Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Springs A Comin'...one puddle at a time!

After the longest winter of my life (figuratively and literally!), I've never been happier for the onset of Spring. Yet as days continue to grow and the calendar pages continue to turn, one thing I've noticed is the landscape here in northwest Iowa has remained that same, boring color--white!

Today officially marks the breaking of a 30+ year record of days with high temperatures below 40 degrees. The last day Sioux City recorded a temperatures warmer than that was Dec. 1 2009. However, this week has brought promise to coming of a new season. As you look around Siouxland, we're seeing something accumulating on the ground that isn't snow--it's water. As temperatures have started to climb above freezing, our massive snow pack has started to shrink and with that, plenty of streams and puddles have started to congregate along city streets and sidewalks. This has made me have an interesting realization about the part of the country where I currently reside. In most cities I've lived in, the marking of Spring begins with greener grass and budding flowers and trees. Here in the upper Midwest, we start to believe in the idea of Spring not when we see a flowering tulip, but instead a growing puddle! It's an interesting concept, but trust me, I've never been so happy to splash through water in my life!

The STL! Go Half marathon is now only 6 weeks away. While it's officially warm enough to run in shorts (+30 degrees), I still keep on a jacket and gloves to keep my upper body warm. My right foot continues to ache in excruciating pain but as I'm too afraid from what a doctor might tell me, I've opted to stick to a regiment of ibuprofen and ice until after the race. We just began fundraising last week and are already off to a great start! Hopefully the coming weeks will continue to prove that hard work and determination really can help you make a difference.
As always, Happy Running!

Oh and here is a link to the new Team Nancy ACS website. Check it out!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Finding Motivation

I know it's a little trite to complain about the weather when you're a "weatherman", but man has this winter been rough! All along, I knew I would never run marathons in the spring--mainly because it's nearly impossible to run long distances during an Iowa Winter. With nearly 60" of snow since October and temperatures ranging as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 with windchill) it's truly a death defying stunt to run outside in the elements. Your only other option? Running on a rotating tread, staring at a muted TV, and praying that 10 minutes have gone by in the past 5!

I had hoped that a shorter race, a half marathon, might be slightly easier to train for during the barren months on this god forsaken tundra. Low and behold, I was mistaken...

I thought I would attach a quick list of things I've learned trying to run during an Iowa Winter:
--It's acceptable to run when it's 10 degrees outside as long as you have a hat and gloves (previous to this winter, I wouldn't venture outside to run if it was below 25 degrees)
--I've mastered the event known as the steeplechase! Hopping over 2 foot snow drifts when crossing streets really makes you sympathize for those type of runners
--Slushy snow = stained running clothes
--Tracks are meant to be larger than 10 laps = 1 mile
--and finally, never train for a marathon in an Iowa Winter!!

The worst thing that comes with day after day of clouds, snow, and wind is motivation. A couch with a blanket and a hot cup of tea sounds much more appetizing than a gym that must be reached by crossing a frozen parking lot. But when it comes down to it, as long as I remember why I'm running, I can convince myself it's 80 degrees and sunny. I'm running to raise money for a cause that has effected my so deeply, so personally. And it's that cause that helps me get through blizzard after blizzard, with Spring in sight.

Temperatures this week are going to be steady in the middle 20s--warmth at last!

(P.S. I figured the new picture did my suffering a little more justice!)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

We Finished...3 months later!

So if you were following this blog you might have realized that it fell by the wayside within a month before the race. I'm not sure if it was the long miles being put in by the end or the loss of brain cells from dehydration, but the ball was dropped on the progress of training as the marathon neared. So I've decided to bring you back up to date on what was one of the most memorable weekends of my life...

Marathon race weekend was the weekend of October 11th and what a weekend it was. It was weekend full of family, friends, carbs, and miles. Being a pseudo Chicagoan these days, it wasn't a big deal for me to see the sights and sounds of the city the weekend of the race. I figured 26 miles through the streets of the city would fill my touristy nature and let me see Chicago as most people never have seen. However, with friends and family in town, of course we had to do a little wandering. Friday night, Lauren and her family came in town and they were craving pizza. Considering pizza is one Kelly's 4 food groups, we had no problem recommending a few local hot spots to grab a slice. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure we settled on Uno's, but I could be wrong. Either way, the Chicago style pizza was delicious and did more than enough to put me in a food coma for the evening. Saturday was manly spent dealing with the Marathon expo--making sure our racing chips were set and having all the necessities we needed to complete the marathon the next day. It was amazing seeing all the runners the day before the race, everyone with the same amount of anticipation to what was to come the following morning. Even though I had trained supplement free, I started to become paranoid that afternoon that my body might shut down if I didn't have something to provide energy and calories as I was nearing the finish line. I ended up buying these Listerine type strips that dissolved in your mouth while providing your body with the necessary nourishment to complete the race. After hours of moving from booth to booth, we gathered and things--Race Time T- 18 hours and counting. That night, everyone finally was in town and just like the nights before high school cross country meets, we had a pasta party at Kelly's apartment. Even though the cardinals were booted out of the playoffs, it was still a night to remember.

Our alarms were set to 5 AM the next morning and Lauren and I hopped out of bed, had some oatmeal and peanut butter toast, and were on our way to the El station. I've ridden the El a thousand times and never have I experienced a trip like this. At 530AM the El was packed to capacity. I would assume that usually at this hour, people riding the train can barely keep their eyes open. But this was a different moment. Wide eyed, nervous runner filled the seats and aisles, and everyone rushed off at the same spot, headed to their tents and then the starting line for the race.

Sadly I don't remember the time the race started--I believe it was 730AM. However, one thing I haven't forgotten was the starting temperature. As the gun shot and the slow sea of runners slowly started to move, the thermometer read 32 degrees (Holy Cold!). Luckily, the view of the sun rising over Lake Michigan and the mob of runners expanding into the Chicago skyline made up and more for the chilly temperatures.

Mile to mile, Lauren and I kept an incredible pace and definitely passed a few things we aren't soon to forget. From a bridge lined with men going to the bathroom, to male cheer leading squads and runners dressed as Barney and Fred, the sights and sounds definitely kept our minds busy, not allowing us to remember the long distance ahead. High-fiving as we past each mile marker, every minute was a minute closer to the finish line.

4 hours, 5 minutes, 12 seconds (and one bathroom stop later), Lauren and I finished the race. We accomplished what we had sought out to do and more--finish our first marathon and do our part to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I know my mom must have been looking down on us at the moment, so proud to see what her son and her family had accomplished. We ended up raising over $4,000 for the ACS, surpassing our goal by nearly double!

So you might be wondering, "Why 3 + months after the race are you picking the blog back up". Well friends, while that adventure is over, the quest carries on. Our next mission? The GO! St. Louis half marathon in April. You might have noticed that we've chosen a half instead of a whole marathon this time. Let's just say with almost 50" of snow since December 1st and an average temperature of around 20 degrees, I thought a half marathon was more than courageous enough. While Lauren won't be joining me this time, I've recruited another set of determined runners to help out in the fight against cancer. One mile at a time, we're going to do our best to bring awareness to this terrible disease and hopefully raise a little money in the process to go to Cancer research and care.

So who's joining me this time? This time around, a few more Roberts have jumped on the wagon. My twin sister Ashley and older brother Drew have both decided to run it. Neither of them have ever run long distances so it's definitely inspiring to see them take on the challenge. Another family member, our cousin Ali, is training all the way in Connecticut to fly in race weekend and run with us as well. The only person who has run the course before and will be joining us is my partner in crime and girlfriend Kelly. And then we continue to recruit other friends to join Team Nancy and join the fight against cancer.

So as training continues and I continue to hurdle over 3 foot snow drifts (no joke), I'll keep this blog going. I'll do my best to keep you up to date on the trials and tribulations that come along with training for the half and hopefully tell a few stories along the way. Running truly is the only thing I've ever discovered that can take everything that has happened in a day, and make it seem insignificant. A therapy of sorts that even for just an hour makes my life seem so much more peaceful. It's this therapy that has helped me get through the death of my mom and I plan on using it race after race to raise money to find a cure for cancer.

Until next time, Happy Running!