About me

People that touch our lives....when you least expect it....

On Saturday morning I had one of the most special experiences of my career. I was working with my lovely bride Amber, who is just the sweetest girl....we had great conversation about our lives, about our relationships, my children, my husband, her family dynamics etc.....It was one of those weddings and appts where I felt uplifted and inspired to be better and try harder.

When I went to leave she told me she had something for me.  It was already enough that she even got me ANYthing....I think I needed to remind her that SHE was paying ME to be there....what a sweet sweet girl..... I felt bad she had done this for me b/c it was completely unneccesary.

 HOWEVER, when I opened it, I was shocked and humbled to see what she had done.

She had a necklace made for me with the names: Steve, Nicole, Megan and Erika on it. plus another little charm that says "wedding angel".

I immediately started to BAWL. I have been wanting a charm necklace with my families names on it for about 2yrs now. I never told her this...it wasn't part of our conversation....in fact she said "you don't have one already do you? " ....
so there we are, both crying and I just felt SO special and loved....by this woman who I have met once previous to this day....
How did she feel inspired to get me THIS? this one gift that would mean SO much to me. It was  a perfect reminder of the importance of my family in my life and one that I really needed about now.

I feel like God used her as a tool to touch my life. She probably doesn't know that but I felt His love as well as hers that morning. I heard his voice whipser to me in that moment  

" See, I haven't forgotten you. I know you. I know what your challenges are and I will go to great lengths to remind you of my love. Hang in there". 

 It is an experience I will never forget. 

Here is Amber and I...
you can tell I was just bawling my eyes out!
Such a sweet sweet girl:) 

 "Steve" and "Wedding Angel"
 she stocked my personal facebook page to make sure she spelled 
the girls names right. 
no one EVER spells Erika's name right. SO special to me.

I call experiences like this Tender Mercies. Here is a GREAT TALK about this: 

What do all those miles give back to ME?

I just sort of feel like writing tonight....which lets be honest doesn't happen often. I have a hard time sitting down and taking TIME to process my thoughts. I think it's one aspect of my struggle with ADD. I think a million miles a minute and can't really type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts so by the time i try to type it out, I've forgotten what I wanted to say and then am on to another thought already. 
I write most of my BEST blogs at midnight. In my bed. with the lights out. no paper or keyboard insight. 
wish I could Share THOSE blogs with you. sigh. 

anyway, last night was  a hill workout with Team Athena. It sucked. My legs were so fatigued from saturday still that the "uphill" recovery about killed me....I got slower and slower with each rep, but I did it b/c I know it will count for something come race day, whenever that is. I finished the workout almost last but I didn't care. I take my recoveries SLOW and my reps as hard and fast as I can. 

John shared with me recently that for 5K training you want to approach your reps different than if you're training for longer distances. 
For example, he said that If you're doing reps, whatever they may be, you want to FULLY recover before hitting the next one. You WANT to be able to run them as HARD as you can b/c that leg turn over is very beneficial for getting faster at 5k's. This excited me because
 1) I like to run FAST for SHORT distances and 
2) I Like to FULLY recover between:) yes, I'm lazy. 

I am really excited to train for 5K's....I put a bunch on my calendar for the fall. My LOFTY goal is to break 19min before 2013, but I get the feeling a more realistic goal is to break 19:30 in that time period, but what's a goal and a dream if it's not just slightly out of reach right?:) I am a dreamer. I've said that before. I like to go for things that seem a bit too hard to achieve. I just want to see a 18. I don't care if it's 18:59, I just want to see it. and if I can do that....then I want to see a 17, but that's years from now so we'll stick with 19-19:30 and go from there afterward. 

My mom told me tonight that she's noticed a big change in me the last 2 yrs since i started running. It was interesting to have someone else notice this and got me reflecting on HOW has running changed me. 

Here's what I came up with: 

1. I think I have less depression and anxiety b/c I have an outlet and more natural endorphins coming into my life almost daily. 
2. I think I'm a more patient mother and wife b/c i am feeding my own soul with something I love.
3. I am happier. enough said.
4. I have found what it is to DREAM again. 
5. I have become even more goal oriented than I was before
6. I feel more confident about who i am
7. I have met friends who share the same love and passion as me and THAT has helped me in so many ways b/c I have people who i connect with and who GET me. such a treasure. priceless really.
8. I have found an avenue to motivate and inspire through this running blog....I'm sure it's not many, but I know I inspire some. 
9. I have found MUCH better health. before I was just skinny-fat...now I'm actually HEALTHY and FIT.
10. ** I have learned through injury and struggle how to cope with MAJOR disappointment and how to support and Love friends through their great accomplishments in spite of my disappointments. I think it has helped me become a more loving and selfless friend.

These are just a few of the things I came up with immediately. Running is a gift that I wish more people around me could experience. I know it's not for everyone but I think there are many out there that WOULD find joy in it if they tried it. 

Sarah and I were talking tonight about our "gut" feelings and how they often lead us on the right path. I often think that those "gut" feelings are actually the whisperings from our Heavenly Father. 

For years and years I had whisperings that I should be a runner. I am so glad I finally listened. I'm Sure the Lord didn't want me to start running b/c he wants me to run a 18min 5K or a sub 3hr marathon, but i'm SURE He knew ME and knew that Running would bless my life in all the ways listed above

So whatever your gut is telling you now...or has been telling you for years...LISTEN.  If you have a dream you've always wanted to pursue. Go for it. Don't hold back. Don't be afraid of failure...chase a dream......
the joy isn't IN the end result anyway....it's in all the steps along the way that you have to take to try to get there. Someone bigger than  you knows you better than you do. Follow your heart. 

Push PAST "Quit", I want you to hit "FAILURE!"

These are the wise motivating words of My friend Sarah. I hear these words often in spin class.
let me explain.

  Sarah knows that the mind will tell us to quit before the body hits it's failure. Do we listen to our mind as our body's are screaming and our mind is saying "Stop, rest, Quit!" OR do we keep going, pushing past that mental block until our body's (or my legs and lungs in last nights experience), literally can't go any further and give out. 

I heard these words in my head last night. I had practiced in spin many times how to get to the point where everything in my body is yelling at me to QUIT and yet somehow find the emotion and the motivation to push PAST that physical pain! 
In her spin class, we sometimes go until our legs literally give out from underneath us and then we sit and flush (meaning, drop the gear to zero and just let our legs float, spinning quickly but with no resistance). Funny enough, the NAME of this workout is called "FAILURE", b/c sarah makes us go til our legs FAIL. Not our minds, but our LEGS. WE PUSH PAST QUIT. It's the one workout we all dread b/c we know it's gonna hurt. We hop up and push as hard as we can on as HIGH of agear as we can until our legs give out, then drop, count to 5 and hop up again...we do this for 4 minutes getting in as many "failures" as we can. IT SUCKS. 

For me my motivation to keep going when I hit this point in my races is the race itself. When I set a goal for myself I want to KNOW I did EVERYTHING to achieve it. I want to see the numbers on that clock that I've set a goal to see. I want to make MYSELF proud. 

I am So glad I have learned these skills and was able to use them last night.

My goal for this 5K, only 10 days after my first one on July 4 was to break 21min (6:45pace). My pace for the 5K I did  on July 4 was 6:48....it would have put me at a 21:07 if the course had been accurate.

The race started at 7:00pm and it was 80 degrees and muggy. ugh.

I told myself that the sub 21 might not happen on this course and in this heat but I would try my best and have FUN!

I planned to run this race with consistent splits of 6:45, 6:45 and then whatever I had left for the last mile..but the first part of the course is a gradual downward and then into a gradual incline so I went with the downward incline hoping to bank time for the incline.. People say this course is flat but it's not. Its a bit of everything..some flat...some incline and some decline. def much harder than my pancake flat course from 10 days ago.
First mile was 6:29.

My first reaction was honestly "Oh Crap.that was WAY too fast. The next 2 miles are going to SUCK!". I knew  I couldn't keep up that pace. I tried as hard as I could to run the tangents and get done as quickly as I could. when I hit that first incline I was already in pain.

By mile 2, I was hurting. Becky was behind me but moved infront and was trying to say encouraging things but I was so focused I couldn't respond....oh and my lungs were burning and i felt like I couldn't breath. that might have been part of it too. I remember saying a few times "I can't keep this pace, I can't breath" and Becky just kept saying "yes you can Nicole! use those sprinters legs!" she is so sweet.

Mile 2 6:48 (dying!)

I think it was about Mile 2.5-2.75 that I hit MY QUIT! EVERYTHING in my body and mind said "STOP. WALK. You CAN"T DO THIS NICOLE! YOU ARE NOT IN SHAPE FOR THIS!"

but I responded with "Push past Quit. Go until you hit failure Nicole!". My legs were still moving and I knew if I could just hold on a little longer. For just 4 more minutes out of my life, i would break 21minutes. I felt like I was running a 5min mile effort wise. It hurt. It hurt so bad. My legs were numb. My lungs could NOT get in enough oxygen. I said to myself "Just keep moving. If you JUST don't stop, you will do this. It's YOUR Choice. What do you want? are you a quitter? or do you fight through pain? do you push past Quit?!
Mile 3: 6:46

the last 200meters felt like I was dying lol. I'm not kidding. this was the hardest 5K I've ever run.

Last bit: 6:16

Official chip time: 20:30 
6:36 pace!
Certified course.

This is NOT my fastest 5K, but I honestly think I am more proud of this one than any other! I ran this time off of 12miles a week the last 2 weeks and only 12-18 miles the 3 before that which was preceded by 2mos off. SOOOOOOOOOOOO.....I AM HAPPY! I feel amazing and I am excited to see what these legs can do with some training and more mileage.

what I have learned:

My body likes lower mileage. obviously.
My legs like rest.
5K training is going to fit into my life alot better than marathon training.

B/c I can only run 40-50 miles a week I have decided to give short distance a shot and plan to spend the next year or two focusing on the 5K and maybe even shorter. i hope to get into some open track meets next spring.

sarah and I before the race
Becky and I before the race

 Meters before the finish

  gun time was 20:36 b/c it took us 6seconds to cross the start line

I dont' know if you can see how glazed my eyes are, but I had to sit for 5minutes b/c I was so dizzy and thought I was going to pass out. My entire body was covered in sweat. it was DISGUSTING. 

"All things in moderation"....how this never seems to apply to me....

I have  used this phrase many times when counselling with others but for some reason, moderation and Nicole don't ever seem to find themselves in the same sentence. well, except that last one.

After my 5K last week, I was so stinkin' excited I decided to try my first track workout on Tuesday with Team Athena:)
I also went back to spin that SAME morning after 4wks off. Bright idea? probably not. When you're only  a few weeks back from injury and only running about 15-18 miles a week, doubling up  a really HARD spin day, that leaves your legs feeling like jello and your stomach ready to puke, with your first track workout in 3.5 mos, is probably NOT  a good idea.

HOWEVER, I did survive.
When Tiff and I arrived at the workout, we did the warm up ( it was HOT...80's I think, which is hot for portland) and we were both laughing at what whiners we were. Our legs were so tired from spin that morning. I was seriously questioning what I was THINKING showing up for this.
BUT, again me and moderation. well you know.....so I started with the intention  of running as slow as I could get away wtih for my repeats but I can't control my desire and urge to push in everything I do. I seriously think this is a mental health issue lol. if I don't then I think I feel like the workout was a waste of time. Does anyone else do this? I'm such a dummy.

Anyway..I'm workin' on it, I don't need a lecture.
I know ,I know, I know. Slow down, don't hurt yourself, take it easy...I've heard them all, but when it comes down to it, I'm just gonna do what I'm gonna do. I'm listening ot my body and the last 2wks I've only run 2-3 times for the whole week:)

So the workout was 2 x 800m, 2 x 600m, 2 x 400m.
The option to repeat that again was there but most didn't b/c it was too hot and I didn't b/c that woudl be REALLY dumb. Even dumber than doing track the same day as spin right now.

I was really surprised and  happy with how I was able to run these
800's: 3:12, 3:09
600's: 2:17, 2:19
400's: 1:27, 1:29

Those weren't THAT far off what I was running a few months ago, mind you I was doing alot more of them but this made me HAPPY! I don't think I've lost as much speed as I have endurance.
I finished with a cool down with one of the TA girls and headed on my way.

Then the next day, yesterday, Wednesday I took the girls to a  community track meet:)!! we love these ! they are free and the girls LOVE them!

The girls raced.....Erika won her 100m Dash (barefoot-LOL) and you should have seen the look on her face!! Mouth wide open, ECSTATIC that she was actually winning, LOL...well hear look for yourself.
Cutest. Thing. Ever.
She was going so fast, I couldn't get in front of her but you can still see her very excited face! ha ha

I decided not to run any of the races b/c I had such a heavy load the day before with spin and track but Becky told me I was on their 4 x 400M relay team so I decided that would be fine. 

In the last 2yrs that I have been training, I have never ran a 400m all out b/c I'm always doing repeats and you have to pace yourself. I felt bad being the last to run b/c I felt like I would be so slow. I didn't think I would run it faster than the 1:27 from the day before but when Rick passed me the baton, I took off and it seriously felt incredible. I knew I had nothing else to run so I just decided to give it a go. I glanced at my watch at the 300m mark to see 50 seconds flat and I knew this was going to be the fastest 400 I had run......


Now I know to MANY of you reading this, this is NOTHING, But to me, who has been off for a few months and have never run anything faster than a 1:26 in my adult life, this was shocking. This 1:13 was more than a number. This 1:13 meant I have potential. Lots of it.
I know I have been told the last few years from many experienced runners that I am a 800 and 1500m runner but I never really took anyone seriously. I know I have really fast leg turnover,...it just really got me to thinking what could i do when I'm actually in SHAPE! and training!!!
anyway, i have decided to finally listen and focus on shorter distance for a while. I really think with dedication to the 5K I can do really well in that distance.  It might take 2yrs but it will be a fun journey:)
Here's me coming in the last 50m....

Here are some more awesome pics of the girls from the meet last night:

Erika posing with her baton at the start of the 4 x 400m relay (this kids a HAM!)
 Megan bringing home the anchor!
Erika and Amanda's little girl

Meg and Amanda's oldest (aka: Mini Nicole and Mini Amanda) showing off their ribbons. so cute. 

all 4 girls together

me with my baby after her 100m dash. So proud of that little speedster!
Bex and I:) Check out her blog, she's a speedster:) 
ran a modest 2:34 800m last night....

and of course Mandy and I:) xx

****Saturday I'm running the Bowerman 5k. Just want to run an ACCURATE 5K and try to get under 21. I wish I could race every weekend....it's really where my heart is. 
I'll let ya know how it goes:)

5K Race Recap!!!

I am still feeling like a MILLION Bucks!! I'm back!!!
Well, not really but Back enough that I just ran a 5K at 6:48 pace yesterday!!!! 
and that makes me SMILE:):):)

QUICK RECAP of the last few months before I share my thoughts: 

-9 weeks off after my Pre-Boston stress fracture. 
-3wks of introductory running: mostly 3 and 4 milers the last 2.5wks (about 15-18 miles the last 2wks) and 2 5 milers and 1 6miler:)
-Nothing fast. just easy peasy....trying to slowly build up. 

I was a bit unsure about racing a 5K only 3 wks back but I knew I wanted SOMETHING to do and I knew I wouldn't run it for "fun"...meaning I wouldnt' treat it as a leisurely jog. It's just not me.

I decided I would use it as a "Bench Mark" race after getting good advice off the Team Athena Board....a great time to do it since its so early back into running to see where my fitness level is at and then measure my progress ovrt the next few months against it. 

For the first time in my running life, I went into this with NO IDEA what I was capable of. I was pretty sure I would not be able to hold  a 7min pace for 3 miles b/c I havne't done that for 3mos and I remember how last year at Hood To coast after 4wks back i couldn't even keep up with Melody for a quarter mile at 6:30 pace. 

HOWEVER, I decided that whether it was a 24min 5K or a 22min 5K I would KNOW where I was at and that that was a great start and I would be HAPPY about it no matter what!! I am GRATEFUL to be running no matter how slow I am right now.

I didnt' have any nervousness at the start line b/c I had no expectations of myself except to:
-run smart, 
-not go out too fast 
-and finish strong....
Oh and ot PUSH as hard as I could without pushing to the point of potentially injuring myself:)

So the countdown started at 10 and we were OFF!! about a tenth of a mile in I looked and was at 6:30pace so I KNEW I had to slow a bit...I slowed down to 6:50pace and that  felt GREAT.

I was actually saying to myself " Why does this feel so easy?? must be ADRENALINE....I forgot about that.....I LOVE RACE DAY ADRENALINE!"....

I could have gone faster but knew I wouldnt' be able to hold it so decided to keep it at  apace that was comfortably challenging for as long as I could and then see what happens. 
Mile 1 6:51 (pleasantly surprised)
Mile 2 6:50 ( consistent but knew I wanted a bit faster)
I was still wasn't dying after mile 2 so decided I could pick it up...see what I could do without killing myself...

Saw my husband with a quarter mile to go and smiled for the camera:):)
..(I was starting to feel a bit yucky in my stomach b/c i hadn't eaten)

I focussed on leg turn over and noticed I was between the 6:30's and 6:40's this whole mile which felt GREAT!!! My inner commentary was positive " This is Great Nicole! you're not as out of shape as you thought!! those spin classes for 4 wks are paying off!. Good job!" 
I always try to focus on positive self talk during races and if I need to yell at myself in my head I will..but this wasn't that kind of race:)
Mile 3: 6:40 (VERY happy I ran this race progressively. That tells me I ran it smart.)
Final time on Short course: 19:56

When I came in and the clock said 19:56 I was stunned....BUT don't worry...the course was SHORT! 
2.95miles. I mean REALLY short!!

My overall pace was 6:48 which would give me a 21:07 on the track...I was picking it up at the end though and may have been able to come close to getting under 21 if not really close to the 21 min mark. 

I was VERY PLEASED and surprised. 

I think I can get back down under 20 in about 2-3mos time:) and hopefully get in the low 19's before the years out. 

here are some pictures from the day


Beautiful Becky on her way back!! that chick is FAST!