was hard to get cool and comfortable, but we tried to make the best of it. We took showers in the shower truck, which would be awesome to have at the mud run, grabbed our chairs and found a shady place to hang out under. We talked with Dale and sine lady from Houston. Tried to take a nap in the chairs bit I could not get comfortable. We hopped on our bikes and headed into town to get to the cafeteria for dinner. They served Indian tacos. It was pretty good. We then biked back to camp, went to the nightly meeting and called it a night early. I slept great. Of course I took some mesa to help and put my iPod in. Was out like a light until about 4:50 am.

Sue and I got up this morning again at 5. We were on Our bikes by 6:15. Stopped at a convience store for some beeakfast and headed out for the 65 mile ride. The first 25-30 miles of the ride today weren't bad at all. It consisted of mostly rolling hills. However I don't know what mile it was but we started our trek through the Ouchita forest/mountain range. There were 3 awful awful uphills, but we were rewarded with 3 awesome downhill. Lunch was at about mile 45. I was so grateful for 40 minutes off the bike. Then we ventured on to Heavener where we are now. As I type this we are getting good rain storms with thunder and lightning. We were told there would be 50-60 mile per hour winds. Sue and I are in our tent hanging out and just keying whatever happens happen. We are scheduled to do another 65 mile ride tomorrow to Muldrow. We hear it's supposed to rain during the day. That may not be fun. We have the alarm set for 5 and we will see what happens.

We awoke to a morning filled with showers. It rained all through the night. They had told us in camp that it was anticipated that we would experience 50-60 mph winds, so everyone in tent city was freaking out. Not Sue and I though. We were almost giddy. Seriously laughing way too hard about the comments we heard from people in tents around us. I quickly fell asleep to the sound of the pouring rain and slept the best I have since I've been a camper. However when the alarm went off at 5 I could still hear rain drops on the tent. Sue and I had no real plan in this situatio. So we looked at the radar on my handy dandy iPhone and decided to wait an extra half an hour before we got moving. Well that lasted. Whole 5 minutes and we were both just like okay let's get dressed and see what happens. Well we were almost on schedule when we got in the line for breakfast. When it was our turn to eat they were almost out of everything. We each got 1 pancake and a few scrambled eggs. Not really a whole lot to go 65 miles on but we made do. We hit the road at about 7 rather than our usual 6:30. It was almost chilly when we got started. The first bank thermometer we rode past said 73. It was a beautiful morning when the rain stopped and there was a slight breeze. It stayed nice until about 10.30 or so this morning. The ride today was relativley flat and easy. The only rough part was the roads. I know everyone will be shocked but they were full of potholes or semi-trucks. We made really decent time considering it was our 4th consecutive day of riding. We made it to camp around 1:45. It was rather warm and toasty at camp. The thermometer on the bank in Muldrow read 94.

After being in camp for a very short time we decided to be adventurous and crazy and do the optional 20 mile out and back to cross into Arkansas. This was probably not our wisest of decisions. During this 1:45 period, I decided to cry out all my emotional stress from the past 6 years. I really needed to cry like my works was ending because I am at a new stage, a new road. This trip on free wheel has allowed me to disconnect from so many things and really put a lot of perspective on other things. All you do on the rides is think. You can chose to think about the hills, the sounds on your bike, the things you see in the environment, the people in your life, the goals in your life, etc. Speaking of things in your environment. I'm not sure i've mentioned all the road kill we've seen. So here's our complete list including today:

Baby black bear
Some big black bird
Armadillo with a beer can

I think that covers everything we have encountered thus far. This is disgusting but I can almost tell you what kind of roadkikl it is by the smell alone. I digress. So I have been thinking about my whole life my relationships with people, my friendships with people, the type of friend I want to be. I have thought about my relationships with my family, I have thought about my abitlity as a teacher, I have thought about my abilities as a speech language pathologist. I have thought about my marriage and divorce. I have thought about my life in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. I have thought lots and lots. Today between the heat, the 200 some odd miles on a bike in the past 4 days, my leg fatigue, and the many thoughts I was due for an emotional breakdown.

Tomorrow we ride to Talequah. Word in tent city is that it's the hardest ride ever in Free Wheel history. Sue and I are choosing to ignore the rumors and tackle the ride the same we have every other day 1 mike at a time. I anticipate I will be walking some hills tomorrow because my quads are shot, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. It's a scheduled 62 mike ride. 3 mikes shorter than these last two days. Oh boy. Wish us luck and send good vibes our way!!

Oh where to begin. I really wish I would have had the energy to write about day 4 yesterday, be ause even after 1 day the badness of it has already lessened. But I will do my best to recap.

Day 4 ( which for Sue and I was actually day 5 of consecutively being on the bike) had been hyped up by the Free Wheel officials and those in camp as the possible most difficult Free Wheel ride day ever. We left the Mukdrow camp at about 6:00 with the intention of stopping at a convienence store for breakfast. We have gone to a couple of the planned breakfasts but it has not been worth the money. So, anyway, we ate our breakfast at the store and were on our merry way. Well the legacy of the day and all the hype came to fruition at mile 1.6. We had a relatively steep and forever climbing hill out of Muldrow. Seriously I think it was about .6 miles long. It was torture and we were literally dripping in sweat at 6:45 in the morning 2.3 mikes into the day. The course did not get any better from there. If anyone remembers the zingo from bells then they can somewhat picture the 65 mike route. There were some good downhills but to get down them you have to go up them. So we went down and up and down and up all day. We climbed 5400 ft over the course of the day. I have honestly never had so much pain and shaking in my quad muscles in my life. To compound my issues. I was told I have Riders Palsy in my left palm. I have just tingling in my left middle finger. I have been told by many out here that it's because I'm putting so much pressure on my ulnar nerve and that I needed different bike gloves that had better support at the base of your fingers before your palm. I had also been told there was a bike store in talequah close to where Speedwheel was taking place. So imagine riding the Zingo path about 50 times on a bike trying to hold on to your handlebars to get yourself up a hill and having pain all in your arms and fingers. That was me. When Sue and I arrived to camp at around 3:15 we were just spent. Sue's parents came into town and they went out to dinner. I went and had all you can eat spagettin in the high school cafeteria and then decided to catch the shuttle to head down to watch Speedwheel and find the bike shop. I found some gloves with extra ulnar nerve support and thought well I will get these and try them. Then I went and sat on the curb and watched the bike races. Then much to my surprise I see Kristin Bunch walking along the sidewalk so I text her and when the course was clear I went over and gave her a big hug. It was so great to see a friendly face!! We sat on the bleachers and watched the masters race and during the race out of nowhere appears Ken Childress, Bobby Michaels. Deborah Gulley, and Susan Michaels. They had alll coordinated to come into Talequah to surprise me. It was so touching and so awesome. It was just one day before I was feeling very low and alone in the world. I owe those 5 people a lot. It was such a morale booster after such a hard days ride. Such great people. I did feel bad they wanted to go eat dinner and I just wanted to go to be. 9:00 is pretty much get in the tent wind down and be asleep by 10 time. So they drove me to camp. Saw tent city visited our #92 tent and I sent them on their way and was asleep in probably 20 minutes.

This morning, the start of day 5 or 6 depending how you are counting, we were up and out of the tent by 5:45. We decided to head down the road to the first convenient store which was said ti be 9 miles down the road. I had a rough morning in that I could t find things and forgot things and was like just forget let's go. Today was Sues day to have a rough day. She felt rather nauseous and out of it until about mile 28 when we hit a fun rest stop. Today's course was so easy compared to yesterdays. We cruised all day at about a 12 mph pace which given our mileage I thought it was pretty good. I stayed in food spirits most of the day and we cruised into camp around 12:15 ish. We stayed At the lunch stop in Salina for quite a while because it was cool and we had fun visiting with people. Sues husband came to Pryor today and I am so grateful he did. My Garmin died at 2.5 miles out. I had tried to charge I the previous day and it didn't. It would say it was charging then be blank. I took the charger with me on the ride thinking I'd the lunch stop had an outlet I would charge it. Well the lunch stop did have an outlet but my garmin would not charge. When we got to camp j was asking around If anyone would let me use their charger. People thought I was nuts I'm sure, but finally this man named Marion said he would let me use his. Another techy kinda guy looked mine all over and said he thought it was my USB cable and not the cradle. So Mario. Let me use his USB and guess what?!!?! It worked. So John took me to 3 different places to find. USB 2.0 cable and I am happy to report my garmin is fully charged and ready to go tomorrow. We hear tommorrow's 65 mile day is a lot like today. Maybe a hill or two here and there a lot of flat or gradual and some rough road. I will be so glad when tomorrows ride is done. They have a special dinner and concert for us tomorrow in Miami. Bring it on.

Roadkill update:
We saw the following before yesterday I just forgot them:

Since yesterday we can add:
Wild pig(boar). No I'm not kidding!!

Good night all and thanks for the support and encouragement!!!

The last 2 days of riding Free Wheel are somewhat a blur. The ride on Friday on was a great ride. It was the last 65 mile ride. We were told Thursday night that we would have a 10-15 mph wind out of the south. The crowd cheered loudly. It really turned out to be true. Even on the hills it felt like the south wind was pushing us up the hills. Sue and I averaged 13.5 mph over the course of the day on this ride. It was mainly flat. There were a few decent climbs during the day, but overall it was an excellent day of riding for me. I didn't even have much pain from the saddle or in my legs. My biggest issue during this ride was chafing. I have never experienced such horrible chaffing. I have heard runners talk about it, but never really experienced it to the point that you thought you might bleed to death because areas were chafed so badly. I think the pain and discomfort from the chafing helped to keep me distracted from everything else. I was in really good spirits for most of the day during this ride. We arrived to the camp in Miami, which was on the campus of NEO. We again got to camp on a football field. Thank goodness that wind was around, if you could find some shade, it didn't feel too awful hot. At one point, I really thought Sue and I were going to get to go to Braum's (everyone had been talking about it all during the day), but when we learned the shower truck was really about 1/4 mile away from our tent, and we thought about when dinner was going to be served, we opted out of Braum's. The dinner that was provided free (only free meal on Free Wheel) was excellent. There were several choices of meat and sides and desserts. Unfortunately, my body was so hot and the entire system wasn't sure how it was working, I didn't really eat much. We then hopped on a shuttle and went to the Coleman theater in Miami, OK. If you ever get a chance to go into this theater you need to go, it is a breath-taking theater. They brought in a Bluegrass band for a concert for all the people with Free Wheel, it was amazing and so much fun. It was nice to sit in the cool air conditioning, but when we made it back out to our campsite it felt that much hotter. During the night on Friday night, both mine and Sue's fan batteries died. It was the worst night's sleep I got since the first night.

Saturday morning came quickly, Sue and I were up and moving at 4:45 am. We headed and ate some breakfast (apple turnover for me, yummm), got all our gear together, and were headed out for our last ride by 6:05 am. We had a scheduled 38 or so miles, but had heard that it was going to be quite a hilly day. We were also told that we would have 3 rest stops. It was a much more relaxed riding day. It was obvious that most people were taking the pace a little slower and sharing stories along the ride and just taking it all in. We were fortunate to see most of the people that we had met along the ride and spent time with at some point during the day on Saturday. It was a little sad knowing that good-bye would be coming. However, I was so ready to be done. At the end of the day, and the week, Sue and I managed to bike in 5 states in 8 days. We took the optional trips to the Texas border, the Arkansas border, the Kansas border, through Oklahoma, and obviously through Missouri to get to Joplin.

Today, Sunday, my body is pretty physically drained. The most fascinating part to me is that the most sore part of my body is my hands. My hands are extremely cramped and sore, I can barely hold a pencil to write. I am glad to be home. I feel that I have a clear head, and a better grasp on my life. We'll see how long that lasts.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tulsa Tough

Well it was a weekend packed with bike riding. Tulsa Tough was in town. It was made up of some fantastic bicycle racing with some "fun" rides and the 8 mile Tulsa Townie Ride. In preparation for the Oklahoma Free Wheel, I decided to participate in the 100k (62.4 mile) fun ride on Saturday and the 50K (31.2 mile) ride on Sunday as well as the Tulsa Townie that some of my friends were also going to do. This would give me over 100 miles on my bike for the weekend.

It was quite hot on Saturday, but fortunately I had Sue and Jodi to whine to, and with about how hot the day was. Jodi successfully completed the 50K on Saturday and Sue and I got through the 100K.

Sunday morning had a nice cloud cover, and a little bit stronger wind. Both days were challenging and fun. One more leisurely ride before Free Wheel starts next Saturday...
OH Goodness.....

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Wow have I been busy lately...

I recently took a trip to Edinburgh Scotland. I have been in a really good running place lately and was really hoping to break my PR in a half marathon, which was 2:51 and change. I was successful. I ran the Scotland Half Marathon in 2:45:30. That is an average of 12:30 min/mil. I utilized the 1/1 run/walk interval method that I have been using for quite a while. I thought I would post my mile splits, just to show that it works. You don't have to run the whole thing to have a good finish.

Mile 1: 12:10
Mile 2: 12:16
Mile 3: 11:55 (yes you read that right)
Mile 4: 11:54 (how about that for consistency)
Mile 5: 12:18
Mile 6: 12:32
Mile 7: 12:23
Mile 8: 12:18
Mile 9: 12:27
Mile 10: 13:04 (yup the slow steady incline)
Mile 11: 12:48
Mile 12: 13:28 (yeah i was getting tired, no excuse, but..)
Mile 13: 13:02
the .1: 2: 50 (My garmin actually registered it as .23)

I guess you could say that Scotland agreed with me:

It was an absolutely fantastic trip. I had a great time. I got to hang out with great friends. I got to see amazing things and sites...it was incredible.

Now what? I know you are dying to know what's next for Dr. Sandra Wright...

I am 2 weeks out from participating in the Oklahoma Free Wheel. I completed my longest bike ride to date: 70 miles. I am very happy to report that I am still able to stand and sit..my tail bone is a little tender but not excruciatingly sore as I anticipated. I averaged about 11.6 mph pace on the bike over the distance, which I was okay with. I am excited to participate in Tulsa Tough next weekend and then it's off to Hugo Oklahoma for the border (TX) to border (MO) ride.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A New Chapter Begins

Well I am now officially an alumnus of the University of Kansas. I think graduating with my Doctorate of Philosophy in Speech-Language Pathology from the 5th ranked program in the U.S. will always be a point of pride for me. It is honestly the hardest thing I have ever ever done. I owe a lot to my mentor Jane Wegner, who although she is the one who pushed me, she is also the one who helped me develop a vision of what type of speech pathologist and teacher I want to be.

So, now what? Well that's a good question. I will stay in my job at the University of Tulsa. My title has changed from "Instructor" to "Assistant Professor". I get to begin the climb to tenure, which means that I have to publish articles and present at conferences. So although the stress load goes away, I still have quite a bit of responsibility. I also really hope to revamp my teaching style. I know that it is impossible to please all students, but I really hate getting back negative comments from them. I know that during this past year I know that it has been rough to be one of my students. This summer's plan is to overhaul the 4 classes I teach during the Fall semester. I just want to make sure that teaching is fun for me and my students stay engaged. I just have to embrace what Tulsa has to offer and quit comparing the program to KU. I need to advocate for change in areas that will truly impact the students education, and let everything else go.

Running: Well, I am off to Scotland later this week, as a graduation present to myself to complete the half marathon. I have stuck by my "no more fulls for 2010" motto and have been in a great running place. It is so different to run for fun, and not as a stress relief. Don't get me wrong it still really helps even with the little stressors of life, but I am so much lighter without the pressure of finishing my dissertation on my shoulders. I am excited to possibly be a run leader for a half marathon group training for the Route 66 half marathon in Tulsa in November. It is so nice to be in a happy running place, and really enjoying getting out there. I am still using the Galloway method of run a minute followed by walk a minute. Although in Scotland I do believe I am going to run 2 minutes and walk a minute. It works well for me. My average pace using this method has been right around 12:00 min/mile, which is great for me. I am so proud of my running accomplishments, I actually used my running shoes as a template to decorate my graduation cap. My hat got a lot of points, gestures, and comments throughout graduation weekend.

Personal: Well I feel like myself again. I am still working on trying to find better ways to deal with all of my different emotions. However, I feel like i am enjoying life, and living positively. I am trying to mend relationships that I really messed up during the past 6 years. One thing that is absolutely impossible to describe or explain is the emotional strain of the Ph.D. process. I am sure that is how I wound up divorced, but I am trying to live with no regrets. It is a very difficult thing to do. I thank all of my dear dear friends that have stuck by me, listened to me, let me yell at them, ran with me, traveled with me, talked to me, were honest with me, encouraged me, and just helped me out. I do need to thank my parents as well. I believe they were quite proud of me during graduation weekend. I was able to grab a stranger and get a family picture during graduation weekend.

I am constantly thinking of 2 families that are dealing with so much on their plates, and handling everything with such strength I am in admiration. The first family is the Russell's, where Nate a 6 1/2 year old boy with Spinal Muscular Atrophy passed away in late April. Nate taught me so much about how to be a good speech pathologist and listening to the needs of even a child who could communicate through vocalizations and his eyes with an eyegaze communication system in such amazing ways. His parents and younger brother are some absolutely amazing people who I just look at with awe. The second family is that of the Whitten's, who have a beautiful daughter Lillian Grace who is battling for each and every day of life. Chrissy and Michael have demonstrated such strength and trust in God, that they are cherishing each and every day that their "Warrior Princess" is here on earth with them. My thoughts and prayers to both of these families, whom I admire.

Now, I thought I would also post some of my other pictures from graduation weekend at KU.

Dr. Debby Daniels

He is telling you, yup I am Dr. Boca now....

We just happened to have run into Baby Jay as I was taking Boca for a walk around campus before he had to hang out in the car during the graduation ceremony.

Even Baby Jay was swooning over Boca..

Friday, April 9, 2010

Yes you can call me Doctor...

Well April 7, 2010 was a life altering day for me. I defended my dissertation. The last major hoop required to finish the Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. I began my Ph.D. program in speech language pathology in August of 2004. Six years...it has been a very long haul and I have had so much life change in that 6 year time, it's hard to believe I finally got within the finish line. My dissertation was on "Improving the Social Communication Competence of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Users". I enjoyed conducting my research and getting to meet some really awesome people. Before the big day, I contacted several friends and people that I knew who had gone through the defense experience. I was told that even though 3 hours were allotted for the defense, that most lasted only half that. I put together a presentation that would last between 45 and 60 minutes. I guess either my topic was extremely interesting, or my committee wanted to stall getting back to their regular schedule, or I did not put together things very clearly, but I was fortunate enough to get to hang out with my committee for 2 1/2 hours. Truly a growing experience and nothing really in life I can compare it to. I tried to take several photos throughout the day to document the process, but after I was told I passed, my brain literally turned to mush so I don't have many good pictures of after, but oh well.

Left the hotel around 7 AM. Trying to keep my goofiness about myself and keep the nerves calm, so decided to take a crazy picture acting like I was shaking all over.

This is my title slide and I was ready to go by about 7:45. My presentation began at 9AM.

I went through all my slides and videos before everyone got there to make sure they all worked and showed up on the screen.

The people that had control over whether I passed my dissertation defense or not. My committee. From left to right: Dr. Ed Auer, Dr. Hugh Catts, Dr. Jane Wegner, Dr. Debby Daniels, and Dr. Michael Wehmeyer. Overall a great group of people and brilliant minds. I was questioned for an hour and 21 minutes after giving a 55 minute presentation. It was a long 2 1/2 hours...

Of course after every grueling experience, there should be a chance to eat lunch with lots of friends...they brought in mexican food from my favorite place, El Mezcal in Lawrence, KS.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sandra's "interesting" (according to TZ) Life update

It has been a long time since I generated a blog entry. So much has happened and is about to happen. I think i will attempt to organize this blog by life roles: health, school life, personal life...I know had you on the edge of your seat doesn't it.

Well my running has significantly decreased. I successfully completed the 3 marathons I signed up for: Athens, Greece, Route 66 in Tulsa, and Disney. None of the marathons went the way I anticipated, but I did indeed finish all 3 within the time limit I was given, so I guess that is a success. I decided after Disney that I am going to cut back to half marathons for a while. Since I made that decision I have decided that I will take part in my Oklahoma City Marathon Relay team (I'm doing a 10K leg), I will hopefully be up to doing the Edinburgh Scotland half marathon at the end of May and then I think I'm hanging up my "event" running shoes for a bit. During the month of February, I was put in an immobility boot for my left Achilles tendon. An MRI showed that I had 3 micro-tears in it as well as some fluid build up. So this was the start of my decreased running. I have been back at pounding the pavement for about 2 weeks, I still have quite a bit of soreness and discomfort in my left Achilles so I am having to keep my distances relatively short and slow. In some ways it's frustrating, because running has helped me deal with a lot of stress in the last couple of years (wait til the school live part), but in others i was relieved because I really don't feel like I am achieving the running goals I would like. When I was told to wear an immobility boot, I was given the okay to swim and bike. So I rejoined my gym membership at TU to ride the stationary bike (yeah it's too cold to bike outside). I mentioned to Sue, a great OT who has helped me grow so much as a speech path, that I could bike and should train for the Oklahoma Freewheel. She became excited and said that she has always wanted to do the Freewheel, so we decided to start training with the Tulsa Bicycle Club on March 14th. I, of course did not go out today because of the slush on the roads..not a die hard biker yet. Sue and I are riding bikes on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays. At least that is the plan. Biking really is so much easier than running. So my overall physical health is getting by. I made a big decision on March 1st regarding my physical health. I have battled being overweight pretty much since hitting 13 years old. I work with several people who had done the HCG diet and had great success. I have debated it for a long time, but you really get to take in very few calories (500) a day. I was extremely worried about being able to keep up my running regime and doing this diet. Well, once I found myself in the immobility boot, I decided it was a sign and time to try to do something about my weight. So on March 1st, I got my first of 6 HCG/B-Compex infusions. I am 3 weeks in and have lost 21 pounds. Running is extremely fatiguing and getting more than 4 miles in is quite a task, but I am pleased with the weight loss. I have 3 more infusions to get and am hoping to lose a total of at least 30 pounds before it is said and done.

I am very excited that my life as a student will soon be over hopefully. I am scheduled to defend my dissertation on Wednesday, April 7 at 9AM. I really am in disbelief that the date is only 2 1/2 weeks away. I have sent my final draft of my dissertation to my mentor for one last review before sending it out to my other 4 dissertation committee members. My actual defense is marked out for 3 hours (I hear it's usually more like an hour and a half, but you never know). It is something that is open to the public. At this point in time, I am not too nervous about my presentation part. I think I am a decent presenter. I am a little nervous about the questions my committee members might ask. One thing I really hate, and really unnerves me is to feel stupid. I will do the best I can do and that is all I can do. It has taken me 6 years to reach this point. I have been a college student for 12 years...how ridiculous is that. The little known fact about me though is that as a college sophomore I was put on academic probation and actually released from my admission at the university. I have had to work very hard to get to where I am today. Many people think I have just coasted through my education, and every day has been a battle. I think one of my character strengths of perseverance will be demonstrated if I can pass this final test and become Dr. I am not one for labels so my students will still call me Sandra, but knowing that I have accomplished such a difficult feat, makes me feel proud.


My mental health has been a little unstable I guess you could say since the whole Greece marathon. I have several character flaws but some that pop up repeatedly. I have a very hard time processing things, especially big life events. Running my first marathon, and traveling overseas for the first time in 15 years, I think count as big life events. I guess I am still trying to figure out what happened to some of the "friendships" that existed before going there, but yet seemed to really get cracked while being there. I have been feeling quite a bit of heartache, but know that dealing with things you cannot change will help me to grow as a person. I have also had some excitement with finally having some time to do some improvements on the home I bought back in November. I have been able to paint my kitchen a bright blue and my living room a warm tan. I hope to be able to paint my hallway, bedroom and bathroom soon as well. It has helped me to feel like a true home owner a positive way. It also made for something great to do in this fun spring snow storm we have had this weekend. St. Patrick's day was a horrible day for me though. It's supposed to be a day of luck for the Irish and I am 1/2 Irish, but I guess the 1/2 English side took over. My dog Balto wound up gone after I left the house for 2 hours for a bike ride. I am 98% certain someone took him from my back yard. He is such a timid dog and cowers if someone yells or jumps at him. He is the 2nd dog to magically "diappear" out of my back yard, the first being Bobby and Susan's dog Kiwi after I left for Greece. It has made me completely paranoid about my dog Boca. The only comfort I have is that Boca will run from anyone who chases him, including me...and if he makes it in the house he will be safe. It is so terrible to have to live in fear of a dognapper. I honestly don't know how anyone deals with a kidnapping of their child. So it was a traumatic event for me, again I don't process things well all the time. I am very sad about his disappearance but I am smart enough to know that someone probably took him to sell him because they are desperate for money. The only thing that gives me any peace is that if someone pays money for him, then they will provide him a good home.

I am getting through each day one day at a time. I am trying to live and learn and move forward. It is extremely mentally difficult for me, but all I can do is try...