Rocking along

This weekend was once again rainy on Saturday morning, but the rain stopped before our run and left behind a miserable level of humidity in the air. We set out around 7:30 am with the half marathon training group to get in 10 miles. For many, this was their first double digit mile run. I spent a little bit of time with each person in the pace group I was running with moving along and sharing conversation, singing songs that were either really on or just made sense for the timing. Nothing like using Bon Jovi lyrics when 5 miles has been completed to mark that “we’re halfway there.” That wasn’t even my idea, but it was a good one and I sang along (badly) because running while thinking about something else is helpful. A little later, I sang the opening lyrics to Tom Petty’s “Last Dance With Mary Jane.” It was on someone’s phone because they were playing it aloud and I like to think the combination of my (terrible) singing and the laughs that ensued helped lighten the mood a little. We completed 10 miles and I changed shirts and headbands for my next leg.

As it turned out, I had  15 mile day on the schedule. So, 4 of us that were mentoring with the half marathon group set out for our 5 additional miles and went the opposite way on the trail as we had with our 10 mile group. We were a little short of 2.5 miles when we reached an end to the trail and the 2 people in front of Jane and I continued on the road that was there. Jane and I turned around and ran back toward the start. Then, I decided to start singing (badly) again. This time, I destroyed “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins while also giving Jane a recap of my Tom Petty and Bon Jovi singing. When we approached our starting/ending place, I wouldn’t look at my watch when Jane asked me how far we’d been. I told her when we hit 14.86 that we were the furthest I’d ever been on a run. We passed our starting place to make up the distance we needed to get 15 miles so we could walk back for a cool down. My second outfit was soaked. We walked back and met with the other 2 people we’d set out with and did our post run hip exercises and stretches. We all had a photo and Jane and I had a photo to commemorate our 15 mile day.

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We remembered to commemorate the miles.

I then hopped into the car and went through a drive through fast food place for a cheeseburger, fries, and a mango frozen drink. It was fantastic!

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Culver’s single deluxe…NOM!

The next day, it was once again a little rainy in the morning. My husband and I set out to a state park for a 5k race where I’d again meet up with people and finish my training miles afterward. It was humid and it was hot and I didn’t have an extra shirt that day. I stopped running during the race and walked along with someone I knew and offered a little insight on running hills. I mostly listened in and ran/walked along with them. In the end, I took off a little bit toward the finish and got it done in less than 33 minutes officially. I was actually proud of my time considering I’d taken a pause during my run. The next 3 miles to make up training miles were brutal. My stomach felt like I needed to find a bathroom. My clothes were dripping with sweat. BUT, Jane was with me. My husband, who ran a nearly 20 minute 5k, was with me. My friend Robin and her husband, Bob were with me. We shared conversation and laughs. I commented about the lovely shade of green in the still part of the water despite knowing that it was probably a gross slimy texture. We talked about cars driving crazy fast down country roads. I realized I would have gotten lost if I hadn’t brought other people with me to re-run the 5k course and that I obviously don’t pay attention to the scenery when I run in a race. I was absolutely miserable in the moment, but I’m somehow able to look back at it fondly and grin about it. I mean, both days had their own sorts of challenges to face. I teamed up with people and did what had to be done and now they’re pieces of these memories I’ll have of training for my first marathon. I peopled! (ha, ha) If you know me, you know how I’m at least a little anxious around people.

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By then, I was running again…

I believe I properly paced myself for the past couple of long runs, but especially this weekend. I was not sore when I set out to run afterward. I was tired. I required a little nap on Sunday to recharge. I just didn’t have a sore body or aches anywhere like I think I would have if I’d pushed too hard on speed instead of getting the distance in.

One great thing about mentoring during training for a marathon is that I have a variety of people to share my running passion. I can set out and see people accomplishing something they probably didn’t imagine themselves doing. I can draw inspiration from them and their stories. It energizes me to see people celebrating their milestones and getting through this training. It helps me get through mine. I’m grateful that I get to be a part of it.

Time for the half marathon is approaching. We have a few more weeks and then it’ll be go time. Then, I’ll be that much closer to running a full marathon. I’m feeling more confident about the miles. I’m not fully sure about the time, but I figure it doesn’t matter as long as I finish. I really feel like I gain so much from running and I just can’t believe that a sport has become so important to me. I can’t imagine not running.

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Passing Past Jenn

Either my mind was ready to come out of the depressive slump I’d been in or my new dose of medicine finally kicked in and took me back to a much better plane. I guess it could be some combination, but I refuse to look into it too deeply because I’m better and that’s really the most important. Being depressed stinks and it never quite feels like its not a burden to bring it up. I feel like it makes me less likely for people to come to me when they’re down because they don’t want to bother me and I don’t want that to happen. I have a lot of wisdom to share with people about the big dark valley and climbing out. So there’s that and then there’s stuff I find more important and interesting to discuss in my weekly update.

This weekend, I ran the most miles in one day than ever before. How many? 14.85 miles! I was slotted to run 14, but a mistake on my part led to some extra mileage being tacked on during my mentoring session for the half marathon. Fortunately, there weren’t hard feelings and the person I took on the little extra jaunt was physically able to complete the run despite the extra bit added on. We started out our run with a drizzle of rain that turned into an absolute downpour. I tried to keep things light and joke about how I didn’t understand why God thought we needed a shower because we hadn’t gotten stinky yet. I high fived other runners on the trail and congratulated them for running in the rain. I tried as much as possible to make it a positive memory instead of a dreaded one. For me, it worked. Soaking wet, I was still thankful that there were clouds on a route which doesn’t see a lot of shade. I probably let the weather distract me from the course, though. Upon returning to the beginning, I set out to run the next 5 with Jane, who was mentioned in my first half marathon post as my mentor. We’re running together now to train for the full marathon. While she had not made the same error in miles as I did, we ran together to make the 9 mentoring miles into 14 training miles. She told me I could stop when I hit 14, and I told her I would. As we approached the end, I couldn’t just stop. I wanted to run it in with my friend and I decided that tacking on less than a mile would just bring me closer to 26.2 and that was what I was training for in the first place. So I ran it in, we stopped our tracking watches and walked a little ways to loosen up and relax after our longest run ever. When we got back to our starting point, we asked some fellow runners stopped at the water fountain to take a picture. We intended to hold up our hands to show “14,” but we were both hungry and tired and completely forgot. So here we are….smiling:

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Driving home from the run, I couldn’t remember why my clothes were soaked. I couldn’t bring myself to stop anywhere for a quick bite to eat or coffee to drink. I went home and cleaned up and changed, then spent the day with my family. I made myself stay awake until the kids went to bed, then I was relieved to lie down and rest.

Sunday’s weather was cool and calm. It was perfect to run our 6 miles at goal pace, to which Jane referred to as “Two 3 mile runs.” My knees were killing me, but we had negative splits (faster each mile) for miles 1-5. Funny how 6 miles after running 14 the day before feels easy.  I wound up napping Sunday afternoon because my tiredness finally caught up to me and I think I may have not eaten enough to make up for the amount I burned the day before.

I’m excited to surpass my longest run yet again this weekend with a 15 mile run. I will be doing a lot of passing old records in the coming weeks leading up to my first marathon. I have a 5k race on Sunday that I’m not sure I’ll be in shape to ‘race’ my fastest, but I am excited to attend because its something new and different as far as location. I am excited about the prospect of cooler temps being a possibility in the near future. I feel good about the future and about finishing my first marathon.

Thanks for reading! Have you ever gone off course or missed a turnaround? Do you have goals to surpass your own records or recent achievements?

*If you ever wonder, I do my long runs in CW-X compression shorts, I wear Feetures Elites socks, I prefer the Juno bra by Brooks, and I use something called Tri Glide to prevent chaffing. I’m not sponsored by any of these brands and was not asked to promote them. I just thought I’d tell you what I like. It really varies by person.

Summer’s end

The stores are a madhouse filled with lists and supplies that have been picked over, rummaged through, and hastily placed in the wrong bin. We’re trying to get past the realization of how old our kids are by their level of school they’re starting. We forget that while kids getting older means that we’re getting older, too, it doesn’t mean that we’re old just yet. I’m not hanging my running shoes up when my oldest moves on to graduate in a few years. Summer break is coming to a close and school is about to begin.

For training, this means I’ll probably need to head to bed earlier if I need sleep. It also means I can take care of my cross training needs in the daytime now. I’m in week 5 of 16 weeks of full marathon training. This weekend will be my furthest run I’ve done in a single day. I get to run 14 miles. This is just the beginning of milestones in running during my training. This is just the beginning of milestones in my kids’ schooling. One of my kids is starting kindergarten. How exciting that we’ll be enjoying such new experiences and accomplishments at the same time!

I didn’t get to mentor last week. This evening, I’ll be back at mentoring for the half marathon training. We’re running 4 miles that incorporates our hill workout tonight. The hill workouts help me really see how much stronger I’ve gotten over time by how much more I’m able to do than I was before. I find myself taking hills during training runs that I used to need to take pause in running. I still occasionally find a hill that isn’t my friend. I’m talking progress instead of perfection, though. I have come a long way. I like to see other people make accomplishments like that and realize what they’ve gained from running.

Summer break is ending. The end of summer is just around the corner. Training in the heat and humidity will be in the past and new challenges will arise. The days will get shorter and evening runs will be darker. A first frost will likely settle onto our surroundings before the Saturday in November where I’ll wake up and run 26.2 miles after putting in the training for it. The experiences will stay in my head, though. Each long run spent getting to know a running partner might fade into memories of the highlights. Each mile becoming a single stone in a path paving the way to the finish line and continuing on to the next miles and the next finish line. Somehow, no matter how similar the training is for 2 people, their paths never seem to turn out exactly the same. That’s what makes running from something mundane to something beautiful. The story is never really about the end, but the journey in getting there.

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I ran a race in a tutu. I had fun. This is an ‘after’ photo, so I look lovely.

Because I can

I’m still fighting with a bout of depression that seems to nag and pull at me daily and whisper to me that I just don’t measure up. Despite its best attempts at making me feel inadequate, I continue to challenge and push myself.

Today I find myself exhausted, but accomplished. I covered more miles than my training plan prescribed because I ran to and from a meeting place one day and I put in extra miles on another so I could run with a friend. I’m at the halfway point of mentoring for the half marathon and I’m on week 4 of training for a full marathon.

This weekend, I ran a 5k race at Lake Evergreen that I ran last year as well. It was apparently the same week in my own half training because I had 4 miles to run after and so did the group training this summer. I was aware that the race had some challenges going into it and I wasn’t confident that I’d be able to reach for beating my best time of 29 minutes. Each race after the one I made that time, I’ve set out just to beat that time even if it is by a second. Saturday morning was sunny, but not too hot. The gnats were swarming around the race venue and we swatted them away as we made way to the start line. At first, nobody was lining up in front of me at the start line and I attempted to move back. A few people finally went to the front of the start and the race began with everyone taking off down the road. I tried to just remember that I could hold as close to a 9 minute pace as possible to get my best time. I spent a little time praying. There was a person that was near me in the race that seemed stressed, so I prayed for that person. I prayed for myself to have the resolve to finish and I was thankful that I was able to run and able to train for a full marathon. I started telling myself that I’m “scrappy” because I always overcome challenges. I pushed myself hard. Toward the end, I kept trying really hard to pick up my pace and it seemed like every time I looked at my watch, I wasn’t getting any faster or I wasn’t picking up as much as I needed to get the time I wanted. Toward the final stretch, my husband and my friend were shouting at me and I actually mustered up a little kick of energy to push through to the end a little faster. Some guy passed me right in the last 50 feet, but I was going my fastest. Imagine my surprise when I pulled through the finish line and saw 28:49 on the digital clock and on my watch! I didn’t place, but last year, I finished the race in 30:57. I beat my best time and I killed my time from last year by over 2 minutes. Scrappy…lol. I ran 4 more miles right after the race and was back in time to see the tail end of the awards where 2 of my friends and my husband had placed in their age groups.

Sunday is long run day for full marathon training. While I normally complete my long runs on Saturday instead because of my half marathon mentoring, I did my goal pace run Saturday and planned ahead to do 12 miles on Sunday. Jane, who mentored me during my first half last year, is my primary running partner for the full marathon. We match pace and we amuse one another. So, we ran 12 miles with a couple of breaks to adjust, refill, and loosen up. Only towards the end did I feel anxiety and have to zone myself out and Jane was there to pull me out of my head. We even got to go to a brunch afterward just for women to shop for bras and have mimosas and pancakes. It was fun and a nice incentive during our run was that there was a mimosa in it for us. After that, I went to a nature center and hiked around a little with my family. I needed a nap after.

Monday, I woke up with ear congestion and a sore throat presumably from being in the great outdoors so much over the weekend. I spent most of the day feeling a little ‘blah’ from the decongestant. My husband worked late and was preparing for a business trip through the middle days of the week. After dinner, we had problems discussing then arguing with my oldest child. She nitpicked at me and tried to break me down seeking out insecurities about my parenting. She walked out of the house and after a little while, I had to call the local police to help me find her. They opened a case with a national database. She returned home around 10 pm and I called off the search. The police came by for a welfare check and then we went to bed.

I didn’t get to run last night. I won’t be running tonight with my group. I’m sad and I’m disappointed. I’m still a little angry and hurt. When I get to run, I will do it. Because I can do it. Not because I have to. I want to run 26.2 miles because I know that I can, so why not do it? I train for it because I want to do it right. Sometimes, I carry on because I don’t know what the other options are. I don’t know how much of my strength was a choice on my part, but I’m here and I’m pushing forward. I know that I’m not always confident and I worry how people see me and how my children see me. I also know that I’m human and I make mistakes just like anyone else and nobody is perfect no matter how much they appear to be. I have depression and life doesn’t slow down or ease up on me when I’m down. It doesn’t matter how far down I am, it’ll still kick me. So, I just have to get back up more times than it knocks me down. That doesn’t mean I’ll just spring up and be ready for more each time, though. I’m tired. I get worn down.

So, I’ll get back to running once I can later this week. I’ll do my long runs and I’ll put in the time to train for my 26.2 mile race. Not because I have to, but because I can and I will do this.

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Hubby and I after the race. He got 2nd in his age group and I PR’d!