75 Miles….What That Looked Like

Last weekend, I showed up at the start line of the 100 mile race that I signed up for last January. Honestly, I had no right to be there. Having dealt with health issues most of the summer, my training was laughable. Most 100 mile training plans call for upwards of 60 miles a week minimum, and multiple marathon distance training runs. My longest training run was 10 miles. To put this in perspective, that would be like signing up for a 26.2 mile marathon and having a 2.6 mile run be your longest training run. Ummmmm….ya. Not prepared is an understatement.

But, my health symptoms had mostly subsided, so I decided I might as well give it a go and see what I was capable of. I figured I wouldn’t tell many people about it, so that I didn’t feel the stress of living up to anyone’s expectations but my own.

Luckily, my good friend, LeighAnn, had also signed up for the race (it was actually her idea that I was joining in on).

LeighAnn and I at our campsite before the race started.
Words of motivation.
If only it would have stayed this comfortable ūüėČ

She was MUCH more prepared with the logistics and that pretty much saved me. I was able to borrow a couple of her pacers and that made all the difference!

The course was a 16.6 mile loop through mostly root and rock covered single track trails with a few miles of dirt roads and packed limestone mixed in. The race began at 4:00 PM on Friday, and we had until 10:00 PM on Saturday to finish. That’s a 30 hour cutoff. For the first two loops, you’re not allowed to have a pacer run with you. For the last 4 loops, you’re allowed to have someone run with you that is not in the race.

LeighAnn and I ran together for the first 2 loops. We probably ran a little bit faster than we should have, but it was fun and there was a lot of excitement as we ran off our nervousness. However, by the end of the very first loop, I felt nauseous. And, at the beginning of the second loop, I told LeighAnn that I was probably just going to do the 100K, instead of trying for the full 100 miles. Dropping down to the 100K is an option that you have, and you can still get a medal if you stop at that distance. I just felt sick and I couldn’t imagine running 5 more loops.

But, by the end of the second loop, I was feeling so much better. My friend Stephanie graciously offered to pace me for this night loop (about 12:30AM-5:00AM). Originally she was only going to run the first half of the loop with me because she was going to be pacing LeighAnn for her 6th loop. BUT, she’s an awesome friend and decided to stick with me for the entire 16.6 miles!! And honestly, they were probably my best miles of the race. Which is completely crazy because that put me at 50 miles, and it was pitch black the entire time…

By the time I began my 4th loop, I was pretty stinkin’ tired. My sister, Rondi, was my pacer for that loop. I also told her pretty early on that I was just going to do the 100K (62 miles). I reasoned that I had never done a 100K race and I would be really proud to make it that far with such a minimal amount of training. She was kind and allowed me to own that decision as long as I wouldn’t regret it. I assured her that I wouldn’t, but then we got to the point where the 100K runners went one way (a short cut) and the 100 milers went the other, and I just couldn’t bring myself to follow the path of the 100K runners.

The sun FINALLY came up! And there was light again!

So, I continued on. I decided that I had a little bit of gas left in the tank and I wouldn’t feel proud of myself unless I left it all out there. In my mind, I decided I would just take it one aid station at a time, and get as far as I could.

For loop 5, my friend Mike was my pacer. I was terrified to have Mike as my pacer because he is a very experienced ultra runner, and I knew he had no intention of letting me quit on his watch.

When we reached the first aid station of loop 5, at mile 71, I was spent. My legs weren’t quite working right anymore and I was in a lot of pain. My parents were at that aid station and I remember barely being able to muster up a smile for them.

Mile 71. I’m pretend smiling for my Mom to take a picture. Mike is grabbing food and checking his watch…

As soon as we walked out of that aid station, the tears began to flow. They were silent tears, and I wasn’t ready to say it out loud, but I was done. 29 miles from being a 100 mile finisher, and I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Everything hurt, and my body just didn’t have that much left to give.

I shuffled and walked through the next 4.5 miles very slowly. At some point of that I did tell Mike that I was quitting at the next aid station. He was not okay with that, and I didn’t want to argue, so I didn’t talk about it much. He kept encouraging me to pick up my pace, and he was saying I was doing an awesome job, and overall, just being a great pacer. But I had already made up my mind.

So, when we got to the aid station at mile 75.5, I went to the bathroom, took forever, came out and declared that he needed to call my sister to come get me because I wasn’t going anywhere. Mike’s response was to throw a cup of water in my face and tell me that I wasn’t quitting. I responded by sobbing uncontrollably, sitting down in a chair, and reiterating that I wasn’t continuing. This argument lasted quite a while. I was ugly crying the entire time, aid station volunteers joined in to try and convince me to continue, and finally, Mike grabbed me by the arm and yanked me out of the chair.

I walked very slowly down the path that I knew would hit a road crossing in about 1/4 mile where my sister could pick me up. I told Mike I was only moving forward until we got to the road, at which point I would be sitting down and not moving until Rondi came to pick me up. And, that’s what I did. There was a lot more crying in there, but eventually Mike called my sister. He actually only called her because he thought she would be able to get me moving again. But, I don’t think there was anyone who could have done that. Mentally, I was done. I honestly hadn’t thought I could even get that far. So to try and convince my mind to keep going was useless. And physically, my body was absolutely done. Eight days later, and my feet, knees, and hips still ache. I’m thinking that’s partially due to my thyroid still mending and my inflammation markers being high….but still! That kind of distance take a serious toll on the body!

Mike and lots of strangers told me that I would regret giving up at that point in the race. They said I wouldn’t forgive myself for quitting. But, I can say proudly that I don’t regret it. For me, on that day, that was what I had to give. 75.5 miles. 20+ hours. I’m stinkin’ proud of that. No medal. No belt buckle. Just the knowledge that I left it all out there. And, the desire to get healthy, train properly, and go out and do it the right way eventually!

Thank you SO MUCH to Leigh Ann who was brave enough to sign up for this race (and she finished it because she’s an absolute bad a$$!). Thank you to Rondi, Mike, and Stephanie for pacing me. Thank you to Sarah for helping take care of me after the race. Thank you to Elizabeth for being there and supporting LA and I. And thank you to my parents for being there, showing your unending support, and bringing TimBits!!! I learned SO MUCH from this experience, and probably the biggest lesson was that it seriously takes a tribe of amazing supporters to reach that kind of goal.

Race crew after LeighAnn finished 100 miles! Missing Rondi and Elizabeth…

“Set a goal so big, you can’t achieve it until you grow into the person who can.” – Anonymous

Dream big. Work hard.

-Kendra

Total miles run by our crew:

Sarah = 16.6 miles

Elizabeth = 16.6 miles

Rondi = 16.6 miles

Mike = 25.1 miles

Stephanie = 33.2 miles

Kendra = 75.5 miles

Leigh Ann = 100 MILES!!

Total = 285.6 stinkin’ miles run by an amazing tribe

I Don’t Want to Talk About It

My sister and I were supposed to run a 50K in West Virginia yesterday. It was going to be state number 7 on our way to running a marathon or more in all 50 states.

Rondi and I at the finish line of our Indiana marathon in November, 2016. State #5.

But, that didn’t happen.

Why it didn’t happen is something that I really haven’t wanted to talk about. And, honestly, I still don’t want to talk about it. But, I’ve decided that it’s something worth sharing, so here goes.

On Wednesday, June 28 I woke up with a REALLY bad headache. And every day after that for about 2.5 weeks I woke up with the same, miserable headache. Beginning on July 5, that morning headache was accompanied with body aches that started every evening around dinner time, and night sweats in the middle of the night. And to top this all off, every run I went on felt like I was going to die. No matter how slow I ran, I couldn’t catch my breathe, and my muscles hurt all day, as if I had never run in my entire life. I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep throat…. Odd.

The antibiotics began to work on day 5 (the last day of the prescription). But, just 3 days later, my symptoms came back. Plus some other weird symptoms. So, I returned to the doctor. He decided to order some blood work, which came back showing elevated inflammation, anemia, and hyperthyroidism.

Back to the doctor I went. He discussed my results with me, referred me to an endocrinologist, and wrote me a script for a thyroid ultrasound and an EGD (scope of my throat, esophagus, and upper digestive tract).  I went in for my thyroid ultrasound a couple days later and was notified that they found a 2.7 cm (just over 1 in) nodule on my thyroid.

I called the endocrinologist and was able to fast track my appointment with her, which was originally scheduled for August 29th, to August 2nd. At that appointment I was told that my body “is producing waaayyyy too much thyroid hormone” and that I have a “rather large nodule”, and the only way to diagnosis what is causing this is to have a test called a 24 hour thyroid uptake scan. That’s happening August 9th and 10th. Then, I will go back to the endocrinologist on August 14th to find out if I have an autoimmune disease, just an out of whack thyroid, or a cancerous nodule causing me grief. My scope to try and figure out why I’m so anemic is happening August 8th.

In the meantime, I’m left with a hyperactive thyroid that is leaving me a hot mess. My symptoms began with headaches and body aches that were pretty rough. Then came the exhaustion. I was sleeping nearly 9 hours a night and still needing to lay down and close my eyes for a bit each afternoon. Next was the muscle weakness (and dropping things…). Thrown in that mix was a frequent racing heartbeat. And finally, full blown anxiety. Some days I only have one or two of those symptoms, and others, I have them all.

I always thought that body aches and pain were worse than high anxiety, but now that I have been living with both of those things, I can say without a doubt that I would take body aches over anxiety every day of the week. I’ve had a few days of the kind of anxiety that almost leave you debilitated. Where you feel nauseous for no reason other than the fact that you’re on edge. And you really don’t want to see anyone. And you definitely don’t want to talk to anyone about what you’re going through. And when you do decide to speak briefly with someone about it, you’re left a sobbing mess. And even though you know you’re having anxiety because your body is messed up and your hormones are off, that information is useless in controlling your racing heart and crazy emotions.

And that is what I don’t want to talk about. I don’t want people to know I’m having a hard time. But, can I tell you how exhausting it is to constantly be feeling this way and always be pretending that I’m just fine?! That everything is just great! It’s exhausting. And I’m over it. (At least for a minute while I spill my guts via this blog…)

I feel like there have to be more people out there going through this, or something like it, that also don’t want to talk about it. And that’s why I decided to talk about it for a minute. Because it sucks to feel like you’re alone and you’re the only one having a hard time. So I just wanted to let you know that I’m right there with you. And…this too shall pass.

Right? Right.

-Kendra

Fear is Paralyzing

Lately I’ve been really struggling with motivation. I think that happens to me at the beginning of every Summer break. Finally, the hustle and bustle of the crazy spring sports schedules is over. School is out. And there’s time to just be still and do fun things that are not linked to any kind of responsibility. It’s pretty great.

But, at the same time, it is a BIG change that leaves me literally not wanting to do ANYTHING that a responsible adult should be doing. Laundry is just sitting there, grocery shopping isn’t done, the house is a mess, and my early morning workout alarm is nonexistent. It’s not that I keep hitting snooze; it’s that I am actually not even setting it anymore. Instead, I’ve left my runs to be squeezed in whenever it’s convenient throughout the day. And sometimes, it’s just not convenient at all. And therefore, not happening. Or it’s happening, but the runs are short and sweet. And although I love short and sweet, that’s not the kind of runs that are going to get me across the finish line at a 100 mile ultra marathon in September. (Insert terrified face.)

This week I had decided that it was my week to really amp up my training and get my butt in gear. And, overall I did that. There were a couple of brick workouts (mountain bike ride, followed by a trail run) and two longish runs of 13.1 miles and 10 miles with only one day in between, and not a rest day either, but a nearly two hour brick workout on the day in the middle. Finally, I felt like I was ready to face the reality of what I’m preparing for.

Quick break on one of my mountain bike rides this week.
Trail run on some of my favorite trails in Michigan.

But really….I’m not.

Yesterday my husband started asking me a bunch of questions about the race, and it hit me that I really didn’t know the answers. Granted, I’ve never been an overly anal person that studies course maps, aid station fuels, elevation gains, and all of that. But, generally when I’m taking on a new challenge, I do look into things a bit more. And I’m thinking I should have been able to answer the questions like….what’s the time cut off? When can you have a pacer? How long does it generally take people to finish? How do you think you’re going to run for 24 hours straight when you’ve never even stayed awake that long? ….. Yikes.

So, this morning, I took a deep breath and went to the race website to see if I could find the answers to any of these questions. The first thing I decided to click on was a link to the elevation profile. I don’t know why I chose that as my starting point, I mean, I ran a 50 mile race on the same course a few years ago. But, that’s where I started. This is what I found.

This is the elevation profile of one 16.6 mile loop. I will be running this loop 6 times.

And immediately, I was in tears.

That’s when it hit me that the reason I’ve been so incredibly unmotivated to train for this race is that I’m absolutely terrified of this race. And that fear has left me paralyzed. Instead of it pushing me to work my butt off, it has left me scared to even take the first step towards doing all of the work that needs to be done to prepare.

One of the things I do to stay motivated is that I follow people on Instagram that have similar goals and I listen to podcasts and read blogs of like-minded people. Over the last couple of months, one of the women that I follow on Instagram, who is a big ultra runner and has finished multiple 100 mile ultras, DNF’d (Did Not Finish) her latest 100 mile attempt. Another Instagram inspiration of mine DNF’d a 100 mile attempt a few months ago, but came back and finished her first 100 miler at the beginning of the month. Her blog detailing the event was cringe-worthy, explaining how the chaffing in her lady parts was so bad that she was bleeding through her pants and it was visible to not only her, but everyone around her.

Ummmm…really though…what am I doing?!

I also looked into the previous female finishers times for this ultra, as well as the cut off time. For my 50 miler on that same course, I had a finishing time of 10 hours, 33 minutes. I know that just doubling the time isn’t realistic, so I was thinking that maybe 24-26 hours was a reasonable estimation. When I told this to my husband, he couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t be able to finish in less than 24 hours. So, I looked up the times. The cut off is 30 hours (phew) and last year, the first place female finisher finished in 22 hours, 14 minutes. Second place was 24 hours, 32 minutes. Twenty-seven women started the race, and eighteen finished it.

To sum it all up. I’m scared. Reeeeeeally scared. But, it’s time to stop letting that fear leave me frozen. It’s time to run all the miles and do all the work because you better believe I’m showing up at that start line and I’ll be doing everything I can to make it to that finish line!

“Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the ability to act in the presence of fear.” – Bruce Lee

Yup. That’s just it. We all need to realize that it’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to be paralyzed briefly. ¬†But then, we must move past it because there are goals to reach and dreams to be chased!

-Kendra

Keeping It Real

It is truly amazing how many moms out there don’t lose their minds on a regular basis.

At my house, we are in full blown spring baseball season, and I am struggling. Big time. My little family of four currently has to be at baseball games on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights. We leave the house at 5:30 and don’t get home until about 9:00 pm. This is seriously rough. And to make it worse, my husband, Will, is coaching BOTH of their teams. So…there’s no slacking off with running late or not being on top of our game.

I feel like I am in a constant whirlwind where the days just roll into one another and every day looks the same. Rush to work, rush home to grab the kids off the bus, sort through backpacks, pack lunches, maybe throw in some laundry, make dinner, force feed it to everyone that’s home, sometimes manage to get the kitchen cleaned, shove everyone in the car, drive to baseball, cheer loud for a couple hours, drive home, hustle the kids off to bed, and use whatever minutes are left before I collapse into bed to pretend that I am¬†an adult who is free¬†to make the decisions about how I’m going to use my time each day.

It’s funny though, because the busier that I am, the more emphasis I put on making sure that I am getting some exercise in every day. Sometimes I’ve been squeezing in a two mile walk during my lunch break at work. Some days I’ve been running the 1/3 mile loop in my driveway/yard for 30 minutes between work and baseball while dinner is in the oven. Other days I’ve waited until the kids are in bed and I’ve done a late night strength workout. And sometimes, I do all three of those things on the same day.

A beautiful sky on my walk during lunch.
Running in my driveway between work and baseball.
After a late night strength workout.

Because for me, exercise is my therapy. So when I’m feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders and I feel like I can’t even catch my breathe, I NEED to move my body. Somehow, it’s my way of defiantly declaring that I AM in charge. I DO make my own decisions. And, sometimes I just need to choose endorphins over laundry or dishes or a clean house.

Because, as the meme says:

“Today’s Modern Woman: clean house, happy children, healthy dinner on the table, fit, trim, and well groomed, works full time, laundry done and put away…. PICK ANY TWO!”

Truth.

I know we all strive to achieve more than two of those things, but sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. And that’s okay. I say we should probably stick to doing the things that allow us to get through each day with a smile on our face and peace in our hearts.

Keep wearing those invisible capes!

-Kendra

***PS – now that you know this, please give me at least a 45 minute warning if you plan to stop over so that I can shove things in closets and make the house look presentable!

The Boston Marathon – Thank You

I have tried to write this post a few times now, but just haven’t been able to get it right. And I’m probably still not going to, but I’m going to give it a try.

Last week, I got to run the Boston Marathon.

Rondi and I picking up our packets. Yeah. We’re pretty excited.

And…Holy. Moly. It was everything I could have possibly dreamed it would be. And more. It was something I had worked so hard for, for so long, and it did not disappoint. Here’s a glimpse of our weekend in Boston.

During the few days leading up to the marathon, and the few days following the marathon, I was completely overwhelmed with love and support from friends and family near and far. I mean, over-the-top support. The kind of support that actually left me feeling completely unworthy.

Because, here’s the thing. I was out there literally living my dream. I was getting to do something that I honestly never thought I was going to get to do. And the only reason I was able to do that was because of everyone who loved and supported me on this journey.

When I attempted to earn a spot in that race the traditional way, by running¬†a fast enough qualifying time, I failed. More than once. So I worked at earning a charity spot. And there’s zero chance that I could have gotten that charity spot by myself. Angela (my honored hero for LLS) wrote me a letter of recommendation. Janet Harden (Michigan’s LLS Woman of the Year fundraiser) convinced the Michigan chapter representative for LLS to write me a letter of recommendation. And SO MANY people donated to my page long before I was even chosen to be a part of Team in Training and run Boston. All of those things ARE the reason I got to run across the finish line on Boylston Street last Monday.

Rondi and I crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

So, instead of me hearing how awesome I am and that I’m a rock star, what needs to be happening is that I need to be saying that to every single one of you that has shown me love and support. YOU are the reason I got to go live my dream out in Boston last week. I honestly can never thank you enough. Not only did you help me earn a spot in the race, but you blew my fundraising goal out of the stinking water!

Did I mention that I was absolutely terrified of the original $10,000 goal that I set for myself when I first applied to LLS? Yes. Terrified. That’s so much money. And yet, somehow I ended up with OVER $20,000 raised for CANCER RESEARCH! Unbelievable.

People have asked me how I was able to raise that much money. It’s a hard question to answer because it’s not like there was one big event that brought it all in. But, in the same way, it’s easy to answer. SO MANY PEOPLE SUPPORTED ME. That is the answer. I had a few amazing fundraisers that lots of people attended. I had my husband and his friend Erick volunteer to charter fishing trips. I had my friend, Adrienne, host a fundraiser. I had another friend, Kristen, whose company does matching funds and donates money on behalf of employees. Janet H and her “Mission: Is Possible” campaign were a huge support. My mom and her countless hours of work organizing the basketball fundraiser and making items for the bowling fundraiser. ¬†The company I work for (The Romine Group) and all of the principals of their schools that showed their support. Michelle did an online fundraiser early on to help get me started. The Nall’s, the Demings, and the Bedients who all wanted to get me to that $20,000 mark and made donations to make that happen! And SO MANY more. Every single one of you that shared my fundraising page, made a donation, came to a fundraiser, whatever it was, YOU are what made my dream come true. I know I’m leaving people out and I am so sorry. It’s nearly impossible to list all of you because the love just didn’t stop!

So, every time I think about the Boston Marathon and just how incredibly awesome it was, I can’t help but think about all of the people that got me there. You are the true rock stars.

So much love to all of you.

-Kendra

What We Carry

I’ve been somewhat addicted to a Netflix series over the last few months that is not my typical kind of show. It’s like watching a car wreck. You just stare at it and can’t look away. It’s awful and tragic and¬†sad and shocking.

I have finally come to the realization that I envy the lack of expectations that are set for these characters. If anything, the expectation is that they are going to mess up. They ALL screw up. Constantly. And hardly anyone cares. And if they do, forgiveness is quickly granted and everyone gets on with their lives. All of their garbage is laid out for everyone to see, and yet, life goes on.

For me, and for many people, that is not the case. The expectation is that we are going to do the right thing. Make the right choice. Be the bigger person… And, every time that we succeed at that, the expectations get higher and higher. And with bigger expectations comes a bigger fear of letting people down.

This is something I need to work on.

Often, I only want people to see the good stuff. Deep down I worry that if everyone knew about all of the imperfections in my life, they would be disappointed. And I really hate disappointing people.

The truth is that we all carry stuff around that we don’t want people to see. Whether it’s addiction, debt, unfaithfulness, eating disorders, OCD, loneliness, guilt, fear… Every single one of us carries something. We are not alone with our imperfections, and we’re certainly not the only ones trying to hide them.

But here’s the deal. We can carry that stuff around and still be pretty great people. I don’t have to show you all of my junk. You just need to know that it’s there.

Instead, I can keep showing you the good stuff.

My boys and I at Lake Huron looking for Petoskey stones.
Exploring some new trails in the fresh snow. The boys complained the WHOLE time ūüôā
I literally paid them both $1 to “cooperate” for this picture….
Family “run” that had more walk breaks than actual running time.
Hike with my boxer, Blu. Because sometimes I need a break from my people.

Yup. I definitely prefer sharing the good stuff.

-Kendra

***Sidenote: I’ve been reading the book¬†Present Over Perfect because a couple of friends recommended it to me (thanks, girls!) and I HIGHLY recommend it!

Why Isn’t It Enough?

I had one of those amazing runs today where you get lost in your thoughts and lose track of how many miles you’ve run and how many miles you have to go. One of the things that I spent a lot of time thinking about was my fundraising for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I was thinking about how it is kind of selfish that I’m not satisfied with having already met my original goal of raising $14,000, but instead feel like I won’t be happy unless I reach the $20,000 mark. And I kept asking myself why that was. Why isn’t $19,462 enough? That’s A LOT of money! And, I think I found an answer. But, in order to really explain it, I feel like I have to go alllllll the way back to the beginning and tell my whole story. So here goes…(Sorry, it’s a long one).

I ran my first marathon in Alaska in 2002. My goal for that marathon was to finish in under 5 hours. I did accomplish that goal, but it was unbelievably hard and defeating.

My sister, Rondi, me, and my best friend, Sara, after finishing Humpy’s Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska. August, 2002.

After that experience, I was too scared to run another marathon until 8 years later. 8 YEARS! Marathons are stinkin’ hard!

Once I got back into distance running, I realized that one thing I love about marathons is how much they make you stronger, mentally. For a while, my only goal for each of my races was to not feel like I wanted to quit, to enjoy the run, and to know that I would finish (all things that I did not experience in my first marathon). Speed was never my goal, and it was not something that I thought was realistic for me. I always envied the fast runners, but didn’t associate myself with that crowd. The Boston Marathon was a bucket list goal of mine that I hoped to reach when I was much older. I figured if I kept running marathons and maintained my pace, I’d eventually qualify for Boston when I was around 60 years old. (I’m serious.)

Finally, I had successfully finished enough marathons that I decided to aim a bit higher and try to break 4 hours. I didn’t really do any speed work for my training, but somehow, I managed to accomplish that goal on my first try¬†at the Lansing Marathon in 2014 with a time of 3 hours 58 minutes. This was a new personal record (PR) for me by about 20 minutes.

Crossing the finish line at the Lansing Marathon in 2014.

I was feeling confident, and devoted my next year of training to trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I would need to finish a marathon in under 3 hours 40 minutes (an average pace of 8:20/mile). Again, that would mean shaving 20 minutes off of my previous PR. I registered for the Bayshore Marathon and worked my butt off preparing for that race. Going into it, I didn’t feel like I absolutely knew I could do it. I felt like I didn’t have anything to lose. If I did it…AWESOME! If not, I was “young” and there was plenty of time to try again.

Well, after a tough race and a small mental breakdown around mile 21, I DID qualify for the Boston Marathon with a time of 3 hours 38 minutes.

Me after finishing the Bayshore Marathon in 2015 with an official Boston Qualifying time of 3 hours 38 mins.

Unfortunately, I learned in September that my qualifying time wasn’t fast enough that year. It’s a rolling entry, with spots filling up first with the fastest qualifiers and working through as many runners as possible until all spots are filled. I had missed a spot by 90 seconds. 90 SECONDS. I felt defeated, but not hopeless. I was bound and determined to train again and try for another BQ in 2016.

This time, my sister got the BQ bug and decided she wanted to train with me and shoot for Boston so that we could go together! Of course, I loved that idea, and we spent the next year following the same training plan and texting almost daily about our workouts (we live a couple hours apart, so we were virtual training buddies). It kept me motivated and I don’t think I have ever trained so hard to reach a goal.

So, when I kind of fell apart at that race and didn’t even come close to reaching my goal time, I was heartbroken. I had worked so hard, but my body did not cooperate. Rondi, on the other hand, earned her BQ and was heading to Boston in 2017.

My sister, Rondi, giving me some love after the Bayshore Marathon, May 2016.

Bound and determined to get to Boston with my sister, I started training for a September marathon to try and qualify one last time.

Unfortunately, I developed some health issues during my training and was struggling with hitting my times on my speed work and on my long runs. I would get severe stomach pains, followed by decreased energy, and an immediate need to use the bathroom, which always resulted in lots of blood in my stool (TMI…I’M SORRY!). This had been going on for quite some time, following/during all of my long runs and strenuous workouts. I finally went to a doctor about the issue, who referred me for a colonoscopy.

The results of the colonoscopy came back and I was given a diagnosis of ischemia, which happens when there is decreased blood flow to the digestive system, and as a result, the body sheds the outer lining of the colon. The doctor could not explain why this was happening so frequently though, and he said that it could possibly be treated by increasing the size of the opening of some blood vessel, but that more testing would need to be done to be sure. I wasn’t interested in that at all, and was happy to learn that my symptoms weren’t caused by a serious problem. However, the colonoscopy also showed that I had a precancerous polyp and I would need to come back every 3 years for routine colonoscopies. (NOTE: I’m only 36 years old!) That freaked me out more than my other issue! But I was assured there was nothing I could do to prevent it, and there was nothing I had done to cause it. So…I just kept training as planned, and kept having the same issues.

Needless to say, I didn’t qualify for the Boston Marathon on my next attempt either. Rondi and I ended up running/waddling/walking a lot of the race together and it was one of the hardest races I’ve ever done. But we finished and crossed another state off of our list (we are working on running a marathon in all 50 states)!

Rondi and I finishing the Erie Marathon in September 2016.

During that race, we came up with a plan to get us both to Boston in 2017. Rondi was going because of her qualifying time, and I decided I was going to apply for a charity spot. At the time, I had no idea that those were actually really hard to get. I kind of thought that if I applied for a bunch of them, I was sure to get one. I should have known better. There is nothing easy about running the Boston Marathon.

I ended up filling out a bunch of applications, only to hear back from one charity, the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. I had applied to LLS in honor of a co-worker, Angela, who is battling Leukemia. On the application, you have to put down a fundraising goal and a plan of how you are going to reach that dollar amount. I had never really done much fundraising, but I was pretty confident that if I didn’t put a goal of at least $10,000, I wasn’t going to be chosen. Long story short, after a phone interview, being wait listed, another phone interview, raising my goal to $14,000 (which I honestly didn’t think I could raise…) and lots of overly ambitious fundraising before even being chosen…I was finally chosen! Out of hundreds of applicants, and only 60 spots available for LLS, I was chosen.

And yet, I still didn’t feel that I had earned my right to run in the Boston Marathon. You see, for me, the Boston Marathon is a race for the fastest runners. That’s how you’re supposed to gain entry into the race. Be fast. That’s what I had dreamed about ever since I ran my first marathon in 2002, and that’s what I dedicated 2 years of my life training for and attempting, without success.

So, as I started my fundraising efforts, in the back of my mind I kept the thought that this wasn’t my “real” Boston Marathon. This was just my Boston Marathon when¬†I would get to cross the finish line with my sister. It wouldn’t really count as me running the Boston Marathon because I hadn’t gotten into the race the way you’re supposed to.

But, as my fundraising efforts have soared, I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, I HAVE earned my way into the Boston Marathon. And, selfishly, I feel that if I hit the $20,000 mark for my fundraising, I will know that I’ve accomplished something even bigger and better than running a qualifying time for the race. After all, of the 30,000 runners that earned their spot that way, I’m thinking that they all couldn’t have raised $20,000 for charity.

So, even though I do want to earn a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon some day, today I feel comfortable with how I earned my spot in the race. Today I know that I’ve made a bigger difference in the world by running with a charity spot than I ever would have made by running a marathon 90 seconds faster.

Here’s to dreaming big, working hard, and making a difference!

-Kendra

 

 

I Was Born in a Small Town

Not many people are familiar with the small town where I grew up. Often, when I describe it to people, I say that it’s in the middle of a corn field. Which, although not completely accurate, does paint a pretty good picture of the surrounding areas.

Growing up in St.Johns, Michigan, I experienced all of the annoyances of small town life. Everyone knows everyone. Which means that everyone is constantly in everyone else’s business. Secrets are hard to keep in small towns. And, like many people who grew up there, once I graduated high school, I was ready to¬†get out of there and go away to college.

Well, unlike my siblings, I went away for college and never moved back to St. Johns.

It wasn’t until I graduated college, found a job, got married, and settled into a new town, that my heart began to long for all of the things that I thought I hated about my little hometown. Every time I went to the grocery store or out to eat, I would look around for a familiar face. I was lonely, and missed my community where everyone knew who I was.

Fast forward 19 years (Eeeeeek!)….

I have finally settled into my new small town, but I am so incredibly thankful for the hometown where I was raised.

Last weekend, my mom, sister, and I held a St. Johns High School alumni basketball game fundraiser for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, for my Boston Marathon Team in Training page. We advertised for the event on Facebook, recruited as many people as we could to play, my mom asked the middle school dance team to perform, and she wrote an article about the event for our local newspaper. But still, I felt really anxious about what kind of a turnout we would have for the event.

The morning of the game I posted one last update on Facebook asking who would be there….not many people responded. I honestly felt a little sick with worry that the stands would be empty and all of the players that committed to playing wouldn’t show up.

I should have known better. Small towns are loyal to their own. And, even though I haven’t lived in that small town for 19 years, most of my family does still live there, and it will always be my hometown.

The turnout was absolutely overwhelming. Everything came together perfectly, from my brother singing the National Anthem, to plenty of players showing up and each team having a coach, to the refs, the score table, the dance team….ALL OF IT! It was such a fun night.

My amazing mom, the SJHS Athletic Director Chris Ervin, (who was a HUGE part of making this happen), and his son Austin, working the score table.
The women’s alumni game participants and coaches.
The men’s alumni game participants and coaches.
My sisters, Tanna on the left, and Rondi on the right.
The bench during halftime entertainment.
The SJMS dance team performing at half time of the women’s game.

Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined this fundraiser going any better. With the support of my hometown, we raised over $2300 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society! My heart is bursting with pride from bring from the small town of St. Johns, MI. The love I felt during that fundraiser is hard to match.

Thank you to everyone that was a part of such a special event. I am truly humbled and overwhelmed by the support.

Proud of my small town.

-Kendra

It Feels Good

This morning, as I was about to walk out the door for work, I got a text message saying that the school where I teach didn’t have power. No power. No school.

It honestly felt like a Christmas miracle, in March.

I quickly began to make a mental list of all of the tasks I could accomplish after the boys left for school. Instantly, the list in my head grew longer than the hours in the day, so I prioritized what was most important to me, sent out a couple text messages, and made a plan that looked something like this:

  1. Grocery shop for lasagna ingredients to take make and deliver dinner to a friend who “just” had a baby (4 weeks ago…) and get ingredients for an appetizer for an LLS fundraiser that a friend is hosting for me on Friday.
  2. Run 8 miles and do the strength workout I skipped yesterday.
  3. Make the lasagna and maybe some cookies.
  4. Visit my friend and her sweet new baby girl.
  5. Pick boys up from school.

At 7:45, just as my husband was heading out the door to take my boys to school, he said, “I have some errands I need you to run for me today.”

Siiiiiiiigh.

I was instantly annoyed. I didn’t have time to get all of MY stuff done, let alone his stuff too! But I listened to the list of things he needed me to do, and grumbled an “okay”, while inwardly growing more frustrated.

By 8:15, I was out the door and on my way to the grocery store. And of course, as soon as I started to drive away, my “CHANGE ENGINE OIL” alert reminded me that I’ve been overdo for an oil change for about 2 weeks. DANG IT! I absolutely loathe getting my oil changed. It always takes SO long and just seems like a huge waste of time. But, I knew it had to be done, so I headed there first.

Upon arriving, I was told it would be about 45 minutes before my car was done. I headed to the waiting area to stew over the amount of time that was going to be wasted and wondered if there was any way I was going to get everything done today…when all of a sudden it hit me that I was right next to a great running trail! And, per usual when setting out to run errands, ¬†I was wearing all of the necessities to go running! I quickly went and notified the worker that I’d be back in 45 minutes, and I headed out the door for a run.

It. Was. Awesome.

The weather was perfect. The trail was empty, except for me and my thoughts. And I had time to really think about how I was spending my miracle “me” day. Often, when I have a “me” day, that’s all that I focus on. Myself. And yes, those are important sometimes. ¬†But I was so happy to have a day planned that didn’t just focus on me. I couldn’t wait to finally meet my friend’s precious baby girl, and I was so glad to have the time to make her dinner too.

And then I started thinking about the few things that my husband had asked me to do for him, and I realized that I was being completely selfish with my internal temper tantrum. I thought about how incredible it would be if I was feeling overwhelmed and someone else was able to take some things off of MY “to do” list for me. And at that moment, I felt happy to be able to help out. My “me” day was about me making other peoples’ days better. And that felt pretty great.

I finished my run, completely refreshed and ready to tackle my day…again…and in a much better mood. (It really is amazing what a good run does for you!)

Somehow, I managed to get everything done, besides making cookies and doing my strength workout. And, just as I was rushing out the door to get to my friend’s house, the UPS man pulled in the driveway with a delivery.

And my heart was so happy.

I received this Leukemia Lymphoma Society hoodie for raising over $15,000 for cancer research. 

It sure does feel good to do good.

-Kendra

It’s Hard To See

I really, really, really dislike fog.

I prefer being able to see what’s in front of me and knowing what’s ahead. But when it’s really foggy, that’s not possible. Instead, I’m left moving at a slower pace, being quite cautious of what I might encounter.

So, the last few days have been less than ideal in my world, as far as the weather goes. The thick fog has not lifted for 3 days. Yes. Three days straight of not being able to see much of anything besides pure gloom and dreariness.

Luckily, the temperatures were warm enough (49 degrees!) to motivate me to do my¬†Saturday run outside. But it was a real struggle. I even text my sister beforehand telling her that I didn’t think I was even going to try and do a pace run because I was feeling so down and unmotivated. But, I put one foot in front of the other and got my run done at a much faster pace than I had planned! I still didn’t love the fog, but it did make for a cool picture and the fresh air felt good for my soul.

Enter today.

I had checked the weather and it was supposed to be partly cloudy with a fog advisory until 10 AM. Finn and I had plans to head over to Stony Creek so he could roller blade with me while I ran the 6 mile loop. I was really looking forward to it! Then, I checked the weather again and the fog advisory was extended to noon. So we decided we wouldn’t head to the park straight from church. Instead, we’d come home first, eat lunch, wait for the fog to clear, then head out for our fun.

But instead of the fog clearing, the fog advisory got extended a couple more times, and it is currently in effect until 10 AM TOMORROW morning. (Insert loud noises and angry, angry faces.)

For a little bit, Finn and I actually thought about skipping our whole outing all together. Looking out the window was just so depressing and neither of us really wanted to go out in the fog. Thank goodness we shook off our disappointment in the weather and went anyway.

Finn and I making our way around the 6 mile loop at Stony Creek in the fog.
Because goofy pictures are more fun…

We had an awesome time. And took a lot of breaks to snap pictures and relax and enjoy the views.

I sure do love pine needles.

But there were also times on our journey where we really couldn’t see very far ahead of us and Finn was a little nervous. And of course, since I really dislike fog and it creeps me out, I felt exactly the same way. But, instead of showing that fear, I assured him that everything was going to be fine and I held his hand tight until the fog eased up a bit.

And that, my friends, is what we all need to do right now. In our world at this moment, it’s very hard to see. It’s hard to see the good. It’s hard to see how anyone could think that hate and anger and violence could be the solution to anything. It’s hard to see how we’re going to get ourselves out of this mess and back to a world where our words and our actions are full of kindness and empathy and a concern for the well being of those around us.

But, until this fog lifts, we really do need to stop showing fear, start showing love, grab a hold of someone’s¬†hand, and assure each other that everything is going to be okay.

Love Will Win.

Kendra